Kamisuwa Onsen Shinyu

We had a lovely drive from Fujikawaguchiko to Kamisuwa though we have been finding it a bit of a struggle with the Japanese GPS. She (nicknamed Sondara, of course!) can get mighty confusing, especially given every time we need to enter in new directions, we need to start with prefecture, ward, street name, street number and she never seems to recognises businesses or important landmarks. I’m sure we will get the hang of giving Sondara decent directions – right about the time we get ready to leave to Japan.

We got to our hotel without too many wrong turns and it is really lovely. It’s sometimes difficult booking hotels on foreign language sites but I find doing your research on the dreaded booking dot com first, can take some of the guesswork out of what you are booking. ūüôā

I fell in love with this tree in the foyer – it is white but with clever lighting it looked like a wisteria, a cherry blossom tree, an autumnal something-or-other about to lose its folliage…neat trick.Our room was on the top floor and by Western standards it was huge – by Japanese standards it was downright palatial in its generous dimensions. Generous sitting area, dressing room, shower space, and on the balcony…… another delightful onsen bath. Here the water temperature is coming out of the ground at a blistering 60C, but thankfully the were well located taps to choose the correct amount of fresh piping hot onsen mineral spring water and cold water so you could adjust the bath temperature to your liking. And if you think I didn’t bring a waterproof bath thermometer with me – you’ve obviously never met me! I’m a particularly anal retentive traveller. Maybe this is the advantage in booking a trip so far in advance – by the time you arrive you have largely forgotten what you have booked! The view from the huge living room picture window was magnificent.

After a soak and some sak√© (no, not the juice box kind!), we readied ourselves for another kaiseki dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Japanese dining rooms are fabulous with their enclosed private spaces – it’s quiet and secluded and no worries from nearby diners’ coughs (is it Covid or a heavy smoker? Who knows?)*.


Diner proved to be another luxurious affair – so many dishes all just for one person.

Shaba-Shabu… always delicious, but part of me kinda resents having to cook my own food when I’m dining out! ūüėČ Unagidon was an nice unexpected surprise… it was sitting in a large clay pot simmering away when we walked in. It was not as sweet as they serve it back home; delicious. Then there is still more… desserts still to come. And I say desserts… for there were several.
Sugar on sugar with a sugar motif, but beautifully presented.

After dinner it was more soaking and sak√© – seriously, I may never want to return home…

We did have a slightly weird evening interlude when finally attempting to retire for the night… an ungodly glow coming from a fancy lighting wall panel that could not be dimmed or turned off, and was inconveniently place right beside the beds. Dangnabit, but I have left my duct tape in the suitcase I took to NZ week before last and I had nothing with which to kill this unholy fluorescence.

Unkillable LED lights are on my list! #HotelPetHates

The onsen was calling my name again in the morning and I have to say the view over the lake was spectacular! The weather had cleared somewhat and blue skies showed a day full of promise. A great day for a road trip. ūüôā

But before we move on from the Kamisuwa Onsen Shinyu, there is always time for breakfast. Down to the first floor restaurant we went, and were once again escorted into a beautifully decorated and cosy private room for a magnificent meal.


Salmon, tomato, salad, pickles, eggplant, miso, tofu in soy milk, rice, yoghurt – there was even an impressive pickle bar to select your condiments from. Oishi!

*Japan actually has very low Covid rates at the moment – and people are often masked in tight indoor spaces or keeping a polite distance wherever possible.

When Your Inner Germaphobe Becomes Your Outer Germaphobe.

Okay, hang onto your hats, wash your fucking hands, and welcome to (one of) my major psychological malfunctions.

Confession time: Hello, my name is Borys and I am a lifelong germaphobe.

Always have been, probably always will be. Part of this stems from obsessive personality traits, diagnosed some time back in the early 90s… and part of it results from spending way too much time on the Internet and researching the fuck out of “things that can, and probably will, go wrong”. Yes, I dare say germaphobia and innate pessimism go hand in hand.¬† I have always been careful to make a distinction between me and my diagnosed ‘obsessive personality traits’ (germaphobic, huge equal helpings of being overly meticulous, finickity, and fastidious about way too many things), and that of people who really suffer from full-on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, who experience debilitating and controlling compulsions because I think a lot of people are too flippant with the ‘OCD’ tag. I don’t suffer from compulsions…¬† Or at least I have not in the past.

