Saturday, October 31, 2009

Persimmon bread again

Yesterday I had a bunch of persimmons sitting on the counter getting soft so I quickly made up a batch of persimmon bread.

I checked. I posted about persimmon bread last year so if you want the recipe look here. It is one of the old standbys for autumn and one of Tetsu's favorite desserts. I need to go to the wholesale store and buy some more walnuts. I had to use almonds instead which was just as tasty but chopped almonds gave it a different texture.

My wholesale store is very strange. I think they cater to restaurants and bakeries. The people in the office have zero customer service awareness. Years ago someone had told me that there was a wholesale "store" for baking goods and I went past it a few times before I figured out that this was the place. Just an old warehouse with an old linoleum floor and metal doors leading to an office. The office had a few ladies peering over their computers but hardly anyone even looked up when I first went in. Nothing that makes this place look like they are selling anything. I asked if this was the place that sold walnuts and one lady sighed and started to go into the warehouse part of the building.

"Wait! Do you sell raisins? Chocolate chips? Almonds? Butter? What all do you sell?"

I figured out that they sold all that stuff but no price list etc. Just say what you want and someone will go into the back and bring out a bag. You have to buy by the kilo and they aren't going ask for any extra information like do I want chopped almonds or sliced almonds etc.

Lady you asked for almonds so here you are. If you wanted sliced almonds you should have said so. That's a different bag. (But I didn't know you had sliced almonds too...)

I one time got up enough courage to ask if I could go back into their warehouse.

Suit yourself. Close the door on the way out.

My exploring showed they sell cake pans and cookie cutters too and peaches by the gallon and canned bamboo shoots. I don't know what one would do with bamboo shoots in a baking place.

I'll make a stop this week again and brace myself for a big bill. (I make a lot of granola and go through a lot of nuts, coconut, and raisins.)

As soon as my bananas get mushy I'm going to make Nancy's Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze. Yum sounds good. I wish Tetsu would stop eating all my bananas.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This morning Tetsu went to work a little irritated. Not really irritated at me, but irritated because he was late and in the long run I guess irritated because I didn't check his clothes. I should have checked his clothes for THIS. (picture from the Internet)

Do you know what this is? I never saw one when I lived in the States and I don't think I ever saw one until I lived next to the forest. This is a stinkbug and he and his fellow stinkbugs live up to their name! We all know when a stinkbug has gotten into the house and the cats will bat at one a couple times, wrinkle their noses and bound off in the opposite direction.

I have put on a shirt, 30 minutes later or so smelled the distinctive stinkbug smell, and suddenly feel something crawling up my arm. And other people will notice the smell too (but the bugs are so common everyone thinks one has gotten in the house) and I will innocently pretend that it is not me who is stinking.

Right now we are in the stinkbug season. They must live in the forest and come up to our veranda and sun themselves on my laundry. This morning Tetsu put on his shirt (remember I dry my laundry outside) and a few seconds later he had taken everything off and was doing an Indian dance and shaking his clothes out. About 7 stinkbugs plopped to the floor and I scurried around gathering them up and putting them back outside. They will probably make their way back to my laundry today.

So Tetsu was late for work and irritated. At the stinkbugs. Not at me. I "sthink".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not a puppy!

A couple of days ago my neighbor telephoned me for some advice. This is the same neighbor that Mi was going back and forth to visit. The same neighbor whom I had spent some time discussing the care and training of cats, the same neighbor that in the end couldn't make the decision to adopt Mi.

"Tanya, I need some advice... My daughter brought home a puppy yesterday. I don't know how to take care of a puppy. What should I do?"

I spent some time talking with her and making suggestions (though I haven't raised a puppy since I was a child). And I said I'd come over the next morning to visit their new family member.

Yesterday I ran into the mother in front of their house and she told me a little about how it was going with the puppy. Not well. She was very frazzled but said that her daughter was so adamant about keeping the puppy that it was probably there to stay. Ah yes, the daughter. When Mi came back from being spayed, my neighbor and her daughter had come over to adopt the kitty and the girl had been so happy to cuddle Mi and listen to her purr. She REALLY wanted to take Mi home.

