2013 April – June

Monday, April 1st 2013

Konban wa Phi. What do you know, another Japanese school year begins. This evening I’m contemplating my beautiful Ophelia beginning grade 5 this month. In October you’ll turn 11 years old. Last year I could hardly believe you had left single digits behind, going from 9 to 10. As we age together, and I see you less and less, my memories of you are of a child, not a girl who in two years time will become a teenager. What are your thoughts about grade 5? What goals will you write for yourself? In what academic areas are you motivated to improve? Ensure your goals are attainable, achievable & realistic. If your goals or the goals set by your Mother or Teacher overwhelm you, chunk them into manageable pieces. You can only do your best, and be proud for that…

Last Friday, March 29th we moved the bulk of our stuff from Myorenji to near Tama. Fortunately Jamie, Evan & Craig helped out. I picked up a 2 ton truck at 8am, and 2 trips later I dropped it off at 7pm, thoroughly exhausted, but happy to have the move behind us and Dad’s back still in good shape… I think.

On Saturday we were up early and I took KD (my new nickname for Pa) to the big home centre (Conan) near Kamata. They have several courtesy K-trucks that you can borrow for an hour. I think I’m pretty much a valued customer because each time we purchase the equivalent of a K-truck full of renovating bits & pieces. We thought the home centre opened at 8.30am, but we had to wait until 9.30am for doors to open, so we had a coffee at a convenience store and chatted about our plans. Pa enjoyed his visit, comparing prices to Australia. It’s interesting, because quite a few things, for example plaster board and plywood are cheaper in Japan.

Pa the foreman working in the main bedroom

Pa the foreman working in the main bedroom

Love you to pieces Phi… XoXo…

GRAND VIDEO

Here’s a clip you can watch together with me some day. Or better still sit on your lover’s lap and marvel at its imagery. It follows a simple paper dart:

http://www.wimp.com/romanticshort/

 

Sunday, April 7th 2013

Hey Bella. How’s your first week of grade 5? Do you have a good teacher? How’s your English class? I imagine you can write quite a bit in English now. Do you read any of the books I gave you? What about in Japanese, who are your favorite writers? I guess you’re reading a good many chapter books by now. Shall we start a story this evening? We could continue Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree, or an adventure of Jack & Annie’s in The Magic Treehouse, or perhaps Charlotte’s Web.

Sonya & Yuki

Sonya & Yuki

Yuki & Sonia joined the renovating team today. Yuki’s Japanese, and Sonia is Spanish. We were trying to level the floor upstairs before putting the flooring down in the main bedroom. Fortunately, Ogura San’s mate came up yesterday with an amazing laser level that spins 360 degrees. He made a mark along each of the walls showing the exact level we had to bring the floor to. He started at the highest point. A house of 40 something years of age in Japan is going to move around quite a bit with the earthquakes. We discovered that I have to bring up the floor 19mm in certain places. So yesterday I played with a big jigsaw puzzle. I had tens of boards of differing thickness, varying from 2mm to 12mm in order to set the floor as level as possible. Today Yuki drilled the boards down and Sonia helped Nandee in the garden. Then we sat around a door that KD had turned into a table-top and had some drinks and nibblies

Yesterday I once again took KD to the Conan Home Centre. Another productive trip. I’m so grateful I’ve got Pa for company and advice. He misses you, I know. He’ll never say so himself, but you and he shared something very special, but I guess I don’t need to remind you of that bond… you know in your heart.

I’m missing you too Phi… I missed seeing you yesterday, missed you today, and I’ll miss you tomorrow… XoXo…

TERRIFIC TRIVIA

Did you know E.B. White originally had chapter 3 as his introduction to Charlotte’s Web? Chapter 3 describes the setting of the barn, but was passed over as the introduction in favour of some dialogue surrounding the planned slaughter of the runt (Wilbur) by Fern’s father. I often use this fact when I’m teaching a mini-lesson on exciting/captivating introductions. I read them both and ask the students to decide which is the better lead.

 

Friday, April 12th 2013

Living area taking shape

Living area taking shape

How’s it going Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum? You would have enjoyed today’s excursion. Today Greg and I took our Grade 3 kiddies to Shinkin no Mori Koen. It was fantastic. We’ve been researching habitats, so the natural surroundings lent themselves perfectly for some micro-habitat studies. Shinkin no Mori Park also has the most tremendous slide that Dad went down 3 times and the kids about 10. Hurt my bum a bit, so I’m sure the kiddies will be nursing bruised and battered bums this evening too.

Have you been to Shinkin no Mori Koen? I think you would really like its open spaces and forests. In a way it’s kind of unkept which helps it maintain its rugged, rustic, natural beauty. We asked the kids to rule a square metre and challenged them to find as many beasties and creepy crawlies as they could; without harming or taking a single thing! They sketched their target area and listed the bugs and described the flora too.

The park reminds me of the park we used to go to together to look for Totoro. Do you remember? I think we spied Totoro once or twice too. We took your little mate Masako along a few times too. It’s the perfect park to encourage imaginations to grow, for creativity and free play to flourish.

Let’s go back there some day Phi… just the two of us… I’ll prepare a picnic and bring the photos… Love Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTE

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, April 16th 2013

Evening Ophelia. Tonight Nandee & Pa departed. Once again it was difficult to say goodbye. I’m not sure if it gets any easier, there’s always such silence when they’re gone. A gap that you can’t quite fill, and of course they once again missed seeing you despite travelling almost 10,000km to see their first grandchild.

The good news is that my high school friend Michael Tarulli arrived. He’ll stay with his judo coach in Ibaragi until Thursday, then join us in Tokyo. I’ve been at him for years to come, and he’s always said Japan is on his wish list, and now here he is. I’m sure I’ve told you about Michael before. We ran x-country and athletics together at high school (6 years), although for all but one year he was a year ahead of me in terms of age group. He was a great athlete, and always kind, gentle and smiling. Michael was also Australian champion in his age division in Judo, and that’s another reason he has always wanted to travel to Japan; to once again meet his judo coach.