When I was really little I used to hate the feeling of mud squishing up between my toes when we went pumping yabbies on the mudflats at Straddie – it turned my stomach because it felt like stepping in dog shit… something which happened semi-regularly when you spent your childhood roaming the neighbourhood barefoot and people weren’t required by local laws to pick up after their pets back then.¬† I’m fairly confident it got much worse when I was about 15 and I contracted glandular fever.¬† Either picked up from sharing a drink with some random or (more likely) from snogging Alan Medland at a Blue Light Disco, seeing he came down with it several days before I did.¬† Anyhoo… it laid me up for about six weeks.¬† I was really really sick, fever, aches, coughing and spluttering and spitting up gunk. Multiple blood tests later, I found out I have shit veins. Secondary infection meant I lost my voice and an entire term of school work. It was pretty miserable.¬† My capacity for solving simultaneous equations never recovered but, ‘meh’, I survived.

About four months later my sister, BigSal, got chickenpox – and I was determined to do everything in my power not to get sick again!¬† I disinfected everything. Repeatedly. I refused to use the phone if she’d been on it.¬† I wouldn’t be in the same room with her. I wouldn’t touch things that she had touched, I wouldn’t eat my meals near her and insisted she shouldn’t be allowed near the kitchen – basically forced everyone to treat her like a complete leper.¬† Anyway, I was successful and managed to avoid getting chickenpox even while living in the same house as an infected/contagious individual for about a month. As it turns out my fastidiousness in avoiding it was a bit of a mistake – spending your entire adult life worrying about getting a dose of chickenpox as an adult is not fun¬† ūüėź¬† ¬†Yes, I’ve been vaccinated of course – but still.

Ever since then, I’ve been somewhat, err… hypervigilant in the hygiene department?¬† How hypervigilant?¬† Well pernickety enough that when I was in Turkey and stuck in the tight confines of a double-decker bus with 23 people – when more than half of them got sick with a really aggressive case of gastro – I didn’t get it.¬† And again when on a cruise ship with a whole bunch of people down with norovirus – I didn’t get it.¬† My mum used to say I have a cast-iron gut when people all around me were getting sick and I wasn’t. But truth is, I have always just been really really anal retentive about my hand/face hygiene habits my entire life, and no more so than when travelling.

I got even more germophobic in 2003 after I picked up a very serious (read: potentially fatal) staph infection in my abdomen after a laparoscopic surgery that landed me back in a different hospital from the one that gave it to me, with a burning abdomen, high fevers, delirium, two infectious diseases specialists, some ‘let’s nuke this fucker from space’ IV antibiotics that they hold back especially for these types of infections, and a newfound hatred for hospitals. :/

My particular brand of germaphobia is usually somewhat like a subterranean aquifer – it’s well hidden but it runs pretty consistently unless diverted.¬† Long before this coronavirus outbreak, I had a hundred and one little hygiene little habits. I can’t sleep if I haven’t showered, the idea of getting into bed ‘dirty’ (yeah, dirty from sitting around on a computer in the air-con all day) feels completely ‘ick’.¬† I’ve always washed my hands so often and aggressively that the fingerprint reader on both my previous iPhones never worked (god bless facial recognition!). I make mental notes of who’s drinking what and to never drink from someone else’s cup. It angers me to try and make even something simple like toast in my kitchen if there are any dirty dishes lying around from the night before.¬† People double-dipping at social gatherings makes me want to scream at them, and yes, I am judging you fuckers (unless it’s someone you’re snogging, don’t double-dip with them!).¬† I can’t use moisturisers on my hands or face (or massage oil on my back) without feeling like my skin it is ‘suffocating’. The idea of a dog sleeping on my bed literally makes my skin crawl. ¬†I can’t/won’t use someone else’s iPad or device if I can see it’s got greasy fingerprint marks on the screen. I hate hate hate pimples and can’t stand those ‘popping’ videos full of pus. Even the suggestion of using someone else’s toothbrush when desperate, is enough to make me gag.¬† Catching a whiff of someone’s bad breath literally makes me want to throw up, and up until now, one of the worst times of my life was when my son was in nappies. Urgggh… *shudders from something akin to PTSD*.

It’s mostly something that I’ve just been quietly but acutely aware of my whole life, but that I’ve been largely able to keep to myself. No one really notices or cares when you politely refuse to share a cup with them, or choose to wait out in your car instead of in a doctor’s waiting room, or if you go out of your way not to sit near someone coughing in a cinema…¬† At the moment, however, we are being bombarded with ‘Coronavirus this’, ‘Corvid-19 that’ and it’s getting harder and harder to maintain some semblance (pretence?) of equilibrium.

