Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Can't Refrain

I can't refrain from taking pictures of clouds like these!

It looks like a painting!

These two above are from September 22nd.

Now I jump ahead to day before yesterday, that would be October 10th.  It was a holiday here, called Sports Day.  We took off to a river we used to camp at when the kids were little.  It was a hot day, but I am not complaining the nights are cool, the way an ideal summer should be, not hot ALL the time like it is here in mid-summer.  So we had a nice picnic in this area.

Here is the morning sun on the 9th of October.  I can't refrain from taking these kinds of pictures then sharing the best with you!

This was taken on October 4th, but the mountain has lost most of its snow yet again, for this warm weather we are having.  Last I checked, it was bare, but today she is not visible, shroud in white flourecent light which isn't worth taking a picture of!

This was taken October 2nd, see, the mountain is dark...  It rained here after that and snowed up on Mt. Fuji!

This was taken September 28th, just a touch of snow on the top.

Here, on September 21st the sky is trying to brighten up only it is dusk so it really can't.  Must have been a rainy day, although, now my memory fails me!  The clouds I can't refrain from taking appear once again! 

Again, irresistable clouds, taken on Sept 19th.

Moving on... to the moon!

Here is a very grainy moon, taken on the 13th of September.  Grainy, but I like it enough to share it with you!  

I tried it with a flash and it turned it purple!!!

Moon over the train.  This one is actually clear enough to notice the white clouds under the moon!

Finally, I end with Moon over the Cat Through a Screen!

CHEERS to you all!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Words

Summer of the 49th Discontentment
Karen Bremer Masuda

It is not that all my summers have been full of discontentment, hardly, it just sounds like an attention getter, besides, 49 is my age, there being much discontentment in that fact alone.  Sigh after sigh assaults me along with hot heavy air, the epitome of Shizuoka summers, can’t be helped.  I suppose what can be helped is attitude, or can it?

I try to be an empathetic person, case in point, taking the plight of my dachshund to heart on our morning walk.  I reached down to touch the pavement to check that it wasn’t already too hot for his little paws.  I wouldn’t have even considered it hadn’t the neighbor lady, who treats her French Bulldog like a spoiled child, not allowing her to strain herself in any way, piped up with the comment of the possibility of my doggy burning himself on the pavement, while she carried her dog in her arms, looking from me to my doggie when we ran into them on a walk only three days into the hot weather.  I fancied a look of righteousness flashed into her eyes.

In this heat, a week and a half later, I cannot deny that burnt paws could be a possibility, but in feeling the pavement, I learned that I could keep my hand there for an extended period of time, still, at nine o’clock in the morning.  My poor doggy is 12 years old, which makes him 82 or so in people years, panting as he was throughout our walk, I decided to take into effect, a new plan of leaving for our walk as soon as I get up at six thirty at least for the duration of the summer, which could be for the next three months, most likely so.

As considerate a person as I am, blank white pages stare back at me with the cursor blinking at me demandingly as I do my work.  Blank pages get me nowhere, more than likely, fully written pages of my ‘marvelous’ fiction get me nowhere, for it all comes back rejected.  Here, I feel my attitude, which I mentioned earlier, comes into play with the utmost importance.  I need to keep my attitude sharp with positivity, and a certain amount of self-confidence, not too much, but just the right amount.
I have no problem believing that I am not that writer who weaves magic with their words, the kind I long to be, yet can’t expect to ever reach such heights. Yet on the other hand, I don’t think I am a writer who causes a reader to slam down the book in disgust, not wanting to have to endure another word either.  In fact, my writing would be of interest to people.  How can I be sure?  Because I have been told as much, I have been told that my writing is enjoyable.
For instance, I shall attempt to make my walk this morning with my doggy, interesting.  The art of writing takes place when something as mundane as a walk with my dog is turned into an interesting anecdote.

