A Quick Note

I've been a little busy since Tuesday and haven't had time to post. All is well and I'm off this morning to pick up M at the airport when her flight arrives around 3:00. My parents called to report of her safe departure and had all sorts of heart warming compliments that made me awfully proud to be M's mom.

The siblings made a "Welcome Home" banner to hang on the wall and we'll have roll-your-own sushi rolls for dinner tonight to celebrate. I hope that M will be able to stay awake for dinner. We're all looking forward to seeing her today.


Festival Fun

The street in front of our house was closed for a few hours this afternoon for the annual YOSA KOI Dance Parade. The local commerce committees of neighborhoods at either end of the street hosted street party festivals and we spent the day being entertained and nibbling on barbecued seafood.

The kids were in a contest to see who could drink a bottle of fizzy soda called ramune http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramune the fastest to win two seats at a soccer game on Sunday night. My son finished first in his group of 6 1st and 2nd graders and then my daughter finished first in her group of 3rd and 4th graders so we now have 4 "SS reserved seats" at Ajinomoto Stadium in western Tokyo for a J League professional soccer game between Tokyo Verdy 1969 and Thespa Kusastu. It's nearby so I may send the kids alone if they're all ready for school the next day. I could wait outside at a cafe.

We were given some tickets for a neighborhood raffle. The prizes were donated by shops along the street where we live so they ranged from coupons for free massages at a neighborhood clinic, 11 lb boxes of greenhouse tangerines, autographed soccer goods, household electronics, cosmetics, coupons for yakitori chicken, rice crackers, a digital flat screen TV, a fancy semi-powered bicycle, 22 lb bags of rice etc. Friends and I laughed about how much we'd appreciate some of the prizes and which prizes we didn't really need, like a hair dryer or 30 lbs of kibble (not much hair, no dog).

The drawing began and a neighbor was the first to win a 5,000 yen box of two deluxe watermelons. We only had a few tickets and didn't expect to win anything but were enjoying the afternoon breeze and just being out with friends. It was a very big surprise to hear our number being called for the next prize, which was......drum roll......the hair dryer.

I and my friends whooped with laughter as J went up to pick up our new powerful 1200w professional-use beauty tool, retail value 8,190 yen. It is probably nicer than the dryer we already have which nobody ever uses but we've decided to put it up for sale in a local Tell and Sell Yahoo group. I think it would blow what little hair I have right off.


Final Week of Summer

We're down to the final few days of summer (but not necessarily the summer heat) and will spend this week shuffling stuff around the apartment making sure all the back-to-school things are in order and that space is cleared to make room for M's return. L will spend this afternoon finishing up his summer homework so we can check it, put it in his school bag and forget about it. N will have a friend over to complete their joint origami project and torment L.

I took N and L with me to a foreign wives coffee morning and was glad to see some nice ladies and hear how their summers have gone. Having the young ones with me meant that I didn't have to rush home to feed them lunch so we did a little shopping with some department store coupons I'd been carrying around for a while and bought some dinner ingredients and a little gourmet ice cream to treat them for being generally well behaved.

I spent the rest of the day tying up loose ends on a few jobs, taking L to the dentist and cooking dinner. The school pool will re-open for a final week of swimming fun tomorrow so I won't have to work so hard to keep N and L entertained.


Nine Days

Nine days until M returns. We are all anxious to see her soon. Cousin Richard sent some photos from a family gathering and we were glad to see that all look well.

Today's trip to Tsukiji was uneventful. It was a little busy this morning and I had to wait a little after my consultation with Dr. F. before my blood test results arrived on his computer. He saw a few patients after my exam and called me back in when the results were available to ask a few more questions and send me on my way upstairs to the chemo room. It was almost 11 by the time a recliner opened and my costly cocktails were mixed and ready for my IV to begin. I watched a Steve Martin movie on a DVD player, both borrowed from the nurse station, during my Herceptin hour and napped on steroids for my time on Taxol.

I walked out of the gentle airconditioning of the Cancer Center into the wilting Tokyo summer heat and swam through the humidity a hundred yards to the subway station and its cooler underground air and highly airconditioned trains. Now I'm at home on the 7th floor with all the windows and doors open, catching late afternoon breezes and thinking about actually starting on some of the translation work which has a Thursday deadline as well as about what to do for dinner. Harry Belafonte is telling Senora to shake shake shake, jump in "de" line and rock her body in time and the steel drums and calyspo are helping us pretend we like the weather.


Crayfish Crisis

L brought one of the second grade crayfish home to take care of over the summer. It had grown considerably since its capture over a year ago when the then first graders hiked to a nearby agricultural high school's experimental farm to fish for the creatures in the farm pond, which must have been stocked for that purpose every single child managed to catch one...The students who didn't want to keep a crayfish as a pet at home let theirs go back into the farm pond and each group of four or five students adopted one to keep at school and observe.

The clear plastic case had a list of names of the children in his group who usually take care of feeding the crustacean and cleaning the cage during the school year. None of them volunteered for the summer job so L brought the case home with him on the last day of school, along with a plastic bottle with a baby crayfish for him to keep, and did a fairly good job of making sure the water was changed and food was offered regularly with a little help from N. His friends asked about the crayfish from time to time, making sure that their group still had a crayfish.

Well...while we were off on our annual camping trip, the balcony must have gotten too hot as both crayfish failed to survive three days of neglect, even though we'd tried to shade their cases to keep them out of any direct sunlight. L was very sad at the loss and also worried about what his group would do without a crayfish. We decided to tell his friends about the demise of their crayfish and ask them if they felt we should take some chunks of squid on string to try to catch a new crayfish for their group to observe. They all agreed that they were sorry to lose their original crayfish but that they still wanted to care for a crayfish at school from September.

So...N, L and I headed off on our bikes for L's first (very wobbly) on-road bike ride to see if the ag. school farm about a mile away was open to the public or not and if we could catch and keep a crayfish or two. The teacher in charge told us that usually they don't allow the crayfish to be taken home as it would be a problem if people let them go in local rivers and the crayfish population became a problem. When I explained the situation, he agreed to let us catch two to take to school in September. Whew! Now L will write about his exciting first bike ride and the crayfish crisis as part of his summer homework.


Smooth Sailing

I arrived at the National Cancer Center early and had to wait a while for the reception desk near the examination rooms to open so I could give them my patient card to get my charts and have my oncologist authorize the day's treatment. A few minutes before the offices opened for the morning, my oncologist came striding down the hall and gave me a big smile on his way to his examination room. He must have decided that I looked well enough for treatment because he came back out of the "authorized personnel only" area a few seconds later to ask me for my bar-coded patient card so he could personally access the hospital computer and authorize my treatment a few minutes early. The receptionist was surprised to see me already on my way up to the chemo room on her way to the reception desk and I was finished with treatment early enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch with one of the wonderful women who have been encouraging and supporting me through these treatments. Now I feel very refreshed and am ready for for our annual camping trip, except for the picnic lunch that I should be making as I type...Okay okay! I'm on my way to the kitchen and beyond.