2012 January – March

“What is honored in a country will be cultivated there.” Plato

“The highest court is conscience” Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

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Love this pic!

 

Monday, January 2nd 2012!

Happy New Year Bella!

Wish we could have some mochi in miso soup together, see you in kimono and give the bells a toll at the local temple to ring in a safe & happy New Year… I miss you my beautiful, beautiful daughter… I wish I could witness your excitement at the prospect of receiving “otoshidama” from your loved ones, and the anticipation of turning TEN in 2012… I can’t believe you’ll have two digits on your birthday cake this year.

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Dad writing to you from Malaysia…

At the very least, my New Year’s wish is to hear your voice, a voice I haven’t heard for nearly 4 months. Let’s hope it’s a happy year for us both… We were once so lucky, once so perfect. I used to think that the bond we shared had our family and friends form a ring around us, admiring how perfectly we joked with each other; how we chatted on different levels; and hugged with our eyes shut tight knowing that what we shared was more than special. I didn’t care for prizes or praise, because I had you, the most perfect daughter and companion in the world, and that was all that mattered.

When will I see you and what if I never see you again as your mother is demanding of the Family Court here in Japan… What happens then? Should I abandon my efforts to see you, and finally admit defeat? Or should I cling to that threadbare hope that your mother’s family will show some compassion, and acknowledge the truth? There’s no comfort in never fully knowing when and if I will see you again, just torture. But I want to protect that fool’s gold glimmer, because that hope, that faith in knowing we make a great pair, an unbelievable duo, becomes a kind of truth.

Sometimes I’m not sure I can move on. Can I ever set things right in my heart? Will you be okay without me? Or will I spend my life wavering between the flickering spark and the dark tunnel I sometimes find myself in?

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Malaysia…

There’s no comfort in dreaming of another 60 minute visit; the thought of it is hollow and thin. I think the knot of not knowing is the worst. It must be awful for you too, not knowing, not sleeping, and having no one for you to confide in. And yet there are wonderful possibilities for us both, yes and perhaps some frayed ends. But there are fragments of hope and possible positive scenarios… but are they forever out of our reach? Will you seek the truth someday?

I hope I get to see you soon, even if it’s for just an hour. The 60 minutes your mother occasionally granted us the past 3 years just flies by and saying ‘goodbye’ is heart wrenching. Initially, each time I ventured out to Tokorozawa to see you, seconds after giving you a hug, a wink and a huge smile goodbye, I cried. After a while I was strong enough for my eyes to fill with hurt and bewilderment, moist but no tears. No matter what, it was always a sorrowful trip back to Yokohama. But I was lucky, I am surrounded by a wonderful family… who do you have that truly understands your heart?

I must stay strong, as Haydy (Hadyn Hewitt – bless him) is always reminding me. So I ushered in the New Year with a run of 50 minutes and 60 chin-ups yesterday in Chiba. Ponta, C’s dog excitedly tugged me along, then tired and dutifully sat and watched as I did my sets of chin-ups.

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Birthdays in Australia…

Why Chiba? Well, C & Dad have just come back from her parents’ place in Chiba. We stayed there last night after flying into Narita from Kuala Lumpur early on January 1st… it brought back a few memories because 5 years ago you and I flew back from Melbourne early on January 2nd so you could spend some time with your mother’s family.

Time for bed though… I’ll tell you about our Christmas holiday soon… Zzzz…

Love Dad… XoXo

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • How do they get the stripes in toothpaste?
  • Why do men have nipples?

 

Thursday, January 5th 2012

Bonjour Ophelia! Did you go for a run today like your Dad? I wanted to tell you about our holiday…

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Phi, Nicola & Grace

C & Dad had a wonderful time together in Malaysia. The first 3 nights we tramped around Kuala Lumpur, visiting China Town, night markets, the Indian Quarter, Mid Valley Mall (the biggest in KL)… For the most part we walked, but we also got the hang of the train network, and jumped in the occasional taxi. People were friendly and helpful.

On our fourth day we took a bus 2 hours south to Melacca where we stayed at Hotel Puri. The hotel was loaded with historical character, tropical gardens and had a good buffet breakfast. We stayed in the old Chinese Quarter which was fascinating with its array of tightly packed restaurants, antique shops, souvenir shops, cafes and the like. We loved the atmosphere, the food and the mix of people. We’ll definitely go back some day, and hopefully you’ll be there with us! I’d really like to purchase some art there, there is so much to be said for the art scene there… very groovy.

On Christmas day we unfortunately were on a 9 hour bus ride north to Pangkor Island. Nine hours was a long time to think about you, of what’s been and what’s to come. I miss you so much… We arrived at our resort about 8pm, quickly showered and headed straight for the buffet dinner. For the next 5 nights we wined & dined and made full use of our inclusive buffet breaky & dinner.