This is no storybook little girl with apple blossom skin. My neighbor's daughter is a lanky teenager with orange hair, sloppy clothing and heavy makeup. I have known her since she was a baby and she used to come for English. For all her bravado she is still fairly congenial to me and will smile and greet me on the street (more than some of my very serious students will do!) I like the girl very much and watching her with the kitty and seeing her eyes sparkle made me think that the girl needed the kitty as much as the kitty needed the girl. At one point the daughter got irritated with her mother's wishy-washiness and blurted out

"Are we going to adopt this cat or not? That's what we came for!"

But they ended up not adopting Mi.

Yesterday the neighbor invited me into her house to see the puppy and maybe give her some more advice. We went upstairs to the daughter's room. The whole room was COVERED with taped down newspaper! On top of the newspaper were maybe 20 potty training sheets flown here and there. The puppy had not figured out what potty training sheets were for and so we stepped around puddles and piles until we got to the sleeping teenager in the middle of it all (not really on the bed... sort of scrunched onto her futon on the floor) and of course the puppy was jumping on everybody and everything and making a real mess everywhere!

I don't know, but I don't think this is the correct way to potty train a puppy. I suggested buying a cage or fenced in area and focusing on praise for correct potty habits and confinement for misses. The mother was half holding her head and kept saying over and over

"I've never done this before... I had no idea puppies were like this!"

I went home half-smiling to myself. I think the teenage daughter took matters into her own hands when mom wouldn't make a decision about the kitty. I don't want to be mean but I think mom would have had an easier time adopting my kitty.

Oh well, good all around. The neighbor girl got a puppy. The puppy got a new home. And I got Mi.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesdays (sort of)

Wordless Wednesdays.

Well, not completely. I can barely let a day go by with out rambling about something.

I did two more machine quilting patterns from Leah Day's 365 project. I'm not happy with either unfortunately.

The blue one is called Spirals (obviously) but I had trouble keeping my spirals even and I got lost a couple of times so the angles are cut off.

The gray one, called Pebbles in a Stream, I really like the texture (and the colors). I think this could make a wonderful fill in for a small quilt but I definitely need to make this larger! What I was thinking when I made this so small! Pebbles? Those aren't pebbles in there, those are grains of sand! I don't know what it is about machine quilting that makes me get smaller and smaller until my fingers are doing all the work rather than my arms and wrists.

Gotta go!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hugs and Kisses Quilt

Many of you wanted to know about the embroidery that I've been doing so I thought I'd give a few details here.

In January, Lorraine in Australia visited Japan and showed my quilting group her beautiful quilt called Fairy something... by Hugs and Kisses (Sorry I forgot the name.) It was just stupendous work and as much detail as I've seen in any quilt in a long time. We were absolutely floored at the beauty and skill and more than a little surprised to hear how the technique is done... by using colored pencils. A few weeks later, Lorraine sent the group the whole set (fabric and all) of the Hugs and Kisses' series, Neenie's Garden.

Well now, this is a lot of work and maybe too much work for just one of us (though Lorraine could do it). So our group decided we would give this a try (not too confident about our ability) and if the combined efforts were good we would make this quilt as 2010's kindergarten bazaar quilt. At least we had enough time to ponder and consult each other.

During the summer a couple of us spent hot days iron transferring the designs and then we used the colored pencils that Lorraine had also sent (and the sealer and the threads). To be honest, the coloring wasn't that interesting, sort of a color by number sort of process with not too much room for individuality, but between 4 or 5 of us we had all the blocks colored in a few hours.

The next step was to seal the colors in with normal textile sealer (that my friends said could even be easily bought in Japan so I suppose you might find it in the tole painting section of the crafts shop). We were pretty liberal with the sealer and the colors ran a bit. We should have followed the directions to seal one color at a time, let dry and seal the next color (6 times? Sorry, we don't have THAT much time). A weave/web backing (also provided in the kit) was applied to the back of the blocks and the next step has been the embroidery. That's where I am now.

