Sunday, December 12, 2004
Well, that's us.
Regular blogging will resume from Cheshire in January.
Wish us luck and cross your fingers.
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year.
I will pop back to update from time to time but it will depend very much on the mood of the web connection of the people we are staying with at the time - bye bye, 10 Mbps connection.
Now I must leave before I cry.

Saturday, December 11, 2004
Well, he did karaoke. But I forgive him (because I always do) because, even though I had to leave at 7.30 I had a very nice evening (until it was time to go when I cried - the taxi driver thought I was a loony but was kind enough not to say so) with nice chat and people taking charge of Maggie and lovely food for the last time. (Not the last time I will have lovely food, I hope, but it will probably be some while before I get raw mackerel, deep-fried lous root or one-day dried squid again.) Today has been moderately productive: kitchen cupboards nearly sorted, office nearly sorted, electricals nearly all in a heap, most plants repotted ready for their new homes, chest of drawers found a home, paper clips removed from Maggie's mouth and lots of recycling ready to go. Christmas shopping continues to loom largely undone: I'm going to have a go online this evening but I am considering combining it with the sorting-for-the-packers. Who wouldn't be thrilled to received half a jar of Branston pickle and some out of date flour? I'd wrap it nicely.
We have some people coming tomorrow afternoon to provide some respite (and, little do they know, take things away such as half-jars of pickle and recently repotted plants). But this evening Cameron has gone out so I am not going to slave either: I am going to read some magazines so I can get rid of them and consider which books have to be packed and which have to go by air. I might consume some of the ice-lolly mountain too.
Cats safely in Scotland. We'll see them in 12 days.

Friday, December 10, 2004
As if there wasn't enough to do...
I have started worrying about cockroaches. While disgusting here, they would be indescribably horrifying at home: I have spent the morning clearing out the backs of drawers so we won't inadvertantly ship any home (oh no, but eggs. There could be eggs. There won't be eggs, will there.)
Somebody reassure me (even if it is unconvincing and weak) that they wouldn't survive 5 minutes in the British climate? That would be really kind.
Other news: Maggie continues to run on little food and no sleep, not seeming to appreciate that Mummy has to pack all our belongings. Daddy having a leaving do every night is not helpful either. At least I get to go along to the one tonight: unfortunately Maggie is coming too so I will be home again around 8 while Daddy enjoys the rest of the evening. If he gets to do karaoke I will be really sick. We did consider a babysitter but it doesn't seem very fair: she still wakes late evening and I don't think I would like it if I went to sleep with Mummy but had a stranger there when I woke. We must find a regular sitter when we get home, somebody she knows and is happy with (ahem. Grandparents?!).
When Cameron got home from his lab leaving do yesterday he had the most beautiful Japanese lacquer tray so I almost forgave him for waking Maggie then falling asleep and snoring as I tried to get her back off again. I am looking forward to January, when he'll be off work and can stay up at night too.
Cameron is going to play his second last ever game of football tomorrow but he is to be home by midday on pain of a very unhappy wife. And yes, this is the last ever last ever, not just the last ever in Japan. It is qualified by 11 a side in small print, however, and I just say I'll believe it when I see it.
Cats arrived safely at Heathrow: "a bit freaked out but no worse for wear". Leg two today - they fly to Scotland, where they will wait for us with Cameron's parents. I hope the car we have hired is truly enormous to fit them plus Maggie plus All Our Stuff in after Christmas.
13 degrees here with gorgeous blue skies. London is going to have to pull its socks up before I get there.

Thursday, December 09, 2004
It doesn't feel like home with no plants and no cats.

Well it seems we really are going to have to go: the cats left this morning. I hope I gave them to the correct chap - when he telephoned he said nimotsu which, I think, means luggage (I know my Japanese is poor so perhaps it also means something else. But he definitely didn't say dobutsu (animals) or nihiki (two animals) or neko (cats) or anything else sensible). And then he seemed a little surprised that there were two. I do hope he wasn't a random passer-by. He spoke no English whatsoever so I entirely failed to communicate that their collars had to be removed before they flew. I know I am a fretty mum and surely somebody at the airport will see to that. I did manage to explain that red collar = Islay and blue collar = Jura and that they didn't need water in the van but would do at the airport. I think. I hope. I won't be calm now until I know they have reached Scotland. (Who am I kidding; I probably won't be calm now until the end of January when we, cats and all our belongings are safely back home. And then we'll probably be house-hunting so I will be un-calm again.)
I am spending the week saying goodbyes as that seems more important than organising and packing. I may regret this on Monday when the packers come but surely not long term. In many ways it is easier than packing to come here as at least this way we know everything has to go: if it all arrives in completely random order then we'll just be busier at the other end. All I have to do is keep an eagle eye on the packers to ensure they don't take any of the rented furniture as that would be bad.
Last baby group this lunchtime. But it's OK, Maggie doesn't know so she will be quite happy. I wonder if any of them would like some slug pellets and houseplant fertilizer? Or ice lollies (why do I have three boxes of ice lollies in my freezer?)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Freaky weather at the weekend kept us guessing. Saturday - 12 degrees, jumpers and boots, we walked in Ueno Park, fed pigeons and ducks, then mooched through the market. A cunning plan was devised: we'd put Maggie to bed early where she would peacefully snooze away, leaving us to enjoy a civilised meal, a film and just possibly a glass of wine. 10 o'clock found us pacing the corridor with a Very Wide Awake baby, having taken it in turns to eat slices of reheated pizza. Sigh. Next time we devise a cunning plan, we'll do it out of earshot.
Saturday night - torrential rain and wind that rattled the house. Maggie slept through it, though we woke her up discussing it and how Cameron's last ever game of football might be cancelled.
Sunday - 28 degrees, bright sunshine, T-shirts and sunglasses. The last ever game was played (and a memorial picture of the team will be forthcoming) and I did loads of Christmas shopping. Not much fun with a pushchair, though I was glad I had it when it came to transporting all the shopping up the hill to our house. I also went to visit So-san and the midwives because I wanted to say goodbye, so a very pleasant hour was spent at the clinic. Maggie was very comfortable: I imagine she remembered the smells and sounds at some level, although she did scream when a midwife with no face (about to get on her moped) said goodbye. It was quite scary.
Monday - back to 13 degrees, back out came the jumpers.
Later today I will be found lying in a darkened room with a cool cloth on my forehead. This afternoon is Maggie's sayonara party. I have to say I am not sure quite how many people are coming but I think in the order of 15 mummies and 15 babies plus a couple of toddlers. Have I taken leave of my senses?

