Friday, September 23, 2016

In the Doodle Dumps.

I’ve been trying to write a blog post all week with no real headway happening.  My week isn’t one I’m too keen to write about, because it is a whole lot of me just being down in the dumps over what most people would see as insignificant blips on the radar of life.

I don’t write for pity, or unsolicited advice on how to “get over it.”  I write because this little blog has been an open diary to the world since before we did our first international move to Mexico back in 2011, and to not write my weekly entry would more likely just add “guilty" to the general apathetic malaise I’ve got going on.  I do believe, down the road I’ll be happy to be able to go back and see where I was and that it all got better.  

I’m very bummed that the craft fair was rescheduled last week due to typhoon/rain.  And I’m bummed that the weather has continued to be dreary all week, which has succeeded in trapping me indoors while blocking out the sunshine from my life.  For lack of better term; it all sucks.

Instead of continuing to whine, I have doodled this week, and I’d rather just share those and let them speak for themselves.  I’m due for another “Doodle Dump” anyway, eh?

dozens of baked goods suddenly without a fair to attend.  so that's how the week started.

Mac lucked out in that I had also baked a few dozen dob biscuits for this cancelled fair as well.
My Japanese teacher is determined.  Which is good, because I'm regularly in the "OMFG I can't do this" camp.

dramatic reenactment of actual events regarding the dog bed.

Thankful for a patient Mister while I work the blargh out of my system

And so. I hope you all have a lovely week, I’ll be okay, promise.

today's little language lesson:
literally, "subtle" but colloquially, "meh."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What'cha doin' this weekend?

EDIT:  I'm gonna let my original words stand, but this event has been postponed to rain... to a date that I cannot participate.  The only one who's okay with this is Mac.  Because he gets all the dog biscuits

Remember in my last post when I mentioned some upcoming craft fairs?  The first one is this weekend.  If you’re in Nagoya, I’d be pleased as punch to see you out at Tsurumai Park on Sunday afternoon for the Aichi Vision event.  There will be live music and family-friendly activities, but most importantly, there will be ME and KP2 selling all sorts of fun things including (but not limited to):

-screeen printed tea towels and canvas bags
-dog and cat toys.
-hand-knitted scarves
-carrot cupcakes
-*for the first time at an event here* old fashioned chocolate chip cookies.

(there was a small test batch of cookies.  I was supposed to take pictures to post here.  you may notice they did not survive long enough for a picture to exist.  that’s how good those cookies are.)

click to embiggen

Since I’ve been hunkered down at the apartment prepping for all that, I haven’t been out and about much for too much in the way of blog-worthy adventures.  

So come on out - be a part of the adventure 
I’ll blog about next week!

today’s little language lesson
watashi wa subete no kukki o tabemasen

I will not eat all the cookies

Friday, September 09, 2016

Sewing for my Sanity

Every once in a while I meet a non-Japanese person who has lived in Japan for eons and intends to continue on living here, but by and large, the Expat population of Japan has three categories:  
  1.  Those here to teach English for a few years
  2.  Those here from their home company on a short term assignment, and 
  3.  The supporting partners/ spouses/ families of category number two.
In case you have not been paying attention, I fall squarely into category #3.  Here in Nagoya, I am in charge of the household.  Making sure there’s dinner on the table, ironing work shirts, basically being a Stepford Wife.  Which is a sentence I type while fully acknowledging I thoroughly enjoy and am totally grateful for the freedom this role affords me in terms of experiencing Japan on The Mister’s company dime.  For the time being, I am happy being a housewife.  

Being an American housewife in Japan is a full-time job with no vacation.  It’s not that I don’t have enough to do here just in the name of keeping The Mister, Mac, Bubba and I alive and well - but, I do need a little more creative enrichment in my life.  There’s a sense of uselessness that’ll creep up on me if *all* I focus on is the monotony of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and grocery runs. 

And so - in the spare minutes between laundry loads, I MAKE stuff.  Fall is a particularly good time for this because Halloween is my fave holiday, AND it’s big in Nagoya.  Plus there are loads of little Fall craft fairs, and with Kp2’s help, I’ve been invited to participate in a few of them.  So the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of creating.  


I’ve got scarves knitted, bracelets woven, magnet sets painted, and cat toys stuffed with catnip ready to sell.  
(I’ll be at the Aichi Vision Festival on the 18th at Tsuruma Park from noon - 8pm.  Then on October 7th I’ll be at the YWCA for their Fall Bazaar from 10am - 3pm  And along with the above I’ll have CUPCAKESsSsSS)

I’ve painted a "Kanto League" baseball hat and stitched together a Bulbasaur hoodie for The Mister and Mac’s Halloween Costumes.  