Some day I’ll introduce you to Michael… and someday I hope you meet Nandee & Pa again… before it’s too late. Love Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTES

“No one is born hating another person because of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

 

Wednesday, April 17th

Hey Gorgeous, you won’t believe what happened today. We learned that our infamous lawyers are seeking extra money from your Dad based on the success of the case through the Family Court. Success?! How do they define success, because I’m still no closer to seeing you, and during the time they represented us, they didn’t manage to organize a single visitation. I’m totally bummed and penned this letter to them:

While the previous adjudication was revoked, the new clauses regarding counseling, indirect contact, and participation of school events are clearly accepted based on our requests…

Actually Phi, I think I can spare you Dad’s miserable problems. If one day you’d like to read about your Dad’s fight to see you, all these letters are documented. Instead, let’s look to Harry Potter for solace.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

 

Sunday, April 21st 2013

G’day Possum! How are those trees in Iruma? It’s Spring and time for any adventurous child or adult to climb a tree and take in the view at the top. Everything looks different, more interesting, smells better, feels unique and there’s always something new to discover.

This evening we were invited to D’s apartment for dinner. His partner is Japanese and she had cooked a lovely fusion meal. It was quite a tasty dinner that included couscous and several spicy sauces. Before David’s we took Michael into Yokohama to visit a 100 yen shop so he could shop for his 6 nieces & nephews. Of course most of the day Dad was renovating.

Fixing the downpipes before starting on the driveway

Fixing the downpipes before starting on the driveway

On Friday, Michael came up to school to give a personal speech to my class about his accident, life and the power of positive thinking. He also spoke to the Fifth Grade Class who have gone off the rails a bit this year.

Well Bella, time for bed… fancy a story? Love Dad… XoXo…

MEMORABLE MOMENT

I can still see you & Luca in the front garden at Cate’s house in Northcote. You’re both up the tree giggling and planning like pirates, all rugged up against a wet & windy Winter day in Melbourne.

 

Monday, April 29th 2013

The new vege patch

The new vege patch

Genki Phi Chan? How was your first month of Grade 5? I wish I could chat with you, and sit down beside you and guide you through the Math. Then later, after your bath, we could read a chapter book together to help you relax before another day at the chalk-face. We could read Louis Sachar’s Holes, or The Neverending Story, or Michael Murpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom; actually you might prefer Murpurgo’s Warhorse instead, because it’s all about the most magnificent horse during WW1.

Today was the Saint Maur Food Fair. Another beautiful day with such a grand choice of international food. Michael joined us late in the afternoon. He had a good chat with some of my students, then he went his own way.

Last Friday Michael made hamburgers, not bad either and together with Eric we watched the footy. All the way from Oz. Go BLUES! It was great! We hooked up the live stream to the TV and cheered on the Mighty Blues. Erick quite enjoyed it. He’s still awaiting his student visa to return to Canada, so now his mother is talking about continuing his studies in South Australia. I’m not sure I’ve introduced Eric. He’s the handsome young neighbor from Tanzania. His mother works at the embassy, and his sister, Alice attends Seisen International School. She’s the same age as you, but twice as shy.

The lawn starting to take shape

The lawn starting to take shape

Yesterday C began a week with the French Under 14 soccer team. Last year she was with the NSW (Australia) team and had a lovely time. Evidently they were very cute and well behaved, but she’s worried the French lads won’t be quite as disciplined. Saturday we met Michael at Tokyo Station after his trip to Kyoto, Nara, Nagasaki & Hiroshima, and headed for Funabashi. We met C (the lovely child psychologist who has been helping Dad get his head space right in regards to dealing with your Mother) and her husband (for first time). They were recently married in a small ceremony, so we helped them celebrate their marriage in an izakaya of their choice.

Sleep well Bella… Dad… XoXo…

FUN FACTS

  • We’re off to Egypt in August, so here’s a Fast Fact neither of us knew: Mount Catherine is the highest mountain in Egypt, standing 2,629m high. Higher than the highest mountain in Australia by about 400 metres!

 

Saturday, May 4th 2013

G’day, g’day Phi. Oh, there’s not enough hours in the day… do you think we’ll ever finish renovating this house??? I could sure do with a hand, especially with your hammer skills! We could visit a home centre together and find the perfect hammer, not too heavy and one that balances nicely in your soft hands.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThis morning Mick took me up to the fancy bakery by Denenchofu Station for a lovely breakfast. Very nice, and the coffee wasn’t too bad either. Then he went off for a date with Y, one of C’s single friends from HS. Oh Phi, I’m not sure it’s such a great idea. What if it’s a disaster? They’ll both be complaining, or worse still, just one of them complaining, and the other one thinking this is okay. What then? I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

Yesterday was a school holiday for us as part of our Golden Week; more like Golden Weekend! Anyway, it was nice to have another day to crack on with the renovating. Instead of joining Jamie, Evan, Baysar & David on Le Tour de Zushi, I decided to try and get ahead on a bit of renovating. This afternoon, Ogura San will join us, and we’ll buy a few things for the deck. I’m just waiting for him to arrive now… Can’t wait!

