Saturday, May 30, 2009

Potatoes, and More Potatoes...

These are the potatoes still left in the kitchen now AFTER I made potato salad, nikujaga, stir-fried potatoes (in the past two days) and these two dishes (this afternoon):

Potato Soup (with soy milk)

I made a whole bunch of this and froze most of it. My freezer is becoming occupied by ziploc bags of frozen soup, such as pumpkin soup, broccoli soup, onion and tomato, etc. ... AHHHHH...

Potato, Spinach, Onion and Bacon Casserole
(with Tofu and Miso Added)

Adding miso to tofu casserole was an interesting idea which I had heard about before but never had a chance to actually try out. When I decided to make potato casserole, I thought that it was a good chance to give the idea a try. This one was really "Japanese" because, in addition to tofu and miso, the recipe called for Japanese dashi stock (powder) and soy sauce for seasoning. The original recipe is here (in Japanese).

I really liked the taste of the sauce, but the tofu part tasted bland where it was not mixed well with the sauce. I'm going to work on this recipe a little more, and post it if I can come up with something I like very much.

So all these efforts used up about half of the potatoes delivered by the food co-op. Yeah, I failed to check the order sheet. :( Mom forgot that she already ordered one bag and ordered another one on the following week. And when these were delivered in the middle of mom's hunger strike, what she said was, "Oh, no problem. These two bags are different kinds of potatoes. They'll be eaten up eventually."
Yeah, right...

I guess I can make baked potatoes and mentaiko-butter potatoes for myself, but I can't eat up all these potatoes --I've got to make some potato dishes that my parents can eat, too. Any suggestions? They don't eat cheese or butter or western herbs. Mom can eat mayonnaise but dad can't.

(June 1, '09)
Thank you so much for the recipe suggestions! :D You guys are always so supportive. Love ya!
I made bunch of croquettes and ate half of them for lunch today. The rest is in the freezer. But then mom said that I didn't need to try this and that to use up the potatoes because she was going to throw them into miso soup and that should solve all the problem. OK, if she says so...

Nevertheless, the recipes suggested are SOOOOOOOOO tempting that I'm going to try them out anyway -- just for my own enjoyment. Thanks!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

And the Challenges Go On.. Part 3

When I moved in here about a month ago,
the orange trees were in full bloom.

Now look at these baby oranges... :)

OK. Time for more hard-core versions of insect-related episodes here. ;) I think this is a common problem in most rural areas in this country. When I googled to find an effective solution, I found good many Japanese blogs talking about their desperate efforts to keep this insect away from their rooms/houses. What I’m talking about is centipede. I don’t want to give a detailed description of that thing. It’s ugly. It has so many legs. And it bites. In this house, this creature ruins everybody's sleep about 3 or 4 times a summer. Or sometimes it hides in farm boots and waits for tasty feet.

This is how I'm protecting my boots (and feet).

Reading some Japanese blogs and forums, I had the impression that there is no one-and-only, perfectly-effective repellent that would protect your house from centipede throughout the year. Well, at least in this country. So, many Japanese are still trying this and that, in addition to currently available centipede repellent. A couple of people reported that mothballs containing para-dichlorobenzene worked, so I bought the particular brand that they used and put one pouch at every corner of my room and several in the closet.

It gave me a slight headache on the first day. And I’ve also read that para-dichlorobenzene is carcinogenic. But which risk is higher? Would it save me if I live in a mothball-scented room, having loads of foods and drinks that are said to have anticancer effect? I hope it does…


But here’s a bigger problem than the centipede, which is: mom who goes on hunger strike when there is something that she doesn’t like AND, at the same time, keeps buying food way more than necessary.

After moving into this house, dad told me that mom had been doing this to dad for years. Dad needs special diet due to his health concerns, and she didn’t like preparing meals based on his special needs. Dad had been cooking for himself, he said. When they had disagreements about who pays for what in the house and other things (mainly about mom’s commitment to tea-ceremony related activities), mom would make up excuses to go out and avoided cooking meals for him or eating with him.

