Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas Eve

We are enjoying some coconut nog by the tree. Happy Christmas Eve to you! And Merry Christmas if you are in Japan and already experiencing the day!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

22 minutes

Until the journey begins!

These are three of my bags and a random shopping bag. The big one is not pictured. Augh!

This is the most stuff I've ever carried eastward. Not really looking forward to wrestling the bags into Naebo Station. Though, who knows? I might get a new name out of the deal. Haha.

Ate a wonderful dinner at Meguri this evening. The people there are so kind. They sent me off with all kinds of stuff. Including a little present for my parents!

Well, the gas is off, I've emptied the water in the pipes, I've unplugged almost everything. All I need to do is unplug this phone and my little heater, and water the plants. Oh, and check my list one last time.

America, here I come!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Decorations

I just realized that I forgot to decorate for Christmas. Thankfully, I found this little guy, who has been patiently waiting on my kitchen table all year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I heart snow

Isn't it pretty?


I was wearing the same pair of shoes. They are about to either be retired or given to an enemy. Which do you think is better?

Also, only two days of school left before the end of the term. Some schools will finish on Friday, and others are going through Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Something sad happened yesterday that is still a little fresh for me to write about here. Perhaps in a few days.

Today was another thing that was rather bittersweet for me. It was my last visit to the commercial/technical high school in town. That school has been in the process of closing and merging with the big high school in town. And today, we reached the end of my time there as an ALT. In case you are wondering, graduation is March 1. The third years stop attending the school at the end of January, though.

I got a lot of pictures today, and one of the classes gave me a board with sweet messages. And my teacher gave me the coffee cup I always use there.


I'm going to miss going to that school quite a lot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It was really slippery today. That's one for me this winter.

(feel free to try to guess)

Here's a random shot of one of my schools. It feels too short to give you a post with no pic.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Life in the apartment that is slightly younger than dirt

I live in quite an old apartment. And yet, I have a strange affinity, even affection, for the old place.

Perhaps it is Stockholm Syndrome.

Anyway, before I came to Japan, I kind of had an image of Japan as being quite technologically advanced. Well, someone forgot to tell my apartment. That really hit home to me today as I was attempting to shower and do laundry at the same time. If you can imagine, my washing machine is in my living room, as is my bathroom sink, basically. There is a hose that runs from the bathroom sink to the washing machine, and that's how the washer gets its water. The bathroom sink has only cold water. And it is now winter, so that stuff is ice cold. The water from the washer drains into the shower room, which is just off the living room.

Again, I'm sure you can see where this is going.

So, I'm in the shower, and all of the sudden, my foot is very cold. It took me a minute to figure out what in the world was going on, and then I spent a few minutes trying to dance out of the way as a washer full of ice cold water emptied itself on my feet. Brr.

I just had to laugh, though. You can't get these experiences back home!

Then I enjoyed a bedtime snack of yogurt I had just bought at the store. It was half hot because I inadvertently left it too close to my stove (the heater for the house).

Good times, good times.

I leave you with a random Wakkanai shot from Saturday.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I cannot tell a lie. Many women here have really great hair and cool hairstyles, and I am often more than a little envious. My hair tends to go up or out (or half up, half out). And a lot of girls here have really cute bangs.

Can you see where this is going?

I have seen several of my friends succumb to the lure of Japanese bangs...to mixed results.

I've been tempted for a long time to try (now you can really see where this is going). But I have always had this conversation with myself. "Liz, you have crazy hair. Don't do it." And I have listened.

Today, I realized that number one, I needed a haircut, and number 2, I had some free time. So I called my stylist and made an appointment for this afternoon.

"Boy," I thought. "I really want to try something new."
"You'll regret it," I warned myself. So, at the shop, I stuck with the usual. But something didn't look right, so we went a litle shorter. Then, as my stylist was fixing the long layers in the front, she asked if I wanted to try bangs.
"Sure!" came the answer.
"Oh, no!" came the thoughts.
"Whack!" said the scissors.

I did not look like me when she finished. She styled my hair, and I looked at myself in the mirror.
"Hey, that looks kind of cool!" said Thought 1.
"Cool? Try weird!" said Thought 2.
"Aaaaaaaaaah!" said Thought 3.

I left the shop, and I was pretty happy with the results. I looked completely different, but also kind of exotic. My hair was stunned from what had happened, and was just riding along quietly on my head. After about 5 minutes, I heard a tiny pitch pipe, and a tiny single voice began to sing.
"And I'm proud to be an American,"
"Where at least I know I'm free,"

Then a thousand tiny voices joined together

And my hair did, indeed, proudly rise, leaving me with a poof.

