Tag Archives: Japan

Honey

A few nights ago M and I were watching Iron Chef.

I have loved this show ever since I first was introduced to it in Japan, totally drawn to not only its overly dramatic host and but also his rabid destruction of red peppers at the start of each show.

And who could resist the simpering, giggling actresses whos only contribution to the meal critique was to perkily chirp “It’s delicious! So tasty!” repeatedly.

The American version managed to retain a little of the silliness (see Alton Brown) and takes itself rather seriously. I really enjoy the serious and descriptive critiques of each dish.

The other night we were watching Iron Chef: Super Chef Battle and the theme ingredient was vegetables from the White House garden.

The chefs all met at the White House, were greeted by Michelle Obama and then directed to the garden.

Now that is one hell of a garden. Every single vegetable was basically a textbook example of what that particular veggie should look like. Everything was so green and leafy and lush. It was pretty much the exact opposite of my weed-ridden little garden in our courtyard.

I am sure they have very  clever people looking after that garden. I am actually sure that there is a whole army of people who tend to that garden. I wish they could send a few people down my way and rejuvenate my little piece of dirt.

I had heard about the garden, but I hadn’t heard about the bees.

Did you know that they keep bees at the White House? There is an official White House BeeKeeper. And they harvest the honey and use it in food in the WH kitchen.

And after finding that out, I haven’t been able to stop googling Bee Keeping. and reading about it. For about 5 minutes last night, I was seriously thinking about where I could put a bee hive in my courtyard.

I thought about it pretty hard and then came to the conclusion that probably, especially with V, it would not be the best of ideas. Maybe just the reality of a huge colony in my small courtyard sunk in.

Maybe if I could have a teeny tiny colony? With just enough bees to produce enough honey for my tea.

Mmmmmm, that would be nice.

And just in case you also would like to have your own colony, here is a lovely informative site that will take you through all of the necessary steps.

xoxo a.m.

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Glorious

The crazy Summer of 2002 and its Brazilian beach parties gradually ushered in one heck of a cold fall. Hamamatsu gets pretty windy.

Housing insulation…well…lets just say that it is not a priority. Thin walls, lack of central heat equals a very cold apartment.

With the cold fall, M’s Dad arrived and his visit was a highly anticipated one, both by M and by the school that we worked for. There were no end of eager students practically lining up to entertain him when he arrived. B, on the other hand, had his own ideas about what he would be doing… One day, I believe M woke up to find a note informing him that he (Dad) was heading to the train station (possibly on foot) to take the train up to Tokyo. And that he would call him later…

I peppered M with questions “Where’s he going? What’s he doing?” etc etc…. M replied “…not sure…” and that was the end of that conversation. A few days later he was back, it was the weekend and we all took a drive to see Momiji (or Japanese Maple trees in their gorgeous autumn splendor).

In case you haven’t ever witnessed their absolute glory, here is a picture from that afternoon hike that illustrates it…

Momiji 2002

Momiji 2002

It was pretty amazing. Can you see me on the side there? So we hiked all around this little mountain, up spider infested slopes and down them… under those fiery leaves and through their lightly less colourful brethren that were scattered on the ground…. We wound around and around the mini-mountainside until we came to the most interesting of bridges. Some type of suspension bridge, one of those that sways when you walk on them. I think they are awesome. M….. not so much. And B well, not at all. In fact he posed all cool and debonair and firmly on the ground, while I confidently strode out there and M followed behind… just slightly less excited than I was…

Jaime on the bridge, 2002

Jaime on the bridge, 2002

M on the bridge 2002... slightly less excited...

M on the bridge 2002... slightly less excited...

B not on the bridge and pretty happy about that....

B not on the bridge and pretty happy about that....

It was a pretty full afternoon. Momiji. Glorious. Spider infested temple. Not so much. But that was evened out by amazing bridge experience (for me anyways).

That evening M joined me in my apartment (next to his) for an epic evening of boot-leg Simpsons episodes. We stayed up far too late. There might have been longing glances cast (in a behind the back sort of way…..we weren’t dating yet).

Glorious.

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Bonding

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I washed my hands at this temple…..

I think it was in Kakegawa (correct me if I am wrong, please…it was 7 years ago)

I took this trip in January of 2002. M and I had known each other…. perhaps about 3 days? In the 8 weeks that I had taught at Alpha Language School, I bonded with one particular class. They turned into my parents…. and I think of them so fondly even now.

They invited me (us) on a bus trip to a castle and a temple. Since I had done nothing in Japan at that point (except drink), this was pretty exciting. We were picked up at about 7 am. Shoved into a teeny car. Driven to some random parking lot, we exited and then lined up for a bus. And met the rest of the class who were coming with us.

It was a pretty luxurious bus. And to my surprise, all of the old ladies on it (pretty much it was M and 50 older women) simutaneously cracked open a beer. I kid you not. We were then offered one…. too early for us both.

So while the bus drank its face off, M and I giggled away and cemented our friendship in the ridiculousness of this journey. The only other man on the bus adventure cast glances back at him longingly… he was trapped in beer and morning pastry hell. Poor guy…

The day was spent on and off that bus.

Interlude: The most ridiculously gourmet meal I had ever had in my life (at that point) as just a random lunch time thing for the whole bus. On a private golf course that was used primarily by sumo wrestlers for a vacation hot spot or something like that. It was fancy. Maybe it was soccer pros that vacationed there…. regardless, it was fancy, delicious and well, super fancy. Oh, and awkward. Really really awkward.

