Category Archives: Personal

Not Another Apocalypse

I knew that what I was doing was probably a bad idea, but I did it anyway.

We got snow last night but it didn’t do much more than get things wet. I went out to meet a fellow pen addict and minutes before I left, as I was preparing to leave, it started raining. Even though there was a chance of snow, I wore sneakers and a lighter coat.

A few hours later it started to snow. It didn’t cause any train delays and I was able to get home with no problems. The walk from the station was more annoying than wet. The streets were still clear, although snow had begun to build up on lots and cars.

Near our apartment, there is a 30 yard long strip of sidewalk that apparently gets no sunlight this time of year and it still has snow from last week’s snowpocalypse. It also had a thin layer of freshly fallen snow that made the trip down the hill “interesting” at times.

In front of our apartment, a layer of snow reached several feet into the parking lot and the ended abruptly in a clear line as it reached the part of the lot that actually got sunlight.

Today it wasn’t that bad, which is good as I had to do some running. Now I’m hoping for no snow until after Valentine’s Day. (More on that in a future post.)

Once More With Caution

The guy I wanted was there, but he’d just finished another guy so I ended up with a woman.

This actually ended okay.

A couple weeks ago I got a haircut at my usual place and a woman who’d cut my hair before was in a mood to ignore almost every instruction I gave. The result was a decent hair cut that was much longer than I wanted. This wouldn’t have bothered me that much except they guy who’d cut my hair before had done a great job and she hadn’t.

Today, just over two weeks later, my hair was already starting to look shaggy and since I was in the area I decided to stop by and see if the guy was there. If he wasn’t, I was going to walk past and try again another day.

Luckily he was there and appeared to be finishing with a client. I walked in and was immediately redirected to a woman who walked out of the back room.

This woman had cut my hair a while ago and, as is the tendency of the women in the shop, she’d left it kind of long.

However, this time she seemed to understand what I wanted and did a surprisingly good job.

I kind of wish the other woman had been there, though, so I could show her what to do next time.

Better Belated than Never

Today I finally decided to do my New Year’s cleaning. That left me with a bit of a mess.

However, a bit of a mess is much less of a mess than was there before.

Today was the purge of the “No, really, some day I will; no really I will” projects and artifacts. I did this to clear things off the floor and get them on to shelves. This is always my goal when cleaning.

This meant I had to throw out a lot random scraps of lumber (long story), some of which had frozen to snow outside (even longer story), and shed the last of the handmade notebooks. This involved actually pulling them apart so that the paper can be recycled. The disassembly process is complicated enough that, for a few minutes, it made me reconsider getting rid of them.

The next step is to purge more things from the shelves, especially the random bits of things that have begun to gather on the top.

The final step will be to convince our oldest and She Who Must Be Obeyed to do the same thing to the other side of the variety room.

I don’t have my hopes up.

Piled Higher and Deeper

Every couple of years we need a snow shovel. This is why we don’t actually own a show shovel. This gives us a lot in common with our town government.

This past Monday the Japanese government finally flipped the winter switch (no, really, they have one, look it up) and we got 10.6 inches (27 cm) of snow.

In order to get work, I was volunteered to warm up and clean snow off the car. This meant I would have to shovel snow for the first time in a millennium. In fact, if I remember correctly, the last time I had to shovel snow was during the George H. W. Bush administration. (That was in the last millennium, which was a thousand years ago. Do the math.)

I had to shovel this time, though, with a folded cardboard box.

The first thing that impressed me was that the snow was terrific. It was a perfect skiing powder. Not too fluffy and not too sticky. It’s the kind of snow that rarely falls on Japanese ski slopes and it made we want to take my bad knees skiing. This also made the snow easy to clear, although my neighbors seemed to struggle.

One kid, who had an actual shovel, was clearing snow as if he didn’t want to do it or didn’t know what to do. He was chipping away and bits of ice, but was avoiding the worst patches of snow. I almost offered to take the shovel away from him as I was faster with the folded cardboard.

I cleared the snow off our car and from in front of our car; then I cleared the spaces in front of a couple neighbors’ cars. After that, I just sort of walked around enjoying the cool air and the snow.

Luckily, whilst I was clearing snow to go to work, I got the notice that work had been cancelled.

Of course, because we only get a snowpocalypse every couple of years, our town government doesn’t have any snow removal equipment. This makes our car clearer than the roads it will be driving on.

Starting the Wrong Things in the Wrong Place

One of the problems with visiting the in-laws for the new year’s holiday is that the new year gets started in the wrong place.

Any plans I have to start something new have to be delayed until I get to my usual place. Until then I’m subject to the plans and whims of others, much of which I’m not informed about until the last minute.

The result is that the bad habits have already started.

Today I did get a few merciful hours of time alone which I used mostly productively. The problem is I don’t have all the usual tools and it was easy to waste time doing other things.

