Thursday, April 19, 2007

Packing Up

Packing for a three-month trip might seem difficult, but we have complete household in Japan, so all I need to take are food, yarn, gifts, and American underwear.

After ten years, I know to the milligram how much peanut butter, bread, cheese, and coffee I'll use per week.

In case anyone is wondering why I shlep food 8000 miles, it's because:

1. Coffee is about $30 a pound.

2. Japanese bread is more useful as Kleenex, but not as tasty. I once left a split baguette of "French bread" on the counter overnight, and I swear to you that it evaporated. Most of the white stuff disappeared, leaving a dried rind of white inside the brown crust.

3. Cheese, if you can find it, runs $20-$30 a pound. The Japanese don't like flavorful cheese, so the choices are Camembert that tastes like soap, brie that could pass for unflavored gelatin, and cheddar that resembles orange tofu. I once saw cheese-flavored tofu in the supermarket and figured it was probably developed by the Department of Redundancy Department.

4. Peanut butter is actually medicine. Where I stay, the food is light on protein and taste--vegetables boiled to mush, indescribably ghastly fish, undercooked chicken, and tofu. I can eat the vegetables, but I just can't swallow the protein components. During my first extended stay, I developed protein deficiency. This, believe it or not, was diagnosed by my hairdresser when I returned home. I won't bore you with the symptoms--suffice it to say, they were extremely unpleasant and peanut butter was recommended as a daily diet additive. It's also useful as bribes, because crunchy peanut butter is unknown in Japan.

I will be in Japan for three months, but won't do a great deal of knitting, because most of my days will be full of Japanese embroidery.Thus, I have reduced my handsome stash of books, patterns, yarn, and projects to this pathetic pile:

Which, when squished, fits into a single zip lock bag:

Yeah, I decided I couldn't leave Spider King here. Working on it is the brightest spot of my morning. And if I complete a row a day, I will finish the outer border the day before I come home. (Progress pictures tomorrow.)

The two outside skeins of sock yarn in the top photo are proto-gifts that I will finish during my stay. There's another bag of gift sock yarn for a dear friend, too, but I don't want to spoil her surprise by showing it here.

As for the underwear, well, Japanese ladies seem to favor garments encrusted with itchy lace, embroidered pictures of Hello Kitty, or metal bits, all presented in colors that would burn out the eyeballs of anyone who stared at them for longer than ten seconds.

All that remains is to shoehorn everything into a single 50-pound suitcase, plus a carry-on bag, find my passport, and grit my teeth for the unpleasantness of airports.



I wish you luck and I can't wait to go myself to Japan one day,which city are you going? Thanks for some of the details of the weirdness, they actually made me laugh! But please keep posting your lace adventures and may be tease us with pictures of the country of the Rising Sun. Hugs!

fleegle said...

We live in a small town about 60 miles southeast of Tokyo--Tongane City to be exact. It's a pleasant little place with many small farms.

All of you will hear plenty about weirdness in the months to come!

lori said...

You're going to Harry-ville! Yay! Can't wait to see what you get up to over there. If you have any trouble getting the "Spider King" through security, just hold it up and wave. We'll catch it on the satellite and make a phone call for ya! Safe travels! Have fun!

fleegle said...

Whoops. That's Togane, not Tongane. Sorry!

Lacefreak said...

Dear fleegle,

Bon Voyage! Going to the airport does suck but getting to Japan makes it worth the effort. Of course you had to bring Spider King with you. I hope you get a chance to knit but I know they embroidery calls to you too! Good Luck!

missalicefaye said...

Have a lovely trip! I'm glad you'll have the Spider King to keep you company in the ghastly airport. :)

Anonymous said...

Fascinating to see your packing. Last I was there, a Japanese lady accompanied me for a week's tour. She had multiple changes of elegant clothes, at least 3 pair of shoes, and it was all in a bag no bigger than my purse.

Once spent a month in a Japanese village working with a potter. Love tea, so coffee wasn't a problem. Didn't miss cheese or bread, ate noodles. But just couldn't do the fish stuff. So probably did end up with protein deficiency.

So, I'm expecting you will come home with a new stash of Japanese knitting books? Bon voyage and have fun.

Experimental Knitter said...

Don't you mean "fiber out of fruit and other comestibles?" LOL! but does the fiber keep you cool as ceramic? I never heard back from that yarn manufacturer, btw.
Have fun, travel safely, and do report back on the wonderful knitting books over there.