Thursday, June 30, 2011


If Tanya is down in the dumps you know what that means. As I wrote about in my last post, cat problems are getting me down.

Sometimes, I even hesitate writing about my cats. Everyone has such different opinions and some of your comments make me feel even lower (and some lift me back up!) So I guess at least I've become aware of where I really stand... I really would like to let Toi out into the world and let him become an outdoor cat. When one comment tells me that that is not being responsible then I cringe and close the computer lid. Even though there are many comments assuring me that along with risks it will make all the cats' lives happier, the one negative comment has my mind spiraling. Who knew that blogging could have such power over emotions.

When I came back from the hospital I noticed that Cleo's expression had changed. He looked scared all the time. But what I realized yesterday was that his face has become swollen and infected. Yes, numerous cuts and gouges applied by Toi, and the vet had to do a lot of cutting and draining of the wounds on poor Cleo. And now he wears an Elizabeth collar and can't move around freely at all. So he is in pain and unhappy and meowed most of the night.

We put Toi in the cat house (at about 1:00 am) so as to let Cleo have the run of the house. But then TOI started meowing and we worried about disturbing our only neighbors... who, like the rest of us in summer have their windows open. Back Toi came in the house and was locked in a bathroom but he continued yowling all night which meant very little sleep for either Tetsu nor me.

Tetsu keeps suggesting we just bite the bullet and let Toi out... He looks at me hopefully but won't force the decision.... If something happened to Toi he doesn't want to be blamed... But this summer is going to be a hard one with Tetsu trying to shuffle cats and make sure they are all alive and well every night. Of course I don't know that letting Toi out will even solve the problem... He might just sit on our doorstep and complain loudly.

My vet's opinion is to let things go naturally. If that means Cleo gets bullied (and Vel) so be it. That seems cruel too.

Please don't comment... I'm just working out my own feelings.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too many

The cats are driving us crazy.... That is putting it in a nutshell. It all boils down to we have too many cats.

I think my stay in the hospital sent Cleo and Patora over the edge. Patora especially does not like Tetsu and was hiding from him the whole week I was gone. She is taking out her frustrations now (and probably while I was gone) on Chip. Chip only feels comfortable hidden away somewhere.

Toi is at his worse behavior and attacks Cleo mercilessly. Cleo has cuts and injuries from being ambushed by Toi.

Vel (and probably Cleo and probably Chip) are completely miswired in their bathroom habits. No surface, no corner, no piece of cloth or clothing laid down absentmindedly is safe from them. You can see what that means for my sewing room.

Mi happily wanders through the household and spreads cat fur everywhere (she has such dense fur and it is shedding terribly now.) And why it is that in this heat and mugginess Mi has to sit on the computer making it hotter, I don't know.

"Get away from here!!! You are going to make the computer overheat sitting right on its ventilation outlet!"

I try to keep this or that cat away from that or this cat but someone always figures out how to open the wrong door and the battle begins. Tetsu and I have cleaned and wiped and disinfected but the minute we start work on another area, the first area is sprayed again. Feliway... both the spray type and the dispenser type, does not work. And in this humidity, smells linger. Sometimes I feel like I am going under... But it is all my own doing. If I hadn't picked up so many cats, the first couple could have lived peacefully. They have all lived here so long that I can't think of giving any of them away...

Sometimes I look out at the huge forest behind us and think,

"Just let them go outside. There is a whole world of adventure out there. If they are so scared, they won't go very far anyway. If they are smart, they will come home when they are hungry. Cats should be allowed outside. You are not a good cat owner the way you make them feel trapped. You are not a good cat owner the way your voice rises with your frustrations. Everyone would be happier if the cats could work their aggressiveness out in natural surroundings. You would not be abandoning them. They would be welcomed back when they returned. They would be fed and have collars and be inoculated."

But somewhere in my past I got it in my head that cats should be kept indoors. That's not the way we kept cats when I was a child. Our cats in California have always had the run of the yard and the neighbors yards. Why did I turn into such a scaredy -cat myself? Advice just makes me more confused. Some cat lovers tell me to let the cats outside and let them be cats. (For non-cat lovers this is an obvious solution. "What is the big problem Tanya?") Some cat lovers tell me that I shouldn't think of such a cruel thing. Cats can get hit by cars. Cats can pick up illnesses from other cats out there... or from eating the abundant frogs... or from confronting the snakes... Outdoor cats will bring home fleas and ticks and if you let them back in the house you will have a bigger problem, Tanya!

