OBACHAN'S SCRIBBLES

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

STRANGE DAY

It was so humid in the morning today that I posted a photo of a cold, refreshing drink to my kitchen and balcony garden blog.

Later in the afternoon, I had to ride my bicycle in the heavy rain, being soaked wet. Then after a few hours, I was on my bicycle again when the eye of the typhoon was above us. The sky looked so strange with the rosy glow of sunset showing here and there among horrible dark typhoon clouds, and the wind was even chilly, contrary to the warm, humid wind in the morning.

It was certainlly a strange day! And I didn't have to go to work tonight. So happy.

posted by obachan, 9/29/2004 09:10:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NO, IT'S AUTUMN NOW.

It’s unbelievable, but the weather forecast just said that the typhoon No. 21, Meari is making a big U-turn and coming towards us. Its name, by the way, means echo (among the hills), according to this site.  Hope it’s not going to have our prefecture on its right side as it passes us. Darn! It’d blow away the cherry blossoms!

Cherry blossoms? Yes, I’m not kidding.

See?

They often bloom out of season here. I used to think that the reason was the autumn climate being similar to spring. But someone told me another reason: When trees experience a serious damage, they feel their life threatened and feel they have to leave their offspring so that they don’t go extinct. That’s the reason why they start blooming, I heard. That makes sense. Especially this year, we experienced (or going to experience) more typhoons than usual, so it’s no surprise to see them blooming.

BTW, it's supposed to be "the moon viewing day" today. Wonder what the weather is going to be like tonight.......... (It's cloudy now.)
-------------

At night:

IT'S POURING!!


posted by obachan, 9/28/2004 09:38:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, September 24, 2004

JUST FOR A CHANGE

These are what I do for a change when things get too messy.


My CASIO keyboard


- Play the keyboard -
My repertoire:
Open Arms (Journey), Honesty (Billy Joel),
part of Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), Love of My Life (Queen),
Kaze no torimichi (song from anime: My neighbor Totoro),

Roto's Theme (from RPG: Dragon Quest),
part of The Entertainer (Scott Joplin)




My shoes


- Go walking -
along the nearby small river when it's not too hot.

Gotta stay sane ...... somehow.




posted by obachan, 9/24/2004 11:19:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, September 20, 2004

HOMETOWN

There was a minor problem brought into my family by one of our relatives last week. I thought it was better that I had a talk with my parents, so I visited my hometown over the weekend.


Nice view, isn't it?

In the description of this blog, I called where I live now “a comfortably underpopulated rural area,” but my hometown is “an almost desperately underpopulated rural area.” The elementary school I went is going to be closed in a few years, I heard. Unfortunately the beautiful ocean and the mountains alone cannot keep young people from moving out of the small town. My plan, however, is going back there in several years to live with, or at least very close to, my parents. SOHO work is the key.

My ambition is buying an underwater digital camera someday and posting photos of lovely tidepool animals to this blog, coupled with episodes of my grandma. When I was little, she and I spent so much time together picking sea shells, and she taught me a lot about the life on the rocky shore. I don’t know why, but I just feel a strong urge to share the knowledge and memories she gave me with other people. It’s like that is my way of saying “thank you” to her, maybe.

Though it was a very brief stay, listening to the sound of the wave there really healed me. Oh, and the trouble was settled..... I think. :P


posted by obachan, 9/20/2004 11:37:00 AM | link | 4 comments |

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I'LL BE BACK

Here we go. A new template! I’m going to stick with this for the rest of the month.
The flowers in the header are
Japanese (or Chinese) bellflower, which is another traditional autumn flower in Japan.


gynkgo

I went for a walk in a nearby park this morning to take some photos that show the signs of autumn. Today’s high was supposed to be around 30℃, so I left home early so that I could walk around before it got too hot.

In the park, the leaves of ginkgo trees were getting ready to turn yellow, and the orange-colored nuts looked just beautiful with the blue sky as the background! It’s so hard to believe that those lovely nuts eventually start smelling terrible as they ripen. Anyway, I'm sure I'll be back when this park is filled with the offensive smell.

