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. :)


Tindy said...

Oh Obachan...I know how you feel, with your parents. Both my parents and grandparents fit what your parents are going through. But that's why mother nature makes such wonderful things, don't you think? :)

Anonymous said...

French Onion Soup

There are few things more comforting than making a real French Onion Soup – slowly cooked, caramelised onions that turn mellow and sweet in a broth laced with white wine and Cognac. The whole thing is finished off with crunchy baked croutons of crusty bread topped with melted, toasted cheese. If ever there was a winter stomach warmer, this is surely it!

Serves 6

1½ lb (700 g) onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz (50 g) butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ level teaspoon granulated sugar
2 pints (1.2 litres) good beef stock (see link to recipe at the end of the method)
10 fl oz (275 ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons Cognac
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the croutons:

French bread or baguettine, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) diagonal slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

To serve:

6 large or 12 small croutons (see above)
8 oz (225 g) Gruyère, grated

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

You will also need a large heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole of 6 pint (3.5 litres) capacity.

First make the croutons – begin by drizzling the olive oil on to a large, solid baking-sheet, add the crushed garlic and then, using your hands, spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet. Now place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn over each one so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes till crispy and crunchy.

Next place the saucepan or casserole on a high heat and melt the oil and butter together. When this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep turning them from time to time until the edges of the onions have turned dark – this will take about 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and leave the onions to carry on cooking very slowly for about 30 minutes, by which time the base of the pan will be covered with a rich, nut brown, caramelised film.

After that, pour in the stock and white wine, season, then stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the base of the pan well. As soon as it all comes up to simmering point, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, then go away and leave it to cook very gently, without a lid, for about 1 hour.

All this can be done in advance but, when you're ready to serve the soup, bring it back up to simmering point, taste to check for seasoning – and if it's extra-cold outside, add a couple of tablespoons of Cognac! Warm the tureen or soup bowls in a low oven and pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Then ladle in the hot soup and top with the croutons, allowing them to float on the top of the soup.

Now sprinkle the grated Gruyère thickly over the croutons and place the whole lot under the grill until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately – and don't forget to warn your guests that everything is very hot!

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith's Winter Collection and The Delia Collection: Soup.

Lucas said...

Obachan, It has been a while since I commented - I am still around, and still cooking (I did a teriyaki chicken video on youtube recently (look for burnsy11)). I think what you have done is great! You have continued the blog for so long, and now started a new life where you really will be cooking with nature and enjoying lifeas much as you can - it is going to have some challenges, but I am sure you will come through with your ever-positive outlook. The best way is to just embrace the slower, country lifestyle, rather than long for your old one! I may even be inspired to start blogging again soon!
Lucas (crazygaijin)

Anonymous said...

Obachan, (I don't know if it is the right nickname to call you for me, because I am older than you),
I understand very well what you wrote. I am 54 years old and my mother is now 89 years old. Although now she lives in a nursing home for elderly. I have been seeing how people get old. As getting older, I become understanding the sadness of aging. Still I try to see the bright side of the life. Please take it easy. The great nature around you heals you, I am sure.


Anonymous said...

Hey Obachan,

Am glad reading your new blog. =) A little sorry to hear about the challenges you have ahead of you though. I hope you'll find strength and happiness in the new environment somehow, or let them find you soon. Heaven should reward you for the love you offer to your folks. =)

We're always here to listen. =) You're not alone.

eliza bennet said...

Obachan, keep your spirits up! You are doing a very good thing helping your parents out.

And you are doing even better by trying to see the good side of it.

Onions are staples for curries no?

Anonymous said...

Hi..Obachan, am very delighted to read your new blog. Take it easy and enjoy your new life at your new home ( I hope you will once in a while come to Kochi for some edamame and a glass of nama biru....asoko ganbate nee.


TiV said...

Hello Obachan! Best regards from Finland!
It is a long time ago I made some comment to you, but I do regularly visit your blog.
I just wanted to come and say to you that I admire your decision to help your parents and be there for them. Not an easy task - but you give much and you get from it so much more. Bad days, good days, that what our life is about.
This world has become more and more hectic and busy all the time, and we are sometimes forgetting the basics.
Caring for our closest ones is one of the most important things.

The Internet is so great. It makes communication so much easier and faster. And even one word can make a day feel much better!
My mother is 70, father 75. They have never used computer before and now they have learned so much that I can write online with them and mail pictures of their grandchildren!
I hope that when getting older and when they need closer and active help I would be able to offer it to them as you do.
I wish you and your parents all the best, have beautiful days by the sea and enjoy sunshine!!!
Best regards

lorelei76 said...

Hello from Washington DC!