And then yesterday, for no fall related reason, I decided to teach myself flash animation.
of COURSE the first one is Mac.  come on.
I based this one off of actual Bubba, and this tumblr post, which made The Mister and I cackle:

This is one of those skills I’ve long envied and wanted to learn, but was under the impression that it was super complicated and I would need a college level course and a text book.  Turns out I needed an afternoon, a ton of patience and youtube tutorials.  And now also I need to convince The Mister that I need a proper tablet because the super cheap and cruddy one I’ve been using since college finally bit the dust halfway through these quick projects.  

What do you do to keep your soul feeling well-fed?  
Is there a cool skill you’ve taught yourself?  
(and did you immediately feel like you needed to invest deeply into supplies for said skill?)
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
Watashi wa maatarashī taburetto o musabo~tsu

I covet a brand new tablet.

Friday, September 02, 2016


Alrighty.  I need some silly.  Let’s do this.

Roughly once a month I make the bold statement: “THIS.  This is the best gatchapon that could possibly exist.  I no longer need to buy gatchapons once I have bought this particular gatchapon.”  It’s my version of when you were in college and you had a rough night and were all “I’m DONE drinking forever… until Amber manages to smuggle another brick of Milwaukee’s Beast into the dorm.”

Amber was SUCH an enabler.
(Did you have a Amber in university?  
Or were YOU the Amber of your friends?  
Tell me in the comments!)

What’s a 'Gatchapon' you ask?
Toys, Trinkets, Small Accessories, Chachkies*.  The type of “high quality choking hazard” items you might have gotten in a McDonald’s Happy Meal, or pulled out of a prize chest at the end of your Dentist visit because -unlike myself as a sugar-sucking child-monster- you sometimes flossed. 

Mac likes gatchapon capsules (minus the gatchapon inside) as a fun puzzle.
I stick cookies inside and hide them in the house.  He gets a brain teaser, I get a toy.  Everyone wins.
They’re sold in little capsules from magical little contraptions similar to gumball machines.  And one can find those machines in collections by the dozen, stacked together in large banks in the middle of the mall, next to the cash register in most restaurants, in any arcade, literally just randomly out on the street while you’re walking around

Rows and rows of Gatchasssss
Gatchapon machines are everywhere, they usually travel in packs (as I type that I realize that I’ve never seen just a single Gatchapon machine out by itself.  If there’s one Gatchapon, there’s at least a dozen more nearby.  Gathapons: the cockroaches Japanese retail.)  and each Gatchapon machine has a theme.  There will be up to a dozen different items in the machine that all fit the theme, and when you put in your 100¥ coins and turn the dial, you’re rolling the proverbial dice to see which of those items you will get to further enrich your life. 

As you might remember, I happen to be a adult woman.  And as such, you might be asking yourself; Why, KpMcD, would you purchase what are clearly toys meant for small children?  And why would you keep doing that?

How DARE you.  I would argue they’re not all for children.  Non-kiddie-centric themes I’ve encountered (I say that while fully acknowledging that I buy the ones for kids too.  A wind-up walking pikachu toy?  I mean, come on.):

  • enamel pins that commemorate that one time you visited any number of Japanese tourist hot spots (I collect these)
  • tiny underwears for your water bottle (to catch condensation sweat)
  • business card holders shaped like anthropomorphized world landmarks (like lady liberty)
  • suction cup shaped like a Mario™ Chain Chomp that props up your cell phone
  • stickers featuring holographic pictures of “attractive” Japanese Pop Boy Band members
  • small plastic women posed to best show off their cleavage and their panties, which are made to perch on the rim of a beer mug
  • hats for your pets
(haha they haaaaaate me.)

What’s the weirdest Gatchapon YOU’ve seen?  
Tell me in the comments!  (bonus internet points for pictures)

Long story short, I’ve amassed quite a collection of Gatchapons.  And while I put on a good dramatic show about it; just like Amber’s not done tricking you into one more frat party, I’m not done sheepishly explaining to the cashier at the nearest store that I need my change back in 100¥ coins so I can buy more little plastic trinkets.

my precioussssesss.

today's little language lesson
Watashi wa betsu no chīsana inu no bōshi ga hoshīdesu
I want another tiny dog's hat.

