Sunday, May 31, 2015

Puzzle Hints

It's June tomorrow. How was your May? Mine started out very very wet but has been dry since May 4th. I'm thirsty. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!

This is the good result form last Sunday

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Puzzler

I had too much free time during GW this May. But it was relaxing. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!

A happy farmer. He had clasical music playing in his tractor.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Rice fields

I enjoy every season. In winter it's not hot. It's cold so we can bundle up every day to stay warm. In summer I can perform (do) my annual (yearly) ritual of taking a dip in the ocean. In autumn it's finally cooler and the leaves turn colors. It is spring now. The days are getting longer and the heat is on its way. But before that is the rainy season. And right now is the time to enjoy the rice fields. They are unique to (only in) Asia. Some rice fields are still waiting. Some have been tilled. Some are filling with water. Some have been planted. When they are all planted the reflections of nature on them are so beautiful. I would say they are picturesque. The trees, houses, farms, the sky and clouds all appear on the rice fields like a big mural (large wall painting). I also enjoy the frog chorus. I ride my bicycle home at night. As I approach the fields the frogs are singing. When I get very near they stop. When I get passed, they resume singing (start singing again). Isn't nature wonderful?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New cupboard

We moved from Omiya to Ageo 9 years ago Golden Week. I thought we would never get out of that mansion. But, Miwako worked hard and we got everything together and finally did move to our own house. We brought some old furniture and bought some new furniture. One of the old things was the cupboard in the kitchen. It was M's moms. It was very old but still very usable. Recently talk started about replacing it. That is, we thought about buying a new one. The kitchen is not my department. That is, it is not my responsibility. So, if I want to put in my "two cents" (opinion) I have to be careful not to say too much. While M searched on-line I went to NITORI, the furniture shop, to check them out. I got some info and relayed it to M. Two weeks later we went to look at them together. I then shut up; i.e. I said nothing. My job was finished. Finally M and her mom went to NITORI and made the purchase. We now have a modern looking kitchen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Weeding

I'm a bit confused. After GW my weight was up. I decided to stop drinking for a while. So, I expected my weight to come down. Unfortunately, and to my surprise and anguish, my weight has gone up. It is beyond the danger zone: 70 kgs. I never wanted to get that high again. Oh well. I'll have to keep (continue) dieting. That is, I will stay on the wagon. And since I don't jog anymore, I get some exercise by weeding. I attacked the large weeds which were across the road from our house. They are in a long line very much like the weeds I pulled two Sundays ago. This past Sunday I pulled these weeds and trimmed the vacant lot next door again. The tall weed area is decreasing (getting smaller). I never pulled weeds when I was a kid. But, my parents were always doing it. When we came home after bridge Sunday evening I admired my efforts. The area looked very smart and appealing. That is because the weeds were gone. I worked the lot for almost an hour that morning. I wonder if I will continue.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day in America. Wikipedia said:
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States. It is a day to  remember the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces, such as army and navy. It marks the start of the summer vacation season. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others.
I called my family in Michigan at 5AM this morning. They gather at my sister's house where my mother also lives. They usually gather on such holidays. I talked to my mother and my younger sister. I had a nice conversation with them. My other sister went to visit our father's grave at that time. I called again at 6:30 and talked to her. That as nice, too. Unfortunately my brother couldn't make it (couldn't come). So, I didn't talk to him. However all are fine. They are enjoying the holiday. The photo is of Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C.
 
 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Puzzle Answers

Beautiful weather this weekend, wasn't it? I worked pulling weeds and such around the house. It felt good. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Here is a Super Scrabble Puzzle. We used all the letters. Cool! and the COOL WORDS are:
HAZY    CHOW    EERIE     DETAIN    VALUE   BLAB
 
Now, can you figure out the BLANKS? Answers are below.






















SAVVY/SCREENS    JOINTS/TIME     SERENELY     QUITE/PRIZE

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Puzzler Hints

I plan to weed some more around my house and then another bridge tourney, AM and PM. How about you? Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!

