Archive for November, 2007

It was nice and sunny I was on my way back from the post office when I noticed the mover’s van by the roadside. They were early! I said “Konnichiwa” and I guess they knew the stuff belonged to me somehow, cos one of the guys followed me with a pallet of boxes. They had already put protective thick plastic coverings on the floor from the foyer all the way into the elevator. I guess that’s the rule here; movers  or in this case, bringers, have to protect floors, etc.

I did not sleep very well last night thinking of where I am gonna put 45 boxes of stuff!! The movers (bringers) kept bringing in all these boxes, some in the master bedroom, a couple or three for the kitchen, lots into the spare room and alot more into the tatami room. I was thinking – where are the kids going to sleep when they come?? Then they brought the skis and the bicycles and the marble topped cafe table and I directed them to the balcony. Thank god for the balcony!

Dave came home for a few hours to help unpack. One of the bringers was a girl who spoke excellent English and very polite; so I was thankful that there was someone we could communicate with. She was very cute and she told me that she had been with the same two guys and this company for five years! I am sure that she is such an asset to the company from the communication point of view with foreigners.

Once all the boxes were in, the bringers started to unpack the boxes, which was great cos then they will carry off all the boxes with them. The girl was unpacking the family pictures and I said my children and this is my son and she said is he single? I told her he is only 18 and at college and she was surprised. I guess Alex looked older in his tuxedo. In no time at all, they were done. I looked on both beds and was appalled at the amount of clothings I had brought, then I looked at the entraceway and gasped! Shoes! a huge pile of them! Towels! ugh. No wonder there weren’t much left at home. Dave asked me why so many towels and i said, well, the kids are coming at christmas and they will need two each…..

I managed to put away the kitchen stuff which were not very much. I was so happy to see my spices and curry powder. By the time the bringers left, all the shoes were put away (by them!) in the shoe cupboard. The thing about this apartment is that although small, it has alot of cupboard spaces; all the ski boots, shoes and boots disappeared into the little cubbies at the entrance! Yay!! I can now change shoes; the last two months I just about wore my brown danskos to death and I can put on other sweaters now. I have been wearing just two sweaters all these weeks – I have washed them! And I cannot wait for the cold bad weather to come – bring it on – cos I now have my long down jacket!! and hats and scarves!!

I have made up the guest room bed, with pillows and blankies and comforters – mummy’s ready for you kids!! And most of our clothes have found homes in the closet and I have a huge egg on my forehead – I was on a chair putting sweaters up high on the shelf and I forgot to duck when I climbed down – knocked my noggin’ on the closet door jamb – it is stil throbbing!

Well, dinner is beef curry tonight. Dave will be happy as he thought my cooking has been very bland lately!

It is still sunny and it is after three pm! BTW, I looked at my hands yesterday and was shocked to see how “white” i have become!! It is all these fog and rain here in Aizu – I am losing my tan!! 


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Saturday Nov 24th

Dave had to go to work! I wanted to go to step classes but I wasn’t feeling in the mood.

So I tried to open the washing machine door again – still will not open. I did some washing yesterday and after the dry cycle, it would not open. I pulled the plug out – nothing, let it cool still the door would not open. So frustrating. And after a night in the off position, it still won’t open. I turned it back on, and turn on the wash cycle again – washing these perfectly dry clothes. I hate that machine. I just wished I could read the manual. When it was done, it was wringing wet, so i had to guess which button was for spin and fortunately it worked. I decided to dry the clothes in the bathroom and turn on the dryer – yes our bathroom is a dryer too!

We went for a drive towards the mountains and the ski resorts in search of a cross country center. The roads were just like an ice rink – snow and ice! The sno plow did not do a good job clearing the roads. I was scared and kept reminding Dave to slow down..well, it was like “SLOW DOWN!!” There was not much coverage yet for downhill skiing. We asked everywhere and they say no cross country center. There used to be one but now it is closed for good. So, looks like no groom trails for skating, just back country – too bad! I hope Dave and I can go back to Truckee for a week of skating or we could go visit Lucy in Sapporo – I am sure there will be some skating there as last February they had some world cross country competition up there.

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We woke up to a lovely sunny day and snow covered mountains all around us. It was cold and crisp!

I called the courier service phone number, listened to alot of Japanese lingo recording – no idea what it wanted me to do but I remembered Saito-san saying “press1” and a lady answered. “Moshi moshi” and I said “Konnichiwa. Eigo wa dekimaska?” Translated – Hello do u speak English. She said “Chotto kudasai” or something to that effect – wait a moment – and she disappeared for a good while. WHen an English speaker came on she said someone will come to the apartment in the am – so I gave her all the info. Sure enough, the intercom rang, I let this guy in and when he got to the apartment, I found out that he didnot understand Romaji (romanised alphabets)!! What to do? I decided then to call Saito-san and the courier guy spoke to him and in the midst of the conversation, my cell phone battery ran out! In my panic state I could not remember where the charger was. So I read the address to this guy and he wrote it down in Kanji and away he went.

When I was charging my cell, I called Saito-san that everything is ok and that the guy has left. Saito -san said he is close by and wanted to know what my address was. Apparently, the good man called the restaurant owner, Miri-san to ask her where we lived, when the cell phone got disconnected, but she had no idea what out apartment number was, just a general direction. So it was a good job I called him back. He ended up coming in for a cup of tea and I showed him the receipt from the courier. He said with this address, the letter will not reach our shipping agent. I was in a panic!  He then called the courier company and sorted it all out. I was so thankful he decided to look me up. Otherwise, I will never know where the letter would end up and our shipment will be delayed.