Obachan, you have my sympathies: it's hard to deal with the realization that the parents are not operating anywhere near 100% anymore. Having to deal and live with it everyday must wear on you. Vent whenever you want, we'll listen.

Mako said...

Hello Obachan! Nice to read your blog again. :) Hope your move was nice and safe and that the surrounding nature will give you strength and joy! :)

Cara said...

It certainly will be a bit difficult to change your life so completely. I respect you greatly for your decision because I couldn't do it, but I haven't had to really think about it yet since my parents are just 59. I always liked to imagine life in a small coastal town in Japan would be like in the Japanese drama "Beach Boys" ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,

It's been a while since I wrote to you last but have been following your blog. I admire your decision, and your love for your parents who are going through the process of aging with some challenges.
I trust that you will deal with situations with your thoughtful,caring manners and please remember that you too need TLC to yourself.

So, take it easy.


Anonymous said...

Aloha Obachan, so happy to see your new blog. I look forward to reading of your new adventures. The ocean, the garden, the view from your room all look so lovely, man I can almost smell those orange blossoms!

I have to say your previous post made me smile. I too do not use chopsticks correctly, BUT this has never slowed down getting the food into my mouth!

Your parents are fortunate to have you and I wish all of you the best.


eliza bennet said...

Also onion juice makes for a great marinade for chicken!

My Bento Diet said...

Obachan: I very proud of you for the decision you made. You are willing to sacrifice yourself for the sake of your parents. I'm sure there will be hard days, but look at it as a way for you to grow and change. Be thankful you still have parents. (I'm sure you are though) :D I will keep you in my prayers and ask that God will give you the strength you need each day.

And I agree with you and others, nature is a wonderful healer. Surround yourself with that beauty.

millet said...

nice "new-old blog"..i like the newness of it, but it also reminds me so much of the old blog so that i don't feel lost here. nice of you to share your thoughts and feelings...we'll walk this road with you as long as you're on cyberspace.

as always, you have a new adventure everytime you turn a corner. all the best, obachan!

obachan said...

Yeah, I think so. :)

Anonymous commenter;
Wow, thank you so much for the recipe. This way I would be able to consume a lot of onions. The only problem is that my parents probably wouldn't eat the soup (they're not used to this kind of Western dish and cheese) so I'll be the only one to eat it. ;)

Oh, Hi! So nice to hear from you. I'm glad to hear that you're still cooking. Too bad I cannot see your teriyaki chicken video becaise the Internet connection via the data card cannot handle youtube.

Thanks for your advice. Yeah, I'll love the country life here, even with some challenges. (It'll be really great once I start going fishing!)

I bet your mom is so happy when you visit her. Living together, my mom and I get on each other's nerve once in a while, but I think it's normal. ;)

Anonymous commenter;
Thank you so much. I really feel supported. It won't be too difficult to find happiness here, especially after I start going fishing.

Eliza bennet;
Yep, I'll try.
We use onions for curries, but mom doesn't like curry and dad shouldn't eat so much of it, so again I will be the one to eat most of it.

I'm very delighted that you found this blog alright.

Next time I go to Kochi, I'll take some shots of nama biiru with Hirome-age chicken wings and edamame. Stay tuned. :D

I totally agree. It was probably when I was around 30 y.o. that I came to realize the importance of the basics. Now I'm older and feel the importance more and more.

It's wonderful that your parents can use computer! My dad cannot even answer the cell phone and mom has been asking me about a thousand times how to use the telephone directory of her cell phone. LOL

I really appreciate your support. It means a lot to me!

Hi! My move was at least safe but by no means "nice," to tell you the truth. :( I don't think I want to do it again. At least, I'm not using that moving service ever again!

Well, it hasn't changed completely, but it certainly is a big change. The decision wasn't too difficult because the life in that apartment was not really great and I was already getting tired of it.

Beach Boys! Hahaha... Tell you what. In a real small, tiny coastal town in Japan, there are no young folks like them in the first place!

Oh, Hi! I appreciate your kind comment. Yep, I never forget to do something nice to myself, and blogging is part of it. :)

Aloha! Glad that you still visit my blog. And I'm so happy to know that there is one more person who is not good at using chopsticks. :D

Eliza bennet;
That's right. Thanks!

No, I'm not going to sacrifice myself for the sake of my parents. I came here for myself, AND them, probably.

Thanks. I really want to take nice photos of the oranges and sea shells and use them for this blog template somehow, because those are the things that symbolizes my life here. But it's going to take a while.

Yeah, I expect tons of adventures, which would be nice. It must be better than being bored, right? ;)

blue-in-green said...

Such a lovely place. :)
Not everyone is as lucky as you.

obachan said...

Yeah, I'm lucky. No doubt about it.


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