Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Tomorrow, I'll be heading off to good ol' Texas.  I feel a little strange about it, actually, as I haven't been in the United States for 2 years!  Will it be different?  Will I be different?

Here's some things I'm looking forward to in Texas:


My sister, me, my dad, his twin brother, my grandmother, and Ethan (looking so small) about 4 years ago.
Although skype has been a God send when I wanted to talk with folks back home, I absolutely cannot wait to see them all in the flesh and give them huge hugs.  My sister and I were talking about how this has been the longest we've ever not seen each other.  It's gonna be so great to see everyone!

Friends and Ex-students (and Ex-Students who've become friends)

Hitting a llama pinata with some of my ex-students from Randall High School.  God, this had to have been about 6 years ago!!
I started teaching at Randall High School when I was 23 years old.  I feel so lucky to have had that experience, because those kids really were the best (even when they drove me crazy)!  Now, lots of them are married and have jobs and stuff.  If there's still any of them around, I really want to catch up.

There's also some friends from college days and such I really want to see.  People I haven't seen in ages.


Oh dear God, the food.

Mexican food is what I'm looking most forward to.  But let's not discriminate here - hamburgers, baked potatoes, snow cones, SONIC!  The plethora of Thai food restaurants in Canyon!

I'm going to gain 10 pounds on this trip, I just know it.

Driving a Car

Pumpin' some gas...

I haven't driven a car in two years, and my Honda Element is waiting for me.  This should be interesting.  Let's all hope I drive on the right side of the road...

Change of Scenery

Like this:

I gotta say, I'm kinda excited to see a West Texas sunset.

See y'all soon!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How does her garden grow?

German chamomile

Italian parsley and basil


Italian tomatoes

My tomato plants, mint, and rosemary

Swiss chard

cosmos and zinnias

I started up my little balcony garden again this year.  Trying my hand at two new kinds of tomatoes, and a handful of herbs and flowers.  The tomato plants are definitely not as full and bushy as they were last year, but I'm thinking it's just because they're a different kind (I wanted something a little bigger this year, as opposed to the tiny, cherry tomatoes I grew last year).  Swiss chard is also a new addition this year, thanks to my friend Kelly giving me her extra seeds.

And the aphids are back this year, but this time, I was ready for them.  I use a mixture of water, dish soap, and garlic oil.  It's extremely effective, but I have to spray my plants every day, and sometimes the oil in the spray burns the leaves if it's a very sunny day.  I got one good harvest of my lettuce greens, but the aphids love my lettuce, and eventually, despite all my spraying, I had to just pull it up.  But all the other plants seems to be doing ok.

I will defeat you, aphids: my tiny, green enemy!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Street Sessions

On Friday night, Takuya and I decided to do some street performing in the Tanuki Kouji area of Susukino.  Actually, Takuya has been wanting to "busk" (I did not know this English word, until Takuya told me that they use it in England, where he lived for a year and a half.  Haha, Takuya's teaching me English!) for a while, and I kept delaying it.  Mainly because I was nervous about it.  What if no one would stop to listen to us?

Hold up, let me explain a little bit about the Tanuki Kouji area, for you folks not living in Sapporo.  Tanuki Kouji is about 6 blocks of shops of all kinds: specialty stores, restaurants, bars, etc.  It's like a strip mall, but with a covered walkway.  On Fridays and Saturdays, when the stores close for the evening, people will come out and perform - singers, dancers, what have you.  Lots of people are walking by going to bars or restaurants, so it's a great place for street performing.

Whenever I think of street performers, I think about New York - keyboardists with dancing statues around them, classical violinists, tap dancers.  You'll never find a more colorful group of performers than in New York City.

But I found out that Sapporo's got quite a colorful group of street performers as well.

We decided to set up in front of a store called Real Monkey, a store that sells vintage American clothing (thus the huge flag above us - I thought it appropriate).  Across from us was a guy who was singing pop songs from a CD.  He had the whole get-up: a headset microphone, portable amp, and a BOA.  His dance moves told me that this was a man who was a star in his mind, and the rest of the world just didn't get it.  I could've swore I took a picture of him, but now I can't find it.  Trust me, he was magical.    And that worried me, because I thought that maybe he'd be too much of a distraction and take all the potential audience.  Shoot, even Nathan walked away from us to video the guy.  Thankfully, he left at 10:00.  But honestly, he could have stayed, because I found our own secret weapon.

my secret weapon

And it was this lady.

I noticed her dancing to our music across the way, so I decided to invite her to dance right next to us.  She never spoke a word, just interpretive danced to our songs for about 30 minutes or so.  Then she went on her way.  It was awesome having her next to us, because people would stop to see this strange woman in a mask dancing, and then listen to us.  I'm a genius!  I must find this woman again - I want her at all our Lives, haha!

We have laser eyes

As the night went on, some of our friends came by to support us.  Having them there was a huge encouragement to us, and most of them even stayed the whole 2 hours or so that we performed.   But we also met new friends.

This kid stopped to listen to us, and I noticed he had a guitar with him and asked him if he wanted to play with us.  He replied that he'd only been playing the guitar for a few days, and Takuya helped him with one of our songs.  Afterward, he went on to tell us that he's from Hokkaido and that he's a writer and has decided to walk through all of Japan and write about his experiences.  Like Jack Kerouac, but walking, I guess, haha.  Maybe we'll be in his book!