Another sign of autumn is the cluster-amaryllis. They are in full bloom now around here.

cluster-amaryllis

This flower always reminds me of the picture book I read in my childhood, “Gon-gitsune.” It’s a story about a mischievous little fox and a poor farmer. The fox named Gon stole the eel that the farmer caught to give to his sick mother. Soon the mother died. Gon found out about it and felt so guilty for steeling the nutritious food that could have saved her life. To make up for his mischief, he started leaving nuts and mushrooms to the farmer’s house when no one was around. One day the farmer found Gon leaving his house and thought the fox did something bad again. The farmer shot him, then found the nuts, and realized the kindness of the fox. Sad story, but one good thing is that they understood each other before one of them died.

In this story, the cluster-amaryllis was mentioned in the scene of the funeral of the farmer’s mother. Gon saw a group of people walking to the graveyard, and there were this burning-red flowers all the way along the path going through rice fields in a countryside. Maybe because of the memory of this story, cluster-amaryllis always makes me feel a little sad when I see them in early September every year.

posted by obachan, 9/15/2004 01:26:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Sunday, September 12, 2004

THE MAKING OF A MOVIE

There’s a movie being made in the city where I live now. This weekend, several hundred people came from different parts of Japan to be extras, and I was one of them.

The story is about Japan’s worst and most famous racehorse, Haruurara. Ever since her debut in November 1998, she has not won a single race (she did finish second 4 times, though). Despite her age (8 y.o. --- pretty old for a racehorse) and all her winless streak, her owner kept giving her a chance.

This is what she looked like today in her famous “Hello Kitty" mask.

Sorry, cell-phone pictures again! I didn't bring my digital camera.

First the local media, and then the whole country gradually became interested in her, because she kept losing too much. Many people started feeling encouraged by this surprisingly small mare running at her full gallop no matter how many times (106 times now) she lost. They saw “never-give-up” or “give-it-everything” spirit in her, and finally her betting ticket turned into a lucky charm. (Usually the tickets do not show her name printed, so the racecourse staff prepared self-service red stamps with her name and a heart mark so that visitors can put her name on the tickets.) Why were the tickets associated with luck? Well, those tickets do not win you any money, and the Japanese word to describe such a situation is “Ataranai.” This “Ataranai” has another meaning: not being hit by something. So her tickets can protect you from “being hit by a car.” See the connection? Also, with the economy being so bad, those who were worried about losing their jobs wanted to be lucky like her, because she never got fired despite her poor achievement.

Now she is, in a sense, the most popular racehorse in Japan. She receives letters and carrots sent from her fans all over Japan. You can find Haruurara T-shirts, mugs, key chains, good luck charms, cell-phone straps, towels, plushies, etc. Last March, the local racecourse asked Japan’s No.1 jockey to ride her , and people rushed to this special race to see this most unusual combination. (She didn't win.) A local musician wrote a song for her. And NOW, it’s time for a movie!

Today, they filmed 2 scenes of her previous races: her debut race and the one in which the No.1 jockey rode her. We needed to practice, over and over, cheering for Haruurara enthusiastically and then showing our disappointment when she got to the goal. Almost all the time, we needed to act without actually seeing the horses. (Of course, you cannot expect them to make the horses run that many times.) I think we did pretty good. Most of us, including myself, felt kind of embarrassed in the beginning, but after some practices, the embarrassment was totally gone. With the cue from the director, we just put our feelings into what we were doing. It was FUN!

Unfortunately it rained on and off in the late afternoon. We needed to stop what we were doing a few times to wait for the rain to stop. The last scene we were supposed to film today --- the dreamlike scene of Haruurara’s first victory at her last race --- had to be cancelled because of the rain. Too bad. I was ready to freak out (acting, of course) at her victory!!

The camera shouldn’t get wet.