*I maaaaaaybe used the word "Chachki" just because it reminded me of Violet Chachki, which in turn reminds me of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which makes me excited to catch up on All Stars season 2** after I post this***

***Can someone explain to me why World of Wonder has put regional restrictions on their videos?  If you’re going to post the whole episode online but only for people in the states, then A. You should be called US of Wonder, and B. You should just know straight away that it will only take about 20 minutes for someone to rip that from your site, where you get viewing numbers and stats, and repost it on youtube. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Road Trip!

Whah ho hey I’m back.

Thanks for your patience, all.  I enjoyed a lovely birthday blog break. 

Kp2 and I had a silly birthday party, complete with piñata, tabehoudai*, and CAKE.  Mostly it was a nice chance to catch up with our friends.  I also made Kp2 and I birthday sashes, which are popular here in the same way that a fake veil would be popular for a bachelorette party in the states.  Before the party, I brought the blank sashes to my Japanese lesson and asked my teacher what would be the most appropriate thing to write on them.  I assumed she would direct me to write something prim and proper like “best birthday wises” but instead, with a devilish glint in her eye, my teacher instructed me to scrawl “Omedetou Obaasan, Banzai!” on each sash.  Which effectively translates to “Congrats Old Lady!”  Ha.  Good job, Sensei.

*tabehoudai: a style of Japanese restaurant where you pay a flat fee upon entry and then have 2 hours to eat and drink as much as you can.  (aka: “All you can eat.”)  Sometimes also referred to as a nomihoudai, or “all you can drink.”  We did both, no worries.

After that The Mister and I packed up and went out to the Navy Base in Yokosuka for a bit.  He had some work to take care of out there (and a promotion, what what!).  I just wanted to get out of the Nagoya Humidity (and buy a bunch of American strength cleaning supplies at the commissary).
Ocean Sunset from the pier.  I'll take it.
Usually we take the Shinkansen (bullet train) out to Yokosuka when there is navy business to attend, but this time The Mister decided he wanted to drive.  Notable as it is about an hour and a half to take a train out to the base… but a SIX (6!) hour drive!  Still, it wasn’t like, the most unpleasant thing I’ve ever done, guys.  Japan does road travel in style.

I’m used to road trips where you buckle in and you start driving and you don’t stop until you get there or you run out of gas.  If someone in your driving party is stupid enough to have had a glass of water at some point, and insists that the car make an additional stop (UGH), then you will be treated to a rest area that might *look* nice, but the smell of old urine that hits you as soon as you get out of the car lets you know you’re really making a throw of the dice at when it’s been last cleaned.  

In Japan, it is strongly recommended that drivers take a break once every two hours at least.  And when I say “strongly recommended,” I mean that our car’s navigational system actually chimed in at two hours and said “It’s been about two hours since you started driving.  Why don’t you take a break?”  Obviously, this isn’t something we were expecting to happen, so gold star to The Mister for not panicking at the strange voice in the car and swerving off the side of the highway into oblivion the first time it happened.

Because the entire drive out there was through Japan’s mountain ranges… beautiful, but a lot of real high up bridgeways to drive across.  Panic-swerving would not end well.

The first time we pulled over, we chose a rest stop near Mt. Fuji.  Unfortunately Fuji-sama (how Japanese folk address the mountain) was hiding in the fog this particular day… sorry for the crap picture.  But there were these little fuji-shaped cakes at the store there, so we can pretend.

Okay but the rest stops?  Amazing.  We ended up stopping multiple times on the way out and the way back from the base, and every single rest stop put American rest areas to horrible shame.  

The rest stops were all incredibly spacious and well organized.  Each stop had a row of restaurants, small gift shop(s), gas station, all the vending machines ever, immense parking, and giant rest rooms.  Most of them even had a well maintained dog-run area.  So… we all know what happens next time we have reason to drive out to the base.
Road trip with Capt'n Mac*!
*yes, I did buy him a tiny navy officer cap. how could I not?
The organization of these rest areas was awesome.  As we pulled in, we were directed by maps of the parking areas that had lights to indicate which lots had available parking spaces.  This is fairly common in Japan, so not surprising.  But what if I told you they also had maps like that… for the restrooms?