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Allie, Phi & Dad… XoXo…

I enjoyed my books The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help and Roddy Doyle’s Paula Spencer, relaxing here, there and everywhere… by the pool, under a tree, on one of our two king size beds! C was determined to make the most of our time, which suited me too, so together we kayaked, cycled, trekked, swam, snorkeled, and taxied our way around various points on the island…

I even went running twice in the heat and humidity, but a decent cut foot while rock-scrambling and snorkeling cut my jogging plans to pieces… lucky I had my nurse with me! Your Dad’s in LOVE…

FAST FACTS

  • After all those buffet meals I only managed to put on 1kg… still hovering around 75kg…
  • I still remembered a few lines of Bahasa Indonesian which is pretty much the same as Bahasa Malay… Apa Kabah? (How are you?) It wasn’t very handy, but it brought a few smiles.

 

Friday, January 6th 2012

Hey Phi, how’s my third grader this morning?

C went back to work today. I’m still on holiday, YIPEE! She’s starting a job with some French translating, English too; let’s hope it works out for her, she deserves a break! So, I thought I’d make the most of the morning, little cleaning up, running & chin-ups, quick letter to you, then cycle into school to prepare a few things to ready myself for the start of classes Monday.

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Run Allie, RUN! That’s Nandee on your right.

Quite a bit colder here than Malaysia, don’t you think??? I’m hoping you’ll agree, because I’m looking for an excuse not to go running. I have an ekiden on Sunday that I’ve entered alongside my Japanese class members. It’s only a 4km leg, but I’ve hardly run at all recently. In Malaysia, I ran once in Melacca, and one other time on Pangkor. Actually, I had a reasonable excuse, as I cut my foot open on some rocks on our first morning exploring the far end of the Pangkor Island beach, then like the “BAKA” your Dad is, tried running on it (for 40 minutes) and split the two cuts open even more. To be truthful, it didn’t feel too bad at the time, the blood seeping everywhere making it look far worse than it was. Besides I’d gone in search of Lindsay & Tony, colleagues of mine staying in the next town.

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Allie, Phi & Aussie Joe.

So, January 1st with C’s dog “Ponta”, was my first run for a while. The foot held up, so I’ve had no excuses for not running this week. It was a little bit painful, but if I listened to my body every day, I’d always be able to find an excuse not to go running, not to fight for you. So I run and think of you. When the hill steepens, I grit my teeth and dig deep for you. Actually courtesy of nurse C, the cuts had healed and the foot felt very good. I started out alone, ran an outward course for 15 minutes, then picked up the pace homeward bound. Returned to C’s parents’ to pick up Ponta, only to be welcomed by Chiba’s first earthquake of 2012! It only registered a 4 on the Richter Scale, but within the O’s aging 3 story house, it felt significantly ominous.

Later when I spoke to C about the fact that her parents’ house isn’t far from toppling, she told me she’d had a similar conversation with her mother, who had responded with characteristic stoicism, “Shigata ga nai.” … oh well.

The quake brought back to Earth how fragile our lives are on this planet. I kind of like Mrs. O’s way of thinking, “When your time is up, it’s up.” For the most part, neither C or I spend much time worrying about, “what if?” Life is too short, and definitely no dress rehearsal!

I hope there’s nobody dear to you that spends too much time dwelling on what might happen, when and if the next “big one” hits. I feel it’s a complete waste of mental and physical energy, better spent pounding the streets, and preparing oneself for healthy chin-up contests with best mates…

So, on that note, Dad must hit the road, or Hadyn will start calling me “pie guts!”

Love you more every year… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Yesterday’s first prized blue fin tuna of 2012 auctioned at the Tsukiji fish market went for $736,000 Australian dollars! One fish, almost three-quarters of a million dollars!
  • Uncle Hadyn says I have to stay physically strong to stay ahead of the stress. We’re forever challenging each other to go faster, further, longer. So today your Dad rode to & from school (just under 20km), did 100 push ups at school, came home and went for a run and did 70 chin ups… FIGHTO!
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Dad & Hayd

 

Sunday, January 8th 2012

G’day Gorgeous! How’s my Missy Higgins?

I made the ekiden! It was quite a bit of fun, although competing against the super quick HS teams was a bit hard to take.

Tomorrow Dad returns to school. It’s our second semester, but for you, it’s your final term of grade 3. In March you’ll enter grade 4! I can’t believe how quickly you’re growing up. Do you know Dad teaches grade 4 too? How do you think you’d go in Dad’s class? Once upon a time you were enrolled to begin school at Saint Maur International School. There are two grades at each level, so Dad’s idea was that we wouldn’t share the same classroom. In other words, you would be with the other teacher at the level Dad was to teach at. I would love you to be taught by David Barrett, my teaching partner of the past 4 years. He’s an amazing and innovative educator, an inspiration to his students. He’s the best partner I’ve ever had, we just click. He’s also a dear friend, supportive and firm in his belief that you and I Bella, deserve each other.

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That’s my mate Chris with you…

Do you remember your friend Grace from Numazu? Her Dad, John taught her when she was in grade 1. They seemed to manage fine, but I don’t think it’s an ideal situation, especially as you progress up the school to be taught by your own parent.

Anyway, back to 2012… this year there will be 10 candles on your birthday cake! My Missy Higgs will be TEN! What would you like for your tenth birthday? It’s a very special birthday, so we’ll have to find you something just perfect.