At about 11- something, we decided to call it quits.  We were standing in front of another band, when they started playing "Rolling in the Deep".  They stopped suddenly, and I told them I knew that song.  He said, sorry, but it was too high for him.  My friend then told them that I could sing it.  Next thing I knew, I was singing Adele's song with this band - two guys playing guitar and one on percussion (with Takuya playing the tambourine).  It was crazy and spontaneous, and lots of fun!  They started singing harmony with me, and you know I was in heaven.  When we finished, I jokingly told them they were my other band.  Takuya was not too keen on that, as evidenced in the picture below.

I was just kidding, Takuya, you know it's only us!!!

All in all, it was so much fun, and I'm so glad we did it.  We didn't have lots of people stop and listen, but we didn't care.  Takuya and I were having fun, and enjoying just singing with each other.  I think sometimes, we both get so caught up in sounding perfect and getting everything right, that we forget to just connect with each other.  When we were street performing, I wasn't worrying about any of that, I was just having a good time.  Even when my voice cracked a few times.

So get ready, masked lady, we'll be back!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Me and Ethan through Photobooth

For whatever reason, I can't really sleep tonight, so I started looking through old pictures on our computer.  Flipping through our photobooth pictures is always enjoyable, because I can see how fast Ethan has grown and matured (and how many hair styles I've had, haha).

Ethan and I have always enjoyed taking photobooth pictures together.  I hope this never changes.

 *in chronological order:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Keihoku School Festival

The school festival: three days of dancing, singing, and fun.  Japanese students (and teachers) work hard and long hours, and these few days to just kick back and relax before summer vacation are much needed.

Each class had a routine to perform for the school

Me and another teacher wearing the school uniform for a skit the teachers put on

Flowers arrangements from the ikebana (flower arranging) club

Each homeroom chose a class shirt.  Quite colorful.

On the first day, the first and second grade performed, as did the teachers.  Last year the teachers sang, so this year they performed skits (thus the reason for me wearing the school uniform).  The kids went crazy when they saw Nick and I wearing the school uniform.  Then at the end of the skit, we sang "Country Road".  Most Japanese know this song because it's in a very well-known Studio Ghibli movie.  Lemme tell ya, there is nothing like having 700 kids cheering for ya!

On Friday, the third grade did their performances, and they were lots of fun.  You could tell that each class had put a lot of work into shows.  One boy decided to proclaim his love for a girl onstage, and then ask her if she wanted to be his girlfriend.  When they gave her the microphone, we all heard a faint, "Gomenasai" (I'm sorry).  Ouch...

Saturday was the day that the school opened up to the public, and the classrooms sold food, or had haunted houses or other activities.  My friend let me borrow her yukata (a cotton kimono for summer), and the kids just loved it.  Maybe it's the actress in me, but I just love putting on a costume!

Ethan was a big hit with the students.  They girls all called him handsome, and the boys would compare their heights to him, then ask him how old he was.  Later, Ethan told me it a good thing that he's not a vain person, because all that attention wouldn't go to his head.  Haha!

Unfortunately, Nathan had to work that day, but Takuya came along and shot the pics of me and Ethan.  It was lots of fun, and a perfect way to kick off the summer holiday.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quality Times

Mid summer has proven to be a busy time for us Robinsons (haha, what else is new).  Lots of goodbye parties and summer and school festivals.  I've been trying to spend as much time as I can with my friends who will be leaving Japan in just a few short weeks.  But I still don't wanna think about that.  So here's what's been happening with us the last two weeks or so.

A few of my friends took me out two weeks ago, since I'd been worried about my mom and having a hard time being so far away.  It just so happened to be July 4th, and one friend (the only one NOT American, haha) suggested we dress in red, white, and blue.  Thus the color coordination in the above photo.

We went to this really yummy restaurant, and they decided that my name should be America and promptly announced to the staff that it was my birthday.  Then we got this:

Haha, I called myself America for the rest of the night.

Besides myself, all but one of these girls is leaving Japan at the end of this month.  They have become some of my best friends, and it's gonna be really hard to see them go.  Especially when they make awesome things like this:

I am the proud owner of this, yes I am.

Then there was three days of school festival at Keihoku.  But I'm reserving that for its own post.  Stay tuned for that.

Yesterday, Nate was involved with a 6 hr. relay marathon at the Sapporo Dome.  Each person in the team would run one lap (about 2K) and then pass the ribbon (no batons for relays in Japan) to the next runner.  The group who covered the most distance was the winner.  They placed 301 out of about 600 teams, so not bad I'd say!  Takuya, Ethan, and I came during the last of the relay to cheer them on.

After the relay, Takuya came over and cooked tempura for us.

Takuya has pretty much become a part of family.  Our friendship has gone beyond just singing together  - kinda like the brother I never had.

So that's why I'd never trade my experience living here for anything in the world.  I've made some amazing friends these past two years; people who I hope will continue to be a part of my life for many years to come!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quiet Time

What a wonderful, peaceful, Sunday morning this has been.

The house has a calm about it today.  Perfect for mornings in bed reading Swedish design blogs, watering the garden, and eating Nathan's french toast.  I wish all mornings could be like this.  But then, maybe they wouldn't feel as special.