Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Fun in the Kitchen

The Japanese cuteness that I once thought was so goofy is slowly drawing me in. Well I guess it's still goofy. Here's the tiny fry pan I bought just for eggs the other day.

A bit odd, but tasty.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hurry and get it

Candles and all.

Seriously family and friends, The Blooms wish you all a wonderful Christmas and Holiday.
Ira put in a Christmas CD and I just finished listening to 'Merry Christmas to You' by Nat King Cole, and it's really making me miss everyone back home. California, New York, Michigan, Colorado, and others scattered around the US.

May you enjoy some good comfort food, family, and relaxation with your feet up on a big cozy couch.

Miss and love you all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas in Japan

Shinto and Buddhism are the two major religions here in Japan, but I am seeing an awful lot of cheesy Santa's around here. The Japanese love American stuff and Santa sure didn't get left behind. I think they are pretty clueless about the holiday (just as Americans are clueless about theirs) but yet it is fully embraced. A couple of Christmas traditions here:

The Christmas cake. That's right. A big fluffy whipped cream cake topped with strawberries. Beautiful. Expensive. (and small.) I have heard that the Japanese are stunned to hear that most Americans probably don't have the fluffy cake. It's a Japanese thing.

KFC. Christmas Eve dinner. Get your order in early. At least 3 weeks before. People line up to pick up their dinners. I was wondering why there were so many KFC ads, lined with holly and tinsel. KFC cleans up here in Japan every year--I have got to figure a way to get this country to believe in some other wacky American tradition that I can get in on. Anybody have any thoughts? Wow, when something catches on, it goes ballistic!

Christmas Eve is considered a romantic holiday so I understand. Mostly for young couples to be out together, showing the world they have somebody special. Girls, if you don't have a man for the Christmas Eve KFC, go home, go to bed, and don't bother celebrating anything. Santa comes to Kevie's classroom

That's him, back row left, lost tie.

Making Christmas crafts

Ira and I occasionally discuss how to make money over here. Something very simple.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fall is here

Here's a couple shots of nature in Kinuta park yesterday.

A really lovely fall day.

Something I say a lot in this country

About the Finnish cafe that I mentioned a few posts back... I decided to wait for a weekday to go visit because it was so packed on the weekends, with people lined up outside looking at the menu waiting to get in.

Well we drove past it, and it didn't even exist anymore. Absolutely bare, not a trace that it was ever even there. I wonder if I dreamt the whole thing up.
Was it a movie set or something?

Just one of the many very odd things that happen here in Japan, and you never find out why.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I guess Joe wins 1st place in "most creative with hotel room furniture"

We love travel disaster 4 -

Our driver

Ira finally makes it down with the baby in the pack from the hill/mountain.
He is getting it from all directions, as his legs are on fire from the steep hill down: vendors, kids (the vendors know how to work kids here and attempt to bargain with them too) and me... firing conversion questions--

How much is 350 RMB???

what's 20% of 422????"

How many US dollars is 719 RMB"?????

It takes Ira about .004 seconds to do any currency conversion in his head-- I can do it, I just have to go sit down under a tree somewhere for awhile to figure it.

Also, it is quite funny the way Ira bargains. He does it in a long and painful way, but he does get the rock bottom price.

Ira: How much for that opium pipe?

rip-off vendor: How much you pay?

Ira: I pay 2 cents.

rip-off vendor: What? ha ha! You funny. 80 dollars. Antique! bargain!

Ira: Ok, Here is my final price. 3 cents. Final!

rip-off vendor: You crazy! Ok, 60 dollars. No lower. Best Price!

Ira: goodbye. (turns and walks)

rip-off vendor: Wait! 35 dollars! for you only!

So this goes on for awhile. I don't have the patience, but Ira will go on and on.

His final price is maybe 10 bucks.

We are trying to get out of the crazy vendor souvenir alley, and back to our car in the lot. It's nuts here. Celia then walks up to Ira a bit upset-- she bargained to have a stamp with her name inscribed on it in English and Chinese, and paid for it in advance while they made it. But then forgot which stall she bought it from, and nobody was admitting to having the stamp.

So Ira steps in and starts asking various vendors who took her money for the stamp. Well all those chatty-please-come-here vendors suddenly got hush hush.

*This* is when you get mad. All of that being nice -nice while these people are bugging the crap out of you , and now you are getting totally ripped off--no, your DAUGHTER is getting totally ripped off. Oooh.

After asking (loudly) who took her money again, while everyone turns away, Ira gets mean.
WAS IT YOU? point.
WAS IT YOU? point. point.

Oh my gosh now I really want to leave. I don't like this kind of confrontation, especially when it involves stealing etc. Yikes. Please lets end this. Ira starts walking back up the ally.


A guy finally admits to it. I think he was waiting in the wings for us to just disappear, but as Ira started approaching he saw that Ira meant business.

In the meantime, a different vendor made Celia a stamp, but she hadn't paid for it (another misunderstanding) and this woman wanted her money. Ira was in no mood, we were desperate to get out, and then she starts yelling at Ira that we ripped her off.

We hustled out quickly.

Ira to himself: ha! woo hoo...$225 bucks down to $35. love it. I am so cool
Vendor to herself: ha! $35 on that $2 junk

Monday, December 03, 2007

I want to yell.

Katrina, pretending to be relaxed, at the Hyatt in Beijing

One more thought on the yelling that goes on in China.

I don't normally yell too much. Usually it's in the evenings after I had a few glasses of wine have asked various kids to do certain things 10 times. Then I finally yell.

After thinking about it, I believe that I could actually live in China, as smelly and crowded and insane as it is, just for the yelling in public. How freeing it would be, don't you think? Maybe for just like a year or something.

Can you imagine how much fun it could be?
To just start yelling at the grocery.
Pumping gas.

And it would be just normal to everybody. Stress would disappear.
I like the thought of it and I have to talk to Ira about it right away.

Yelling. In China.
It's a good thing.

Speaking of Ira, I received a phone call from him the other night, he called me from WAL-MART in Southern Florida. (He is in the US for meetings). Anyway, it is 10:30 pm here in Tokyo, I am laying in bed, and he calls while strolling the aisles, wanting some advice on what to buy. That was kind of funny to me. Shopping in Wal-mart, via cell phone, in Japan.
In my jammies.

In other news, I was asked to participate in an art exhibition in San Francisco. The show, called "tinyshop" runs from Nov-Jan. I am exhibiting 5 pieces. There is a blog about the show that the curator is writing, if you want to check it out--there is a cheesy bit about me, under the artists section. I really don't know how I have the time to create, it's painfully slow going, but I do get a lot of inspiration living here, which I will really miss when we are gone.