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Immigrant People in Canada カナダの移民たち

School has started for Sumi and Sosuke, our grandchildren from Japan. (at Sumi’s school, Glen Eagles Elementary School. She is in Grade 7.)

Sosuke’s first day of school, at Lions Bay Elementary School. He is in Grade 2.
3 year old Riden and 4 month old Tora in Lions Bay
Snow geese in Powell River
I made 9 pies from our apple trees and 6 of them still frozen
Good beer at a lakeside pub

The summer is gone, and like a door shut behind us, September has arrived, bringing us cold air and much rain. Various classes and activities have started. I, who cannot stay still, have started my busy life again. Not only starting fitness, swimming, and choirs, which I always had, Neil and I started a brand new French class. I have never learned French before. To tell you the truth, I always had this doubt about studying new languages. I know how difficult languages are. Since I’m not a child, it seems impossible to become really proficient at this age. Then why would I bother? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time and money? What am I going to use French for? I had some serious doubts.

I don’t know why, but I had a silly imagination. That was….a French class taught by a strict elderly woman with reading glasses on her nose…..a silly stereotype ….and…..it was totally wrong. The person who was waiting for us at the French cultural center was a young black man with inquisitive eyes and big smiles. He is an immigrant from Congo. Although he was a medical doctor in Congo, he does not have the right qualification to practice medicine in Canada. So he is teaching and assisting French classes in the local schools. He seemed to be a sincere, fun, and patient man, and I liked him!

Thinking back this year, I met several immigrant people from different countries. When I was still living in Lions Bay, I took some personal training sessions. At the time, Covid caused all the fitness classes to be cancelled, and yet, I needed exercising so badly. At the Recreation Centre, R was assigned to me as my personal trainer. R is a young beautiful woman in her 30s, an immigrant from Syria. She is a single mother raising a 12 year old girl all by herself. Often, we engaged in conversations and she would say… “my daughter is getting more and more difficult these days,” or “I’m afraid my daughter is feeling lonely because I’m always working,” or “I have been all alone for more than 10 years I feel so lonely at times.” She reminded me of myself when I was in my 30s. “I know…I do understand your feelings…… I’ve been there. I, too, raised my children in a foreign country by myself, all alone. I, too, wept many nights, feeling so lonely.” I felt some invisible thread connecting R and me. I think of her often, even now, after moving to Powell River. R, please stay well and find lots of happiness……I’m thinking of you.

In July we moved to Powell River. On the moving day, 5 guys showed up to move our furniture and boxes in 2 big trucks. 4 out of 5 guys were immigrants. They were hard working, strong, wonderful guys from Albania, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Hong Kong. F, the guy from Albania was the leader. My first impression of him was “kind of scary,” because he had sharp eyes. When we traveled in Bulgaria some years ago, we had opportunities to drive beside Albanian borders. Albania was very different from west Europe or even Bulgaria. There were Islam mosques everywhere; villages were humble; and people were looking poor. During the 3 days of our move from Lions Bay to Powell River, my impression of F changed completely. He told me about his 2 children, about how he immigrated to Canada, and about how much he worries about his aging parents who are farming in Albania. He said funny jokes without moving a single muscle on his serious looking face, and I kept on laughing and laughing. He made our move so much fun when otherwise it could have turned stressful and exhausting. Thank you, F, for so much laughs, and thank you for taking good care of my sad looking potted plants.

After arriving Powell River, a young pleasant guy D came to install some blinds in the house. He was a refugee from Syria. He arrived here few years ago, sponsored by some group in Powell River. After finishing school somewhere, he came back to Powell River, and now he is settled down with a wife and job.

Canada is a country like mosaic. You look around and see many different faces, cultures, and languages. They have arrived here as immigrants or refugees, then working hard, although barely making their livings, and trying to co-exist with others in harmony. It is not easy to live here, especially when they don’t have the support or resources of their families. However, most of them put on a brave face, and try to find their place in this society. You need to work harder with lower wages, fight with hidden or occasionally obvious discriminations, be patient and open to new ways, and stay positive and hopeful. I feel like I am receiving energy and hope by getting to know these people. They are certainly contributing so much to making Canada a great place to live.

バタンとドアが閉まるように夏が去った。9月になって急に冷たい風や雨が訪れた。と同時に色んなクラスやアクテイヴィテイが始まり、じっとしてられない私はにわかに忙しくなった。フィットネス、水泳、コーラスは今までもやってたことだけど、初めてフランス語の勉強をすることになった。本当はお金と時間をかけてフランス語なんて勉強して何になるんだろう、という疑問がつきまとってどちらかというとそんなに気が向いていたわけじゃなかったけど、最初のクラスに行ってすっかり気が変わってしまった。

なぜかなんとなく、年配のフランス人の女性が鼻眼鏡をかけて厳しく叱咤激励して教えてくれるフランス語…というイメージがあったんだけどとんでもなかったんだよ。フランスカルチャーセンターで私たちを待っててくれたのは、目のくりくりした、にこやかな若い黒人の男性。コンゴから移民したお医者さんなのだそうだ。でもカナダではお医者さんの資格がないのでパウエルリバーの教育機関でフランス語を教えたり教師の助手をしたりしているという。誠実で愉快で忍耐強くて私はすっかり気に入ってしまった。

思えば今年に入ってから私はずいぶんいろんな国からの移民の人達に出会ったな。まずはまだライオンズベイに住んでいた今年の初め、コロナでフィットネスのクラスが閉鎖されたので、パーソナルトレーナーに個人レッスンを受けることにした。私のトレーナーはRという30代の美しい女性、シリアからの移民だそうな。一人で子供を育てながらパーソナルトレーニングの仕事をして一生懸命生きてる…。「子供が反抗期に入って大変なの。」「私がいつもいつも働いてるから子供に寂しい思いをさせてる、」「ずーっと10年以上も1人だったからすごーく寂しい時があるの、」と言いながらトレーニングをしてくれる姿を見ていると私の30代の頃の姿とダブってくる。『そうだよね。本当に。気持ち痛いほどわかるよ。私も異国の地で一人ぼっちで働きながら子供を育てたんだよ。私も寂しくて泣いたことが何度もあった。』なんとなくR というシリア出身の彼女と見えない糸で結ばれているかのような気がしてパウエルリバーに引っ越してからも気になっている。どうか元気で、幸せになってほしい…

F。

7月に引っ越したとき5人の力強い男性が2台のトラックで運送してくれた。そのうち4人が移民。アルバニアとサウジアラビアとリビアと香港からの4人…力持ちでよーく働く素晴らしい若者たちだった。特に印象に残っているのはアルバニアから来たF 。最初に会った時は目が鋭くて怖いような気がしていた。数年前にブルガリアに行った時に、アルバニアのそばを何度もドライブする機会があった。いかにも貧しくて、イスラム教のモスクがあって、ヨーロッパとは全然雰囲気の違うアルバニアの村々は印象的だった。そのアルバニアから来た目の鋭いF。最初の怖い印象が、ライオンズベイからパウエルリバーまでの3日がかりの引っ越しの過程でガラリと変わってしまった。子供が2人いるというF 、奥さんがまずカナダに来てF をスポンサーしてくれたという。年老いた親御さんはアルバニアで農業をやっていて心配だという。真面目な顔をしておかしなことを言って私をケタケタ笑わせてくれる。ただでさえストレス満杯の引越しの日々を楽しくしてくれた。今にも死にそうな私の植木たちさえも嫌な顔一つせずユーモアたっぷり、丁寧に運んでくれて感謝。ありがとうF。

パウエルリバーに来てからも、D という若い、感じの良い男性がブラインドを取り付けに来てくれた。彼はシリアからの難民だという。数年前にパウエルリバーのグループがスポンサーになってくれてカナダに来たそうな。進学のために一度は町を出たけど、卒業してまたパウエルリバーに戻ってきたんだという。

カナダは本当にモザイクのような国。多くの人々が難民だとか移民だとかでカナダに来て明るく逞しく生きている。言葉も文化も考え方も異なる地で一生懸命自分の居場所を見つけようとしている。楽しいことばかりじゃない、人の何倍もの努力が必要で、大変な苦労だ。それでも希望を持って明るく生きてる彼らの姿を見ていると私まで勇気と元気をもらってるような気になってくる。どうか素敵な人々と出会って楽しいことをいっぱい体験して幸せになってほしい…。


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Why did we move? 引越しの理由

Many deer in our neighborhood 鹿がいっぱい
Texada Island with Raiden タクセーダ島 ライデンと

How many years ago was it?? Hmmmm…. Oh well…..it was several years ago anyway. My beloved nephew was getting married, and Neil and I were attending his wedding in Japan. Just when we were about to depart, Neil fell at a trail we walk the dogs every single day. He broke his ankle! It was too late to cancel the trip. I arranged the house so Neil could survive while I was away, and I flew to Japan by myself. I hurried back home to Canada right after the wedding.

