A Cycle of Sorts

Monday I'd been looking forward to a visit by a former student Ikue, a very pleasant young woman whom the children adore. I cleaned up the place a little bit (never seems to make much of a difference) and bought some snacks and green tea. The recent lack of my bicycle meant that snacks and tea were about all I could carry in a single shopping trip so I decided I'd order rice and a few other heavy things for delivery on Tuesday and stretch the cup or so left in the storage bin.

Ikue's brother, Ken, who helps out at our language school from time to time, called to let us know that she'd arrive around 3:00 p.m. and that he'd be with her. He was hit by a car last week and has a splint on his leg and tape on his wrist so they came by cab. We were glad to hear that there were no broken bones but it sounds like his bicycle was totalled.

The doorbell rang while I was changing so I had M answer it. I heard her thanking someone and she came to the kitchen with a bag full of freshly picked tomatoes from "some lady with a dog, a chihuahua maybe..." So now I have to ask our building manager who might have a small dog and a plot in the community garden to figure out exactly where the delicious fruit came from.

As I was relaxing just after lunch, my cancer survivor friend from the fourth floor decided to stop by with a six and a half pound sack of rice. She'd been getting behind in consuming all the rice her meal and grocery delivery service had delivered and "needed some help." She stayed for tea and chatted away until the doorbell rang and our anticipated guests arrived and made her way downstairs after asking to to keep her updated on this week's CT scan results.

Ikue and Ken brought ice cream and now own the souls of the two younger children who were home and the little boy from downstairs who'd been hanging out here all day. They also brought a gift box of Asahi beer which S is enjoying this week. Ken produced two birthday gifts, one each for L and N who will have birthdays while we're in the States. L was very happy with his Pokemon cards and N with her puzzles which she insisted on doing right away with help from us all. It was a pleasant afternoon with no bickering on the part of my children, probably because two of them were away.

A few minutes after or afternoon guests left, the little old lady from the third floor shuffled in with her usual greeting "Is your mom home?" I always answer with a hello and a yes I'm home to which she dejectedly replies "Oh, she's not home?" and I have to convince her that I am really here and guide her to a chair. She brought her shopping bag and wanted to know if I could top up her rice supply. She has a large Ziploc bag that holds about five pounds of rice (or so I thought). I transferred the new supply from the fourth floor to the bag and learned that it actually holds about six and a half pounds. She's helping the lady on the fourth floor now. I also had some cans of fish, curry roux, a cabbage, some pork and some Japanese bottled sauce that she likes to refill her refrigerator and pantry. She asks for these things a few times a month and pays me back when her pension is deposited to her bank account every two months.

While I was guiding the lady back to the third floor and carrying her food, the next door lady rang the bell and gave N five tickets for free admission to the Yomiuriland pool a few stations away from here. Of course N couldn't remember her name and described her as the cute old lady with glasses who likes music. I was able to thank her when I saw her in the hall the next morning, taking out the trash.

I love how stuff seems to go around like this. Last week a few frozen fish from Kyushu offered to our building manager (also from Kyushu) turned into a can of beer a few evenings later. Somebody had given it to him and he gave it to me to share with a visiting friend while we were up on the roof watching fireworks.

Round and round it all goes.


Summer Vacation - Almost

J's last day of school was Wednesday but her after school club, the wind orchestra, is so active that they'll be practicing every day all summer so she gets up and heads off to school every morning anyway. The string orchestra, wind orchestra and glee club have pooled their resources to book four large buses and rent an entire hotel (well, a medium sized ski lodge) in the mountains of Nagano for four days next week for an intensive training camp. She'll return the evening of the same day that N departs for her three day trip to the Chiba coast with the sixth grade. This means a little more space on the floor for the non-travellers to sleep in comfort for five nights next week. N is happy that she'll return just in time for the local summer festival at school.

M finished school today and has her package of summer homework which I hope she starts soon so we can leave much of it here when we travel. She wasn't too happy with her report card but she did better than I expected she would from the amount of effort seen (more like not seen) this term. Fortunately none of the grades were below average. We have a student-parent-teacher conference first thing Tuesday morning where we'll talk about her hopes and plans for high school and what she'll need to do to achieve them. She's having trouble imagining past a day or two in the future and thinking about the next three years seems a little daunting. Attempts to open conversation remain unappreciated so far. Aaah teenagers - I'm not sure which is tougher; being one or having one (or two or three).

N and L have the same three day weekend and then a morning of school before they bring home their report cards and stacks of summer homework assignments. The rest of their school stuff is clogging up the entryway where they dumped it before running off to play in the park. Again, I hope they can tackle most of it before heading to the airport. I'd hate to have them do all this work and have it lost in transit on the way back.


Shopping with my fingertips

Until April, my bicycle was the equivalent of the Ford Country Squire my mom used to drive in the 1970s. I ferried kids around on it until they were old enough to ride their own bicycles and I transported tons of groceries home. I even stacked a new set of futons on it and rode home one day to save the $12 delivery fee. I didn't appreciate my vehicle until I found myself suddenly unable to use it in April.

When I started having hallucinations and couldn't ride straight on my may home from shopping in April, I quickly got of the bike and pushed it home through the myriad of telephone poles, sign posts and even buildings which kept jumping out at me from the left. If I hadn't been dealing with cancer in the first place, I might have been terrified; "What is this?!" Instead I just called my oncologist and took care of it right away.

The doctors confirmed that my optic nerve was slightly compressed due to swelling around the tumors they found in my brain and I had medication to decrease the swelling before and after surgery. The most recent MRI I had showed that my brain is clear of cancer (good!)and that the swelling in my brain that was still evident immediately post surgery was gone. This is great, except I still don't feel confident riding my bike.

The neurosurgeon says that it may take some time but I tend to think that I'll end up getting by OK by compensating and looking around more carefully rather than relying on my peripheral vision. In the meantime, I can walk to the store and buy and carry enough food for a meal or two at a time, or I can order groceries from the same store online and have them deliver. A combination of the two has been working well and nobody is going hungry.

Still, I miss jaunts on my Country Squire.