Polish Garden Exhibition at Hotel Okura

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Puzzler

It's a brand new weekend. I wonder what it will bring? Puzzler: CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!

Fun in the mud

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bridge

I have been on the wagon since May 5th. That means that I haven't had any alcohol since then. Why? The number one reason is that I want to lose weight. I drank and ate happily during GW and now I am "Paying the price" That means that I am suffering the consequences of my actions. That means that I ate and drank too much so now I must work hard to lose weight. So, why am I writing about that in a bridge BLOG? Because these past two weeks on Sundays at the bridge table I have felt very relaxed and confident. I am sure that is because my mind is fresh and clear. Playing bridge requires (needs) a lot of concentration. You must remember so many things. We are still beginners so we need every advantage. Being fresh and alert during bridge play is an advantage. Last Sunday we placed in two sessions. In the AM we were 4/9 and 2/4. That was pretty good for us. The players were our level and higher. In the PM session we really woke up and came in1/9 and 1/4. We finished 3rd over-all. Very satisfying. But I cannot celebrate with alcohol. Sigh.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weeds no more

Do you see the weeds on the photo? They are no longer there. I pulled them all out last Sunday morning. They are pretty cool actually. They open during the day and then close at night. It is like (as if) they are sleeping. The orange color is pretty, I think. However they are weeds. Recently I decided to clean the vacant lot next to my house. I pulled weeds there. I cut the tall grass down there. I rake up the dead grass there. I now have all the tools and "uniform" for doing such yard work. So, I decided to pull these weeds also. They were very easy to pull out. The roots are shallow (not deep). They come out easily. There were about 20. Some were in unique (strange/uncommon) places such as in the side of the wall or from a crack in the road. It only took 40 minutes or so to pull and bag them. I also did some more work next door and in our garden. There is one more row of these same weeds across from my house. I will pull them this weekend. Then all will be fine. Do you ever pull weeds?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What a coincidence

coincidence: the fact of two things happening at the same time by chance, in a surprising way. I am fortunate (lucky) that I am teaching at three different kindergartens. They are on Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings. The longest (9 years) is the Tuesday one, the next (3 years) is the Friday one and the third is the newest. It began this year. I go there on Mondays. I went to teach the Friday class as usual last week. I went to Okegawa station at 9:30AM. As I was climbing the stairs I saw a large group of Kindergarten kids. They were with moms and teachers. I knew the teachers. I knew some moms. And I knew the kids! What a surprise. They were from the Kindergarten where I teach on Tuesdays. They were on their way to the Ueno zoo. They reserved the entire train. Do you ever go to the zoo? Personally, I love the zoo. I have to go soon. Anyway, I had a chance to say good morning to all my little friends and the cute teachers (See Photo). We just happened to meet. That was quite a coincidence.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Violin Pracitce

I had one tough (hard/difficult) violin practice last Thursday. My teacher came at 2PM. The photo is her violin and case. We had our usual chit-chat and then got down to work. I have five songs that I am practicing for our 7/19 RAM event. She is helping me with all of them. After our last lesson I practiced very hard, almost every day. With that practice, I understand where I am lacking. That is, I understand where I need more help. So, I think the lesson will be easy. I was wrong! We started with one song. It has some difficult bowing (using the violin bow). The next song has some difficult finger work. I must jump from one string to another string using different fingers. This is repeated many times in the song. In another song I must concentrate (think hard about) the tempo. We practiced and practiced and practiced until 3:45. My teacher said that she still had some time. But, I was beat! That means that I was tired or I was worn out. I couldn't concentrate anymore. I had to give up for the day. Do you ever get that way?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Puzzler Answers

Another dry weekend. So I did a lot of stuff including a violin practice with Yuko. She's great! Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

This was a "quickee" Super Scrabble game. There 5 letters left over; QQCCJ. Very rare, indeed.
Cool words: MOTIF   LOOM   TYPO  GLOAT  AGILE   OUSTED   WEIR (I didn't know this one).
Now, can you figure out the BLANKS? (Hint: they are all the same letter.) Answers BELOW.






















