21 November 2007

Hot Couture

It was time to go. I opened my closet, put on a sweater, fleece jacket, down coat, thick socks and put my boots out. Then it was the little one's turn. She was bundled up in a fleece layer, and then in a snowsuit. To that I added mitts, hat and extra socks. Finally, I put on a hat, scarf and my boots. Then the little one and I went down the stairs, towards the street to wait for the bus. The bus was exactly 2 minutes late.

As soon as the bus stopped, out jumped the older one, and we all ran back, up the stairs and into the house. And stood near the heater getting warm again, trying to bring sensation back into our frozen extremities.

And peel off and put away all those extra layers. This is the downside of winter. Out here, the wind blows in directly from Siberia (well almost), and every second the schoolbus is late, we're that much closer to becoming human popsicles. Today, I timed myself. I need 20 minutes to get myself and the baby dressed, to go downstairs for a minute or two, get the older one, and then 10 minutes to peel off and put away all the extra layers once indoors. And winter's just about getting started.

Winter ia a bit of a paradox. I hate having to wear layers and layers before it's safe to step outdoors. But then again, with all those layers, it's difficult to say where the blubber ends and the coat starts. Dull skies, and zero visibility are rather demotivating. And that weather is just perfect for a hot masala chai and bondas.

As I watch people amble past, I see a couple of gentlemen muffled very sensibly against the cold. And then one sees things that can chill one's blood. I see a woman walk nonchalantly by, wearing a MINISKIRT!!!! Brrrr.... just the thought of seeing one in this weather makes me shiver. All the way down from my outer jacket to inner coat to sweaters and thermals.

What is the Japanese woman's secret?? What is that keeps her warm in a miniskirt, while my smile freezes in place? Is it green tea? Is it something in their diet? Is it raw fish? Is it whale meat? Maybe whale blubber does provide insulation. Who ever heard of a whale dying of cold? (I somehow don't see that as a valid reason for whaling.)

Ah well, the bright side is that shorts and tee-shirts are just about 7 months away. Here's looking forward to getting dressed in lesser time. And then of course I'll probably start to crib about the heat and humdity. And Japanese women will walk around in mini(er)skirts.

Maybe they're too lazy to shop every time the seasons change. Maybe they are immune to the weather.

19 November 2007

All about Fall

Last year, I didn't get out all much during fall, and missed out on it all. This year, I was determined to see it all, and dragged the poor husband (PH) all around town, over hill and dale, so I could catch a glimpse of the prettiest places to view the autumn leaves.

Fall was lovely. We drove up Mt. Zao and saw the crater lake atop the mountain. We drove across Gassan, that great mountain that marks the boundaries of the Shonai valley. We drove down the Mogami river and around the gorge.

I simply loved the feiry orange, bright yellows and brilliant reds. I never tired of seeing shades of yellow, red and orange all over the place. Each time I saw the pretty colours, I had to stop and take pictures, much the PH's exasperation.

I'd not quite had my fill of the colours of the season.

I woke up this morning and saw.....

Fall is definitely over.

Out damn'd coat, out I say! Yet who would have thought the snow to have had so much cold in it?
(Did the dear departed bard roll over in his grave?)

09 November 2007

Multinational fast food franchises and mental defectives

You may accused me of being really annoyed or completely pissed off, and you wouldn't be far off the mark. Today I made a really stupid decision. Sometimes I never learn. I didn't feel like cooking, so I convinced the other half that we should get a pizza for dinner. Every time we decide on pizza, we run into a familiar argument. I love the pizza joint a few doors down the road, but OH swears by the merits of a multinational franchise (whose local outlet looks nothing like a rustic shack).

Then we got into our Abbot and Costello routine of who goes in to order. I lost that argument, went in, ordered our dinner, and almost ran out screaming in madness. Why, you ask? You shall be told.

I have this bad feeling that this place is either staffed by mental defectives, or they get very flustered when invaded by aliens. Or foreigners. And in I went into that pool of frothing insanity.

Multinational Pizza Franchise Sales Thing: Konichiwa, How may I help you?
Me: "One large cheese pizza please"
MPFST: "What kind of crust would you like?"
MPFST: "And would you like anything to go with that?"
Me: "No thank you, that will be all."

And MPFST starts to ring up the order. And then starts the fun.

MPFST: "I'm sorry we're all out of pan crust in size L."
Me: " Alright, then let me have 2 of size M"
MPFST: "Both pan crusts?"

For some reason, I have this ridiculous tendency to make the same goofs over and over again. Somewhere deep down I believe that each time I go to get a multinational rustic house pizza, the staff would not exasperate me with their limited IQ. And instead of asking for 2 identical pizzas, I get creative.

Me: "One pan and one thin crust please."
MPFST: "Would you like any toppings?"

Toppings? That was a new one. Never in a year and a half were we asked if we wanted extra toppings. And I asked MPFST to read out the list of toppings. As the thing read out the list, I selected a few toppings.

MPFST: "So that'll be one ham and pepper pizza, pan crust, and one one bacon and mushroom pizza with a thin crust"
Me: "What?? No no... I want pepper as an extra topping on one pizza, and mushroom on the other."
MPFST very helpfully showed me the menu. And pointed out that they had a ham and pepper pizza and another pizza had a bacon and mushroom topping.

Me: "Never mind, just give me your regular cheese pizza."
MPFST: "You want only cheese on your pizza and want us to remove all the toppings?"
Me: "God give me the will power to desist from throttling this thing... Cancel my order please"

Me: "Let's start again. Give me 2 medium cheese pizzas, as they are on the menu, one with a pan and one with a thin crust. Please?"
MPFST: "Your order will be ready in twenty minutes."

That was rather painful. And then we got down to the brass tacks of the monetary exchange. She told me I what to pay, I paid her and then the worst part of the evening came up.

MPFST: "Here's your change. 6,200 yen."

I looked at my change. There were the exact number of coins, but just a 5,000 yen note. I gently pointed that out to MPFST.

Me: "My change is 6,000 yen right?"
MPFST: "Yes"
Me: "Er... you need to give me 6,000 yen."
MPFST: "Yes"
Me: "Er... there's just 5,000 yen here"
MPFST: "Yes"
Me: "And you owe me 6,000 yen"
MPFST: "Yes"
Me: "Please, God, don't let me lose it completely. Please don't let me throttle this life form that's bowing and smiling at me... "
Me: "Let's start again. You owe me 6,000 yen, and there's only 5,000 yen there"
MPFST: "Yes"
Me "Excuse me please, there has to be 6,000 there, and there's only 5,000 there. Please see if the figure on your cash register is the same as the amount that you're giving back to me?"
MPFST: "Yes"

And thankfully for my sanity checked the bill, checked what she was handing to me, and finally..

MPFST: "There should be another 1,000 here, right??"

Hallelujah, Glory be, Ishwaro rakshatu... and more on the same vein.

I finally walk back to where the OH and kids are waiting.

OH: "Why did it take you so long? How difficult is it to order pizza? You should have been out of there ages ago! What on earth were you doing?"

I wonder how Lorena Bobbit would have responded to that...