Once I get home, I’ll already be out of the habit of starting new habits and will most likely end up falling back into old ones.

I’ll find out tomorrow when we get back to the usual place.

I will also probably have to shed a couple pounds or four that have been put on thanks to the permanent “all you can eat and drink and if you say no there’s a fight” system at the in-laws. We’ll see about that too.

New Year’s Booze, Breakfast, and Detox

Although I know it’s bad for me, having beer and sake with breakfast is kind of cool. Of course, since that’s more or less the same thing I had with dinner the night before, then I’m probably due for a detox.

Correction: A detox is very much in order.

Tomorrow we’ll be out and about which will give all of us a chance to detox a bit, but I’m betting that supper will be huge. I also suspect there will be beer and sake with breakfast.

Part of the problem is that the parents of She Who Must Be Obeyed have reached the age where they don’t drink as much as they used to. However, they continue to serve the same amount of booze that they used to. This means, for reasons I don’t fully understand, it’s my job to finish all the unfinished booze.

Note: I’m now responsible for finishing a bottle of wine. For some reason, this is a responsibility I take seriously.

Luckily this year they’ve switched from bottled beer shared amongst everyone to individual cans served to individuals. This means there’s less interruption as Mother of SWMBO insists on filling my beer glass even when it’s already full. I suspect this means that I’m actually drinking less than usual as it’s hard to keep track of the half-full glasses and I always end up having to finish the bottles.

With cans, there is, of course, lots of concern that my can might be empty within a few seconds of my taking the first sip from it, but that’s less intrusive than having to drink half a small glass of beer right after I’ve taken a bit of food.

I’ll also need a food detox, but that’s fodder for a future post.

Travelling By Snow

For complicated reasons we decided to drive to the in-laws. The trip is normally not that difficult, however, it is winter and we were heading to snow country.

We acquired snow tires from She Who Must Be Obeyed’s family (it used to be their car before they stopped driving) and had them put on at a local place.

The trip itself wasn’t that bad even though SWMBO had never driven a mountain pass in snow. (Note: I think I’ve done it once. Maybe twice.) I did prepare a winter car kit in case we got stuck because of heavy snow and accidents not involving us. Also, our car is four-wheel drive and our snow tires are new.

We started in perfect clear weather and then as we climbed and passed through tunnels we slowly passed through autumn and early winter before entering sky fall. Once we passed through the tunnel into snow country, we were in blizzard conditions that lasted until we hit windy conditions.

Along the way we had to take odd detours where traffic officials blocked the road and forced us into parking lots where traffic officials assessed our tires. If any car had tires that didn’t pass muster, they were forced to attach chains to their tires, even if it meant buying them on site.

There were a couple interesting moments involving other cars and merging traffic, but we arrived safely.

Now we are putting our lives at risk by eating too much, but that’s another post.

Cleaning Up Before Cleaning

I should have been cleaning, but instead I was straightening and organizing, which is sort of like cleaning but not really.

It’s the season of cleaning here in Japan and we are getting ready to head off to my in-laws. This means we spent more time organizing the house for our return than we did actually cleaning.

The suitcase we won’t need was stored away, but that involved moving and then replacing/reorganizing the pile the protects/blocks the storage closet.

I was organizing the things I plan to drag along as if I will actually work on the things I drag along. Bringing them, though, makes me feel as if I have the potential to be responsible so they do, in fact, serve a purpose.

I will probably not review the notebooks I’ll be finishing on the trip, but I will be able to take some pictures.

Christmas Cheerishness

Today, our oldest had club practice. She Who Must Be Obeyed had work. I had nothing to do. A few presents were opened, but most had already been purchased and delivered.

Tonight, as is our family tradition, we had chicken, lots of bread and cheese, and way too much cake. (Wine, beer, and Japanese whisky might have been involved in a couple cases as well.)

Tomorrow the Christmas lights around Japan will be gone as if Christmas never happened and the focus will be on the New Year’s holiday, which is the real winter event in Japan.

Now, we have a few days to prepare for a trip to visit my in-laws. This means we’ll do nothing for a couple days and then madly pack at the last minute.

That’s part of the fun.

ps: Merry Christmas, everyone. All the best.

Done Days and Then Some

The end of the term is ambiguous.

Our youngest is done today. I’ve been done. I’m not sure about our oldest, but she has at least one more day. Then she might be done.

Our youngest showed off her report card today. The card doesn’t have marks, instead it has assessments. The assessments are “Very Good”, “Can Do It”, and “Well, Yeah, Present”. (Something like that.) Our youngest was mostly “Very Good” with only three “Can Do It” marks.

As for our oldest: well, I’m not sure. She has a concert on Sunday. After that I don’t know. School may be finished, but practice may be not. Band practice never seems to end.

Eventually, we will visit the in-laws. We’re still not sure how we’re going to get there. Or when we’ll get there.

That’s what things are like this time of year. More when I know it.