How I Began to Consider my Doggie’s Paws

As we progressed in our usual route with the sun beating down ruthlessly, the words of my neighbor rang in my ears.  I became uneasy with fear that walking my dog on this hot pavement might do him irrevocable harm, so that I tried to stick to the shaded areas.  Yet an undertow of doubt niggled at my mind too, whispering ridicule.  He didn’t seem to mind sniffing around right there on that pavement where it looked to be the hottest, in fact, I had to pull at his leash to get him going so that we could move into a more shaded area, wouldn’t he move on his own if he felt the pavement burning his paws? 

As we rounded one corner it struck me that I should check the pavement out for myself.  We were in a shaded area at the time so I waited until we reached the middle of, therefore the hottest, so I figured, a stretch of un-shaded area.  I reached my hand down, placing my palm flat onto the pavement knowing in my heart that I would not get burned.  The pavement felt uncomfortably warm, yes, yet I could leave my hand there without needing to draw it away for a length of time, longer than my doggie’s placement of his paws onto the pavement till his next step.

This act did not ease my conscience as I’d expected.  Instead, I found myself considering this route to be entirely unsuitable for my doggie.  My condemnation of it spurred from the fact that there was not one bit of grass or dirt on which he could place his paws on this route we took every day.  Even at six thirty in the morning grass and dirt would certainly feel better than hard, uncomfortably warm, bumpy concrete.  Not only would we take the daily walk at a much earlier time, we would also go to the field along the river where there was no concrete throughout the whole field.  Surely doggie would appreciate such a change!

Having decided upon this, we came upon a stretch of road alongside a rice paddy with no shade.  If we crossed the street to walk along an ugly concrete wall, the outskirts of a beer bottling factory, we would be in the shade.  There happened to be a breeze with a tinge of cool coming off the rice paddy.  A stubbornness ensued, and it became a matter of taking the breeze over the shade, even though quite possibly the breeze could still be felt over there on that side of the road.  No, the ugly wall could not be tolerated to walk beside for even a moment.  For the first time since the act of bending over with open palm to the pavement below, I felt assurance. My doggy wasn’t hurting his padded paws in this sun, on this pavement, so we needn’t walk across the street to the shade, we could enjoy the breeze off the rice paddy first hand!  As low down to the ground as my doggie is, surely he would feel the effects the fastest.  I resisted squatting down to check the breeze at doggie level.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Photo Shoot

 Nothing much has been going on, although having said that, I can't stop writing this blog in my head, so actually, quite a bit has been going on.  I thought I would just post pictures with very few words, you know, a picture is worth a thousand words and all that.  But as I paste these pictures here, I find that I am writing quite a lot in my head.

The Moon about three moons ago.  A moment later and it would have slipped into the clouds out of sight.  This was taken four days before the big disaster. 

More recently, a hazey Mt. Fuji. 

Sitting pretty as you please, AND looking right into the camera!  May 18th sunny and hot!

Posing poser through the glass

On the 21st got into a fight with hubby so that I spent many hours here.  Here was pleasant, unlike the fight.  We actually text messaged our argument till my i-phone battery expired.  I tried so very hard to stay away and worry him, but although I stayed away so very long he still got home later than I.  AARGH!   Well the next day we were able to make up.  I am still determined to worry him, worry him worry him, one day! 

About three days ago our water lily bloomed!  If you look close you can see the little killifish. 

 We officially entered the rainy season at the weekend.  It is cool and wet which I appreciate now, because that is better than being hot and humid.  It can stay this way as long as it wants!

Somewhere in there I had my 49th B-day, a year to fifty!  What does it mean to be nearly fifty?

Even during the rainy season the rain lets up, enough for blue sky to show in patches and the top of Mt. Fuji to peak through. (heh heh)

E had her photo shoot day, which is included in the rental of her kimono.  She was posed and shot over a hundred times after which we picked the best ones to be included in a album.  Only three shots are included... couldn't buy them all but she's got herself a good coming of age album coming out (heh heh) in August.  We took the opprotunity to get a family shot too.  They posed us just so.