Well, that’s dad's side of the story and I don’t believe everything he says. But the fact is that now she’s doing the same to me, too. And I have to admit that being impatient, I did tell her not to do certain things and fed into her behavior pattern. Now she refuses to eat in the dining room no matter how much we ask or tell her to, and to avoid being with me, she once stayed overnight at her sister’s house.

Her usual pattern seems to be: when she gets upset, she stops eating, then starts eating a little in her room, and comes back to the kitchen in a few days to eat there while no one is around. Of course she doesn’t eat anything I prepared or touched while in a hunger strike.

Obviously she is not getting enough nutrition. On the other hand, “the cruellest daughter in the world who chased her mother away from the kitchen to let her starve” is getting fatter, having to consume the fresh food from the veggie gardens, orchards and food co-op delivery. Not a beautiful scene, isn’t it? Maybe it was my mistake, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like forcing her to stop her avoidance behavior. Especially when she was testing me.

Perhaps, by starving herself, she is telling the whole world that she is not getting what she wants. She didn’t get it from the arranged marriage to start with, and then from her children, relatives, or anyone or anything. And she has been telling me so over and over since my childhood.
But mom, is starving yourself getting what you really want now? Or will it?

The ocean is not always calm...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Morning! -2-

Some photos I took on my morning walk recently. :) Believe it or not, I still wake up at 5 am every single day and take a walk!

Here's my friend, Jonathan. A stray seagull with a broken wing. Looks like he cannot fly. Or could it be she? How do you tell a male seagull from a female? Do you know? Anyway, for me a stray seagull is always "Jonathan" regardless of its gender. (Maybe young readers don't know Jonathan Livingston Seagull...?)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cozy Place

Those who read my posts about my challenges here -- especially part 2 -- might be thinking that obachan is now living in the middle of wilderness, a subtropical jungle or something full of scary creatures. Well, that's not too far from reality. (Just wait until you read part 3. LOL) But on the other hand, we are not totally segregated from the blessing of civilization here, and you can enjoy a nice harmony of modern way of living and beauty of the nature in a small town like this.

This is a cosy "tea and curry house" located very close to the ocean. (I was kind of surprised that someone introduced this place in English on the Internet.) It takes only about 20 minutes by car from my place, so I could be there more often if I had my own car. So far I've been there only twice?) in the past three years or so with mom, because she is not too crazy about curry. These photos are from the time I was there with mom and her sister a couple of weeks ago.

This place used to be a tea house where you could enjoy a great variety of tea from all over the world, both hot and iced. But soon they started offering cakes and bread to go with the tea, then curry dishes. (Obviously tea alone was not enough to keep the clientele in a place like this.)

I love their curry and desserts as well as tea, but what I love the most is the marvelous view from the window facing the Pacific ocean. I think the view, together with the little ornaments placed by the window in the afternoon sunshine will make some lovely postcard-like photos. Unfortunately that day, all I had was my cell phone camera, and in the shots taken with it, the ocean was not visible. (White-out?) Next time I'll bring my digital camera.

BTW, the name of this place is that of a traditional folk dance in this area. No one seems to know the meaning of the word... or it could be mere interjections heard during the dance. (They could have spelled the name a little differently in alphabet, though...)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Loquat Compote

Loquat Compote (with white wine)

I have never thought that a bounty of fresh food can be a pressure, or a threat, but it sure can. My mom and I had taken a look at our loquat trees the other day and decided to pick them this weekend. But the day before yesterday, dad said that the loquats were looking good. I thought our plan was still unchanged, but yesterday afternoon, mom went ahead and picked them. So this is what I saw while still being in the recovery stage from the "cabbage shock."*

Then mom declared that these were not ripe enough and not sweet. Yeah, thanks.

So I kind of got an excuse to try out a compote recipe (in Japanese) with these not-so-sweet loquats. (I always feel reluctant to cook ripe and sweet ones, because I think they taste the best as-is.)