So here I sit with my alcohol laden rag trying to wipe up puddles and disinfect at the same time. Here I am with my Febreze and room deodorants and extra laundry. I guess I'm not going to do anything before I leave for the States. I worry enough about my feline family without wondering if they are coming home at night.

Six cats are too many! From the pictures they look happy enough, don't they?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Odds and Ends

I am back on a regular schedule. I went to crosswalk duty this morning... I leave in a few minutes for the pre-school. The principal and I will have to make some changes in how I teach (from a chair?) and I don't think I can fend for myself with the kids come rushing at me to give me "high fives". Should I admit that I am too old for this job?

My weekend was uneventful but filled with little things. I took apart the Hopscotch-Butterscotch quilt and added another row of blocks (rather than add a big border). I can see where the repair job is but I doubt that anyone else will look that closely (except Mrs. Furui).

Mrs. Furui, by the way, took two of our quilts to the hospital where she volunteers. The hospital has a Donald McDonald House (yes... not Ronald McDonald in Japan. Donald McDonald) and they have 20 beds that they would like to decorate with quilts. The measurements we were given were 205 centimeters by 150 centimeters but looking at the pictures the facility forwarded, the quilts seem a little short to me... Which doesn't help with my Hopscotch-Butterscotch quilt because even with the extra row of blocks it only turns out to be 200 centimeters.

The first quilt is Mrs. Furui's. Her soft colors are so nice. And this is all hand quilted.

The second quilt is mine. A lot of scraps. Sort of strange machine quilting. There are three beds in that room so I guess my Hopscotch-Butterscotch quilt needs to get quilted!

Tetsu got in another cleaning binge this weekend and declared that my sewing room needed to be cleaned out. True. It is hot and muggy up there and two cats living in it do not help. So we cleaned, or at least Tetsu cleaned. I kept gathering up odds and ends that I'd set down on surfaces and were rolling around while Tetsu moved furniture. Yes! He rearranged my sewing room and wouldn't let me help with my bad knee. I didn't really need/want the room rearranged. And of course when Tetsu had an arrangement that he liked I would pipe up...

"That's a great idea Tetsu... But actually I need to have the sewing machine on the RIGHT side of the room..."

"Wow, you moved that bookshelf all by yourself.. But you know... I really need to be able to get to the table so that I can cut fabric on it... Could you put it back where it was?"

By the end of the cleaning binge Tetsu was not in such a good mood anymore. I appreciate the thought but quilters need to decide their own arrangement of the sewing room.

Right now my sewing room has my ancient sewing machine in it because "gasp" I've seen my regular sewing machine out for repairs! There were so many little things not working anymore that I found a sewing machine repair place and they came and took my sewing machine away. Depending on how much this is going to cost me I will either get my beloved regular machine fixed or think about a new one. The ancient sewing machine is complaining and may not last the week!

Off I go to preschool!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This is going to seem like a pretty crass post to my Japanese readers but I wanted to explain a Japanese custom related to hospitalization.

Before I was hardly in the hospital half a day my friends started visiting me and bringing me gifts. They brought me books and flowers and fruit and cakes. And money.

The custom of giving money applies to many situations in Japan. Instead of wedding gifts, money will be given. When someone passes away, the family receives money from relatives and friends. And when someone is hospitalized special envelopes of money are formally presented with many deep bows. It does no good trying to refuse the gifts of money, that would be insulting.

Envelopes came from pool friends, the elementary school, the PTA, English students, the traffic safety section of the city hall, the church etc. I suppose before insurance and disability leaves etc. the monetary gifts helped pay for medical care. Nowadays it is a custom that maybe takes the sting out of illnesses and injuries.

Another custom in Japan is to give a return gift, and so last week I consulted my friends about what might be appropriate. There is a whole business dealing with return gift giving in Japan but in the end Tetsu and I decided to give our friends some fancy tea and a couple of cookies. Not hand made cookies (I'm not that great a cook) but some cute kitty cookies made in our city. I've ordered these before and anybody who sees them and knows me at all will think "Tanya!"

Now... to deliver my teas and cookies!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Leaders & Enders

Well yeah! Tanya remembered that she is a quilter!

Yesterday I spent some time cleaning my sewing room and pulled out fabric to work on a border for the Hopscotch, Butterscotch quilt that has been on the shelf for the past month. This is my leaders-enders project from Bonnie Hunter book Adventures with Leaders & Enders. I have so much leftover fabric that gets cut into leaders-enders and I had a large box of pairs with no plan for using them...