  Afterwards we posed ourselves!

If you've stayed with me this far, I can say that I am amazed that half of 2011 has gone by.  Before you know it we'll be ringing in 2012!  By then, what will happen for you and for me?    

Monday, May 9, 2011

Golden Week

 Friday ended the Golden Week we have here in May, a string of holidays where everyone takes time off.  We never go anywhere because we don't like getting caught in traffic.  Stayed home, wrote for two days, then took time off for two more days.

We had a BBQ, just the three of us, Hubby, J, and myself.  E does her own thing so it was only the three of us, FIL had Day Care as usual.

My hydrangea

BBQ of three on the fourth.  Relaxing, with tastey treats right off the shichirin, good beer, in-line skating and a nap afterwards, filled me with a feeling of satisfaction.

We went to the park, after eating.  Enjoyed the azalias while watching J skate, too much beer in my system to give the skates a spin myself.

On the fifth I took off with a couple of friends to Yokohama to a steak house called Ukaitei.  It was very posh with the best fillet mignion I have ever tasted.  Have you ever been able to describe steak as 'fluffy'?  It was so very tender, melt in your mouth kind.  Once in a while it is great to treat yourself to such extravagnaces!  The steak was cooked on a teppan right in front of us by an entertaining chef, then we retired to another place, like the booth above, for dessert and coffee.  One of the most excellent meals I have ever had!

We walked the grounds, very walkable and full off all kinds of beauty.

Ukaitei, if you're ever in Yokohama, in the mood to treat yourself to 'fluffy' meat, well here is the place for you!

In the news:

It looks like the automic energy plant near us, Hamaoka, will be shut down!  The prime minister made a speech announcing that because there is a 87% change that a magnitude 8 or bigger will hit us here in the Tokai region, with its epicenter right where the plant is, the plant should be shut down.  I believe it is a wise move. It is a recomondation so now the plant has to decide to shut down, which may take a while... We will lose 10% of our electricity, but that sounds reasonable, managable, through the summer months to avoid blackouts we will have to save energy.  I think we all are willing to do whatever we can to save electricity just so we don't have that 87% threat hanging over our heads!

I signed a contract for one of my stories to be included in an anthology to be sold with the proceeds to go to the earthquake fund in Japan.  The editor is in Alabama and I am afraid that they have just been through another kind of disaster, tornados.  I hope everyone is OK there.  I am worried because I haven't heard back.

Does the world feel safer without Osama Bin Ladin?  As someone who has to periodically get on planes, NO!  I say I am glad he is dead, but the dancing in the streets seems like stooping to their level.  I just feel very very sad that this world is such a very frightening place to live in.  I can't drown in saddness!

On a brighter note:

May everyone have a wonderful Mother's Day!


Branches reaching in every direction all ending in beautiful blossoms and leaves!


Very behind on my blogging, a few days ago, well actually a couple of weeks ago I wrote this, on April 25th, I am posting it before the recent one from yesterday...

I love these blue hydrangea.  Blue is a beautiful color in all its different shades and hues.  As an emotion it has many hues also.  I think we are experiencing many hues of blue here in wake of the earthquakes, mega tsunami, and the nuclear power plant accidents.

If I was planning a trip to Japan I'd cancel it too, in fact my friend was going to come and now she isn't but we are going to meet in Tahiti, sometime in the fall, hopefully.

Watching the news I get high with the will, power, and exuberance, of life.  People are handed the mike and what they say is so profound!!   One woman put it very well
'I can't expect full recovery anytime soon, because it isn't possible, but I am full of gratitude for my life which was spared me.  If things had been just a little different I would be dead, so I will live as full a life as I can every day.' What am I, Karen Bremer Masuda,  doing complaining about anything ever in my life??