The threads used are very sturdy and silky and seem stronger than normal embroidery floss. Here again, I am just following the instructions so there isn't a lot of creativity but I do better with repetitive work than I do with inspiration and originality. This is just my cup of tea.

The next step is to sew the blocks together with a lot of added trim and frills. I'm not sure our group is up to that either. We are sort of playing it by ear...

The pencils that Lorraine sent are Derwent Studio pencils (from England?) And the thread is called Presencia Finca #16 (the instructions say that DMC can also be used.

There is still a lot of work to do on this quilt. For some reason Mrs. Furui handed me ALL the blocks that still need to be embroidered and ALL the thread! Do you think she is hinting that I should commit myself to embroidery for the next couple months?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog safety

When my kids were little we told them that in case of any disaster or confusion (we have earthquakes and typhoons) that they were supposed to go to the elementary school until Tetsu or I appeared. We never needed to use those precautions but the whole family knew that in case of emergency that was the place to meet.

Yesterday morning I posted and then went off for the rest of the day. When I got back home and turned on my computer the window flashed "Your blog has been deleted". Sigh, as opposed to Panic. Two days before the same thing had happened and I'd really been upset then (as some of you know because I g-mailed you). But again? I checked the g-mail box and sure enough Callie and Allie had noticed I had disappeared and were trying to help me. And within a few minutes Mrs. Ochiai my computer whiz friend was calling to say my blog was gone and WHAT HAD I DONE? (pushed the wrong button?) I hadn't done anything but Blogger is doing something...

Again within a matter of minutes my blog was back none the worse, but it did make me think...

Okay. What happens if I lose my blog, or any of us lose our blogs? I vaguely remember reading about one blogger who really did completely lose her blog (she called it hacking but I don't know what that means). Two main concerns arise. First, if I regularly visit a blog and it disappears, how do I find that person again? Maybe by g-mail (Callie and Allie's solution but they have my g-mail address because I've answered their comments. And that g-mail reply box gets emptied regularly.) If that doesn't work how do we get in touch with people? It's not like we can call up each other on the phone and ask "how are you?"

Does anyone have any idea about making a meeting point in case of emergencies? I mean I could say "You can contact me through so-and-so if I disappear." But if the blog is gone it does no good to post something like that on a sidebar. And we all have different blog friends so how is anyone going to know that one of us might be in touch with one blogger rather than another?

The other concern if a blog disappears is that one loses a lot of family or quilting history that has been organized with text and pictures. When it all adds up, that's a lot of work and effort that may go poof. My friend Mrs. Ochiai suggested last night that every month I hit the Save As button in Files and make a desk top folder (and then regularly transfer that to a CD). I'm already using Blurb's Booksmart to make blog books but I'm way behind on that project and have two years worth of blogging that are still floating around cyberspace. Still, after this week's twice scares I'm going to spend a bit more time protecting my blog...

So all is well again. Blogger is a free treat (Hi Meggie!) but it is not risk free.

Blogger, I don't want to visit the emergency room with a heart attack so please give me some notice!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I'm doing a very little sewing. Well, I'm doing back stitch embroidery which is taking up a lot of time but it is relaxing and enjoyable.

These are a couple blocks from the Hugs and Kisses pattern that Lorraine sent my quilting group earlier this year. Over the months we've colored in the design and sealed the colors in and now we are working on the embroidery part. The stitching around the design really adds a lot to the blocks and they are beginning to shine! (Oops. I see I missed a part.) I think we still have 8 to go or something but since this is for NEXT year's quilt I guess we are ahead of schedule.