I'm not sure where I went wrong but my blocks ended up smaller than I'd planned and thus the whole quilt is a little smaller than I'd thought it would be. Maybe I'm getting sloppy in making a 1/4 inch seam (multiplied a few hundred times, that could make a difference...) or maybe my sewing machine got jarred more than I thought when it took a fall during the earthquake.

Anyway, my plan for this to go to Mrs. Furui's hospital project is thwarted unless I put one more round of border. (I suppose easily done but I thought I was going to be finished with this today!) Or this could go to the earthquake relief project. Of course quilting is another factor... Mrs. Furui is only making hand quilted quilts for the hospital. Do I want to hand quilt this? Yuck. We are heading into the hot, muggy season of Japan! I'll have to think about this a bit more.

I also need to prepare backing and batting and maybe I can get my patchwork group to sandwich this for me. I do NOT get down on the floor easily (that border was a bear to lay out from bending distance!) and I don't think I can crawl around basting or even pin basting for awhile.

So my poor knee is an inconvenience but it works fine at the sewing machine pedal!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Amanda suggested I take a course or do some mental work to take my mind off of my slow knee healing progress.

Actually I was given a mental exercise the minute I walked in the door from the hospital! A friend at the prefecture office asked if I could look over an English translation of a booklet introducing English speaking foreigners to the prefecture. I said I was happy to do so but I didn't expect the booklet to be 195 pages long!! I also know the person who is doing the translating and I can only say that I hope she doesn't have a nervous breakdown before the job is finished! All the dumb legal terms on top of the dumb official Japanese red tape on top of all the dumb obsolete phrases that have previously been used! What IS the prefecture trying to say?

"As for the foreign national, Konin-yoken-gubi-shomeisho (Certificate of Legal Capacity for a Marriage Contract, so called Dokushin-shomeisho, Certificate of unmarried staus) and its translation into Japanese are required. (As for countries where this certificate is not issued, an authorized certificate in lieu is required.)"
The problem also arises when I try to make that into more understandable English but am reminded that I am "checking" a translation, not translating and also not responsible for changing everything to make it more natural... In some places we are going with the "shall be"s and "Henceforth"s...

Anyway, my nightly brain activity has been correcting grammatical mistakes and tweaking of odd phases or circling sections in red and writing "I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS!!!! PLEASE EXPLAIN!!!"

I sure hope we get this done before I leave for the States. I do NOT want to spend my summer vacation revising the prefecture's formal documents.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


One of my very few regrets about living in Japan is that it costs so dang much to send/bring things from the States. Every package that anyone sends me ends up costing the sender nearly as much as whatever is in the box! This is true the other way too (from Japan to wherever) but I don't send out packages very often.

For more than 20 years my mother regularly sent me food packages (and I'm afraid I have never taken up the custom and sent food items to my children in the States). She would include chocolate chips, peanut butter, tomato paste, cake mixes. As Mother grew more "settled", my sister-in-law took over the job, but a few years ago the US postal service stopped offering surface mail overseas and everything became airmail so packages are becoming far and in-between.

When visiting the States, I have tried to cut mailing fees by taking everything but the kitchen sink back with me in my suitcases. A few years ago I bought a huge nesting suitcase set so that I could carry one big suitcase to the States and then carry two suitcases filled with goodies back to Japan. The suitcases even expanded and a lot of fabric got carried back to Japan too! The strategy of large nesting suitcases backfired though and the past two years I have had to pay extra for overweight baggage at the airport. So I have to pay for my lovely items either way; the post office or the airlines.

Last week I received a very large box filled with sewing supplies from Mary in Indiana. The sewing supply box arrived while I was in the hospital and Tetsu brought it to my hospital room and I opened it with roommates watching. Thread? Bobbins? Quilting stencils? Fabric? Do you own a store, Tanya?

I have never even SEEN the pre-wound bobbins that Mary sent and I'm anxious to get back to my sewing machine and try using them. The thread I will share with my quilting group. All that lovely thread will last us awhile, don't you think?!

And yesterday another box arrived from Indiana, this time from Mary's sister, Pat. Pat is my good friend/nearly family member whom I find I have ties though my grandparents who lived in Indiana. Pat had asked me what I wanted from the States and I mentioned my mother's long ago food packages. Pat's box was filled with.... chocolate chips, peanut butter, tomato paste etc.! I will dive into Pat's wonderful food item box and make a batch of peanut butter cookies to start with! And spaghetti for dinner which will please Tetsu to no end! (He has already found the M 'n Ms.)