Last Wednesday (May 1st) I had a second appointment at a Notary Office in Yokohama. The first time I went, the correct official was absent, so I had to make an appointment. I need to get my employment record at Saint Maur International School verified, and my marriage to C verified for visa purposes in Egypt. Anyway, it all went kind of smoothly, and I kind of enjoyed having our marriage officiated. The notary official was a real gentleman, who took a genuine interest in C & our trip to Cairo. He had a lovely smile…

You still smiling kiddo? I hope so… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTE

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.” Paul Simon

 

Friday, May 10th 2013

What’s up Phi? What are you thinking as you’re reading this? Have you contacted me? Please do so, it’ll be quite simply THE BEST EMAIL I’LL EVER RECEIVE. There’s no denying that… I just can’t wait to reconnect with you. I can understand you being hesitant… what will you say, what will I say… so much has happened. We don’t have to say anything, just sit down next to one another and enjoy a coffee, or you might prefer a hot chocolate, or a cold glass of homemade lemonade with a slice of lime in it… Just seeing you will be the most wonderful experience… something I dream of again, and again, and again… and again. I figure by the time you’re reading this paragraph; you’ll be sipping coffee yourself… but I hope not… I hope you’re still a hot chocolate and marshmallow gal. How do you have your coffee? I still enjoy a cappuccino with half a sugar.

Today a group of mothers visited Mighty 3M in the library as part of teacher appreciation day. How wonderful is that? They even gave me chocolates (handmade), 2 bottles of wine, and wine kit (it features a sparkling wine special seal/cork, and a wine pourer! Cool hey?! It’s so great to be a teacher when you’re surrounded by supportive students and parents; they make every day a good day. And next Tuesday they’ll prepare a special lunch for all the teachers. It promises to be great because every year it’s very, very tasty!

Last Monday (May 6th) 2013 Michael Tarulli left. He’s a brave soldier our Michael. Left a paraplegic in his early 20s after a horrific car accident that nearly took his life. He’s battled a good many obstacles, and at the same time given the world so much. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, apparently the date he had with Yoko went very well… it must of, because they spent about 12 hours together. I raced home from school Monday arvo and then we went up to the station to say our farewells. He loved Japan and is thinking about returning for work. He could teach English until he finds his feet. We’ll see, I’m not sure how serious he is about it all. But he’s had a memorable trip, with Japan-esque experiences.

And last Tuesday, C came home from her week with the French under 14 representative soccer team! She spent a whole week touring around, with by all reports, quite a demanding, loud group of lads. She said the boys were particularly charming saying farewell at Narita, but the parents had been quite a handful. Anyway, she’s back now and life in Tokyo is back to normal… just the 2 of us.

I’ve included a quote that my mate Michael espouses. I hope you get to meet him one day… he’s an inspiration. XoXo… Dad.

WICKED QUOTE

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.

 

Monday, May 12th 2013

Evening Bella Hirakawa-Morice,

Guess what happened to today in our new house? The new kitchen was taken out! “What!?”, I hear you ask. Yeah, it’s true, the left drawers wouldn’t open properly, so we asked them to fix it so that we could open the drawer beneath the sink. According to the architect, after much umming & arring this morning, he finally admitted their mistake. There was no way to adjust the drawers to enable them to open-shut smoothly, so they pulled out the whole kitchen, and started again! Baka ne! I think even Dad would have measured everything before connecting the cupboards to the floor and wall… Pa always says: measure twice, cut once.

That was once a door! Wanna help?

That was once a door! Wanna help?

Anyway, with no kitchen, we had no choice but to go out for dinner. So we jumped on the bicycles and rode up the hill for some ramen & gyoza. Not bad either, and tonight, I’m having a night off renovating and enjoying a glass of calvados with my lovely wife.

Yesterday we started the rendering for the first time. It was kind of therapeutically satisfying, wiping the off-white render onto the wall. As we got better at it, we slapped on bigger amounts of the heavy render. It was really nice working alongside C. It felt right. In the afternoon we cycled to the OK supermarket. It’s a 25 minute cycle, but it’s the closest cheap supermarket, and now we have a huge mortgage in Tokyo, we must save! Everybody around here is quite wealthy and doesn’t mind paying a lot extra for their fruit and veges… but not us! We both like a good bargain!

And Saturday it was raining, which was a bit of a bummer because I planned to reclaim my title as the King of the Mountain on Le Tour de Zushi. So, the cycling lads cancelled and instead I finished up a second layer of puttying plasterboards.

I’ll buy you a good bicycle one day, if you promise to do some touring with me. I was thinking it might be nice to cycle down around Shimoda… what do you think Phi? Love Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTES

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.” Mitch Albom

 

Thursday, May 16th 2013

Dear Ophelia, I’m not quite sure what to write this evening, what to think, or how to respond. When I came home, I knew something was wrong straight away. C sat me down, and translated a formal document. It seems your mother is determined to erase me from your life. We’ve been informed that your mother has taken our case to the High Court of Japan, that is, beyond the jurisdiction of the Family Court of Japan. I don’t know what to write Phi… I don’t know what to think, and I don’t even know how to feel. It just doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t feel fair. I don’t understand… already, she has denied me and you our visitation rights, and has watered down our visitation contact to the absolute minimal. She’s achieved everything she set out to do… distance me from you… but evidently, it’s still not enough. I really don’t comprehend the lengths she’s prepared to go to, to extinguish the bond we share. I need time to think through this next hurdle for us, but I also need to keep my mind active with positive things to avoid depression and stress… so, let’s not stress you with the latest chapter in your mother & father’s soap opera… what else is happening in your Dad’s life?

Well, we did have some good news. The reform company finished for the second time today. Actually, they’re not quite completed, they have to finish the ceiling in the bathroom. It’s still got a great big hole in it, so big, you can see all the electrical wiring. Just now in fact, I had a wander to free my mind of your mother’s next court appeal, and unfortunately Dad & C discovered all sorts of incomplete bits of pieces, including re-wallpapering, edging around window frames that’s non-existent, an untidy splash-back set of joints… bummer… that’s a bit depressing too! Most of it needs a pro, otherwise I’d have a go myself.

But tomorrow is a new day, a new start, and fortunately it is also the Elementary School Spring Concert. It’s always a grand event, with a great selection of songs and sketches. It’s well supported by parents, and because it kind of signals the beginning of the end of year, there’s always a sense of excitement about the concert.

