Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Are they talkin' 'bout little ol' me? Posted by Hello

It's all about the food

Well, it's my last couple of days before I head off to whip the world into shape. And besides doing a few last minute things as mundane as doing laundry and buying critter supplies, my time is spent eating some of my favorite meals. As an example, Tracy took me out to lunch today (as it was my last day at the School of Social Work) and we went to DePalma's where I had my favorite calzone. Yummmmm. And tomorrow night I want Taco Stand! Bulking up before I go on the "I'm in a foreign land and can't find anything to eat" diet. The photo above is from the good riddance card my coworkers gave me. I'm not cheeky, am I? (said with a syruppy sweet southern accent)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Snarky has a playmate

The office where I work is a generally happy place, but yesterday it got even happier. Snarky is our young student assistant and he has lots of energy. Probably more than the rest of us put together. Nice guy. Well, yesterday they brought in an extra temp to help Snarky get a really big project together. Snarky and the newbie hit it off very well. He kept her in stitches the whole time they were doing their monotonous, repetitive paperwork. Like I said this office is a happy place, but yesterday we got an added soundtrack of laughter echoing down the hall way throughout the day. Makes you smile.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Nickles and Dimes

Today my co-temp asked if he could borrow a dime, and all I had was a quarter, so of course I gave it to him. And being a nice guy he gave me back a nickle and a dime. And I looked at it like he had just handed me stinky socks right off his own feet. Well, I just couldn't imagine what I was going to need a nickle and a dime for in the short time I have left. I was so confused. I still am. It's a very odd, and slightly giddy feeling. No signs of Zack and Seth today.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Tempting Fate and Poison Ivy

Well, much needed to be accomplished today, and I am so proud of myself, that I'll give myself an award. The Bitchy Turtle award, named after the dear departed Adrian, who was when all things are said and done bitchy and a turtle. I got lots of bits and pieces done today and a majorly big hurdle was jumped as well. I brushed and washed the dog. May not be a big deal at your house, but here in the 'holler' that is about a half day project. An hour and a half of brushing, trimming and other neccessary grooming on my reindeer-herding-type mutt produced enough hair combed out of her to create two lhasa apsas. And I am not exagerating. Then a half hour break because the dog deserves it and I was hungry. The next thirty minutes were spent torturing the dog with the garden hose and dog shampoo. That was followed by a 30 minute walk to help her dry off and keep her from rolling in dirt. Topped off with another 30 minute fluff up. We are both exhausted. Then I went on to do some more gardening. This put me in contact with the dreaded alien creature that we know as poison ivy. This little plant can put me totally out of commission for a week or more. Why did I decide to garden just days before I leave for Japan?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Why I think I might survive Japan

Got an email from Trev who was nice enough to link my blog to his blog (An Englishman in Osaka) and he was wondering if I had ever been to Japan before. Well, I have, for a whole 10 days last August in Tokyo. Now Tokyo is probably different from the rest of Japan, but we did get around fairly well, even though we couldn't read the language. If you ask me, not being able to read the language is a much bigger deal than not being able to speak it ! But, lo and behold we got everywhere we meant to go with no problem. And we managed not to create any international incidents while we were at it. Trev's query got me to thinking why going to a foreign country might work out for me, when it doesn't always go smoothly for others. Well, you must know that I moved around alot in my life. Never anywhere exotic, just places like Republic, MO and Montrose, CO (complete list to follow diatribe). But, along the line I learned several things, and now wish to impart my great knowledge to you, my loyal readers (and there are just throngs of you waiting for these precious jewels of knowledge.) First, no place is perfect. You gotta find the good in every place. Don't worry the bad will find you all by itself. Second, the world does not revolve around me. I know, I know, I may have led you to believe otherwise, but it doesn't. So, I don't really expect the Japanese or all the expats living there to start chanting and parading upon my arrival. I will have to take care of myself. Third thing that works in my favor is that I think I am genetically predisposed to getting up and resettling elsewhere. My ancestry is absolutely filled with cranky old farts who always were gettin' tired of the ol' homeplace and pulling up stakes. So thats why I think I "might just make it after all" (sung to the end of the Mary Tyler Moore theme).