SAV    FAMED      BARGE     TONGUE


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Puzzler Hints

I played poorly at our last bridge session. I will concentrate more today. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!
This is a photo from the JuuKoku pass gondola

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Puzzler

My drought (no alcohol) continues. There are many benefits and only one demerit. It is a bit difficult. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!

The last falls at Kawazu Seven Falls

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bridge

My last bridge update was on April 30th. Since then we played May 2nd, May 4th and May 10th. In total we played 5 sessions. The May 2nd PM session was a spur of the moment thing. That means that we decided to do it suddenly (OR all of a sudden). It was on our way home from Atami on Saturday. We planned to go on Sunday but the timing was right. We came in 2nd of 7 teams this day. Then we attended an all day match two days later. We were 15/16 in the AM session and then 1/15 in the PM. It was a complete turn-around. We have never done that before. And finally we went to a tournament last Sunday. There, we came in 6/7. I have to admit, I made some errors (mistakes) while Miwako played well. I was "thinking too much" instead of playing naturally. I should have played according to the text book. But, I tried to be too clever. That ruined (destroyed) our chances for success. But, as always, we reviewed the results afterwards (later) and had a good study. Better luck next time!
 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sports Day

I live in Ageo. Actually, I live in Fujinai ward in Ageo. Every year in May, just after GW, we hold our Sports Day Event. I first took part in it 6 years ago. Now, I never miss it. It is a community get-together. To tell the truth, the number of people decreases every year and there were not many people there his year. I usually go in the morning only as I go to a bridge session in the PM. This time was no different (it was the same as always). I arrived, by bicycle, a little before 9:00. We all gathered in front of the officials' tents (See Photo) and heard some speeches. Then we did a group warm-up just like the 6AM radio stretch routine here in Japan. Then the events began. The first ones were for kids and then the elders. (No. I didn't participate!) The next one is my favorite. It is a team event. Each of the five teams has 4 men and 4 ladies. It is called "Throw the ball over the rope" relay or some such thing. I played well but my body was a little surprised when I ran. It was the first time this year. Do you ever go to your neighborhood Sports Day Event?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

U.S. Embassy Tokyo - Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens:

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo alerts U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Japan that on May 6 the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a Level 2 warning for volcanic activity at Hakoneyama Mountain in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture.  A Level 2 warning means that visitors should not approach the volcano’s crater because of an elevated possibility of an eruption affecting areas in or near the crater.  The Agency has indicated that a large-scale eruption of Hakoneyama is unlikely, with effects of a possible eruption limited to the Owakudani area, and with minimal influence on Hakone’s surrounding hot spring resorts.  Hakone City authorities have closed areas around Hakoneyama and Owakudani, and on May 6 issued an evacuation order for Owakudani.  Some roads in the area are closed, including portions of Prefectural Route 734, as well as hiking trails around Owakudani.  The Hakone scenic cable cars are also closed.

Okura Hotel Garden Exhibition
 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vacant lot


We moved to our house in Ageo 9 years ago during GW. We are surrounded by nature. I can see sunrises in December. There are many trees around us so there are many birds singing early mornings in the spring and summer.There are many rice fields here, too. That means the frogs are in chorus in spring and summer.There is a road in front and in back of our house but automobiles (cars, etc) seldom drive by. There are two vacant lots on either side of our house. Unfortunately, the owner of the lot on the south side doesn't take care of this property. Last year someone sprayed weed killer on the property. I believe it made Yumiko-san sick. This situation is unhealthy for me and my family. We have called Ageo City Hall many times. The owner comes only once or twice a year to cut the grass. So, I decided to take care of the area nearest our house. I bought a sickle to cut down the weeds. I also pulled the bigger weeds. It is not beautiful but it will not affect us or harm us. I must be diligent (serious) about this new project. I can never give it up.
 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Puzzler Answers

I abstained from drinking all weekend. I had plenty during GW. Can I continue? We shall see. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

How about a Super Scrabble Puzzle? Cool Words are as follows:

DUSTY    CHARM    SCRIBE    BRIDE    SHOVE
 
Now, can you guess the blanks? The answers are way down below.





