I used beet granulated sugar again and added it more than the recipe called for, remembering the disappointing experience with the strawberry mousse. It was not a clever thing to do, actually -- the compote turned out a little too sweet. But it may taste good when eaten with yogurt or baked in something or used for jelly. Anywa y I'm happy that now I know one way to save loquats from being wasted. :)

Oh, what was "cabbage shock?" We had good amount of cabbage leftover in the fridge and dad brought BIG one from the veggie garden and another huge one was delivered by food co-op delivery. Well, no big deal... No big...

I made jelly with the loquat compote today (May 23). Not bad, but a little tangy kick would have been nice.

I even made a test batch of cake roll with whipping cream and the loquat compote as the filling today (May 24). It was just another "OK, but..." stuff. I guess you can't expect a miracle-like delicious result when the compote itself was not tasty enough...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And the Challenges Go On.. Part 2

Who did this to my zucchini!?!

My parents said that it must have been this. I dug around the baby plants but couldn't find anything. Later dad tried again and found several of them hiding very close to the roots!
Hope my baby zucchini plants can survive... :(

Well, maybe I should warn you. Here comes a few more episodes related to some creatures that are not considered very attractive in many countries. Sorry to disillusionize you about the life in countryside, but I guess you'll get used to it as I do. (And I promiss that I won't post photos of such creatures.)

One sunny afternoon, when I walked out the house, I found two brown ropes tied into a knot on the ground right outside the entrance.
... Wait. Do ropes have tongues?
No, they were not ropes. They were two brown snakes!
... I was totally frozen for a couple of minutes there.

In the past weeks, I got acquainted with several seniors at my parents' house. To start with: There's a relatively large spider living in the bathroom. He is the bathroom king, and he must be the descendant of the king I used to see on the bathroom wall in my childhood. And several days later, I found out that there was actually a bathroom queen, too, when she walked across my instep while I was rinsing my hair with my eyes closed.

I tell you what. You can't really scream when you're extremely scared.
And I don't want to think about prince(s) and princess(es)...

Also there's someone who often appears on the bath mat to greet me. I named him(her?) Sluggy.

Are you feeling sick? OK. Let's not talk about creatures any more then. I'll tell you about the worst one in the Part 3 of this series.

The gas stove in the kitchen here is such a pain in the neck. It seems to have been programmed to reduce heat automatically when it gets to certain temperature. So when I'm making stir-fry, it suddenly gives a soft beep sound and turns the heat to very low. And I can't turn it up for about a minute (or could be shorter but it feels like hours).

Actually one of my major missions here at my parents' house is to restore peace and order in the big fridge in the kitchen. From before, mom didn't care much about wasting food and kept buying as much of whatever she liked. But in the past, at least she was feeling guilty to some extent, and tried to change that habit once in a while, though with not much success, of course.

Now she doesn't seem to feel guilty any more... Or more likely, she is not interested in understanding what is bad about having the fridge jam-packed with food and wasting half of it. For her, whoever does not approve of her way of doing things is an enemy, and she just tries to avoid interacting with the person as much as possible. That's it. Before I moved in, dad had told me that when she was not in a good mood, she would make up excuses to leave house so that she could avoid preparing meals and eating them with him. She didn't do that in my first couple of weeks here, but now she does that to me, too.

Dad said talking to her didn't really work and made her mood worse, which didn't surprise me. This may sound awful, but right now I'm not trying to "fix" this problem -- I don't even know if I see this as a "problem" anyway. Instead, when this happens, I take advantage of the time I can dominate the kitchen, and try out the recipes I found on the net in order to consume these food items from 1) the supermarket, 2) food co-op delivery, 3) our orchard/veggie gardens and 4) the local fishing port. Oh, plus, 5) those brought by neighbors and relatives to share. Controlling 1) is not too difficult because I usually go shopping with mom. Regarding 2),--I guess I should check the order sheet at the last minute from next time on. But 3), 4) and 5) would be really difficult to control...