Love Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Today C is going to help me translate parts of this journal entry. Then I’m going to copy it out in my terrible hiragana and post it to you… enjoy! I hope it arrives in the post!
  • Also today, Dad ran a 4km leg in the Kohoku Ekiden out at the Nissan National Stadium. 16 minutes 44 seconds… not bad for an old smelly fart!

 

Monday, January 16th 2012

How’s My Angel Ophelia Rose? Today is the second time I’ll try writing to you in hiragana. I’ll write my letter, and C will translate my thoughts.

Since October C has encouraged me to study Japanese. As you know my written Japanese is very poor. So I must practise. When we flew to Malaysia C helped me practise my hiragana on the plane. And now each Saturday morning I attend a Japanese class for 2 hours. It’s very interesting because also in my class are adults from India, Korea, Ireland, China, America, Philippines, Taiwan and many other countries. We all communicate in Japanese because it’s our common language. I envy the Taiwanese & Chinese students because they read and write kanji with such ease. But as you can see, even my hiragana is very poor. Will you teach me the correct stroke sequence? Can you be patient with me… I’m hopeless at remembering the order.

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We took an overnight trip to Izu…

I know this Saturday your school is holding a rice pounding event (mochi-zuki takai). Do you remember we enjoyed a mochi-zuki takai with Ms. Rawnsley at Katoh Kindergarten? She along with Akiko Sensei was your K1 teacher. Someday I’ll show you again the photos of you and Ms. Rawnsley proudly standing with the huge wooden hammer in hand. You look very cute in your gym clothes and your short haircut.

Hope to see you soon Bella… we haven’t laughed together since we last met in Tokorozawa on September 11th, 2011… it’s more than 4 months since we’ve sung a song together… everyday I think of you… I miss you!

Love Dad… XoXo… these are kisses & hugs.

FAST FACTS

  • We used to spend so many hours at the Hamer’s (Allan & Brenda Hamer) residence down by Senbon Beach, Numazu. We’d bbq on their little patch of grass, while you’d boss Milly & Riku around. Or in the winter you’d climb up on Dad’s knee at the kitchen table and we’d sip hot drinks and laugh with Brenda, Allan, Tim, Nic & David
  • Horses and cows sleep while standing up. How many Japanese businessmen have you seen sleeping in the train standing up?

 

Friday, January 20th 2012

Bonjour Mademoiselle,

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I know who’s cuter!

How was your Friday? A little bit wet I guess. This afternoon C telephoned your school, Tosei Primary School to see if the planned “mochi-tsuki takai” was to go ahead tomorrow. I was hoping to attend and give you a bit of a surprise, alas it’s been cancelled. I wonder when we’ll see each other now… September 2011 is such a long, long time ago…

Last night C & I went to see another lawyer. Her name is Mikiko OTANI. She’s a high-profile lawyer who specializes in family law. She has represented Japan at the United Nations, and in March 2011 she spoke in front of The Diet here in Japan. Her speech to The Diet encouraged the Japanese parliamentarians to sign the Hague Convention on Children’s Rights.

Otani San has agreed to take on our case, but she made no promises. She stated that the law is wrong, but we must work within the law to find ways for you and I to continue seeing each other.

Let’s hope that’s soon Bella… XoXo… she’s given me a flicker of hope.

FAST FACTS

  • Your daddy-long-legs Dad has long arms, but did you know the Giant Arctic Jellyfish have tentacles that can reach over 36 metres in length? They must be good ticklers!
  • Did you know your Uncle Sean Morice was a bit of a champion athlete? He was an amazing long distance runner, much better than Dad, and he starred at Aussie Rules Football as a youth, but he had to give up after the migraines from a fractured skull became so painful. He was pretty gifted, but perhaps not as talented as a hummingbird. They are so agile and have such good control that they can fly backwards! Can you fly backwards Tinkerbell?

 

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Picnic with Mike & Yukari.

Tuesday, January 24th 2012

G’day Gorgeous! It snowed last night! How great! I wanted to go outside and play, but C wasn’t too keen.

Did it snow lots in Tokorozawa? Instead of riding my bicycle to school this morning like usual, I took the train just like you. I love to ride my bicycle. The ride into Saint Maur gets Dad’s heart pumping…  I feel fit and fresh when I arrive at school. It also only takes me 25 minutes door to door, whereas the train takes me 45 minutes or more. And of course I’m saving money! It’s nice to take the train occasionally however, as I get a chance to read a book. At the moment I’m reading “Tanzibars Chest”, the story of a journalist in Africa. My good buddy David Barrett recommended it. It’s a very good read… last night after my run, I relaxed in the hot bath and read, read, read. What do you do on the train Princess? Do you read too, practice your kanji drill, or chat with your friends? Is it crowded? I guess it’s like anywhere in Japan, busy, busy, busy.

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Another Easter egg hunt from yesteryear…

Today I filed my Ekiden All-Star teams at school. There are 8 teams of 4 runners from fourth & fifth grade. We’ll run at the National Nissan Stadium on March 10th. David will help me coach, he’s a beauty! As I was checking their addresses and birth dates, I noticed some of my fourth graders are only a few months older than you… it made me think that once upon a time you were on your way to becoming a student at Saint Maur… shigata ga nai ne…

I miss you, every hour of every day. Love now & forever, Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Have you read Shakespeare’s Hamlet? It features a young and beautiful noble woman by the name of Ophelia. She’s from Denmark and she falls tragically in love with the play’s lead, Hamlet. Of course Hamlet is forbidden to marry his Ophelia…
  • I think you’ll become an Ekiden All-Star yourself, but did you know locusts have leg muscles that are about 1000 times more powerful than an equal weight of human muscle? They’d make great ekiden all-stars don’t you think?

