When I use floss,
I remember you saying,
"Oh, you're one of those people",
meaning I use too much of it.
And I can't help but smile.

When I watch the schoolboys pedal
their girlfriends around on bicycles,
I remember you picking me up on a Wednesday,
driving me to the mountains to walk my dog
and watch the sun go to sleep.

And when I have nights like last night,
when the toilet is my pillow
and stomach juices scorch my throat,
I think of you putting a washcloth on my forehead
and stroking my hair.

And it's enough to put me back to sleep,
just like that drowsy sun
when we walked my dog in the mountains together
on a Wednesday.
Instead of more gelato,
I ate Free Willy today.
*le gasp*
Everything in the restaurant was made by angels,
but even angels couldn't chase away the image
of what I was eating
out of my head.
I can mark it down on the list of absurd meats I've consumed.
{Along with ostrich, crocodile, and buffalo.}
And seriously,
no cake shoppes, Utah??
Do you comprehend the MONEY you would make off my patronization??!
And finally,
no meal is complete without Engrish.
{It's the dessert's dessert.}
"Lovely Garden"
wants to raise a houseplant with you.
Say, "yes", for HAPPY days.
Yes, love, I'd like some more.
The gelato shoppe, "Big Mama",
is unreal.
An English teacher and I are going again tomorrow.
No, seriously.
And I drank soba tea with it.
And then, we drove to a strawberry field.
{ichigo batake to the natives}
The lady gave us samples of her "peach strawberries",
and they really did taste like peaches.
Come to Japan,
we have flavors.
Purin, my friends.
Not pudding,
{Dictionaries will translate it as pudding,
but pudding to the people of Japan
is, well, pudding.
And purin is most definitely not that.}
The students
--bless their hearts--
are doing more testing this week,
which means more playtime for me and my Kobetsu sweeties.
{Mei-chan took this photo, bless her.}
Today, we honed our culinary skills
and practiced the delicate art
of purin making.
{The smaller ones had animal shapes on the bottoms!
And I got to eat a whale. :D}
Or, as the natives say it,
With a slice of pineapple for accent.
Mei-chan & Akita-kun,
you are my sunshines.
Today felt so GOOD!
I shed my jacket,
swapped my shoes,
{there are "indoor" and "outdoor" shoes here in Japan}
and bounced out the school doors,
for a before-lunch stroll.
- - -
The birds were chittering,
the flowers swaying in the lazy breeze,
and I was dizzy-drunk,
soaking in the sun
and the scents of nearing springtime.
- - -
I finished my stroll at the soccer fields,
plopping under a tree and watching the boys kick up dust,
and thought to myself,
"Why not let spring break begin a bit earlier than planned, Mr. Principal?"
- - -
Oh, I wish he would.
Spring Fever is already sprouting out of me,
mirroring the drowsy sakura buds,
rousing from a wintry hibernation.

{Art via Emmy}
. . . Making these.

Oh yes.
March is going to be beautiful.
I love the winter,
but if it isn't in Utah,
I don't deal with it very well.
{Especially with a no-central-heating lifestyle.}

"The Princess and the Frog"
and I'm going to take my host sister to see it!

Plus, spring break will come,
meaning I can slip back into my jeans
and start waking up at 8am again.
{6am comes much too early.}

And I'm suddenly getting really bouncy
about the upcoming release of Disney's,
which isn't happening in March,
but it'll be closer to being released then.

Speaking of which,
I think I'm getting a bit "Rapunzel-ish" myself.
Oh dear.
{Snowy Photo via Felicia}
One of my favorite parts about being a teacher
is listening to the students
as they piece English together,
one word at a time.
- - -
At the end of one of my lessons today,
a boy said to me,
"You are a beautiful place."
And I was flattered.
That meant he had paid attention to my lesson,
atleast, somewhat.
{We read a script about the Lake District in England.}
- - -
there are moments when teaching is
less than desirable.
For example,
when I am asked to translate
certain Japanese words that I haven't bothered to learn yet.
- - -
A student asked the teacher for a translation today,
and the teacher responded, "Ask Harmon-sensei."
I froze.
"No, don't ask Harmon-sensei.
Harmon-sensei doesn't know what you said,"
thought I.
{All the while chewing myself out
for not taking my Japanese studies more seriously.}
- - -
Google Translate succeeded in cheering me up
after that little instance of stupor.
I looked up:
which means, "an irritating person"
and received this translation.
Google Translate is now speaking in full sentences.
I am quite pleased.