Has my hair never HEARD of Isaac Newton?

posted from Bloggeroid

Giri giri

Giri giri means barely making it or just sqeaking in. And that was definitely me this year. I made it in just the nick of time. I'm not sure how my word count got that high when I put all the documents together. But I was blazing away at the keyboard until right about 10 to midnight. Yikes! But now I'm finished. And wide awake.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

English funny

Just in case you have a hard time reading this, it does actually say United States Gender.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


"Here I will be able to focus," she thought.

Then she looked up.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all, a good night! Wait...

Anyway, I hope your Thanksgivings are off to a good start. I had a lovely, but very non-eventful day. Hardly anyone even knows about Thanksgiving here. But that's OK. Tomorrow I will celebrate Thanksgiving with several American missionary families.

Today, I commemorated the official holiday with an evening trip to McDonald's for some coffee and apple pie. And also some NaNoWriMoing.

I seem to often hear people rave about McDonald's apple pie, and it was good, but nothing to write home about.

....Except, that's exactly what I'm doing...

Anyway, here are a few of the many things I'm thankful for this year.

1. My family

Aren't they amazing?? I'm thankful for my mom, my dad, my brother, and my sister and her adorable kids

2. My friends

There are too many to mention here!

3. People who make sure I stay warm when the heat goes out

People made me borrow two of these three space heaters

4. People who wear caps with earflaps

Because they are awesome

5. Snow and trains

I love both things

6. Rishiri

Makes me happy every time I see it

7. Fruit


8. This teacher on Rebun who often makes me lunch (and amaaazing ume onigiri)

9. Coffee shops

10. Running

11. Pretty views

12. Fun shirts

And I have to stop now, because it's getting late! But believe me, I could go on and on!

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I love snow

Have I mentioned this fact lately?

This morning, we had big, fat, slow snowflakes. I love those, especially when they get caught in my eyelashes. Hahaha - snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes! Name that tune!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The view from school

This is the view from one of my schools. Isn't it nice? I just stuck the phone out the window for a shot, so it's a lot of parking lot.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My nemesis

When they put this canvas up over the ferry windows, that's when I know it's goin' down.


Monday, November 12, 2012


Today was great.
I have to go to bed.
Here's one pic from the day - a surprise meeting.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A cosy coffee shop night

Mmmm, right now, I am experiencing a perfect moment. You know, that second where things couldn't be lovelier if they tried. These moments don'talways last long, but they should definitely be appreciated. Let me try to paint a picture for you (even though my painting skills leave much to be desired).

It's a cold night in Wakkanai, but I'm happily ensconced in the corner seat at the counter in a cozy cafe. The corner seat is tucked up against a half wall, so I have a clear view of the kitchen, but the rest of the shop can't see me. A vase of pretty flowers sits in the corner where I am. Jazz music plays overhead. A clear glass teapot and a clear cup and saucer are on the counter in front of me. The teapot held hot apple tea, but all of it has been transferred to the cup, and nearly all of it to me. A slice of cheesecake sits next to the tea, given to me by the mama-san of the shop, who sits at the other end of the counter, also with cheesecake and a newspaper. I'm working on my NaNoWriMo Project of Doom, or at least I was until I started writing this post. I have a sweet card from home, which I brought to enjoy here.

Really, I'm quite content. My NaNo project may be kicking me down the street, but I have cheesecake and apple tea. And zero guilt, because I didn't order the cheesecake! Grin.

Haha..more food just showed up! Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that my house is broken. I just got a croquette and 2 chicken nuggets.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Come play!

Do you want to see more goofy photos? If you so desire, you can come follow me on Instagram, where I upload random pics of daily life. Some of them make their way to this blog or Facebook, but if you want to see more, you are welcome to follow me.

My Instagram profile

If you are on Instagram and I'm not already following you, let me know!

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Calf brains, vegan hamburgers, and Mitch McConnell.

Just a few of the things that went into my NaNo-ing today.

Today was an interesting day. I was eager to see the results come in. They really stared rolling in while I was on a train, and (thank you, phone), I got a notification as soon as the election was called. Very convenient. I was sitting at my desk when I saw the message flash across the screen.

It has been fascinating to monitor Facebook. About half the people in my news feed are ecstatic, and the other half are sure we are doomed. It's nice to have a mixed feed like that. Honestly, there are some really fantastic people on both sides. Conversely, there are some really less-than-fantastic people on each side as well.