Gee. I really, REALLY need to broaden my cooking repertoire and creativity. I have never felt the need this badly before... Phew!

OK. Enough for now. Let's take a break and admire the beauty of these flowers.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Good Blood Circulation Guaranteed

Pickled Rakkyo (Allium Chinense) May 14, 2009

May 14th was certainly a productive day. In addition to the green ume plums in the previous post, mom and I also pickled rakkyo onions on the same day. But this was a real quick and easy thing to do. Mom had ordered some peeled and washed rakkyo and pickling solution about a week ago, and all we did that day was just throwing them into two big jars with a couple of dried red chile pepper in each.
I didn't know this until Kat told me in her comment, but rakkyo is said to improve blood circulation. No, it's not an old wives' tale. The allyl sulfides contained in rakkyo has that effect. They also say that rakkyo helps the absorption of Vitamin B1. And these sweet 'n sour, crunchy pickles are really appetizing. It's true that some people including my younger sister do not care for their strong smell, but I like them very much.

So, with that many onions (which also contain allyl sulfides) to eat in addition to these pickles, my parents and I are going to have blood circulation of Niagara falls this summer. Hahaha...

Making the Best Use Of Our Ume Plums (2)

Umeshu (Ume Plum Infused Liquor)
... just before the liquor is poured in.
May 15, 2009

As written in my previous post, mom already lost interest in making this drink, umeshu, so I made some with 1 kg of the ume plums harvested the other day. The recipe is, again, so simple: 1 kg green ume plums, 1 kg crystallized sugar and 1.8 litter liquor. The most widely used liquor is shochu (distilled spirit) called "Howaito Rikaa (White Liquor)" which is made from molasses, if I'm not mistaken. Because it is transparent and has no distinctive aroma or flavor itself, the liquor is favored for making fruit-infused liquor. (BTW, I didn't know until this year that the howaito likaa comes in cartons as well.)

The companies selling umeshu list so many health benefits. One of the online ads (Japanese) says that umeshu:

- improves blood circulation and prevents blood vessels and organs becoming fatty,
- improves appetite with several kinds of acids such as citric acid, malic acid and succinic acid,
- induces relaxation due to its aroma-therapeutic effect (by benzaldehyde)
- might have anticancer effect due to the substance (amygdalin) contained in the pits and brought out by the alcohol,
- helps liver function (by picric acid)
- fights acidity,
and so on and so forth.

I don't blindly believe all of them. Maybe they are not lies but the level of effectiveness could be ... you know. But even with 50 percent discount on the said effectiveness, still I feel more comfortable about having this drink than other artificially-flavored cheap alcoholic drinks. (Honestly, I have allergic reactions to many of the canned chu-hi stuff that cost around or less than 100 yen. My eyes start iching and nose stuffed up, sometimes along with bad sneezes.) In addition, I can have more fun with home made umeshu, checking on them every day to see how much sugar is melt and how the color changed, etc.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Making the Best Use of Our Ume Plums (1)

Making Ume Plum Jam

On May 13th, my mom and I went to dad's orange orchard on the hillside to pick ume plums. Ume is the variety that does not turn sweet even when it's ripe and yellow. Traditionally unripe green ones are used for making super sour & salty pickles called umeboshi or infused liquor called umeshu. But our family is not too crazy about the pickles and mom got tired of making the liquor. What we had in mind was more "contemporary" recipes: Ume miso dressing, ume jam and ume juice.

Unripe, green ume plums

You can't expect plums to be good looking when they were grown in a wild environment with no pesticide used. We found most of our ume plums badly speckled. But I read on several Japanese websites that such speckled plums would cause no health problem, so we don't care any more.

Ume Plums in dad's orchard

Mom said that she hadn't seen this many plums on this tree for years. She wanted to stop sooner but I got sort of carried away and kept picking until we harvested more than 7 kilograms of them altogether! Gee. When I lived alone in an apartment, I would buy a small amount at the Sunday market to pickle them in a small jar. Now it's 7 kilograms that we have to deal with! And still many was left on the tree when we left.

