Sep 13, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful / September 13

Ten Things of Thankful
I'm thankful I've found a video of the Japanese version of Amazing Grace at YouTube, so that I can share this with you. I'm thankful for the person who has created this.

We are going to sing this song at the concert in 10 days, and we are practicing it every Sunday.


I'm thankful for Lizzi R, Debbie Huffaker, and Dyanne @ I Want Backsies, who said in their comments last week that they would like to listen to Amazing Grace sung in Japanese. Having found the video above, I've been inspired to write a series of posts about the Japanese version of this song, and I've written the first post with the lyrics transcribed in the English alphabet. I'm going to write more about each stanza next week.

I'm thankful for my father, who cooked curry and rice for lunch on Sunday.

I'm thankful for the quail eggs that I have had for the first time in years. I was not sure how long the small eggs be boiled, so I searched for a recipe on the Internet. -- Put the eggs and water in a pot, and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for two minutes. Drain, and put the eggs in cold water. Shell the eggs. -- They tasted good.


I'm thankful for the new bitter melon in our humble garden, which I've found quite unexpectedly. It is just outside the window on the second floor. The vine has got entangled in the window screen, so we can't open it until the fruit is harvested... Thinking that the plants were withering, we had planned to remove the vines earlier this week. I'm glad that we have somehow procrastinated.

I'm thankful for Noriko, who has lent me a beautiful book on Hawaiian quilting. The book makes me feel like starting a new sewing project.

I'm thankful for the new music book which has a number of chorale variations for the organ. I've started practicing some of the pieces.

I'm thankful for J. S. Bach, who created so many beautiful pieces of music. I'm thankful that I was born after he composed all these magnificent works and that I live in the time when I can listen to them on CDs, on the radio, and through the Internet at home.

I'm thankful for the time I spent helping a lady from the Philippines to learn to read in Japanese at the municipal International Affairs Department on Friday.

I'm thankful for the uneventful, peaceful week I've been enjoying.

Sep 10, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

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

1. On Thursday we pause to remember a dark day in history-9/11. Will you mark it in some special way?
No, I'm afraid not. The TV news will probably mention it on that day here in Japan, too, but I am not going to do anything special for that day.

2. Do you ever/still...listen to an actual radio? Watch a videotape (VCR)? Look up a number in a phonebook? Refer to a paper map while traveling? Set an alarm on an alarm clock as opposed to your phone?
Yes! All of the above, except VCR. In fact, I love listening to the radio while working in the kitchen.

3. Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don't know?
No, I don't think so. I hesitate to discuss religion or politics even with people I know well.

4. What's a dish you haven't eaten all summer, but come September find yourself craving? Have you made it yet this month?
Grilled Pacific saury. I made it last Saturday for the first time this season. I'm going to make it at least three times a month during the fall.

5. What's something you know nothing about?
Since I know nothing about it, I don't even know what it is called. :-)

6. September is Classical Music Month. Do you like classical music? If so, what's your favorite piece?
I LOVE classical music. My favorite composer is J. S. Bach. My favorite piece right now is the Fuga in "Fantasia et Fuga in g (BWV 542)."

7. What's the oldest thing you own?
It's my grandmother's chest of drawers made of paulownia. I don't know exactly how old it is, but I'm sure it's the oldest. My paternal grandmother had passed away years before I was born.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

I just wanted to share the pictures of flowers at the foot of the bridge near my house.

Sep 9, 2014

Clouds in Autumn

   I took this picture on my way to church last Sunday. I was crossing the bridge by bicycle, and noticed the beautiful clouds. I stopped. I took out my camera, and took a picture. We call the clouds in the upper part of this photo 'iwashi-gumo,' which can be literally translated as 'sardine-clouds.' These clouds are considered to be a symbol of autumn where we live. 'Iwashi-gumo' is also known as 'uroko-gumo,' because it looks like scales of fish. I wondered what it is called in English. I remembered seeing the expression 'mackerel cloud' somewhere before. It was interesting that English-speaking people compare these clouds to mackerel, while we associate them with sardine... Later, however, I found that some Japanese people in other parts of the country call them 'saba-gumo,' or 'mackerel clouds,' as well.

