Revisiting and Revamping a Hobby

What’s your hobby? Is it the same one you had from childhood, or has it changed? I made a promise to myself last week, to submit a blog twice a week. I remember as a teenager with tonnes of angst, I’d feverishly write in my diary, or spew out some poetry (I still have to this day). Writing used to be my outlet; writing and cooking/baking. As I got busier, my story-writing and poetry-writing greatly slowed down. I barely I want to sit still now to pen anything. However, with the coronavirus ravaging the world, and many of us staying at or working from home, it’s an opportune time to rediscover or start a new hobby.

So here I am, procrastinating one thing to do another. That’s how busy I am, or I think I am. I like to think that I am a keen observer of people…I people watch, creating stories in my mind while I observe. My observation and general judge of character are usually correct. My general feeling about someone is pretty good. Not perfect, my own flaws sometimes colour my perception of people, but I try to analyse why I feel a particular way about someone.

This is the reason I enjoy writing, my imagination weaves stories in my mind, and pen and paper are usually the outlet. My hobbies as a child, not only included the writing of poems and stories, but voracious reading. If there was a book, comic or dictionary in the house, I read it. I think that was called nerdish. Except, I was not smart…unless it was history, geography, English literature/language…maybe Spanish and French. Anyway, point is, I hated studying, but I loved reading things. Next was my love of cooking, as soon as my grandmother would allow me, I was in he kitchen, in front of the stove cooking or baking something.

So, back to writing. I want to do that. My imagination and need to express myself through writing has not diminished. It would be nice to see what can come out of this brain, and through these fingers.

Which childhood hobby would you like to explore? Will you try it again? I would love to hear from you. Eventually, I want to clean up or adult up my poems and stories (when will that happen?) and publish them. My teen years/thoughts were pretty dark.

So that’s it…as soon as I can travel, I’ll be on an aeroplane, but in the meantime I will resume writing something again. My views are quite different from my teens years, so poetry does not have the same appeal to me. It was an outlet for my feelings, my feelings are less intense…and quite boring now.

Let me know your answers, and how your hobby goals are progressing.

I Left Japan…Now What?

I’m home! Am I? Yes, I have returned to my home country, but it doesn’t feel like home. I feel like a stranger in my own country, in my own home. I have been warned about reverse culture shock, so I know that this feeling is a combination of that plus my actually missing my life in Japan.

If I miss Japan so much, why did I leave in the first place. Well, I left because I thought it was time. I had been feeling a bit restless for about a year, and was theoretically looking at other places that had meaning for me. I was not leaving Japan because I had grown weary of it, but because I was ready to have a new experience. The name The Nomadic Jamaican is not random, it’s who I am. I always want to move to somewhere else. Even in Japan, I never lived in one place for more than five years. In my eleven years in the country, I moved seven times. Wow, seven times. No wonder my friends would ask, “So where are you living now?”.

Okazaki Park, Aichi, Japan

Something changed

So where was I thinking of moving to? That was not set pre-pandemic. At the time the options spanned three continents – South America, Europe and Africa. There was a strong leaning towards a beloved country in Europe. When there was a distance murmur on the international news, I, like most people thought it would be contained in China, and it would eventually die down. Then one day, I heard about Italy.

At one point, this was Italy’s covid-19 status

What a shock that was, it seemed all of a sudden to me. And, so with the realisation that this is a pandemic and other concerns back home, my plans changed. I booked a ticket for Jamaica, began getting rid of my things (have some regrets there) and sold my little Honda Zesty.

Honda Zest (K-car)

Now, I’m in Jamaica, post 2-week quarantine, heat attack and mosquito-assault. The heat without an air conditioner, and the mosquitoes without a nets to keep them out of the house, is just unbearable. I think I am adaptable, but some things should not be adapted to.

So…is this it?

What is my experience back home teaching me? That I really cherish living alone. I like things set the way I like them, my design style is important. I wonder if I have been spoilt by my solo living in Japan. I may be. I read an article on our attitude. It said that we focus on changing the things we can change, not the things we can’t. There was a question on the things that can affect our happiness, and the choices were our circumstances, genes or attitude. The one thing we can change is our attitude, and that can have an impact on your happiness. So, where I can change my circumstances, I do that, but if I cannot, then I adjust my attitude. Or, I try to.

Where to next?