On the next day, I made two jars of jam with 1 kg of the green ume plums.

Green Ume Plum Jam (May 14, 2009)

Too bad. This was not a great success. I should have made it exactly the same way as the last time, but I thought our plums might be more harsh than the good looking, store-bought ones I used last time. So I soaked them in water for too long and added sugar definitely more than necessary. As a result, the jam turned out too sweet with very little refreshing ume flavor. Though it tasted good when I licked it while it was simmering, I didn't taste ume at all when I ate the jam with a piece of bread next morning. :( The recipe and method that lead to a success are here, if you're interested.

Ume Jam Cupcakes

You probably know what I usually do with not-so-good jam/marmalade, right? Yep, I baked the jam into cupcakes this time. They turned out just OK, but again, no refreshing ume flavor that I wanted. Oh well. Still plenty of ume is left on the tree, so...

Ume Miso (May 14, 2009)

Mom made ume miso on the same day. I posted about ume miso once on my previous blog, so check out this post to find the recipe and method, if you're interested. (In that post ripe yellowish ume plums were used, because that was the only thing I could buy then, but unripe green ones like these are far better.)

Ume plums frozen to be used for Ume Juice (May 14, 2009)

I think this is the first time I post about this ume juice, right? THIS is everyone's favorite around here. The majority of mom's friends are now asking her to make this instead of the once-popular shiso (perilla) drink, and I like this better, too.

The recipe is so simple, like other recipes calling for fresh ume plums. I'll post it with the instruction when we actually put these in jars with crystallized sugar. What we did today was the preparation: freezing the ume. They should be kept in the freezer for more than 24 hours. BTW, they are not in the freezer of the big fridge in the kitchen, because there's absolutely NO space in there. I expected that and brought back my small fridge when I moved in.
Good thinking, huh?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


.................................... My zucchini! :D ........................................

Oh I'm so happy. All twelve seeds sprouted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And the Challenges Go On.. Part 1

These strawberries are rather tart

Maybe... just maybe... adjusting to a totally new place and new people is sometimes easier than adjusting to a life with your own parents in your hometown? Have you ever felt that way?

Oh, I'm not saying that I'm unhappy being here. But there are... challenges. Every day.
You want to know some of them? Here we go!

Looks like my taste buds have been messed up since I got here. Here my mom uses light soy sauce for everything, thinking that it contains less salt than regular soy sauce. (But the fact is the opposite, as you know.) Her dishes especially salted fish are too salty for me, but mom and dad pour soy sauce over almost everything I make -- well, except sweets, of course. :P

I haven't had much success with sweets, either. As I wrote before, I started using beet sugar a while ago, and I continue to use it here because it seems to be good for dad who is a recovering diabetic. There was no problem when I baked cookies with brown beet sugar, but when used granulated beet sugar, nothing I made turned out sweet enough. Strawberry jam, strawberry mousse (see the photo below) and apple pound cake that I made in the past couple of weeks all disappointed me (and my parents, I guess). Now even when I baked good-tasting pound cake with brown beet sugar, no one touches it except me. Thanks for letting me gain weight.

Then why did I make yogurt mousse with them...
as if it was not tart enough??
As I had expected, my parents do not care for most of the "contemporary" recipes I pick from recipe sites and magazines popular among young Japanese women. My dad is not supposed to take much sugar, salt and purine-rich food, and he cannot eat cheese. Mom is not much interested in having meals regularly in the first place, never eats breakfast and doesn't like "healthy" eating habits. To them Western herbs smell weird, and both of them don't have good teeth. So I've learned to tell them, "Oh, this is a very Western dish so you can't eat it" when I made something I really like and don't want to share it with anyone. ;)

I guess "too many chefs in a kitchen" never works. The other day I was going to make onion dressing and left some sliced onion in a bowl of water. While I was doing laundry, dad marinated it for his salad. Dad, onions don't slice themselves and jump into water. Wasn't it obvious that someone did that for a certain purpose?