But anyway, I'm up past my bedtme again. But I only got home a half hour ago (I left at 6:24 this morning). Tomorrow, I might be going to Rishiri. There is a chance the return ferry will be cancelled, based on the weather in the morning. Please pray for me! Because if they are thinking about cancelling, that probably means rough seas ahead.

Here's a picture of my school lunch the other day. We had curry udon, a cheese croquette, and fruit salad for dessert. You can click on the picture if you wnt to see it bigger. :-)

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote early, not often!

First question: Does sitting on my bed count as bedtime? That'd be easier...I'm just saying.

Anyway, it's election day! I love election day! I even had a few people talk to me about it, which was fun. But I'm going to miss watching election night coverage...and stickers...and physically voting. I voted by email, which was fine. Just not the same as going to my polling place and punching buttons.

The thing I like about election day is that none of us knows 100% what will happen. We can guess, but we don't know. But very soon (Florida, I've got my eye on you), the election will become history, and we'll all know the outcome forever. That made sense in my head.

I had fun reading my journal entry from the last election. I remembered that I'd gone to choir practice that night, but I'd forgotten that when I got back in my car, eager to hear any results, I turned on the radio and heard, "...him as the projected winner." Who???? But it turned out that the election hadn't been called yet.

A part of me during a silly moment thought I could use the election to decide what to do next year. Obama victory? Stay in Japan (not because of politics, but because keeping an incumbent is like choosing not to make a major change). Romney victory? Say goodbye to Japan and move ahead to the next adventure. Can you guess I've been having a hard time deciding what to do next year?

Anyway, I hope all you Americans are participating in democracy this year and getting out to vote. Have fun! Enjoy your sticker for me!

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Today was a day of NaNotWriMo (NaNoWriLess? NaNoThing?)

But anyway, it was a good day that can best be described with some snapshots. The water pix are inside the seawall and outside the seawall. It was really windy - the birds were having a hard time! The books are some stuff I was reading, and the white glop is sea foam that blew over the seawall.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I'm slowly accumulating more words. They are still fairly disorganized at this point, but it's early days yet. I've passed the 10% milestone, so I'm pretty happy about that.

This evening, I stopped by Banka, one of my favorite coffee shops in Wakkanai. I did some writing there and watched part of the Fighters-Giants game. The Fighters (the Hokkaido) team are in - well, I don't know what it's called, actually. It's the champion series. I'm not much of a sports fan, but even I get excited about things like the home team playing in the championships! The Fighters were down by 3, but then someone hit an awesome home run that brought in 3 runs. When I left the coffee shop, though, the Fighters were down by 1 again. I hope they catch up and win!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Transcribing interviews sure takes a long time. I've discovered a few things.

1. I should not be left alone with a bag of my favorite rice crackers.
2. NaNoWriMo is the best time for doing anything besides writing. Everything takes on a glow of fun.
3. I tend to, I tend to say things twice when I'm talking.
4. My friends have some fun stories!

The good news is that I'm on track with NaNoWriMo daily targets! Yay!

And, most importantly, a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my favorite brother!

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Well, I'm a touch behind (should be around 1667 each day), but I need to go to bed! Planning to get some good interview transcribing done on the train tomorrow. I better make sure that my headphones are packed!

posted from Bloggeroid


One of my favorite NaNoWriMo traditions is staying up until midnight to get a quick start on my new project. I've usually had something marinating in my head, and I'm always eager to get started.

Life has been a little overwhelming lately, and even though I was excited for NaNoWriMo to start, I didn't quite have the same fire this year as I usually have. But this evening, as the clock slowly moved toward midnight, I felt the excitement brewing. So by 11:56, I was definitely pumped. By 11:58, I had a cup of peppermint tea ready, and by 11:59, my fingers were poised over the keyboard.

Well, I've written 738 words and I'm calling it quits for the night. This girl needs her beauty sleep!

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One of my favorite days

Today is one of my favorite days of the year! It's NaNoWriMo Eve! For anyone who doesn't know what NaNoWriMo is, it's a time where people all around the world try to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. But this year, I'm a bit of a NaNoWriMo rebel. This year, I'm putting together a collection of stories of experiences people have had in countries other than their own. I'm excited and also a little overwhelmed! When I sit down and start writing at midnight, I won't be just creating a world out of my own head, I'll be writing actual fact!

50,000 words of actual fact...eeeeeeeek! No having characters wax on and on about the poetic beauties of an ice cream cone just to take up space. Eeeeek! Well, it's either going to be awesome or a flop. Let's all hope for awesome!