Thank you Pat and Mary! I am thrilled with both of your boxes and recognize all love you put in choosing items for me. I know the post office workers appreciate your patronage too. The postal fare alone has paid for the post office's air conditioning this month!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Yesterday, Marie sent me an Australian Homespun magazine to keep my mind spiced with creativity. On the forward page was this quote:

"I don't know why it is we are in such a hurry to get up
when we fall down. You might think we would lie there
and rest for a while."
Max Eastman, 1883-1969

This describes me perfectly right now! I think I expected that with the doctors' magic hands, knee pain and jerkiness would disappear along with the anesthesia. I was ready to jump up and walk the day after surgery. But the first day doing physical therapy left me hanging on to the practice rails and only getting therapy in my arms! (I couldn't put any weight on my knee.) I came back from that first session sniffling. Hey... I thought I was going to be able to walk!

It took me three days to throw away my crutches which when you think about it is a miracle in itself and don't get me wrong, I am grateful to God and grateful to the medical field! I came home with a slight limp and slow going on the stairway. But in my mind I am ready to jump into my previous schedule.

Unfortunately I find I can no longer sit on my knees Japanese style (let me rephrase that. I can no longer get down on the floor at all!) After a week I am STILL going up and down stairs one step at a time. I STILL look like a lopsided robot when I walk. I can't take Choco out at all nor even bring her into the house in the evening...

Frustration is mounting...

My good church friends, Kaoru-san, Konuma-san and Tomoko-san gave me this beautiful stained glass piece that Konuma-san made for me. I have it in my living room window right now. It reminds me that God made Noah wait 40 days and nights for the rain to stop and then even longer for the land to dry. But the promise was always there that things would return to normal...

Monday, June 20, 2011


Patchwork and quilting have been on hold since the beginning of June... I have barely been up in my sewing room except to let Vel and Cleo out during the day. (Toi and Patora are banished to the Tetsu's cat house... Toi loves it out there. Patora is even now, complaining.)

Before even GETTING to the hospital I had worked on two Alabama Beauty blocks from my confinement chair. And once those were done I made "kits" to take along with me to the hospital. Those three blocks got done in a matter of days. So five more blocks.

Unfortunately, since coming home my templates have gotten lost in the shuffle of papers and stuff used in the hospital so the Alabama Beauty blocks are on hold again. That may be for the better because there are probably enough blocks to sew together into a quilt... if I could just come up with a layout idea. I have dark blocks and light blocks which at one point I thought was going to be a good idea but I'm not so sure now...

My hospital roommate, Mrs. Kikuchi longingly mentioned while watching me piece my final Alabama block, that she wished she had thought to bring handwork to do during her hospital stay. But she laughed and said she's never had time to do any handwork even when she was at home (she and her husband run a mom-and-pop shop) so she didn't have any materials anyway.

Mrs. Kikuchi is unfortunately being shifted back and forth from major hospitals while doctors try to decide how to treat her so she probably won't be home for awhile... I asked Tetsu to bring me some of my extra fabric ("grab a handful of anything from one of the drawers!") and my last day in the hospital I showed Mrs. Kikuchi how to trace around the template and hand piece. I got her started on the simplest 9-patch and I cut out lots of 2 1/2 inch squares while she practiced the basics of piecing. See! I'm contagious!

I really would have liked to spend a couple more days with her and pass on a little more of my patchwork enthusiasm but anyway I left her with pins, needles, thread, pin-cushion, template, sandpaper board and fabric. Can you see how she is attached to an IV but still trying to piece her first 9-patch block without getting tangled up? I hope I'll be able to visit her next week when I have to go to the hospital for a post-op checkup.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


While I was in the hospital I thought it was going to be a great time to lose some weight. The meals were certainly conducive to weight loss! Simple is a gentle way of describing the menu!

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the meals. I did. Because there wasn't much to do all day, we patients on the orthopedic ward looked forward to the three meals and gobbled down all that was set before us. And it was enough! In fact, if I think of a word to describe my one week hospital stay, the word would be "Enough". The hospital wasn't glamorous but people were being healed. It was enough. The food wasn't restaurant standards, but patients were filled and nourished. It was enough. I learned how much more I eat than I really need! (Of course I burn a few more calories in my normal daily life but even so...)

So here are a few pictures of my meals while in the hospital. I think I took a picture of each meal but I guess you don't want to see 23 pictures of hospital trays.