Poor Neil, as soon as he saw my face, he declared. “We are moving.”

“What?” It hit me as a shock. We have just renovated our house! We moved to Lions Bay and it took two years to finish renovating. I loved our house and our neighborhood.

Give me a break, Neil …..!

But, he was right. Realistically thinking, if he could not walk by himself, he could not even go to the front door, or bedroom, or kitchen or bathroom. When you enter the front door, there is a staircase….if you cannot go up and down the stairs you are doomed. You are not going anywhere from the door. And, we did not think of it until it actually happened.

After that day, the word “moving” had occupied a little corner of my head flickering from time to time.

So Neil and I, not quite young chicks any more, definitely growing older, started to think seriously what would be important for us.

Important things would be….health, peace of mind, happiness of our children and grandchildren, friendships, communities, some intellectual and cultural stimulation, life purposes, helping others….etc.etc.

We started to see that Powell River might be a good fit for us. It is close to our cottage on Texada Island. The real estate is still cheaper than other places in the Sunshine Coast.

Long long time ago when I was working in the building product industry, I wrote an article introducing to the Japanese market Canada’s barrier-free houses. While interviewing people for the article, I remember thinking I would love to live in one of these barrier-free houses when I get old.

One day, we met a guy named Gary who sold us a truck camper. He told us that he built by himself a passive solar house. He kindly showed us his house, and we were impressed. We started researching about passive solar houses, and found an article about a “passive house” on Vancouver Island built by a company in Squamish. (Passive solar house is a predecessor of passive house). We contacted the company right away.

Things went very smoothly up to this point, but it was a struggle after struggle from there on. We couldn’t find a builder who would be willing to risk building such a house. Nobody knew how long and how much money was needed to build. We had no idea if we could even afford it.

We came so close to giving up the idea, but kept on talking to builders. In the end, we found a local Powell River builder who was open to give this challenging project a try. We liked the person very well, so we happily threw the dice. We sold 60% of our house in Lions Bay to our youngest daughter. She had just started a family, and wanted a house, but, of course, could not afford one in Vancouver. This arrangement seemed to create a win-win situation. She got a house to live, we got the construction money, and we retained 40% so we had a place to stay while visiting our grandchildren.

So, the construction started. We were so happy, looking forward to live there a year later……then, Covid came. Everything just stalled. People worked from home, shipments utterly delayed. The construction schedule was nullified. The prices of materials skyrocketed…. Our house grew grossly over budget. What can we do? …..Nothing…. we can’t stop now…..

My blood pressure kept on rising for the four years.

Finally this July, we were able to move into our new house in Powell River. After 4 years of waiting we are now living in this little city of 14000 people. Our house is a passive house, no furnace or air conditioning, as well as a barrier free house, accessible with wheelchair.

Look, we are now well prepared for the future!

Neil, you can now have a peace of mind!! (Neil is 68 years old, 6’9” tall and weighs 275lb!!)

It all started with Neil’s injury…but, to tell you the truth, I did enjoy every aspect and every process of the project…..especially designing and choosing materials…..except the money part, of course.

However, what really matters is what happens hereafter. We need to get involved in the new circle of people, make new friends, and start contributing to the new community…..with God’s help….. I feel dizzy when I think of starting all over again from scratch…..introducing myself, finding people I like, getting involved in activities….. Who would be my new friends? What kind of life is waiting for me? Looking forward to it, but at the same time, I am sighing…… How exhausting……😢

何年前だったかな? うーむ… ま、いいや…ともかく数年前にある出来事が起こった。日本にいる最愛の甥の結婚式にニールと私二人で出席することになっていた。出発の間際にニールがいつも歩いている散歩道で足を踏み外して足首の骨を折ってしまったのだ。あんまり急で、結婚式を今さら欠席するわけにもいかず、とりあえずニールが数日過ごせるように支度をして、私は一人で日本に飛んだ。

式が終わって急いで帰国したら、哀れなニールが私の顔を見るなり宣言した。「引越しするぞ」

「ええ?」正直言ってショックだった。ライオンズベイに引っ越してきて2年もかけて改築したばかり、家も街も大いに気に入っていた。

「ちょっと!いい加減にしてよ。」でも確かにそうだった。現実的に考えて、何らかの理由で歩けなくなったら玄関はともかくトイレにも行けない我が家。寝室に行くのも階段、キッチンに行くのも階段、玄関を入ったらすぐに階段。階段の登り下りができなくなったらにっちもさっちもいかない。そんなことに今まで考えも及ばなかった馬鹿さ加減に我ながら呆れた。

それから、頭の片隅に引越しの言葉がチラつくようになった。

もう決して若くない私たち2人のこれからの人生にとって何が大切なのか、真剣に考え始めた。

大切なのは健康、心の平安、子供たち孫たちの幸福、友達、コミュニティ、適度な知/文化的な刺激、生きがい、人の役に立つこと。などなど。

結局パウエルリバーが私たちのコテージのあるタクセーダ島に近くて、土地も安くてよいかもしれないと思い始めた。

昔々カナダの建材を日本に紹介する仕事をしていたときにバリアフリーの家について記事を書いたことがあった。取材しながら、歳を取ったらバリアフリーの家に住みたいなと漠然と思っていた。

そんなある日、偶然にもトラックキャンパーのセールスをしているゲリーと出会った。彼はパッシブソーラーハウスを自分の手で建てたという。彼の家を見せてもらって感心した。それからパッシブソーラーハウスなるものを研究し始めた。ちょうど時を同じくしてスクアミッシュの業者が『パッシブハウス』をバンクーバー島で建てたとの記事を見つけた。(パッシブソーラーハウスはパッシブハウスの前身)すぐにその業者に連絡をとって話を聞きに行った。と、その辺までは順調に進んだもののそこからが大変だった。まず、そんな家を建ててくれるビルダーが見つからない。我々もビルダーもいくら建設費がかかるものやら見当がつかなくて予算が立たない。

一度はあきらめかかったけど何とか気を持ち直しながら交渉を続け、最終的にはパウエルリバーのローカルのビルダーが請け負ってくれることになった。彼にとっても大変なリスク、勇気のいる決断だったに違いない。匙は投げられた。私の末娘に子供が産まれて家を探しているところだった。バンクーバーで家を買うのは若い人たちにとってほぼ不可能に近い。そこでひらめき❗️ライオンズベイの家をほぼ60%末娘に売却したら彼女にも家ができ、我々にも建築費ができる。残りの40%は投資になるし、孫の顔を見に行った時の宿泊先にもなる。

そうして工事が始まった。希望に満ち満ちて明るい顔をしていたちょうどその頃、コロナ騒ぎが始まって全てが止まってしまった。物も人も動かない。工期がどんどん遅れ、資材がどんどん値上がりして建築費の予算が大幅にオーバー、でもここまで来たらもう後戻りはできない。。。

と、私の血圧が上がりっぱなしの4年間。

やっと今年7月に引っ越しできる目処がついてパウエルリバーに引っ越してきた。私たちの新しい家は暖冷房のないパッシブハウスであると共に、段差がなく車椅子でも生活できるバリアフリー。

ここまで準備したら、現在68歳、身長207センチ、体重125キロのニールの老後も少しは安心だろう!

