Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Balcony Garden, Year 3

Another summer, another balcony garden.  I planted my usuals, and some more flowers this year, which did really nice.  I still had to battle the aphids this year, so I made a concoction of dish soap, tabasco, and vegetable oil which seemed to do the trick.

I love my little garden, and it's so nice to be able to go out there and pick some things to use in dinner that night.  But what I wouldn't give to have a nice, big garden, where I could grow lots of veggies, herbs, and flowers.

Perhaps someday...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Silver and Gold

"Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other's gold."

As a child, I didn't really have any close friends.  School and neighborhood friends, sure, but I think my childhood shyness kept me from having a best friend - the kind you tell all your closest secrets, and are joined at the hip.  I had trouble really opening up to anyone, and eventually, they all moved on to other groups in time.

But there's something special about living abroad with another group of people who are sharing the same experience as you.  When all your loved ones are thousands of miles away and you have only each other.  Since moving to Japan, I've been lucky enough to have made some really close friends.

These four girls in particular were my family away from home, and my sisters when my real one wasn't around.  We had dinner parties, late night talks with lots of wine, karaoke sessions and movie nights.  Did I mention wine?  

Scarlett, me, and Kelly

When I found out my mom had cancer last year, it was these girls who took me out for dinner and karaoke to help me take my mind off things.  They'd watch Ethan for us when Nathan and I wanted a night out (he's too old for a baby-sitter now).  We'd talk about work, and love, and boys, and whatnot.

Adrienne, Tim, and Kele.  All these wonderful people are gone now.

Me and Scarlett. 

I've never felt closer with a group of girls ever.  But all good things must come to an end, especially in this kind of job.  You know eventually someone's gonna leave, but it doesn't make it easier.

Kelly's living in New York City now with her husband.  Scarlett's living it up in London.  Adrienne's in Portland.  They all went this time last year, and it was hard to see them go.  But I still had Maggie.  Now, Maggie's on her way to America and I'm the last one left.

Me and Maggie

And here I am.  I didn't think I'd be the last one here, but well, these girls have got lives to live, and there's lots of world to see.  I miss them all terribly, but I'm so excited to see what the future has in store for them.  With skype and facebook, they don't feel too terribly far away, but what I wouldn't give sit in a room with them, drink some wine, and talk the night away.  And if they ever want to come visit Japan again, I've got a couch waiting for them!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sarah and Takuya Tour, Summer 2013

I'm taking some days off work for the next few weeks, but that doesn't mean I've been lounging about.  Much to the contrary - music has been filling most of my days.

On Saturday, Takuya and I played at the Bare Bear Beer Festival, hosted by Hokkaido International School.  It was a three-day beer fest, used as a charity event to raise money for scholarships for HIS students (like Ethan).  It was fun, and we had a really good time.  Also, I had a watermelon wheat beer that was so good!

The day after the Beer Festival, we played at a street festival in the Shiroishi neighborhood.  A guy who often comes to our Mellow shows got us this gig, and wanted us to wear yukata (summer kimono), as many people do for festivals.  So my Japanese teacher was kind enough to let me borrow a yukata and put it on me, since it can be a bit difficult.

I mean, look at that bow.  That ain't easy to do!

It was especially fun walking around and getting on the subway in yukata, as I felt like I was even more noticeable than I usually am.  Little girls kept looking at me like I was a princess.

Anyway, we played two times that day, and I was a little nervous about it since we were the only group singing English songs, and these people had no idea who we were.  When we play at bars, the people who come are there to see us.  So this was a little nerve-racking.  But a few friends came out and I felt less nervous!  And singing outside is always an adventure!

then of course on Friday we had our usual Mellow Live.  Honestly, I didn't think anyone was really gonna come - lots of people are on vacation, and others have left Japan and I don't know many of the newbies yet.  But sure enough, lots of people came and it was such a wonderful night.  It's funny - one month the audience is nothing but Japanese, and the next month it'll be nothing but foreigners.  This month, it was lots of ALT's and some English-speaking friends, so that meant I did most of the talking.

I know I say this every time, but it just makes me so happy that people still come out and want to hear us sing.  What started on a whim two years ago is still going strong, thanks to the support of all our wonderful friends.  Life doesn't get much better!