Last Friday I was supposed to go to Yokota Base to get groceries, but the CLO left me off the list, and the bus left without me. Groceries strike one. Then, while out at Yokosuka for the shrine parade (and visiting with Vida) we stopped and got some groceries at the base grocery store there… and left them in Vida’s fridge. (Strike 2.) So Monday after Japanese class I ran to the local grocery store (in addition to the local bike shop, which is HUGE) to get us some food. In the process of lugging them home I irritated my shoulder (already sore from Judo), and woke up the next morning in a fair amount of pain. (Foul ball.) So… groceries are not my strong suit this week.
I was quite proud of myself for managing to communicate with the bike store guy however — I got a tube for my monster-sized bike (by Japanese standards) and actually understood a good half of what he said to me. Japanese class, and my ability to communicate basic needs are improving — we’re moving from numbers to adjectives this week. Every week I understand a little more of what’s going on around me. Teaching/reading French on the other hand is scrambling my brains. I can handle two languages pretty effectively — switching back and forth isn’t terribly difficult — but adding a third language really fouls me up. In Japanese class my brain keeps supplying French words, and when I try to speak in French I keep adding a mess of Japanese words. I was just trying to count to three the other day and came up with “un, deux, san” (that would be french, french, japanese). Additionally, Towa’s mother tries to speak with me in English, but her English is about at the same level as my Japanese, so I have to significantly simplify my speech patterns.
I’m getting ahead of myself though — Yes, I am still “teaching” French to a baby. I have been going back and forth with the school trying to convince them that they need to hire someone more qualified for the job, but they really seem quite desperate for a teacher. After a lot of bargaining back and forth I have agreed to teach two more lessons, through the end of October, so that they have some time to find a new teacher. When I went over today, Towa (that’s the baby) and I read/played/did flashcards and basic arithmetic with apples. Her mother was in the kitchen cooking the whole time, so it was really just me running my mouth in French for an hour. I’m not particularly good at maintaining a monologue for that long in any language, so by the end I was pretty much just babbling. The poor thing also had some seriously terrible gas. She was sitting in my lap while I was reading to her, just farting away. Nothing like reading aloud in French while trying not to breath through your nose… maybe it improved my accent.
At any rate, I picked up a nice loaf of bread in a French bakery on the way home, and now have peach-bourbon-bbq chicken in the oven. I’ve been enjoying playing with some new recipes — it’s funny what we’ve been craving over here. Japanese food (or Japanese takes on other people’s food) is not at all spicy, so anything with a real kick tastes awesome. I also crave sweets pretty frequently — while there are a bunch of French bakeries in Tokyo, there’s not a lot that stays open for dessert. So Monday I made chicken larb — super spicy ground chicken with lemongrass, lime, garlic, ginger, etc, wrapped up in a cabbage leaf like a little green thai taco. I also baked some banana bread which we’ve almost finished already — Japanese bananas don’t last very long, so we keep buying ones that just go brown in a day or two. Yesterday I roasted potatoes and bell-peppers, and poached salmon and shitake mushrooms. It was such a beautiful piece of salmon I almost didn’t want to cook it, but I don’t know how to tell if fish is sushi-grade yet. All of that stuff from the local grocery store — so despite our grocery woes, I’m managing to keep us well-fed.