Archive for December, 2008

h1

Tea Cups, Rasberries and Flowers that bloom for 3 weeks.

December 29, 2008

On Christmas Day, work sent me posting leaflets. I was stuffing horrendous plastic envelopes into tiny mailboxes when I turned round and found this:

cars

It’s a car park for the plush apartments that are around Hakushima.

My lovely Susan brought me flowers on December 4th and they are still in bloom:

flower1

Don’t they look pretty? They look good with my new cups!

cups3

I am obsessed with Ms Piaf recently:

Check the piano playing out in the background. Wish I could play like that.

My winter vacation has finally started, Thank God; Praise Allah and Hallelujiah Thor!  I slept for around 15 hours yesterday – woke up in the dark and had no idea what time it was (or where I was – sometimes I forget where I am and my body thinks its still in England). It turned out to be 6 oclock in the evening and I spent some delicious time watching every episode of Black Books and  eating Edamame. I have developed a slight crush on Bernard the disgruntled shop owner, but scarily I think I bear a slight resemblence to him…although who hasn’t extinguished their ciggarette in a glass of wine before using an old copy of Tolstoy to hit the lightswitch?

 

 

 Tomorrow I’m going to Kyoto for three days over new year and then to Tokyo. I can’t wait to go back to this store in Harajuku:

 

obon-093

I’ve been trying to eat raw foods recently (and failing) and generally trying to get healthier – I am in Japan after all, its not hard but I am still a coffee addicted teacher with an eye twitch that won’t go away.  Just to update you.

Incidentally, I think these might be the most beautiful girsl in the world:

http://forcedtomakesomething.blogspot.com/

h1

Raymond Briggs, Castles and Irn Bru.

December 21, 2008

Today it rained like nobodies business… A bit crap considering it hasn’t rained in about 4 weeks and it’s my day off.

I’ve had a headache all day so I sat in my apartment trying to muster some Christmas spirit. Tried listening to Mariah Carey on repeat for a while and felt mildly stirred, enough to have a tidy up anyways. Then I watched some Christmasy films – A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, All Dogs go to Heaven – not about Christmas per se, but they remind me of my childhood and of Christmas Telly. Its quite strange watching films you remember from being tiny. I can remember watching the actress who played Mary Lennox on ‘Live and Kicking’ one Saturday morning and being really pissed off  because someone else was playing my character and I had been growing my hair for ages just waiting to be asked to play the part, odd logic – but I was an odd child.

 Anyway, when I was 9 my brother was very sick so my parents sent me to stay on my cousins’ farm on the Yorkshire Moors (ha ha – that sounds like its right out of a Frances Hodgson Burnett novel right there!!!). I wasn’t going to school so I spent an awful lot of time on my own or with my Aunt going on walks in the country side. The wonderful thing was they lived in the grounds of Allerton Castle – where the 1993 adaptation of ‘The Secret Garden’ was filmed. I spent ages wandering around the grounds of the farm attempting to befriend Robins, on the lookout for any hearty looking boys possibly called Dicken and being generally lost in my own world.

castle Alerton Castle, North Yorkshire

Watching Curon’s ‘A Little Princess’ was fabulous. It’s so well designed and the acting is superb – I can even forgive the bastardisation of Hodgson Burnett’s original narrative for those adorable green bows and rag curls. Incidently, I want to live in that Edwardian house with its greens and polished wood. It’s all silver hand mirrors, hair pins, fireplaces and echoes of Indian aesthetics.

adorable

What really got me feeling Christmassy was watching Raymond Briggs’ ‘Father Christmas’. I haven’t watched ‘The Snowman’ yet… I still have five days til Christmas and I don’t want to be a homesick, snowman-mourning mess quite yet. Usually I save that for a Gin soaked Christmas Eve.  For anyone who doesn’t know them, here are both of the animations, they used to be aired every Christmas Eve on Channel 4 in England and whilst cute and funny they have really sad undertones – especially ‘The Snowman’ – I won’t spoil it but my god. You are going to bawl.

‘Father Christmas’

‘The Snowman’ – watch with caution. You have been warned. (Oh! I forgot that David Bowie does the intro to the story!!)

