It’s A Small World (A VERY Small World…)

Haven’t been at home much today.  I went with a good friend to a big pottery/porcelain festival downtown… one which is held every year for a period of five days.

It was nice to see many familiar faces, shop owners that we’ve bought dishes from.  (A couple of my friends and I are trying to start up a side business, so we go to these festivals on a regular basis.)  The whole group of us wasn’t together today because of conflicting schedules and the vendors we know all seemed to ask about it.

There are times when I wish that I was Japanese… a thought which has passed through my mind my whole life!  But there have been advantages and positives to looking like I do and being a “gaijin” or a foreigner.  And when you’re meeting important people whom you want to make an impression on, it’s not a bad thing to be a gaijin!  🙂

Anyway, getting to the point of today’s title…

My friend and I visited every vendor today and I think there were about 250 vendors from all over the country.  (Most were from Fukuoka Prefecture and other parts of Kyushu.)  As we were getting to the last ones, we stopped in front of one place, admiring the pottery which was quite appealing to the eye, yet very simple.  The seller was from Kumamoto Prefecture, which is about a 2-hour drive south of here (Fukuoka).  He began to explain the area where he lives and that the poster of the pre-fab wall was a picture of his living room… it showed a wood-burning stove and comfortable looking furniture.

I got excited and told him the same exact stove was in the house where I grew up.  He asked where I grew up.

“I actually grew up in Kanagawa Prefecture.”

“Really?  I used to live there, too.  In Yamato City.”

“Which part of Yamato City?!”  (I was really excited at this point.)

“In an area called Minami Rinkan.”

“THAT’S WHERE I GREW UP!!”

You see, that’s like running into someone who grew up and lived not only in Seattle, but in the same apartment complex on the north side of UW near the local Safeway and Ivar’s!!

He and I knew the same stores and restaurants.  He explained where he lived (rented one of the houses usually rented out to military families) and I knew exactly where it was.  It was completely wild!!

The world is a small place!  It truly is!  Yes, all these social networks and the Internet have brought everyone even closer together, but even without these things, we find ourselves in various places and different situations, meeting people in airports, standing in line at the post office, walking from ride to ride at the amusement parks… and when we strike up a conversation with others, one might be very surprised.  It’s not impossible to run into someone who has a very close connection to our own pasts.

Isn’t that cool?  🙂

Here’s to all those who grew up in Minami Rinkan… may we all run into one another one of these days!  🙂

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Oh, WP, how I’ve missed you…

Life, classes and other daily responsibilities have kept me away from blogging from the past two days.  Just two days, but it feels like I’ve been away for a lifetime!

Anyone who has known me since childhood knows that I’m kind of bad at continuing things.  Whether it was keeping a diary, exercising, keeping a budget, or having a set schedule of doing housework, it didn’t last for more than a couple of months.  And the person who was most judgmental and disappointed in me was… me.

I’ve heard that it’s tough for people to change and, after living for almost 42 years, I believe that to be true… but not impossible to do.  I have hope, mainly because I’ve proven to myself that it IS possible, even though there may be times when I slip a little.

As far as exercise, I’ve been trying my best to stick to it, walk the dog every day and have lost almost 84 pounds from my peak weight in my late 20’s.  (Half of that was lost in the past four years… not bad, right?)

In regards to writing a diary, blogging has sort of replaced that… and I’ve been writing a post ALMOST every day since the 31st of January of this year.  Now when I don’t have the time to write a post, it feels like something from the day is missing.  (Like skipping breakfast or not brushing your teeth before going to bed.)  Writing here has become such a part of the daily routine and I’m so thankful to those who have commented and “liked” and are “following”.

Here’s hoping I’ll continue to find interesting things to talk about and share with everyone.

Sending love and smiles from southern Japan!  🙂

Happy Spring! (^^)/

Well, as written yesterday, I actually had a FULL day off today!  Didn’t sit on the couch all day and watch TV though.  Instead, I did stuff around the house.

Washed some clothes…

Washed some dishes…

Washed all the litter boxes for the cats…

Cleaned all the bird cages (all five of them)…

Took six bags of garbage to the local trash place…

Went to the store to buy cat food…

Organized last month’s receipts…

And, believe it or not, I didn’t turn on the computer or the TV until after noon!!

(This is practically unheard of for me!)

Even though it was a day off, I don’t feel very rested… maybe I should have just sat on the couch and relaxed after all!!  🙂

Anyway… Happy Equinox Day to everyone!  May spring of 2012 bring warmer days, brighter moments and beautiful flowers to everyone!  🙂

A Day Off!

After a LONG day today, I found out I won’t have any classes to teach tomorrow.  YAY!!  😀

Tomorrow is Spring Equinox and here in Japan, it’s a holiday for most of the country.  The thing is just because it’s a holiday for everyone else, that doesn’t mean it is for me.

I’m the type that if my students want to have class, we’ll have class.  I figure if I don’t work, I’ll just be sitting at home doing nothing.  (Though there are TONS of things I could be or should be doing!  LOL)  If I teach a class, my students are happy and they don’t have to be alone on their day off.  (Yes, there are lonely people in the world.)

But last week, one of my Tuesday evening students told me her sister was going to be visiting tomorrow since it’s a national holiday.  (No 8pm class.)  Then I had a phone call about an hour ago from my friend who organizes the other two classes on Tuesday nights.  He said that since it’s a holiday, we’d have no classes.