The days are getting cold and the cats congregate in front of the heater and on my lap. Here is a rare picture of Velvet joining part of the group. (Let's see... Four cats there. Mi is in her cat enclosure. Where is Cleo?) Vel rarely can stand to be in the same room with Toi and Patora (he tolerates Chip and Cleo) but he must have been unusually cold or lonely yesterday to stay with the rest of the gang.

Don't I look grubby embroidering away surrounded by cats? Vel does not make for a sturdy sewing table. I hope my stitches are straight.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cat names

I really let out an SOS yesterday didn't I? Between Meggie and myself we figured out Blogger was having issues. Being on the same side of the world we were both trying to and unable to use Blogger and somehow contacted each other. I think the rest of you were still in the middle of the night. Within about an hour Blogger was back and working.

I have a complicated story today. Now it is funny to me but at the time it wasn't.

Our new kitty, Mi was almost named Tama. Tama is another normal name for a Japanese cat and means ball, such as in a yarn ball or maybe a cat curled up in a ball. Everywhere you go, you meet Japanese cats called Tama.

When we picked up our kitty and took her to be spayed, my vet said she was about a year old and had already had a litter of kittens. We left the then un-named Mi at the vets and he said he would spay her that evening.

Around 7:30 I got a call from the vet. That alone made me wary. Something else has gone wrong (that morning we'd found out Mi was a Feline Aids carrier).

"Tanya, your kitty has kou-gan." A Japanese word I don't know.

"Oh no. Cancer?" (gan means cancer in Japanese).

"NO! Not gan. Kou-gan."

"Sensei, (Doctor) I don't know that word. I don't understand."

"Kou-gan! Kou-gan! You know. Balls! Like in boys' b-lls!" (My poor vet trying to be professional with a foreigner with a limited vocabulary.)

"Doctor, I don't think I understand. This morning you told us that the kitty had had kittens."

"Yes, she did. I'm doing surgery and I find she has kou-gan (test-cles) alongside the uterus."

"What?! I've never heard of such a thing. Does that happen often?"

"NO! That's what I'm saying! This cat is a hermaphrodite! (I didn't know that word either) I've never seen one before!"

"Oh dear... What should I do?"

"Do? DO? There's nothing to do! I'm in the middle of surgery. I just needed to let you know so that I can proceed."

And he hung up. Talk about my head spinning. What was he talking about?

When Tetsu got home I was still wringing my hands.

"Tetsu, Tetsu. The vet called and said that the kitty is a hermaphrodite. He... She... I don't know... It has b-lls!"

Tetsu, calmly hanging up his jacket says,

"Does it matter? I mean, the cat is in there to take all that stuff out anyway. So what."

Oh. That's right.

When I went to pick up the kitty the next day the vet very conscientiously showed me the uterus and the test-cles that he'd removed and was preserving in a jar. And pictures. He'd taken pictures during the operation for proof. Good thing I have a strong stomach.

So the kitty came home none the worse for having a little extra surgery. And then we started thinking about names. And Tetsu comes up with Tama. Balls.

"That's terrible! Poor kitty! She doesn't want to go through life being reminded of that." (We'd agreed that she is a she.)

So Tetsu relented and named her Mi.

Mi and Tetsu are very happy together. Don't you think my life has some interesting twists and turns?

I hope I don't get censored for this post.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I am not the handyman in our family but there are some times when I can't get Tetsu to do something and end up doing it myself. Yesterday was one of those days.

We have lived in our house for 17 years. Besides cat wear and tear, just living in this house for that long a time means that things are going downhill but Tetsu doesn't really want to get involved in repairs. In general, Japanese do not do a lot of do-it-yourself work around the house and Tetsu doesn't believe that one can really re-wallpaper or re-tile something etc.

"Sure you can! You just have to have the right tools and a little motivation."

Well, he doesn't have the right tools except for a hammer and saw, and Tetsu doesn't have a lot of motivation either. I have suggested hiring someone but he isn't too thrilled with that idea either. Too expensive. So we live in our house with holes and stuffing hanging out.

