Jul 19, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: July 13 -- July 19

Ten Things of Thankful
I am thankful for my father, who cooked chow mein for lunch last Sunday. I was so hungry that I didn't take a picture of it before lunch... It had some pork, egg plant, cabbage, and onion in it, and it was delicious!
I am thankful that I have been trying to memorize John 15 this summer. This week's memory verse is John 15: 11-12.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

 Memorizing John 15
I am thankful for more flowers of the goya bitter melons in our humble garden.

I am thankful that I have got a dental checkup this week, and that we have found that there is nothing wrong in my mouth. Moreover, the city government is paying for the checkup this year, and it cost me nothing at all.
I am thankful for Josie, who wrote about Bloglovin' last week. I have signed up for it, and found it very useful.  
Follow on Bloglovin
On Wednesday I went to the art exhibition held at the city library, featuring Genbaku no Zu (The Hiroshima Panels) painted by the couple Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi. They depict people killed and injured by the atomic bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. You can take a glimpse of these paintings here.

Though the theme of the exhibition may not make us feel happy and thankful, I am thankful that our city is hosting this event, so that we can learn how destructive nuclear weapons are, what tremendous sufferings they have caused, and how important it is for us to make efforts to prevent war. I would like people all over the world to see these paintings. As for the exhibition at our city library, which lasts until August 10, admission is free.

I am thankful for the city libraries that have so many books. Our city has nine libraries, and the largest one is about a thirty minutes' walk from my house. There is another one, which is about a twenty minutes' walk. I usually go to the closest one. We can 'order' books we want through the Internet, and have them delivered to the closest library. I have borrowed two books this week, and I am looking forward to reading them.
I am thankful that the morning glories in our garden are in bloom now.

 I am thankful that I have registered as a volunteer worker at the municipal International Center, where we help international residents in our city learn the Japanese language. I am going to work there twice a month. I went there for the first time on Friday, and observed two of the experienced workers teaching their students basic Japanese. One of the students was from a Spanish-speaking country, and she was studying how to spell hiragana syllabary. Another student was from Korea, and she was studying grammar and dialogues using a textbook provided by the International Center.
I am looking forward to working there.
I am thankful that I attended the English seminar held at the Bible Institute by the Sea of Japan today. The seminar itself is four days long, and I took part in it for only one day. I had a very good time practicing speaking in English with wonderful people visiting the institute from the United States. I am especially thankful for Walt, who taught our class.

Jul 18, 2014

Hot Green Peppers

Do not touch their seeds bare-handed.
   Though they may look like ordinary green peppers, they are not. These are dangerously hot green peppers called kagura-nanban. We should be careful not to touch their seeds when we remove them. The first time I cooked them, I didn't know that. I treated them as if they were ordinary green peppers. They were hot, but very delicious. Later that night, while I was taking a bath, I felt as if my fingertips were burning.That terrible sensation lasted for a couple of days.

   Now I know better. Whenever I remove the seeds, I use a knife and a spoon, being extremely careful not to touch them with my bare hands. I love kagura-nanban stir-fried with eggplants and seasoned with miso (soy bean paste). I cook the dish at least fifteen times a year. 


Five Minute Friday
    Finally, the clematis in our backyard came into bloom several days ago.

   Most clematis in our neighborhood had come out at least two months earlier, and we had been wondering what had happened to ours.
   According to my journal, it was in full bloom on June 4 in 2013, but there was no sign of flowers in June this year. The green leaves seemed thriving, but they had no flower buds at all. We wondered if we would never see flowers of our clematis.

   Soon, the month of July started. We were busy taking care of morning glories, alstroemerias, hydrangeas and bitter melons. We had almost forgotten about our clematis. We no longer looked for its flower buds.

  Then, suddenly, on the morning of July 13, we found these flowers. The flowers were in bloom only in the upper part of its climbing vines. They were so high up that my neck hurt when I looked up at them. I had to stand on tiptoe to take a picture of them.

   They are still in bloom today.

   Even though we had almost given up our hope of seeing the flowers of clematis this year, they did come into bloom in their own time.


Jul 17, 2014

Wisdom Teeth, Easy "Go To" Recipe, Doing the Dishes, and so on.

I am joining Patrice and Wendell for Chats on the Farmhouse Porch.
Everyday Ruralty 

1. Patrice's D3 is facing wisdom teeth removal. Have you had your wisdom teeth removed?
No, I haven't had my wisdom teeth removed. Strangely, none of my wisdom teeth have appeared yet, though I am old enough. I have been wondering why.

