mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Largely horticultural

I don't know that the lilacs will stay out for the Glorious 25th, but they're out now, all over the neighbourhood, their blooming and falling delayed by the lovely cold snap a week ago. This is the first year the lilac bush has bloomed in profusion since the s-i-l had the tree cut way back. The last three years or so saw one or two sad blossoms growing on the south side, but now there are a good dozen at least. Of course the bush is getting close to the tree's former height hem-hem.

I've planted boston lettuce and swiss chard and more beets and cilantro seeds in the pool and the buckets. I *bought* zucchini and thought I'd planted them too, but see nothing that looks like it. Mind, I had a similar moment with the chard: couldn't find it anywhere; but that's because I'd put the flat down by the pool where it promptly assumed the look of the lemon verbena that runs riot there.

Whom the Gods Love turned out to be really rather good-- Regency mysteries done rather better than The Bride of Newgate. Was saddened to find the author died young after publishing the fourth in the series; I think I shall track the others down in the library system. Some time: mind insists I must Read All The Things first. But if I like the Things I'm reading I want more-- more Inspector Chen, more Toby Daye, nado nado.

Continuing my trend of Unusual Saturdays, yesterday I was invited to dinner by two of the daycare parents. Did so with social anxiety wibbles: she's from Japan, he's from China (Mongolia actually) and they both speak Japanese because they met in Yokohama. (Also she speaks Chinese because she learned it from him.) This meant that at some point I'd be speaking Japanese, and oh well, you know me and the prospect of speaking Japanese. And of course it was fine, and I understood almost everything that was said, and I had the satisfaction of finding the answer to something I'd seriously wondered about for almost two years.

Can't recall, when we first met, if I asked her where she was from in Japan, or just where she lived; or if in fact she asked me, and when I said Tokyo she said Me too. Kita-Senjuu, which is pretty shitamachi in its ethos. Shitamachi- the low town- was where the commoners lived in Edo. Its denizens are proverbially nosy and outspoken and in your face, but also tight-knit and communal: unlike the gelid inhabitants of the Yamanote regions who live in terror of What The Neighbours Will Say (behind their backs, of course, being too refayned to say anything to their faces.)

Even so, Ichiko's social habits kerblonx me. She talks to everyone, happily switching among her three languages. Chinese to the Chinese parents, Japanese to me and Rowrow's mum, English to everyone else. She talks to the neighbours in her apartment building and to everyone at the parks where she takes her kid. (And at least two of these are yuppie parks where you need to know who you're talking to before you're allowed to. She herself said it was easier to strike up conversations with the student- and by extension, foreign- parents at the park on university property.) At her birthday party in the park last summer she wandered over and chatted up a troop of-- what were they? mimes? musicians? something a good socially-inhibited Torontonian wouldn't address under any circumstances-- and got their business card. And because she's sweet and akarui and just plain nice, everyone is happy to talk to *her*.

However normal this behaviour might be in South America or Italy or wherever, it isn't what one expects of a Tokyoite. Though common wisdom is that the Japanese who come abroad are the ones who aren't cut out for Japan, I'd never met anyone that young who was just so happily comfortable chatting to the world. (Obasans, yes maybe, but there, not here, and generally only to other obasans.)

The obvious answer hadn't occurred to me. She's not from Tokyo: that was college and work. She's from Osaka. Oh well, no wonder. This also explains why she understands my Japanese and possibly why I understand hers: because my pitch accents are always in the wrong place and people are always asking me if I learned Japanese in the Kansai.
Tags: japan, pratchett, reading_13, rl_13

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