Month: July 2018

Slow Breaths and Fruitful Life

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(Pictured: a cosy garden we spotted in England)

We are ever-so-slowly learning how to homestead (see here), and this summer I started a garden. I’m still in awe that we’ve managed to grow anything!

Even though I had experience gardening as a kid, it still feels different to take full ownership of a garden. My husband and I started by cutting down untamed plants, and covering the ground with a black tarp to clear the weeds that had taken over. We could have started planting in the spring, but soon after moving, we went on a “belated honeymoon“, and planting was delayed until early June.

I decided to start small, by filling in a raised garden bed of stone at the front of the house. We removed the tarp off of the bed, and let the ground recover. Then I planted flowers, and scattered seeds in the remaining spaces: roses, cosmos, forget-me-nots, lupines, lavender, and lemon balm, among others.

My mind was still full of the gardens in Ireland and the UK, and I imagined creating a cottage-garden style bed full of flowers of all different shapes, sizes and colors.

However, it was not that easy. (more…)

Rejoice in Suffering

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After one miscarriage in January, the idea of becoming pregnant again made me feel nervous. My first miscarriage was somewhat traumatic, both physically and emotionally.

I cringed when friendly but oblivious people patted my stomach and asked, “so, when are you going to have kids?”. Sometimes people would check in with me – are you feeling better now? I wondered how to answer appropriately.. losing a child is not an illness that you recover from – it is a loss. Yet I also understand how hard it is to know the right words to share.

Enjoying pregnancy with the same innocent, cheerful anticipation is more difficult after suffering loss. Conversely, birth becomes more amazing when you appreciate its complexity and gift. It’s easy to forget how incredible it is to have children. God made that happen. It is impossible to orchestrate on our own. No amount of vitamins or workouts can ever guarantee that your body will be able to carry a baby to full-term. I now have an irrevocable sense of awe about the entire birth process.

Though our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage in January, my husband and I eventually decided to try for a new baby. Pregnancy didn’t happen right away- but soon, it did. (more…)

As Walls Shake and Rivers Overflow

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(Pictured: fallen trees in Hyogo after the heavy rainfall in Southwestern Japan in July of 2018)

A large area of Southwestern Japan was recently hit with record rainfall, and as of the last time I checked the news report, more than 90 people had passed away from this latest natural disaster, and dozens more were still missing. Rescue workers are working hurriedly to save more people as floodwaters rise, and landslides continue as the fragile, wet earth is exposed to more and more water.

Our county in Hyogo prefecture was one of several that received purple-level (the highest level) emergency warning, and although we did not have to evacuate, our alarms blared through the night at 11:30pm and again at 2:30am on July 6-7th as rain hurtled toward the ground.

It was the first time either of us had heard phone and radio alarms related to rainfall, which are usually reserved for severe earthquakes. My husband and I have lived through multiple natural disasters and dangers in Japan, including typhoons and earthquakes.

It can be easy to become desensitized to the grim death counts published by the media, or for each disaster to seem like yet another false alarm. (more…)

Rainy Season: Drowsy and Electric

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When I came to Osaka six years ago in June of 2012, I experienced my first Kansai summer. At the time, it was also my first encounter with heavy humidity. It seemed novel then (rain.. in summer?!), but later after making the move to Japan, I would discover the ills that a humid summer can bring.. including heat rash, swollen mosquito bites, and typhoons.

Summer has never been a particularly favorite season of mine, especially when it means staying indoors due to heat, rain, or both. Yet, despite the downsides of a wet and sticky season, there is something about summer that is both drowsy and electric, punctuated by the popping of 花火 (hanabi: fireworks) and the buzz of insects. 

It seems fitting that as I write this blog post, the rain streams sideways against the window glass, and my ears are full of the sounds of overflowing gutters. 

However, it was 3 years ago, while living in Asakusa in Tokyo, that I first began to describe the feeling of an island summer, as sampled below.

(more…)

What It’s Like to Have Adult Braces

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I have had braces since May 2017 (over one year.. so about halfway through!).

As someone who has chosen to become a metal mouth in adulthood, sometimes people have questions.. is it painful? Is it annoying? Is it expensive? Why didn’t you get braces as a kid? Why bother with braces now? 

During my childhood, my family could not afford braces. And while braces can be pricey, I was able to get a good deal in Tokyo.. despite Japan being a country of overpriced orthodontic treatment! Thankfully dentistry, versus orthodontics, is affordable.. in Japan, insurance covers 70% of cleaning costs.

Throughout our search for the best orthodontist, my husband and I also came across some clinics that offered discounted treatment if you blog about your braces, or special price reductions at specific times of the year. So, there are ways to make it happen, if you’re willing to look hard enough!

(this blog is in no way affiliated with any orthodontic practice, as I did not choose to receive treatment through a clinic with a blogging program)  (more…)