This time next week…..

The first thought that entered my head when I woke up this morning was
‘Oh, my God, why am I putting myself through this?’

I like to start every day with a talk with God, but today my mind flew straight to where I would be and what I would be doing next week, hence the question.

I will be waking up in a stranger’s house.
I will be in a country millions of miles away from home.
I will have to get ready for SCHOOL!
I will not be waking up to anything familiar.

….and the scariest of all, I will have caught three planes and a bus to get there!

Again I ask
‘Oh, my God, why am I putting myself through this?’

Peter says I can blame him, which I do anyway.
(Thanks for now giving me permission to do that, Honey)

So, I’m being pathetic today.

There are lots of reasons for ‘putting myself though this’
and every single one of them is good.

This is just the beginning of the adventure and whatever comes my way and however things turn out, I can handle it and I will be brave and I will not turn into that little eight year old, paralysed with fear at starting at a new school in a new town.

That was 38 years ago.

Here I come!

Let the Countdown Begin!

I mentioned some time ago that we would be heading off to Japan again, for a trip with a ‘twist’.
Well since then, things have changed around a little.
A trip is still coming up.
But the difference now, is different from the original difference.

The big difference now is that Peter,
my travelling companion, husband and interpreter will not be accompanying me – not at all.
Not even later, as I had hoped would be the case.
Peter, who introduced me to Japan and who loves Japan almost as much as he loves me is going to miss out!

I don’t even know whether it is worth going into what our original plans were, because they are not going to come to fruition.
Suffice it to say, I was upset and more than a little furious that his work wouldn’t allow him nine days of annual leave, so that he could meet me over there and we could do a couple of important things before coming home.

So, what was to be a month long trip for me and a two week long trip for Peter, which included volunteer work and visiting friends is now a two week trip for me and Peter stays home.
Enough said!

So, onto the itinerary (the new itinerary).

Why am I going to Japan alone for two weeks?
Good question.
I ask myself the very same thing several times a day!

Well, at my husband’s suggestion, I applied through the Australia Japan Society to attend a two week language and culture course, being held at the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange.

My application was accepted and in just over two weeks I will be off, alone, without my interpreter/travel guide/friend/advisor to a Japanese language school, where an attempt will be made to learn how to speak for myself in Japanese.

OK, OK, I know that two weeks will not see me fluently chatting away with girls in shops/people on trains/at the bank/in the post office/on the streets/in cafes or restaurants/hairdressers,
as I regularly do here, in English.

I may, after two weeks, be able to have a gramatically correct conversation with a two or three year old (and create Kanji-like scribble like a three year old).
I’ll give it my best shot, that’s all I can do.

It’s been a long time since I have been formally taught anything, but Peter says I have a ‘gift’ for languages.
(My mum says that too, because I can imitate accents pretty impressively)
So we’ll see how far this ‘gift’ can get me.
I might be updating the blog in Kanji next time you see me!

I will be staying with a Japanese family.
My ‘family’ actually consists of a mother aged 38 and
her daughter, aged 11.
I guess she is more of my host ‘sister’, rather than my host ‘mother’, since she is younger than me (just ever so slightly).
I can’t wait to meet them.
This is going to be so interesting!

For the time being, I picture myself walking down the street to catch the bus to school.

That’s about as far as my imagination is allowed to stretch at this point.
Because if I let it run loose I picture myself all alone, scared and confused, missing planes and buses (and I’m such a wimp, I’m not even going to attempt train travel without my interpreter) and meetings and being late for school and getting lost on the way to the bus stop and and and………..

So I picture myself walking down the street (we’ve checked it out on Google Earth) to catch the bus to school.

And just occassionally I picture myself in a depāto, on my favourite floor, the basement, buying groceries and delightful tidbits to take home to my host ‘sister’ and her daughter.
Peter says I should offer to cook them a meal.
I can do that..

I need to stop for now.
My imagination runs riot and I begin to get excited and we can’t have that, can we?
Not yet, anyway.
Departure date is two weeks from Friday.
There’s plenty of time for all the excitement and the accompanying emotion about returning to our beloved Japan.