Yes.  Little green lights on the sign indicated which toilets were open, what kind of toilets they were (squat toilet vs. BIDET… who picks the squat when bidet is an option!?), and which sinks were available.  Every time we stopped there was at least one restroom attendant keeping everything clean and toilet paper stocked, while scented diffusers and fresh flowers (I mean, seriously) that kept the place smelling pleasant even though there were literally 100+ toilets all smashed into the same area.  

Really the moral of the story is that you think you’re going to go on a wonderful adventure and see such awe inspiring things but then Mt. Fuji decided to hide behind a bank of clouds and so you find yourself gushing about public toilets on the internet instead.

What was the coolest thing about your last road trip? 
Can YOU beat a bidet map?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
omedetou obaasan (ojiisan), banzai!

congrats old lady (man)!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Up Nort, Japan Style.

Rejoice, for today it is only 87% humidity.  That is the first time this week it’s been so low!  Sounds like time for a walk!

Or not.  Being outside in Nagoya right now perpetually feels just like when you wear shorts and sit in a crappy restaurant vinyl upholstered booth.  You know those booths.  They’re always a gross red/maroon color, and there’s at least one rip, spilling out some sort of knobby foam that is of questionable *maybe asbestos* quality.  Then you get up but the skin on the back of your legs is all “you may not leave, I have become one with this disgusting vinyl" and you shall just have to live here forever… or slowly *PEEL* yourself off this seat in one of the most uncomfortable feelings that can be felt.

Sticky, is what I mean.  It’s all just sticky.

At times like these, I become thankful for the determination and mad google skills of KP2, for last weekend she declared “Eff this noise!  Let’s get out of the city and find a river to relax in!”  Then she up and found just such a river a few hours north of here. 

So The Mister, The Australians™, and Mac all took a Sunday drive Up Nort, Japan style.
on the drive up.  we def. went through that mountain.
dog POV for the cookout
Once we were able to find a place that let us park our cars, we had a lovely river-side cook out and waded in the River for a few hours.  If anything can cut through the thick and dismal air that is Nagoya in the summertime, this crystal clear river is definitely that.

tucked out, stretched out, blissed out.

Mac was in his element.  He was so happy to go along ( and in turn, I was so happy to be able to give my puppy some space for him to stretch out a bit - thank you to The Australians™ for letting this dobermutt tag along! ).  His [old] showed a bit as he struggled to keep his footing on the slippery rocks of the riverbed, and of course, Mac merely wades, he does not swim, because he’s a ninny.  But regardless, he was the happiest dog ever.  It could have been better if we’d have let him stick his head out the window on the way home.  Alas, this was not to be because around 3:30pm the sky decided it was murder time.

I don’t like storms.  One might even go so far as to say I’m afraid of storms.  You know what?  You go ahead and make fun of me for being an adult that is afraid of water falling from the sky but I feel pretty strongly that my fears are reasonable.  Consider for a moment, that I hail from the Midwest U.S.  Aka “Tornado Alley,” you know, that part of the U.S. where the summer skies regularly open a can of whoop ass on any and everything as far as the eye can see.  I believe that I have managed to survive into my early thirties* due largely in part to my ability to look at the sky and say “TIME TO GO TO THE BASEMENT RIGHT NOW.” 
facebook proof from the past.

We heard it coming.  The rumbles started up long before we saw any clouds or lightening, and as such, we tried to just ignore it for a while.  The River was clear and cool, the air was warm but crisp, and we were all enjoying the sunshine.  A little while later the clouds rolled in, and then the wind went from pleasant to “exfoliate your face” strength.  Then the rain, and mere seconds later… THUNDER AND LIGHTENING and me/ Mac running for the car.

I only yelped like a stuck pig once as we packed up the car, and I didn’t get struck by lightening and die, so I’d call that a win.

Then we spent the next four hours in bumper to bumper Japanese traffic while the rain came down in buckets and the sky made it’s best impression of what it sounds like when you accidentally drop a spoon in the garbage disposal.

Apparently the storms followed us home.  Yesterday it rained so bad the TRAINS STOPPED.  Can we talk about how absurd that is?  Last year we had typhoons roll through and the worst that happened was one train delayed for about 10 minutes.  They flat cancelled whole train lines yesterday evening.  As someone who mostly sticks to the 5 mile radius I can walk to from our apartment, that was crazy weird to hear about, but not alarming.

…you know, until I remembered that The Mister is a two hour train ride away at work.  Except not a train ride.  Because the train is cancelled.  