I assume that not all people are happy about this “Haruurara craze,” especially old horseracing fans and those who have jobs related to horseracing. Maybe her popularity is something deviant from what the horseracing is about. I see their point. And still, I want to appreciate the fact that even a weak, small and old mare was able to touch this many peoples’ hearts and save the racecourse from bankruptcy.

Participation certificate and lucky charm

given to all the extras today

In their
official website(in Japanese), they say that the story is going to focus on the dilemma of this horse and those who support her. That sounds good. I can’t wait to see the movie!

NOTE: I mentioned about the scene of her first victory, and the scene is going to be filmed for sure. But the scene might be used as someone's dream or imagination in the movie, you know. So I still don't know if, at the end of the movie, Haruurara is actually going to win or not.
posted by obachan, 9/12/2004 11:49:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, September 10, 2004

CHANGES

I decided to keep my cooking/gardening-related posts at a separate post, Obachan's Kitchen and Balcony Garden. The last 2 posts here have been moved to the new blog.
Other changes:
- A digital clock on top-right, which shows our time in Japan when you read this blog.
- "Link" section added.

This kept me busy all day yesterday until very late (or I should say very early today)! I'm TIRED!! :(





posted by obachan, 9/10/2004 09:53:00 AM | link | 6 comments |

Thursday, September 09, 2004

GRITS FOR BREAKFAST

--- This post was moved to Obachan's Kitchen and Balcony Garden ---
posted by obachan, 9/09/2004 10:18:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

YUMMIES!

It’s a wonderful day today -- a typical nice sunny day we usually have after a typhoon passed! Bright sunshine and refreshing breeze. Not too cold, not too hot.

The typhoon No. 18, the one we had this time, was even stronger than the one we had at the end of August. I’ve never heard of one that kept 945 hPa after landing on Kyushu or Shikoku, but this one did. BTW, typhoons these days seem to have Asian names. According to the internet, the Asian name of No.18 was Songda which is the name of a river in Viet Nam. (Digital Typhoon) I like Asian names better than "NO. XX." I found the list of names adopted by the typhoon committee. List of names.. No. 16 was called CHABA which means “hibiscus” in Thai language. Oh this is the name of my favorite band, too! The site says Japan proposed the names of constellations, but "Typhoon koppu"....hhmmmmm.... With the word "Koppu" I think of "a glass" rather than "the Crater."

- - - - - - -

--- The rest of the post was moved to Obachan's Kitchen and Balcony Garden.



posted by obachan, 9/08/2004 11:38:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

ANOTHER PROGRESS!

As you have probably noticed, I GOT A DIGITAL CAMERA TODAY!!!! ♪※▲♪△※♪
My sister had bought a new digital camera last week and sent me her old one yesterday. She asked only 5,000 yen for this camera. Good deal, isn’t it?  It just arrived here a little after noon today, and I’ve been playing with it since then.

I put a photo of flowers in my previous post for those affected by the Russian school siege. Also I updated the photos of my watercolors. They don’t look much different in the blog, but once you click on each photo, you’ll get a bigger and clearer image of my watercolor painting now. How embarrassing!! :p

Right now, the wind is very strong outside, but NO rain at all, which means I’ll have to go to work tonight. (I work part-time a few days a week, for a couple of hours each time. The earning is so small --- just enough to pay the rent--- so it doesn't really count as "work.")


My herbs are in the bathroom (not too cozy, maybe?)


Tomorrow I’ll bake something and post about it with nice photos. (Yes, now I know how to put more than one photo in one post). It’s so much fun!!!

posted by obachan, 9/07/2004 04:36:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, September 06, 2004

I LOVE POOL

ANOTHER typhoon is approaching. A big and strong one, they say. My blog will have bunch of typhoon-related posts this year. Just for a change, I’m going to post about my long-term hobby, pocket billiards ( or pool).

