Michaeline: Is it April already?

Nana dog is yawning in the spring sunshine; snow in the background

At least I can’t complain that the weather has turned bizarre. It’s always bizarre in April in Hokkaido. You can see we had snow recently, but now Nana is yawning in the sunshine and I’m barefoot. It’s snowing again as I type this, and Nana and Wonderdog Rex are huddling under the yew tree for now. The swans are heading north for a cool Russian summer, and we’ve got geese passing overhead as well this year. (E.M. Duskova)


I think SF author John Scalzi summed it up well on Twitter: “This fucking year I tell you” (in response to the 2020 volcanic activity of Krakatoa – the volcano that also brought us the Year Without a Summer back in the 19th century).

It’s been a few weeks for me, as well. April is traditionally “back to school” time for Japanese students, but back in 2019, I decided I was done with teaching, and ready for a change. So, no back to school for me this year – and none for several students on the main island of Japan. The kids of Hokkaido are back to school, but it’s really up in the air as to how long they’ll stay in school – it all depends on the coronavirus.

Then, on top of transitioning to a freelancer and adjusting to the new realities of life under the cautions of Corona, my father-in-law passed away at the end of March, and life as we know it took a further turn into the bizarre. My FIL didn’t talk much, and was very much in favor of letting people figure out their own lives. But he was a solid, kind presence for all that, and now he’s gone. And although people should expect that an 83-year-old who spends most of his time commuting from couch to table to bed is going to die someday, we just didn’t realize that the day was coming so soon.

Why? I ask myself. Why did he have to go so soon? Spring was just around the corner, and he could have had one more season of strawberries and walks around the farm. But maybe he just didn’t have the energy to face one more month of 2020. I can understand that.

So, I’ve been immersed in the simple pleasures – arranging the funeral flowers as they wilt – after two weeks, we still have some hardy blooms hanging around, and the flowers have been a bright spot. I’ve been doing dog care. And my kids are safe for now. My oldest is living with her husband and his grandmother, and taking a lot of precautions as they work and study from home, and my youngest is back in Hokkaido, waiting to see if her university will restart in May (a month

Digestive biscuits with lemon zest frosting

AFI (Aw, eff it) digestive biscuits. The dough had been chilling in my fridge for WEEKS, so I said, “All right, these are getting baked TODAY.” No faffing around with rolling them out and cookie cutters — just slice and bake. And they turned out wonderfully! Like a cross between graham crackers and sugar cookies. They just look horrible, like a true 2020 kind of cookie. Fortunately, they taste like 1991. (E.M. Duskova)

late) in the traditional face-to-face mode, or if they’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age with online classes.

If they are online classes, she can stay in Hokkaido, and I think you can guess which I’d prefer.

Things are getting done here, just not the things I dreamed I’d be doing way back in January.

So, here. Have a doggy picture and a cookie. Take a nap, drink a warming beverage, and take care of yourselves – it’s OK, whatever you are doing. What you are doing right now is just fine.


2 thoughts on “Michaeline: Is it April already?

  1. Virtual hugs to you and your in-laws, Michaeline, and condolences for the loss of your FIL.

    And you called it right about the schoolkids. I just saw that Hokkaido has returned to a state of emergency. Hope you all stay safe and well and that you find some bright spots amid the relentless gloom of 2020.

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