If only my beloved was coming with me…

Reposted from IDRO Japan

Returning the Dead in Tohoku

Rather difficult to capture with an I-phone, but here in Ogatsu-cho it
is the final day of obon, the time when the dead return to visit the
living. Here they send the spirits off in floating lanterns, tonight
watched over by the just waning moon. They move so slowly , taken by
the tide, as if the spirits are asking for one more day…

Dear Monday

Dear Monday

Shadow Shot Sunday

It’s the times when I am home when I wouldn’t  usually be home that I am surprised and delighted by the shadows that dance around my house, when no one is looking.

Shadow Shot Sunday celebrates shadows from all over the world.
If you would like to participate, please visit Hey Harriet’s blog.


This week has been a funny week.

I have been alone since last Saturday, when I dropped my Peter man at the airport.

We have not spoken since then (only texted).
I worry that he can’t survive without my guidance screeching in his ear about everything!

He has written, if you can call poking a finger onto letters on the front of an iPhone writing, pages and pages and I have responded.
We have kept up a steady stream of communication, but if I don’t hear something the minute I know he wakes up (six hours after I have woken up) I panic.
He is in South Africa.
Because I know very little about South Africa, I believe he must be in constant danger, so my ‘thoughts’ take over and I imagine all sorts of calamities have occurred.

However, the problem is, in Peter’s words,
“They are really not anywhere near as techno-resourced as we are”
So, if I don’t hear anything it is not because he has been kidnapped, robbed of all his belongings (including his iPhone), eaten by a pack of marauding lions, or become lost on the savannah.

Will I ever be a relaxed, laid back, middle aged woman?
Or will I always be a timid, emotional little child with an overactive imagination?
No need to answer that, thanks.

Suffice to say, I have been alone.
Some things about being alone are good and others not so good, but overall, ‘doable’ as long as I don’t have food in the house – (see binging on anything and everything to relieve the boredom or whatever that dumb emotion is).

I have had time to blog.
I have had time to start a new blog.
What am I thinking?
I don’t even have time for this blog.

I have had time to clean.
I mean, really clean.
Not just a quick wipe over of everything with the nearest tissue or washing the floor with a piece of absorbent paper.
Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

So, I will get on with it.

I wanted to leave you with some words from today’s sermon.
The sermons at our church are usually very short – today’s was a bit longer (about 15 minutes).
I don’t think I need to go into detail and I don’t think you need to be a church-goer or even a believer in God for these words to resonate in your spirit like they did mine.

“We need beauty and we need magnificence to stimulate the soul”


Dear Mrs May’s Naturals

Dear Mrs May’s Naturals.

Shadow Shot Sunday

It’s been such a while, but here I am for Shadow Shot Sunday.

I was off work, sick, a few weeks ago. I usually go into work later, when I feel better, but this day, I didn’t. I took the whole day off.

I was in my house when the shadows came, stayed and faded.

I was home all day, except for going out later to fetch the ingredients for dinner.

There really is no rest for the wicked.

Shadow Shot Sunday can be found at Hey Harriet.
I’ve missed all of this.
Go check it out and all are welcome to join in.
What a lovely bunch of people.

What now?

The more I see of what happened in Japan and what is still happening, the more concerned I become.

It is true.
It’s easy for everyone who was not directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami to think and hear and believe that everything has improved and things are looking up.

But, do we really know what the situation is for all those people who lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods?

The more I read, the more I realise I know little and
the truth is not readily available.

For instance, I didn’t know that once people move from a shelter into the ‘temporary’ housing that is being provided, all aid is cut off – so no more food, clothing or other aid they had been receiving whilst in the evacuation centres.

Effectively, once they move to temporary housing they must
fend for themselves.

That would be fine, if they had a workplace to go to;
if their workplace was still in existence.
It would be fine, if the infrastructure still existed.

Think about all that it takes to ‘live’ in a house – food, electricity, water, transport, furniture, grocery items, heating, cooling, internet and lots of other things that we all ‘can’t live without’.

You need money to obtain these necessities.
You need a job to obtain money.
You need workplaces to obtain a job.

All of these things are gone.
Washed away,
Flattened and destroyed.

From Socks for Japan Jason Kelly com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Rough-terrain-in-Ofunato-two.jpeg

They are still trying to clear up the rubble.
Thousands and thousands of missing people are still unaccounted for;
of every age.
Progress is tediously slow.

It is still NOT OK and it won’t be for years.

What would you do?

I try to imagine being faced with the choice.