Friday, December 03, 2004
Doomed from the start
A friend just emailed me a page from a rather useful book she has, suggesting ways of transcribing Lisa in kanji (Japanese characters). I can choose from a list that includes the following meanings:
Great intelligence at rest (need I say more?)
The intention to avoid failures (well of course)
An elegant female doctor who is seated (not just this minute but give me a run-up with a hairdryer and some mascara)
One who fails in making profits (woefully apt)
A badger doctor who is sitting (what?)
A carp which remains in the well (ye-es)

Well I found some lovely people to take away used clothing, satellite receivers, the bed and maybe the chest of drawers. They have 10 children who they home-school, which I imagine explains why they have such an enormous van, and they run a charity for the homeless. Very pleased, much better than throwing them out and easier than shipping them home.
Had a lovely day again today, although I hate saying goodbye to people. Playgroup first - it was the christmas party so even more chaotic than normal, but lots of fun. Maggie enjoyed pulling out the entire contents of the toybox while other babies played in the sink or lay about watching with big eyes. Mummies ate their pot-luck lunch and chatted. One thing I hate about leaving nearly as much as I hate saying goodbye to friends is when you meet someone you click with - as I did today - and know there is little point making friends because you have all of 10 days left. Sigh.
We then had a couple of hours to kill so had a bit of a shop round Shibuya: new boots, a top and a skirt, and some Christmas pressies, before heading across town to meet Amanda who wanted to show us an origami shop. Wow! Amazing. Immediately - and predictably - decided origami was going to be my new hobby and spent a small(ish) fortune on lovely paper and things. Hey ho. I suppose you never know, I might retain my enthusiasm for it.
I know I said I wasn't going to itemise the things I would miss about Japan, and I meant it. I will, however, say this: I bet men at home aren't nearly as nice to Maggie as they are here. Will middle-aged men wave and play peekaboo when we sit next to them on the train? Will young men hold her hand and smile indulgently when she grabs for their headphones? (Well yes, probably, when she's older but that isn't what I mean). Will shop assistants (male and female) as well as all the old lady customers rush over to play with her when I abandon the pushchair in order to browse the aisles, as I did today (for that matter, will I abandon the pushchair, baby and handbag within, to browse the aisles at home? I imagine not.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
I had a lovely lovely time last night. Lovely lovely company; lovely lovely food; lovely lovely wine and a lovely lovely cocktail. Oh and a lovely lovely, very patient, waitress. Lots of chat and laughter (and I managed not to cry) and I had a dessert they set fire to: you can't go far wrong with that.
Cameron had a rather less lovely evening with an unsettled Maggie. I haven't enquired too closely because he was Mr Grumpy when I got home but I fear it may be some time before I am allowed out on my own again.
I've been sorting out all my photographs. I need to buy one more album for our Japanese pictures then sort out snaps from last summer's grand tour. Do something with the negatives so I can carry them home myself (in case the ship with our albums on sinks or drops our crate overboard or something awful). Then I can cross that job off and get on with the next.
I am not allowed to keep my laptop when we return home (I had been hoping to buy it - it is currently owned by the company I used to work for and still do most of my freelancing for) but no go, they want it back. Hope the January sales are good this year for we now have to buy one computer as well as two cars and a new house. And it means I have to transfer all my photos and files onto CD: the to-do list expands continuously. I have remembered to cancel the milk.
Maggie continues to refuse food unless she can do it herself. Last night I was reduced to smearing pumpkin puree onto biscuits for her and oh my, what a mess. Goodness knows what sort of message it is teaching her (hold out for long enough and Mummy will give biscuits).