Then Saturday, it is your Sports Day. I should be excited, and I had every intention of attending with C, but after tonight’s letter, I’m not sure whether I should attend. There’s a knot in my stomach just gnawing at me… oh Phi, what would you like me to do? Should I run, or should I stay? Should I lay down and roll over, or stand and fight? Should I shout & scream to the world, or should I clam up and remain silent? I just want to cry… but I can’t… tomorrow, I’ll wake early and run, run hard, and every hill, I’ll run for you!

Sleep well, my Princess… I love you, no matter what… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTES

“Please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough. And I will always believe the same about you.” Stephen Chbosky

 

Saturday, May 18th 2013

G’day Phi. How’s trix today? Dad will be 45 later this month. Can you believe it? Sounds old doesn’t it? Luckily, however I don’t feel too old. I feel it most when I’m running. Actually I should say jogging, instead of running, because I no longer move too quickly. The cadence and endurance just isn’t there anymore. I guess, physically and mentally my jogging standard makes me feel older. Physically it hurts more sooner, and mentally it’s so frustrating when I see the times I’m running.

Anyway, this morning I was up early to finish digging out the concrete in the backyard. Could sure have used your muscles to sift through the soil for all those blocks, pieces of concrete, and brick. There’s just so much of it, but if we’re to have a decent garden and lawn area, it’s fundamental that we sift through the soil for the rocks & concrete. I’ve scattered loads of gypsum over the top and dug that in it too. The gypsum will help break up the clay soil. I’ve probably emptied close to 200kg already.

Last night, C was late with her French class, so I chose to work until 9pm, digging up… Yeah, you guessed it, I was grinding away at the concrete & ceramic red pipes again in the garden… one day, you’ll be proud of me… this garden will look great!

At 8.45am this morning I ran across to Tamagawa Station to take a train to Kamata. From there I grabbed another train and headed to the Home Centre, it’s called Conan. I love it there. I can lose myself in all the tools, wood, plants, etc. I love the smell, the variety, and the people all planning different home & garden projects. Reminds me of the times we shared out at Mishima home centre, and of course the huge home centre at Fujinomiya, Cainz Super Home Centre. I bought 28 loads of grass (each load has 10 pieces of turf measuring about 33cm x 33cm), some indoor wood to frame a new wall, and a bit more render. I had to buy a few odds and ends to finish off the drainage pipe, and for moving the front tap that the demolition squad cracked. Big job that, not sure if I should get an expert plumber in, or give it a crack myself…

Then tonight, I met C in Shibuya and we went to a dark drama featuring S, C’s friend from France. It was quite weird, but strangely wonderful. It was all in Japanese, but as far as I could follow, it was a play that challenged the establishment. After the play we presented S with a gift and then we went to an upmarket izakaya-fusion restaurant. It was very cool, featuring oishi sashimi & a good wine selection.

Tomorrow C has organized a Buddhist priest to drive any evil spirits out of our new house. Should be interesting! You’re invited! See you at 10am…

Love Dad & C… XoXo…

MEMORABLE MOMENT

When we were in Numz, you & I planted the turf together one early Spring. We’ve got a classic photo of the two of us displaying our tradie-cracks (the tops of our bum)! You’ve got your cool Kathmandu vest on and a lovely pair of corduroys.

 

Sunday, May 19th 2013

G’day Mate. We missed you this morning. It was a lovely celebration/ceremony, and it would have just been grand having you next to me. The Buddhist priest who blessed our home scattered confetti in each and every room! The idea is we’ll scoop it up and send it flying/swimming at the Tama River; I hope it’s biodegradable. He was quite nice, and sang the usual deep-humming songs; he even took a couple of photos of C & Dad… I’ll be able to show you some day soon…

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREAnyway buddy, time to get out of my clean clothes and jump into my dirty work clothes… time for some rendering and to finish off building a wall where there was once a door upstairs; probably put up a few pieces of plaster board up too. Fancy helping? Love Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

Fish! On average, each person in Japan eats about 68 kg of fish a year.

 

Thursday, May 23rd

Hey Phi… do you think we’ll see each other again before I leave for Cairo? It’s just over 2 months away now, and I’ll be off… sometimes I just want to take a day off school and go to Akitsu Station to see you… is that the right thing to do, when your mother won’t let us see each other? Today Masako from Left Behind Parents Japan again lobbied parliament from 4pm – 6pm. C was going to join her to bring attention to our cause, but she wasn’t feeling too well. Article 21 from The Hague Convention on Child Rights states that parents with visitation rights such as myself, will be allowed to see their children… we’ll see… I feel a bit depressed thinking about what’s happening, and what your mother is trying to conjure in the High Court… so how about some cheering up? Here’s a couple of whacky video clips featuring your Dad… Oldies but goodies! Check ‘em out:

Saint Maur teachers dancing behind students:

Recognise your Dad?

 

Atarimae Taiso:

Hope you enjoyed a laugh Phi… see you soon! Love Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

Comic books have been popular in Japan since the 1700s. Comics now account for about 40% of all published material in Japan.

 

Saturday, May 25th 2013

G’day Bella. I’ve been thinking a good deal about you recently, wondering how you’re doing socially… do you have an honest and open, trustworthy friend to confide in. I wonder how your home life is, and hope you fall asleep each night with ease. You see, I’ve been piecing together a letter to the High Court with C’s help. Here’s the letter of rebuttal I’m working on:

To whom it may concern,

My name is Gerard Morice, the loving father of Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice.

When Ophelia was just 17 months of age, her mother left our family home. The truth of her departure will torment Ms. I…a and her family forever, and admittedly it took me a long time to forgive Ms. I…a.