Now what? I wait. In the meantime, I make the best of my current situation. I work at being a better person, a better…(fill in the blanks). If covid-19 allows, then I will be on my Nomadic way. Exploring what needs to be explored. Satisfying my craving to move about.

Nomad, no mad!

It’s in my DNA I think.  The need to keep moving.  I have rarely, on my own, stayed in one place, comfortably, longer than 3 years.  I often thought about why I always felt the urge to move.  Why I would get restless and slowly, subconsciously start to shun people.  I was preparing to leave.  Like a cat that is dying, it pulls away and eventually, disappears.  So here I am again, with an itch that I need to scratch.  Where will it take me?  I am not quite sure yet.

I have felt quite fortunate to have travelled to places I never thought possible as a child back in my country.  My list of coutries of interest keeps getting ticked off.  What will I do when…if I complete the circuit before the end?  I’m just going to get right back up and start a new list.  After all, you stop moving when you’re dead, not before.

So, where have I been to?  Right here in Japan…a home to my heart.  Though, a part of my heart can feel the windy embrace of that Emerald Isle.  I have no idea why these two opposite countries hold a weird spot in my heart.  No idea!

Having lived in Japan for a few years, I finally took my Jamaican self to Germany, home of one of my favourite World Cup teams, Germany!  One of, but not my number one…that’ll be you, Brazil.  I really liked being in Germany.  The architecture and the food were beautiful and delicious.

Schnitzel lunch
The Fuchschen
Dusseldorf beer

I tried a few other things in Germany, the pork knuckle in Cologne, in a tourist trap, where inauthentic German service was offered. My advice, don’t go where your fellow tourists flock. It’s a trap, plus you might not enjoy the meal either. I certainly didn’t. The schnitzel and beer in Dusseldorf at Brewery im Fuchshen were delicious. The beer was so good that I had seconds, and I do not usually like beer. The currywurst…uh that was the worst! Well, it was not, but I could not understand the excitement. Was this authentically German? A sausage with ketchup curry sauce served with fries. I was not impressed! I did not bother to take a picture because I wanted to erase from both memories.

Currywurst. Why would you do that? Why did I bother to take a picture?

Back to the pleasant things…A treat I was looking forward to was something I usually avoid in my daily life, but I was eager to try in Germany. The pastries. I was not disappointed. I had pies, cakes, and chocolate drinks.

Cheesecake and a chocolate drink

I only had four days in Germany, 2 in Cologne and 2 in Dussledorf. I visited the Cologne Cathedral, as most tourists do, and was both impressed by the architectural achievement (1248-1880) and wondered how many lost lives because of this building. Impressive, but at what cost?

Cologne Cathedral (Koln Dom)

So here I am, two years later, Germany under my belt, as well as Ireland and Italy…more on those two later. A couple bonus stops on the way, and an appreciation of having the independence to move around freely. Not many decades before, some groups did not have the luxury of moving freely without permission.

Now, I’m looking out my figurative window, looking at my watch and wondering, where next? After all, life is an adventure, live it.

Catch you on the rewind.

I Never Expected This

On October 25, 2018, while on my way to my job as an assistant language teacher (ALT), I was rear-ended.  At first, it did not seem so bad on my body.  Actually, it felt like everything happened in slow motion.  My k-car was hit from behind and slammed into a truck.

I had to gather my senses.

We all pulled over, blinkers (hazard lights) on.  I sent a message to my family/friends to let them know what had happened, then I called my insurance company.  The driver who hit me was not Japanese, the driver I was shoved into, was.  I checked with him to see if he was calling the police (this is required, and highly recommended).

My friend who is Japanese was on her way to help.  Soon, the Japanese police arrived.  At this time, I think I am still okay, a bit flustered, but I felt I was okay.  Then the military police (MP) arrive for the driver who ran into my car.  Statements are being taken, pictures are being taken (I am taking too).  My students are passing in the bus and in their parent’s cars.  I have called my school to let them know what is going, I will not be in work at all.

Finally, my friend arrives, she helps (a lot) with communicating with the Japanese police.  She also checks with a mutual friend, who is a nurse, about how to proceed with my health.  The suggestion is, though I protested because I feel fine, though a bit lightheaded and my back is starting to tighten up.  Anyway, the suggestion is go to the hospital in an ambulance, the reason, you get seen quickly.  If we were to drive there on our own, we would have to wait.