So, it is not easy at all dealing with courier services, all in all it took about 8 people to mail this letter!  Shopping for food stuff is another chore!  After Saito -san left, I went to the gym and did an hour of aerobics, just following the other ladies but ahve no idea what the instructor was saying. My new friend Hiroko and I went to lunch and I corrected her English (no, not daughter in law – she is your sister’s daughter so it is your niece) while she taught me abit of Japanese.

She then took me to Saty’s, to the supermarket section. SHe showed me what oyster sauce bottle looks like, which packet is flour and which is cornflour. ANd in the cleaner section, she showed me what to get for toilet seat cleaner, which is glass cleaner etc etc. Simple everyday stuff is soooo difficult! And for soy sauce, there are so many types, like soy sauce with vinegar, soy sauce for tempura…i just want plain old soy sauce!

Certainly going to be a long learning curve. But I made three important friends – Miri-san is a lovely restaurant owner, Saito-san is a sake shop owner and Hiroko-san is a doctor’s wife. I think I covered it all with these new friends!

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It snowed all day. The winds were so strong! 

We went to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner. No turkeys lurking around in the supermarket!

Our shipment will be here on Sunday so I needed to send some papers to the forwarding agent at Narita, so I asked the owner, Miri-san (in Japanese!) if she knew where the Takyubin (courier) office was. She enlisted the help of some customers and they discusessed this and then a phone no. was given to her and she, in turn, gave it to me. Then she got a dictionary out and pointed to “wait for” and she said “tomodachi” which is “friend” in ENglish, and she pointed to the word “English”. So Dave and I deduced that she wants us to wait for her friend who can speak English. SO we waited for about 10 minutes and  her friend, Saito-san walked in. We chatted with him for over an hour and Miri-san brought out cut up persimmons, more hot tea, a delicacy made in Aizu which was red bean paste with lots of fresh cream between two small pancakes. This was so good but Dave refused it because he was stuffed. I was too but I cannot pass up a lovely keki – I will suffer later. Saito-san told me that when I call the Takyubin, press 1 and ask for someone who can speak English, which was good advise because if he had not mentioned to press 1 I would never have known what to do.

The ramen noodles were delicious, in red chilly sauce, beef, beansprouts and we threw in sliced onions. This is a Thursday and SUnday noodles. You would not get this on any other day.

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No wonder it was so cold yesterday and rain off and on. This morning there’s a light dusting on the roofs of houses (we are on the 4th floor) and snow on top of the mountains close to us.

Yesterday, I drove for a little bit and parked the car on our parking platform with Dave’s help.  Iknow I would freak out if I was parking it  by my self.

We checked to see if there is a direct bus from here to Narita , but we were told NO. The bus is from Koriyama to Narita, so I guess, future guests, it is the train for you all. Just bring an alarm to wake you up at each change of train cos by the time you get to Narita it would be like 2 am California time so you will be very sleepy and tired. And sitting on the train will be like a nice zzzzzzzzzzzzz time – it will be like 4 or 5 am  California time !!

I am going to join the gym today so gotta go and learn the phrase : “I want to become  a member” and “I have a shoulder injury” 

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We hiked today Nov 17th

The mountains to the north of us are covered in snow!! Must be all that rain we had here yesterday morning – snow for the mountains.

Lucy said Sapporo had two inches of snow and more on their mountains. She practised rugby in the snow. Yes, my baby is one of two girls in her rugby team!! Dave tells me he used to get hurt all the time playing rugby so now I am scared for her!

We went hiking up towards Mount Bandai this morning. Hiked along the ski trails. It is a huge ski mountain but it looks like it is mostly blue runs. Unlike Tahoe, the runs here are covered in grass, not much rocks at all. Some snow spattered here and there but it will be awhile yet before the mountains are opened for skiing. Most of the hardwoods have lost their leaves, just some color left. I guess we shd have hiked last weekend to enjoy the colors.

We did not get to the top – the trail ends about halfway up. The proper trail head is further up but they closed the road in anticipation of snow I guess.

Took Dave to lunch at a Japanese/ Vietnamese restaurant. Junko, my translator took me there for lunch Thursday and i so loved the curry beef noodle soup and i wanted Dave to sample it. However, today is Saturday and that soup, I found out was only served on Wednesday and Thursday or was it Thursday and sunday? I told you, it is so complicating sometimes!

For dinner, we had shabu shabu at home. We bought a small gas stove, that we could put on the dinner table and all the fixings, thinly sliced beef and veggies, mushrooms,  noodles etc. We also got ground up sesame seed and sesame sauce  to dip our meat and stuff. It was delicious. Can’t wait for our kids to visit so we can share this with them.

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Dave’s Birthday Nov 16th

I spent the morning talking to my sister in law in England on yahoo. So great – she was going to bed and my day was just beginning. Years ago when Dave went to the US on a month long biz trip, I never heard from him the whole time he was away and the day before he arrived home, I received a post card from him saying he had driven to Yosemite for the day. It is just unheard of these days not to hear from someone close to you for a whole month!!

I spent the whole day in the apartment – finished my ghost book, did my washing now that I know which buttons to push! I did not cook, even though it was Dave’s birthday. I have lost my ability to cook here. I cannot find ginger still and there are hundreds of black sauce bottles – which is the soy sauce?? grrrr! And I only have two pots and one frying pan. When my spices and curry stuff comes, I may be inspired again.

We went out for pizza and beer at the Dog House. It is a very small restaurant and Dave supplies the owner with a bottle of very deathly hot sauce every now and then. We have a few bottles here at the apartment, compliments of the White Buffalo in Truckee. It is so hot – you have to use the tip of the chopstick to “dot” it on your pizza. We did not stay too long there – left after Dave had two beers – too smoky for me – ugh koff koff!!

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