Like many other Nagoyans yesterday, The Mister was stranded at the train station.  He sat for an hour hoping the lines would be restarted, to no avail.  He managed to find a few co-workers in the area that were also stuck in the same area, so they had dinner together, hoping again that the trains would restart.  Again, no luck.  So they tried to get a cab, which all the other THOUSANDS of people who were also stranded had already taken.  Long story short, yesterday, my husband excitedly texted me that he had managed to get out of work early for the first time in forever at 5pm… and he didn’t actually get home from work until a series of subways, buses and a few still functioning train lines found him here at 1am.

Like the biggest BAMF ever, he still went to work this morning at 6am.  I have no idea how he does it.  Mad props, Mister.

At least that’s all over and done with tho, yes?  What’s that?  The weather forecast for today says MORE thunderstorms?
well, so there's that then.
What’s your take on storms?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
watashi wa kaminari no kowai desu.
I am afraid of thunder.  

*Oh hey lookit that.  My birthday just so happens to be on Friday.  I’m taking a week off from blogging as a present to myself…. and then it’s Obon (Japanese holiday) and I can’t guarantee that I’ll be bringing a laptop along on our vacation so I will likely see y’all in two weeks!  Have adventures, I will do the same and we’ll come back here in a fortnight to discuss.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Should I acknowledge that I skipped a week on the blog?  I mean, we all know it’s because of PokémonGo right?  Yes, we all also know I’m a grown ass woman who *should* be beyond childish video games, but we also all know that I flipping love Pokemon and as a grown-ass adult woman I’m allowed to have weird hobbies and interests because you most certainly have them and you just don’t blog about me so LET ME LIVE.

*ahem*  sorry okay I’m fine.

There are certainly more phone zombies out on the streets, but I have to say that I’m really happy to have had such an easy in to conversations with native Japanese people in the park lately, and I’m particularly pleased as punch over the gym I won yesterday with the help of the oldest, most turtled little obaasan lady.  #TeamInstinct.  And that’s all I have to say about Pokemans.

So yesterday I returned home from a walk to put my key in the lock when I overheard the worst noise any cat owner can hear -if you’ve ever had a cat, you know the noise- it’s the “URK - URK - URK” that immediately proceeds an epic cat vomit.  Your response to this sound might, like me, be to find the offending feline as quickly as possible, so that it might be relocated to a space in the home that has laminate flooring for easier hork-clean up.  

In this particular instance, I was not fast enough.  I unlocked the door and burst into the hallway just in time to see Bubba going “exorcist-style” all over the tiny little couch.

ah yes, these are the types of photoshop skills that make my parents particularly proud of that art degree I have...

I mean, I know we don’t really ever sit on the stupid tiny couch, but I do still try and keep it un-vomit-y.  Except, then there’s cleaning products in Japan.  Which... can we just take a minute?

The Mister and I are planning a trip to the Navy base for Obon (mid August National holiday in Japan).   While many might think that I’m excited to hit up the commissary for some new clothes or American foods, what’s actually on my shopping-spree list of American goods is… cleaning products.  The Japanese stuff just seems weak to me.  Maybe it isn’t, but there is something comforting about the smell of antibacterial-chemicals that makes me actually feel like something is clean.  That is not an aroma that comes with any of the Japanese cleaning products I’ve found in our local grocery store.
yep, that's real.  I'm adulting.

On top of that, upholstery cleaning isn’t super common here?  That’s a guess I make because I have yet to find any cleaning products specifically for cleaning upholstered stuff like… couches.  

Long story short, yesterday I had to take the covers off all the couch cushions and run them through the wash - effectively leaving a frame of springs and discomfort in the middle of the living room.

Meanwhile Mac is adjusting to his new bed nicely.  Dog bed?  Nah.  They don’t make dog beds big enough for Mac-dogs here (just like they don’t make couches big enough for Kp-peoples…), so when this happened a week ago:

this look says "do you see this memory foam, ma?  it's all wrong for my lower lumbar support."
…we went out and bought yet another toddler’s mattress for our own princess-pooch and the pea.  He sleeps on three mattresses piled on top of each other because his aging joints like a little extra cushion, and also because that is the minimum limit of bedding for Mac to actually stay in that bed all night, instead of trying to crawl up into the people bed and shove me off the side at 2AM.

It’s a good thing they’re cute, is what I’m saying.

Is there something your adorable pets do that 
make you day-dream of scotch guard?  
Tell me in the comments?

today’s little language lesson
watashi no neko wa outoshmashita.

my cat threw up.