 

Monday, January 30th 2012

Evening Bella! Freezing isn’t it! C & I are doing our bit and trying to save electricity, so we’re all rugged up like Edmond Hillary & Tenzing Norgay on their accent of Mount Everest… that’s inside… on the couch, and no heating!

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Gotta love camping with Dad!

Last night was Travis’s birthday. The young fella was 38, so we met him & Megumi, Phil & Bonnie in at the Naka-Meguro “Taproom” for a b’day dinner. The original Taproom started in Numazu by an American chap who brewed his own beer. You’ve actually been there once yourself, when one summer night we all took our angels along. Our good friends from Numazu all miss you. They had many lovely things to say about you. Bonnie apparently posted a photo of the two of us on Facebook, but I haven’t checked it out yet.

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Here you are with Megz & Trav at our home in Numazu.

Yesterday for 5 hours I gathered signatures for “The Left Behind Parents Japan” group. They’re encouraging people to sign a petition for the Japanese government to sign the Hague Convention on Children’s Rights. If the government signs, it will protect the right of both parents to see their child/ren. It will also acknowledge custody outcomes in the other 88 countries that have signed, preventing the very disturbing problem of Japanese parents kidnapping children from abroad. Under the present JP regulations, Japan is a safe-haven for such cases.

It was hard going collecting signatures, a true kaleidoscope of emotions and people. Some people were warmly supportive, some surprised that Japan is the last developed nation on earth to sign. Others were openly rude, not prepared to even listen for a second. It made me think of the manner in which I sometimes brush people aside with a smile, but continue on my way unaware of their plea… I shouldn’t do that. It might take Dad a little longer to get from A to B, but it’s probably worth listening to.

I miss you every day of every week… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Here’s a fast fact I bet you didn’t know. The blue whale can produce the loudest sound of any animal. At 188 decibels, the noise can be detected over 800 kilometres away. Really… I find that hard to believe… 8km seems more realistic. Nandee (Deirdre Morice) used to talk to us about hearing the roar of the lions from Melbourne zoo from where she lived in Carlton, so I had always thought that the “King of the Jungle”, was also the loudest
  • Dad was at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was during the school holidays, so I was fortunate enough to secure tickets to the athletics. Your mother decided she didn’t want to go, instead she went back to Japan, so I shared the tickets with my family. It was an incredible Olympics with Cathy Freeman winning the 400 metres, and a beautiful Japanese runner, Takahashi Naoko a crowd favourite in taking the women’s marathon

 

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Afternoon Phi, how are you doing? Hope you’re managing to avoid the dreaded lurgy (the flu)!

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Woo-hoo! Looking smart!

It’s only 3pm, so normally I’d be in the classroom madly rushing along all the yet to be completed tasks of my students. Instead your “fit as a fiddle” Dad managed to come down with type A influenza last Saturday. I don’t think I’ve ever had influenza before, I’ve certainly never felt this weak and helpless before. Fortunately my fever broke this morning, so I’ve been feeling progressively better. C has been good to me, even staying home from work to nurse your ojiisan Dad… I’m a lucky man!

When the doctor told me I’d be off work for a week, the first thing I thought was, “Beautiful”. I started planning my days around catching up with my letters to you, finding Fast Facts, thinking of Crazy Questions I’d love to discuss with you, and practicing my hiragana for another letter to you. But I hadn’t realized how weak I would become. I had no concentration levels, so much so, I couldn’t even read a book.

Anyway, I’m on the mend thanks to the fancy puffer medicine. C has nicknamed me “Monsieur Escargo”, because I move like a snail and frequently find myself curled up in the shape of a snail trying to find a comfortable position for my aching bones. What a whiner, hey? One more day of rest and C’s daikon medicine, and I think I’ll be ready for school and the smiling, warm, joyful faces of my students.

“Here’s looking at you, kid!” Love Dad… XoXo

FAST FACTS

  • The above quote by Humphrey Bogart features in the classic 1942 movie, Casablanca. He stars alongside Ingrid Bergman in a beautiful yet tragic tale of love during WW2. C loves it. Let’s sit down and watch it together some day, just the 3 of us, or perhaps 4… you & your Bogart!
  • You kind of like mice, don’t you? Actually, you positively love them! Remember our times at the free petting zoo in Sakuragicho? I think it’s called “Nogeyama”. Anyway, they have loads of mice running riot, and you’d happily lose yourself in there for hours! They had cute baby chicks too, but you were always keener on catching yourself a mouse to pat, quite often with Pat (Cossey). Did you know that rats breed so quickly that in just 18 months, 2 rats could have created over 1 million relatives! Remind me not to buy you two rats for Xmas!

