Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

One thing we can not buy easily in Japan is Tex-Mex food. (read-made, like from a restaurant or fast food joint.) (One can make it oneself. I can buy taco shells, seasonings, tortillas, etc. in Fukushima City.)

Here’s what we can get where I live:

The above “taco” is the sort of thing we may be able to buy ready-made in Fukushima City.  The above photo is the Nan Taco, and it’s on Nan bread. (Bread usually eaten with Indian curry.) Right now it’s on sale at Mos Burger Fast Food Restaurant…for a limited time only. Tacos like the Nan Taco disappoint me because it’s a far cry from what I would eat in the United States.

So anyway, this photo is at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in Southlake, Texas. (My sister was driving us home from the movies and from Barnes and Noble.)

Very cute.

Photos from the local high school.

Lots of choices. I know it’s not authentic Mexican food from Mexico……but I guess Tex-Mex is its own cuisine.


I was trying to eat healthy, so it was the taco salad for me.

Barnes and Noble (Part Four)

Time keeps ticking into the future except when one gets bored and then it reverses itself and kind of flatlines for a while. But luckily, for moments when time has ceased, we have Ghibli.  Ghibli knows no time, no boundaries, no age.


Something that is great about Ghibli–and separates it strongly from Disney–is its strong female characters.

Oh, Totoro!

I wanted to buy this mug, and asked if I there were any left. Alas alack, it was sold out.

Gudetama is not Ghibli…but this display is authentic and makes me feel I am in Japan! I think Gudetama is an egg and so I never buy Gudetama items for my son because he hates eggs.

Time has flashed into the future! Star Wars is for when time is speeding up and the world is whizzing by.

Barnes and Noble (Part Three)

Before my regular post about my summer trip to my home in the United States, I want to update you all on the controversial “Sun Child” statue in Fukushima City. Many people did not like it, or did not like it in its location, and the news today is that it indeed WILL BE REMOVED.


My opinion?

I think the removal is a good thing. I like the statue–it’s art and it says something. But I think it is art meant for adult eyes. Therefore it should be moved to the Culture Center or an art museum.

The article above does not say EXACTLY where the statue was placed. It was placed right in front of a recreation center (called Comu Comu) for children. It’s a city-run building that houses an area for babies, a small science museum, a planetarium, a children’s library, and more. I love the Comu Comu Building. I rarely go there now, but when my son was young, I often went there.

Placing the statue in front of Comu Comu was a huge mistake. The Sun Child may be a statue of a child, but it’s not art for children. It’s horribly frightening, not something a three-year-old needs to see. (And the statue is HUGE so it’s impossible not to see it when entering either entrance of the building.)

I’d like a statue that is made FOR the children of Fukushima. FOR them and them only. (Many versions of the “Sun Child” statue have existed in the years prior to 2011. It was NOT created for Fukushima.) I’d like to see a statue of love and hope and peace and joy. Not fear and bandages and worry, which is what I think when I look at the Sun Child statue.

Moving on.

At this point, I think, we left Barnes and Noble and walked next door to the movie theater. We sat down and waited, and I wondered why nobody was there for the movie. And then my son figured out we were a full hour early. Yep, that’s what happens when you’ve got jet lag. Time has no meaning.

So we walked back to Barnes and Noble.

When the 3/11 quake hit, at that very moment, I was reading Butler’s Kindred. That’s what I was doing.

I looked at the calendars very carefully–finding the one I wanted. Finally I decided on the TEXAS calendar. (I purchased it for 2019. It’s not easy to get TEXAS calendars in Japan, even using the internet.)

I also purchased this Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market 2018. I can buy it on the internet in Japan, but I wanted to support a brick and mortars bookstore.

Next, I chose (and purchased) the Birds of Texas Guide. I myself am not a bird person. However, I needed to know some information about birds for my current manuscript. I’d researched online in Japan already, but I wanted the more trustworthy guide. And indeed, I looked through it upon arriving back in Japan, making sure the information in my manuscript is correct.  I really like this guide. I recommend it!

Barnes and Noble (Part Two)

Next, I strolled over to the Manga section.  It’s always amazing to me how comics from Japan have taken off in English in America.

