Sunday, March 18, 2007


So I wanted to do a chronological thing here with the blog, however that means that it would be time to talk about Christmas and I'd really l don't want to talk about that anymore. Depressing. To sum it up in a sentence or two, we had guests (my Dad and brother) and it seems everybody was either sick or injured, then more sick. We had no doctors yet and the communication with the Japanese doctors at the local clinic wasn't going well, we were given improper medicines and on and on. Pneumonia, twisted ankles, non-stop coughing, fevers... But it's over. All are well and we now have a fantastic German doctor in Tokyo who I am completely loyal to. And anyway I want to write about two great things that happened this weekend...

First, we had decided to go back to Colorado for a portion of the summer. But our house is rented by friends, so, no where to live. Looked and looked for a house rental via internet---not easy to find a fully furnished house in or near our neighborhood for only 7 weeks, and the corporate housing 2 bedroom apartments were off-the-charts expensive. But! One of my girlfriends found a place, right next door to her, the lower level apartment of a house. fully furnished, has everything and it's in our neighborhood and it's dirt cheap. Relief. Thank-you Aileen!

Secondly, just around the corner from our house here in Japan, is a really, really old falling apart house, where a 102 year old woman lived. She passed away around 3 years ago, and nobody ever came to claim anything in it (or not much). The house and all of its contents was starting to be bull-dozed on Saturday, so my German neighbor Markus came over after a portion of it was torn down and the dozers left, to go, you guessed it, looting. We put on our thug hats.

I can't believe what was in that house. First of all, it was a bit dangerous because parts of the wood floor were torn up, and some boards were loose so you had to watch where you stepped and hope that a weak board didn't cave right under you. It was like a haunted house-- cold, really dusty, mouse turds, webs, creaking floors... But the stuff! Hundreds of old books, blankets, linens, furniture, Japanese arts/crafts, a full kitchen of everything--glasses, plates, stacks of Japanese sake and tea cups and pots, even several old bags of dried up, cracked up noodles. Hundreds and hundreds of antique Japanese photographs, the kind with women in real authentic kimonos. Tons of ephemera for collage, old tins and tools...I could go on and on. I had quite a rush, flying through all of this stuff, occasionally dropping things and peeking out the busted windows hoping the nearby neighbors were not catching a glimpse of this very odd, very non-Japanese behavior, possibly calling the police. It was also quite sad, in a way, to see that this is how all the belongings of this old woman ended up--in big dirty,dusty heaps, being stolen by gaijin. (foreigners). I mean, didn't she have kids or grandkids that at least wanted those lovely old photos that are really in superb condition?

We hauled all of the goodies we wanted to a big pile near the entrance, and then later on, after dark, went with a flashlight to carry them home, hopefully unnoticed. One day later and no knocks on the door....We will divvy it all up soon. I got 3 nice pieces of furniture. They need a bit of fixing up and I started sanding today. Lots of old 'bits'...don't know what I'm going to do with 'em, but they are old, with character, and from Japan. Groceries are pricey here but no, I didn't take the noodles.

I really enjoyed looting and can't wait to do it again one day.

The goods

Ira here...

Ethical question: Is it wrong to bring a 14-month-old to a looting? Being from the Bronx I didn't give it much thought, but afterwards it struck me as perhaps something most people might frown upon.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Back to Japan

Ok, ....we have been here in Japan for just over 4 months now, and this blog has been sitting here..... so lonely, so sad, for just as long. My "B" blogger icon has been just waiting forever to be clicked.

Sorry it has taken so long to get anything posted, but by the end of the night, there are times when I can barely string a sentence together let alone write anything remotely interesting.

So here we are again, back in Japan.
I have wondered, several times, since we moved here ..... why I again signed up for this madness.

Will somebody please tell me???

For those of you who didn't know, we lived here for approximately 2 years back in 1992-1994

The first 2 months were pretty much " what have I done..... how do I get out of this with the least amount of pain"? type of attitude.
Where do I even begin with all the 'fun stuff'?? Well first of all, having a 1- year old no matter where you live is not easy. Put that together with transporting your whole family to a really different culture on the other side of the planet and what do you get?

A gigantic wine bill.

So we live in a quiet and quaint neighborhood in Setagaya-ku, about 20 minutes outside of Tokyo. A very pleasant area, located conveniently between 2 train stations. We live in a 2 story home, 4-house compound, (not typical in our neighborhood, it is pretty much for foreigners--and more than likely viewed by the Japanese as 'mansions'.) We have 3 German neighbors, one family French/German. All have kids of varying ages, that have quickly made friends with ours. All very lovely people, very helpful, and I am picking up a bit of German.

Our kids, Celia, 13, Joseph 10, and Kevin, 6 attend private, international Catholic schools. All-boy, all-girl, uniforms-- the whole bit. It is quite different from the public schools, back in Golden Colorado, as they have religion and Japanese classes. They even attend 'mass'. This photo here is of a yard down the street in our neighborhood.

They have all adjusted quite well, despite the major upheaval. Joseph was especially excited, to my surprise, about wearing a tie and blazer to school, as he could "dress like James Bond everyday." So the first few weeks were quite frustrating in the mornings, getting all those buttons, (some of them popping across the room in anger...) figuring the tie, dressing like you are going to Sunday school every morning, but they have pretty much now got it down.

We were all plagued with the season-changing illnesses as we arrived, on November 1. Flu stuff going around, then around again. And again. So just when the kids were getting used to the new schools and catching up on the curriculum, they'd fall behind another week.
Ok, so we got through that and no talk of divorce.

Ira here...Don't know what Katrina's talking about. It's all been going so smoothly...