ニールの怪我から始まったこの騒ぎ、ニールのためとは言え、私もデザインとか資材の調達とか、昔とった杵柄、建築の過程をこよなく楽しんだのだった。

でも問題はこれからだね。新しいコミュニティーで新しい友達を作って何とか社会に貢献していけるようにならなければ。また一から努力を始めて人の輪づくりをしていくのかと思うと気が遠くなりそうな今日この頃。どんな人たちと知り合って、どんな生活が待っているんだろう。楽しみである一方でため息も出てくる。。。

はあ、しんどい〜〜🥲


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Coincidence? Really? 偶然?本当に?

Our first lunch guests in Powell River パウエルリバーで初めてのお客様
Neil found a Tree Spirit in the forest … ニールが森の中で木の精を見つけたよ。
Taking a close look. Looks like a wood carving? 近くで見るとこんな感じ。木彫りの鳥かな?。
Ferry boat going to Texada タクセーダ島に行くフェリー
Beach in Powell River. Sometimes whales are splashing. パウエルリバーの海岸。時々鯨の潮吹きが見えるよ。
Deer family in our backyard, eating apples 庭のリンゴを食べに来る鹿の家族

Two days ago, when we were walking with our dogs along the shoreline of Powell River, a couple passed by. ‘She looks familiar,’ I thought for a moment. Of course, there are many people who look familiar…so, I smiled and kept on walking. ‘’Aaaaah‼️” Voice came from them. Two+ years ago, before the Covid pandemic closed down large gatherings including choirs, she was singing in the same choir in West Vancouver. Though I don’t recall having much conversation with her, I vaguely remembered her face.

We stopped and talked for awhile. “What a coincidence! What are you doing here?”

They said they were camping in Powell River. It turned out that they had lived in Japan for quite a long time. In fact, they met and got married in Tokyo. They camped on Texada Island last year and are trying Powell River this year. They like this area, they said.

Out of 2.5 million people living in Vancouver, 4 people who used to sing in the same choir happened to come to the same spot of the small town of 14,000 people, 5 hours drive away, at the very same time ……

Isn’t this a miracle??

Is this really a mere coincidence?

When I think of it, there are coincidences that happened in my life, that later brought changes in my life.

Some big ones are…..

50+ years ago, when I was only 13 years old, with no English whatsoever, I arrived in Los Angeles. I met a tiny adorable poodle on the road. This encounter led me to meet a wonderful pianist/teacher, and resulted in having music as a huge part of my whole life.

20+ years ago, I was invited to a dinner party. I met a person at the dinner who told me about a business graduate program called Executive MBA in Simon Fraser University. I ended up getting enrolled in the program, and met Neil who was one of the professors there, and now my spouse of 21 years.

We used to go camping to the beautiful Okanagan area. One year, there was terrible wild fire and we went to Sunshine Coast instead. We came to Texada Island and absolutely loved there. We built a cottage and it’s been 16+ years now. And, we ended up choosing Powell River for our retirement because of the easy access to Texada.

It’s amazing. My major life directions were led by some unpredicted coincidences.

I thought of a book I read many many years ago called “Celestine Prophecy.” The message was that there is no such thing as coincidence. The word being used is not “coincidence,” but “synchronicity.” Everything that happens to you has meaning. It was meant to happen. Every being you meet has message(s) for you…. I remember the book very well. It had such a strong impact on me. The surprising synchronicity of meeting my choir friend brought back the feeling of “Celestine Prophecy.”

Life is interesting. Every synchronicity is important and precious. I really need to live my life more mindfully. I need to value each moment and each encounter…..

一昨日のことだ。犬のお散歩にパウエルリバーの海岸を歩いていた時、あるカップルとすれ違った。何となく見たことのあるような、とちらっと思ったけど、似たような人は結構いるし、気のせいだろうとニコッと微笑んで通り過ぎようとした。そうしたら向こうから「あー〜‼️」と驚きの声がかかった。2年半前、ウエストバンクーバーの合唱団がコロナで閉鎖される前、同じ合唱団で歌っていた人だった。といっても特に親しかったわけでもなく1〜2回たわいもない会話を交わした程度だ。

立ち止まって30分くらい話し込んだ。聞けばパウエルリバーでキャンプ中だという。しかもこのカップルは日本に長く住み、日本で知り合って結婚したんだという。去年はタクセーダ島でキャンプして今年はパウエルリバーでキャンプしているそうな。

250万人もの人が住むバンクーバーから偶然にも同じ合唱団に在籍していた2組のカップルが車で5時間も離れた人口たったの14000人のパウエルリバーの片隅でばったり会うなんて…何という奇跡⁉️

でもこれって単なる偶然なんだろうか?

思えば私の人生って単なる『偶然』から発展したことがどれだけ多いことか。

主だった例をあげると…

50+年前、ロスアンゼルスに到着したばかりの英語ゼロの13歳の私の前に偶然、小さな可愛いプードル犬が現れて、すばらしいピアノの先生と出会うきっかけを作ってくれた。結果、音楽が私の人生の大切なページを占めることになったこと。

20+年前のある日、招待されて行った夕食会で出会った人との偶然の会話からサイモンフレイザー大学のExecutiveMBA(働く人のための修士プログラム)のことを知った。入学して、のちのち、教授だったニールと知り合って今や結婚して21年。

いつもキャンプに行っていたオカナガンが、たまたまその年、山火事にみまわれて、サンシャインコーストに行ってみることにした。偶然行き着いたのがタクセーダ島。島が大好きになったあまりコテージを建てて、16年も年数回通ったあげく、島に近いパウエルリバーでリタイア後の人生を送ることにしたこと。

すごいよね。私の人生の主だった方向転換が単なる偶然から発展したんだから。

昔々に読んだCelestine Prophecy (日本語題は『聖なる予言』)を思い出す。この世の中に単なる偶然なんてない。偶然という言葉もcoincidenceではなくsynchronicity という言葉を使ってたな。自分に起こることは起こるべきして起こる。人(人間以外の動物等を含めて)との出会いには必ず意味がある。そんな内容の本で、読んだ当時は強い感銘を受けたものだ。

パウエルリバーの海岸での出会いによって、その感動が蘇ってきたような気がした。人生っておもしろい。改めてこれからの私の1日1日、そして出会うひとりひとりを大切にして、マインドフルに生きていかなければ、と思った午後だった。


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Witchy Woman

In preparation for moving, I was sorting out our stuff in the house, and found some old CDs of rock music from 1970s. Wow…..I didn’t remember I had these CDs. I should listen to them in the car. I stack them up near the driving seat.

Eagles, the first thing came out was Witchy Woman. It took less than a second to be completely immersed in the song. The melody, the rhythm, the words…everything, instantly came back to me. I was amazed how clearly I remembered. It has been 48+ years since this song was on the weekly radio hit chart.

Not only remembering, I was transported right back to “17 year old me”. When I look at myself in mirror, I see a 65 year old woman. When I turn on this CD, I am all of a sudden 17. It’s a magic, Isn’t it?

So, tell me. Where did my 48 years go?

17 year old me was in Los Angeles just finishing Grade 12. I was looking forward to my new life in the University of Southern California. I was a bit sad about parting with my high school friends….just a little bit. The bluest sky, dazzling sunshine, pleasant breeze, perfect temperature……..yes, California was beautiful, just like Vancouver today. My father drove me around in his huge yellow Chevrolet Impala. I slide in to the passenger seat. I tune into KISS FM. Witchy Woman comes on. I crank up the volume and sing along……loud.

