We got a Skype call from our daughter, Tiffany and 4 year old granddaughter KC this morning. It just amazed us that she's using the mouse now to select emoticons (and pictures) and knows how to left click to send it to us.
"Look, Grandpa," she'd call out excitedly, "I'm sending you lots of coffee." Then we'd see photos of mugs of coffee appear on our Skype screen.
I remember a time when I'd have to limit the calls I made to Hawaii from Chicago because of the expense. Now we can see and talk to KC and Tif whenever we want for FREE. We can even have a three way conversation with Tif in Chicago and her husband Ed (wherever he is on business) so he can advise us on some computer glitch. It just boggles my mind every time.
UPDATE on Sendai:
I was able to place another call to Sendai yesterday so my mother could speak to her sister, Atsuko. Mom told Aunt Atsuko that we were concerned about what we were seeing on TV about the radiation levels in Fukushima as well as all the shortages.
My aunt said they're still doing OK. My cousin's husband's family has a business that was not affected too greatly by the earthquake. They have been selling out on quite a few of their household items such as containers (to hold water, etc.), small gas stoves, etc. Profit is very small because they have to drive very far to Niigata to keep their shelves somewhat stocked and the cost in fuel to transport products is expensive. When they travel to Niigata, they're able to get water for my aunt's family. Aunt Atsuko says they are much luckier than many others in the area. She says her new grandson is keeping their spirits up with his smiles and happy squeals.
Still, my mother let them know that our house is always open to them if they can get themselves over here. They know about the radiation risk, but so far feel they are safe.
Since the train lines were down, the only method of transportation is the bus. My Aunt Suzuko in Tokyo offered to bring milk, diapers or whatever they needed by bus, but Aunt Atsuko told her it was still unnecessary.
There is a word in Japanese that is a common philosophy. It's called enryo. This link gives you a more thorough meaning, but basically it means to defer your own needs for others. Somebody might offer you a delectable treat and you may enryo and not accept it so they can enjoy it instead.
In that way, I fear our relatives would enryo rather than impose on us. Heavy sigh...