This was a typical breakfast tray. There was either two slices of bread or else a large hot dog bun... And jam. And either a cold sausage or slice of ham with chopped cabbage on the side or in this case, stewed cabbage and egg. And milk.

I noticed some people got rice gruel instead of the bread but I guess the nurses decided I'd probably prefer bread rather than gruel.

This was a pretty fancy lunch one day. When the nurses brought it in my roommates and I all let out an "Ooh. Noodles for lunch!"

Cold noodles, dipping broth, grated radish and chopped mushrooms, deep fried fish cakes. Orange slices.

And this was a typical dinner menu. Simmered slice of codfish. Cucumber and boiled cabbage, radish and carrot salad. A big serving of rice! And grapefruit slices.

I noticed when leaving the hospital that the bill included a meal fee for about $70. I stayed 8 days in the hospital and had 23 meals. 23 meals for $70! Pretty reasonable!!!

You can see how I might expect to lose some weight... but I didn't. And now that I'm home my friends keep bringing me fancy cakes... And I'm not up to walking great distances nor back at the pool...

Hospital food was enough. Now I'm struggling with over abundance!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Paper cranes

I am gradually getting back into the rhythm of cleaning and cooking. Here I have time to clean but can't really get down low enough to do scrubbing. Pushing the vacuum cleaner is about my level right now.

Tetsu has forbidden me to walk Choco. Too bad we were never able to train to her to walk quietly by our side. She lunges and pulls and changes directions in an instant. She also never has warmed up to other people so I can't even ask my other dog walking friends to take her out for a tandem jaunt with their dogs... Poor Choco. The best I can do right now is go out to her yard and at arm's distance give her a good brushing everyday. She needs it! Look at all that shed fur on the ground! For a dog with a short coat she sheds like crazy!!! I guess for the rest of the summer Choco is not going to get an afternoon walk... She'll have to be satisfied with quality brushing time.


Yesterday's post ended with my roommates and me doing origami (paper folding), one of Japan's traditional childhood pleasures. As a matter of fact, in our room there was a lovely (faded) decoration of a thousand folded cranes hanging by the window. This decoration has been there awhile according to my roommate who was hospitalized in the same room last year also. And no, I did not count all the cranes to come up with number 1000.

I wrote this post in 2007 if you want to read how the tradition of making cranes got started. I imagine that the cranes in our hospital room had been made by a group of friends for someone who was hospitalized... prayers for a quick recovery... and then the person left it at the hospital to cheer on other temporary hospital residents. It was lovely to look at and wonder about how the person who received it is doing now...

Can you tell how the origami cranes have been stacked and then strung together probably in groups of 100? If you make one crane (Haru-chan's table in yesterday's post had single origami cranes on it...) the wings can be spread and it will stand alone. All together like this is a little difficult to distinguish each crane but the message is clear to any Japanese.

"Get well soon!"

...and I did!

Friday, June 17, 2011


It is a rainy day today and so I resisted going out for a walk with Tetsu and Choco. I am slow but I can walk! In fact I went cat and dog food shopping yesterday (drove the car!) and in my most helpless voice asked a stock boy to carry my 15 pounds of dog food and extra large bag of cat food to the cashier for me. He very kindly carried it out to the car for me too!


Back to hospital life.

After the first night in post-op, I was moved into a 6 patient room and spent the rest of the week making friendships and appreciating the hospital staff. On the orthopedic ward there is a variety of injuries and I quickly learned that torn cartilage of the knee (my problem) is one of the lesser injuries that need to be treated.

From beginning to end, one of my roommates , Mrs. Kikuchi, was in the bed across from me. She was in the hospital for a hip replacement that somehow got delayed because of complications. She spent her whole time cheerfully attached to an IV and we shared books and cookies that visitors brought in. (She flattered me by assuming I could read her books.)

Two obaachans (old grandmas), both 93 were in the hospital because of broken hips... Both were very clear minded but Haru-chan was bright and smiling to everybody while Kawada-san was angry at the world and especially at the hospital. It made a world of difference in how they were treated and how we interacted with them. Haru-chan was always thanking people and being apologetic about the care she needed, Kawada-san was always muttering about the slow care. To Haru-chan, student nurses flocked asking if she remembered their names etc. To Kawada-san, if someone asked her a question she would ignore them completely or complain that they had disrupted her sleep...

Two of my roommates were also in the hospital for torn knee cartilage and so we compared notes on the doctors' different methods of treatment or our own symptoms. I was very grateful for Mrs. Takanohashi who was operated on three days after me but was up and walking a day before me!

