Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.409

One day, an unfamiliar middle-aged woman visited my family’s house when I was little. She was the first daughter of my grandfather’s sister. A long time ago, a man tutored my grandfather’s sister at our house when she was a high school student. She got pregnant, and the tutor ran away. She had a daughter whom she gave up for adoption right after her birth. A few years later, my grandfather’s sister got married by arranged marriage and had lived with her husband and her children at the back of our house. And now, her first daughter came up to see her birth mother, and we met her as her relatives. When she came to our house again, she asked my grandparents to go out with me. To my surprise, they allowed her to take me. Although I had met her before, she was practically a stranger to me. I felt nervous, but my grandparents’ decision was always something that must be obeyed. We set out and she bought me an expensive toy at a kiosk in the train station. I began to feel certain that I was being kidnapped by her because she was so nice. During the train ride, all that I was thinking was she found her birth mother for revenge and would hold me for ransom. I imagined I could be killed by her. I was trembling with fear when we arrived at her friend’s house. Her three friends were there, all dressed gaudily, and they looked like accomplices to me. We had a backyard party with delicious food under blue skies and had fun except for me who still thought of the whole thing as kidnap. Then, the party was over and she took me home safely. Finally I realized it wasn’t kidnap. I was so stupid that I was sullen all the way of the merry trip. I haven’t seen her ever since. I hope it has nothing to do with my attitude from misunderstanding…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.408

My grandfather’s sister lived in a small house right at the back of our family’s house a long time ago. Until I was five or six years old, I had visited her house alone frequently. The main reason I spent a lot of time there was that my strict grandparents took care of me instead of my busy parents and I couldn’t feel comfortable with them for tension in my house. But, there was another reason. Half of her small house was a print shop. It was a tiny typography place run by her husband, which mostly printed fliers for neighbors. I liked to watch the shop so much. The printing machine was running only occasionally, but looking at innumerable wooden types arranged neatly in the shelves was interesting enough for me. I used to spend hours sitting toward the shelves and just gazing the wooden types. If it was my lucky day, her daughter was home and cooked me fried rice. Back then, I had been troubled with autointoxication. I spent so much time in her house that my mother instantly imputed the cause to printing ink when I was diagnosed at the doctor’s office. In the following ten years, both my grandfather’s sister and her husband have passed away, her children have left home, and the house was demolished. The print shop was gone. A new house was built for sale and a young couple moved in. The husband was an office worker but soon he quit his job. He started his own business at his home and that was a print shop. The couple was newcomers to our neighborhood and had no way to know that there had been also a print shop on the site of their house. The site must be predestined to be a print shop…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.407

I came through my first winter in this town that is famous for its long, severe cold and heavy snowfall, but the heater of my apartment didn’t. It got broken after heavy use of this winter. Although I used it for one winter, it’s 22 years old since the apartment was equipped with it when it was built. A repair person from a gas company came over and told me that an antifreeze leak had broken a small part in the heater. The broken part can be easily replaced, which makes the heater operate again, but the problem is to fix the leak. Replacing an antifreeze pump will stop the leak, only the manufacturer no longer makes a pump. My options are either replace the whole heater just for the pump, or continue to use the current one by filling antifreeze by myself while it keeps leaking. The heater is combined with the boiler for hot water that works fine. If I replaced the heater, it would replace the working boiler as well. And the cost would be mountainous. I strongly insist that a manufacturer should keep making parts for their products forever. The repair person replaced the broken small part for free on condition that I would consider getting a new heater from his company. I considered, and decided to use the current one until it completely breaks, fearing an impending failure day after day…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.406

Japanese TV networks have aired fewer and fewer US TV dramas and Hollywood movies in recent years. Japanese satellite TV stations air some, but more and more of them have been dubbed into Japanese. I really hate dubbed programs. They are poorly dubbed by disastrously bad dubbing actors. It’s decisively strange to see Brad Pitt talking in Japanese. And the lines are misinterpreted badly enough to ruin the whole story. I just can’t stand watching them. This spring, a couple of new satellite TV stations started to broadcast in Japan. One of them is a totally dream channel for me, which airs old and new dramas and shows from America’s ABC, in English, for free. Since the announcement, I’d waited for the broadcasting for months with indescribable excitement. The station handed out a free exclusive remote for the channel at Seven Eleven stores as its opening promotion. I rushed to get one at a store and had anxiously counted down the days until the broadcasting started by holding the free remote in my hand. When the D-Day finally came, I found nothing but a black screen on the channel. Amid enormous disappointment, I looked up on the Internet, and realized the satellite dish of my apartment building is too out of date to receive the new stations. The dish is communal and I can’t replace it. I wrote a letter to the board but haven’t heard from it. I have a very slim chance, as it would cost money. Every single day, I tune to my dream station in the hope that it comes on by some chance. And every time, I sighed to a pitch-black screen…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.405

It’s April, and yet it has snowed hard here in the region where I live. The snow still lies about four feet. Under those conditions, though, I caught a pollen allergy out of the blue. I came home from shopping one evening and developed symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing and a thick head. At first, I thought I had caught a cold. As a person who fears pretty much everything, I always dread having a cold. I haven’t had it since 2005, by taking vitamin supplements daily, gurgling right after coming home and sleeping well. I couldn’t accept a cold despite those unremitting efforts. Besides, I didn’t have a fever or a sore throat. My partner told me those were typical symptoms of a pollen allergy, which he suffers every spring. That explained it, as I felt itchy in my eyes and Japanese cedars with reddish leaves have appeared out of the snow in places on the nearby mountains. I had never had a pollen allergy in my life. When I have it, it’s acute and so early. Even my partner hasn’t had it yet this year. Until I moved in here, I had had pleasant spring every year while my partner spent it miserably with sneezing and sniffling. Not to develop the allergy, I had used extra caution by wearing a medical mask outside even though I hadn’t had it yet. My long-term precautions didn’t pay off. Living in the mountains brought my efforts naught…

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