Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How should I cook GOYA

Do you know GOYA? I know it's the season of GOYA. And I got lots of GOYA from the neighbor next door. They are raising GOYA.
Their GOYA is round compared with GOYA at the supermarket. Smaller ones are easier to cook for me. But I got lot. What should I do? GOYA is really bitter.

Last night I made GOYA and pumpkin salad. The sweetness of pumpkin softens the bitter of GOYA.

This morning I fried GOYA with tofu, and pork, which are called CHAMPLU. The simple taste of TOFU softens the bitter of GOYA.
I still have some GOYA. I want to use them which are in fresh, but, -- it seems to be difficult. So I'll slice them and freeze them.
Do you have GOYA in your country?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Where we work, and what we work for.

Yesterday I went to TOKYO with four high school students. As I told you, I live in a local city Utsunomiya. It is not a big city and not a small city. It's really easy to live. It takes 150 km from Tokyo.Some people say it's not so far from a big city. It might be true. However in Japan the transportation cost is high. If we use a bullet train, it takes about 1 hour to Tokyo but it costs 8000 yen (about 80 dollars) round trip. If we use a local train, it takes more than 2 hours to Tokyo but it costs 4000 yen round trip.
So it seems to be near, but it's far considering our usual life.

Why we went to Tokyo, the reason is that I want to let them to attend one day workshop at a college. It was free including lunch and tea time. They took three classes, which were college tour, calligraphy lesson, English conversation lessons. And they also had a chance to talk with the alumni about their job. A woman works at a flight attendant, a man works at a big hotel. A man works at a travel agency. They have a chance to use English they learned at college.

Two of the high school students seemed to be interested in what they want to be after their graduation. So they are searching what field they want to study at college.  For them the information seemed to be useful.
On the other hand the rest of two seemed to stick to work in Utsunomiya. It means the number of types of jobs is less than one in a big city. so they are searching what field is most effective to work in Utsunomiya.

When I was young, I lived in Tokyo, so I didn't need to think where I worked. There were lots of types of jobs.
I like living in Utsunomiya, so now seeing the young girls, I have a complicated feeling.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I lost.

Today it was a day of garbage pickup.  I laughed at myself when I took out the garbage.

This morning when I picked parsley from the garden, I was really surprised at lot of weeds. Probably yesterday rain got lots of energy to the weed. Anyway after breakfast I weeded a bucket of weeds.  Why a bucket of weeds? I decided to weed just a bucket of weeds.  It was enough for me as one of morning chores. Probably next day I'll weed another bucked of weeds.
And I took the weed garbage out. There were already four big bags of weed garbage. Yesterday it was raining, so probably someone got up early and weeded. I lost and I grinned.

Let's change the subject. Have you ever cooked pickled whole tomatoes? Yesterday I got lots of tomatoes.The easiest way to eat is salad using fresh tomatoes. But  I peeled tomatoes in hot water and pickled them. I used rice vinegar, wine, and honey instead of sugar to make pickled liquid.

The pickled tomatoes were delicious. We ate  a whole of tomato easily. Well can you see something green on the plate? It's parsley I picked this morning. It isn't garnish, it's one of morning vegetables. Of course we ate.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I seldom talk about political things especially in English. Because it's too difficult to express my opinion in English. And I'm not so interested in political things. On the other hand saying that "I'm not interested in political things" seems to show my ignorance to foreigners.. Partly I accept my ignorance, on the other hand I don't like to be told that you are stupid.

Yesterday when I was talking with a lady living in the Philippines via SKYPE, she asked me about an election that was held last Sunday. I managed to tell her about the election. Well, let me write it down as an English homework.

Yuki and I went to vote, the election was held at a school nearby. This time we voted, but it doesn't mean we always go to vote. Actually this time the voting rate was 52%. It was the third worst score.
Why do not so many people go to vote? First many people are not so interested in political things, and they think one vote doesn't make a change in Japan. This time most Japanese people thought that the Liberal Democratic Party must win so it can't be helped to go to vote.And actually it won.

We cast two ballots in the election. First we choose a person, after that we choose a party. I voted for a man who didn't belong to the the Liberal Democratic Party. The reason why I chose him. I've met him (on the street) and he had been a politician and had been doing some things for our city ( I believe) for 20 years. So I wanted him to continue his political life. Unfortunately he lost and he decided to resign his political life.

I chose a party whose head was a lady of the same generation as me. The party was really small, but I liked her character though  I just saw her through TV. She seemed to want the youth more active and energetic. Unfortunately the party lost, and she decided to resign.

I like Mr. Abe who is the head of the Liberal Democratic Party. So I hope he and his party make Japan more active. I don't know whether consumption tax will be raised or not. I don't know whether pension  will be cut or not. These two issues were swept under the rug during the election campaign. I hear lot of negative things in our daily life. Anyway I hope all people live with comfort and health.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday has started

Monday has started. How was your weekend?
Yesterday I went to the library to do volunteer work. My group reads English picture books at the library once every two months. Fortunately the room was full of people. This time Stacy helped us. So thanks to Stacy, many people came to listen to us. Not many natives read books well to kids. Stacy loves to read English picture books to kids. So she volunteered.

