Friday, December 29, 2006

what the...? windchill?

Brr, I just turned on the heat. I'm not complaining at all since this is the best winter I've ever experienced, but it is odd too see a windchill factored into the temp here! It's currently 6C but 1C if you do the wc thing. Anyway the bizarreness is heightened by the fact that two days ago it got up to 21C and yesterday to 16C. It's some weird strong wind that's wreaking these extremes, I suspect. It started Monday, a nasty rainy day that ended with a thunderstorm overnight, after which the clouds got whipped away and all week the sky's been blue as blue can be.

And blue skies are a nice way to start the New Year. Maybe we'll indulge in the Japanese tradition of waking up at dawn on Monday to watch the first sunrise of the year. The biggest holiday in Japan, New Year's has so many traditions attached to it that there is no way we could keep up, so we're picking just a few.

The celebrations actually started earlier this month with Bonenkai or "Forget-the-year" parties which are typically dinner and drinking with friends/colleagues. Unfortunately we were only invited to one at the very last minute last night and I wasn't home so Aran couldn't give the embassy an answer right away so they said they'd call someone else (they were desperately trying to fill the spot of someone who cancelled at the last minute). Damn, I really wanted to go to one! Maybe we'll get invited to a Shinenkai (New Year) party, within the next couple of weeks.

The one thing we are definitely doing is spending Ōmisoka (New Year's eve) at our friends' place (she's Japanese, he's French Canadian) where a small group of us will be eating the traditional toshi-koshi soba noodles, whose length symbolizes "crossing over from one year to the next," the meaning of toshi-koshi. Perhaps we'll accompany the noodles with some champagne so as to blend the cultures comme il faut!

I think Alain also wants to go to a shrine or temple with them on Monday morning for Hatsumairi, the first visit of the year. I'm opting out of that however, because a) I don't want to sightsee during an important religious occasion and b) the crowds will be huge, which I don't really dig. Meiji, a famous shrine in Harajuku, not too far from here, receives several MILLION visitors during the first 3 days of the year. Whoa.

Anyway I just wanted to share the Japanese essence of the New Year holidays with you: It is now time to leave the old year's worries and troubles behind (and clean the house like crazy and start cooking lots of complicated food). The brand new year is arriving with the chance to start afresh. Yoi otoshi o - have a great New Year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

crazy cookie weather

I'm making Christmas cookies with the balcony door wide open and golden afternoon sunshine filtering into the kitchen from the diningroom. The smell of cinnamon on my hands, I thought I would post a Merry Christmas message while I have the chance. Peace everyone. I wish you fabulous things in 2007.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

on tenterhooks

I'm anxious not only to finish my (dullsville) contract at the embassy this Friday but I'm also waiting very impatiently for the latest response in a 2-day e-negotiation that I've been involved in. See last Wednesday, I applied for an editing job with a specialized group offering journal article polishing services for Japanese scientists writing in English (a majority of medical journals are in the US and UK). And surprisingly I was shortlisted out of 235 applicants, according to the auto-response I received when I submitted my CV. This feat is thanks I'm sure, to the few months I spent at that osteoarthritis research unit in Montreal a few years back.

Anyway, that meant I had the pleasure of spending several hours doing a test for them over my birthday weekend. Actually the most painful part was not the science goobledygook but the "comments" they require you to write about the changes you do and why you do 'em. I just know what is wrong and how to fix it but jeez don't ask me why!

Actually it's not really a job per se, I'd be working at home as a "contractor." Which is totally fine by me! I'd get to choose which/how many articles I feel like doing per week and I could work in my undies if I wanted! Anyway, in the last message I had from them this morning they asked when I could start and informed me that they will be sending me a non-disclosure agreement to sign and that they pay once a month at the end of the month by direct deposit. I responded that yeah great but I'd like to come in and meet them because a) we never discussed how much they pay and b) it's good to meet the hand that's going to feed you. It would be strange to not have an interview, wouldn't it?

So no response yet and it's 6:32 p.m. so that means I'll have to wait until tomorrow I guess!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

magic miso

gingerbread makes you genkiAlain's out at the end-of-semester dinner for the French institute where he volunteers as an assistant teacher (it seems there is some professorhood in his future) and I just finished a very late supper but figured I must take the "before" pix of the gingerbread houses before it's too late and the boys layer them with candy and biscuits beyond recognition.

I stayed up into the wee hours this morning (okay, 1:30) finishing the construction phase and consequently had a splitting headache this morning when the doorbell woke me just before 8:00. It was my friend C, mom of the gingerbread boys, so I dragged her into the dining room to show her and then she hugged and kissed me silly.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked here. My post title refers to the fact that after class this morning I decided to make myself miso soup for lunch because of its supposed energy-giving powers, hoping it might help get me through work this afternoon and shopping (for an xmas party outfit) this eve. Well it worked! My headache, which had been taken care of by some Advil, never came back and I felt so genki (healthy) all eve, to the point where I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight. But I am finally starting to feel tired now.

The Japanese diet is full of little health secrets like miso (and green tea) and these types of food miracles contribute greatly to the fitness and longevity enjoyed by the majority of Japanese. Unfortunately for the oceans, the other main reason is that fish is such a dietary staple (I just read an article that claims the average is 1/2 lb per day!). Though what with the pollutants out there, this choice has/will begin to be a detriment I imagine.

So I don't know if anyone out there actually found this omoshiroi (interesting) at all, it is just the ramblings of a genkina but tired gingerbread girl. Eat miso, feel genki!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

earthquake SP

The lastest news is that I have ESP, earthquake sensing powers, I swear it! Yesterday morning there were 2 earthquakes, about 15 min. apart, in a nearby suburb that we felt while sitting in our friends' kitchen. The thing is I had said to Aran just two days ago that I had a feeling we were going to have one soon. Ask him, it's true!

Anyway I've got to jump on my bike and go to the westernized grocery store down the hill to look for molasses so I can do the gingerbread houses for our friends' 3 boys to decorate. It would SO suck if I can't find it because the boys would be pretty disappointed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

the stairs are decked

Christmas is close and I'm trying hard to get in the spirit. With sunny blue skies and 10 C temps, it's been easy to forget the season. But Aran made puppy eyes at me on the weekend so on Monday I dug out the decorations and decked our apartment. We don't have a tree since we preferred having a real one, which here would cost around $300 if you can find one at all.

Now the wreaths are hung, garland wrapped up the whole length of the stair bannister (and decorations hung on the garland) and lights are running up the stairs as well as outlining the den window. So he comes home everyday and says, "Oh là là, c'est Noëëël!"

Next thing is to find recipes/ideas for gingerbread house construction because I want my friend's three boys to be able to continue the tradition their grandma usually does with them. Then it will be time to start planning the Christmas dinner too. Looks like we're going to be hosting around 10 adults and 7 kids. Yikes!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

i rock but i also stink

So we just got back from a night of clubbing, which I haven't done in eons. Aran's friend is visiting from her post in Bejing so we (and another embassy couple) took her out to see some famous Montreal DJ I never heard of, nor did I get to hear. Upon arrival at the club, I felt very conspicuous since most people were somewhat, ahem... okay much, younger than me. As were the other couple and the Bejing guest for that matter.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I got grooving and the next thing I knew they all wanted to leave. I was like, ahaha I am not the old shoe after all! No matter my age, I still rock! But unfortunately I smell very much like smokey-club ick and that's never fun, even for [old] ex-smokers. Nonetheless I am too tired to shower so I'll take my rocking stinky butt to bed now.

Bonne nuit.

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