 

Saturday, February 18th 2012

G’day Bella! How’s trix? Recently I haven’t had much time to write to you over the weekend. You see, I’ve been building a deck for Milton on his roof garden area. I’m really enjoying it, but as soon as the sun goes behind the clouds or begins to set, it becomes freezing up there!

 

Yesterday your mother and I were back in the Family Court of Yokohama for Mediation #03.

It seems that Japan is still caught up in something termed the “tender years”. At least abroad in countries such as the USA, UK, France, Australia, etc., it was a commonly used term in the 1960s. At the time, it was decided by the Family Courts that the mother was deemed the most suitable parent to take custody of the child/ren.

But research pointed to joint custody as a better way of handling the evolving problem of how to share child custody. It was believed that it would lead to fewer fights over the custody of children because it was more equal. The majority of mothers and fathers welcomed joint custody. Others did not. As with any trend, there was a backlash. Child custody became a highly political gender-specific issue. Thus, the ramping up of high-level disputes also began in the 70’s. In most countries the “tender years” presumption (mother knows best) was replaced with the best-interests-of-the-child presumption of joint custody (the best parent, is both parents). In the 1980’s in countries such as Australia, courts began to increasingly ignore gender in determining child custody. Instead, the courts looked first at how the custody could be shared, and if that wasn’t possible, judicial officers attempted to determine which parent was more interested and better able to attend to the best interest of the child.

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Beautiful!

Sadly all the research that suggests that joint custody works best for the child has been overlooked in Japan. But it’s gaining more and more attention, and people like your Dad & C are working to make Japan more aware of the issues. This in part is what we will be presenting to The Diet members next month. C will act as an interpreter, and Dad will take pictures of you along, and also your cute black school shoes from Katoh Gakuen.

I miss you every morning… I can’t gently wake you and cradle you in my arms on a school morning when you’re a sleepy-head… or wait for you to come running to my bed for a jump on the weekend… LOVE Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • You’ve never been noisy or overbearing. Did you know insects such as bees, mosquitoes and cicadas make noise by rapidly moving their wings. One day I’ll show you how to play a tune on a leaf, hopefully we’ll be camping together and enjoying the last sunlight around a camp fire…
  • One of my favourite photos of the two of us was taken at Melbourne Airport in July 2004. You’re in your aqua knitted top, snuggling into Dad in his orange top. You’re bewdifulll!

 

Sunday, February 26th 2012

Fi-Fai-Fo-Fum! How are you kiddo? Another cold day here in Yokohama & Tokyo.

Today C & Dad went to another Left Behind Parents Japan (LBPJ) meeting in Tokyo. We’re preparing for a Q & A session with 12 Diet members. Today, however we again got bogged down in our introductions and house-keeping, and sadly not a lot was prepared, nor decided upon for The Diet session on Wednesday, March 14th.

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You & Sophie…

Still it was good to rub shoulders with like-minded people, and together hope for the miracle, that we may be able to see our children again, one day soon, here in Japan.

I love you, I always will, no matter what…

FAST FACTS

  • On a 5 day hike way back in the summer of 1990, just months before I came to Japan for the first time, one of my friends, Marty almost died in quicksand… it’s a true tale you’ll have to ask me about someday soon!
  • We saw a few big, poisonous black snacks on that infamous hike. We began chanting an Aboriginal saying, “mucka-mucka” that when said correctly, is supposed to vibrate, giving Mr. Snake an opportunity to make an eloquent escape and spare us a heart attack. Despite the fact that snakes have holes as ears, evidently, they can’t hear. But their eyesight isn’t too bad, for even when a snake has its eyes closed, it can still see through its eyelids! Cool hey!?

 

Wednesday, March 7th 2012

Hey Gorgeous, how’s life? Your last month as a third grader. Things must be winding down, perhaps a little more time for an art project, an extra PE session or perhaps the parents have been invited into the classroom to do some interactive fun activities.

I wonder… I wonder if I’ll have a chance to tell a story with you and your classmates smiling up at me… I wonder if I’ll have an opportunity to create a miniature Japanese garden with you and your friends, to read you another chapter book, help with a school fundraiser… I wonder so many things my beautiful child. I wonder if I’ll ever again be invited into your classroom, like I often was at Katoh Kinder.

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Kai & Phi

I remember my grade 3 teacher, it was Ms. O’Sullivan. I had her two years in a row as she also taught us in grade 2. I used to love doing times table races in pairs. Ms. O’Sullivan would say 7×9= and if you were fast & correct, you went to the back of the line for another round. Of course if you were beaten, you had to sit out and wait for the next round.

It’s something I’ve turned into a Wizards & Witches competition every Monday morning at school. The kids just love it. Amazingly they’re nearly all so inspired to improve, that almost each week there are two new names written on the board as champs. How’s your number facts Phi? I wish I could teach you a trick or two… luv Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • Unlike humans, sheep have four stomachs, each one helps them digest the food they eat… do you have a second stomach just for extra peanut butter and cakes!?
  • Dad was quick with number facts, but lousy at mathematics in high school, strange hey?