For more than the next 4 years, Ophelia lived with me, attending first Ooka Kindergarten, and later Katoh Kindergarten. During this time Ophelia’s paternal grandparents came to Numazu for extended visits and formed a very close bond with their very special first grandchild. Also during this period, as the primary carer of Ophelia, I ensured Ms. I…a and her family had access to our daughter. For me, it was plain common sense to allow Ms. I…a to see her daughter, as I believe it is in the best interests of a child to have equal access to both parents. This approach though difficult at times, involves a good deal of communication between separated parents, and puts the best interests of the child first.

In the summer of 2008, Ophelia was abducted from me by her own mother. For the better part of the past 5 years, Ms. I…a has used Japan’s archaic sole custody system to prevent me and my family from seeing our Ophelia. The Family Court of Japan acknowledged that I was (and still am) a good father, however “possession” of the child in Japan overrides the criminal act of abduction.

Just recently, Japan has finally signed the Hague Convention on Child Rights. In the same week as Japan signed the Hague Convention, I received word that Ms. I…a is appealing the Family Court’s decision. Having signed, the Family Court of Japan is now supposed to protect my daughter’s rights to see her father, her cousins, her aunts & uncles, and her loving grandparents. Theoretically, as a signature to the Hague Convention, the Japanese Family Court will now look after the interests of the child, and not the wishes of individual parents.

Over the last five years since Ophelia was abducted from me, I have diligently documented every conversation, every piece of correspondence and every effort I have made to maintain contact and a relationship with my own child. Each attempt has been thwarted by Ms. I…a and the passive inaction of the Japanese court system.

I believe that the highest court is conscience, but without doubt, the person whose heart is scarred more than any other, is Ophelia. Children are innocent of their parents’ crimes. My daughter has been tormented and monstered by her parents’ demands enough. One day my daughter will know the truth. For this reason and in view of Ms. I…a’s ongoing animosity toward me and my family and her desire to create dramatic scenes in front of our daughter at public events, I am going to temporarily withdraw from my daughter’s life. My reasoning is not to abandon my daughter, but to allow her some peace.

I love my daughter, as do her paternal grandparents, as do her cousins, her aunts & uncles, and the many friends she made at Ooka Kindergarten & Katoh Kindergarten, and in so doing, we, and the 76 people who wrote letters to the Family Court in support of Ophelia and her father are prepared to wait. Ms. I…a is trapped by her lies and accusations that have twisted over time, and one day soon her conscience will become overpowering… and then, Ophelia will seek the truth.

In contravention to all of the Family Court’s requests to Ophelia’s mother over the past 4 years, Ms. I…a still denies Ophelia access to her father. As such, without any access to my daughter, I write to her two, three or more times each week. I can no longer read stories to my daughter every night before she sleeps, sing songs with her, go camping, teach her swimming, or cook together. For me, my letters to my daughter have become a type of therapy. My mind conjures images of the happiness we once shared, and I write about our experiences, to remind me, and for my daughter as a keepsake. If you take some time to read the few letters I have posted on the blog, you will notice the nuance is one of positivity, hope and love. Ms. I…a is barely mentioned, for I would never wish to undermine her as a parent. In any case, I am prepared to remove the blog for time being, for in the words of our daughter:

Here I’ll copy the letter Ophelia wrote when she was living with me; basically it was full of hope (that her parents would be good to each other)…

What Ms. I…a doesn’t realize is that what appears on the blog is but a fraction of the letters I have written to my daughter. One day, when I am ready, and Ophelia is ready, I will give the 100s of letters to her. When she reads them, she will discover that her father never, ever gave up on her. This evening I will pour my heart out to my daughter again. I can write with a clear conscience because I am a happy man, with a loving wife, and caring family & friends, and I live with the hope that I will one day be reunited with my daughter.

Yours faithfully,

Gerard Morice.

Well that’s the wrap Phi… take care and see you one day soon… Love Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTE

“Passion is contagious.” Stephanie Harvey

Wednesday, May 29th 2013

How’s my daughter doing this Wednesday? You’re not making a birthday card for your Dad are you? I use to always make homemade cards for my parents’ b’days, and C still often receives a homemade version… shows you care I think…

Last Saturday, 25th May, I worked on the deck with Ogura San. He’s such a nice chap, so giving and generous, and knowledgeable. He even returned on Sunday to give me a hand, but that was only after I met him at Viva Home Centre. He had the big 2 ton truck, so I bought 12 half sleepers from Oz (yes, Australian railway sleepers), some plants, extra skirting board, a good deal of red cedar decking, and plenty of sandpaper and other bits and pieces… Oh, how I love a good home centre!

Laying the sleepers with Big Tim

Laying the sleepers with Big Tim

And today, well, we were supposed to escort the kidlets to Heiwa no Mori Koen as their end of year excursion, but with rain predicted we changed plans and took them to Disneyland. My grade 3 students were actually a bit disappointed, because I had told them all about the adventure ropes course… much better than Disneyland, and the students get to collaborate to achieve success. You would love it Phi. There are about 40 different rope courses you can challenge, some of them over water, and several of them rather tricky! Shall we give it a go one day? Make sure you bring a change of clothes… it can get quite muddy.

Love Dad.

I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW…

Japan was to host the 1940 Summer Olympics, but many countries decided to boycott the Games because of Japan’s aggressive military action throughout Asia. So the Games were cancelled, and it wasn’t until 1964 that Japan hosted the Summer Olympic games. Japan also hosted the 1972 and 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

AND…

Here’s an article I found in a Japanese newspaper:

Japan ratifies the Hague Convention, Wednesday, May 22nd 2013

Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight major industrialised nations that has not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires nations to return snatched children to the countries where they usually reside.

Hundreds of parents, mostly men, from North America, Europe and elsewhere have been left without any recourse after their estranged partners took their half-Japanese children back to the country.