   After coming home, I looked up a dictionary, and found that 'iwashi-gumo' is 'cirrocumulus cloud' in English. 'Cirrocumulus' was a new word to me. Then I made a little research on the Internet. When I searched for 'mackerel clouds,' I was directed to this page, titled "Altocumulus mackerel sky", where it is written:
A mackerel sky or buttermilk sky describes a sky mostly covered by altocumulus clouds.
 I was confused. 'Altocumulus' was another new word. 'Alto' means 'high' in Spanish, but they say 'altocumulus clouds' are 'medium level,' while 'cirrocumulus' is classified as 'high level.' -- Come to think of it, alto is lower than soprano in music, too. --

   Are 'iwashi-gumo' and 'mackerel clouds' different? Doesn't 'mackerel sky' refer to 'a sky mostly covered with mackerel clouds'? Are there colloquial English expressions for 'cirrocumulus clouds' like those in my photo? Are the 'iwashi-gumo' in the photo cirrocumulus, or altocumulus? -- In Japanese, altocumulus clouds are sometimes called 'hitsuji-gumo' (sheep clouds) instead of 'iwashi-gumo' .

  I kept searching for more information. This page tells us that cirrocumulus clouds are 'also referred to colloquially as "herringbone" or "mackerel." So 'iwashi-gumo' and 'mackerel clouds' are roughly the same thing. In addition, I felt somewhat relieved to read the following sentence on the same page:

Cirrocumulus is distinguished from altocumulus in several ways, although the two stratocumuliform genus types can occasionally occur together with no clear demarcation between them...
 '... the two ... can occasionally occur together with no clear demarcation between them...'

   I'm wondering why I wanted to know the difference between cirrocumulus and altocumulus clouds so much. I don't know about you, but I prefer the fuzzy, everyday words to the technical terms. After all, whichever category they belong to, whatever fish they are compared to, I find these clouds beautiful.


* You may have inferred from such expressions as 'iwashi-gumo', 'uroko-gumo', 'saba-gumo,' and 'hitsuji-gumo' that 'gumo' is a Japanese word for 'cloud.' You are right, in a sense. To be more exact, however, the independent word meaning 'cloud' is 'kumo.' The 'k' in 'kumo' is often changed into 'g' when preceded by another noun to form a compound.
This is the kanji for 'cloud':
This kanji is pronounced as 'kumo', 'gumo', 'un', and so on, according to the words in which it is used. It is almost always pronounced 'un' when it appears in technical terms. For example, 'cirrocumulus clouds' are 'ken-seki-un,' and 'altocumulus clouds,' 'kou-seki-un.'

'Ken-seki-un' is spelt in two ways, #1 with the kanji for 'silk' and #2 with the kanji for 'curl.' The first kanji in #3 means alto (high).
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the English terms were first translated into Chinese, and Japanese borrowed these words from Chinese later. -- Chinese people may have coined them independently, instead of translating them from English. -- It is fuzzy to me which is true.


I'm joining Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas
for Two Shoes Tuesday.

Sep 6, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful

I'm thankful that we are practicing singing the Japanese version of Amazing Grace in the choir now. We are going to sing at an informal concert held in the city auditorium on September 23.

I'm thankful for the grape jam I made on Monday. This is the link to my recipe.

I'm thankful for the lovely flowers of yaburan (lily turf, or border grass) that are in bloom in front of our house now.

I'm thankful for a cup of green tea that I have every morning.

I'm thankful for the radio in the kitchen. I often listen to it while I am doing the dishes.

I'm thankful for the blue sky. (I took the picture on Thursday.)

I'm thankful for the cooking class held at the church on Friday. Noriko taught us how to make steamed rice dumpling with sweet adzuki bean jam in it. They were delicious! (I am going to post the recipe in my another blog some time next week.)

I'm thankful that Noriko gave me some of the leftover ingredients after the cooking class so that I can review her lesson at home.

I'm thankful for the lovely flowers I've found in the city park.

I'm thankful that you've read my list of ten things of thankful this week.

Ten Things of Thankful

Sep 3, 2014

Time Traveling


   When I was six years old, I was fascinated with a TV drama series titled Time Travelers, based on a Japanese novel written by Tsutsui Yasutaka. It was about a high school girl who happened to gain the ability to travel to the future and to the past, and a young scientist from the 27th century. I thought it would be exciting to know in advance what was going to happen in the future. I wished I were a time traveler like the heroine of the story. It was not because the heroine lived happily ever after. At the end of the story, she loses her ability to time travel, and she is never to see the man from the future she has come to love...

   Since then, I've read a lot of novels about time traveling. I've also watched a number of science fiction movies. It is interesting that there are many types of time traveling. Some time travelers use time machines. Others have supernatural abilities. Some go to the future. Some travel to the past. Others travel back and forth. Some choose to travel to different periods of time deliberately. Others wake up to find themselves in strange places in the distant past or future by accident.