Briggs’ non Christmassy work is brilliant too – I love it’s echoes of pre-eighties Britain – its all back to back terraced houses and outside lavatories. Throughout his work there are some beautiful touches such as an old Andersen air raid shelter used to house the reindeer in ‘Father Christmas’, the GPO post bag the postman carries and that slightly overstuffed three piece suite feeling of Father Christmas’ living room.

 ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’, ‘When the wind blows’ – I had all those books as a child and they in turn traumatised and intrigued me. As  good children’s books should do.

Proper traumatic when your 6 ...

Proper traumatic when your 6 ...

Re-reading them now is, again,  strange – trying to identify why they are so weird. The stories seem to belong to a world of my parents and brothers – the Bogey world seems a thin veil for the grimness of the 3 day working weeks, Coal miner’s strikes and Thatcherite politics that made Seventies and Eighties Britain a bit of a bogeyhole* in its own right.

Also – I know Raymond Briggs hates the fact that Irn Bru used his character to promote their drink but I love this advert – Mostly bcause I love Scotland and there are several scenes over Edinburgh – one of my favorite cities in the world.

*Bogeyhole – the hole down into the earth where the bogeymen lived.

h1

A time for new goals

December 21, 2008

See this in 2010.

gallery-aurora-borealis-a-004
gallery-aurora-borealis-a-009

h1

This Girl’s Christmas Wishlist…

December 18, 2008

Dear Father Christmas or Buddha or Jesus or Thor

This year I would like

as always: 

orangwings

The Moon:

mooon

This Necklace:

necklace

At least one red velvet bow

kiki

 Train tickets:

trainstationwalkaway1

Oh. Plus these.

irregular-choice-ic-antique-rose-ct

 

Love Mizi Moo X

h1

Klimt; Partly Frozen Robins and a Camera.

December 16, 2008

Yesterday, for a few brief hours it felt like Christmas.

I cycled over to Hakushima, a suburb that sits at at the feet of the mountains that flank Hiroshima and spent a glorious day eating cake, drinking tea and eventually playing with three of my students whose Mother I went to see. It was amazing to be in a real house again – with a back garden and toys littered around the place and a real Kitchen with an oven. Everyone i know is for the most part a dedicated singleton – living out of an apartment the size of a shoe box, their kitchen cupboards filled in turn with bottles of wine and stray high heels (the glamorous ones) or overflowing with bags of dandelion tea and fermented mung beans (my darling beloved hippies!) but this was a real home.

They even had pets – three little Hermit Crabs, which are apparently a huge new craze in Japan.  It was pretty weird – At one point I was sat with Hinako, Kanako and Nanako (and Nic) fussing over the hard shelled lovelies like they were puppies.  A little bizarre but that’s Japan for you and ultimately they made the children squeal and giggle so it was a job well done.

The Mum also has fantastic taste in art (she had one of my favorite Gustav Klimt paintings up on the wall) and…quite bizarrely as I went into the toilet I was greeted by a Laura Ashley explosion…the twee British brand my own Mother used to dress me in was all over the place. (She also had the same tea cups  we used to have…strange…).

So when we were sat together decorating Christmas cookies and listening to  the Mariah Carey Christmas album (oh how I love it. LOVE it) it felt like Christmas. Quite a bit. Other than that it hasn’t really felt like Christmas at all.

Possible reasons why it doesn’t feel like Christmas:

a) I am sober. For the four years Ive been on Holiday  by now and usually ina  general state of inebriation at any given point post December 16th. This was especially true during University days which I cant quite believe are over anyway but the less said about that the better.

b)I live in a land where a lot of people are under the belief that you know Santa and the Elves? Well the elves are evil and after Santa – that’s why he hot foots it around the world on Christmas Eve. Just one classic misinterpretation I heard on the grapevine.

c) Its warm. Properly warm. Like – a nice September’s day warm. It just isn’tChristmas if you can’t see your breath or still feel your toes. I know I’m a contrary, miserable and sentimental git but it just isn’t Christmas without crippling hoar frost; part-frozen Robins and the central heating  having to be bled and regular intervals to stop the whole system from imploding as the pipes contract within an inch of their life.

d) I miss you (probably).