It reminds me of a game we used to play.

‘Would you rather kiss a (germ ridden) boy or drink a cup of seawater?’
You know.
That game, where you had a choice of one completely revolting thing or
some other equally disgusting thing.
And you had to choose one.
And you just couldn’t make a choice because each option was so unappealing.

Anyway, I don’t know what I would do, if I was faced with the choice of continuing to live on the floor of a gymnasium, surrounded by boxes for my belongings; boxes representing the walls my ‘home’, separating me from my nearest neighbour, no more than a metre away from me.

The benefit of this ‘existence’ being that I had a food supply, that I had access to the bare necessities of life and that I didn’t need to earn money to live (because I couldn’t, because there was nothing left standing within cooee, because I had lost ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, because it was physically, emotionally and practically impossible).

Would I choose that over moving to a ‘temporary’ house where I had no means to earn a living, to put food on the table, pay the bills, wood in the fire?

I am not faced with that choice, but many of the people still living in shelters in the tsunami zone are.
I believe many are choosing to stay.
Do they really have any choice?
Is one option really more appealing than the other?

In my humble opinion, there’s something wrong here.;
very wrong….

In case you can’t tell,
my heart is breaking for these people.

Japan…. with a twist

Our next Japan trip is coming up!

But this is a trip with a bit of a twist.
I will tell you more in the coming months.

In the meantime, I would like to share links to updates on the situation in Japan.

I feel like it is important not to forget.
The links I post will be more for my own records than anything else, as we continue to watch and now, consider where we might be of help.

It is my hope that visitors to our blog might find the websites I mention worthy of attention, if nothing more.
We’re about to embark on a new chapter in our lives, which are inexplicably and inextricably linked to Japan.
And if you get sick of me going on and on about it, I’m sorry.
Feel free to tune out.
I’ll understand.

What is the internet, if it is not a tool?
How can I look and refuse to see?
How can I see and refuse to ‘do’?

Please don’t ever let me be a hypocrite..

Today’s link is to not just a website.
It is a link to courage, faith, inspiration and action. 
Kozmoz International

Such was Saturday night (when I originally typed this)..

This time last week, we sat at Pearl enjoying tropical heat, the tiniest smattering of warm rain, fine French cuisine and ice cold bubbly that, even though it wasn’t French, tasted just a little bit superb because it was part of the dream.

We awoke from the dream in fits and starts during the three and a half hour flight home, not wanting to fully accept that it was all over. Our heads crashed onto familiar pillows even later still, trying to prolong the dream and finally, about 12 hours after leaving the exquisite surrounds (and delicacies) of Restaurant Pearl we awoke fully to the reality that the dream was over. O.V.A. OVA!

We skip forward now, a week of work, a week of memories blending, murkily with the ‘now’, keeping eyes closed as much as possible, not willing to let the everyday in, not just yet.
A week of one foot in Perth (reality) and one foot in Bali (dream). Psychologically weird, but it works for me and I know Peter is very much straddling the fine line between dream and reality – still. And it was a short week.

Then what?
Easter break.
We’re told that Easter isn’t what it was or even is. We’re not allowed to call it Easter and it is pagan worship or it is offensive to people who follow another God, chocolate has nothing to do with Jesus and it’s not really about him anyway and it’s just a holiday and sadly for the ANZACs, they get tacked on the end of the non Easter break and all in all it is just a meaningless five day holiday this year.
Anyway, I praise God for everything, good and bad and think this holiday is a good thing and continue to marvel at how complicated and divisive a thing that was once simple has become.

It’s a holiday!

We’re at our ‘country’, ‘holiday’ house.
We will have four nights here.
Four nights of turning on the old lamp (I inherited from my Mum’s friend’s mother) as the sun dips towards the horizon – my ritual.

Every night that the lamp is turned on is a blessing. Usually it is once only, every couple of weeks, but on these holidays one night is followed by two and two by three and somehow time feels like it is multiplying and we will never have to return to our city or working life, then there is the fourth night of turning on the lamp, knowing it is the last, leaving it on because to turn is off would feel like the end.
Kindly husband, who loves so much, in the beginning, that there will four nights, will be brave enough to face the ‘turning off of the lamp on the LAST night’.
He is good and strong and brave. He knows how to work and he knows how to play and he counts even the smallest blessing and is grateful and sustained until the next one comes along.