2. Today Wendell is serving iced tea, iced coffee, and carrot juice. He wants me to ask you which you'd prefer.
Could I have a glass of iced coffee, please?
3. If you use a crock pot, do you have a favorite recipe? If not, what is your favorite, easy "go to" recipe?
I don't have a crock pot. I often use pressure cookers. (I have two, and I sometimes use both of them at a time.) My favorite, easy "go to" recipe is curry and rice. Cook the rice in an electric rice cooker. Cook the pork, potatoes, onions, carrots in the pressure cooker and add instant curry paste. Simmer until thick. -- In fact, we are having curry and rice for lunch today.

4. Do you prefer to wash dishes by hand or dishwasher? Yes, I know some of us probably don't like dish washing. Wendell flat out refuses!
Since we don't have a dishwasher, we wash dishes by hand, whether we like it or not. I like doing the dishes in cold water in summer. :-)
5. What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to taking part in the English seminar held at the Bible Institute by the Sea of Japan this Saturday! Several people from the United States are visiting the Bible Institute, and they are going to teach us English during the seminar. Here is the timetable for Saturday, July 19.
  •   9:30 -- 11:00    English
  • 11:00 -- 12:00    Story & Music
  • 12:00 -- 13:00    Lunch
  • 13:00 -- 14:00    English
  • 14:00 -- 15:30    Craft
  • 15:30 -- 16:30    English
The seminar itself starts on Friday, and lasts until next Monday, but I am going to attend it for only one day. Though I have been writing in my blog in English, I haven't talked with anyone in English for months. I am looking forward to meeting new people and talking with them in English.


Jul 16, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol.182

I am taking part in Wednesday Hodgepodge,
hosted by Joyce @ FROM THIS SIDE OF THE POND.

1. The month of July was named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. He's quoted as saying, 'Experience is the teacher of all things." So what has experience taught you lately?
When people around me seem aloof, it often means that I am, in fact, the one who is being aloof and unfriendly.
2. Where did you last 'roam'?
I roamed around the park on the hill in the eastern part of our city to see beautiful cherry blossoms last April.
3. Speaking of 'Rome'...pizza, pasta, gelato...you can only pick one, which would you choose?
4. 'Rome wasn't built in a day', 'All roads lead to Rome', 'When in Rome...' which 'Roman' idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.
'Rome wasn't built in a day.' -- Recently, I have been interested in reading Japanese classical texts. Last week I read  Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) written by Matsuo Bashou, a Japanese haiku master in the 17th century. Yesterday, I finished reading Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) written in the 10th century, which is believed to be one of the oldest sci-fi novels in the world. I am deeply impressed with our rich literary tradition. The mere thought of how our language and literature have developed through centuries amazes me.
5. What's a movie you've seen or a book you've read, that makes you want to book a trip to Italy?
The book titled "Haru no Taikan" (The Coronation of the Spring) by Tsuji Kunio, a novel about Botticelli and people around him. I read the book several years ago, and I have wanted to visit Florence since then.
6. Walt's original Disneyland opened almost sixty years ago, on July 17, 1955 Have you ever been to the California park? How about any of the other Disney parks around the world? What's your favorite amusement park ride or attraction?
I have never been to the California park. I have never been to any of the other Disney parks, either. My favorite amusement park ride would be the Ferris Wheel.
7. It's that time of year...when were you last bitten or stung?
A mosquito bit me when I was in our garden last week.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
Speaking of Italian food, this is a picture of the spaghetti with potatoes and cod roe I cooked for lunch several days ago:

We like pasta and we have some spaghetti for lunch at least twice a month. What is your favorite pasta topping?

Jul 15, 2014


    I woke up before dawn. It was raining. Waiting for light to appear through the white paper screens on the eastern window, I found myself thinking of the word 'dawn.' I don't remember when and where I first saw this English word, but I do remember I mistook it for 'down' the first time I saw it and that after looking up the correct word in a dictionary, I wondered why this word, meaning the time when the sun is coming up, looked so much like the word 'down.'
    Dawn. Daybreak. 'Daybreak' is another mysterious word to me. Windows, dishes, vases, and all kinds of things and machines may break, but the day does not break in the same way, does it?

