Life and Family

The puppy has landed

Written by on January 24, 2011 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 1 Comment

Yesterday we picked up our new puppy, Lady. She’s cute and affectionate. She has her own pink cage (the only color in stock…) and pink water bowl. Last night I pitched the sofa cushion next to her cage and slept there. That seemed better than having her whimper all night where the kids could hear her. We’ll save that for next Saturday night. So far she’s pooping and peeing outside. She’s the runt of her litter. We hope her small size and good temper will last. It’d be great if she keeps her looks,but we’ll accept her regardless. Her grandmother looks a bit like a Shitzu. As the child owner said, “She (the grandmother) married a big dog.” The mother is small, but looks a little squashed.  She continued the family tradition of marrying large. The father, they think, is a dark haired, medium size dog with some shepherd traits. We’ll see how that all works out as she grows up.  Here are some pictures I took yesterday.


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Our neighbors making prahok

Prahok is the soul food of Cambodia. It’s fermented fish (some would say rotted). Eat it straight, add a dab for seasoning, or put some in a bag and let the flavor leach out into whatever you’re cooking. Japanese have fermented soybeans (natto), Koreans have fermented cabbage (kimchi), but Cambodian are the only ones who dare to keep fish for three months outside a refrigerator and then eat it. You gotta love that.

I just read an article about prahok by author Karen Coates on Faster Times.  She laments that some Cambodians who have made it (money) are giving up prahok, as if it’s beneath their rising status. The smell reminds them of worse times. Prahok wreaks, famously so, but that’s no reason to give up a good thing. I can vouch that my neighbors are keeping the faith, and in style. They gather annually to make a year’s supply of prahok, and have a great time. These photos, from earlier this week, will take you through step one: cleaning the fish to prepare it for salting and aging.

It all begins here

Followed by lots of mashing and rinsing

Dress appropriately and enjoy the process

You can’t …

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At home in Phnom Penh

Written by on August 1, 2010 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 0 Comments

On Friday we chose a place to live — a telavang — a tall, narrow apartment (or townhouse), three stories high with a  rooftop suitable for an urban garden. It’s a concrete box with high ceilings and smooth tile underfoot. It was cool inside as we entered, a good sign that it’s lined up to avoid direct sun. The “quiet” street outside is lined with similar apartments on both sides. It ends at a wall, so cars can’t pass through. A few children played outside. The street is wide, creating a community space that feels open and inviting: room to make friends, laugh, play, and bounce thoughts and prayers outward and upward.

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Moving and letting go of the past

Written by on March 30, 2010 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 1 Comment

I’m sitting here on the verge of feeling overwhelmed. We’re moving out of this apartment in a few days, and we’re only taking with us what we can bring on the plane to Cambodia. Everything else will be sold or given away, except for the boxed books and memorabilia we’ll keep at Hitomi’s parents’ house.

Yesterday, I dropped off a toy stroller at a friend’s house. I hesitated to leave. I realized it was the pull of that stroller. One year we gave the twins a pair of toy strollers for the birthday, and they’ve never outgrown them. My kids have imaginations run wild. When they pretend, I can’t help but smile. Seeing the stroller go, I remembered the delighted smiles when my daughter first saw it.

Something significant is slipping away, but it’s not the stuff. Seeing these things reminds me that my kids will never be that young again. The lesson here is not to cling to what I can’t hold onto, but to open my eyes and see the blessings of today and live with nothing held back. Time is moving, and I’m moving with it. It’s only grace that gives me hope, because everything else is …

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A dusty jewel beckons

Written by on March 6, 2010 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 12 Comments

We’re moving to Cambodia!

Most people who personally know me have gotten the information, but I realized I’ve never posted the news here. You may have guessed; I think readers here won’t be surprised.


I find myself pausing, recently, and thinking about our journey these past eight years in Japan. Sometimes Hitomi and I just stop and say, Wow (or Sugoi). The twins were born in year one. We suffered a lot more than we’d anticipated during our first few years here, between pregnancy, culture shock, language learning, $10/pound hamburger, and more than doubling the size of our family. I began to change then, and I just kept changing.

We made a temporary move to the other side of Tokyo in 2003, and two years later we came to Hachioji. We were drawn by the mountains hills. Before deciding where to live, we connected with our kids’ future preschool/outdoors school while camping near the base of Mount Fuji. I saw some kids kayaking and having a great time, so I talked with one of the fathers. Later, I blew up a picture on the computer, to get the name of the school. We searched on Google and discovered it …

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Sometimes I want to see what you see

Written by on January 23, 2010 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 0 Comments

What do you see everyday? My friend posted this on Facebook today, and it made me smile:

Driving home, 10 yo daughter points out a large fallen tree at a nearby park, and I notice it too. My 8 yo who missed the sight, then laments, “Oh, why don’t I ever see interesting things? Every day I just see simple things everywhere!”

Reia and the dragonfly

Reia and the dragonfly

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