We have carpet going up the stairs and over the years everyone bounds up 9 steps, makes a sharp turn at the middle landing and bounds up another 3 steps. Same going back down. And everyone must make their turn at the SAME spot because the carpet wore out just there. The carpet wore out, the padding wore out, the lining wore out. We were down to bare wood!

"Tetsu, can't we fix this carpet somehow? Don't you think it is about time we re-carpeted the upstairs?"

"Do you know how much that would cost? Not while we're putting kids through school."

So the hole kept getting bigger and bigger. I threw a mat over the hole. I grumbled to friends (sorry Tetsu) that my husband didn't mind living in a threadbare house.

The other day one of my friends called to say that she was renovating her house and they had torn up the carpeting in her hallway. It still looked pretty good and she remembered my grumbling so did I want any of it.

Gulp. Well... I didn't think Tetsu would be too pleased with another job to do and one that didn't involve hammering and sawing. Could I do it myself? On Wednesday I went over to my friend's to look at the carpet pieces and had the carpenters there chop off a piece, along with the under padding, for me to take home. Yesterday I got to work.

What a breeze! Why have we been waiting 5 years to fix the carpet? Of course it was a small area but with an Exacto knife and hot bond I had a cushiony carpet on the landing and no hole! The carpet match wasn't bad either! Of course not many people see the landing but it makes me smile to have the hole gone.

This morning Tetsu noticed my handwork and was amazed at the results.

"Great work, Tanya! I didn't think it could be done!"

I have more carpet holes but since the cats are actively widening them I think they don't need my attention right away. But when they do, I'll know I can do it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I missed posting yesterday. Wednesdays have me running in circles. I think I should adopt many of your blogs' Wordless Wednesdays. I never get to the computer anyway.

Recently I've been going to the dentist. Sigh. I don't have great faith in Japanese dentists but to be truthful most of the dentists I've gone to have been pretty good. So why don't I think highly of them?

Just by reputation; talking to people who have had both American and Japanese dental care, hearing stories from friends whose children (and my own) have gone to the States and the American dentists shuddered to see what Japanese dentists had done, seeing some of the results of Japanese dental care (decaying children's teeth, gold rims on front teeth, very fake looking crowns) I have a feeling dental technology is higher in the States. I remember once I went to a Japanese dentist and noticed a diploma on his wall that said he'd been trained in periodontics. Oh good, I thought, an up-to-date dentist. But a closer look at his diploma showed that he'd taken a one week course and been certified! Hmmm.

The interesting thing is that two summers ago one of the reasons Takumi came back to Japan was to go to the dentist. The reason? It costs too much in the States and he even has dental insurance! He said the dentist he'd been going to was so horrified at his mouth and wanted to schedule so much dental work that it was just easier and cheaper to come back to Japan and get what absolutely needed to be done, done.

And now we have the same dilemma with Leiya. She needs dental work done. She hasn't been to the dentist since she was in high school. But even when she had dental work two years ago we were floored by the costs and couldn't afford the after care that she needed. Leiya no longer has dental insurance. Recently we've been talking about Leiya coming back to Japan this winter vacation just so that she can go to the Japanese dentist. This is a conundrum. I think the kids would get better dental care in the States. We can't afford the care so they come back to Japan. Very strange.

My most recent dental work has been to have silver fillings replaced with white ceramic ones. My dentist very kindly informed me that insurance policies changed and ceramic work will be covered by our insurance. Okay. That sounds good. For each new filling and dental work I've been paying about $20. Yep. It is a lot cheaper for the kids to fly back to Japan...

Tetsu also went to the dentist last month when he chipped a tooth. He hasn't been to the dentist in over 15 years!!! You'd think there would be some major work to do or some cleaning or plaque removal or something. Nope. The dentist happily fixed the one tooth and told Tetsu to come back if anything ever hurt. Even Tetsu was surprised.

Japanese medical care may not be as advanced at American (but that's not really true. Some of the Japanese hospitals have amazing technology... just not easily accessible to everyone) but at the very least everyone can afford it. It is a quandary.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Japanese lesson 102

Okay. I'm giving you a Japanese lesson today.

