29 dreams

Today was Meg's final parent day for grade 4.

They held a 'half-way to being an adult' day.

They did a really amazing presentation that was so smooth and really exciting to watch with spoken word, song, chanting, slideshow presentations etc etc.

Part of it was every single child holding a card they'd made with their dream job for their future written on it.

It was all set to background music of them singing a song about growing up.

Sniff sniff.

There are 29 kids in Meg's class and these are their dreams:



The kind of employee who is loved by his superiors.



Famous fisherman and professional soccer player

Kinder teacher and pet shop employee

Very very rich marine biologist


Kinder teacher

Dog groomer

Member of the Japan National soccer team


Professional baseball player

Zoo attendent


Pro tennis player (and play in US Open)

Dance teacher

Pro soccer player

Animal handler

I want to take my family on an overseas holiday!

Professional baseball player


Soccer player

Tokyo Disneyland employee

Famous chef and pro baseball player


As fast as Usain Bolt

A singer

Cake shop owner


I love their dreams. So pure, so big, so naive!

May all 29 of them find their happiness wherever their lives lead them.

And may the kids contemplating not one but TWO careers learn the importance of free time somewhere along the way!


Pretty cold

For all my complaining about the cold and the snow and the ice and all that there are mornings and days and afternoons and sunsets when the views here are just so beautiful, the sky so blue, the mountains so big and white, the snow so sparkly, that I forget that it's so cold and just think how pretty the cold dry air makes things.

Those days I call "pretty cold" days.


My boots don't fit



My boots don't fit anymore!!

Huh? Didn't you wear them yesterday?

Yeah, but they fit yesterday and they DON'T FIT TODAY!

Sighing I walked over to the genkan to see what the problem was. I mean Amy is growing like a weed but to outgrow your snowboots overnight seemed a little unusual...

I bent to pick up her boot sure she just had a discarded sock stuffed in there or something-

Aghhhhh grunt. ???????

They were frozen solid! Frozen to the floor AND frozen in a very weird angle- closer to 45 degrees than 90.

AMY??? These are frozen to the floor. I thought I asked you to put any wet snow gear by the fire last night? What happened???!!!!

Hands on hips she sighed and looked to the heavens before calmly explaining to me:

They're not wet.  They're frozen.


I learnt something today

I learnt something today.

I like learning stuff.

I've learnt lots of stuff about living in snow already.

I've learnt:

  • Snow is slippery- ice is worse. Walk on snow if you only have the choice between the two.

  • Even powder snow will go wet and make you soggy and miserable when it melts. Always, always brush the snow off when you go indoors.

  • Even powder snow, even slushy half thawed snow, even regular snow snow- heck- all snow- will freeze solid to your porch over night. Never put off removing the snow from your porch. Never.

  • Driving on snow and ice sucks. You're gonna slip, you're gonna slide. Your teeth will be rattled out of your head on the weird corrugated wave pattern unshoveled show inevitably freezes into on the roads.  Your wheels will spin, you'll lose traction. You won't be able to turn where you want or how you want. Driving on snow and ice sucks.

And today?

Today I learnt something new about driving in the snow.

Well parking in the snow actually.

See, they shovelled the snow to the edge of the carparks after last week's snow.

So after this week's snow there was nowhere for the snow to go and after they piled it up at the ends of the carparks the parking areas are good for VW Bugs, Morris Minors and anything made by Little Tikes.  Real cars? Big cars? The 7 seater people movers so popular among families? Yeah, not so much.

So, I got to after school care and inched my way between the snow pile sentinels at the entrance to the carpark in a move reminiscent of the dreaded S-bend at driving school. Phew.... I thought that was going to be the hard bit but then I had to try and park far enough back to not block through traffic between me and the people movers parked opposite. No problem! I have big wheels and I've been driving over snow banks all week. I am big car driver- hear me roar!!!


What happened to the roar?

Not even a murmur??

Our car is a diesel engine. It's not something you'd call quiet.

But now it was silent.