Here is the list of all the places I have lived.
San Francisco, CA
Menlo Park, CA
Prescott, AZ
Bullhead City, AZ
Republic, MO
Montrose, CO
Fort Collins, CO
Newport News, VA
Winter Park, FL
Athens, GA
New Orleans, LA
Athens, GA
Seattle, WA
Athens, GA
and Dum De Dum..Soon to be Hamamatsu, Japan.

PS I went to 3 different High Schools. Now that's tough.

Friday, June 24, 2005

First Butterflies

Today I got butterflies in my stomach over the "impending departure". As a matter of fact, these butterflies must even exist in my subconcious, because I'm pretty sure they woke me up this morning. Most of the day these butterflies behaved themselves, but they are starting to act up again. I have a feeling these guys are gonna be my constant companions for the next 8 days. I may have to name them. You know me, I name everything. How about Zack and Seth. That'll work.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Computer Organizer

You know that show "Clean Sweep" where they come into peoples houses and reorganize everything and make them get rid of tons of useless stuff? I love that show, and would make a great addition to crew (in case they are reading my blog). My current temp job is a lot like that, only with computer files. The position is always held by a temp, so that means every file in written differently, named differently, and organized differently. My job has been to convert the stuff that's in WordPerfect to MS Word, while cleaning up the pages. That means standarizing the margins, headers, outlines, etc. and renaming them all similarly, (so they don't have to go searching for stuff everytime they need it). If this all seems very dry and boring, you are sooo wrong. I really love it. "The girl ain't right." She ain't, but it's her thing, leave her alone. Biggest problem is I won't be able to finish in the next 5 work days. I guess I'll get over it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mini Checkup and Ivan the Gorilla

It was time to take my Mini (Janey) into have her yearly checkup. When I got to the Mini dealer in Atlanta and dropped my baby off, the representative asked "so, what number do you want us to call when it's ready?" Huh? Apparently one of the checkup items was to do a little recall work and that included rewiring the airbag sensors, or some such hooey and would take 5 hours. Uggghhh. So they put me in a rental car for the day (very nice of them), but I didn't know what to do with all that time. Couldn't go shopping. I can't fit one more single item in my suitcases. So I thought I would finally go see Ivan the Gorilla at Zoo Atlanta. Ivan spent 27 years at a tacky shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington, in a very small display. PAWS (my old employer) worked very hard to get him out of his rotten living situation. When he was finally released, he was sent to Zoo Atlanta. They have really wonderful living situations for Gorilla's there. Ivan, is now living in one of these exhibits and has been introduced to other gorillas. He now has his own harem of 3 females and is keeping them happy. So, I got to use this unexpected Atlanta time visiting a celebrity. Worked out okay in the end.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ritz Carlton Margaritas

The big event of the day was that I went to Tracy's house and had Ritz Carlton Margaritas (yum). Met her dogs and her husband (in that order, coincedentally). I guess it was a bigger deal because I was actually invited somewhere. Probably stayed too long and drank too much, so probably won't be invited back again. Of course the fact I'm leaving for a year might have something to do with that. Let's just blame it on that.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Year's Worth of Deodorant

Well, my big task of the day was buying a year's worth of deodorant. I read on Floating World Views, another blog that you can't find deodorant in Japan. That is the one thing that would be to unbearable for me to live without! I can get used to alot of things, but not wearing deodorant is 2nd on the list of things I'm just not sure I could ever do. The first is sleeping without socks on. Just one of those lovable quirks that make me me.

The many faces of me Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sorta Me Posted by Hello

Flowers from my garden Posted by Hello

Walking the neighbor's cat

Each night, when I take Alex for a walk, I have recently been greeted by Scout, the neighbor's cat. As far as we can tell, she spends almost no time at her home. She used to spend a great part of her day in our back yard, until we kicked her out for killing birds at our bird feeders. But she is a very sweet, friendly cat. She has started coming with Alex and I when we go for the walk. She'll walk between Alex and I for most of the walk. So, there we are, the 3 of us, walking down the road, every night. Not your everyday sight.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Autumn Visits Doctor Bob

Took Autumn in for a geriatric check up at the vet's today. He took blood, checked her over, poked and prodded. Autumn was an angel during the whole thing. The tech came back in to check her chart to add her age to the blood sample they send out to the lab. She pointed at her age and asked "Is that right?". Yep, she really is 17 years old. Her kidneys are probably shot and she is way to thin. Doctor Bob started to get worried about her breathing. "Is this a new thing"? "Oh, that heaving she does when she purrs? No she did that from the very first day we met her. She just purrs with her lungs involved somehow." "If your sure?" as he puts away the oxegen tank. That's are crazy Autumn. Gotta love her.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

When the cat's away...