 

Friday, March 9th 2012

Since your mother took you from me on the evening of August 15th 2008, I’ve been tight-lipped in front of you about what actually happened. I have kept a long and aching silence about not telling you anything, because none of this is your fault, and yet I know you’re hurting too. Though I’ve been angry and sullen with your mother for snatching you from my arms, I’ve always tried to mask my pain when I’m in her presence before you. She took you with such force from my arms from that platform of Shibuya Station. The shock on your innocent face is etched in my memory, in my nightmares, and the pain I feel reaches into my soul.

I have tried to think of things from your mother’s perspective. Of course she wants you to live with her, just as I dream of living with you… but why does she so aggressively oppose our visitations. No matter how much I have examined her choices, how I have reasoned it, I can never convince myself that what she had done is anything other than wicked and unjust.

Before your mother took me to court to wrestle custody from me, I guess we lived in separate cocoons. We knew little of each other’s lives. We spoke often on the phone and we were quite civil to each other, always polite. Though I knew it not at the time, I guess it was about the time that she was dating your stepfather, she was planning something… her manner became colder and colder, more distant and distant.

The rest is history, the communication channels between us constricted and eventually shutdown.

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“Take me camping again Dad!”

I miss you so much, especially now when I would love to snuggle up next to you on your bed and read you a story.

Next year you will be able to run in the Yokohama International Ekiden, how about that? I’ll be there to cheer you on, my little champ. Tomorrow I take my Grade 4 & 5 Ekiden All-Star Team to the National Stadium in Shin-Yokohama… one day bella, we’ll run together… just you and I! Love Dad… xoxo…

FAST FACTS

  • When we were kids, we often went camping to remote places. We had the most amazing experiences and saw so much of the Australian bush. Once a huge 2 metre goanna invaded our tent. Pa coaxed it out with eggs. The goanna ate each of the 12 eggs whole, regurgitated the shell, then defying its bulging stomach, swiftly climbed a tree with its big belly of eggs. Did you know that sharks lay the biggest eggs in the world?
  • I still have nightmares regarding the evening of August 15th, 2008…

 

Sunday, March 11th 2012

Hey marathon star Phi, how’s trix? Yesterday David Barrett and I took 28 kids to the National Stadium for the Yokohama Ekiden. In each team there were 4 runners running distances ranging from 1.3km to 1.9km. It was cold and wet and several times the rain turned from sleet to snow and back to rain again, but our kids battled on with big smiles on their faces.

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Story time with your Nandee…

Our teams weren’t fast, in fact we were barely competitive. Actually one of our teams finished second last out of perhaps 125 teams. But each of our kids did their best, and their smiles said it all… we were in it for fun!

Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • It snowed today in our part of the world
  • You are the lightest, loveliest, tenderest, most beautiful angel in the universe!

 

Thursday, March 15th 2012

Konichi wa Ophelia Sama.! Genki!?

This week marks a year since the Tohoku Earthquake. We’ve had a week of reflection at school beginning with the whole school writing haiku in both English & Japanese; actually the French kids wrote in French. Then Tuesday we played a video of our fundraising efforts on 3 different screens around the school. Wednesday we had 2 reflection services in the chapel for students and staff to attend, and we organized a whole school photo (450+) with most of us in our own ‘Pray for Japan’ t-shirts. Then today, the committee that I lead were keen on supporting a Student Council idea of having a No Electricity Day, to help us better understand and empathize what survivors in the affected areas went through. The administration however, rejected our initial proposal, so it was watered down to a very tokenistic No Electricity Hour; better than nothing, I guess.

I wonder what your school did to commemorate the anniversary of the quake…

So, yesterday was a busy day for your Dad. I had organized for one of our parents, who is a semi-professional photographer to photograph the whole school at 1.15pm. Somehow, I managed to get everybody from the kindergarten, to the high school, to the teachers, and office staff in the one area with the sun in exactly the right position. Then I packaged my kids off to PE and raced to Motomachi-Chukagai Station to head into the meeting with The Diet members.

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Helping Dad with Bonnie & Phil’s deck.

C was already there, with a suitcase of your things. She had your Katoh Kinder black school shoes, a caricature of you at Landmark Tower, your bento box and wrapping towel, photo albums and even a letter from your cousin Allie, stating it’s not fair that she can’t play with you. There was media from all over the world, and at my immediate table were officials from the US, NZ & Chilean Embassies.

Initially Professor Colin Jones spoke, a US attorney who teaches law at Doshisa University in Kyoto. He spoke in Japanese about the current situation pertaining to The Hague Convention, and Japan’s laws that are failing the rights of children and their parents.

The experience was somehow exciting and depressing at the same time. Harrowing stories of parents who have been cut off from their children by the Family Court of Japan, mixed with equal amounts of hope from people determined to right the situation.

We met a good many people including a Pilipino woman named Airi, whose two children were taken from her by her former Japanese husband. I hope we get to see her and her children someday soon.

On a brighter note, tomorrow is Japanese Culture Day, another fantastic event at Saint Maur, with so many members of our community pitching in to make the day a wonderful and memorable event for the kids. We’ve set up Learning Centres that the kids will rotate around; I’m going to take the kids through making a Japanese miniature garden with David… should be fun!

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Gotta love a day at the beach with Dad!