Music is mysterious. It sinks deeply into myself, glues tightly to my psyche, and without me noticing, it becomes part of me….

Who would have thought I would be sitting here in the car listening to this song, after 48 years, in Canada, in Vancouver, with Neil and my two dogs?

引越しの準備で家の整理をしていたら古いCDが数枚出てきた。いずれも1970年代のロックだ。へえ〜こんなのあったんだあ〜。車の中で聴いてみようと思って運転席の近くに積み上げた。

イーグルス。最初に聞いたのがウイッチーウーマンWitchy Woman。1秒もたたないうちに曲にのめり込んでしまった。メロディーもリズムも歌詞も何もかもがたちまち戻ってきた。何ともハッキリと鮮明に覚えている自分に驚いた。もうあれから48年もの歳月が流れているのに。

覚えてるだけじゃなく、私自身が瞬時に17歳の自分に戻ってしまったことに気がついてまた驚いた。鏡を見ると65歳、でもこのCDをかけるとたちまち17歳の私、まるで魔法じゃないか。

48年の歳月はどこに行ってしまったんだろう。

音楽って不思議。聴いている自分の奥深くに入り込んで、密着して、いつの間にか自分の一部になってしまっていたのか。

17歳の私はロスアンゼルスにいた。ハイスクールを終える直前だった。南カリフォルニア大学(USC)への入学が決まって、新しい生活を楽しみにしていた。ハイスクールの友達との別れがちょっぴり悲しかった。真っ青な青空、眩しいばかりの太陽、心地よい微風と完璧な温度、そう、今日のバンクーバーのようなカリフォルニアの気候。父の運転する巨大なクリーム色のシェボレーインパラに座ってKISS FMをつけるとよくこの曲が流れてきたっけ。ボリュームを上げて一緒に歌ったな〜。

48年後にカナダで、バンクーバーで、2匹の犬達とニールと、車の中でこの曲を聴いているとは誰が想像したことだろう。


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End of a Chapter チャプターの終わり

Rowley, Alberta アルバータ州のローリーにて

We are letting go of our camper.

It’s been 3 and a half years. We slept under the blanket of stars, woke up to the bright sunshine and gentle breeze, had adventures after adventures, discovered new places, encountered new situations and interesting people. We had our dreams come true. It brought us so much fun and excitement.

In Canada camping season is relatively short, basically only the summer months. We had a wonderful first year. We camped with our dogs half way across the whole continent. It was a great opportunity for us and Kafka to have an intimate time with our new dog Lulu who had been rescued in Taiwan and had just arrived to be with us in Canada. When we arrived in Regina, excruciating pains started and Neil’s knee stopped working. We couldn’t carry on camping. We came home feeling discouraged. Nevertheless, we were happy that we got to discover some really interesting places like Rowley, Alberta and Regina Beach, Saskatchewan where we would have never visited had we not camping.

The second year, Neil had a hernia operation, and when he finally recovered, it was my turn to be hospitalized for meningitis. We enjoyed a short camping trip after I was recovered, but chilly Fall arrived so early in September that the camping season had to end.

The third year, Neil had a knee operation, and a hernia operation for the second time. When he was finally recovered, this Covid-19 pandemic had started. We were told to stay home, not allowed to go outside the province, and thus all the camp grounds in BC became so full. Moreover, horrendous wild fires in the US covered our west coast with dense and heavy smoke and ashes.. Normally warm and beautiful August turned into a dark cold month. The air quality became such that our breathing became difficult. People ran to purchase air purifying machines!

We had such a bad luck for 3 years in a row. Would it be any better this year? Not likely. Covid seems to be storming through all Canada. It is unlikely that crossing the provincial borders would be allowed. The wild fires which seem to worsen every year have no sign of diminishing. And, the worst…..we are getting older faster every year. Such a pity, but a little pilot light that had started burning in the back of our heads was growing bigger and bigger. We had to finally acknowledge it. So sad…..

But, for some reason, I feel that this was the right decision for us for now. One of our wonderful chapters has come to an end….and…. that’s life.

We came to the stage in life that we need to start simplifying our lives. That means….we need to discern what we want in our life. What/who makes us happy/unhappy, what/whom we love, what we can and cannot, what are our priorities…..then what is important is to put our whole selves wholeheartedly to whatever we do.

I am 65 years old and already realizing that my body is not the same. My energy level is lower. I get tired easily. If I eat junk, right away, I see it in the mirror. What I put on is utterly difficult to put off. I see my thoughts go sliding down easily to negative. I have to consciously keep lifting up to positive. I wonder if Covid is related to this….. Is everybody feeling somewhat the same way? I don’t know…..but I should not ignore. Regardless, I should try doing what is important for me and my loved ones, helping those who need help, seeking some excitement and adventures…. and…. I need to stay healthy.

私たちの大好きなキャンパーを手放すことにした。

購入してから3年半、星の大海原のもとで眠り、頬を撫でるそよ風に目覚め、冒険して、新しい発見や体験と出会った。夢とときめきがあった。ものすごく楽しかった。

カナダでは気候的に夏に限られるキャンプだけど、1年目は素晴らしかった。犬たちを連れてキャンプしながらカナダの大陸を半分横断した。私たち2人とカフカが、台湾で保護されてカナダに来たばかりのルルと絆結びをする良い機会になった。ところが残念なことにサスカチュワン州のリジャイナまで行ったところで、激しい痛みとともにニールの膝が動かなくなってキャンプ旅行を続けられなくなった。それでも、アルバータ州のローリーやサスカチュワン州のリジャイナビーチなど、キャンプでなければ絶対に発見出来なかった面白い場所との出会いがいくつもあった。

2年目の夏にはニールの脱腸の手術があって、やっと回復したと思ったら、8月には私が髄膜炎にかかって入院するという騒ぎがあった。退院してから1週間くらいバンクーバーアイランドでキャンプしたけど、寒い秋が早々と訪れてあっという間にシーズンが終わってしまった。

3年目はニールの膝の手術や2回目の脱腸の手術があって、さらに3月ごろからコロナ騒ぎで外出禁止になったり州外に出られなくなってBC州のキャンプ場がどこも満員になったりしたあげく、8月に入ったら重い重い山火事の煙や灰がアメリカから流れてきて外で満足に息もできなくなった。多くの人々が空気洗浄機を買いに走ったという。

そんな風で不運が3年続いてしまったキャンプ旅行。コロナはまだまだ猛威を奮っていて4年目の今年も州外旅行はできそうもないし、年々ひどくなる山火事がなくなるとも思えない。一番ひどいのは、年々、加速的に年をとっている我々。しっかり実感がある。最初はバーナーの奥で種火のように細々と燃えていた思いが最近になってグツグツ沸いてきて、キャンパーを手放す決心につながった。悲しい。

でもなんとなくこれでいいって気がしている。すご〜く残念だけど一つのチャプターが終わったような気がしている。

これから少しずつ人生をシンプルにしていって本当に好きなこと、本当にやりたいこと、本当に大事なことだけにしぼってその一つ一つを大切にしていきたいと思う。

65歳を過ぎたら急に肉体の衰えを感じるようになった。疲れやすくなったし、気力が衰えてきたようにも思う。ジャンクフードを食べるとたちまち目に見えて影響があるし、コロナ禍の中、家族以外の人と接する事がないせいか自分がずいぶん消極的になったような気がしている。そんな変化を無視しないで、それでもそれなりに大切なことをこなしながら、サービス精神、奉仕精神も、ときめきも持ち続けて、ある程度の冒険もして、健康に生きていけたらと願う今日この頃。


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What’s my identity? 私って何人?

The other day Neil and I went to a bank to open a GIC account. A young handsome guy working in the bank sat with us, explained options, and went through a lengthy procedure, and finally we were done. We stood up to say good bye, and at that moment….don’t know why….but I said to the guy something totally irrelevant.

“Thank you for saying my name right. I have been impressed that you pronounce ‘Haruyo’ so well. Not many people can do that…you know.”

