Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The perils of aging

OK, so the title is a bit over-dramatic, I know, but I've been forced to think quite a bit about aging recently.

Going home this summer I really felt "Wow, I've gotten old." I remember the first time I came back to Canada from Japan (for Alan & Liz's "Excellent Adventure") I had no problem staying up 'til the wee hours of the morning and then getting up early to meet someone for breakfast. Similarly, I never once considered giving up supervising the all-nighter in favour of taking shifts.

Not so this year. Going into camp I already suspected that I might not be able to handle the all-nighter on my own. Then on the actual night, I ended up having to take a nap from around 11pm-1am to get energized for the rest of the night.

Recently, too, I've been in a state of near-constant fatigue. Last week there were actually two nights when I felt so exhausted I actually showered at 10pm and was asleep by 11:30pm! And it wasn't that I just decided to sleep earlier, it was that I was actually falling alseep at the computer and knew if I didn't put myself to bed properly I'd end up sleeping sitting in my chair (resting my head on the backrest of my sofa)!

It was quite shocking for me since I've always been a night owl. No matter how tired or sleepy I was during the day, if I made it to 10pm, I usually perked up and would stay wide awake until 12am or later.

And I've always been able to sleep very late but still wake up at the appropriate time in the past, but recently my body's been rebelling and showing me that I can't act like a high schooler/university student anymore--not sleeping, not eating properly, etc.--without paying for it later on.

This past Saturday, I slept around 4am and ended up waking up late for my Japanese dance rehearsal! I was supposed to be at the Bunka Center at 9:30am, but I woke up at 9:15am and so didn't make it there until nearly 10am!! It was somewhat mortifying because it was a full group (about 12 of us?) rehearsal, so everyone had to wait for me!! @_@;;

And I guess with all the stuff with my dad's surgery and ongoing recovery--and the consequent lifestyle changes--I should really know by now how important it is to take care of your health. My eating habits have improved a bit--still eating lots of locally grown produce!--but I really haven't improved my sleeping habits at all. ^^;;

Ah, it's hard to deal with the changes that occur with aging!

On a completely random note, one of the reasons I stayed up so late on Saturday was because I was watching TV. After watching Otomen (a J-drama based on a manga of the same name about a seemingly "manly man" high school student--he's captain of the kendo team, for example--who secretly loves girly things like baking and sewing), I happened to catch a bit of a program talking about special dog "hair designs."

It was INSANE!! People spend hundreds of hours getting their dogs' hair cut and dyed in the most outrageous fashion! One of the tamer designs they showed was the "panda." The salon that was featured in the program charged 10,000 yen (~$100) for this cut & dye job! (And it takes about 2 hours!) Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a photo of it, but the craziest one was a "flamenco" design. This poor toy poodle had most of its fur dyed red like a flamenco dress. The fur on its head was also fluffed out like a crazy big perm. That cut/dye job took 6 hours and cost 20,000 yen (~$200)!! I just can't believe that people would do such things to their pets!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How to take care of tatami mats (flooring)

One of my criteria when I was selecting my apartment was that I wanted it to be all tatami. Still, I'm sure there are many people with tatami rooms, so here are some of the key points for tatami care/maintenance:
  • keep tatami dry--unless you want mold/mildew
  • don't wear shoes on tatami (most Japanese even take off slippers before stepping on tatami)
  • always wipe (with only slightly damp cloths--no harsh cleaning solutions) or vacuum along the weave of the tatami (going against the weave may damage the tatami or cause dirt to get trapped in it)
  • use the weak (弱) or tatami (畳) setting for vacuuming
  • avoid leaving carpet over tatami as it creates a moist environment for mold and ticks
  • place wooden boards on top of tatami under heavy objects (piano, TV, etc.)
  • clean and air out the tatami regularly--dry and sunny fall/spring days are best for airing