SEAM/MONTH      REALM/JAM.JAR        QUICKLY

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Puzzler Hints

I have a neighborhod Sports Day Event and then bridge today. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!
Asahi Falls

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Puzzler

Back to work for me and the Puzzler. How about you? Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for May 2015: "never"

少しも~ない、けっして~ない、未だかつて~ない
"not" を使わない否定です。

1. He never uses bad words. 彼は決して悪い言葉を使いません。
2. I've never been to Hokkaido. 北海道に行ったことがない。
3. Never talk to strangers. 絶対、知らない人とは話をしてはいけません。
4. I will never forget this trip. 私は絶対この旅のことを忘れません。

You can do it! Never say never!



Izu city

Friday, May 8, 2015

Vacation Part 3

I was back to work yesterday. My vacation was from April 29th to May 6th. That is 8 days! I must say, it was heaven. The first 4 days were in GEO Park Izu peninsula. That was excellent because it was still prior to (before) GW. So, there were absolutely no traffic jams. We played two successful bridge sessions in Tokyo. We went to the Hotel Okura for the International Ambasadors' Garden Exhibition. I washed GOLF twice by my house. I cleaned out about one-third (33%) of the weeds in the empty lot next to my house. I drank and ate to my heart's content (as much as I wanted). I practiced my violin a lot. I relaxed the final two days. However, there was one small incident. When M and I visited the Kuwazu Seven Falls (See pic) we borrowed a wheelchair from the shop Aide-Jaya. But, when I returned it I left my camera in the pouch in the back of the wheelchair. I realized it was missing back at the hotel three hours later. I called the shop and they sent it to our house two days later. Of course I had to pay. But as Shakespeare would say "All's well that ends well." 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hotel Okura

We have a nice connection to the Hotel Okura. And with that we were able to purchase (buy) tickets for the 15th Ambasadors' Garden Exhibition there at the prepaid ticket price of 33% off. I had never been to the Hotel Okura before. This exhibition will be the final one here as they will tear down the hotel soon and rebuild it somewhere else. I am not to keen on the details. However, the exhibition was excellent. It was indoors so it was not so big. We saw the entire (whole) exhibition in 30 minutes, so we went twice. The first time was before a late lunch and then afterwards. Ten countries were represented. The are listed on the photo. Everything was perfect. The colors were fabulous. The aroma, or scent, from the roses, wisteria and other flora was out of this world. There were not a lot of people when we went so our timing was excellent. Next door was a Bonsai exhibition included in the ticket. That was also stunning. And, of course, the mango desserts at lunch were delicious. Did you go?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vacation Part 2

I took my violin to Atami on our trip. There was a possibility of practicing in the Karaoke room. However we learned (found) that the room had been booked. No chance to practice. That meant more driving and drinking time. OK! We set out Friday at 11AM. We drove along the "backbone" (center) of Izu to check out three waterfalls this day. First we drove down the coast to Ito City where we entered the Skyline roadway. From the Skyline we changed to Route 414. Our first waterfall was KASHIWA Falls. It is not so popular so there were no visitors. It is, however, very beautiful. Our next visit was to the JUREN Falls (SEE PIC). It is one fall and very loud and fantastic. There were many sightseers and bus tours. And finally to the KAWAZU Seven Falls. These are quite interesting. We were lucky enough to borrow a wheelchair at a small shop called DeaiNoJaya. It serves tea and has lunch and hundreds of souvenirs. Again there were many tourists but it was late so they were going home. The falls were fantastic. I highly recommend these falls. I have one more interesting story about this trip tomorrow. Please come again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kodomo no Hi