The day here. Time to think. Thinking disturbs me. I think too much, about too many things and it is a waste of time. I am barely in the here and now! I would not even begin to share the thoughts on this blog. I think I will start another one, under a pseudonym (can’t believe I even knew how to spell that).

It will be a dark and disturbed blog, but it will be the side of me that loves and longs for tropical storms, black clouds, thunder, lightening, torrential rain, crashing waves and just wild stuff in general.

You won’t know it’s me.

Don’t misunderstand. This is me here. But there is deeper stuff. I wonder (most seriously, I ponder very deeply) if there is such a side to the famed Pioneer Woman or Kelle Hampton. But how could there not be? Where is the balance? Where is their ‘real’ reality? They make even the bad sound sweet. Their bad is sugar coated. That’s what it is. I can’t do the sugar coating, so I just keep quiet.

So, back to our day.
Easter Saturday.
I rose from bed at 5am.
Oh, of course it wasn’t my plan, but I was woken by the idling engine and squeaky brakes of what I will call here ‘some moron’ crawling the kerb (in the dark!) scouring the piles of junk everyone has placed out for the annual collection. Even now, thinking about that person, I want to strangle them! 5am! We went to bed after 2am! That’s another story, where I want to strangle ‘channel 7’ for extending the length of a 90 minute movie to three hours because of advertising every ten minutes.
You see?
All this stuff that makes me so mad I have murderous thoughts?

Out the front window at 5am was a world I felt privileged to observe.
The first thing I noticed was the cool, cool air; a rare gift in this endless Summer (and now Autumn). Then I realised I could hear the ocean; the intermittent roar as the swell became waves that broke on the shore half a kilometre away.
The complete silence of the night was punctuated by the rhythmic pounding of the dark, cold shore by the endless and immeasurable weight of that water that travels to us and to every shore. I heard it. I listened, waiting, knowing the intervals would be short, waiting for the car that has originally woken me to do its return trip down the road (we live in a ‘place’ – you have to come out the way you went in).
And then I noticed the mist (remembered that song ‘Mull of Kintyre’ – ‘Oh, mist rolling in from the sea’). At first I thought I must have been imagining it, but having laid down, tired of waiting for the vehicle to make its return journey, I arose about five minutes later, hearing another vehicle and realised I could barely see across the street. Mist! Fog! Delicious and cool. No one would believe later when the sun had risen, that it had even existed. It was magical and even I think now, in the heat of the day, that I must have imagined it. But I didn’t. It was there. It was 5.30am by then. The car had returned, driving down the street still searching for rubbish that they could collect to sell at some ‘trash and treasure’ event. They stopped further down. I could see their tail lights and hear their squeaking brakes. Again, I wondered how easy it would be for me to strangle them.

The mist rolled in, I went back to bed and pulled an extra blanket over us both.
Mist equals cold, right?
We slept until nine. The sun was high in the sky by then. The heat of the day had dried up the ephemeral qualities of the dark, cold, early morning.
The mist was me. The sun was not.
When will this Summer end?

A lethargic day. Washing laundry. Reading the local papers my neighbour kindly leaves for us over the fence. I read back to the beginning of the month, but around these parts nothing much happens, unless you call petty crime and nightclubbing news.

I notice a branch has been cut from the massive, out of control, gum tree at the front. Good! If we lived here it would be easy to keep these trees under control, but we don’t and they are growing wild. I don’t know what to do with them, so if neighbours have a problem with their growing and wish to cut them up (or down) then they are most welcome to. I must pay them a visit to thank them and apologise for the out-of-control growing that they do while we are elsewhere, working for a living, working to pay for this place and the water bill!

It’s the Easter break.
Everyone and their dogs are down here holidaying. The shops are madness – holiday makers buying out the meat section for their barbeques. We decide on laksa and make do with what is still available on the shelves at 4pm on Easter Saturday in a seaside holiday town.

It’s Monday now.
There was rain yesterday and sometime during the night before.
It is sunshine now, though.
The last Summery holiday for the year?
Winters by the seaside are soulful and wild and the real me craves that, as much as I don’t like being cold!

Tomorrow we will pack up and head back to the city.

But today, we will make the most of our leisurely existence.
This is the making of our Easter 2011 memories…