My car is still driveable.  So after about two hours with the police, we are able to leave.  My friend drives my car over to a little spot and we wait for the ambulance.

I feel ridiculous being strapped in.  Then I feel like crying.  This is what an ambulance ride may feel like to some people.  The helplessness, but I do not feel helpless, but I want to cry.  I hold it in, telling myself to “shut it down, shut it down, now”.

At the hospital, I am confused.  My friend has not arrived yet, and no one speaks enough English.  In this stressful situation, my command of any Japanese has all but disappeared.  I felt helpless.

Soon, all is made fairly right.  My friends are contacting us, to check on my situation, one gives advice as to the kind of treatment I should be sure to get – insist on an MRI, not just a scan.  The doctor at the hospital suggests an x-ray, I also ask for a CT-scan.  I did not insist on the MRI.

I get some medicine.  All of this is out of pocket.  I keep the receipts and we go to the police station to give a statement.  Did you know that after a car accident the police in Japan give you three options to proceed?  I was not aware of these – proceed through the insurance companies, go through the courts and severe punishment (what?).  Wow, I did not believe the accident was malicious, so I opted for going through our insurance company.

Looking back, and at where I am now, I am not sure I would have gone with the insurance company.  I would want to know more about the other two options.

I have an engagement to go to.  Will continue another time.


In Search of My Perfect Pastry Shop

If you are anything like me, then you do not care much for sweet things – milk chocolate, doughnuts with anything sweet on top of it or cinnamon rolls with the white sweet goo on it are no-nos for me.  I have no wish to eat them and I do not enjoy them if I venture to eat them.  I am weird (as I have been told) like that.

However, once in a while I find sweet treats that win me over.  The right cream puff, known as シュークリーム(shuukureem), will make regular appearances in my fridge.  It has been hard to find the right cream puffs.  I found none in Aichi Prefecture, but on a visit to Nagasaki, I found (cue a beam of sunshine) 岩石屋(Ganseki-ya) in Sasebo.  I was hooked!  Like an addict during my visit I was there, getting my sweet fix.  Unfortunately my visit there was short and cream puffs do not travel well outside a fridge.

Fast forward my move to Okinawa.  I gave up trying to find the righ cream puffs, until I found モンクレア(Mont Crea, but I think they meant to write Mont Claire).  Anyway, Mon Crea sells the second best cream puffs I have had in Japan.

Mont Crea
Mont Crea shop front

Small selection of pastries

It is a small pastry shop located in the northern part of Okinawa, a place called Kin-cho.

Small seating

I usually stick to the basics, I always order cream puffs, ocassionally I will add an eclair.

My favourite items to order

Then I take them home, promising myself that each will be eaten on separate days.  Usually, I am reduced to consuming them in one to three days, no matter the amount I buy.

Maybe one day I will find better.  For now this is the best I have had in Okinawa.




A Calm Response Turns Away Anger

via Daily Prompt: Calm

Angry words in answer to angry words will not douse a fire.  What can a person possibly hope to achieve with raging words? A counter balance is needed to calm an aggressive situation.  Be the better person, even if you think you are in the right.

Can arguing with a fool make you look smarter?  No it does not, it will only make you look like a fool…and do you know who has won that battle?

When has calmness ever been a negative?  A wise person is calm even if s/he is standing up for something.  Chooses his/her words carefully and may instead inspire someone.

Be the better person, always respond with calmness.

A Winter’s Tale that I Hate

Winter, oh how I hate winter.  Not just winter that can exist anywhere, but the winter where snow exists.  The winter where icy roads appear, the winter that can kill a body.  I have no reason to love winter, except for the fashion…and the food.

I can wear coats, boots (who does not love boots?), and layers of beautiful colours.  However, that is where any love for winter starts and stops.  I do not care much about the snow, I really do not.  Unfortunately for me, I am in a country and a prefecture where it gets very cold and it snows.  I love living in Japan, but every year around the months of December to February I question our relationship.  February is usually brutal.  Then into March and April I look around in disbelief because it is still unbelievably cold and I wonder, “Where is the spring?”.

