This morning I took my usual fairly long walk around the Southern California hills over to the high school (my old alma mater) and back. I felt very proud of myself. A little slower than some years but I think I can pronounce me knee completely healed if I can do that hike! (About an hour.)
It seems as if things are always hopping at my brother's house. Shopping, breakfasts out, partying, a lot of games, swimming, guitar playing, reading old magazines, cooking.
Saturday the family had an impromptu barbecue party. It started out with JUST family, and then there were children's friends coming for a sleep over and old friends dropping in, more friends being invited at the last minute and pretty soon there was a driveway full of cars, cars and more cars! Hamburgers and sausages on the grill, macaroni salads and salsas in the kitchen.
The men folk hung out in the very messy garage with a loud amplifier and Takumi got some bass lessons. The younger generation swam in the pool, the ladies laughed in the kitchen. There must have been over 20 people milling around or sitting on all the horizontal surfaces that could be found. A very all-American gathering.
Tetsu and I rarely have friends over. For one, Tetsu isn't around much and when he is home he would really like to hang loose and sleep on the sofa rather than play host to people. Another reason is that the house is so small that it is hard to find more than 5 chairs for anyone to sit down on in the same room. Also being a lousy cook makes it hard to invite people over and lack of cookware or a kitchen counter makes it even more difficult. These may all be excuses but in general Japanese don't entertain in their own homes. It is much more common to treat everyone at a restaurant or rent a room at a community center or something. Japanese homes don't have guest bathrooms, guest closets, not much in the way of a yard, no lawn furniture or barbecue grills.
I do have my English friends over once a week so I keep a cupboard of coffee mugs available and I'm pretty good at baking up a batch of cookies, but my friends would never think to go help themselves in the kitchen or even be left in a room by themselves. That would not be a good hostess on my part. And I think it is difficult for Japanese to chit-chat with people they don't know well, so when there are gatherings it is usually in groups of relatives or people who know each other well. The one ice-breaker among strangers would be alcohol but since neither Tetsu nor I drink we don't plan nor get invited to informal parties very much. (ever!)
I'm not so great at chit-chat myself so I stayed in the background of Saturday's party trying to keep everyone straight.
"Now that must be so-and-so's cousin. And that must be whosit's son even though she couldn't come... I don't know who that child belongs to..."
I had a lot of fun though!