Next, the foreign language section. Barnes and Noble in Southlake only has Japanese textbooks which are for the very beginners. Very very very beginners. If you are anything past very beginner, don’t bother.

Names like “Japanese for Dummies” and “Japanese Demystified” crack me up. They want you to think Japanese is easy and you can learn it in a month, no problem.

Barnes and Noble does NOT have an intermediate section, so obviously nobody is completing these books 冷房のない暑い教室のイラスト and moving up to the next level.  授業中に居眠りをする学生のイラスト

Let me give you advice: If the title implies it’s easy, the textbook is no good. You want something that doesn’t make false promises.

This is the textbook you should be studying: “A Guide to Japanese. It’s not easy. I’m warning you. You’ll Have to Pick Up this Book on a Regular Basis and Study and Not Give up after Two Weeks, even if you’ve lost this book. If you lose it, look for it. If your Mom and Dad had lost you behind the Sofa and Not Bothered to look for you, you never would have learned the English language. Same Basic Thing.”

cartoon images from https://www.irasutoya.com/

Barnes and Noble (Part One)

After eating my slice of quiche, I headed up the escalator to the second floor. I wanted to see the kids’ section.

The sign should say “Welcome Kids and also Writers Doing Research on What is Currently Being Sold.”

Lots of great books here! Both old and new.

Great books here, too!

I know “The Giving Tree” is a  book people love or hate. I like it. We had a copy in our house and I was entranced by it. Why was the tree giving everything away? What’s going on here? One purpose of books (other than to entertain) is to get people to think deeply and come to their own conclusions. Because Silverstein never actually (to my knowledge) explains the relationship between the tree and the boy, there are many theories. And I think that’s good. The readers are thinking and seeing how the story applies to them personally.

I went to the “L’s” to see where my future books will go. Right next to A Dash of Dragon.

Barnes and Noble Cafe

On one of our first days in America, my son went to the town of Southlake (close to my parents’ town of Keller) to watch the Incredibles 2. A plus is that the movie theater is next door to a Barnes and Noble. Yay! Japan has bookstores (Maruzen and Kinokuniya perhaps being the most famous) but it does not have Barnes and Noble. And even if it did, it would be stocked with Japanese books. Nothing wrong with that! This being Japan and all.) I like to see what’s out there in the American book world.

But first:

I was hungry. Jet lag hunger was gripping me! But I had not realized how extremely expensive the prices were at the cafe in  Barnes and Noble were:

Over five dollars for a grilled cheese sandwich! Wowee Zowee!

I ended up getting just a slice of quiche. Ironically, the quiche was cheaper than the grilled cheese sandwich.

The prices are certainly no cheaper than Japan. I’m often thinking that the U.S. is cheaper (and it is, for certain things like fruits and vegetables) but it really isn’t any cheaper.

My parents’ pets

I don’t consider my parents huge pet lovers. But they gave birth to pet lovers who gave birth to pet lovers. (Most of these pets are my niece’s. Plus, my sister has a huge soft spot for rescuing animals in need. Cuz she is a good and kind person.)

My niece’s dog–a Lab mix–and one of her two cats.

My father says he doesn’t like cats because they eat the birds. Thus, he was the inspiration in my manuscript for Mr. Piper.

  • Graciela and Koral are looking for a cat that escaped. (Graciela was cat-sitting and was thus responsible for the cat’s well-being.)

A man was out in his yard, watering the flowers, and told them, “I hate cats, but I’ll let you know if I see her.”

“You don’t really hate cats, Mr. Piper.” Graciela wasn’t crying anymore, but her face was red.

“I’m a bird watcher, so yes. I actually do.” He pointed to one of his many bird feeders.

“I like birds, too, Mr. Piper. It’s a quandary, isn’t it?”

“You said it. Life is full of hard choices.”

“I’m just glad I don’t live in Australia. It would be even harder to like cats there since they are not an indigenous species.”

“You got that right. God bless America.”

Charlie is a GREAT dog. Very gentle, yet the sort of dog who would rescue my parents from a grizzle bear if grizzly bears lived in Texas.