{Photo via Shae C}
I'm blue, da ba dee da be daa...
Trying new things is always fun,
especially when you transform yourself into a new species.
I worked on this while listening to this
and peeking over at this.
My own interpretation.
Boy, photoshop experiments sure are fun-tastic.
{Psst, here's the "before" photo.}
Dear Bryn,
I ate a little slice of chocolate today,
as it happens to be Valentine's Day.
I wanted you to know
that I ate it in your honor,
as it's much too difficult to send cake to you in England.
That's my excuse, anyway.
...Nothing to do with my addiction to cake.
So, I just wanted to thank you for it.
And maybe next year,
I'll share some cake with you.
With love,

PS: Thanks to the lovely Kakogawa Ward Youth, I got to eat a cupcake for you, too!
I went to a little tea party
and held a fashion show in the garden.
O, Blessed Wind,
take my heartfelt song to the Isles of Britannia!
The tea set.
It's polite to leave a little bit of tea in the bowl.
I think it's the same when dining in France...?
{True, Jeanie?}
Though I didn't drink any of the tea,
it was wonderful to watch my host <--{the same woman who took me to Himeji} make it.
So much culture, just in one little ceremony!
After tea, we made lunch.
Rawr, I'm a carnivore.
After lunch, came the calligraphy lesson.
{Don't judge my handwriting.}
This is my name in kanji:
愛 = love {a}
珠 = pearl {shu}
麗 = beauty {rei}
波 = wave {ha}
紋 = pattern/ripple {mon}
{PS: I made the ink! YAYAH!}
After calligraphy,
we went to the Onaka village
where the houses of ancient peoples
were rebuilt.
I felt like I was in Totoro's world.
Beautiful ume flowers
were blossoming all around the Onaka village.
After the village came the museum.
And another opportunity to play dress up.
Your soul smells good.
{That one's for you, Jeanie!}
What an attractive young woman I've come to be.

{Music credit to Michael Dowdle}
In the middle of the night,
the ocean crept up the beaches
and flooded Kakogawa.
We woke up in an Atlantis,
known, locally, as 濃霧.
We were swimming in clouds,
the buildings around us hidden in white,
the air in our mouths thick as cotton candy.

When I finally paddled my way into school,
the halls were ghostly,
eerily blue from the 濃霧,
eerily silent from the testing.
{It's test week for the lucky children.}

Because of the testing,
I had no classes to teach.
So, I sat my tush in the Teacher's Room
FOR-EV-ER. <--{Thank you, Liz.}
But after a few hours,
the door slid open...
and a little angel in an apron skipped inside
and gave me a hotcake with syrup and chocolate chips.
{The Kobetsu students are my hush-hush-don't-tell #1 favorites.}

For the rest of the day,
I tried to behave like an adult.
I prepared for my lessons
and stuffed my brain with kanji facts,
using Google Translate to help me with the tough ones.
This brought me immense joy,
{and a stomachache from concealed, hysterical laughter}
for when I typed in certain words,
I got Engrish.
I typed, "how are you doing" {調子はどう}
and got this.
And then, I heard the vice-principal say
"kochi koso"
which is typically said,
"kochira koso"
{meaning, "it was my pleasure"}.
So I typed it in
and got this. <--{Added the ?! for effect.}

But after a while of that,
my brain got bored again...
...so, I scribbled some pictures.
{I like 'em poofy.}
I began to doodle cartoon versions of all the ALTs,
starting with Liz.
I penciled in her hair,
then decided to give her extensions.
"That's kinda neat,"
I said to myself,
so I tried her new hairstyle on an anime character.
Congratulations, Liz,
you've been anime-fied.
Welcome to our L337 club. {:D}
This is my Chinese guardian, Chin.
He's a long-necked lion.
Please love him.
{I was Wiki-ing minorities in Japan,
read about the dog-lions in Okinawa,
and stumbled over to Chinese lions.
Pretty fantastic stuff.}
And this is my Totoro friend.
Phew, what a day it's been!
PS: I gotta take a break from the bakery shopping,
else I'll begin to look like this handsome devil.
Hot diggity.

{Fog via Astronautka}
{Pancakes via Avs-Avs}