Turned the key and-



Aghhhhh????? Ehhhhhhh???? Whaaaaaaa?????

Started freaking out. Cut the engine. Jumped out of the car and looked under it. Nothing.

Looked for steam escaping from the bonnet- nothing.

Walked round the back- uhhhhh....

I had backed WAAYYYYY into the snowbank.

I couldn't even see my rear bumper let alone my exhaust pipe.

I had a feeling that was a kind of bad thing....

I learnt that from a kid who transferred to my high school from juvenile detention- or that was the rumour anyway- he wan't there for long.... who knows where he is now.... we didn't keep in contact for some reason..... but he was at my school long enough to get annoyed with a science teacher and plug his exhaust with mud one day. I remember that and that it was a bad thing for the car, the teacher and the kid.

Pretty sure that snow would be equally bad I decided to dig myself out. Easy- just scoop the snow away, right?


Bloody snow was not nice fluffy snow. It was crunchy, icy packed into rock-solid shape snow. I had no digging utensil bigger than a toothbrush.

Hmmm... I remembered that I had learnt that exhaust pipes are very hot. Learnt that from a girl at Uni whose romantic date riding pillion on her boyfriend's motorbike ended up with a trip to hospital and a really bad burn on her bare calf.

Hot exhaust pipe melts rock-solid icy snow unblocks exhaust.

Damn, I'm smart.

Well, not smart enough to not back into the snowbank in the first place but I did get the car started, re-parked and picked the girls up without anybody noticing my predicament.

And I get to add to my list of things I've learnt.


Dear Sir...

Dear Mr Nissan Patrol driver,

Your car is so shiny! You must love your car more than me.

Your car looked clean and washed and quite possibly rather new.

My car is 20 years old and covered in white markings from the salt on the roads.

Both our cars are on the bigger side aren't they?

I bet you enjoy driving around looking out on other cars and being able to see up ahead what the traffic is doing as much as I do.

How about this snow we've had, huh?  CRAZY!  Breaking records left right and centre.

The roads are a mess though aren't they? A crazy patchwork of ice, bitumen, snow, over salted gritty spots- it's like a rollercoaster out there.

Lucky I don't have dentures or they'd rattle right out just getting into town I reckon!

It took me over an hour to make a 30 minute drive yesterday.

The roads are so narrow in some places I couldn't even pass a little kei-car. Spent a lot of time backing up into driveways or waiting for someone else to do the same.

It was a little hairy at times and certainly not a relaxing drive but you know what? It was kind of heartening to feel part of a bigger community of people all doing the giving and taking thing to make sure we all get home safely.

And then I met you.

On a corner.

On a road that's narrow anyway.

The centre line was only 30cm from the edge of the road on my side so It wasn't going to happen.

I had three cars behind me (love that big car extra vision don't you?)

You had noone behind you.

But you just stopped dead still.

I know the road laws here. I'm sure you do too: whichever one of us is moving when we collide has the responsibility for the accident. The flip side being as long as you are stationary you are fault free.

So you stopped. All four wheels on black.

I inched up into a snowbank on my side figuring if I did that and then stopped you'd do the same and get by and we'd all go about our way.

But no.

Your precious car doesn't do snowbanks huh?

I waited.

And gestured.

All that big car extra vision wasn't working though as you couldn't see me gesturing that I was already in the snow.

So I gave up and kept edging into the snow.

I got stuck.

The cars behind me all backed up so I could reverse and try again.

I was sweating. My wheels were spinning. I needed speed to get traction but not so much speed I kept going into a concrete block fence.

You my friend looked remarkably serene.

I got passed.

No thanks to you.

You kept your spot while the cars behind me used my tracks to get around you too.

Please watch this video:

(caveat- I only watched the first 20 seconds of this. If naked women or cruelty to animals appear after that it was not my intention to publicise that.)

Look at that Nissan Patrol go!

If you are still unwilling to get a little snow on your tires please just stay home till Spring.

Yours emphatically,

The Delica driver who only just made it past you last night.


what's the worst snow removal job you can think of?