The young lad’s face instantly lightened up. “Ever since I was a kid I was an enthusiastic fan of a Japanese animation called Captain Tsubasa. There were times I actually told people that my name was Kakero!”

“I would love to go to Japan. It has been my dream for a long time!” etc. etc.

So… we sat down again and listened to his story.

He said, when Genghis Khan invaded northern Pakistan in early 12th century, some Mongolian soldiers stayed back in the region. Their descendants still live there today, and he was one of them. His ancestors were Mongolian. He was born and raised in Pakistan, but was educated in England. Now, he is a Canadian!

Wow….what an interesting background! It sounds so much like Canada!

Then, I thought. Wow, well….then, what am I? What’s my identity?

Yes, my parents are Japanese. I was born and raised in Japan. So, racially, I’m a Japanese. At age 13 I moved to USA and lived my formative years there from Grade 8 to University Freshman. I went back to Japan at age 18, finished my undergraduate, got married to a Japanese man, and gave birth to 3 children. When the children were 8, 6, and 3 years old, we moved to Canada and it’s been 30 years since. In that time, my marriage broke down, I got divorced, and my children grew up with me in Canada. I studied in graduate school, worked in education, building, and music fields, raised my children, and remarried a Canadian person 20 years ago. I still have a Japanese passport, but my life is centered in Canada, and I am a permanent resident of Canada.

Hummmm…. so? I know for sure that I’m not an American.

Then, am I Japanese or Canadian?

2 weeks ago when I was coming back from Japan, I noticed in the plane that the screen in front of my seat showed where we were flying. It was about 30-40 minutes before the arrival time. The screen said “Comox”. What? Comox? So are we flying just above Comox? Thick dark clouds were hiding any views downwards. Then the screen showed “Powell River”. Right between Comox and Powell River there is Texada Island.

Straight below me lies my beloved Texada Island!! I am back….!!

Non-describable feelings of joy and excitement slowly bubbled up from somewhere deep in myself. I was surprised to realize such a reaction.

I am a person with Japanese face, with families in Japan. I love Japan…people, culture, food….everything about Japan. Yet, I deeply love Canada. It felt like I had an epiphany moment to realize that I might already be a Canadian at heart.

Whatever that was, Japan and Canada are both beautiful, caring, respectful, and sincere nations. So wonderful that there are people waiting for me in both countries. What Blessings!

先日カナダのとある銀行に定期預金の口座を作りに行ったときのことだ。若いハンサムな銀行員のお兄さんが、いろいろなが〜い案内や手続きをしてくれて、やれやれやっと終わったかなと思ったとき、私が余計なことを言った。

「さっきから感心してたんだけど、ハルヨって上手に正しく発音してくれてありがとうね。なかなか正しく発音してくれる人に出会わないのよ。」お兄さんの顔がパッと輝いた。「僕、子供の頃からキャプテン翼の大ファンだったんだ」「僕の名前はカケローだって言いふらしてた時期もあったんだ」「日本に憧れてる。いつか日本に行ってみたいんだ」などなど、とくとくと話し出した。

12世紀にパキスタン北部をジンギスハーンが侵略した際のモンゴル人の残兵の末裔がいまだに住んでいる部落があるそうな。お兄さんはその部落の出身で人種的にはモンゴル人、パキスタンで生まれ育ち、イギリスで教育を受けたと言う。現在はもちろんカナダ人。

うわー面白いバックグラウンドだね〜。カナダらしいなあ。

そこでハタっと思った。私はなんだろう。一体全体何人なんだろう。

そう。私は日本人の両親のもとに日本で生まれ日本で育った。人種的には完璧に日本人だ。13歳で渡米して中学2年から大学1年までのむずかしい時期にアメリカの学校に行った。18歳で日本に帰って日本で大学4年まで過ごし、日本人と結婚して日本で子供3人が生まれた。子供達が8歳6歳3歳の時にカナダに渡り、もはや30年。その間に夫とは離婚、子供達はカナダで成人した。私は大学院で学んだり教育や建材や音楽の仕事をしながら必死で子供達を育て、20年前にカナダ人と再婚した。パスポートは日本のパスポートだけど、生活の拠点ははカナダで、カナダの永住権を持つ。

うーん…😓、私はアメリカ人でないことは確か、でも日本人なのかカナダ人なのかは迷うところ。

2週間ほど前、日本からカナダに帰ってくる飛行機の中で到着時間の30分〜40分くらい前かな。なんとなく飛行機の現在位置を示すスクリーンを見ていたら、Comox 上空と出た。「え?Comox?」と思ったらPowell Riverという文字も出てきた。ということは… Comox とPowell Riverの間にタクセーダ島は位置するから…もしかして、今私はタクセーダ島の上空を飛んでいるのかも❣️

厚い雲にさえぎられて下界は全然見えないんだけど、私の愛するタクセーダ島はすぐ真下なんだ〜。

私は帰ってきたんだ…!

なんとも言えない喜びとときめきが心の深〜いところからフツフツと湧き上がってきた。そんな心の反応に当の私が驚いた。

日本人の顔をして、日本に親族がいて、人々も文化も言葉も食べものも日本の全てがが大好きな私なんだけど、やっぱり私はカナダが愛しい。私の心はあもうカナダ人なのかなぁと思った瞬間だった。

それにしても日本とカナダ、どちらも美しくて人間的で優しくて誠実な国。どちらにも私を待っててくれるひとがいるって素晴らしいことだよね。感謝。


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2020 Camping Trip (2) 2020年キャンプ旅行(2)

Kafka and Lulu at Shelter Point Beach, Texada Island

Well….the fifth day of our camping trip, we left Seal Bay for the next camping destination. First we made a brief stop at a winery we found nearby. We had a bit of tasting, and bought a bottle of full-bodied Meritage. We stopped at a gigantic grocery store in Campbell River, then headed to the Alder Bay Campgound which is about 2 hours drive north of Campbell River.

Driving Hwy 19 was pleasant. We drove through such beautiful forest and lakes, no sign of human settlements. What we didn’t notice was that our cell phones showed “no service”. This is one of those areas where our cell phones don’t work.

Soon after we left the rest area, I heard a weird sound, huewww 〜〜 like a whistle.

What is that sound?

Uneasy feeling came to my head. What if…. We stopped the car and checked the tires. Oh no…. the back left side tire was blown out. Not quite flat yet.

Oh my God, what shall we do?

This was the moment we noticed that our cell phones were not working. The phones might start working if we could get back closer to Campbell River, we thought. So, we started driving slowly and super carefully towards Campbell River. Within not even 10km, the tire blew out completely, totally disfigured, and we could not continue any more. The cell phones were still out of service. We took out the manual and read the instructions of how to change tires. Looking too difficult….

So….what shall we do….?

There, a pick up truck was coming to our direction. Neil waved his arms big and hard. Luckily the truck stopped right away. A 77 year old driver with his grandson and a dog coming back from their hunting, kindly offered Neil a ride to Campbell River. When he gets to town, his cellphone would work, and he can call BCAA which we have been members for a long time. There, I can see a bit of hope…

When Neil was gone with some strangers, our dogs started to show uneasiness. They were anxious, nervous, and scared. I thought I should pretend like everything was alright, or else the dogs would panick. I took out my book and started reading, tried to stay calm. From time to time, huge commercial trucks zoomed by with incredible speed, shaking our camper hard, as if they could run over or blow us down. What if the truck driver was looking sideways and hit the rear end of our camper? Or even just touched our camper even a little would be enough to end our lives…. No, no, no, that can not happen…. I took my book in my hands and tried to focus on reading.

Maybe I read about an hour….. oh no…. I need to go to toilet. What? Toilet? Of course there is no toilet. I looked around and around, over and over, and found a spot behind some bushes entering the forest area where I might be able to go without anybody seeing me. I pushed my courage up, opened the door, stepped out the car to the road side, into the grassy area. It looked like grass, but actually it was way taller than I thought, and thorny. I walked to the bushes getting so many bloody scratches…. but my mission was successfully completed!!