Unlike Western nations, Japan does not recognise joint custody and courts almost always order that children of divorcees live with their mothers. US lawmakers have long demanded action from Japan on the issue, one of the few open disputes between the close allies. In February, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised action after White House talks with US President Barack Obama.

The upper house of parliament on Wednesday voted unanimously for Japan to join the treaty, following a similar move by the more powerful lower house last month. But Japan must still clear various governmental and legislative hurdles before the Hague Convention can take full effect. The government has said it aims for final ratification by the end of this fiscal year – March 2014.

A central authority will be set up in the foreign ministry to take charge of locating children who have been removed by one parent following the collapse of an international marriage, and to encourage parents to settle disputes voluntarily.

The newly enacted law will, however, allow a parent to refuse to return a child if abuse or domestic violence is feared, a provision campaigners say is vital, but which some say risks being exploited. If consultations fail, family courts in Tokyo and Osaka will issue rulings.

 

Monday, June 3rd 2013

Thanx for the birthday wishes Phi… 45 years old last Friday. I don’t feel too bad, and I hope it’s got something to do with all the riding and running. On Friday night, Dad came 2nd for the 3rd time in 4 years at our Saint Maur annual quiz night. We raised 250,000 yen for Neville King who is suffering from a brain tumor. Neville is a custodian, who is a bonza chap, and good for a chat. He’s gone downhill quickly however, so let’s hope our little fundraiser brings him some cheer.

Saturday, C took Dad out for Italian in Shibuya. Pasta was cow cheek, roasted lamb shanks and a fresh warm asparagus salad with generous shavings of parmesan cheese… scrumptious! A perfect bottle of Italian merlot / cabernet sauvignon and the charming Italian owner, brought us a large glass of lemonchello each to top off our meal.

Sunday Big Tim Smith came over, and together we created a second driveway with railway sleepers. Before Tim arrived I had to move the piping that would fall under the second driveway. So I woke at 6.30am to turn the water off, but strangely, the water kept flowing from several areas. Left it an hour hoping it was just the pipes draining, but even after an hour and with the mains well and truly off, the water still flowed. Took a gamble and cut the water pipe… heart pumping as the water just kept coming, but with C’s help, we connected some extended piping and a new tap beside the now driveway. Oh, Phi, I was a little panicky when the water just kept flowing… hope it’s going to be okay!

And today, well Ogura San & Saito San finished up the wallpapering and flooring in the entrance and stairwell; actually they contracted the wallpapering out to some nice young chap whose name I can’t recall. The tatami room downstairs, which will probably become your room one day, still has the new window to be installed and the wallpapering to go.

Say a prayer to Totoro for me Phi about those pipes! Love Dad… XoXo…

HORRIBLE FACT

  • Due to gases produced by power plants, Japan sometimes suffers from acid rain.

 

Tuesday, June 4th 2013

G’day mate! I’m still at school just finishing up a few things. The Student Council organized a great day today. We designated it Teachers ‘R’ Us Day, with the students & teachers switching roles for a day. After much planning and cajoling teachers to go along with our plans, it was a tremendous success. Here’s a letter I just finished penning to parents:

A big thank you to you all for making Teachers ‘R’ Us day such a great success. Thank you for being generous with your time and giving our student-teachers time to plan & prepare over the past week.

Personally, I had a grand learning experience in G3, and escaped a spanking from Ms. Thomas (in fairness I didn’t throw an eraser at Mr. Yuta like my friend Greg did). My day started with being told I shouldn’t be in the classroom before 8am, so I was sent to the library. Several teachers gave me a hard time about my shirt sticking out, but at least I wasn’t caught picking my nose like Greg.

When I was allowed to enter the classroom Ms. Zack & Ms. Seki got us straight to work with some reading comprehension and a story. Thereafter I learned some Spanish: “Hola coma stas” and was even awarded a certificate for my effort. I was then taught long division, area & perimeter, and the tricky concept of adding fractions. Mr. Kellam & Mr. Ikesue presented us with a battle between a komodo dragon and a king cobra. Great discussion followed, and eventually the cobra was the victor. In Art I created a shield, and in another session Ms. Noumi wiped my tears of frustration away and very kindly showed me how to create an origami crane.

Mighty 3M, thank you for a memorable day.

Mr. Morice.    

  • DID YOU KNOW…
  • Almost three quarters of Japan’s land is either forest or mountains and is difficult to be made into farms, industrial or residential areas.

Wednesday, June 5th 2013

Hey Partner. What you up to? I was waiting for our dinner guests to arrive, and thought better of continuing to tackle the mosquitoes outside digging up that soon to be garden… So here I am writing to you. It only takes a moment to let you know that I’m doing okay. I was working in the garden, pulling a few weeds, shifting a few stones, planting a few seedlings and watering the garden… but without mosquito repellant, the mosquitoes were getting the better of me.

Tonight Sonia & Yuki will apparently join us for dinner. Being Spanish, Sonia is ritually late, but we had anticipating them coming early because Yuki seemed keen on doing a little extra renovating with us. Yuki is pretty handy with power tools and evidently has an electrical license. C has made an awesome dinner, and the lovely aromas are making Dad very, very hungry. Might pinch a few chips… here they are… gotta pour the wine. See you soon Phi. Love Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTE

  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

Saturday, June 8th 2013

Konban wa Ophi Sama! Genki de gozaimasuka? Guess whose birthday it is today, it’s Pa’s b’day! Happy birthday Kerry Daniel Morice! I wonder what Nandee did for Pa today… My guess is they went out for a yummy Italian dinner tonight. I called this morning, but they weren’t too sure what was going to be on their dinner plates this evening.

