Socks have been my latest quest at the clothing store. Socks and carpets. I used to hate socks, as you might if you lived in a place where the best state of feet was bare, and socks just meant you were wearing shoes. But if your apartment isn't heated and your floors are made of tatami mat or linoleum-wood, well..
At some point in the past (Kansas) I had bought some long socks to reach above the knee. I kind of wish I had done this sooner; I might have been more comfortable in Tennessee had I not continued daily to venture out in thin or ankle-cut socks. Alas.
But my long socks are thin, and many of them are made of synthetic material. You might not think this is a big deal, and maybe it's not, but if your feet have to spend exactly all day long (excepting only the time you are darting to/standing in the shower) inside of socks, you might find that cotton socks make your feet sweat less, or breathe better, or something. So I developed the habit of wearing double socks (along with the rest of my double clothing habits). I would put on a pair of the old cotton ankle-socks, and over that don a longer pair.
But when you're wearing under-pants (leggings under your pants), you don't need knee-length socks, because you can just tuck your under-pants into shorter (though not ankle-cut) socks! so I started longing for good old regular cotton thick-woven things that were not threadbare excuses for white socks I had owned in some other life.
So I went to the damn store. I didn't know the kanji for cotton (though I figured it out), but words like "acrylic" and "polyester" are written in katakana, so I avoided socks in which those were the first listed ingredients. I had seen the kanji for "wool" before (羊毛) and the last part with the hook is recognizeable, and finally found cotton (綿) socks. I bought many pairs in many patterns and colors.. a few with the familiar "Wrangler" logo on them. And so I was made happier.
I also wanted to find a decent-sized carpet to put under my kotatsu. The one I had was about the same size as the kotatsu, so anytime I wanted to slide the table over a little, the rug just got bunched up underneath it. I wanted a big, nearly room-sized, soft thing that would tempt me to lie down on it. I stared for a long time at the furnishings, finally deducing that the 'rugs' I wanted were actually bedcovers (wtf?) and eventually picked a white-ish (hahahaha) one of large proportions.
I also saw a runner that looks like this:
I had to get it because I could use a rug in front of the kitchen sink, and it says "The character of the sheep is quiet and gentle." I like to have ridiculous things. It too is soft, though the sheepy parts are greying a bit.
But the final coup occurred at Setsubun on Thursday night. Setsubun is the beginning of the end of winter.. whereas the solstice is the turnaround point for the light but the start of winter, setsubun is kind of the midwinter time halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. The light is halfway back! I went up to Iwa Jinja with E-Love to partake in the festivities. I was hoping to see more of my favorite kids, but instead we ended up standing by the giant fire eating tai-yaki and choco-bananas until a drunkish man came along to talk with us at length. We also bought a bunch of lottery-esque tickets which won us a great deal of Qoo (a sort of orange-juice drink), snacks (caramel corn! I'm eating it now.. it's kind of like cheesy poofs, only caramel), and soda. Oh, and I won a denki carpet.
"Also we have kerosene tanks. Do you want one of those?"
Denki means "electric." Think of an electric blanket. Yeeeeaaaaah. Osaki-san has a denki-carpet under the dining room table, but it's the sort of thing I would never buy myself, assuming as I do that they are expensive and that I have nowhere to put such a thing. They belong in real houses, not my apartment. But of course I gleefully took my denki-carpet home and found a place. Right under my feet where I currently sit. Munchin on caramel corn and contemplating