Mr K was in Sydney last week for work, and even though I know logically that given his movements there, he’s at minimal risk of having been exposed – I’ve relegated him to the back of the house to his bedroom and his office, banned him from the living room or from touching ANYTHING in the kitchen or refrigerator until I’m comfortable that he’s still asymptomatic by the time the median incubation period has passed.¬† In the last week, he came into the living room and sat down out of habit – just once.¬† It took only a few minutes before I felt my heart starting to race, my chest started to tighten with a feeling of wanting to scream but can’t (probably can but, you know, shouldn’t). I was mentally assessing when/if I should just get up and leave, and knowing all this was totally irrational but feeling it anyway and feeling powerless to control it, meant that I very rapidly felt the prick of oncoming tears.¬† My idiotic brain is causing my body to react with alarm/panic in the absence of genuine danger. It’s not fun.

Given the low probability of contagions in my own home, I KNOW I’m overreacting and I’m well aware of it.. but I can’t seem to help it. And I’ve been over-reacting for weeks now.¬† I haven’t left the house for anything social (with the exception of one dinner out on the 12th of March at a totally empty restaurant), since Feb 22nd.¬† Nooooo, I’m not paranoid at all… but I did just quietly locked myself in over a month ago.

Grocery trips have been done, but nothing else.¬† I’ve never been glad for self-checkouts before, but at the moment ain’t nobody needs other people handling their groceries more than necessary. It’s bad enough that we have no idea if the people on minimum income stocking the shelves are healthy. So, it’s been out with the hand sanitizer after touching trolleys, or bags or well, fucking anything at all. And again before getting back in the car and then scrubbing hands again at home with soap and water, before *and* after unpacking groceries.¬† More hand scrubbing before, during and after prepping meals.¬† Using cloths to open the dishwasher or touch the kettle (one for me – one for him). These are the sorts of precautions I normally only exercise when travelling in third world countries and I’ve taken to deploying them in my own house since the number of confirmed cases in my state was a grand total of TWO.¬† ¬†ūüėź¬† This virus, how contagious it is, and the progression of the disease on the body scares the living shit out of me.

But apparently, it doesn’t scare everyone. Watching my Boomer and Gen Z friends, family and colleagues not taking this seriously is honestly doing my head in – Aunt (currently partway through breast cancer treatments) and Uncle (over 70, long time smoker, had a heart valve replaced a few months ago) spent last weekend traipsing about visiting friends and going out to the pub for lunch!¬† Fav 20-year-old niece recently returned from Sydney was out at a party last Saturday night… WHAT-THE-EVER-LOVING-FUCK!?!¬† Some households with both parents working from home are still dropping their kid to DAYCARE!¬† I’ve seen the pictures of people at Bondi Beach, people lining up at Centrelink (it’s so shit that that has become necessary), friends still reporting plenty of foot traffic in retail apparel stores because people are ‘bored’, and so many others still trying to find ‘loopholes’ to keep getting out and keep doing things over the last week or so?¬† WTF people!

Pretending I’m not freaking out that everything I touch, or anyone I come in contact with, could be infected is exhausting.¬† For me, over the last month, leaving the house has felt like steeling yourself to go for a supply run in an episode of The Walking Dead.¬† Watching our government with their incompetent mixed messaging on what is allowed and what is not, and what’s considered ‘essential work’ and what’s not – all the while leaving schools open and risking the lives of all our friends and family who work in education or healthcare is equally angering and terrifying to every fibre of my being… especially in light of the fact that our PM has had his own kids safely ensconced at home for over a week?¬† The mongrel fucking bastard.

EVERYONE, PLEASE JUST STAY THE FUCK AT HOME – STAY AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE… AND WASH YOUR GODDAMN HANDS. THEN WASH THEM AGAIN, AND KEEP WASHING THEM UNTIL YOUR DAMN FINGERPRINTS ARE DISAPPEARING!!!

For the first time ever, we don’t want to be like Italy.¬† :'(

PS: If you see me wearing this on a t-shirt… in my defence, I did buy it before this thing started to spiral out of control. It’s now very relevant content – you can buy your own at Teeturtle.