Kodomo no hi, or Children’s Day, is celebrated every year on May 5th. On this national holiday Japanese families respect and honor their children for their individual strengths. They take the opportunity to wish them good health and happiness. In the build-up to Kodomo no hi, cloth carp streamers are flown on poles outside of public buildings and private houses to bring luck and good fortune to the children inside. These are known as Koinobori.
Koi fish, or carp, are believed to be brave, powerful creatures and are highly respected for their refusal to give up as they fight their way upstream, even overcoming waterfalls. Koinobori symbolise the hope of all parents that their children will grow up into healthy, strong and successful individuals.
Children’s Day was originally known as Tango no Sekku (literally meaning the seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac, but more often translated as Boys’ Day). As the name implies, this was a celebration just for boys. Originally, girls had their own special day on March 3rd: Hinamatsuri (Dolls’ Day). The two were combined and the May holiday was officially adopted as a celebration of the health and growth of both girls and boys as recently as 1948.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Vacation

M and I went to Atami for a vacation frpom April 29th to May 2nd. We stayed at the Angel Mansion Minami Izu. It is very inexpensive (cheap) for us. It is a "resort mansion". Anyway, I took off last Thursday and Friday and Saturday. That means I took those three days as my vacation. It was before Golden Week. We decided to check out the GEO spots around the Izu peninsula. As it was before GW, we were able to drive here and there in Izu without encountering (meeting) any traffic jams at all. Izu Peninsula is a so-called GEO PARK. This peninsula was formed millons of years ago by volcanic activity. They all came from under the ocean. We got a GEO map the last time we came here. We used it and a real map and the navigation system in M's Smart Phone to check out a half dozen spots. We saw a couple of nice parks and lots and lots of water falls. The one in this photo is called Ayutsubo falls in Mishima. It was formed by the lava flow from the lava when Mt.Fuji erupted 10,000 years ago. Stay tuned to his BLOG for more later this week.
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Constitution Day

The Constitution of Japan came into force on May 3, 1947. To commemorate this event, the date is celebrated as a national holiday.
This constitution replaced the Meiji Constitution. The present Constitution says that sovereignty lies with the people. The Emperor is "the symbol of the state and the unity of the people" who has no "powers related to government." It also says that people have fundamental human rights and renounces war. It is a very democratic document modeled on the American and British constitutions.
On May 3 of each year, the anniversary of the Constitution's coming into force is marked with ceremonies around the country. Thousands of people attend lectures on the role of the Constitution has played for over 50 years.
The Diet building itself is opened to visitors for this day. A lot of families walk through the halls that are usually off-limits to ordinary people. Many people are seen taking snapshots (photos) in front of the building.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

No Puzzler

The Puzzler and I are on vacation. M and I went to Atami for a few days. We will be travelling around the Izu Peninsula and relaxing. In the meantime, I want to introduce my school chairs to you. We bough them one by one on the Internet. Now the set is complete. However there was a small problem with the beige chair. It squeaked! Some kids would hear that squeak and try harder (do their best) to make it squeak more. So, we contacted the maker. They sent a repairman to look at it last week. He added some grease to some areas. Now, it doesn't squeak. It hope that lasts. Drop by any time to check them out. P.S. Those are tennis balls on the legs to prevent damage to the floor.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day

I looked at my calendar and it said that today is May Day. I recalled that we had a special celebration in our Catholic school on this day. So, I went to Wikipedia to get some info. Here is some of it.
May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday. It is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. May Day coincides with International Workers' Day. In many countries that celebrate the latter, it may be referred to as "May Day". Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the day includes.
In Hawaii, May Day is also known as Lei Day, and it is normally set aside as a day to celebrate island culture in general and the culture of the Native Hawaiians in particular. Invented by poet and local newspaper columnist Eric Kosciuszko in the 1920s, it has since been adopted by state and local government, as well as local residents. It has taken on the sense of a general spring celebration. The first official Lei Day was proposed in 1927 in Honolulu by poet and artist Don Blanding. Leonard "Red" and Ruth Hawk composed "May Day Is Lei Day in Hawai'i", the traditional holiday song. Originally it was a contemporary fox trot, later rearranged as the Hawaiian hula song performed today.
There is a also a celebration of Maypole Dancing in Europe.