What are you thinking Phi… it’s 8.25pm… are you in bed reading a book… perhaps you’re reading one of the Magic Tree House books I gave you… Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • Did you know Dad has only ever broken his collarbone and fractured his right foot… not too bad considering all the sport he’s played. Oh, I have been hit by 3 cars on my bicycle, but each time I was very, very lucky, receiving only minor injuries. Actually, I had a series of 3 punctured lungs toward the end of my footy career here in Japan. I used to play with the Tokyo Goannas and your mother used to come along and watch. Your mother was very good to me, visiting me in hospital, and even organizing my insurance company to pay out.
  • As a kid I smashed my nose on the steering wheel of a Ferrari car at a beach fair, but as you probably know, our noses are made from cartilage, so they’re difficult to correct… as a result Dad’s nose seems a little wonkier each year.

 

Saturday, March 17th 2012

Yesterday we had another grand Japanese Culture Day. You’ll have to search a youtube clip (or it could be on vimeo) titled “Saint Maur Teachers doing the Radio Taiso.” A group of 5 of us dressed up as Japanese guard men with our white helmets, reflective vests, flashing red torch batons. It was once again my teaching partner, David’s idea… man of many talents! How I wish he was teaching you next year. It was a lot of fun directing the parent and student traffic around the school with my flashing torch baton.

My Learning Centre with the students in my class was creating a Japanese style miniature garden. We’ve been teaching the kids in Art about a famous Japanese Sumi-e painter, Toyo Sesshu. He followed the lead of Chinese artists painting in shades of grey with fluent strokes. We took the kids down to Motomachi park to do some sketching. It was just lovely in the soft March sun. The back in the classroom preceding Japanese Day we had our kids practice the Sumi-e style with bamboo, and it truly looked terrific! We cut out their paintings and pasted them to the inside of shoe boxes to create a background. Then today they added sand, moss, unusual craggy stones, a few rounded pebbles, and even a water feature or two. The result was simply stunning. I wish we could make one together this weekend!

Tomorrow I start a 7 day First Aid Course by a group from Germany called Malteser. When I’m done I’ll be a qualified First Aid Instructor! Pretty fancy hey!?

Warm regards Bella, Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • Did you know that instead of bones, sharks have a skeleton made from cartilage?
  • I love you…

 

Monday, March 20th 2012

G’day Grogeous, need a Band-Aid?

Wow, this First Aid Course is pretty full on. It’s a great group, with two members from the German School in Tokyo/Yokohama, myself and Gilles (St. Maur staff), and 4 of the mothers. Everybody is experienced, except me. Two of the mothers are nurses, one a doctor, and the other a health & diet therapist. Both the German teachers are already instructors, and doing the course as a refresher. It’s pretty intense, but I’m enjoying the challenge and appreciating the practical component of the course.

Hope you don’t fall over soon, but if you do, give Dad a call and I promise to do a good job of patching you up! XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • For 3 years throughout university I worked as a nursing assistant at Maroondah Hospital in Ringwood. I had many varied and interesting jobs, one of which was checking that deceased patients had no jewelry on them!
  • Did you know that if you bend a deceased patient’s big toe toward them, their mouth will slowly open? Actually I don’t think it’s true, though I never dared to try…

 

Wednesday, March 21st 2012

How’s my Princess? Guess what I’m eating now? Some hot English muffins with your favourite, peanut butter… Mmmm…

Tokoro de, thought you might be interested to hear that Australia has a new Foreign Minister, by the name of Bob Carr. Uncle Jeff & Nandee promised to write a letter to him hoping he may be more influential on child custody cases than his predecessor, Kevin Rudd. Bob Carr was a former State Labor party leader (NSW) and has quite the reputation for speaking his mind. I like him because he’s not afraid to speak out against the US. Uncle Jeff said he send a copy of his letter to us in the snail mail. When I receive it, I’ll pop it in the files Chinami has organized for us, so that one day soon honey, you may read it in your own time.

Here’s a letter your Nandee penned and sent off to the newspapers:

 

From: moricede@hotmail.com

To: letters@theage.com.au; moriceg@hotmail.com

Subject: Sunday Age

Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2012 14:42:45 +1100

 

My name is Dee Morice, 39 Andrew Crescent, Croydon South, VIC. 9879 2367/ 045 713 8113 and I’m writing this letter to call Australia’s attention to the plight of children & parents in Japan.

 

On Thursday, March 15th a group of foreign nationals and Japanese citizens belonging to Left Behind Parents Japan (LBPJ) appealed to the Japanese Parliament (The Diet) to follow the lead given by some 88 countries, and sign the Hague Convention on Child Rights. A notable US attorney, Professor Colin Jones was among the keynote speakers, and he spoke to an audience of foreign and domestic media, embassy officials and left behind parents regarding the need for dual custody agreements in Japan. Delegates from most Western nations were represented, and they were witness to heart-breaking stories and displays of letters to Family Law Court judges in Japan such as this: “Dear Sir, I think that it is not fair that I don’t see Ophelia as I am her Cousin. From Allie (age 7)”

            Where was Australia’s representatives?

