Thursday, July 02, 2009
And the Challenges Go On.. Part 5
A fact of life in a super-rural area in Japan: Farmers' relatives are also farmers.
Living in the same climate, they grow mostly the same crops. And the crops become ready for harvest at about the same time... :O
Our tomato season has started. Dad and mom pick tomatoes and bring them into the kitchen every day. I already made tomato sauce twice. And my family eats fresh tomatoes at every meal. Then yesterday dad came home carrying a big white plastic bag like a Santa Claus, and the bag was full of tomatoes! Yeah, I should have known... One of our extended families grows tomatoes in a huge greenhouse and they give us some every summer. Gosh, it's already that time of the year...!!! OK. Time for the biggest enamel pot and a wooden spatula again!
Dad shoved some tomatoes into a smaller plastic bag and hurried to another relative's house. Oh, well. It can't be helped. In a place like this, you just have to be caught in the big cycle of the free distribution of fruits and vegetables and get drowned. :P
And it's fig season as well. Soon you'll read about our endless "battles" with hakubishin (masked palm civet?) that comes to our garden almost every night. Maybe you'll find him (them?) smarter than us.
Then our watermelons will be ready... one after another. Tell you what. Currently 37 watermelons are ripening in our veggie garden. Thirty seven. You heard me? THIRTY SEVEN! That was all my parents were able to count, so they must be forty-something actually. And none of them is for sale; they are all for our family (and extended families, probably) to eat. Where would we put them after harvesting them?! Personally I don't mind sharing them with non-human guests to our veggie gardens -- as far as our family can get more than half of the fruit -- but my parents can't stand it.
The unwelcomed guests are crows. Do crows eat watermelons in your country? Around here, to protect watermelons from the greedy birds, people usually a) hide watermelons with straw or weed, b) spread a net over the watermelon plants or c) set up fishing lines across the field over the watermelon plants.
Our neighbors must have been puzzled if they saw my parents and I walking around in our veggie garden for hours with big old fishing rods in hands. No, we didn't start a new religion or anything. It was us doing the c). We decided to use the fishing lines on dad's old fishing rods, and they were too terribly old that the reels didn't come off the rods. LOL
It's also pit viper season. Every year several people are brought to the hospital in ambulance in this part of the prefecture. I always try to bring my cell phone with me when I go to the orchard with my parents, just in case. (But many times I forgot. :P) You know what. When choosing a cell phone service around here, there is more important thing than fancy functions like decomail, one-seg TV or games. It's a wide coverage in mountains and on the beach so that you can make emergency calls!
As for my mom, things got much better. She doesn't go on hunger strike any more, though she still avoids eating meals with dad for a while after they had a quarrel. But she doesn't try to starve herself, and pays more attention to nutrition when she eats alone in the kitchen or in her room.
The freezers are not jam-packed like before because -- thank goodness! -- she is not obsessed with buying frozen food now. In the past she just kept buying but almost never ate the frozen food. These days she checks what's in the freezer and once in a while uses the stored food to make some space in there. Perhaps she began to understand that it feels better when there is a "flow."
Honestly, I really tried hard to keep the "negative" happenings in the kitchen to the minimum. You know a kitchen can be such a great source of stress if negative experiences accumulate while being there. Letting a lot of food rot or "fossilize" in the freezer is by no means empowering, you know. So I did my best not to waste food. If grilled eggplants turned out yucky, I made them into hummus. When leftover white rice dried up, I microwaved it and made doria or risotto with my homemade tomato sauce and summer vegetables from our garden. Mom's fig jam was baked into pound cake a couple of times like I did with my yamamomo jam.
And whenever I experimented with food, I always had mom taste it. While dad doesn't like anything new and different, she enjoys trying something new. Recently she even tries to experiment on her own.
But I guess that what worked the best for both mom and I was quitting my driving practice with mom. :P
BTW, I would like to be straightforward about this since being indirect didn't serve its purpose:
Mom is not currently being treated for dementia NOT BECAUSE her family does not know anything about dementia and/or in denial of the idea that a family member is "crazy." I had my training in mental health in the U.S. with DSM-III-R (I know. Old. :P ) and have a basic knowledge of Petersen's classification of MCI as well as the tests doctors use to diagnose dementia (esp. AD) in Japan and side effects of drugs commonly used for aged people.
Mom has certain health problems (physical) from before, and whatever treatment to seek, it has to wait for the result of her annual checkup including MRI scan of the brain scheduled this month. And living in a super-rural place where the one and only clinic in town closed more than 30 years ago, finding an appropriate hospital/doctor and securing transportation for hospital visits is much harder than you might think. It usually takes time and it IS taking time. That's the situation now. (I have received good many emails so enthusiastically trying to convince me that mom is "crazy." I do appreciate their concern and enthusiasm, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feeling, but I hope, reading these paragraphs, the readers understand that that's not the kind of support I need.)
I'm going to post about all these in more details on another blog of mine sometime soon. I'll link to it when it's ready. Like I wrote before, this is my foodblog and I want to keep it that way.
As for myself, things are looking up, too. I might be doing some translation work for a local volunteer group this summer. Also in August, I'm attending a course to be a volunteer tour guide here in my hometown. It'll be fun. Yeah, it's about time I do something other than cooking/baking and fishing...