Anyway, enough of my complaining.  Let me get to the food!  In Japan, there a few tasty dishes that are popular in winter, well in the cold months.  One of these is oden (おでん).  It is boiled ingredients, such as egg, daikon (radish), konyac (konnyaku potato, devil’s tongue), sausage, rice cake (mochi), and more in a dashi broth or soup.  I love it!  You can Google it, or you can visit this lady’s webpage, just replace the word ‘dot’: www dot ustonecookbook dot com/oden/ .  I get my oden from friends or I go to the convenience store that has a covered container and buy mine from there.

In Jamaica we do not have seasonal foods like places with extreme weathers, so we do not have winter food or spring food, at least not to my knowledge.  That being said, I will eat the so-called winter food in Japan that I like anytime of the year.

The other day I made some chili from some ground beef I bought at a Brazilian store called Koko (the one in Okazaki city).  The ground beef there is not as fatty as the ones I find in the regular Japanese supermarkets.  The meat also has more texture, which I prefer.

My Homemade chili con carne

I was also able to find saltfish at such a store and made some Jamaican saltfish with boiled dumplings (with cornmeal bought at a Chinese store in Anjo city).  There is something very comforting about cooking your own food from back home in the foreign country in which you reside.

Saltfish with boiled dumplings and sweet potatoes

So my plans this horrid winter is to consume some delicious comfort foods from both worlds, continue with some of my volunteer work and keep warm!  Doing these should make the time pass by easier.

Take care!







Things I like…

Hatcho Miso soft-cream

This my favourite ice-cream in Japan.  It is a miso-flavoured ice-cream, but do not be turned off by that, because it is really delicious.  Located in Okazaki city in Aichi prefecture, it is a once in a while indulgence for me.

After punching in the clock, I sometimes stop at the Hatcho Miso factory/store and buy a ¥300 cup of ice-cream, then sit in my car, like a sociopath, and eat that ice-cream. 

The spirit moved me to the seafood section

Seafood mix with potatoes

I was overcome by a strange desire to eat some seafood, so I bought a pack of seafood mix.  I just did not know what I was going to do with it.  There I was sitting and thinking about filling my empty stomach, when it came to me, obviously, I had seen a picture or video somewhere.  I was tired, so a one-pot dish would suit me. I prepared everything, painstakingly deveined the shrimps (I abhor shrimps with the vein in, yuck), placed them in the dish, added a little EVOO (hey Rachel Ray), salt and pepper. I covered it with aluminum foil, and almost an hour later, dinner was ready.

There are a few things I miss, such as real bacon, I am NOT talking about turkey bacon, I mean oink oink, salty, fatty, cardiac arrest bacon. I have been in Japan for seven years…I cannot find it.  It is all ‘healthy’ bacon…it even tastes healthy.  That is why on my return trip to Jamaica, passing through the USA, I had bacon!

Scrambled eggs with bacon and sausage

I realised my taste in food had slightly changed, but this did me well.  I was happy.  I sat in a corner like a cornered bobcat (shout out to Big Cat Rescue in Florida) and devoured that plate of delicious breakfast. However, I think those were healthy bacon strips… The world is going healthy.

That was one of the highlights of my visit home.  Unfortunately, the return trip to Japan was a disaster.  More on that in rant post.

Summer is here, and I am looking forward to some barbecuing.

Lunch was good today!

Today, after volunteer work, we decided to have lunch at Yayoi Ken. It was my fifth or sixth time eating at a Yayoi restaurant, but my friends’ first time. It is a Japanese restaurant, serving delicious Japanese food, with rice refills.  The price of the dishes, including their set menus are fairly reasonable.   You enter, choose and pay for your order at the machine by the entrance, you will get a ticket, which you give the server once you are seated. This removes the hassle of paying after you have finished eating.

I had lived in Chiba, and that was my first time seeing and eating at a Yayoi chain. There are a variety of choices for various palettes. I have never been disappointed with my choices.  One problem I do have, I have never done a rice bowl refill, because it is always enough for me. 

Aya Lunch set (teishoku)

My lunch choice was the Aya lunch set for ¥790.  My friends had the chicken nanban set for ¥740, meat & vegetable stir-fried set for ¥690, and the happosai & yurinchi set for ¥890.  Everyone enjoyed their lunch, with plate envy going on, too.

Happily, the menu on the machine can be changed to English, Korean and Chinese.  Well, I am sure about English, but guessing that I say options for those other two languages.

Give this restaurant a try, I am sure you will enjoy the taste and experience.

Until I find some other treat to share, Andie’s Hearth, signing out!

Yayoi Ken’s website:

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