Land-wise (but not population-wise) Texas is larger than Japan. I refrain from telling Japanese people that because it seems like I’m putting down their country, but I’m not. There are definite benefits to living in a compact country.

Food is up high to keep away vermin. These cats enjoy being outdoors. (They have a choice of in or out and both of them rarely come in.)

The black cat is the older cat, and also the dominant one.

Yep. He’s got an attitude. Both are very sweet, though, and will purr if you pet them. They don’t bite or scratch.

Charlie LOVES chasing balls!!!! He loves it!

Not pictured are the two little dogs. (They were probably inside. Both little dogs were given to the family by people who could not keep them. Both are extremely sweet.)


Ellie May

Krogers Grocery Store

And still more shopping with my mom…

Just going to the grocery store is a treat!

When I was in college, we had a French exchange student at our house for one month. She said that in France they don’t have flags everywhere. Japan is the same–you don’t walk into a store and see a lot of Japanese flags.

America displays its flag more than other countries, I think.

As you know, I did not think Isle of Dogs was a good representation of Japan. You’re better off watching a Ghibli movie for a realistic representation. (Totoro is a good representation of Japan from maybe sixties years ago, countryside. Your Name–though not Ghibli–is a good representation of modern day Japan.)

I have no opinion about Super Troopers 2 and its representation of Canada. 😉 Never seen it.

Of course, I gotta look at the books.

Girl’s Day Out with my Mom

You’ll probably think all I did in the U.S. was shop. And you would be right.

Department store…

I actually bought some Clinique thinking I’d get the free gift….but it wasn’t available yet!

Next stop, lunch.

At the Beacon Cafe

Mom got meatloaf.

I got tortilla soup and salad.

I’ve watched “The Big Bang Theory” and in the first season, Rajesh (who is from India) says that he doesn’t even like Indian food. He likes hamburgers. (????!!!???) I think this is supposed to be humorous, but obviously the writers don’t realize that no immigrant in the world has ever said this (that they don’t like their food from their own country.)

My parents’ home in Texas

My parents are both from Texas and I was born in Texas. However, I consider myself from Kansas because that’s where I was mostly raised. After my dad retired, they moved back to a suburb of my mom’s hometown of Fort Worth. (Also a suburb of of Dallas.)

My boss asked me today, “Did you enjoy your stay in Canada?” I forget that some people have issues with geography! Okay, here’s a map of the Dallas/Fort Worth area:

FORTH WORTH  lots of little suburbs DALLAS

(Did you like my map?)

So even though my parents don’t live in the true Texas countryside, their home feels sort of rural.

Their house

This is NOT my parents’ horse. (My parents don’t own a horse.) Behind and next to their house is a horse boarding place.

Sweet horses

I’ve made a new friend!

And so has my son! This is my parents’ cat that was rescued (when he was a kitten) by my niece. (Actually it is my niece’s cat, but lives at my parents’ house. Neither of my parents are cat lovers. I know, right???!!!!??????)

He is a very sweet cat. He’s one of the purr-baby cats (purrs a lot.) He’s still VERY independent though. He stays outside the whole summer. I learned in a past summer not to take him inside because after I did that, he ran away from me every time I approached.

But you can see by his body language that he enjoys attention…on HIS terms!!!!!! LOL

Car illustration from https://www.irasutoya.com/ (free images available but you must give the image’s source)

My current MG manuscript is set in Texas, and I set it in a fictionalized suburb based on my parents’ town. One difference is that my protagonists live in a housing community, and obviously my parents do not. I wanted the houses to be relatively close together in my manuscript and this is a major reason why I did make it a housing community.

When I was in Texas last month, I paid attention to the housing communities—there are MANY of them. (Although also many free standing houses like my parents’.) I saw that each housing community has a fancy name written on the entrance, usually on the wall that surrounds the community.  OAK ESTATES, LAKELY FIELDS, CANYON MEADOWS, JUNIPER VILLAGE

So when I returned to Japan, I revised my manuscript and gave their community a name. RIVER VILLAGE

How did I choose “RIVER VILLAGE?” Well, I was thinking and thinking and thinking, trying to hit upon something good….couldn’t really come up with anything.

So I used my husband’s family name, Kawamura which literally means “River Village.”