Much love and kisses, Mizichan.

P.S
I finally found my camera! Hurrah! I can start taking photos of my life again. As much as any writer can sparkle – photos do leave a rather lovely behind.  Speaking of which:
Mariah Carey – Mention woman to me during eleven months of the year and you will get naught but a sneer, cheeky moo monopolising our name…but during December she can do no wrong. Strange girl that she is.
And by way of an apology for the above cheesey goo – Oh Klimty how I wish you could paint me:
judith20i
h1

Love is…

December 14, 2008
  • Snow :
I want to go here

 Website

via LaceandFlora

  • Embroidering secret messages on Christmas presents…

 

  • Planning a trip to Iceland for January 2010 for my 24th Birthday – want to come?

 

  • Crying because flights back to the UK are becoming increasingly expensive, then realising the trans siberian railway is always a consistantly inexpensive way to travel. Vladivostok to Moscow anyone?

 

  • Lastly:  I love Girls Aloud quite a lot and I don’t know why.

I love them in all their mimed, overly manicured, fake plastic glory. I like the shit music too.

h1

Things I miss…A bit…

December 10, 2008
This Guardian Post made me slightly Nostalgic for winter food back home. Its getting steadily colder here. At the moment its about 9 degrees which is nothing compared to what I’m used to – I remember this time last year I was working for Nestle and I used to walk past a duck pond-come-water feature which was always frozen over. Thank goodness the little duckies had enough foresight to get out of the pond for a kip I used to think.

Compared to the 39 degree heat it was in August, its a bloody big difference and I’m freezing 90% of the time. My poor work colleague is from Minnesota where I gather it gets much colder and he passes out from heat exhaustion every time he enters I room I’m teaching in. Ah well.

So…the combination of winter weather and guardian nostalgia made me wonder what food I miss from back home. SO here is a list:

1. Stew and Dumplings

My own, or my Mum’s – not school’s which was always rank and greasy and left a fat scum on the roof of your mouth. Steak stewed for a good few hours over a low heat with plenty of black pepper and nutmeg. mmmm. Plus fluffy white dumplings with crisp little tops.

2. Meat and Potato Pie

Basically the same as stew and dumplings, but roll the dumpling mix out into a pie crust. Heaven 2.0

3. Beef Casserole and Mashed Potatoes

Oh God….I’m craving beef so much writing this.  Its the mashed potatoes that do it – Butter, Milk and oodles of black pepper.

4. Baked potatoes with: beans’n’cheese/cabbage and bacon even bloody Chilli Con Carne…

I ate so many plates of toast with beans and cheese, baked potato with beans and cheese or Soda with beans and cheese whilst at University I never thought I would want to lay eyes on the ruddy things ever again. But I have a soft spot for a can of Heinz it must be said. Cold Turkey has been harsh at times.

The cabbage/bacon combo is a Northern Irish classic. I loved my exes Mum’s version – ah it was simple and blissful. White cabbage and bacon…From a pig I had probably seen at one point roaming around Ballymoney. I also loved my own version with Savoy Cabbage, chili and crispy bacon and once again…more black pepper than you could shake a stick at. And what made it? Probably the Irish butter. 

5. Soda Farls and Wheaten Bread.

This is actually making me rather sad to think of it – There was a magical restorative power in Soda Bread. It was pure magic – Toasted with butter it was as filling as an entire meal. I used to eat it with Jam and Butter and with a cup of tea before struggling to class on cold Belfast mornings.  I used to keep a special knife for buttering that I kept hidden because i lived with some punks at the time who were rather lovely but had a slight predilection for throwing glue parties. I’d come home to find all the knives stuck to the ceiling or something. But that special hidden knife got me through.

For old times’ sake a photograph taken by the rather lovely Eva Ménétrier:

Botanic Garden Belfast

Botanic Garden Belfast

I promise to go out and take a photo of my favorite Ramen shop to make up for this unabashed nostalgia.