PPS: If you have any weird friends who get miffed when you don’t put their DVDs back in the ‘right spot’, or they sort their books by genre then by author or by height, or who keep their sewing pins in clumps by pinhead colour, or who may sort their wardrobe by colour, or who have meticulously got everything in their pantry in Tupperware containers, or who stand around tidying dump bins at JB HiFi while you’re actually shopping, or who … well, you know the people I mean.¬† Go check on them – they’re probably not doing great.

Credit Where Credit is Due.

It was pointed out to me yesterday, by my very dearest and very oldest (she’s not so old, I’ve just known her forever) friend, that I have a long standing habit of ‘referring to other people’s authority’ in conversation. ¬†A statement which initially confused me somewhat, for as anyone who has known me for longer than twenty minutes has probably figured out – me and authority don’t get along so well. ¬†Never have.

However, my friend’s keen sense of observation has noticed a particular idiosyncrasy of mine – apparently when passing on information, I have a tendency to reference what I am saying, to others whose expertise I acknowledge and respect, rather than just stating the information out right. ¬†Presumably to lend or gravitas to the argument, according to my friend. ¬†For example when discussing infant bottle feeding, at some point I have told her about the myth of baby bottle sterilization – that we, as an ever obedient consumer society, are conned into buying expensive bottle sterilizers to clean baby bottles. ¬†However, apparently I didn’t just tell her that these expensive products were time consuming and unnecessary because if you think about it, common sense tells you that once you remove the bottle from the sterilization unit they are no longer sterile… No, apparently I referred to the authority of a microbiologist friend who had initially informed¬†me, that sterilizers are no more effective than simple hot water, dish washing detergent and air drying practices (don’t use a dish cloth – your average kitchen dish cloth is bursting with fruit flavour… ie: germs.), thus lending expertise and weight to my assertion.

On various another occasions I have shared general information with her about cars, car maintenance and even driving practices, apparently drawing on the authority of an ex-boyfriend who worked in the car industry and raced cars for a hobby as the relevant authority.  Likewise apparently with IT or computer related issues, always referring to someone that she perceived, that I perceived, held more expertise than myself in the area under discussion.  I also have a tendency to cite research and articles I have read rather than stating things as just knowledge or facts that I have acquired (likely this a habit of the perpetual student, in me).

Not only that, but she has also noticed¬†that I apparently unwilling to take ownership of those little idioms that you come upon in life that stay with you – eg: ‘Having one child takes up all of your time, and having three children takes up all of your time as well’ (wise words passed on as being from my mother). ¬†So after many years of study – yes, my friend is a particularly analytical creature with an extraordinary memory, and she has a habit of studying her friends – she has decided that I have some underlying habit of referring to the authority of others. ¬†She didn’t express a hypothethis ,as to why I do this. ¬†Whether it¬†is because she thinks I have difficulty trusting my own judgement, or whether it might be simply to reinforce my position with my listener by referring to a (perceived) more expert opinion.

But I have been thinking about it and honestly? ¬†I think it is simply a matter of giving credit where credit is due. ¬†We all learn things from so many sources around us, especially now in the Information Age, some of it credible, some of it not so credible, some of it down right bullshit and for many many years now I have been taking things I learn with a grain of salt unless it is from a well respected source or well referenced. ¬†And yes, this often includes information gained from my friends. ¬†Can I claim credit for realizing all on my own that my baby bottles are no longer sterile as soon as I open the container? ¬†No. ¬†I would have keep on wasting my time using the stupid thing, like a good little consumer, if my friend hadn’t pointed out the nonsense staring me in the face. ¬†So I pass on the credit for providing this jewel of common sense, to my friend.

It’s weird how this works in my head. ¬†But I strongly suspect I am not alone. ¬†I believe this, giving credit to individuals for the information they bring into our lives, is important to a lot of people. ¬†On Facebook, for example, if we want to ‘share’ a link that a friend has bought to our attention, we are given an option to include their name on our page, connected to the article/webpage/photo, as the original finder or provider of said information. ¬†Now, unless Facebook is being stupid (which it frequently is, especially from your phone), I ALWAYS leave the name of the person who originally posted it. ¬†If someone has provided me with information that I feel is worth sharing, then I feel they deserve to have the credit for finding it. ¬†My finickity nature on this one also extends to things that are sent to me privately – if a friend sends me something via private message¬†or something, and I think it is worth sharing with the world at large… I often feel the NEED to ask that friend if they mind if I share it on Facebook, or Reddit or via email or whatever? ¬†I have no idea why I do that, except that I feel people should be given credit for the knowledge they bring to us that variously (or vicariously?) enriches our lives in some way.

