25 August, 2012

"Just us" time

Early this morning we saw off David's mother to fly back to Australia. We enjoyed her visit — her fresh wonder at this place Japan and our "Japanese" lives that has become as familiar to us as an old cardigan. We don't "gaze and wonder" much anymore in our local area. It is amazing to have someone new come along and remind us of how different our lives (or at least the superficial bits) really are to what they'd be if we were in Australia.

But it is also tiring to have all that "gazing and wondering" because, obviously as the local experts, we fill the role of "explanation givers" (even when we have no idea of the right answer). That gets wearying.

So, now we are enjoying some "just us" time at home with no big agenda to fulfil. It feels a bit like a long-lost piece of clothing that was packed away many months ago and just now trying it on again is a bit unfamiliar, yet comforting.

For most of the last two months we have been in other people's houses, or rolling along in a motor home with a tight agenda, or had someone in our house. And for the month before that We had little schedule, with the boys on holidays, but David and I still working (and not forgetting our camping adventures). Wow, no wonder I was feeling a little stressed. As a family we all enjoy routine, and there has been precious little of that over the last three months. Or if we did have a routine, it was stretched out of shape to accommodate other people as well. So, I've been feeling stretched. I'm ready to go back into shape, the regular shape of our non-holiday lives in Japan.

But I was happy to try something new yesterday, something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I tried my hand at making some tomato chutney. Earlier in the week I found some tomatoes for a cheap price and bought several kilos. I tried it using the slow cooker to reduce the heat in our house. Only problem was that it didn't boil off enough liquid so I needed to finish it off in a saucepan. But I still think the slow cooker was a good idea, because it reduced the amount of time I needed to use the hot stove. Next thing? To try to chutney out!

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