As I often tell you, I started to do this volunteer work to use English naturally even in Japan. Of course English is a language, so it's for speaking, for writing, and for reading. But in our Utsunomiy'a usual life we don't need to use English.

But reading English picture books to kids (or to people) is a kind of performance. It's a natural way to use English. So I started to do this volunteer job.

Yuki came back from his business trip to the U.S. He did hard work and he ate too much. So yesterday we had a light dinner with wine. For dinner we went to a cheese shop. In Japan cheese is not so cheap. And we don't have many kinds of cheese at a supermarket. So we went to a special cheese shop.

And I made two vegetable dishes. Now it's  the season for corn and onions. I got lots of fresh onions from a farmer last week. I sliced an onion, and eat it. It was not so bitter.

How do you cook if you get lots of onions? I preserve some of them under the eaves (keeping from going rotten and coming vampires.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

 A positive woman

It's difficult to explain my emotion even in Japanese, but not to forget my feeling I'll try to express my emotion on this blog in English.

Yesterday I went to an exhibition. An acquaintance is holding her first beaded accessories exhibition.
I know her through each blog and volunteer activities. I've know she has a girl with illness who is in her 20's. However----

At the place she holds her exhibition, we could talk for a while. She and I are in the same generation, but it was the first time to talk with each other individually. But as soon as we talked we became good friends.

Her daughter can't move, can't speak. Her brain got a damage from  flu when she was three years old. Fortunately she could escape death. And fortunately she grew even though very slowly, so anyway she could eat from her mouth.
She said that for these 20 years, medicine and rehabilitation technique has been really improved. And services to the disabled are getting better. Her daughter goes to day-care center every day even on weekends. Thanks to this service, she can spend every day with energy. She doesn't need to confine themselves to the house.

She kept smiling while she was talking. I couldn't say anything. I tend to envy others. I know what she hates is to sorry for her. So I have to do things what I can do. I got energy from her. Thanks Ms. Y.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ms. Sakuragi won the Naoki Prize.

Ms. Sakuragi who is 48 years old won the Naoki Prize this year. She describes herself as a homemaker. Since now her job is a professional writer.
Her comment was interesting.
I don't want to say that I wanted to be a writer. So I'm saying I've wanted to be a writer. If I give it up in my life, I can't tell my children to hang in there when they have to bear something or pursue their dream with difficulty.
 I know not all efforts are rewarded with a big success. but to continue something must get something worth. And showing the attitude to kids is really useful.

She also said.
I'm glad that I didn't give up my dream.
I'm glad that I kept going and made it .
Everything will work itself out.

And she mentioned encounter with people.
I believe encounter with people makes me always happy. It brings me a good luck. So I let me keep up the wind of luck.
encounter with people, it's a good word, and necessary word for me to make me active. I always care about encounter with people.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mind map

The other day I organized a mind map workshop. It finished with success. Do you know the word or the way of mind map? Mind map might be familiar in your country. I invited some foreigners to this workshop. Some of them were really surprised saying "In Japan at school don't children learn it?".
The answer is "no, they don't learn it". And my daughter who works for art college, said "I learned at art school." In an art world it might be familiar.

Anyway making a mind map makes our brain active through showing our own images, listening to our own words, feeling our own impressions.  And we can bring our images into reality through mind map. Once our images are translated into reality, it's easier to see the way to solve our problems, and we get closer to reaching to our dream.

This time we made a mind map about our future in 20??. I draw my future in 2023.
Do you know keywords when we draw our future. The teacher showed five key words. They are house, health, wealth, society, and cultivation.

It was easy for me to understand the first four keywords. But the last keyword "cultivation" made me surprised.
Well, well, will I be able to continue to learn English in ten years? Learning English is the word which came across my mind first on the cultivation branch.
I'll introduce some words which came across my mind on each branch.
Health; playing golf with Yuki,  Yuki's good health, travel to the U.S.A and France
House; organized, chatting with lots of people at home
Wealth; 50,000,000 yen (the teacher suggested when we think about money, concrete numerical targets are necessary.)
Society;needed person, earning pocket money not only pension
Cultivation; learning English, reading English picture books, making Japanese poems

What mind map do you draw about your future in 20?? ?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Knock Knock joke

Do you know Knock Knock jokes? Yesterday I knew them, though every body didn't make one.
Yesterday I had OKONOMIYAKI for dinner with my high school students. A boy is staying with one of her as a one-week exchange student.  He came from the U.S.A and will go to college this September. We had OKONOMIYAKI with him at an OKONOMIYAKI restaurant.

We asked him to introduce an American joke.
Suddenly he started.
Knock, Knock, Who's there?

One student said her name like This is Yuna.
----- done.

He tried again.
A girl "Knock, Knock"
The boy "Who's there?"
A girl "Yuka"
----- done.

Nobody understood, including me.
He gave up explaining the joke.