When dad brings back fresh fish from the nearby fishing port, gutting/filleting the fish has the highest priority in the kitchen, no matter what other dishes were under preparation. (Perhaps it's the same in other households in this area, too.) A couple of times I had to evacuate my bowl of whipping cream or cake dough as the cutting board was set to chop heads off the fish on it. You know, you can't expect a smooth traffic when three unprofessional chefs are working in the same kitchen.

The biggest lesson I had to learn was how not to ask my mom questions when it is not the right time for her. I'm still making same mistake over and over... I ask her questions when I want to know something, especially when I can't find something in the kitchen. Obviously I was expecting her to be able to say, "I don't know" or prioritize things. But now I know that asking her a question is probably like throwing her into a dungeon of fragmented memories. She stops whatever she's doing right away and starts looking for it, even though I tell her that it doesn't have to be right now. And as she rummage through the stuff in the cupboard or storage, she reads the label on every item, tries to understand it but cannot, gets confused and totally forgets what she was looking for in the first place. And behind her the fridge is repeating in a machinery voice, "The door is open. The door is open..." (Yep, our fridge talks.)

Actually the first task I should have done in the first week here was to check the kitchen and know what we have and don't have, and the expiration dates of what we have. But instead, I went shopping with her every day and kept buying what she told me to buy. Stupid me. And when we got home she didn't remember why she needed it, and I found plenty of the same stuff in the cupboard. XO

This morning dad asked me to make a chart using my PC. The draft he gave me was in B4 size and I told him that my printer cannot print that size.
D: "No problem. I can print it out in the office of fishermen's association."
Me: "...? Do they have a PC there?"
D: "No. But you put a 10 yen coin in and get a printout."
.... Dad, that's a photocopy machine, not a printer.

Oh well. Having challenges is much better than getting bored, isn't it?
There's more to come.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Abalones We Picked on Mother's Day

Why not beautiful bouquet or expensive dinner but abalones on Mother's Day? Because I suppose Mother's Day is the day that we do something for mom and/or let her do what she likes to do the most. My mom loves picking abalones. And since last Saturday was the spring tide day, the tide still fell quite a lot on the next day (Mother's Day), too. So there was nowhere else on this planet that my mom wanted to be but the beach -- more precisely, some particular big rocks that appear only when the tide is lowest in the spring tide. And I went with her to keep her company. (But once we start picking, we don't care much about each other. :P)

This type of abalones in the above photo live in the cracks of big rocks. You have to have experienced eyes to be able to find them because they look just the same as the surface of the rock. Now my mom is having difficulties when reading books and newspaper, but when looking for abalones, her eyes are nothing but hawk eyes. Honestly. And didn't I tell you that she walks very slow because of her bad leg? Amazingly enough, it doesn't bother her at all when picking abalones.
These are the "must haves" for abalone pickers here. We used to wear old sneakers, but they were slippery on wet rocks. Then mom bought these special footwear a few years ago. The upper part is as soft as socks but the toes and the bottom are covered with thick, tough rubber-like material. And the soles are slip resistant. Neat stuff. Mom and I don't want neighbors to see us when we are in these extremely eye-catching footwear, so we carry them in a bag until we get on the beach and then get changed there. LOL

The metal stick is flat on one end and has a hook on the other end. When you find an abalone, you insert the flat end between the shellfish and the surface of the rock, and hit the other end with a piece of stone until the abalone is detached from the rock. Then you take the abalone out of the crack using the hook. Sometimes it's difficult, but it's so much fun!

I guess mom and I picked about 40 to 50 abalones altogether. Mom cooked them in a pressure cooker. Actually this type of abalones usually turn VERY chewy when cooked, and we used to enjoy picking but hate eating them. Then one day one of the relatives taught mom that a pressure cooker could cook them quite soft, and now we can enjoy both picking AND eating them.