By the way, if you or someone you know might like to be interviewed for this project, please let me know. I will accept pretty much anyone with a story to tell.

posted from Bloggeroid

Greetings from the school bus

Good morning! I'm headed to school on a pretty October morning. The nice thing about overnight school visits is that I get to go to school well-fed. Come to think of it, it's really too bad that we don't have boarding houses anymore!

Here's what I saw this morning as I was getting on the bus:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


On my way to Rebun this morning. Lots of tourists! Not so many as in the summer months, but this group seems extra excited for some reason. Rishiri is pretty today, so we are all lucky.

The thing about Rishiri is that it is always different. I never get tired of that view.

Today, the winter sea seems to be in full effect. Up and down and up and down and up and...well, you get the picture.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A beautiful fall day...and good news

First, the good news! I hope that you are seeing images and text interspersed instead of all images being at the end. Yay! On the Blogger app on my phone, I can't control the order or location of images. But now, I can, thanks to my tiny computing thing.

So, yesterday was just a gorgeous fall day. I had lots to do around the house, but really wanted to take advantage of the nice weather. After lunch, I hopped on a bus and made my way downtown, where I started hiking uphill towards Wakkanai Park.

There were some beautiful leaves. I thought the yellow and red together was rather pretty.

I continued hiking through the park and towards the 100 Year Memorial Tower. From the ground to the tower is about a mile, but most of it is pretty much straight up. I love the views of Wakkanai from the area around the tower.

I didn't linger too long around the tower. I was eager to get to the trail. So I headed up behind the tower towards the trail entrance via a gravel road. It was then that I remembered that gravel roads in minimalist shoes are a little ouchy. But then I got distracted by a pretty view, so it was OK. Can you guess what that pretty view was? If you guessed Rishiri, you are right! It was one of those afternoons where Rishiri is barely visible through the haze.

On these kinds of days, Rishiri reminds me of something from a dream. There, but almost out of sight.

Ha, now that I think about it, I was at a point where I could see the sea in both directions. Here's the other way:

I continued on hiking, down hills and up hills (we need a nice bridge).

Eventually, I decided to take a break. I brought walnuts, water, and my Kindle. Don't worry, I didn't eat the Kindle. Haha. Anyway, as I was enjoying my break, I remembered something. The Instagram (photo sharing app) weekend project this week is to try to take a self portrait. As I looked around at the 3 benches, I realized that I was in a good spot to try to do a self portrait (I could rest the phone on a bench).

This was my original attempt. Nice and sweet, with Kori.

But then, I think I temporarily lost my mind. It was action time! First, I thought I'd try a handstand.

It didn't work out very well.

So, I decided to try jumping off a bench and got these gems:


Finally,when it seemed that all hope was lost, I picked up my phone after a jump, and saw this:

I was very happy! And a little tired from all that jumping. I still had quite a long way to hike before dark, so I packed up my stuff and went on my way. It began to get cold as the afternoon went on. I continued going up and down hills.

Then I came to the gazebo where I had stopped with some kids I went hiking with before. Wouldn't this be a pretty place to sit and read?

I started descending for good once I passed the gazebo. One thing I like about going on a solo hike is the fact that you can just relax and let your senses all take in the surroundings. To be honest, I didn't use taste much!

Eventually, I came to a fork in the trail (for taste? haaa). I wasn't sure which way to go. One way looked like the trail I'd been hiking on, and the other was dark forest. As I stood there pondering, I heard a crashing that was definitely NOT a sparrow. This was a large animal. My adrenaline rose a little, and then the large animal turned out to be a jogger. Well, I knew it wasn't a sparrow! I then headed down the dark forest path, thinking it might be fun. It was really dark!

But when I came out, I had another lovely view of Wakkanai.

Then it was time for one final descent and ascent. Unfortunately, the final descent was really steep and muddy and I wound up taking the express method for a portion of the trip. But then I picked myself back up for the last part of the descent, which involved ropes and a ladder. Yay.

Finally, I was back to civilization and sooo tired. I knew I was pretty muddy, but I decided to take a bus anyway. Of course, the bus was full of people when it arrived. That rarely happens in Wakkanai. I finished up my evening with some soup curry at Cafe Zazie. It was tasty after a long hike.

I was really glad that I went out to enjoy the day yesterday, because today was overcast. But now, I still have quite a lot on my to-do list. Oh, well.

Wow, if you made it this far, I'm impressed! Thanks for sticking with me!