Friday, March 18, 2011

Life as normal?

Good morning. I have to be at the elementary school in about at hour as a "guest"(officially dressed in uniform) at the sixth grade graduation ceremony. Japanese schools really do ceremonies to the hilt and there are usually planned speeches, choreographed words of farewell from the lower grades, flowers, red bean rice (celebration food) and lots of tears. I wonder how it will go today.

Every morning this week an older couple and a little girl, about 3rd grade age, walk with the children from the neighborhood to the crosswalk (15 minute walk). They say goodbye to the kids and then walk back to the neighborhood. On Monday when they got to the crosswalk they asked me if there was a convenience store nearby. Unfortunately I had to tell them that the crosswalk is about mid-way between two convenience stores, both being about 30 minutes away on foot. This trio is not from around here... On the way back from the crosswalk I found them walking down a neighborhood street so I offered to drive them to the convenience store but they said they were fine, that they had a car and that they live at such-and-such a house. Ah... I later learned that they have been evacuated from Fukushima and are staying with relatives in the neighborhood. I feel sorry for the little girl. Whether she wants to go to school or not I don't know, but all the other children traipse off to their classrooms and friends for the day and she plods back with her grandparents to the neighborhood. She looks lonely.

This morning at the crosswalk the Japanese sweet shop lady was running ragged, taking off in her car, coming back and running up to the school building. I chatted with her as I closed the school gate.

"Today is graduation for all the elementary schools in Nikko so we are filling orders for the red bean rice that will be given out. But my husband is off at the hospital because he is on dialysis and the clinic told him to get there this morning before 8:00 in order to be finished before the scheduled blackout at noon. Everything comes at once!"

Life is affected in big and little ways.

For our part of the city yesterday's blackout occurred from 3:30 to 6:00. I arranged myself in the kotatsu again and by the afternoon light read awhile until Tetsu came home! He had been to seen his mother, had bought toilet paper and milk, and had sat in a gasoline line for an hour but three cars up the gasoline station turned them all away. What a let down! So his gasoline is getting low. Until the electricity came back, we read in the daylight and ate bag a bag of potato chips, but as it got dark we both got sleepy and fell asleep again in the kotatsu (slowly cooling down as time went on.) I hope this isn't going to become a regular part of my routine. Sit in the warm kotatsu all day, eat snacky foods and fall asleep for three hours. As soon as the electricity came back, Tetsu went back to work.

The day after the earthquake Tetsu informed me that my sewing machine was totaled. It completely fell off the sewing table and was on its side under books and lose fabric.

"It is done for Tanya. There are bits and pieces of it all over the floor."

But when I went up to look I find that though the plastic cover had popped off the motor part, and the plastic drawer had come open, it didn't look like it was in too much pain. Ah, all those bits and pieces that Tetsu discovered are the inner contents of the drawer... quilting foot, button hole foot, a few bobbins, extra sewing machine needles, a walking foot etc. I guess for someone who doesn't know, it did look like the sewing machine had been gutted but I'm happy to say that it sews just fine.

Which is to admit that I did some sewing. I should be saving energy (as requested and instructed) but I decided an hour on the sewing machine (and using an iron) was more important for my mental health. (Japanese government and friends, please forgive me.) I made up some string blocks because Mrs. Furui and I had been talking about making donation quilts for the local Ronald McDonald House even before the earthquake. I think I'll make one or two blocks a day while in confinement...

And the boys came for English last night as usual. I set them up in the kotatsu with the Monopoly game (actually a Dogopoly game). What a good time they had! I'm going ahead and showing this picture of them all smiles. I already have permission from two of the boys' parents to show pictures on this blog...I don't know about the other two... but I think it is important to show you that we are having FUN as well as challenges! (You can pray for each of them.) The two round things on the board were LED lights that two boys brought in case we had a blackout during class. Well prepared!

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