February 2016 Archives

Busy in the Countryside

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When we moved from Tokyo to rural Chiba, I had no idea that I'd be so busy all the time. Isn't country life a laid-back relax-a-thon? Not at all.

First of all, Nature calls. She changes the weather and I adjust various household items - turning off water on sub-freezing nights, opening windows to release stale air - and chores like laundry and baking vary depending on sun and wind. And that's just daily life. Seasonal changes mean packing away or unpacking stored items, buying new supplies, and preparing seasonal activities like gardening or battling insects.

When I'm not considering Gaia's demands, I think about what projects I can do to improve my living environment. Paint the house. Fix broken things. Make a shelving unit. Deal with gutters.  I'm starting to buy tools and materials, so I think this will be a focus of busyness for a while. It's an old house and it will suck up all my time and attention if I let it. 

But I can't let it because to keep my hand in the economic game, I teach yoga classes, circus, and creative workshops, and I write books. Not that these are going to make me a millionaire, but they will bring in a few yen here and there. I enjoy them, too, so they are a pleasure as well as a product. As a newcomer in the area, I have to work hard to establish myself and that means networking and introductions, all in Japanese. So I spend time studying Japanese, too. Probably not as much as I ought to.

Transportation in the countryside is time-consuming. As I sit here writing this I am aching from a bike ride to the farmer's market this afternoon. It's less than 10k one way, but it's tiring. And we took the hilly way home. Pictured above, there's a gorgeous view across Senmaida at the crest of the ridiculously long hill that I have to walk my bike up. The ride down to our house was a thrill and a half, though. Almost worth the pain. As a side benefit, I'll get fitter because without a car, it's bicycle or ride the city bus to shops...or buy online, which is time consuming in its own way.

And on top of all these busy activities, we have a social life! I am more likely to see my neighbors here than I ever was in Tokyo. Neighbors who are becoming good friends, in fact. We get together and do things for fun - barbecues, themed parties, projects. It's great. And definitely a factor in being busy in the countryside. There are traditional community obligations which we have managed to skip so far, but I'm likely get roped into doing some of this duty work before too long.

So with so many things asking for me to do them, what do I actually do? In this cold weather, I curl under the covers and wait for Spring.

16 reasons it is good to be home

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  1. Enjoying meals lovingly prepared by dear friends 
  2. Realising it was 7 conveyances to get home (taxi-plane-bus-taxi-train-bus-car)
  3. Feeling happy that our friends are so kind and helpful
  4. Relishing the Oyama hillscapes
  5. Doing laundry on my own schedule
  6. Being surprised by the 5 o'clock bells
  7. Nomming anago sushi bento for lunch
  8. Sunning the futon on a beautiful afternoon
  9. Opening piles of mail that include personal letters
  10. Bundling up in cozy fleece and hats
  11. Bicycling to the grocery store
  12. Reconnecting with the community schedule
  13. Planning nothing for a week or two or three
  14. Dancing in the office because there is nothing to plan
  15. Uploading huge whacks of photos & videos over gigabit fiber
  16. Dreaming of all the things I could do next
I loved being in Thailand for seven weeks. It was a great adventure running a circus and doing good in the world, meeting people, teaching kids, and collaborating on performances. (More about that to come, don't worry.) But I am so happy to be home again. I didn't realise how good it would be to get back to this place.

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