I tried this game for the first time in 1991 while I was in the U.S. My friend from Honduras, if I remembered correctly, taught me how to play 9 ball. By then I had seen “The Color of Money” in Japan, not because I liked the game of pool or Tom Cruise. I AM A PAUL NEWMAN FAN. I enjoyed watching him in “The Color of Money” very much, but I didn’t feel like actually playing the game myself, so I didn’t take part in the famous “pool craze” of that time.

After coming back from the U.S., I saw another pool movie, “The Hustler.” THIS turned me into a pool fan! It was then that my endless struggle started….. BTW, I do believe that this movie should not be colored. In my opinion, “The Hustler” and “Casablanca” should be in black and white.

I learned the basics of pool (stance, bridge, stroke, etc.) at a pool hall in Osaka. Then I slowly proceeded to stop shot, follow shot, and everyone’s favorite (kidding!), the draw shot!! They taught me how to aim by using an imaginary ball.

I don’t know about other countries, but there are 2 practices that Japanese pool players almost always recommend to beginners here. Those are what they call “center shot” and “bowlard game”. The "center shot" here is a practice of straight shots with the object ball on the center spot and the cue ball usually at 2 points behind, and you aim to sink the object ball in one of the corner pockets. The bowlard game was invented by a Japanese professional pool player, I heard, and its rule is basically the same as bowling. You use 10 balls and continuously pocket them, but it doesn’t have to be in number order. When you miss twice, that’s the end of one frame. These must be very good practice, but unfortunately I’m not good at either of them.

And here I am: an obachan player who got stuck when started thinking about positioning the cue ball and using English. Looks like I’m going to be stuck here forever, or maybe getting worse.

My favorite professional pool player is, everyone’s favorite, Efren BATA Reyes. But what’s fun to watch is Earl Strickland. I have a VHS video of 2001 Masters 9ball Championships, Reyes vs. Strickland, and I just cracked up when I heard what Strickland said to the audience. (He called someone an idiot or something, IIRC.) He must have a lot more legendary games.

As I wrote before, I have my private cue: Adam Twin Joint. I love watching cue catalogues. Honestly, I’m not good enough to be able to tell which cue is easier or harder for me to use. I have tried different cues in the past, including cheap house cues, but no matter which one I used, my object balls kept missing the pockets just the same. What I know about cues are mostly from books and websites. I've read things like that Predator 314 shaft is great because it reduces cue ball deflection, and Tad is hard for beginners to use, etc. But I'm sure I wouldn't be able to tell 314 or Tad from others if I actually used them.


When I see cue catalogues, I just enjoy the variety of designs of the cues. Most custom cues (except the carbon fiber ones) are made by putting many different kinds of woods together. That gives beautiful designs to the cues as well as a better function, I heard, because different characteristics of different woods add up, making up for each other’s weaknesses. Amazing!

Billiard is 당구, according to the online dictionary. (I wonder if it’s related to 撞球.) I found some Korean websites on billiards which will be fun to read and help me learn Korean. Something to keep me in front of the PC for the rest of the day :)
posted by obachan, 9/06/2004 10:47:00 AM | link | 5 comments |

Sunday, September 05, 2004

NO MORE!

(About the Russian school siege)
It’s just too terrible! How could anyone do something like that? It is true that people have the potential to be both good and bad. But it’s just devastating to see how cruel some people can actually be. I don’t know what to say…… I just feel like yelling “No more!”



------- Flowers and prayers to those affected by the incident in Beslan.
----------
posted by obachan, 9/05/2004 11:01:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, September 04, 2004

NEVER TOO LATE

“It is never too late to learn.” “You are never too old to learn.” These are my favorite old sayings. Or more precisely, these are the words that I hang onto when the going gets tough. When I say that I’m enjoying my life, I really mean it. But anyone’s life has its ups and downs, you know, and I do sometimes feel uncertain, or lose confidence in what I’m doing.

My family members and relatives have never been happy with the choices I made, and they tried hard to convince me that I lack common sense. Though I never blindly followed the plans they made “for me & instead of me”, sometimes I can’t help seeing myself the same way as they do. Maybe, like they say, I’m a worthless and stupid woman because I’m not married, have no kids, and have started pursuing a new career path at the age of 40 when a good portion of my brain cells are probably about to retire from their work…..