You know Phi, recently I started to call Pa “KD”. It’s because his middle name is Daniel, just like Dad’s; yep, my full name is actually Gerard Daniel Morice, and Pa’s full name is Kerry Daniel Morice. It’s kind of nice to call my Dad KD. I feel a real bond between us. It’s like we don’t even have to chat, the bond is always there, there’s no uncomfortable silences, and I always know I can depend on my Dad. He’s just the best there is… I hope you feel like that some day about your Dad…

This afternoon C & I went to Shimbashi to watch a second screening of From the Shadows, the documentary that focuses on left behind parents in Japan. It was only a small theatre and a fairly small audience this time around, but it was nice to see some familiar faces and to feel the solidarity behind our purpose.

It was pretty damn near impossible not to think of you today, and to wonder “what if…?” On our way back to the Shimbashi Station after the screening, we passed by a toy store, and again a simple image such as a toy store had me wondering what I could buy for your 11th birthday this coming October… what would you like Phi… I wish I could hear your response, your wish, your hope and to hold that beautiful smile in my mind forever.

I love you… Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

  • Japan sits along the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, so has many volcanoes and experiences many earthquakes, but of course you knew that…

Tuesday, June 11th 2013

G’day Tiger! How’s your running going? Still running like Spirit, that amazing horse we both so admired from that animation movie? What a ripper movie! I think I watched it at least 20 times alongside you, and I never tired of watching you run amok when Spirit scares the mountain lion away, or when you snuggled into me when the nasty army officer was hunting Spirit.

Today was the final day of regular school for the year, although next week I start Summer School for 3 weeks. After those 3 weeks, I’ll have 4 full-on weeks of crazy renovating to our dumpy house before C & Dad make the big move to Cairo. I wish you were coming with us; by all reports it is an amazing campus and has a very good reputation. Tonight was also the Sports Presentation night at the YCAC, so I’m taking the opportunity of writing to you as I head back on the train to Tokyo. It was a good night, presenting trophies to the MVP, Most Improved and the Coaches’ Award for x-country. I loved coaching… I’m going to miss my fellow coaches, Maggie Li & Yannick Crespy… and the kids… they were brilliant! It was especially grand because we were once again Division Two Champions in the Far East X-Country Championships against schools in Japan, Korea and Guam. Cool hey!

I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW…

  • Japan is made up of 6,852 islands!

Friday, June 14th

Howdy Cowdy! How’s trix? It’s the weekend! What shall we do together? Fancy pruning a tree with your Dad? Or you could pick the cherry tomatoes from our vegetable patch… we have 100s of them.

Now, now now, brown cow, what has your Dad been up to… Well Wednesday my teacher friends and I had drinx at the 300 yen bar down opposite Yamashita Park. There’s a great bar at the bottom of Marine Tower. Not too many people know about it because it is tucked around the back. Between 5pm and 7pm most of the drinks are only 300 yen! You’ll have to take your girlfriends there, or better still treat your boyfriend (just don’t tell him the drinks are 300 yen), then make him take you out for an expensive dinner! Anyway, after a few celebratory drinks, we all headed to an Indian restaurant called Sitar. It’s actually owned by the parents of Jay who was in our champion x-country team.

Yesterday (Thursday) I actually took a day off school to get a full medical for Egypt. At 8.30am I was ready and waiting at the hospital in Tokyo, but by 11.30am they still weren’t finished pushing, prodding and testing me. I had to leave, because I had an appointment at the Egyptian Embassy regarding visas, work permits and some education documents. By 12.40pm I was racing back to the hospital. Fortunately the doctors weren’t much longer and I finished up pretty quickly.

After a quick lunch (I had been mighty hungry all morning as I hadn’t eaten anything before the health test!), it was time to tick another thing off my list of things to do. I went to the local police station and renewed my gold license. Yes, GOLD that is Phi! Not too bad huh?

After finishing a video and a few questions with the officers I hit UNIQLO for some bargain hunting shopping for Cairo. I bought some premium cotton sox (I figure it’s going to be ghastly hot in Egypt most of the time, and the last thing I want is to have smelly, sweaty feet… especially if my long lost daughter should ever ride out of a horizon on camel back to greet her Dad!), 2 pairs of snazzy 70s shorts, and 3 polo shirts for summer school & Egypt.

And today, well it was my last official day with all the staff and faculty. And being our final Friday, it was time for speeches. Usually it’s me giving a speech or two and saying farewell to Craig, David et al, but today Greg, my teaching partner took a turn. He started by saying that he remembered your Dad saying something profound. Mmm, I wondered, where was he going with this; no doubt a joke at Dad’s expense, But no, he seemed to remember something Dad had said: “… teaching brings me an inner smile,” I evidently said at one of our faculty meetings. Shortly afterward, he passed onto, no other, than David Barrett, in Switzerland, no less, who gave a beautiful speech on behalf of your Dad. It was very touching, and no doubt took a good deal of time and effort to put together… ah, Phi, your Dad is lucky to have friends such as he has. I just wish you could be a part of my life with them… maybe one day soon, hey honey…

For lunch we went to the Rose Hotel in China Town, and a few drinx at Yamashita Park thereafter… but not too many ‘cause I had to come home and begin renovating, renovating, renovating! Right now, I’m taking a break because my wrist is a tad sore, and besides, it’s a good time to communicate with you.

I love you! XoXo…

TODAY’S FACT

  • As of July 2012, there are over 127 million people living in Japan (127,368,088), which is the tenth largest population in the world… WOW! I wonder how many less people there will be when you’re actually reading this…

Sunday, June 16th

G’day Gorgeous! How’s trix in your neighborhood?

In the morning I sure could have done with your help in cutting up the rest of the branches from the tree we lopped yesterday. I was up around 6am to finish bagging the tree branches (just next to the driveway) C & Dad lopped on Saturday. We had bagged most of it ready for moeru gomi Tuesday, but there was still about another 8 huge bags to cut up into finer pieces and throw into bags. Good job too, because it looked like it was going to rain.

