Monday, March 30, 2009

Usual days have started

Since next day when we came back here, my husband goes to work as usual. My usual days start from tomorrow, because in this morning my younger daughter came back to TOKYO. "My usual days" means the life of my husband and me. Additionally, from tomorrow my students come to take my lessons.

I served tortellini salad and strawberry pie (instead of rhubarb pie). My elder daughter loved, my younger daughter -- so-so ; she doesn't like cheese very much. But both of them enjoyed new dish I've just learned in America.

This weekend we went to TOKYO to meet my mother-in-law. She enjoyed playing golf with her sons (my husband and my brother-in-law.) Of course my husband "let" her "use "that putter".

In May she will come to stay with us, so he keeps the putter here for a while (or permanently).

While they were golfing, my elder daughter and I went shopping. I bought her many things. Probably I used money there than in America. It can't be helped.

Now April starts. New term starts. My elder daughter is a senior, and is seeking for job. Because of this depression, it is really difficult to get a job, especially "girls". Anyway my husband and I are watching her.

My younger daughter is a sophomore. She seems to be used to a city life. She loves this rural area, I don't know whether she will find a job in TOKYO or this rural area, when she graduate from school.

Both of them were in the same kinder garden, and in the same elementary school.

But, most of the friends of my elder daughter are not here, they went to TOKYO as she did, or some friends went abroad.

On the other hand most of the friends of my younger daughter are here, some of them are afraid of leaving here.

I know, this rural area of course has good points and bad points like the cites have good points and bad points.

They are lucky to know both points.

Well, my usual Japanese meal has also started.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

travel to Aiken in America -7-

Anyway "home staying" is fun, interesting, exciting, wonderful.
We really thank for Nick & Jan.
We experienced their usual life.
And many things were interesting. Some things are new, somethings are strange (mainly oriental things), somethings are wonderful, somethings are familiar.
And the most interesting thing is we, it means Nick & Jan, and my husband &I know the words, but the interpretation is a little bit different.
Even now we (my husband and I) are talking about some words.

union, salary, worker, volunteer, patriotism, army --etc.

To know each word more through conversation is to understand more each other.
It is interesting, isn't it?

America is called a melting pot of races. So they define words strictly? without compromise.
On the other hand here in Japan , usually every person is Japanese, and we tend to think that we can understand without talking enough. So some words might be ambiguous.
But, anyway we have to have enough ability to digest and appreciate what others said. So education is important to understand each other much better.

Well, we went to travel by two of us for the first time in 25 years.

Until we had kids, we were really busy in doing each job.

Since we had kids, kids were always in the center of our life.

Now we are thinking about the life for two of us.

Jan & Nick is a really good couple. They talk each other very much, respect each other, and accept each other.

Both of them say " we are equal ." And both of them show their "love" clearly ( that is American.)

Jan always prepares something special for Nick for dessert. He is always looking fforward to being served something after dinner like a kid. (At that time he is always cute.)

I think it is one of her way to show her love to her husband.

To tell the truth, now I'm in them empty-nest syndrome. It can't be helped. So this travel is one of the way for us to create our new second life. The life of Nick&Jan influenced us a lot.

This breakfast I baked quiche.

Thanks for everything Nick &Jan.

Is it OK to call on you without being invited and without improving my husband's golf skill?

This weekend we go to TOKYO to visit my mother-in low having "that" present, and probably we'll come home having "that" present. Whose club is this? I don't know.

travel to Aiken in America -6-

There are full of nature. Something are wild, something are planted. The combination is really good. We see the state tree of palm, camellias, dogwoods, magnolias, and spireas -- I forgot the name of this pink one.

We also have these tress (even in my small garden), but something is different. Probably they all have "bright green", and We have "dark green". Even pine trees, their needle-shaped leaves are very long, and the dry-leaves are really right brown.

Unfortunately the blooming season is later. But we could imagine how beautiful they will bloom in spring. As soon as I came home I talk one of my friends, who loves gardening, on the phone. I told "There are Knock Out Roses". She really envied me. The kind was made in U.S.A. And in Japan we have information, but not so many people get the roses in their garden yet.

There are many kinds of magnolias. We call big magnolia TAIZANBOKU. In my mother's house there used to be two big trees. So I bought artificial magnolia to remain Aiken, and my mother's garden everyday.
And here and there we heard birds singing.
I knew the name of humming bird through picture books. They have lots of humming birds. And I saw, woodpeckers, doves, crows(these are smaller and cuter than Japanese crows), and I saw "cardinals" for the first time. They are really cute. I love them.

travel to Aiken in America -5-

There are different styles of houses. Wood house, plastering house, and brick house. Brick house seems to be very popular in this area, because they can get good bricks in this area. "Brick house", when I saw it , recalled me the story of "3 little pigs". Here is actually "America".

Old houses that are more than 80 years old, are mainly wood houses. But they are really maintained well. (My house is 23 years old, nobody doesn't maintain, and we used to have a cat-- so here and there wall papers or poles are scraped. And in my daughter's room there is a big hole after they failed to do a handstand.)
Even about fences, there are lots of styles; wood fence, iron fence.

Some people like something oriental. What is oriental? According to the dic
tionary, oriental means something from countries in E-Asia.

For me (I'm a Japanese), something is "strange", but it's fun. Yes, they are oriental, not Japanesque.
Here and there I saw frog-dolls. Do they love frogs? Some frogs are very realistic. Some people in Japan put frog statue by their
pond or water- p ot in their garden. I have one. Because this area OHYA-stone is famous, so I have one by coincidence.
These days some short stories of Frog and Toad written by Arnold Lobel are taken in textbooks of junior high school students in Japan. So pictures of American frogs are getting popular for young kids.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

travel to Aiken in America -4-

During this stay, Jan served perfect meals every time. We were fully satisfied all of them.