It felt like forever. But, it might have been about 2 hours…

While waiting, two trucks stopped by, and offered some help. They were both young boys. I really appreciated their kindness.

I saw a big tow-truck coming toward us with the flashing lights, and parked in an angle behind our camper. A young skinny boy jumped off the truck waving hands to me. He removed the broken tire and replaced it with the spare tire in no time. He told me to drive to KalTire in Campbell River. He said he will follow me and make sure I will be alright.

When I finally arrived Campbell River, and finally found my cellphone working, I looked behind. The tow-truck was already gone. Too bad, I wanted to say one last “thank you” to that young boy…. Thank you so much for coming to rescue us!

We were united with Neil at KalTire. I would never forget the joy our dogs showed when they saw Neil at the tire shop. They were overwhelmingly happy and expressed their joy with their whole bodies, jumping and dancing around.

Poor Kafka and Lulu…. they must have been worried so much.

It was after the business closing hour when I arrived, but the guy at KalTire waited for us and changed all the tires for our truck swiftly without complaining, and not minding working overtime. We really appreciated their kindness.

By that time, it was too late to head again to the Alder Bay campground. I phoned all the campgrounds near Campbell River and Comox. Every place was full. What if we take the ferry back to Powell River? We had an hour to the departure time, and my GPS said it takes an hour and 3 minutes to drive to the terminal. We took the gamble. We drove as fast as we could to get to the Comox ferry terminal and got there 5 minutes before the departure!!

We made it to the last ferry to Powell River!!

Then we got onto the last ferry to Texada Island. Since smoke from wild fires in the US was so densely covering the ocean, the boat was delayed and slow. We arrived our cottage close to midnight, exhausted, but relieved!

Both of us and our two dogs all slept so well that night.

It made me think about two things. I really appreciated how strangers helped us and showed sympathy for us. Do I help strangers enough? No…. I really should be way more helpful when I see somebody facing problems.

Another thing was how our dogs reacted. They knew very well something was wrong. They cannot speak words, but they were so worried and scared. And when we were all united, their overwhelming joy exploded from their bodies. They understand very well. They have way more understanding and sophistication than we think. If dogs can sense so well, all other animals can sense as well. I wonder how pigs and cows are feeling when they are taken to the slaughter house. My heart aches when I imagine that.

さてキャンプ旅行5日目、Seal Bay を後にした私達は次のキャンプ場に向かって出発。まずは近くのワイナリーで試飲して赤ワインを購入。キャンベルリバーという町で食料品を買い込み、2時間くらい北上したところにあるAlder Bay Campgrounds に向かった。

ハイウエイ19を北上、素晴らしい森や湖の景色、でも人が住んでいる気配はない。気がつかなかったのは私たちの携帯がno serviceと表示されていたこと。つまり携帯が全く使えない地域なんだ。

レストエリアを過ぎたころぴゅーっと笛を吹くような音がした。

何の音?

私の頭を不安がよぎった。もしかして…?  まずは道端に止まってタイヤをチェック。  不安的中!                後方左側のタイヤがパンクしている。

うわ〜 ヤバイ❗️

そこで初めて携帯が使えないことに気がついた。少しキャンベルリバーに向かって戻れば携帯がつながるかもしれないと思ってパンクしたタイヤのままゆっくり注意深く走ってみた。10キロも行かないうちにタイヤは完璧に変形して使い物にならなくなった。携帯はまだつながらない。トラックのマニュアルを出してタイヤの交換の仕方を読んでみる。とっても私達の手に追えそうもない。

どうしよう…

通りかかったピックアップトラックにニールが大きく手を振ってみた。嬉しいことにすぐに止まってくれた。狩からの帰りだという77才のおじさんと孫と犬がキャンベルリバーまで乗せてくれるという。町に着いたら携帯が使える。こんな時のためにメンバーになっているBCAAに助けに来てもらえるかも。少し希望がもてる…

ニールが知らないトラックに乗って行ってしまうと犬たちが不安そうにソワソワしはじめる…これは私がしっかりして何の心配もないような顔をしてないと犬たちがパニックになるかも…と思って、落ち着いたふりをして本を読んだりし始めた。時折、大型のトラックがもの凄い勢いで真横を通り抜ける。そのたびに我々のキャンパーがひっくり返りそうに揺れる。もしトラックがよそ見していて追突してきたり私達のキャンパーをひっかけでもしたら、私も犬達も終わりだなあという考えが頭をよぎる。いやいやそんなことはありえないと言い聞かせて本を読み続ける。

1時間以上そうしていたらトイレに行きたくなってきた。え?トイレ?こんなときに?もちろんトイレなんてないしどうしよう。何度も何度も周りを見回した挙句、森の入口の木陰に隠れて用を足すことにした。勇気を出してキャンパーの外に出て足を踏み出す。思ったより道端の草が深くて背が高い。しかも棘だらけ。森まで傷だらけになりながら歩いて用を足す。成功。

永久に待っていたような気がしたけど実際には2時間ぐらいだっただろうか。

通りがかりのトラックが2台も止まってくれて「どうしたの?大丈夫?」と心配そうに声をかけてくれた。どちらも若い男性、親切な心遣いが本当にありがたい。

そのうちに大きなトウトラックが点滅しながら近づいてきた。トラックをキャンパーの後ろに斜めに止めると私に手を振りながら若い男性が身軽に飛び降りて来た。あっという間にパンクしたタイヤを外してスペアタイヤを取り付けると、後ろからついていってあげるからキャンベルリバーのタイヤ屋さんまで行きな、と言う。

やっとこさキャンベルリバーの町に着いて携帯がつながると後ろのトラックはいつのまにかいなくなってた。最後にもう一度お礼を言いたかったのに…。助けに来てくれてありがとう。

タイヤ屋さんでニールと再会。ニールを見た途端の喜びに溢れた犬達の顔が忘れられない。身体中で安心と喜びを発散させて飛び回って喜んだカフカとルル❣️

かわいそうに…心配させちゃったな。

営業時間を過ぎているのに私の到着を待っててくれて、トラック全部のタイヤを快く交換してくれた親切なタイヤ屋さん。ありがとう。

もう遅くなりすぎて予定していたキャンプ場には行けない。キャンベルリバー周辺のキャンプ場に片っ端から電話をしてみる。週末だと言うこともあってどこもいっぱいだという。じゃあいちかばちか、この際、コモックスまで戻ってパウエルリバー行きのフェリーに乗ったらどうだろう。フェリーの時間まで1時間、私のGPSによるとコモックスまで1時間3分。賭けだ。全速力でハイウエイを飛ばしてコモックスのフェリーターミナルに向かう。

滑り込みセーフ❗️

それからタクセーダ島への最終のフェリーに乗って私達のコテージに到着する。折しもアメリカからの山火事の煙が立ち込めてフェリーが遅れ、しかも超低速スピードだったおかげでコテージに着いたのは夜中に近かった。疲れた〜〜 でもホッとした〜〜

その夜は私達2人と2匹、すぐに眠りについて朝までぐっすり眠った。

それにしても色々考えさせられた。今回知らない人に随分助けられたけど、私は普段知らない人を助けてるだろうか?忙しいからとか危ないからって知らん顔することが多くない?これからはもっと積極的に手助けしなければ…

犬達のリアクションにも考えさせられたな。犬たちは完璧に尋常ならぬものを感じて言葉にはならないものの不安と心配で胸がつぶれそうだった。そしてニールの顔を見た途端、安心と喜びで体がはじけていた。ここまでよくわかっている犬たち。犬たちがここまでわかると言うことは豚や牛などの動物も同じようにわかるんだと思う。屠殺場に連れて行かれる動物たちがどんな思いで行くのか想像しただけで胸がキューンと痛くなる……


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2020 Camping Trip (1) 今年のキャンプ旅行 (1)

I was waiting and waiting, looking forward to our camping trip all year. We finally started our camp trip after the Labor Day weekend in September. We couldn’t start sooner, because we were waiting for Neil’s knee to heal from the surgery he had some weeks ago. Last year we were waiting for my recovery from the meningitis I had in summer. Sadly, as we get older there seems to be something every year that makes us delay….