"How can you be walking already?! I've got to get rid of these crutches and get moving!"

Thanks to Mrs. Takanohashi, I found a good rival who spurred me to be more courageous in taking my first steps.

Up and down the hallway the rooms were filled with people that needed to be wheeled back and forth to the bathrooms causing a lot of extra work for the nurses. Many, MANY of the older patients were in various stages of dementia and throughout the days and nights we could hear them calling for family members or just lost in their confusion. The nurses patiently cared for them but I learned anew how hard it is to care for people that don't even realize they are in pain or need to be careful. Patients escaping from beds, playing with toilet paper, removing IVs or refusing to eat. And the nurses were putting in hours from 4:30 pm to 12:00 noon the next day! How they could continue to be cheerful I don't know!

Most of us patients became bored very quickly... I made my three Alabama beauty blocks within a couple of days and was left with no handwork. But some student nurses assigned to Haru-chan were helping her do origami and gradually the origami classes extended to the rest of us who wanted to try. We had so much fun and were all very proud to show each new creation we'd made! Just like little children.

"Look! Look! I made a heart!"

"Can you tell that this is supposed to be a snail?"

"Haru-chan! Wow! You can make a crane from memory!"

For all the pain-killers and IVs and physical therapy, our hospital room stayed active and cheerful from beginning to end. (Hopefully that was good for Mrs. Kawada...)

(← 93 year old Haru-chan making a crane.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Tadaima~~~! (That means "I'm home~~!" in Japanese.)

I set a somewhat wobbly foot into the house yesterday afternoon and have been calling people and putting things in order since then. I'm ready for some blogging time!

I had to laugh when I saw how Leiya and Yanna-chan took on the duties of blogging with such gusto! My goodness! They jumped right in didn't they?! It sounded like they had a lot of fun looking at their lives from an outsider's view and I know they must have been tickled pink to get so many comments and so much encouragement. I'm grateful to you all for supporting them!

So... Do you want to hear about how MY week went? I kept my camera handy the whole time but I'm afraid the scenery didn't change much as the days went by. Still... this could become a long post... Or several long posts.


Tetsu took me to the general hospital on Tuesday morning and signed me into Admissions. Then upstairs I was taken to the post-op room and made ready for surgery. As we waited for the nurse to bring me a gown and do other nursing things Tetsu raised his eyebrows and said,

"Maybe we should have gone to a different hospital..."

How I laughed at that! Too late now! Here I am!

Tetsu was referring to the appearance of the room. Now let me make something clear. Japan has some wonderfully modern, clean, efficient hospitals. Japanese technology ranks among the highest in the world.

BUT... this particular hospital has seen better days... to put it mildly. Tetsu's raised eyebrows were in response to the cracks in the floor and the water stains on the walls, the drooping frayed curtains, the pipes along the ceiling, the greyness of the halls. It turns out that this hospital is over 60 years old and is slowly being rebuilt. In four years the city will have a lovely, new, modern, hospital, but for now, the ward that I was in was nearly out of Dickens.

Hallways were dark (extra dark because the hospital is trying to support Japan's Save Energy movement that has been seriously put into effect after the March earthquake.)

The one sink that serves 40 patients on the ward is heated by an old boiler with a sign posted to not open any windows because the pilot light would blow out!

There was only one elevator servicing 5 floors and there was a constant traffic jam of wheelchairs, beds (transporting bedridden patients to the bowels of the hospital) linen carts, meal shelves, nurses and visitors who lined up waiting for the creaky elevator to arrive. (I noticed that doctors never had time to wait for the elevator and bounded up and down the 5 flights of stairs.)

On one of my trips to the bathroom, (one women's and one men's... two toilets in each) I noticed this little arrangement... a cockroach catcher. I never saw any cockroaches though...

Thankfully, the dreariness was only in the ward... from what I could see (and I couldn't see much as I had to remove my contact lenses) the operating room was as modern as you can get and my brief interval there was pain free and comfortable. (Why I had to be completely naked to have my knee operated on, I don't know, but if it makes it easier for the doctors, go right ahead and observe my whole body!) I never did really know who was doing the operating because people kept talking to me from different parts of the room but I recognized the young woman doctor's voice whom I'd first seen.

Here I am, an hour and 40 minutes later... No kiss from Tetsu, but a smile and a pat on the head...

And there I was left until the next morning.... Me and my IV....