Friday, June 29, 2012


This week 8 years ago my Mom passed away.  She had cancer of the oesphagus.  She had been ill for about 3 years, complaining that she couldn't swallow and that almost everything she ate got stuck.  She was diagnosed a few weeks after Hannah was born.  Hannah's birth was traumatic.  She was born after just 26 weeks pregnancy, weighing only 900grams.  I lost it and spent hours on the phone to Mom, I called everyday,  most the time just crying.  My Mom never said how sick she was.  Hannah was born the begining of May, from June my Mom was in and out of hospital for tests, chemo and other operations to help her.  It wasn't until the next February that she told me that she had caancer and about a year to live!
But that was the kind of woman my Mom was.  She knew that I was scared when Hannah was born (I had two miscarriages before Hannah) and knew that I couldn't handle anymore stress.  She wanted me at home,  I'm the only daughter, but she wiouldn't dump her troubles on me. 

My Mom was one crazy woman.  She was always doing things that were daft.  I remember fairy wings and secret chocolate from Santa's elves.  Christmas was her big thing, no matter how tight money was she did Christmas.  She worked at a church as a cleaner when I was very young.  She loved the quiet and peace in there, she wasn't particually religious but she believed in God and the goodness in people. She taught me that the colour of a persons skin was not important but what they are like inside counts.
She also taught me to cook and make messes,  that water fights and snowball fights are fun.  That life can be crappy but somehow the bad times pass and the sun will shine.   She believed in living now because we never know when our time is up.  I remember shopping with her when I visited the UK during the mad cow scare.  Beef was so cheap, nobody wanted to risk getting BSE.  We were in a market, the butcher had this lovely piece of roast which would normally cost at least 20pounds but nobosy wanted to buy it, so he was selling it off for 5pounds.  My Mom snapped it up.  The woman next to her said "Don't you know you could get sick and die from eating that"   My Moms answer "Lady I could walk out of here and get hit by a bus an die,  if you don't want to risk getting hurt stay in bed"   She felt that life was risky, it is, but if we hide we don't live.  The last few years of her life were full of adventures.  She stared swimming lessons, did car boot sales, and went to the theater, she made new friends and deepened the friendships  she had.  She beat breast cancer and leg problems, she didn't give into  fear when she was mugged just round the corner from her home. 
She was the best Mom for me, she drove me crazy and we had all sort of fights but all I had to say was "Mom" and she would hug me and all was forgotten.  There are many questions I wished I had asked.  When I was 4 years old my younger brother was born, a couple of months later my Granddad (Mom's dad) came to stay.  He was very ill, basically an invalid, he couldn't move by himself so Mom had to do everything for him.  But my memory is confused, and it is driving me crazy.  I remember the sofa being in a place across the room, not where it usually was on the back wall.  I'm wondering if it got moved just for Granddad.  Silly little thing but it drives me crazy.

Most of the photos I have of Mom are print and I have no idea how to get them into the computer.
Here are some from the last visit, a year before she passed on

Feeding Hannah, Mom loved her grandkids
I was asked to choose one of the songs for her funeral.  My Dad chose 'Some enchanted evening', the song he sang to her when they were courtiing.

My chocie was one of Mom's favourite songs, 

Now I have to go as I'm crying.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Poor hubby had to have a tooth removed yesterday.  He came home with his jaw swollen.  The gums around the tooth we red and inflamed.  He managed to get a last minuete appointment and came back unable to talk properly....peace!!   But he had to teach a junior high class, he managed okay.  I know if were me I would just go to bed.  I HATE dentists but my teeth are bad and I have to week or the week after or sometime.

The great bedroom challenge came to grinding halt!  It just seems so hard to get things put away.  I think it is my fault.  I like things to hand,  I find it hard to put things away because I know I will need them someday.  So I have piles all over the place, pile clothes here, books there, papers on my desk.  And it looks like my kids have the same habit.  But habits can be changed.  I am trying, one pile at a time.  My teaching room is in disorder because of this habit, today and tomorrow I need to sort and throw out stuff that is not useful, I have loads of prints that the kids  teach have done, they are finished but I keep them, why?  So cleaning and decluttering.  Got to get the habit!!

Also I forget to say where my hometown is when I wrote about being homesick!!  I'm from Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands.  It's an industrial area and even though it is my hometown it is not a place I would recommend for vistitors.  There are some lovely places and many historical places as well but some areas are dangerous with crime and gang problems.  Even the local area that I grew up in has problems now and people are advised to be careful when walking out in the evening.  My Mom was attacked just round the corner from her house, the same area that I use to deliver newspapers when I was a teen!

This is a link to google maps, I tried to put in here but it wouldn't work!

Little update.  I found that Wolverhampton has a page on Wikpedia

Even I learnt something, the first automatic traaffic lights in the UK were in Wolverhampton.  As you scroll down you will see the areas in Wolverhampton.  I grew up in the  Lanesfield, Woodcross area and my school was in Parkfields.  When I was a teen I spent most of my Saturday mornings in Bilston and even worked on the market there for few months.  Furthur down the page is a list of places nearby.  Bridgnorth is where I was born and lived until I was about four.  All these places bring many memories to me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Great Bedroom Challenge

I am the first to admit that I don't like cleaning.  I hate it but it has to be done!   I spend a lot of time keeping the downstairs rooms in some sort of order and making sure that the kitchen isn't growing mold and other nasty things that the bedrooms get neglected.  So last weekend was the bedroom challenge.  Bedrooms should be peaceful and inviting, a place to go to at the end of a stressful day.  The bedrooms here are a disaster area, full of traps for unwary visitors!

Hannah's room,there is a floor, somewhere!