Please, try to imagine 2 fluent english speakers plus 7 non-english speakers. PLUS alcohol. Plus overwhelming Japanese culture. Plus hand gestures.

I was 25. M was 26. They were the same age as our parents. And had been drinking. Awkward!

Regardless of the whole awkwardness thing, it still was the most amazing thing I had ever done.¬† We were all so unsure of each other it made it ok. I remember walking onto the grounds of the temple and just being astounded. I literally didn’t know how to react to what I was seeing. It was the complete opposite of the Canadian West Coast. Or of any coast at all.

It was the best weekend of my early twenties….

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Lip-balm

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August is officially the month of Japan.

For those who aren’t ‘in the know’, M and I lived in Japan for about 3 years.

We met. We saw. We loved. We conquered.

M and I kept our relationship a secret for quite a while… once we started dating, that is…

We were outed in the randomest of ways. Mostly due to Sohee. Thanks Sohee!!

Every night in Hamamatsu in the early 2000’s meant hitting up Amigo’s Bar. Amigos was the Gaijin Hotspot in the city. Even if you didn’t want to go there, wanted to maybe try out something different…. you still ended up there at the end of the night. Drunk.

Or you started out the night there, got lured in by Paul (the owner) and then never ever left. Suddenly it was 8 am. You have been there 12 hours, are starving and your boss drives past as you are leaving and waves (future conversation regarding how you are such an early risier).

So, early in our courtship M and I start out the night there. Meeting a bunch of friends.

I remember riding our bikes there… pausing for a make-out session….applying some lip balm, and then heading in. Who would know that lip-balm would play such a huge part in our life.

Did you know that some lipbalm glows in the dark? Well, Sohee thought she would be a sweet girl and point that out. We denied it as firmly as we could.

“I lent him some”…. I think that was my big statement. And I thought that we both were rather convincing. When you’ve been riding a bike with a beer in one hand (as you do, in your twenties in a foreign country), it is easy to imagine that everyone will believe you. And if they don’t, then clearly they must be crazy.

So there we were, in Amigos, with glowing lips. And Sohee asking us both “Um, why are your lips glowing?”

Damn her and her intuitive eyes… And damn me and my crap excuses. My extemely unconvincing excuses, poor eye contact (which probably ruined any credibility that I might have had… excuse wise I mean…) and damning body language. Leaning into someone that you are currently romancing is a very obvious sign that you are… you know…

Well, anyways…. this is just a wee intro to a lovely month of Japan reminiscence…

Please stay tuned for all things romantic and Japanese.

xoxo a.m.

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Japan

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I had the oddest dream last night.

I dreamt M and I were back in Japan, teaching at the new NEW school our boss had opened up…. and let me explain why this was strange…

When I moved to Japan in 2001, the school that I taught at for 2 months was the smallest building you have ever seen. Approximately 2 one-car garages stacked on top of each other, with an exterior stair-case to reach the second level. The walls of the building were so thin they bent when you pressed them. It might have been a temporary structure, I can’t remember all of the details…

The new structure was about 100 feet away, a gorgeous 2 story building that was officially to open in January of 2002. Think 2 2-car garages stacked upon each other. With running water, flush toilets and proper airconditoning. So what was weird about my dream was that the new NEW school was 3 stories high, huge and was well, a school. And not a garage.

When I came back from winter holiday in Canada, entering that new building was structural bliss from my teaching point of view. Especially compared to what I had experienced the 2 months before. That same day, I met my future husband.

The morning after I flew back in from Christmas holiday in Canada, I banged on my only neighbour’s (on the 2nd floor… the 2nd floor of our apartment that was basically 2 2-car garages stacked on top… wonder where they got the inspiration for the school!) door… M answered looking rather disheveled…. Untucked plaid shirt (that he might still have somewhere), wife-beater, glasses….I invited him out for coffee. I like to be friendly and am hard pressed to take no for an answer. Unless it’s my answer, then I say it all the time.

Anyways, the door was slammed in my face.

And there might have been some mumbling. ‘Wait…’ might have been one of the words I could have made out. I waited. The door opened again, M looked less-disheveled and off we went. We rode our awesome bicycles with baskets to the only Starbucks in town. We met up with some other Gaijins, drank some coffee, smoked our faces off and then rode our awesome bikes back to teach some English.

Who would know that approximately 6 months later we would be attached at the hip….but not ‘dating’. Just ‘good friends’. ‘Good friends’ whose other good friends wondered what on earth was going on between us. Nothing was. Nothing at all.

Not until M’s Dad visited, and that visit seemed to cement things. I was the only person that he introduced him to. And invited to join the 2 of them. And once his Dad headed back to the USA (plus one steamy night on that awful twin-bed…. steamy in an innocent way. Really!) that was it.

So sometimes when I think about the path my life has taken, wonder if I have made the best decisions, did I take the best direction I could have… I look at what I have right now:

Gorgeous son.

Handsome and utterly adoring husband that worships me.

Lovely new home we are about to move into.

Comfortable and happy life full of love, laughter, laughter and the best of memories that we have made together.

So even though I sometimes wish I had chosen a different direction education-wise, I am so glad that I went in the direction that I did. Everything I have done in my past…. especially including the unpleasant things, has led to where I am now.

Thank you fate. And destiny.

Thank you both.

xoxo a.m.

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