   Most of these time travelers go to the worlds that are extremely difficult to live in. There are environmental problems, social injustice, armed conflicts, dangerous creatures, despots, terrorists, name it. Will the time travelers  be able to survive? Will they manage to solve their problems? What would I do if I were in their shoes? -- Time travelers are a sort of catalysts that make it easier for the audience to empathize in their stories, whether they are set in the past or in the future.

... I no longer wish I were a time traveler myself. I don't want to go to the future in advance to find out what is going to happen. I don't want to go back to the past to relive my happiest moments or to undo my greatest mistakes. I am grateful that I am living in the present now. Certainly, I do time travel to my past in my heart now and then. I'm also tempted to try to cross the bridge before I come to it, from time to time. Most of the time, however, I am taking a day at a time, savoring good things each day brings me.


Aug 30, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful

Ten Things of Thankful
I'm thankful for the fig jam I made on Monday. It is delicious! I like to have the jam with the homemade yogurt for breakfast.
I'm thankful for the flowers in the city park near the railway station.
I'm thankful for the book, Shizenha Oyatsu (Natural Snacks), written by Ejima Miuta, which has recipes for low-calorie cakes, pies and cookies. I have been using this book for more than fifteen years. (I wish it were translated into English.)

I'm thankful for the manjuu (steamed bun with adzuki bean jam filling) that I made on Monday, according to the recipe in the book mentioned above.

I'm thankful for the third goya bitter melon we've harvested from our garden.

I'm thankful that I've heard from the editor of RBC Ministries Japan. The pages I translated a few months ago are now being printed, and the devotional booklet is to be published in October. 
 I'm thankful that I've finished another translation assignment for RBC Ministries.
I'm thankful that I'm working at the municipal International Affairs Department as a volunteer twice a month. I help a few international residents learn Japanese there. I talked with a lady from the Philippines, a young lady and her father from Spain yesterday. There were four other Japanese volunteers joining the group, including two local junior high school students. The group was much larger than usual, and we enjoyed talking with one another in Japanese for two hours.
 I'm thankful for Sarah, who mentioned the book Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden in her comment two weeks ago. I've found the Japanese translation of the book in the city library and enjoyed reading it. The Japanese version is titled Sayuri, after the name of the heroine. I empathized with the heroine, and finished reading the story in two days.

I'm thankful that it has been getting cooler and more comfortable these days. I can stay asleep all night now.


Aug 29, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch 154

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

1. Please tell me something you have done recently that was really fun.
I had a good time talking with several people at the municipal International Affairs Department this morning. I am helping some international residents learn Japanese there, and I talked with a lady from the Philippines, and a young lady and her father from Spain today. There were two local junior high school students visiting the facility as an assignment, and they joined us, too. We talked about our hometowns, favorite foods and sports. It was fun to get to know them. We spoke mostly in Japanese, but I am happy I had a chance to say a few simple sentences in Spanish and made myself understood. -- This might not sound very exciting to other people, but it was a lot of fun to me.

2. Do you worry about any issues regarding food/food quality/food production?
I worry about genetically modified foods.
3. Have you painted any of your walls with colors other than white, beige, or tan?
Our Japanese-style rooms have walls made of khaki plaster, and the western-style room and the kitchen have beige wallpaper. We have never had our wall painted since our house was built.
4. What is your favorite way to have a hamburger? If you do not eat meat, what is your favorite sandwich?
I like a cheese hamburger.
5. Please finish this sentence. If I could, I'd like to play_____________________. This could be a musical instrument, a part in a play- use your imagination:)
If I could, I'd like to play the organs that J. S. Bach played.

Aug 28, 2014

My Answers to Liz's Questions

   Liz @ Laws of Gravity has nominated me for the Liebster Award, asking me the following eleven questions. I am going to answer her questions today.

1. Have you ever noticed how JJ Abrams likes the number 47? Or how the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42? Certain people identify with certain numbers. I already admitted to having an affinity for 11. What is your signature number?
I don't have any signature number. I've never thought about it.