See a disater    

Mikey and David's room, the drawers are empty!

Same room from the window,even the walk in closet is a disaster!
 So Saturday afternoon we started.  Furniture has been moved, dust has been swept up, things are looking better, but not finished.

This is how I feel everytime I look at the bedrooms!

I keep telling myself that it is a work in progress otherwise I would go crazy!

Sunday I made stuffed peppers for dinner.  Kind of okay, at least no soya sause or miso!  Could of used more taste in the sauce.  Next time!

Stuffed peppers with tomatoe sauce

Of course we had salad and some fried chickedn cutlets for the fussy eaters

Today it has been cool, which is nice for me.    Hannah had a new dress last Friday, she had to wear it today.


Friday, June 22, 2012

What to make for lunch?

That is the question I ask everyday!  Recently I have gone off Japanese food, I think hubby made udon noodles once to often in the winter and just the thought of soya taste makes me feel sick.  But this is Japan and I have a budget.  So a few days a week I make Japanese style meals.  Today I made Gyudon, beef bowl.  The recipe I use is from a book I got years ago called "Stone Soup", I think it's out of print now, but I love this book.  It has all the basic recipes plus it is written in both Japanese and English,  helps when I don't know what the ingredients are!

The basic ingredients beef and shirataki

The finished product

Salad to balance all that meat
My kids love this and always want more.  I don't make too often though it is easy.
The recipe from the book is for just one serving,  I just add more of everything to make enough for six of us.

                                      Beef Bowl  (Gyudon)     For one person

                2oz (60gr)   beef, sliced thin
                1/4  onion
                1/4 pack of shiratake ( thin strands of konnyaku)
                1/2Tbsp. vegetable oil
                1/2Tbsp. sugar
                1/2 Tbsp. sake
                1  Tbsp.  soy sauce
                1/2   cup of dashi

                1 cup of steamed rice

    Cut meat into bite-sized pieces.  Slice onion thin.  Cut shirataki into 2ins (5cm) length and boil them briefly.

    Heat oil.  Add onions and saute until tender.  Add beef.
    When beef changes color add sugar,sake, soy sauce and dashi, in that order.  Add shirataki noodles,
cook about 5 minutes more.
     Place rice in large donburi bowl and arrange beef, onion and shiratake on top, spoon sauce over generously.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homesick....kind of

Each summer I get homesick.  I think the heat and humidity here are too much for me and I want to escape to cooler climes.  Of course that is impossible, so I make do with the Internet.  I found a great site that has photos near my home.

This is the street next to my parents street and shows the kind of houses in the area, of course it is raining
             © Copyright Gordon Griffiths and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The church my Mom use to work at,

               © Copyright John M and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

My elementary school
          © Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
These photos are from a great site You can search almost anywhere in the UK and see photos of the area.  I love this site!

This is near my parents as well, taken on our last trip, 9 years ago

 Just a little look into my home.  Between the Internet, watching English dramas and lots of tea I will get through my homesickness!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012


The rainy season started a couple of weeks ago but we were lucky here in north Kyushu and no rain until Friday.  Then the heavens opended and it poured!   I like a good rain storm but with 4 kids more than one day of rain really makes for a mountain of laundry.  Yesterday was cloudy so I managed to wash the school stuff.  Today it has rained on and off.  Hubby has been trying to get the garden done, every time he went out it would rain.  Looks like he has the bitter gourd planted (ゴーヤ).  hope it grows as it provides great shade against the heat of summer.  Hubby's plan is have them grow all round the house, it will really be a green house!

The start of the goya!

I know they are beautiful but they always remind me of rain

Hannah ready for the rain,she has new rain boots, didn't get a photo of those!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Doctors visit and kewpie dolls

Yesterday I went to the doctor.  I'm not sick but this year I turn fifty and I can get a free basic health check.  So I went for it!!   The only shock I got was that I have lost 4cms, I use to be 162cms tall but I am now 158. I couldn't believe it!    Got blood drawn (will get results next month), had a pee pee test.  Then saw the doctor, he checked my mouth.  "Oh you don't have many teeth"  he said, my answer was "I know that". Checked blood pressure, normal, listened to my heart and stomach both okay.  Looked a the pee pee test result, no diabetes.  The doc takes one more look at me and stated the obvious "You are fat".  I just smile and wonder how many years of medical training did he have to come up with that!!!

On a totally different note.  What my oldest boys do with kewpie dolls!!  I was in the bathroom the other night and this is what I found when I came out.  By the way, the dolls were for Hannah, this was Mikey and Davids doing, they are only 20 and 18, years not months!

The march of the kewpie dolls

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Some magpies have built a nest in one of our trees.  The adult birds have given us hours of free
entertainment.  They strut about the garden, creep up to the dogs food and if they feel very courageous they
get into the food bowl!  But now the eggs have hatched and the noise that the chicks make is incredible.
Early mornings, 5am, are the worst.  I get that they are hungry and want Mom and Dad to fed them, but I don't need to know!!

The nest, it is really big.

In other gardening news, our green curtain is growing.   Last year hubby planted some goya, the vines grew up to roof and provided some relief from the heat.  We are hoping for the same this year, especially since we are being asked not to run air conditioners all the time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Not a good start!

I have been meaning to write the past few weeks but.......
things happen, I get busy, kids get sick and time flies!  

For some unknown reason I have gone off Japanese food.  I just can't face another bowl of miso soup or
                Hannah has been helping me in the kitchen, this is the salad she made by herself.

What to say?  Mikey with an eye for the future?
soy sauce tasting dish.  So I have been making different things.  The other day I made coq au vin and then a French cake for dessert.  That was nice and went down well.  I need to get my thinking cap on and come up with different things!