Main street of a busy town?

The roof of a two story building?

The rounded tops of the trains?

Never done any of those so I can't compare I guess but this was HARD:

The trampoline! Cursed buying such a big trampoline again!

This was my leg my first step onto the mat.

It was sea-sick inducingly boingy and bouncy.

The mat is incredibly slippery so we kept falling over which Meg found a lot more fun than I did!

It took a couple hours as we had to be careful not to poke too hard at the mat with our shovels and as the netting is really high we couldn't heave the snow out over the top and had to instead aim it at the little triangle door opening and then periodically go out and move the pile built up there out of the way and then get back in and repeat. Phew!!

Meg and I got about 2/3 of it done all by ourselves before we admitted defeat as the sun was going down quickly and we didn't want to leave any to freeze over night so we called in the big guns- K!

He muscled through the rest of it in no time. Even after a whole day of shovelling. 

I'm in awe...

neighbourhood snow removal day

After shovelling out our house and cars and making tracks to the chook cage and all that fun we had to go and help dig out the road down the mountain and the footpath the kids use to get to school.

It was a BIG job so lucky we had so many people turn out.

Of course Matsumoto city has snow ploughs but there is a priority listing of roads and we are soooooo far down the list...

And anyway, there are independent self-reliant types around here and the neighbourhood owns a hand pushed show plough, a neighbour with a LONG driveway owns another, EVERYONE has a k-truck for hauling snow, there are power shovels and tractors and plenty of active and willing people.

So... we headed down the mountain.

Amy came up with a laid back way of doing things.

The footpath- before:

Obviously the snow plough had already been down so this isn't a REAL before shot but it's a before we started shot.

Ok, well technically still during but you can see what a thorough job we're all doing. And laughing and chatting and talking as we worked.

No less than FOUR of us had broken snow shovels already this week. What's the big deal? They're less than 1000 yen right?

Well, the big deal is all the stores are completely sold out of them and with the highways blocked and trucks not getting through who knows when we'll get more! There were some very creatively taped and screwed together snow shovels out there!  Me? I just gave up and used a metal one- heavier but zero chance of me falling on it and snapping it.

The tractor with a snow plough attachment widening the road. 

Taking a break to appreciate the scenery:

Still a lot of snow to go...

Look at all the people there on the mountain! Times like this I love where I live!

So proud of Meggy for doing her bit too.

Amy jumped right out of the way of the snow ploughing tractor.

You can just see a couple of heads the other side of the snowbank. That's the pile of snow between the footpath and the road. No need to worry about kids running out onto the road as they walk to school at the moment! 

Bit worried about what's going to happen when it gets a bit warmer and that pile starts to slide though....

This is the road outside our house. That's the corner of our truck on the left there.  My neighbour up the road is FASTIDIOUS about shovelling snow. See that black tarmac there? That's a whole weekend's work. She's a GUN> Us on the other hand? Ummmm, wellll.... hey, it wasn't like we were sitting around doing nothing!


got snow?

Last week I took this picture thinking 'Wow! Look at all the snow!!'

Then Friday night it started snowing again...

Wow! It's half way up the climbing frame- that's crazy!!

Then Saturday morning I opened the door and the climbing frame was barely there...

And by Saturday lunchtime it was gone.

That's a LOT of snow!

No, really

On the right is a small family run metal forgery.  

At various times they have deliveries coming and going.

Often this involves a forklift, a small crane type thing and a big truck.

This often takes up more than half the road.

It doesn't usually take long.

I don't mind waiting.

But they invariably come out and gesture for me to go around.

First nicely.

Then more strenuously until it's the gesture equivalent of yelling.

On the left is a 30cm deep drain.

It's covered in parts with a movable grate.

When it's covered in snow it's impossible to know where the grates are.

I don't mind waiting.

I DO mind getting stuck in a drain.

There is precedence for this. I've had to help a neighbour get his car out of a drain.  A car the size of ours would not just be a matter of three people rocking it back onto the road.

I'll wait.

No, really.