Then I continue watching, the prime minister is shown talking to the evacuees in the twenty mile radius of Fukushima.  They are yelling at him.  Well it is good to get this anger out.  Kan didn't even address the nation after any of this disaster upon disaster.  Even the worst president in history knew to address the nation after 9/11!  Now in the diet they are asking for Kan's resignation!  At least he is not resigning. By this time my 'high' has been dashed to smithereens against the rocks.

The dying cattle roam the streets in the twenty mile radius.  Veterinarians are going in to keep the dead ones from rotting with some kind of powder.  They will round up, feed and water the live ones, try to get them back to their farms (they are numbered).

They are setting up road blocks and instigating times for people to go home for a couple of hours to get necessities.  They don the protective clothing and are allowed to go home for a short period.
Reparations will add up to the billions and billions and billions, how can all this be paid?  Cannot begin to fathom the bureaucracy to be wadded through, no, to drown in.

There are 12000 people still missing they will continue to look for them.  But aren't they.... gone?  At the bottom of the sea?  The closure needed is impossible to find.  In Japan the dead are memorialized according to Buddhist practice. 

By now, still watching the news, I am in tears. But in the loss the fact remains that the survivors hearts are beating, they have blood pressure, and they have oxygen to breathe.  Even though the loss is complete, houses cars jobs and loss of who we love... I can't put myself there, can you?

The area outside the 30 K evacuation radius is posting warnings for children not to play in parks for over an hour at a time.  Kindergartens and Nurseries are closing down in this area too. Bleak as bleak can be.

China wants to expand its nuclear power capacity, still?  China would be a country that would let the inhabitants get all contaminated before ever even reporting a problem.

Life is just too frightening I think the effects of a nuclear energy disaster of this magnitude are not really known.  The nuclear plant down the coast Hamanako is starting to declare its safety, Fukushima did the same before the fact.  I pray that Japan can become the leaders of alternative energy take steps needed to lead the world in it!  It will take years, but shut the plants down, please!  I will sign petition after petition to shut down all nuclear reactors in Japan.

Keeping educated is the best way to fight fear.   

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thank you for your concern, there is just so much to be concerned about.  Here in Shizuoka, we got shaken up a bit, followed by the horrific news of tsunami in miyagi Iwate and ibaragi prefectures among others.

I went to take out the trash yesterday morning and talked to the janitor lady on the way back.  'The Tokai earthquake is supposed to be much worse.'  I thought we would be talking about the horrific images on the screen of total destruction in Tohoku, northeastern, Japan.

This earthquake is called The Northeastern Area Pacific Ocean Offshore Earthquake.  (that is a direct translation of the characters used in the name, I don't know what it is being called in the west)  For us here in the Tokai, eastern seaboard, region, it isn't even the expected Tokai Earthquake.

The super markets are empty of bread milk and cereal like things, everyone is buying up.  That is here in the Tokai region.  You know what is going on in the Tohoku region, but it is all very confusing, the damage can't be measured, nor the loss of lives.  Just get news after news of more people on rooftops of hospitals, and wedding halls, the sturdier buildings, waiting to be rescued, It is likely that many patients haven't survuved.

What has proven to be relatively reliable, is text messaging.  Text messages are getting through even though telephone calls aren't.

And then there is the Fukushima atomic power plant....  Already  there are hibakusha.  It is impossible to know the extent of possible damage from there.   It is so very frightening, but I want to believe it can't be another Cheronobyl which I have read, but I don't beleive anything.  Specialist galore are on the TV going on about it but nobody is any more enlightened by it.  No more nuclear power plants EVER NO MORE PLEASE  NO NO! People have been evacuated within a 20 kilometer radius of both nuclear reactors.

What I've been saying on FB is that it looks like Tokyo withstood alot of structual damamge but few deaths (five at last count).  Tokyo is presently still a refugee camp for those who cant go home.  Universities have opened their campuses and thousands are staying in gymnasiums and lecture halls.