Isn’t it hard to keep faith in yourself when people close to you --- people who you love ---- come to tell you that you’re wrong, and when all you’re doing at the moment is studying for a qualifying test or something, not earning decent amount of money yet? And isn’t it even harder when you fail the qualifying test?

I’m not sure why I’m not giving up. I’m also not sure if the coping strategies I have acquired are helping me or just keeping me from being on a “normal” track. All I know is that even though I lose confidence in myself from time to time, there always seems to be something that helps me keep going.

I talk with, eat with, drink with, or email my friends who support me. I go out in the nature and see trees and plants enjoying the sunshine. I do my laundry and see them drying in the sun and gentle breeze. I bake sweets using the recipes from my old friends, and enjoy the aroma from the oven. I practice some shots on a pool table and remember all those nice people who taught me how to play pool. I read books or watch films about someone who struggled hard and ended up being successful..... Those are not dramatic or expensive things to do, but after trying them out, I somehow manage to get my feet back on the ground.

There’s a Japanese woman who used to be married to a mafia boss, got divorced, then studied hard, and finally became a lawyer. I read about her somewhere. To me that is a living proof of “You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.” My challenge is not as brilliant as hers, but if I keep hanging on, doing my best, maybe that could touch the heart of someone who is also making a unique choice in life???

I often feel as if I’m in a spiral. Hope it’s an upward one.

Cutlass Fish Sushi


So, this is what I made today to brighten up a bit! “Cutlass fish sushi.” How does this look? The cutlass fish on top was marinated in vinegar overnight (maybe too long??) I put green perilla under the fish and sprinkled sesame seeds on top. Not too bad. Cutlass fish is 갈치 in Korean, by the way. See? I haven't given up learning Korean, either.
posted by obachan, 9/04/2004 11:41:00 PM | link | 3 comments |

Thursday, September 02, 2004

BARIUM SWALLOW

Who likes barium swallow? I bet no one does. That’s what I had to do today.

Well, I really appreciate the fact that the city offers inexpensive medical checkups. When I found out about that on the internet, I called them right away to sign up. It does not mean that I enjoy all the procedures I have to go through in the checkup, though.

This was my 2nd time to experience barium swallow. Last time I was given strawberry-flavored barium and I hated it so much. Luckily, the one I had today did not have the strawberry flavor, but still it was unpleasantly filling anyway. The radiologist was a very skillful man; he was so good at tilting the examination table quickly, and I felt like I was an astronaut in zero-gravity training. (Of course I’m exaggerating.)

I had another examination and came home at around 9:30am. It was very nice that they started early (7:30am), but I had to put up with the unpleasant stomach all day today.

posted by obachan, 9/02/2004 11:20:00 PM | link | 3 comments |

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

THE EXPERIMENT

Finally, it’s September! How about a feel of autumn in the blog? (For the blog header, I picked the pattern of chrysanthemum, a traditional autumn flower in Japan. )

I baked a very unusual kind of chiffon cake today as an experiment. What was unusual was that I put some acerola juice in it. You know there are things like lemon chiffon cake and cherry chiffon cake, so I thought acerola chiffon cake wouldn’t be anything completely off the wall. All I have to do would be just replacing lemon juice with acerola juice, I thought.

Theoretically, it seemed OK. And to my relief, acerola juice didn’t completely ruin the cake. The only problem was that I didn’t taste acerola almost at all. I put the rest of acerola juice in whipping cream to make acerola flavored cream. The chiffon cake tasted better with the cream, with more acerola flavor. But still I thought that more straightforward recipes like lemon chiffon or orange chiffon cakes were much better. Oh well, this attempt satisfied my curiosity, at least, and gave me something to post in my blog today.

Chiffon cake 1


posted by obachan, 9/01/2004 01:47:00 PM | link | 2 comments |