The first camping was at the Willingdon Beach in Powell River, one of our favorite campgrounds. We had a site not in front of the beach but in the back forest. We sat at the bench right at the water admiring the incredible sunset 🌅 then back to our shaded forest spot. It was just perfect. We stayed there for 2 nights. It’s so nice that they have clean flushing toilets and showers.

Sunset in Powell River
Willingdon Beach Campground

Then getting onto the ferry from Powell River, overlooking our Texada Island on the left side, and in 90 minutes we arrived at Comox which is a town half way up the east coast of the Vancouver Island.

From Powell River to Comox, looking over beautiful Texada Island

Unfortunately our favorite campground in Comox was full, and we booked a campground in a place called Seal Bay which we had never been. We checked in and were disappointed right away. 😞 There were many many huge RVs and motor homes, parked side by side crowded in rather small spaces. Because of the Covid, people travel mainly within the province, and all the campgrounds tend to be full. However, they had a great facility, clean modern toilets and showers!

Seal Bay Campground

So we stayed there for 2 nights, and it made me think a bit. This campground was full of amazing motor homes. They are huge! ….like the size of a bus or even bigger. All equipped with sliders which create even more space, bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom, satellite TV, just about everything you can think of is there. Some of these homes cost as much as a detached house!! So these extravagant mobile homes arrive with a car or pickup truck behind. They maneuver to find the best parking positions and settle in. Then barbecue equipment comes out, they grill hot dogs or burgers. They sit at table, drink beer and wine. People, campsite neighbors, come visiting. They enjoy socializing, and playing card games. To my eyes they look most likely in their late 60s to early 80s, all retired. It looks like it is a husband’s job to maneuver the bus-like vehicle and position it, hook-up, and set up, get it to be functional, which is a hard physical work! Husbands are all looking fit and muscular. Somehow wives seem to be mostly obese or physically challenged, walking with a cane.

My observation continues…. It looks like people are just staying at the campground, not going anywhere, just sitting there visiting with their neighbors all day. They typically stay there relaxing and enjoying for a week or two.

This is their retirement! You can choose your retirement like them, enjoying relaxed life and socializing with friends. Is it for me? I would be dying of boredom… but one thing is clear, you need a capable handy husband to enjoy such relaxing life. My life is not so relaxing, but how blessed am I to have a loving husband and adorable dogs who would happily do camping with me!

毎年楽しみにしているキャンプ旅行、今年も9月の連休の後にスタート。本当はもっと早くにスタートしたかったんだけどニールの手術した膝が癒えるのを待ってたんだよね。去年は私が髄膜炎を患って回復を待ってから始めたので遅くなったし、なんだか歳のせいか毎年なんだかんだとあるなぁ。

まずはお馴染みの、パウエルリバーにあるウイリングドンビーチのキャンプ場、今回は海に面したスポットではなく裏の山側のスポット。素晴らしい夕焼けをビーチに行ってながめてから、林の中に戻って木陰とプライバシーを楽しむ…これも悪くないね。ここで2泊。私達の大好きなキャンプ場❣️水洗トイレとシャワーがあるのが嬉しい。

コモックス行きのフェリーに乗って1時間半、私達のコテージのあるタクセーダ島沖を通ってバンクーバー島の中程にあるコモックスに着く。

残念ながら私たちが気に入っているキャンプ場が予約がいっぱいで取れなくて、今回初めてのシールベイキャンプ場にチェックイン。でもここは大型のRVカーとかモービルホームが殆どであまりプライバシーもなくスペースも小さくてがっかり😞。コロナのおかげで州内で旅行する人が殆どだからキャンプ場がどこもいっぱいなんだよね。でもここもきれいなトイレとシャワーがあって機能的にはすごくいい❗️

ここで2泊して思ったこと…ずらりと並ぶ素晴らしいモービルホーム、バス並みかバス以上に大きくて窓部分がスライド式になっててさらにスペースが拡大され、ベッドルーム、キッチン、リビングルーム、トイレ、シャワー、サテライトTVとか、ありとあらゆる設備が整っている。一戸建ての家ほどの値がするものもあるんだって。高級なモービルホームが自動車とかピックアップトラックとかを従えて到着する。上手に駐車して落ち着くとバーベキューでホットドッグとかバーガーとかを焼いてビールやワインを飲んで隣近所のモービルホームの人たちと楽しくお喋りしたりブリッジゲームなどを楽しんだりする。殆どが見たところ60代後半から80代前半という年代。モービルホームの運転や設置は男性の仕事みたい。男性は揃ってフィットでたくましい感じ、女性はなぜかむっくり肥気味で杖をついている人が多い。

見ているとみんなわりとどこへも行かずにキャンプ場で一日中座ってお喋りしたりしながら一週間とか2週間とかってのんびり滞在してるみたい。

リタイア後の生活、こういう過ごし方もあるんだなあと思った。私だったらすぐに退屈してしまいそう🥱…でも夫婦2人揃ってないと、そして力持ちで手先の器用な夫がいないと出来ないかもしれないね。それにしても、手先は器用じゃないけど一緒に喜んでキャンプしてくれる夫と犬たちがいて私は幸せ者だ❣️


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Linda リンダ

Sky and ocean have the same transparency here at Texada Island, soothing to my eyes. Pleasant breezes stroke my hair and cheeks gently. I am taking in this summer beauty into all my body cells and soul, and…. thinking of Linda.

It’s been two years… for me it was a short time that just whisked by, but it was a hard time, struggle after struggle, for Linda. August 2018, on the first day of our camping trip, Neil and I visited Linda in Kamloops. Linda had just recovered from her first stroke. It was a sunny, hot, dry, typical summer day in Canada’s west…. just like today. She was telling us about her imperfect vision. Her vision had narrowed and made her not possible to drive. What we didn’t know at the time was that it was merely a beginning… In two years, she suffered two more strokes, and…. she was gone…. when we were just talking about going to see her again in early September this year.

I met Linda in a very unusual way. She was married to and divorced from Neil’s divorced wife’s brother. It’s rather a complicating relationship that if it was in Japan, I would have never had the chance to meet her. I am divorced too. I have my beloved ex-sister-in-law and her children whom I would love to see. Since my marriage had broken down, they can’t see me…… let alone, meet Neil. However, Neil and Linda kept in touch, and I had a privilege of getting to know her.

Flipping through my recipe cards, I find a few recipes passed down from Linda. She grew her own vegetables and fruits. Her cooking/baking was simple, humble, and delicious. One of them is brown rice shortbread cookies. Years ago, when she visited us around Christmas time, she brought these cookies for us. I loved the curious texture of the cookies, and ever since, it became my favorite recipe for the season.

Linda had a hard life. After her divorce, she made her living by social work, taking care of physically/mentally challenged persons at her own home 24/7. She was passionate about gardening, always surrounded by beautiful flowers and vegetables, loved cooking for others, loved her children and grandchildren. Her life was all about taking care of people, making people happy… nothing about luxurious possessions or trips or anything like that.

I wonder. Did she pass over thinking she had a happy life? Well….what is happy life anyway? You cannot buy happy life with money. Staying in a super expensive hotel, dining at a famous restaurant, having all the power to control other people, none of them can make you really happy. I have read somewhere that Happiness is something you give to others, not something you take from or receive from others. Your action contributing to other being’s wellness becomes your own happiness. The key word is your ACTION. Your “steps forward” bring happiness. Not just sitting around and thinking.

Linda was a person of action. I’m sure she departed thinking she had a happy life.