So, do I have any plans for tomorrow?  No, not really.  It’ll probably be the usual stuff.  If the weather is nice, there’s laundry to do, dishes to wash… need to clean the cats’ litter boxes and organize my work expense receipts from last month.  There’s never a dull moment around here.

OR I could skip all that and actually take a full day off.  Wake up late, watch movies on cable, pop some popcorn and enjoy my holiday, right?

Guess I’ll decide what to do tomorrow!  **happy sigh**  🙂

A Day of Rest… (I Wish!)

Sunday usually would be a free day for most people, but it was NOT that today.

Had to be at the community center soon after 9am to get ready for our annual neighborhood meeting at 10am.  (Was asked to help with reception and check-in.)  The meeting ended up being 2 and 1/2 hours, discussing plans for the upcoming year and looking over the budget from last year and this year.  Lots of opinions, not too many clashes… over all, a good one, and about 150 people were in attendance.

After it finished up, 20 or so members of the neighborhood planning committee set things up to have lunch.  We all chit-chatted about everything under the sun, packed up, cleaned up and got home at around 4pm.

From there, I got a call from a ramen shop owner I’m friends with and went to see him.  Stayed for dinner, was planning to come home early, but his wife came and I ended up staying much longer… like until 11pm.  (So much for coming home early!)

So, many apologies for a rather boring blog post.  It’s been a LONG day and I have an EARLY morning and thinking about all those warm, fuzzy blankets on the bed… well, I could fall asleep quite easily right here in front of the computer as I think about them.

To those of you who have just started your Sunday, may you have a wonderful 18th!  To those of you who are in my part of the world, may you have a peaceful sleep!

Good night from southern Japan… 🙂

Graduations Have Finished!! **whew**

The last of the graduations for this week was held today – a total of two kindergarten graduations and one at the local elementary school.  It’s been a long week, to say the least!  🙂

Those of you who have never been to Japan may think it’s strange to have graduations now.  But the school year begins in April and ends in March.  After a couple of weeks of spring break, the kids start the new year.

This is probably my favorite season of the whole year.  (And not just because it’s my b-day month!)  As the school year comes to an end, the Japanese plum and peach trees are usually in full bloom.  Then when school begins again, the Japanese cherry trees (or sakura) bloom… and they are BEAUTIFUL!!

Another reason it’s my favorite is seeing how much all the kids have grown.  The parents are all watching their own children, while the teachers and I are watching ALL the children.  (So, yes, I cried at all three ceremonies… nothing new! 🙂 )  All the kids are full of hopes and dreams and are eager to start the next chapter of their lives.

This year, some of the kids wrote letters of thanks, talking about how much they enjoyed English classes and how they want to continue learning the language in the future.  (I even had a few this time who told me they want to grow up to be English teachers!)  No matter how hectic schedules get and stressful life can become, comments like this from them make it all worth it!!  🙂

It’s my hope that I made a positive impact on their lives just as my teachers had on me!  It’ll be interesting to see what life has in store for them.  🙂

And so, another school year ends.  Am looking forward to seeing the sakura trees in full bloom and all the new little ones who’ll start classes from next month!

My Mama Bear…

Had to wake up a little early this morning to go to the elementary school graduation and while I was still under the warm, fuzzy blankets on the bed, I looked through my email on my iPhone… only to find a message I’d been dreading to see.

My Mama Bear passed away on the 14th.

It’s possible that a lot of people would read the sentence right above and think I’m referring to my grandmother, mother or another female relative.  Well, Mama Bear was not a blood relative at all, but that’s what I’ve called her for as long as I’ve known her.  (Since I was four, if my memory is correct.)  In the city where she lived, most people called her Miss Martha and a few would say Mrs. Fletcher, but to me… always Mama Bear.

Mama Bear was an amazing woman!  She was giving and kind, always had a smile on her face and always had positive things to say about the people around her.  She was a wonderful cook, an excellent writer, an articulate speaker, could make any craft which exists under the sun… and actually she taught me how to cross-stitch.  (I still have the very first thing she taught me… a small panda bear.)

There was one story which she would tell that I LOVED… the story about the big mouth frog.  And no matter how many times I heard her tell it, even if it was three or four times consecutively, I would laugh until my stomach hurt!  I wish I could tell it like she did… actually, I wish I had a recording of her telling it.

Anyway, the story of the big mouth frog was one with a moral:  it’s not good to be too nosy or too curious.  It went something like this…  (Try to imagine this being told by someone with a very strong Southern accent.)

Once upon a time, there was a big mouth frog.  The frog was hopping along and met a cat on the path.

“Hello, Mrs. Cat.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The cat replied, “Well, I feed them milk and meat… things like that.”

“Well, THANK YOU VEERY MUUUCH!”

The frog kept hopping along and met a cow in a field.

“Hello, Mrs. Cow.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The cow answered, “Let’s see, they drink milk and eat grass and hay… things like that.”

“Well, THANK YOU VEERY MUUUCH!”

The frog went on and happened upon a bird in a tree.

“Hello, Mrs. Bird.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The bird said, “I give them seed and worms… things like that.”

“Well, THANK YOU VEERY MUUUCH!”

The frog kept hopping along and met an alligator in the river.

“Hello, Mrs. Alligator.  I’d like to know… what do you feed your BABIES?”

The alligator smiled and said, “Well, I feed them BIG MOUTH FROGS!” to which the frog replied…

“Well, thank you veery muuuch…”  🙂

Oh, how I will miss Mama Bear… as will many, many more people out there.  May she rest in peace…

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