So yes, in discussions I am probably frequently heard referring to authors of authority, especially on politics and current events.  But when discussing the wisdom that friends have generously bestowed on me, and which I am now sharing with others РI strongly suspect it is primarily a matter of making sure I am passing on the credit to the person to whom it is due.

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You want to tell me that you love me…

Why is it that he always sends an, “I love you” message, right when you are in the middle of storming around the house cursing his fucking name?

Is it ESP or something? ¬†Does he feel that right at that moment he is mentally being burned in effigy and suddenly feels the need to try and buy some good karma or something? Because I frequently get the text message that says, “I hope you’re having a great day. I love you.’, when I am so pissed off I want to scream!!!

I’ll be in the middle of wiping the coffee stains off the kitchen benches, the cupboards and even the goddamn floor, and mentally calculating how many more times I am prepared to do this before I throw the malodorous filthy fucking espresso machine out the fricken kitchen window and my little iPhone will innocuously go *ding* with an ‘I love you’.

Or I’ll be scrubbing the toilet of HIS skiddies, or scraping phlegm off the bathroom sink or washing bits of beard off the porcelain… and wondering ‘Ferfucksake why?!? ¬†Does he not see it? ¬†DOES HE NOT FUCKING SEE IT?’ and the phone will go *ding* with little messages of love.

I’ll be thinking to myself, ‘what part of, “you need to find somewhere else to hang those ties” sounds like a fucking suggestion?’, or ‘he said he fucking cleaned this, and yet here I am, on my hands and knees, doing it properly’, or sighing in slumped resignation at the realization that my request to take the stupid garbage out has been ignored for the umpteenth time and my phone will go *ding* with a text window telling me I’m so awesome. ¬† ūüôĀ

WELL FUCK THAT SHIT.

You want to tell me that you love me… scrub down your own damn dunny and leave it smelling fresh and clean for the next occupant.

You want to tell me that you love me… actually clean the dishes when you say you are going to, and realize that cleaning the dishes also involves wiping down the sink!

You want to tell me that you love me… look after your own shit and don’t leave disgusting coffee stains and smells permeating the entire kitchen.

You want to tell me that you love me… don’t use the bathtub as an ‘overflow’ laundry hamper hindering anyone from actually taking a fucking bath!

You want to tell me that you love me… don’t vacuum the floor in part of the house and leave another part of the house littered with crap.

You want to tell me that you love me… then fucking DO something useful and fucking do it properly!

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Here’s some free advice… thinking of getting married and sharing your life with someone until ‘death do you part’ or until one of you is lying about screwing some sort of window licking crazy in a dodgy hotel room on a Tuesday? ¬†By all means. ¬†Marriage rocks. ¬†Having someone to share your life with is awesome. ¬†BUT for crying out loud, save yourself years of heartache and marry someone who has the same sense of ‘clean’ as you do. ¬†Else you are just buying into a world of fucking hurt.

And don’t get me started on having compatible concepts of ‘punctuality’…

Real Monsters for Halloween

I could spend hours scouring the internet for imagery… and no, unlike many of you who use the internet for a similar pursuit, I’m not talking about collecting untold gigabytes of pornography!

I like looking for art and artworks of obscure artists. ¬†I think it’s amazing that I am able to see the works of an art student in Russia or an little known sculptor in Spain or an accomplished illustrator like Toby Allen who created these ‘Real Monsters’, as artistic representations of mental disorders.

mental disorder monsters anxiety mental disorder monsters avoidance mental disorder monsters borderline personality mental disorder monsters depression mental disorder monsters disassociative mental disorder monsters OCD mental disorder monsters paranoia mental disorder monsters schizophrenia mental disorder monsters social anxiety

Today is Halloween, which in Australia generally means very little, no matter how hard retailers are trying to get us to buy into this particularly un-Hallmark, but decidedly consumerist, holiday. ¬†Popular culture seems to spend a lot of time cogitating on zombies and vampires and things generally undead, that generally go bump in the night. ¬†Monsters of this kind do not bother me at all. ¬†Never have and never will. ¬†But these ‘Real Monsters’ of Toby Allen’s… well, them I got some experience with, and they scare the shit out of me.