I’m sad….but happy for her.

すき通るように真っ青な空と海、タクセーダ島のデッキに座っていると頬を撫でるそよ風が心地良い。美しい夏を噛みしめながらリンダを想う。もうあれから2年…あっという間に過ぎた短い月日、でもリンダには苦難苦行の2年だった。ニールと私がキャンプ旅行の初めの日に脳梗塞から立ち直ったばかりのリンダをカムループスに訪れたのは2年前の8月、今日のようにかんかん照りで乾燥しきったカナダ西部の真夏日だった。「視力がいまいち回復しきらなくて運転できないのよ」と話していたリンダ、その後、2回もさらに脳梗塞を繰り返して、彼女は逝ってしまった。今年もキャンプの途中でリンダに会いに行こうと話していた矢先だった。

思えばリンダと私は珍しい出会い方をした。ニールの別れた奥さんの弟さんの別れた連れ合いだったリンダ、そんな複雑な関係だったら日本にいたらなかなか出会うチャンスないよね。私も離婚してるからわかるけど別れた夫側の親戚とは離婚以来全くと言っていいほど会うチャンスない。中には懐かしい大好きな義妹や元甥や姪がいるけど残念ながら会えない。ラッキーなことに離婚後もニールとリンダは交流を続けていたおかげで私もリンダと出会えたんだよね。よかった〜。

私の料理カードをめくっていくといくつかのリンダのレシピに出会う。リンダは野菜や果物を自分で育てて、素朴で飾らない、でも最高に美味しいお料理やお菓子をよく作ってくれた。玄米ショートブレッドクッキーもそのひとつ。何年か前にクリスマスの時期に遊びに来てくれて自作のクッキーを持ってきてくれた。玄米の食感が面白くてそれ以来私も毎年作るようになった。

苦労の連続だったリンダの人生。離婚してからは社会福祉の仕事で障害のある人たちを自宅に引き取って面倒を見ながら生計を立てていた。贅沢からは程遠い人生、彼女のささやかな楽しみは庭仕事と料理と子供達や孫たちに会うことくらいだったんじゃないかな。いつも美しい花や果物や野菜に囲まれてたリンダ。人の世話ばかりしながら、贅沢をするでもなく旅行するでもなく…

リンダ、幸せな人生だったと思って旅立っていけたかな?そもそもそれって何だろう。幸せな人生ってお金では買えないものだから、最高級なホテルに泊まって贅沢な食事をしても、他人を意のままに動かせる力があっても幸せだったとは思えないかもしれないよね。どこかで読んだけど、幸せとは他者に与えることだ、他者から与えられることでも受け取ることでもない。自分の行動でいかに人を、または他の生き物を大切にして、助けて、幸せにするか…それが自分の幸せになるんだという。キーは「行動」。行動することが幸せに通じる。座って考えているだけじゃなくて、実際に動いて行動すること、最初の一歩を踏み出すことから幸せが始まる。

リンダは行動力のある人だったなあと思う。きっと幸せな人生だったと思って旅立ってくれたと思う。

でも寂しい… 😞


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Encounters 出会い

I was scrolling down my Facebook pages the other day, not really paying attention to the contents, a post jumped to my eyes. It was an obituary for Roy Hepworth. Oh no…. I thought… Roy has passed away…. I lost another favorite person…. so sad.

2 years ago about this time, I met Roy for the first time. I sought his advice on purchasing an organ for my home. What I really wanted was a pipe organ. However, of course, there is no space for it in my house. I didn’t have the confidence to take proper care of such a delicate instrument. Small pipe organ would be limiting in what I could play on it. Since I do love grand contemporary music as much as gentle early music, I thought I should get a versatile electronic organ. It took me many years thinking about it, debating back and forth within myself to come to that decision. I finally contacted Roy and sought for his advice.

Roy spent a whole day with me. He drove me over the USA/Canada border to the American side, took me to his facility, and let me try out all kinds of organs. He showed me, explained to me, and let me experience different sounds and touches.

It took us 2 hours just to cross the USA/Canada border. While driving and waiting at the border, we talked. He told me about his life, his upbringings, music, his health, his future wishes…. and I became very fond of him.

It’s interesting. His life and my life crossed only for 3 days. But, I know…. I will never forget Roy for the rest of my life. He was a wonderful person who emanated his warmth. He embraced me with his incredible kindness and caring. You know…. I was merely one of his many clients, but he had a way to make me feel like his valuable friend.

It has been 30 years since I arrived here in Canada. I met many wonderful people, and feel so blessed. Roy was so special in that he left me with such a strong deep impression only in 3 days. Although I have tried to keep in touch with my dear friends, I lost some of them somehow….losing contact, moving far away, or whatever changes in our life paths. Regardless, I am grateful that our lives crossed. Every friend enriched my life….. Now that I am in my 60s, I appreciate them more than ever.

People have so much depth…. that’s what surprised me over and over my last 30 years in Canada. A person who would look shallow could end up to be so deep and wise. Friends who had struggled with money, health, family, relationship, etc…. could have learned and obtained so much wisdom and compassion. Opposite could be also true. An active successful person who had the appearance of being fully confident and happy could have been struggling and suffering to the degree of self destruction…

Meeting people, for me, is what makes my life exciting and interesting. It makes me happy. It means a lot to me. I hope I would keep meeting and encountering people till the end of my life. This Covid 19 pandemic has brought considerably less opportunities to meet people and get stimulations to my brain….friends, watch out for my rusting brain!

I am looking forward to returning to “normal”, whatever that may be.

数日前、ぼうっとFacebookの画面をスクロールしていたらある訃報が目に飛び込んできた。ロイ・ヘップワースという人の訃報だった。ああ、ロイ、亡くなられたんだ…また一人私の大好きな人が亡くなった…なんとも寂しい気持ちになった。

2年前の今頃ロイと初めて出会って、自宅用のオルガンを購入する相談をした。本当はパイプオルガンがいいんだけど置く場所もないし、デリケートな楽器なので維持していく自信もないし、小さなパイプオルガンだと弾ける曲が制限されるからどんな大曲でも弾ける電子オルガンの方がいいかな、とか散々悩んだ挙句のことだ。

ロイは1日をフルに費やして私を国境を超えてアメリカ側にある倉庫までドライブしてくれた。そこでさまざまなオルガンを試し弾きさせてくれて私の好む音とタッチを見つける手伝いをしてくれた。

途中、国境で2時間も足止めを食らって待たされたけど、その間はロイの生い立ちのこと、人生のこと、音楽のこと、色々なことを話し合った。彼のことが大好きになった。

とても不思議。ロイの人生と私の人生はたったの三日間しかつながらなかったけど、私はきっと一生忘れないと思う。温かさと優しさに包まれるような三日間。私はただただ彼のお客にすぎなかったんだけど、三日間の間にすっかり大事な友達になったかのような気がした。

思えばカナダに来て30年、いろんな出会いがあった。私は本当に恵まれていたと思う。ロイのようにたったの三日間で私の心に刻みついた人もいれば、30年間ずっと親しい友達関係が続いている人もいる。何年間か親しくしていたのにある日プッツリ音信が途絶えた人もいれば、遠くに引っ越して会えなくなった人もいる。でも一人一人との出会いが確実に私の人生を豊かにしてくれている… 60代の今、それをすごく感じる。

それにしても人って奥が深いなあと思う。あっけらかんとして何も考えていないような印象の人でも付き合ってみるとものすごく苦労した人で賢明で思慮深かったり… 自信家で人生を謳歌しているかのように見える人でも実は気が弱くて自滅すれすれだったり…。

人との出会いがあるからこそ人生は素晴らしい… 生きてる意味がある。これからますます年を重ねていく私、どうかいくつになっても出会いがありますように。コロナで人と過ごす機会が激減して頭も心も錆び付いてきているような気がする今日この頃。一日も早くコロナ騒ぎが終りますように。