Mark left this morning for a 10 day trip to Colorado, to see family and do the "Ride the Rockies". The big day is when they ride over Monarch Pass. Doing Monarch Pass in a car isn't easy, let alone by bike. I've always suspected he was I have proof. So that leaves me at home all by myself. I had ice cream for dinner, left the TV on when I went outside to garden and left my clothes lying in a trail from the front door to the bedroom. Guess this is a good dry run for my year of living alone. But somehow it's more fun knowing I'm getting away with something. I think I may go out and run up a bill on the Mastercard, too. Hee hee hee....

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Collage Posted by Hello

Heaven is "The Grit"

The Nitty Gritty Bike Band had their monthly meeting at "The Grit" this week. I've never been to a meeting before, but I never turn down a chance to go to "The Grit". They were out of corn on the cob! A first. But I was in the mood for a Rosa's Bagel anyway, with a side of tofu cubes. I don't know how many more opportunities I'll have to eat at my favorite restaurants. Gyro Wrap is another and let us not forget Taco Stand. Well, if I can't find a few good restaurants in Japan at least I might lose a few pounds. (Trying to see the bright side to everything again.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

How does your garden grow?

Well, I actually broke down and did a little gardening. It all started when I saw that the county was going to pick up "leaf and limb" this week in our neighborhood. We have had a huge pile a limbs sitting in one our few flower beds for a couple of months now. On Saturday Mark mentioned he was going to move the limbs up to the curb and I asked if he wanted help. Well, once we moved the limbs we started transplanting the plants back there that were moved so the Tree People could come in and take down some of our trees (sick, falling down, or yucky pines). And then Mark said we should get some annuals to go in with the perenials, and I started thing you know I have poison ivy, a charge to the nursery and a prettier yard. I just can't help myself.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie Posted by Hello

Can She Bake A Cherry Pie?

I don't know, I have never tried. Too boring. But this is my Blueberry Sourcream pie. I took this pie to work with me. Several people asked for the recipe, so here it is.

1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tbsp Four
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
2 Cups Blueberries
1 Unbaked Pie Shell
3 Tbsp Flour
2 Tbsp Softened Butter
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Beat the first 6 ingredients with a mixer on medium for 5 minutes, fold in blueberries and then pour into shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Mix the last 3 ingredient into crumbles. Crumble onto pie and bake for another 10 minutes. Easy as pie. Of course I'm using my new oven which doesn't cook anything like my old oven. I'm just going to have to add 25 degrees to all my recipes and an additional 10 percent to the cooking time. Everyone at work thought it was good, even if it didn't live up to my high standards.

Friday, June 10, 2005

It's a Boy

The new temp is a boy. Ick. Boys have cooties.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Training Temps

Today was the last day of the other temp. Tomorrow a new temp will start and I will end up answering a lot of questions. Stupid temps, need their hands held, make all sorts of stupid errors, fake it when they don't know what to do. Useless, they are all useless.

The Queen of the Temps

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Autumn looking out the window Posted by Hello

Computer Free Day

I needed a day free from all my computer. I also decided to make it a day free of Japanese. Between the frustration of my computer, and my head spinning from learning a new language, my poor little ol' noggin needed a rest. So yesterday night I just sat on the chaise with Autumn. She entertains us by just being her. She purrs amusingly, she lies down amusingly and even dozes amusingly. Cats will always be superior to computers...and people for that matter.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A photo of Terrell Hall on UGA campus. Just a reminder of how pretty Athens is in the Summer. Posted by Hello