   Birds began to sing, and a faint light was coming through the white paper screens into my room. I kept thinking about the word dawn, still lying in my bed, trying to come up with as many synomyms in my own language as I could: yoake, akegata, akebono, akatsuki, asaborake, and shinonome. The first two are frequently used in modern Japanese, but the rest are archaic. Some are almost obsolete, seen only in ancient poems and stories. All of them, however, sound poetical to me.
   I got up, and made a list of these Japanese words meaning dawn.

 Have you noticed that all the words in this list except the last one have one thing in common?


These words are spelt with kanji characters that have the component signifying the sun:
This kanji derives from an ancient Chinese pictogram for the sun:


You may also see something similar in the middle of the first kanji in the last word shinonome, but specialists say that the component in this character refers to a bag, not the sun.


   Shinonome is another mysterious word. The first kanji in this word refers to 'east,' and the second one 'cloud.' The kanji for 'east' is pronounced either 'higashi' or 'tou,' and the kanji for 'cloud' is pronounced 'kumo,' 'gumo,' or 'un,' depending on the contexts. It is only when these two kanji are placed together in this order that they form a word pronounced 'shinonome.' There are a large number of Japanese words pronounced in idiosyncratic ways like this, such as...

   ... It has stopped raining. I can hear the music on the radio in my father's room. He turns on the radio as soon as he wakes up. It is time I started making breakfast.


I am joining Josie for Two Shoes Tuesday.
this week's prompts: perfect or dawn

Jul 12, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: July 6--July 12

Ten Things of Thankful

I have read the book Oku no Hosomichi  (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) written by Matsuo Bashou, a Japanese haiku master in the 17th century. It is a travelogue including some of his well-known haiku.  I studied only a few chapters of this book in Japanese Classics when I was in high school. This time, I have read the whole book, which is not very long, and I enjoyed it very much. I am thankful for the wonderful time I had virtually traveling in the 17th-century Japan with this excellent poet.

I am thankful for my favorite snack, kaki-no-tane and peanuts. Kaki-no-tane is made from rice powder, soy sauce and spices.

I am thankful for the ume (Japanese apricot) syrup that I have made this year. (This is the link to my recipe. ) It takes about one month to make it. The syrup is now bottled and the bottles are labeled.

I am thankful that I have finished the sashiko dish towel at last, though the stitches are uneven.

I am thankful that I saw these beautiful flowers near the city library several days ago. The plants with the spiral clusters of pink flowers are called neji-bana in Japanese, and these are the tallest neji-bana I have ever seen.

I am thankful that I have completed and submitted my latest translation assignment for RBC Ministries this week.

I am thankful that I came across Hitomi several days ago. She used to be in the Sunday school class I taught in the small city by the Sea of Japan many years ago. She was a junior high school student then, but now she is working as a hospital nurse. I am happy to see her beautiful smiles again.

This week I spent some time listening to the CDs that Debby K* sent me years ago. I met Debby through an Internet group, and I have never seen her in person. I am thankful for Debby, who gave me wonderful music CDs from the USA.

I am thankful that I visited the science museum in our city. The most interesting thing I saw there was the fossil of manatee that was discovered several years ago. I didn't know that what is now our city used to be in the sea tens of thousands of years ago.

I am thankful to have had my hair cut today.

The Light

"People are like stained glass windows:
they sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within. "
-- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, psychiatrist and author (1926-2004)

Jesus is the light within me.

I'm taking part in Six-Word Saturday.

Jul 9, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch 147

I am joining Patrice @ Everyday Ruralty

1. Do you like cucumbers? Is there a favorite way for you to prepare them?
I love cucumbers. I usually have cucumbers sprinkled with a little salt.
2. How good a housekeeper are you?
I am afraid I am not a very good housekeeper. I am still a novice.
3. Please finish this: To spend a day____________would be amazing!
To spend a day doing nothing but reading books in a comfortable room would be wonderful.
4. How do you handle times when you are "down" or "blue"( depressed )?
When I am depressed, I prefer being alone, and wait for the time when I feel like doing something meaningful.
5. Have you started using essential oils, since they have become so popular?
I have been using essential oils occasionally for at least ten years. A friend of mine, who is a florist, sometimes talks about essential oils, and I have got interested in them. I now have small bottles of frankincense and lavender on my desk.

Jul 8, 2014

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Inside the bottle
Mediterranean sun --
virgin olive oil

I am taking part in Two Shoes Tuesday
hosted by Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas.
this week's prompts: inside or extra