Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I will miss you AC!

I haven't blogged in a while. I haven't felt like it. In the past month I  have lost 2 great aunts and a 3rd has brain cancer.  I sometimes just get so sad.

AC (short for aunty Cathy) is the aunt I grew up with. She would have been 91 in July.  She was my grandma's sister and those 2 were always together. Every Thursday they went shopping together. They could finish each other's sentences. They could drive each other nuts. But they were always there for each other.

Every Christmas eve we went to my aunt's house for pigs tails, sang songs around the piano and even roasted chestnuts on the fire one year. She wore bells around her ankle for Christmas so she "jingled" when she walked!   I turned to both her and my grandma when I couldn't talk to my parents.My grandma and my aunt took me on vacations in the summer.  It was my aunt who took me on vacation to Vancouver when I was 16. Every holiday and birthday and anniversary was celebrated at my grandma's house with my aunt. Some of my happiest memories are hanging out with my grandma and my aunt. She made a waldorf salad that my brother loved. Her favorite drink was an "old-fashioned". We used to tease her about having 1 drink, getting tipsy and flirting with the waiter.  My grandma and aunt would sometimes break into song at the dinner table. We used to argue about the word "lady". I didn't like it. She did.  She would always say  that it was pronounced "ToronTo" not "Torono". She hated it when people didn't properly enunciate words.

I wish I could have seen her more often but living on the other side of the world  it just wasn't possible. This is the down side to living here. 

Here are some pictures I scanned in.

This first one is of my grandmother and aunt helping me skip rope.

This one is of both of  us on one of our summer trips in the 70's.

This one is of all the women in my  immediate family. AC is in front sitting down. My sister is to the right of her (in the purple dress). My grandmother is between my sister and I (I'm wearing black and have glasses) and my mother is next to me. This was taken the day before my sister and I moved to Japan almost 13 years ago. My sister and I were living in Vancouver and my mom, aunt and grandmother flew out to see us before we left. I love this picture and have had it on display since moving here. It is hard for me to look at since my grandmother and now my aunt are gone but it is still one of my favorite pictures.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The earthquake = no milk and more!

There was just another aftershock- 6.something. The aftershocks  won't stop and neither will the effects from the earthquake.

When the earthquake and tsunami hit no one could have imagined it would mean a shortage of yogurt, cola, milk, magazines, manga etc. But that is the reality.

The problem is the packaging. The companies who make yogurt and other containers are either shut down or working at a lower capacity for a number of reasons...gas/power and/or raw materials. My hubby went to the 7-11 today and there is no cola, yogurt and other items. A lot of items that require certain kinds of packaging are hard to find. 

For example:

canned food
shampoo etc
laundry soap

Here is a little chart to show the Japanese people what products will be affected.

Another thing I found both interesting and sad is the power issue.  I'm guessing most reading this don't know that unlike most countries Japan has 2 different power systems. From Nagoya up to Hokkaido they use the German system of 50Hz while we here in the south use the American system of 60Hz.  So...imagine you are living in New York and you move to Florida...you bought a fabulous fridge in New York so of course you want to take it with you. It's no problem, right? Not here. If you live in Tokyo and you move to Fukuoka (where I live),  you CAN NOT  bring your large electrical appliances.... they won't work!!!  Companies here in Japan have to make 2 slightly different versions of the same product so that they can be sold throughout the country. Hard to believe isn't it?  That is why we here in the south can't help the people up north.  That is why there will be rolling outages in Tokyo and surrounding areas. Turning off lights and conserving energy here does nothing to help those in need. It is so hard to imagine.

While the earthquake and tsunami are completely nature made, the nuclear problems and this power divided country are man made problems and  that is just sad when you think about it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

50% Off Sale!

I don't normally blog about  our stores on this particular blog but in this case I decided to since we are having a big sale!

In Japan, April is the season of new beginnings!  We are making some changes for our business and have decided to stop carrying certain items in our store (or clear out older products to make room for new items) so we are offering them at 50% off.

The following items are all 50% off

* Craft Books
* Memo Pads
* Clay Kits
* All Fabric
* Appliques
* Fabric tape and ribbon
* Gift bags
* Letter Sets
* Bags
* Re-ment Miniatures
* Felt
* Pencils
* Buttons
* Clay Molds
* Wood clips

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Since the earthquake and tsunami...

While we are far from the disaster area we are still a little affected by it.  Last week we went to a big supermarket but they were out of tissue (kleenex) and it can be difficult to find bottled water here. People are panic buying for themselves and to send to family up north.

Because of the disaster, there are rolling blackouts in the areas and prefectures (states) surrounding Tokyo. My friend lives in Tokyo and she was talking about this. It is not so bad now as it is spring but in the summer this could be hell as it is extremely hot and  humid in Japan in the summer.  Of course, it is hard for her to find some things as well...bottled water, some foods etc though apparently it is getting better.

 And in Urayasu  city-best know for Disneyland- they are having many problems. While they are quite far from the epicenter, because the city was basically built on reclaimed land the ground basically liquefied causing all kinds of problems. They don't have running water, sewer pipes have just popped up and many building are not "attached" to the ground anymore. This video is amazing...but it won't let me embed it so here is the link.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rVDKK3yoWs

One thing that I found to be strange is that on TV there are almost no commercials (companies feel it is in bad taste to advertise their products-even after 3 weeks). Instead they have these "good manners commercials". They talk about things like don't be mean to  people,  help people etc. My younger students are quite unhappy about seeing them all the time and complain to me every week (they are starting to get on my nerves as well). Here are a few that are on all the time.

This first one says not to forget that touching says more than words. Touching people is not part of the Japanese culture so I think this one was interesting to watch.I might have mentioned it before but I once had a student who was embarrassed to admit that she still  hugged her grandchildren who were 8 and 10. And I have never seen my husband hug or really touch his parents.


This next one is pretty easy to understand.

This one is about remembering to be polite and say "hello", "bye", "thank  you", "I'm home" etc.

Well...that should give you some more ideas of what is going on here in Japan. My friend in Tokyo is very optimistic and told me that she  believes Japan will come out of this stronger. I think she is right.


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