Yesterday (Saturday), C & Dad started to trim the tree in our front yard. It was quite funny because our neighbor K San came out to see what all the fuss was about and saw C halfway up the tree. She had a good laugh and then she decided to join us. At first we were just trimming here & there, but after 2 hours, the tree had had quite a haircut!

At 5pm I jumped on a train for Yokohama to meet the gals from school (& David) for Sonia & Yuki’s farewell. Maggie was there, Gaby & Marion too. Yuki & Sonia are headed to Vietnam for the next chapter in Sonia’s teaching. We all went bowling and then C joined us for dinner on the 28th floor of the Sky Building (Phi, it’s so cool up there! You have to go! It’s the east exit of Yokohama station) for a course meal of… tofu! And guess what? It wasn’t too bad.

Late this morning Dad did the grocery shopping with C, not the OK supermarket this time but Supa Value. Funny though, I think it’s what you call an oxymoron, because it is not really super value, more like mediocre value. Anyway we bought all the necessities and even some strawberry ice cream for you… just in case you drop in and see your Dad this week!

After some yummy somen for lunch we did 2 hours of rendering to the main bedroom before Big Tim arrived. The main bedroom is really starting to take shape. The rendering is actually quite therapeutic and surprisingly heavy to lay on… if you’re not careful a good deal can end up on the floor. When Tim arrived we tinkered with the bicycles. I’ve been wanting to fix C’s brakes, but couldn’t figure out exactly how to do it. Tim is quite a wiz, and it didn’t take him long to figure it out. Then we sat down for a delightful last meal for Tim. He’s a sushi and sashimi fan, and he’d been shopping in Yokohama to buy some choice cuts of fish: chutoru, salmon & uni. Do you like uni (sea urchin)? It’s funny, because over the years I didn’t think I liked uni, but WOW, the quality of the uni that Tim bought was OH, so rich & creamy… mmm. I positively loved it. Shame you weren’t there to sample some too.

After dinner we presented Tim with a going away present, and he gave us a sharpening stone. He’s right into knives, just like Pa. So after some fresh fruit for dessert, Tim showed me how to sharpen knives properly. It’s quite time consuming, but a fine art to learn… I hope I remember the basics! He gave us a dual sharpening stone 800/6000… should come in handy!

I love you buddy… and can’t wait for that eventual hug… the hug of a lifetime! Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

One time when you were back at your mother’s I took Riku for a swim down around past Sea Paradise. I was snorkeling and suddenly I heard Riku yelping. The duffer (baka) had been playing in a rock pool and stood on a sea urchin (uni)… ouch!

Monday, June 17th

How’s Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum doing? My guess is you’re into swimming sessions about now. How are you doing with your swimming? What are you learning? Do have a new swimsuit this year? You’re getting so tall, you’ll be stretching last year’s bathers, that’s for sure.

Saint Maur has finished up for the year. Can you believe it? I’ve been here 5 years… in some ways the time has flown, and in another ways it seems like a long time since you were enrolled here to start school.

Summer School started today. It’s pretty easy from a teacher’s point of view because there are no assessments or anecdotal notes to take about the kids’ learning. That, and class sizes are pretty small. I have only about 15 kids in each of the four 80 minute classes I teach. Your Dad is teaching Grade 5 Language Arts, Maths & Science in the morning, then in the afternoon he’s teaching G2 – 5 IT, then I finish up with Middle School IT. MS IT is presenting a few challenges, but I’m pretty lucky as Jamie leads and I’m more of a supporting role. The students are creating their own music video using i-movie. It’s a wild ride so far with most kids being more competent on the Mac Airs than your Dad!

And tonight, C & Dad booked a little birthday present for C. It’s her birthday June XX and we’re off to the French-speaking island in the Pacific, New Caledonia. We have 4 nights booked and a day trip out to The Island of Pines. It’s supposed to be sublime. The only setback is it’s pretty much winter, so average daytime temperatures hover around 20 degrees Celsius. I don’t think that’ll stop C snorkeling, she just loves the little fishies. When we were in Saipan in February 2010 she use to stuff bits of bread down her bikini top and feed the fish! So, this time next month, we’ll be packing our suitcases for New Caledonia!!! Yippee! Fancy a quick getaway in New Caledonia Phi? You’re welcome to join us… Love Dad.

HANDY HINT

Never forget your mother on Mother’s Day. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, be it Melbourne, Paris or with Totoro, give her a call, and a hug if you can.

 

Sunday, June 23rd 2013

G’day Phi. Do you like oysters? You know, I’m not really sure that you do. We must have had them on our dinner plates several times, because Dad loves his kaki fry, and they were readily available in Numz… I don’t think you like oysters actually… right? I LOVE them, C too, so today C took us back into Shimbashi for a special treat. Big Tim Smith joined us and we dined on all you can eat oysters for only 3000 yen! Unbelievable hey?! Two years ago the three of us had feasted at Bay Quarter in Yokohama at a different all you can eat restaurant. On that occasion, C ate at least 2 dozen, Dad perhaps 3 dozen, and Tim most likely slid 48+ oysters down his throat. Today they didn’t have raw oysters, perhaps because of the humidity of June, so we tossed back and forth between fried oysters and those we bbq-ed right in front of us. Today’s restaurant had a special offer that for only 600 yen per person, you could BYO alcohol. So we had a bottle of sparkling and a bottle of chardonnay with our scrummy oysters.

This evening I don’t feel too bad, so I don’t think I overindulged on the iron in oysters. What do you love to gorge yourself on? You use to just love scooping a finger-full of creamy (not crunchy) peanut butter straight from the jar. Skippy peanut butter it had to be, not the sweet Japanese variety. I must admit, spread over fresh bread straight out of our bread maker, peanut butter is pretty hard to beat.

Let us know when you want that peanut butter sandwich… it’ll be ready, whenever you’re ready… Love Dad.

WICKED QOUTES

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb

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