Japan has a whole vocabulary of words that are based on onomatopoeia, words that sound like what they are trying to describe. In a way, it is a very simple way to learn Japanese. Learn a sound that is similar to what you are trying to describe, such as pitter in English, and then a repetition of the sound will give you a word; pitter-patter to describe rain or the scampering of feet or something.

Japanese is FILLED with words like this!!! For example, what do you think "bara-bara" means?

Of course first learning what the sound is in Japanese is the challenge because many sounds do not sound at all the same to foreign ears. Roosters crow "Koke-ko-ko~~" not "Cockadoodledo~". Dogs say "Wan-wan" rather than "Bow-wow." When I go to the doctor's and say I have a headache, he wants to know if it is "Gan-gan" (splitting) or "Zukin-zukin" (throbbing). Food can be "saku-saku" (crunchy) or "fuwa-fuwa" (soft and fluffy) or "atsu-atsu" (steaming hot).

So, did you guess what "bara-bara" means? Here is a hint.

The cat box is now "bara-bara" (scattered, loose, DESTROYED!)

That's the end of the cat box.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn quilts

I'm taking the easy way out this morning and posting pictures of some of the quilts that are up on my walls. I've posted all of these before... last year or the year before. I can't remember.

Here is a stained glass quilt, pattern sent to me by my friend Noriko-san who specializes in this type of patchwork. I think she sent me the hand dyed fabrics too. Noriko-san's work is all done by machine but when I did this I couldn't figure out how to machine applique it so I did it all by hand. (I've since figured it out.) This quilt goes up in the autumn in my house.

And here is a small Halloween quilt (the only one I have!) This pattern was also sent to me by Noriko-san when she was first starting out paper piecing. Paper piecing hadn't hit Japan yet and Noriko-san figured it out by looking at books. She came and gave me a mini-lesson and I understood the theory and the process WHILE SHE WAS HERE! After she went home I couldn't remember anything and try as I might I could not get the fabric to go in the right direction or the pieces I sewed on turned out too short or something. It got to the point that the paper I was working on had been sewn and re sewn so many times that it was shredding beneath my fingers so I did this whole dang thing by making templates (before the pattern disintegrated before my eyes) and then hand piecing. HAND PIECING THOSE MINUSCULE PIECES! I was so glad when I finished this. I had visions of throwing the whole thing in the garbage can!

I have since learned to paper piece properly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A free Saturday?

Yesterday morning Tetsu put the finishing touches on his cat enclosure. It now has a three story compartment, one of which lets in a lot of sun. It has a cat shelf so that kitties can walk along the length and sit here and there. And it has a sliding door so that the cat box can be removed for easy cleaning and so that Mi can join us in the yard easily.

After all the care to Mi, Tetsu felt obligated to clean up Choco's area a bit too. Tetsu and I scrubbed and moved all the decking and removed the moldy roof. We've also hopefully ended Choco's recreation of digging holes in the area. She had mud everywhere! We worked until early afternoon when I petered out and said I wanted to do something else with my free Saturday.

So... We went up to Nikko, the tourist part (we live in Nikko but are in the country part). I wanted a look at the Nikko carvings and so we wandered around the town checking out the shops. Tetsu commented that there were more foreigners up in Nikko than Japanese.

Nikko craftsmen carved the very intricate carvings in the Nikko Toshogu shrine and since then the city has become famous for the beautiful carvings in soft wood. We were surprised at the different types of carvings nowadays. Some are exorbitantly expensive (the laquerware) some are very simple cuts in wood, and some of the younger craftsmen are combining Nikko carving with tole painting. All were lovely and I found what I was looking for. (last picture from the Internet)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Binding the quilt

Thursday I made it to my patchwork group gathering (I'd forgotten two weeks ago) and together we put the finishing touches on the bazaar quilt. Mrs. Furui and I had sewn the binding to the quilt a la Sharon Schambler style (using glue!) and that meant that we all could sit around the quilt and hand sew the binding down. The job was finished in a snap.

