Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ho ho ho

Doesn't he just make you smile? Makes me smile. Merry Christmas everyone.

Tomorrow is the big day. Lauren and I fly out at about 12 Japan time. Thailand here we come. We will be there for 16 glorious days. Staying with Rutt whilst in Bangkok. We are also going to Chiang Mai for 5 days and an island called Koh Chang for 2 nights. Amazing. Can't wait. New adventures and new experiences. I have stocked up on film - taking 20. I am sure that I won't use that many but I like to be prepared.

So you probably won't hear from me until I get back. Keep reading and commenting though. Enjoy the holidays where ever you are.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A bright spark

I laughed until I cried today. Long time since that has happened.
The teacher I was working with handed out a work sheet. The topic was telephone conversations. We were working with the beginners group. One funny student, who never stops talking, began reading some of the English to himself. Here are the actual words...
May I speak to Naho, please?
He stuttered his way successfully through the first line. The only trouble there was the Japanese name (I was surprised at this). Next he attempted the word 'speaking'. It was new for him. He tried anyway and announced loudly 'sparking'. His dialogue was as follows...
May I speak to Naho, please?
I started to laugh as did the other teacher... I continued to the point of crying. The student is so good natured he laughed too and asked, "What does sparking mean?"

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My own little dump of snow

I woke up to this...
My car. Nice blanket of snow. Very happy that I won't ever have to dig it out.

Just enough for a yuki daruma - snowman. They are always made with two parts here in Japan.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Hooded Crane

Today I convinced Lauren to come on a little driving adventure. The plan was to head to the next town across, Kumage. In winter there is an area in Kumage where some hooded cranes come every year. This place is supposed to be well known and famous. The only problem for me is that I have never been there. I decided to head in the general direction and hope for good signage (not always available in Japan). Lucky for us the place was well signed. We wound our way up into the hills. More and more mountains and rice fields appeared. We finally found the right rice fields and parked the car. I strained my eyes and spotted a family of 3 cranes foraging for food amongst the rice roots. I had bought my good lens for my camera but they were still too far away. We discovered a small viewing building and there was a telescope inside. Looking through this, we could see how beautifully elegant these birds are. We were told that it was a small family including mother, father and a juvenile. A kind Japanese man hurriedly took us outside to point out a flock of some other tall bird and 4 more cranes - still far away. It was a moment I wasn't able to capture on film but I will remember it anyway.
The above photo is from the internet and if you want to know more about the cranes... try here...

Brrr it's cold in here!

I just thought those of you at home might be interested to know how cold it really is inside our apartments. We complain all winter about the coldness of inside but please try and imagine going to your fridge, opening the door, and you realise that it feels warmer in there. No exaggeration, that just happened to me.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Kindness and warmth all around

Today was Nan's funeral and I wasn't there. It was very timely for these Christmas greetings to arrive. The following cards were done by 12 year olds who have been learning English for about 9 months. I love the kindness you can see in each and everyone. Their choice of words amazed me.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I always like a cheerful teacher! I pray for your being always happy... From Chihiro.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I like your class very much. With love, Yoshiko.
Dear Ellen Sensei, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! We love you. (^_^) From Akiho Hashimoto.
Dear Ellen Sensei, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am wishing Christmas for Ms. Ellen to become happy. From Nao Fukuda

Jess Gourley aka Nan

12 April 1915 - 15 December 2005

A final goodbye Nan

Well it is finally time. I am sad to say farewell. You are finally at peace. I wish I could be there with everyone. My heart and thoughts are there. Lots of love...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What happens when homeroom teachers get involved!

Will Yamaguchi get a white Christmas?

Over the past week, Yamaguchi prefecture has had snow! I think each town can boast at least a sprinkling and I think Victoria in Ato takes the cake having the largest amount of snow (she actually had to 'dig' her car out of the driveway). As most people know, I won't be here for Christmas (mmm sunny Thailand), though I am hoping you will get snow for Christmas day where ever you are.
Megan and Christine at a recent conference. Megan is from Hawaii and Christine is from Florida. I am not sure how much snow Megan has seen (I know Christine saw her first snow recently), but both girls were having so much fun dancing in the pretty falling flakes. When they decided they were thirsty they just leant back their heads and opened wide. Mmmm, yum.
Hagians (people who live in Hagi) take pride in the amount of snow they get throughout winter... Here is Rosie's car the other morning. What a pretty dusting of soft snow. I am hoping you will get it on THE day. Have a Merry Christmas in Hagi without me.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas in Japan

I had quite a few thing to do today. A free Sunday but lots of jobs to finish off. Once I peeled myself from my bed, what did I do? Went for a drive of course. The premise was to return some DVDs but I went the really long way to the DVD store along the coast; one of my favourite stretches of road. The day was amazing. Beautiful winter sun. Blue skies and fluffy white clouds. I had to stop and take the above photos. This little statue is specifically for good luck during journeys. There are actually two statues here. People come and pray to them whenever needed. Recently someone decided they should get into the Christmas spirit. Usually they have a red bib type piece of fabric around their neck. Today there was even a Santa hat. Cute I thought.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Have your cake and eat it too...

I was just thinking about what to post next. This just happened...

I was quiety sitting at my desk reading the newspaper and catching up with news from home. A meeting finished up in the Principal's office and people began filing out. The first few people to exit called quietly but excitedly to me... I got up and walked into the office. I was then presented by the Vice Principal with the last piece of cake.He had bought it for the meeting and decided I should get the final piece. He really is kind.
This was a little unusual for me. At other schools, I am often treated as the prize guest. Not at my base school. I really feel one of the team and they always treat me well. I was surprised to get this delicious bit of cake.
While eating it, the Principal returned and gave me a small box containing two dog bells (bells in the shape of dogs). They are actually quite cute. Next year is the year of the dog. He told me that it was supposed to be a happy year.
Christmas seems to have come early.

PS I also got my first mail Christmas present today. Thanks Janet and Nan.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A meer 17 days to go...

What do you think Lauren? Not long until THAILAND!
This guys photos. I hope to share some good ones when I get back.

Monday, December 05, 2005

December means winter is real!

Snow Snow Snow!!!
Earlier than last year. Not much, but still. Drove to school this morning with about 2cm on the roof of my car. The fields were covered just like a very thick frost. It is all very pretty but I am not ready for this. Too cold.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A taste of Pakistan

Absolutely well put Loz... Everyone else, please read the following blog.