            Indeed most Australians are unaware that a Japanese parent can virtually “kidnap” a child after a marriage breakup; in many cases where they are not even the custodial parent. Despite visitation agreements made in the Family Court of Japan, the Japanese parent should they wish to do so, can prevent all access. Our Tokyo Foreign Embassy response to pleas for help from Australian citizens is, “We don’t interfere in individual cases, nor the politics of another country.”

            My first grand daughter is now 9 years old, and until she was 6 years old, we enjoyed annual trips to Japan to support my son who was a single father with sole custody until his daughter was snatched away. Until then our beautiful grand daughter was bilingual, bicultural and the happiest of children.

            The best parent, is both parents, and for the sake of the child’s identity and future happiness, Japan must be prevailed upon to sign and to adhere to The Hague Convention on Child Rights.

            Presently, the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent show is researching a future episode in Tokyo on such cases. Let us hope that our new Foreign Minister, Bob Carr takes a more proactive stance than our embassy in Japan.

           

So, there you go darling, your Australian connection are doing their best. Thank YOU Nandee!

And it’s not just your immediate family whose hearts are reaching out to you. Over the past few months we’ve received over 70 letters of support. Each of those letters mention the tremendous bond you and I share. Wonderful warmhearted people such as Chris Haggarty, Jennifer Schumacher, Ben & Alina Gavel, Hadyn Hewitt, Craig Wehrle and Ellen Sheridan have lent their support.

The kind words of Scott & Rie Maltby, Maureen Patterson, Michael Tarulli, Mike Bostwick, Brenda Hamer, Maureen J. Ford and Akemi & Graham Anderson bring me to tears.

Konomi Marly, Kumiko Kiyoshima, David James, David Barrett, Jeanette Thomas, your cousin Allie Morice and Dave Algie give us hope.

In the eyes of Miura San & Kita San (our mechanics across the street), Masa & Tomo (our dentists in Numazu), Bonnie Armstrong & Phil Greene, Megumi & Travis Ion and Cindy & Lee Tisdall- McPhee, Maureen Fitzgerald & Ray Owen, Nicolas Gregoriades, Kumi Sugisawa, Kim Misao Takeda and Kate Dunne we deserve each other.

The letters just kept coming Phi, and even as I shuffle through them now I have to grit my teeth to prevent the tears… Deborah Schubach, my cousin Vanessa Fuller-Lewis, Denise & Mike Fuller-Lewis, Joanne McLinden, Simon & Kathy Evans, Ralph Dankwort, Uncle Richie Morice, Cousin Katie Jane Thompson, Bev Graham, Peter & Janice Hannon, Janet Cotter, Kym McIntosh, Pat Cossey, Anne Sweeney, Damian Panozza, your Nandee, Geoff & Fei Parmenter and your Uncle Sean Morice.

Pages and pages of beautiful letters… Uncle Tony (Anthony Martin), Uncle Jeff Martin, Peter & Elizabeth Enderby, Su Morice, Diane & Greg Bell, Robert Munro & his wonderful daughter Jenny Munro, John Thorpe and my student from all those years ago at TPPS, Erin Scott.

These amazing friends and family took us into their thoughts and give us faith in humanity and civility… Lorraine & Ken Henderson, your beautiful Aunt Cate Taylor (Morice), Troy Shanks, John Moran, my inspiration – Sam Lawson, Milton Miltiadous, my wicked cuz Jane Martin, Pat & Peter Lawson, Celine St-Amand, Theresa Binning, Colleen & Bruce Butler, Elaine Yandeau, and your first kinder teacher at Katoh Sonya Janine Rawnsley.

God bless you all…

FAST FACTS

  • No matter what Phi, we are truly lucky people to be loved as we are…
  • I would love to take you hiking at Cradle Mountain, Tasmania someday. I’ve never done the hike, but it’s always been a dream of mine to pursue. Did you know that as well as being a famous Looney Tunes character, the Tasmanian Devil is a real animal that is only found in the wild in Tasmania. It is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world

Sunday, March 25th 2012

Hello Bella! It’s the most beautiful afternoon. Spring is well and truly upon us. I’ve just come back from a 60 minute run. I met up with Craig, Akiko and their lovely daughter, Aya at an awesome park only 15 minutes away (jogging). Aya was wearing a smashing pink jacket that was once yours, and before you claimed it, actually it was from Grace Thorpe. So the jacket has had a good life, worn by three pretty girls who just adore pink and their Dads.

The park itself is a cracker. It’s big and has loads of green space. There’s a terrific adventure playground with a long slide and a long line of excited kids waiting for their turn. There’s an artificial water feature running through part of the park that must prove very popular in summer for paddling, and for Dad, there’s a circuit where loads of joggers are pounding along.

C is actually working out at Narita Airport. This time round she has a contract with finance officials from French speaking African nations, so I’ll be home alone until Friday.

We’re already preparing for another audience with The Diet members here in Tokyo. We must keep our heads up, stay calm and full of Nelson Mandela-esque integrity… progress on the issue of child rights here in Japan, will only be made through education, not retribution.

You’re 9 years old now. I wonder how many years it will be before you are granted a voice on this issue that clouds your heart and mind… take care my beautiful, beautiful daughter… XoXo…

WICKED WISDOM

“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” – Chuck Palahniuk

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