Saturday Routine and Being Sociable

Saturday - the day I prefer to stay home and watch TLC all day and do laundry and NOT take a shower. Like last Saturday that was not really an option. Last week Rhonda came to visit and we had many restaraunts to visit and there was tons of food that had to be eaten. Today we had a party to attend to and the weather on Sunday was not likely to be good, so I decided I needed to try and add another cemetery to my genealogy site. It still took me the whole morning to get ready as I went incredibly slowly (it is the weekend after all). The trip to the cemetery was not quite as productive as I would have liked - it wasn't there. I was sure there was a cemetery at that church! I think someone must have stole it! So I went in search of another - found it only to realize it is outside the county (by about 20 yards). Found another cemetery I had never seen before and attempted to transcribe it. Within 10 minutes the poison ivy, hornets and humidity had pushed me past my limits and I gave up. I did stop and a couple of cemeteries I had transcribed in the past to take photos to add to their pages, so the trip wasn't a complete write off, but not what I had really hoped to accomplish today. Then we went to the party and were sociable. Talked and small-talked until I couldn't handle any more. Human interaction can be so exhausting.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Autumn in Retirement Posted by Hello

Cat Joy

As the lousy weather continues to make everyone grumpy I have to search hard to look for the joy in the day. Luckily I have cats. Autumn is our 17 year old cat, who has always been a hardnosed little bundle of tuffness. But it has come to our attention that she has retired from that position. She now spends every waking moment purring. Now the only way to know what makes her happier is to listen to the decibel level of the purring. From the first minute I picked her up and threw her over my shoulder in the shelter 9 years ago she has had a sqeaky purr. The joke for years have been that we really got to take her in for a tune-up. But now the squeaky purr has a variety of levels. There is the slightly asthmatic purr, the fast-paced-I-think-she's-gonna-pass-out snorty purr, and even the she will eventually implode gaspy purr that racks her whole body. This is her new hobby during her retirement and she's gotten quite good at it. I think she could go pro if she wanted to. I'm just glad she shares all that purring with us.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Prissy through the window Posted by Hello

I was mean (hee hee hee)

My moment of Joy today came when Prissy came to visit me in the bathroom while I was brushing my hair. I told her that I felt like tossing her in the bathtub so she better skeedattle. But she just kept meowing at me and being a general pest. So I snatched her up and tossed her in the tub. Before she hit the bottom she let out a nasty hiss. There was a little water from the leaky shower in the bottom, but she acted as if she had been scalded with acid. She bounced out of the tub so fast she may not have gotten any water on her tootsies. She zoomed to the bedroom door, promptly sat down, and did nothing. I walked over to her expecting her to bound away, but she just leaned into me as I went to pet her. All was forgiven.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rainy Day in Georgia

Sounds like the name of a good Blues song, doesn't it. But it is pissing me off as well as pissing on me. We have just had the coldest spring/summer ever. Today - June 1st - it hit about 63 degrees. I'm wearing a sweatshirt and slippers. We should have the AC on and be sitting on our back deck drinking margaritas. Instead I'm ready to put on another layer of clothing, grab the umbrella and take the dog out for her nightly meander down the lane. Never fear, I still had a cocktail with dinner - the world did not stop turning or anything. Enough ranting about weather, at least our house wasn't demolished by a landslide like those folks in Californ-I-A. I shall think positively, because I am a bright and cheery person (read sarcastic).

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Beloved Alexandra Posted by Hello

Bliss and the Dentist

This morning as usual I walked my beloved 17 year old dog, Alexandra. I was listening to my Japanese Language CD's. The section I had been working on was how to say where you came from, and what city were you born. When people ask me (in English) where I'm from, I usually say that I was born in San Francisco, but that I've lived in "California, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington". As, I was trying to figure out how to say that, I realized that I soon will have a new place to add to my list. And not just another lousy state! I'll get to add a new country! This thought was so wonderful I began to cry. Really. A moment of pure delight.
As we came in through the gate we were greeted by a turtle. She took a long look at us, smiled and walked away. I took it as a terrific omen...what exactly I don't know, but it was my omen so back off.
Then I came inside, grabbed my valium in preparation for my trip to the dentist and went to work. I took the valium 30 minutes before my appointment, but during the whole visit I was still pretty uptight. The greatest part of the whole "Dental Experience" is that from the minute he first opened my mouth to the last rinse out took about 20 minutes. "Fastest cavity filler in the South" should be his motto. I'm still hoping the valium will kick in sometime soon, just for fun. But if not, it was a wonderful placebo, and made me much less nervous about the whole encounter.