I love the way we are all peering down at our work. Makes me feel like I really belong to a quilting bee!

And don't you like the way I am such a pro at peering over my glasses like the little ol' lady I am?

Bazaar quilt finished!

I would like to formally introduce the core of our quilt group.

Clockwise. Me on the far left. Mrs. Ochiai, she's the computer and electronics whiz (and is always willing to start a new project with me. It takes her a little time to finish some of them...) Sensitive and sweet Mrs. Harada, who used to be Mrs. Furui's neighbor but moved away and now drives 4 hours one way to join us monthly. Mrs. Furui, the brain behind all our creativity and the hostess by default since she has the largest, most central house. You know her by her intricate handwork. And Mrs. Yamaguchi, who grows younger each year. She started her patchwork career when she lived a few years in the States and willingly takes on extra patchwork homework.

We are already working on NEXT year's bazaar quilt! What an industrious bunch of quilters. (By the way, on our quilt label we call ourselves the Crazy Lady Quilters group.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Y-kun again

Remember Y-kun? He is still coming to English. Still bringing me presents (two large green pumpkins yesterday!) Still causing great annoyance to the other boys in the class.

I almost never meet Y-kun's family. They drop him off and pick him up without ever getting out of the car. They send him with vegetables for me but unlike the other mothers and fathers, they don't wait in the driveway for him nor talk with the other parents. The one time I met his mother she seemed very frustrated by Y-kun and life in general. They must know when English starts and ends because they come to pick him up at the right time but often, like last night, Y-kun turns up at my front door more than an hour before class time. I sometimes wonder if he is such a handful that his family just wants him to be SOMEWHERE so that they can take a break from him.

I don't really mind. It is a little disturbing to think that he might get left on my doorstep when I'm not home but class starts at 6:15 so there's very little chance that I might still be out and about. And I don't want his family to think that I object to Y-kun in particular so when he comes in the door I figure out things for him to do before the other boys come. He actually wants me to play games with him but I don't feel that obligated so I usually say that I have to clean or cook and if he wants to help me by all means do so.

Y-kun is really a smart child and yesterday at the mention of cleaning, he raced to the laundry room to bring out the vacuum cleaner. I don't know why he knew where the vacuum cleaner was. I don't think I've ever shown him but he must have noticed it on his forages around the house (remember he gets into cupboards). So he happily vacuumed for me, scaring cats and knocking things off the tables in the process.

And then we started cooking...

Well, I directed, Y-kun cooked and I took pictures.

Last night's menu was Nira-tama. Nira are a type of green onion or chives and we live in the nira countryside.

First I cut up pork slices and cooked them in a little oil. Y-kun got out bowls and sieves (he knew exactly what to do himself) and washed beansprouts.

Next I cut up the nira into finger length widths but Y-kun felt I was too haphazard about the cutting and wanted to chop some up smaller. "Bang, bang, bang" with the knife. I was a bit alarmed and wondered if his family would sue me if he lost a finger while helping me cook. No injuries and he was very pleased with himself.

Y-kun added the beansprouts and nira to the pork and cooked them all down (with long chopsticks you notice!)

And then he broke three eggs into a bowl (no shells got in there either!) and whipped them up for me using chopsticks.

The eggs were added to the pork and vegetable mixture and left to set (and brown a bit) and then we added oyster sauce flavoring from a bottle (soy sauce works just as well).

And finally we transferred it all to a serving bowl and sampled our creation.

"GOOD!!" with two thumbs up from Y-kun.

I wish I could show you his expression but since I don't have his family's permission to post his picture I'm fuzzing this one out a bit. You get the idea though. He was one happy boy!

Y-kun does so much better on a one-on-one relationship. A few minutes later he was back to arguing and fighting with the other boys...

I can see a budding chef in these pictures, can't you?