And there are the after shocks, or new quakes I don't know how they tell the difference.

There are 'warning messages' of doom being sent all over the waves, warning not to go outside and to beware of rain, then news that those are bogas.

Here in Shizuoka the sun is shining like a 'normal' Sunday afternoon.  I washed my hair and filled everything I could with water.  E is at her boyfriend's house, otherwise we sit and watch the news...

I am reminded of a TV program I watched when I was a kid in Japan called 'Nihon Chinbotsu'.  It was about Japan sinking into the ocean.  The hero guy stayed on the last available land space to help the last of the survivers into the helicopter.  Only this time the scene is real, not buckets of water poured over a plastic miniature  model of a seaside village.  No hero guy.

The TV has to be turned off periodically, escape to my books. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kimono for a Day

I am on a new computer!  It is very smooth, quick to respond!  But I'll tell you what I miss about my old one, the assurance that I know what I am doing! ...I still have some getting used to to do.

Last month there was a coming of age day at the beginning of the month.  Now, E is getting ready for next year's, when she takes part in the ceremony.  Many people, we were informed, start in with the kimono rental from September, two years prior to the year, to get the best kimono prints.  I am sure they are either very wealthy or distant relatives of the royal family!  We got started Monday when E made an appointment with a sales lady at a kimono rental place.  (I didn't answer that phone call!)

This is the first kimono she tried on of three.  The reason she is not smiling is because she is a jock at heart, and not really into dress up, but she must feel the need  to comply with society.  I promise it was fun in that we have the same taste in color coordination so that we decided each little piece in agreement, which felt really good!

I digress, to prefix my own personal feelings on the matter of this kimono rental business, that it is simply too costly, making me feel guilty for such decadant excess, especially the way the girls these days 'dress up' the kimonos, running the cost into thousands of dollars for a days rental, waay to much, even if it includes a photo shoot.  (If you are able to put the thing on yourself, no easy feat, you can wear it as much as you like from the period of the photo shoot to the day after the ceremony when it has to be returned)  Probably girls turning of age wore the kimono passed down from generation to generation in the family on this festive day, but due to westernization kimonos are worn less and less enabling the rental company to build up a booming business for this 'once in a life time' event.  Only young girls can wear the furi sode, or longed sleeve kimonos, probably only to 26 years of age or so!


The obis are beautiful!  They clip it up on the neckline to preview it first.  Of coarse it is usually worn around the waist.  E was getting very tired after just one try on which took a full hour because well the sales lady had to try out all the 'options'.  I couldn't believe that strip of cloth, beautiful though it was, would add 13,000 yen to the price! I told E to listen carefully to those numbers, whether it was an option or not.  Being able to communicate in English with her has never been so convenient.  Even though she doesn't say much in English, she CAN understand me.  The black one to the right above was beautiful but the sales people emphasized that she can wear such traditional prints later in life, now is the only time she can wear 'young and cute'!

This is the kimono she chose (above), this is naked compared to the final outcome.

See how they deck it out.  I chose the black one to show you here.
It took six hours from start to finish. We were both worn out, but E was the one who had been through wearing them, I almost wanted to ask her if she was really up to this!!  The actual day will be grueling! Kimomos aren't known for their comfort. But all her friends will be doing it too... 

She is a working girl now, she agreed to pay for most of it herself.  It is the independant thing to do!  She 'held down' the price to just over 200,000, over 2000 dollars, what I would do with 2000 dollars!  It certainly wouldn't involve wearing a kimono!  We also took time to work out payment plan, they have something that with no added interest you can pay six months down the line around bonus time!  That will give her plenty of time to save up for it!

I'll make sure to blog photos of the actual day.  We plan on having a family photo taken probably on the photo shoot day in May, why, we haven't had one of those taken since, well since E's other ceremonial day when she was six...   How many blogs can I get in between now and E's next year coming of age ceremonies? Ha ha, we'll seeGood day all!