Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bad hand

This is the cardboard hand that was wearing a pair of gloves when I bought them, a little while ago.

The fingers were not bent when I bought them. That happened later ... somehow.

A reassuring theory

A couple of days ago I had a phone call from a friend who has suddenly found herself very, very busy. Not because of anything that has happened to her, but because of things she has made happen to herself. She has booked herself up for the next two weeks with music performances, a marathon, and goodness knows what else. She also has two small children and a very busy husband.

"I've started talking to myself when I'm alone," she said, worriedly. "Out loud. It's getting quite scary. 'Put the rice on, kiddo,' I tell myself. 'Good girl. Now you can do some practice, but don't forget the sheets are in the washing machine and need to be put in the drier after they finish. And while they're drying, you need to start on the veges. You can go for a run after the kids have eaten.'"

She sighed. "I hope I don't start doing it in public. I think I might be going crazy."

"You are not going crazy," I told her. "You are talking to yourself so that you DON'T go crazy. If you start talking about the weather, THEN you can worry."

"What do you mean?" she said.

"You're slowing yourself down," I said. "Inside your head everything is on fast forward. There is too much going on, and you're trying to think about it all at once. You think faster than you speak, so saying stuff out loud slows it all down."

"Oh, yes!" she exclaimed. "That's it! It keeps me focused!"

"That's right," I said. "You are not going crazy. You are carefully NOT going crazy, by slowing down the babble in your head."

By the time we hung up she was feeling quite reassured, so I decided not to tell her that this was a theory I had just made up.

Besides, I think it's quite a good theory.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hey, wait a minute!

A few days ago I was sitting in the park enjoying some spring sunshine when a man with a clipboard approached me.

"I'm conducting a survey," he told me. "Do you have time to answer a few questions?"

"I'm very sorry," I replied. "But I don't understand Japanese."

"Oh, I see," he said. "Where are you from?"

"New Zealand," I said.

"I hear it's very beautiful," he said.

"Thank you," I said. "Yes, it is."

"Oh, well. Excuse me." He wandered off to accost someone else.

Today the phone rang, and it was some woman selling something. I responded in much the same way.

"Sorry," I said. "I don't understand Japanese."

"You're a gaijin?" she said, surprised.

"Yes," I said."

"Oh. Sorry. I can't speak English."

"That's too bad," I said.

She excused herself and hung up.

Both of these conversations were held entirely in Japanese. I have had similar conversations so many times that I have stopped expecting the penny to drop. Perhaps, when someone tells you politely that they can't understand while at the same time demonstrating that they understand perfectly adequately, it's just too much to handle. Perhaps it causes a brain freeze. I imagine a little spinning wheel in their heads, like the one on my computer when it gets hung up on something and everything stops working.

But I sometimes wonder if the little ball ever stops spinning. I wonder if any of them ever wake up in the night and say,


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A cheap day out

Yesterday I went to a flea market with a couple of friends. They told me they didn't want to buy anything, and I said that didn't matter, I was mostly just planning to take pictures anyway, although I might buy something if I saw something I couldn't resist. They thought that was a good idea, and both turned up with cameras round their necks.

At the end of the day they were both laden down with packages and excuses ("But it was cheap! But it's so beautiful!") and worries ("Where am I going to put these things?").

What I brought home with me takes up a lot less space. In fact it all fits on my hard drive.

I had a cheap day out.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Down at a little park near the supermarket the crows were making a lot of fuss, and I went to see what was going on. There I discovered that it is nest building time. I also discovered that the crows have progressed in their techniques. They are not only using plastic-coated wire hangers as building material, they are also using the ones make entirely of plastic. They have also included a peg.

I think they put a couple of the plastic hangers and the peg outside the nest so they would have somewhere to hang their washing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A thousand words

What story do you get from this picture?


Thursday, February 11, 2010


Monday, February 08, 2010

The first sign of spring

Plum blossom

Odd shadows

Today I went for a short bicycle ride (it was too cold to go far) and took a few pictures. This one I took quickly, because the cat was looking purposeful and didn't look like it would stop and pose for me. I didn't expect it to be very good.

On the computer I was surprised to see how unexpectedly lovely the photo turned out, until I noticed what I thought was a smear on the camera lens right across the wall and tree. I looked at my other pictures, and there was nothing. I checked the camera lens, and it looks fine. (I cleaned it anyway.)

The Man and I have been discussing what it might be. We thought it might be a light reflection at first. Then The Man said he thought it was something spray painted along the wall and tree. Then we talked about the shadows going down (on the ground), like the shadows of a fence, and we now wonder whether that line is the shadow of the top of the fence.

I don't remember the fence at all. I was watching the cat. At some point I will have to go back and find out just what was behind me when I took this picture.

In the meantime, what do you think it is?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tall, blue...

I was marking homework the other day, and one of my students had written about his previous English teacher:

He has tall, blue eyes, and very cool.

Today I spent the entire day at university trying to finish off grading and so on, but I also had one final exam still to do. I finished the grades for all my other classes, but for that one class I will have to go in again, because the exam was at the end of the day and I didn't have time to mark the papers and finalize the grades before the office closed. That was annoying. I wanted today to be my last visit until April. I tried REALLY HARD to finish, but just couldn't make it.

In fact I may have tried too hard. When I came home The Man told me that I looked like a wax dummy of myself.

That was a freaky thought, but not nearly as freaky as tall blue eyes.