Simmered Abalones

But still I think we always pick more than we can enjoy eating.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

From Our Veggie Garden

Pea Pods in the Dusk

I must have been terribly stressed out during my first week here at my parents' house. In my last post, I sounded like some kind of heroin of a tragedy, didn't I? Being more settled down -- at least, compared to last week -- now I feel rather embarrassed to read it. Maybe the tone of my last post was misleading, I guess?

Here let me make one thing very clear: I didn't come here to sacrifice. Mom's condition was one of the reasons for my move this time, but not the one and only reason or the most important reason. I didn't move into this house just for her or for my parents-- I came here to live a better life myself (in other words, to take an easy way out). I got sick of working like a slave only to pay the rent and power bill and to feed myself. The small and inconvenient kitchen was getting on my nerve. After all, I moved in here because both my parents and I thought that it was "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." We could be wrong, of course, but my family needed a change for sure.

Growing herbs and vegetables in big gardens was what I dreamed of when I had nothing but a small balcony garden. Now I'm enjoying working in our family vegetable gardens.

Yesterday we harvested all the peas (for seed) in the dusk and shelled the pods watching TV after dinner.

Pods were pretty dry

So cute!

Dad harvested all the onions this afternoon. Yeah, these are the "so many onions that we don't know what to do with." BTW, thanks for the recipes to consume onions.
How many times would I be making onion soup...???

And this afternoon, I seeded zucchini. This is my very first time to grow zucchini, and dad didn't even know what it was. So we may not have a great success this year, but I'm pretty excited to give it a try.
I washed my hands in the small stream

Before going home, I picked some strawberries.

Someone had already tasted it before we did :D

Dad said it must have been slugs that ate the strawberries.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


One great thing about living here is that the ocean is very close and I can enjoy walking on the beach anytime I want, even before breakfast. These are the shots I took this morning at around 6 am. At the moment, nothing can heal me better than these sights...

After coming back from the beach, I strolled around our family vegetable garden to see fresh green in the morning dew.
Kabocha pumpkins growing...

So many onions that we don't know what to do with

Shy Strawberries

So fresh. So lively. Things like these make me feel truly happy about moving into this place. Yeah, it's a great privilege to live my life being surrounded by the gift of mother nature. But I have to admit... There are times when I doubt if I could ever survive here at my parents' house.

When I decided to move into my parents' house, one of the biggest reasons was actually my mom. She was already quite forgetful in her late forties -- like any other middle-aged woman -- and we often teased her about that and had good laughs. But last year, I noticed something different. She was not just forgetful, but was becoming confused -- gradually but steadily. Dad and I realized that we should be ready for what's coming in a few years.

Oh, don't worry. The problem is not very serious at this point. Often she forgets what she just said five minutes ago and we need to keep reminding her like crazy about certain things or close the fridge door that she forgot to close. But she can still drive and remembers to turn off the gas stove. It's just the tendency of "broken-record" talks, too many demonstrative pronouns and never having any of my questions answered straight or in time that are bugging me. Sometimes she starts saying one thing, gets lost in her thought and just finishes the conversation being confused.

I handled all these when I worked at an old-people's home several years ago, so that shouldn't kill me. It just freaks me out, though, when that type of conversation gets me while I'm struggling with a manual transmission car. She always tries to tell me what to do when I'm driving, but she never says "right" and "left" correctly. AHHHHh... Honestly, a couple of times I felt like jumping into the ocean with the car just to stop her talk that wasn't making sense at all.

Dad talks slow and rambles a lot, and makes unbelievably irrational decisions once in a while. Both mom and dad have bad legs and they both walk very slow. And for the past week, they were the only people I talked with and did things with, which means, I didn't talk or walk at my "normal" speed almost for the whole week. Yeah, nothing serious ... but it's amazing how such little things wore me out in just one week!

That's why I need photos like these to heal me. Yeah, I'm lucky that I have camera(s), a laptop and you guys who kindly listen to me. :)


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