2. Back in January, TIME magazine published an article on bad passwords. (I managed to find this again to illustrate a point while having a conversation with some juniors at the end of the last school year. They argued that a bad password was great protection as no hacker would try these anymore. I disagreed.) Have you ever used a "bad password"? Did you think it was good, or did you just need something easy?
No, I have never used a "bad password". However, I use the same password for many things, which I know is bad, but I don't want to memorize so many different passwords.
3. What time did you go to bed last night?
At 22:50. I sat up late reading a magazine last night. I usually go to bed at around 22:00.
4. What's the last movie you went out to see in a movie theater?
I saw a Japanese movie, Kono Sora no Hana, (Flowers in This Sky) more than two years ago. The story is set in the city where we live, and it is about fireworks, history, and hope.
5. As you all know, Tuesdays are my "what if" question days. And I'm running a bit low on ideas. What's the best "what if" question you can come up with? (Or come up with a mediocre one. I'm kind of desperate.)
This is the toughest question. --What if I couldn't think of even a silly question?-- In fact, it took me hours to come up with this one:
"What if you woke up one morning to find yourself literally invisible?"

6. Where are your car keys right now?
Nowhere. -- I don't drive a car.
7. Donna's New Day links to a random quiz on Sundays, and a couple weeks ago she found a quiz from the Oxford English Dictionary on finding the best new word for you. (They recently added a bunch of words.) Take the quiz (either frivolous or serious, or both if you're feeling adventurous), and give us your new word.
The new word you need: 5:2 diet
The definition:
diet that involves eating normally for five days out of a seven-day period and greatly restricting the amount of food eaten on the other two days.
Why?: You’re interested in the latest dietary trend.
8. Are you right or left-handed?
I am right-handed.
9. Are you with me in the cult of Doctor Who? (Are you watching the new season?) Who's your favorite Doctor?
I've heard of the drama, but I've never watched it.

10. If I were to offer to knit you something (anything) you'd like, what would you request?
I would request an Aran sweater.

11.Besides blogging, what's your favorite social media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)?
Facebook, though I use it for less than ten minutes a day. I've signed up for Twitter and Pinterest, but I seldom use them.
 I am thankful to Liz for these interesting questions.

Aug 27, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol. 187


1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?
The first weekend in August, when we went to the fireworks festival in our city.
2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st. What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?
I've loved teaching English as a foreign language at high school the most. I also worked part time as a private tutor when I was a student, and I liked the job, too.
3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?
In Japan, the new school year starts in April. The second trimester used start on September 1st, but these days it begins about a week earlier. The summer vacation has been shortened so that students will study longer in classrooms.
There are some people in our country who argue that the new academic year should start in September, but I think it is better to start in April, when it is far more comfortable. 
4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?
I have been working at the municipal International Affairs Department as a volunteer, teaching Japanese to some international residents twice a month.
5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' 'Many hands make light work.'
'A woman's work is never done.'
6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?
Crab. Boiled crab seasoned with vinegar and soy sauce would be the best.
7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.
'In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' I think it is the most important because it seems the most challenging to find opportunity in difficulty.
One of my 'rule of work' is 'Take one thing at a time.' 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I have taken this picture in the park near the railway station. I don't know the names of these flowers, but I love their colors.

Aug 25, 2014

The Bench

   We went to the park on the hill in the eastern part of our city on a sunny day in early November. My mother had lived near the park before she got married, and we would often go there on weekends in my childhood. The park is famous for its cherry trees, and it is crowded with picnickers when they are in blossom.

   On that day in November, however, there were few people in the park. My parents and I sat on the bench by the pond and had lunch. After that, my father and I wanted to take a walk. My mother said she would rather take a rest, and remained there.

   My father and I walked around the pond. Some leaves had already turned red or yellow, but most still remained green. The path was covered with fallen leaves and acorns. In twenty minutes or so, we came back to the place where we had started.

   There was no one sitting on the bench. We looked around. My mother was nowhere to be seen. She may have gone to the powder room. We sat on the bench and waited.

   While waiting, it occurred to me that the day would surely come when she would disappear from sight forever, leaving my father and me behind. Things would never be the same again... My concern was not groundless.  My mother had been diagnosed with serious diseases years before. One of the reasons why I went to the park with her on that day was that I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible while she was still up and around.

   A few minutes later, I began to wonder if I should go to the powder room to see if my mother was all right. I stood up, and started walking. Soon I saw her coming up to me. I felt relieved to see her.

   We spent about one more hour chatting in the park, and my parents went back to their house, and I went back to my apartment.

   As it turned out, it was the very last time that I talked with my mother face to face. When I look back on that day, I often think of the presentiment that the empty bench evoked.


I am taking part in Two Shoes Tuesday
hosted by Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas.