Saturday, February 25, 2006

Quote of the Master's Degree...

Found this a couple of days ago, and marvelled at how perfectly it was expressed. Anyone who followed any of my painful thesis-composing travels will understand:

Writing is a hellish task, best snuck up on, whacked on the head, robbed and left for dead
(from The Way the Crow Flies, by Anne-Marie MacDonald)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

あまい思い出 - Sweet Memories

It's becoming increasingly difficult to blog now (for Kathy, anyways). Our time is rapidly coming to an end. We can already start ticking off our "last time" experiences. For the next three weeks, I'll be teaching each class of my sweet first graders at the elementary school for the last time. As many of you know, work has been a difficult place for me for many months now. The junior high I'm placed at is pretty much officially known now as "the worst junior high in Ota city". (doesn't help that it's also the biggest, at around 600 students). Every day, there are "incidents". Fights, vandalism, scratched cars, broken windows, etc. etc. I have been frustrated to NO END with the complete incompetence of the leadership at our school. But the students have kept me going (well, except for a couple that I regularly wish to inflict pain upon!) And two wonderful teachers that I'm lucky enough to sit with in the teacher's room: Etsuko Ozawa and Sumiko Imayasu. And there's something gratifying about making it through a tough experience like the one we've faced at Minami Chu. The three of us have rallied each other on through good days and bad days, and now we can feel it, taste it: the bittersweet end.

I am poignantly aware of the fact that for each day I gratifyingly check off at Minami Chu, we are one day closer to leaving our sweet home in Japan.

Canadian friends, be patient with us, okay? It will take time...

This is a picture of our friends, the Uranos. I met Mr. Urano in a coffee shop last October. Since then, every couple of months, him and his wife have treated Jeff and I to a wonderful Sunday out discovering our city and the surrounding area. We've settled into a comfortable pattern of first sipping tea at their house, then going to a restaurant for lunch, and then driving and exploring. We are very lucky to have met them. This picture is from a couple of Sundays ago. They treated us to lunch and then drove us to Tatebayashi where we went up a tower, watched some swans, and strolled through an art gallery. Perfect Sunday.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What a day!

the perfect day
Originally uploaded by Bob Jones.

The sun was shining when we got up this morning. So we decided to go for a drive. It's been a while. We invited Mikiko along. I drove as Kathy read and Mikiko sat in the back ooooing and aaaaing over the scenery. (It is pretty incredible). I had picked out another man-made lake in the mountains (they dam every river around here it seems) and we were not disappointed. We found a dock, boat launch and fishing area and walked around for a bit. I got to take pictures (finally!) and the girls looked around. It was reeeeally quiet - except for the fishermen and the ducks.

The ducks wouldn't leave us alone. They followed us to the car. They wanted Mikiko's aloe drink. Stupid ducks.

Another fine february day in Japan.

Did I mention that it was about 15 degrees? (That's celcius). The drive got me excited about travelling around Japan once our contract is done in March. And it got me excited about driving around Canada when we get home (although we have no concrete plans for that). I miss home, but our time here is so short. It's a tough thing to be here so long, and then to go home. Right now Ota is home. But I do miss BBQs and sitting outside (they don't do that here).

Well, that was our day. Hope you enjoyed it. :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Two Fridays Ago...

So, forgive the donuts, please. We have come through a couple weeks of sickness. First, I (Kathy) had the flu, and then Jeff had it... although, according to the doctor here, he just had an おなかかぜ。(stomach cold) Right. We tried explaining to some of our Japanese friends that where we come from, there are stomach FLUS, not stomach colds. We were quickly corrected. While maybe he did indeed have a stomach flu, it certainly was not influenza, because he didn't have a fever. Right. Forget about the fact that he was shivering all night long and sweating like a pig the night before. Forget that temperatures fluctuate. And forget even the fact that flu is simply a short form of influenza! The fact is that on Monday afternoon, when the doctor took his temperature, he did not have a fever. Therefore, ixnay on the flu. Right.

My own temperature tends to rise now just at the sight of Japanese teachers with their thermometers. Got a fever? Go home. You've got the flu. Normal temperature? Sorry kid. Ya, you look like hell, but fact is, you're not sick. So go back to class and sweat it out (ha).

Anywaaaaaaaaaaaaaays.... that was a long aside.

So we've got some catching up to do. Two Fridays ago, January 27th, was our friend Mikiko's birthday! So we headed over to our favorite spot, Ikkyu, for the usual rounds of celebration. Here are the pics:

Ayako bought the cake. When they brought it out for Mikiko, we sang "happy birthday" and before we knew it, the whole place was singing and clapping along with us. Precisely why we love Ikkyu so much. The atmosphere of that place makes for fantastically happy drunks.

And this is Mikiko with the owner of the place. I believe his name is Ryuta. We all have a collective crush on him. He is so cool and so kind (and he was hilariously shy about the picture!) We dig the ponytail. It's his hippest look.

This is a fun one of us goofing off. You all recognize Ayako by now. The guy is Casey. Christian was there too, but unfortunately not in this shot. Yes, Maria, I was texting on the damn cell again, but I promise it was for a good cause!

The girls, doing what we do best: posing.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

this is stupid.... jeff as a doughnut

You Are a Glazed Donut

Okay, you know that you're plain - and you're cool with that.
You prefer not to let anything distract from your sweetness.
Your appeal is understated yet universal. Everyone dig you.
And in a pinch, you'll probably get eaten.

Kathy as a Donut

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.