They are really good at using cheese.

I sometimes use cheese, and our familiar cheese are natural cheese, mozzarella (my favorite one), cheddar cheese, and cream cheese.
I know blue cheese but I don't know brie cheese. So this morning I tried to make.
Looks are completely different, I know, but taste is similar.
BUT-- all ingredient except apricot jam are expensive. When we have special guest, I'll serve it.
And the final dinner was "All American " dinner.
grilled steak, cherry tomato and mozzarella cheese salad, baked beans with apples, corn on the cob, and apple pie dessert.
"Finally" I could have "baked beans". I often hear and see the word in English picture books. It was really traditional food. My image was -- "pea-fy", how do I describe? fish-fishy, smoke-smokey, pea--??. I thought it might have had strong pea taste. The taste was really mild, though Jan add apples. We use soy-beans often, and main spice is "soy sauce". And we often azuki-beans. Inside of sweet Japanese dumplings is usually Azuki-bean paste. Beans are popular in every country, and they have own traditional meals using beans. It is interesting, isn't it?
Well, corn was corn. I love baked corn with soy sauce. I told them about baked corn, they seemed not to understand. I found "similar" baked corn.

travel to Aiken in America -3-

What were we doing there?

Anyway my husband played golf almost every day, and drank (yes, he enjoyed all kinds of alcohol including his SHOCHU he took from Japan).

(SHOCHU is Japanese spirits distilled from sweet potatoes.)
Their residence is "on" the private golf course. My husband "learned" golf from Nick and his friends, and many English golf words; tend to a pin, fat shots, thin shots--- etc. Yesterday he went to work, he "taught" these words to his golf friends "boastfully".

I could listen to stories in the library, and even in the "park". At the library they always hold a small event and many volunteers were there.
Actually, my daughter was volunteer at the library, and many people do volunteer at the library and museums here in Japan.

And I do story-telling at the library and at some public nursery schools.
Looks the same

There is a different thing
In the Newsletter of the library, it is written that "Through the American Reads Grant Program, a student from the Education department of USC Aiken will be reading aloud to children in the children's department on Tuesday-Fridays, 3:00-4:30"
And the story-telling at the park is organized by Aiken Recreation department.
Volunteers jobs are organised by public department.
Now I'm thinking about "doing volunteer". Later I might write my opinion.

Anyway education system is really prepared almost for free. So I hope more people in Aiken use these opportunities more effectively. I can say in Japanese "MOTTAINAI" (what a waste!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

travel to Aiken in America -2-

I write about alcohol and liqueurs.
The most surprised thing was -- many people drink alcohol, usually beer in the daytime.
For people beer seems to be like juice.

And this time I knew, the law was completely different.
In Japan driving is prohibited by law after drinking, even though the driver is strong at alcohol.
These days cracking down on drunken drivers is really strict.

Now I used the word "drunken". I know drinking alcohol is different from being drunken.
In Japan driving after drinking is prohibited. These days the breathalyzer has high accuracy. I know a woman who was caught after having one cherry bonbon.
And the cost of alcohol was inexpensive, as my friend said. probably the most expensive alcohol was the wine my husband ordered in the airplane. (This time the wine served with meals was free, other times one short bottle wine cost 7$)
They seemed to be used to drinking alcohol, so they are good at enjoying alcohol.

This time my friend served various liqueur for us after every (wonderful & perfect) dinner.

My familiar liqueur is only "KAHLUA" which we can buy even at a convenience store.
Light liqueur, strong liqueur, spicy liqueur. It was fun.
Tasting liqueur is luxurious, and fashionable, don't you think so?
So at a free tax shop, we bought this bottle. We don't read the label of the name. Milk-liqueur and coffee-liqueur is combined. The bottle was interesting for us.

travel to Aiken in America -1-

Last week my husband and I have been to Aiken in America to celebrate his 25th anniversary on the job. It was the first trip abroad for us together, and the first home-stay.

At first my husband and I are grateful for all help of my wonderful friend Jan & Nick in setting up. Without of them this trip would not have come true. We really thank of them.

Aiken is an interesting city.

For me, it is a city for horse, and for my husband it is a city for playing golf.
I don't play golf, so I can't write about playing golf there. Anyway in April the town is going to be full of visitors who comes to watch Masters.

My husband was playing golf almost every day. On this trip he was a main person, so for him it was a great vacation. (For him it was the first private long vacation since he started to work.)

I visited most of interesting spots.
Here and there there are interesting horse statues. One is an American city horse stature, or one is an American flag horse stature,--- each stature has each story .
Some people living in or near the downtown have horses. There is a big rescue center for horses.

"Horses", of course I know the word, in Japanese the word is "UMA". But for me the word is just an animal or an old thing, or it leads me to gamble in bad meaning.

Here it was completely different. Horses are familiar in citizens.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

art, coffee and science

This weekend I went to SHIMOKITAZAWA in TOKYO. It is near SHIBUYA. The main purpose is to see my daughter's exhibition. It's not her own exhibition, group-exhibition. SHIMOKITA ( we call the town the shorten name of SHIMOKITA), is the town for youth, it is full of young power. I recall my youth.
While I was waiting for my mother-in-law, I was in a cafe. The sigh of the cafe says "cafe loved by Mr.YAMURA SOU". He was a low-keyed actor but he made his presence fell. (For in my mother's generation, he was a cool, smart and handsome actor, of course my daughters don't know him.) Some shops are really old and low-keyed. Unfortunately this shop is going to
be closed next week.
I found an interesting shop. They deal with science materials. There are skeletons, stars' map, and many things. I bought a science picture book.