When I got home, I checked what knock knock joke was.
I got it.  We would have to finish the conversation with a joke related to the name.

This is an example.
"Knock Knock"
"Who's there"
"Lettuce, who?"
"Let us come in"

 So I tried to think the last phrase related  to my name.
"Knock Knock"
"Who's there"
"Mieko, who?"
---------------- done.

It's too difficult to make a knock knock joke.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vision map

Have you ever heard of vision map? The other day I attended a meeting and made my vision map.
I don't  know how vision map is introduced in your country, however in Japan vision map is introduced like the following;
To make a long story short, vision map makes us feel our conscious of our ideals and dreams more closely. So prepare a sheet, and put anything on the sheet freely to draw your dream more concretely.

It's difficult for me to draw my dream. If I were in my early 20's, I must have thought I would get married. And now I'm married. If I were in my late 20's, I must have thought we would get richer. Now we are not so rich, but we are satisfied with our current econoic situation. I want to keep this economic situation, I want to keep my health condition against aging. I want to keep our house clean against deterioration. Yes I have lots of things I want to keep. On the other hand I have to accept my aging and deterioration of this house.

While I was thinking what I want to keep, I reached  a goal. What I really want to keep from is isolation from the outside world. Probably my daughters won't come back to Utsunomiya, so I or we have to live by myself  or by ourselves. So we have to strengthen our pipeline with the community of Utsunomiya, we won't be able to  rely on our family relation.

I draw a sentence in the center of the sheet.
" I'd like to communicate with everyone at the kitchen table.".
Why at the kitchen table? Because being at the kitchen table  is the most casual place  for me in my house. I invite guests to the living room, but when we have a meal together, usually we let them sit at the kitchen table.

And I put a photo of an organized room and wrote that I hope to live in an organized house with an organized garden. (It means I have to clean the rooms more and keep weeding.)
I put a photo of a piano adding the phrase of "enjoy wonderful music".
I put a photo of Japanese green tea adding the phrase of "enjoy Japanese style life sometimes wearing Kimono".
I put a photo of a festival because there were many people of various generations. And wrote I hope to enjoy chatting with people of various generations from babies to a seniosr.
I put a photo of people enjoying doing walking. and I wrote that I want to keep enough physical strength to keep me positive.
And of course I put a photo of a delicious meal. And I wrote that I have to keep having enough apatite to keep fit. To keep having enough apatite, delicious meals are necessary, so I have to enjoy going out to have delicious meals . It means I can continue one of hobbies that is going out to cafe for a right reason. It's not a luxury or you can say it's a good excuse.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Did you know this? ---lettuce burger

I seldom eat hamburgers, but if I chose my favorite hamburger, I like  Mos Burger.
The other day I  dropped by a Mos Burger. And I was really surprised. Because they introduce burgers that substitute lettuce leaves for the traditional bread buns.
They are called NATSUMI burgers. I ordered a chicken NATSUMI burger. It cost 280 yen. Considering amount of lettuce, it's really reasonable. They seem to be limited offer. I hope they will be a regular item.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Water lilies? or Lotus flowers?

How was your weekend? Yuki and I had a good  and busy weekend.
We went to see water lilies at a pond. --- probably they are water lilies. Do you know the difference between water lilies and lotus flowers?
Water lilies bloom on the water, and lotus flowers bloom above the water.
The leaf of the water lily has a cut line and  a shine, but the leaf of  the lotus flower doesn't have them.
This pond is not so popular, so it was so quiet. We could walk around the pond.
I think that the leaves in the front and the back of the photo are lotus, and in the middle there are water lilies. Unfortunately we couldn't see lotus flowers.
After walking around the pond we went to a small restaurant. There they served such dishes.

 Yes, it was a Russian restaurant in Tochigi prefecture. They served beet soup,sauerkraut, and main dish with rye bread. Afterwards they served Russian tea.
I've been to a Russian restaurant in Tokyo once.  We don't know real Russian dishes, but anyway we enjoyed these Russian dishes.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tanabata week

In Japan July 7 is TANABATA (Star  Festival). We write our wish on a strip of paper and hang them on SASA-trees.  I don't have a real SASA-tree, so I put an artificial SASA-tree in front of the door and enjoy decorating.
Let me introduce four girl's wish.
In the case of the 5-year old girl, her wish is drawing better. What a cute wish it is!
And I have three students who are in the fifth grade.
H; "I have no wish"
Me; "Try to think something. Thinking something is important".
H; "My future dream will become true".
Me;"What is your future dream?"
H; "Nothing"
Me; "Try to think something. Thinking something is important".
H; "I want to own a cake shop".
Me; "It's good. It might be a tentative dream, but anyway you tried to draw your future."
A; "I want to have more time to relax".
I know what she means is to take a bath more longer. Her bath time is limited --- because it's too long.
Me; "How long do you want to take a bath?"
A; "At least one hour".
Now her bath time is limited to 45 minutes.
She is an only child, so she can have enough time to take a bath.
When student Y heard this conversation, she said.
Y; "I want to take a bath by myself."
She has four younger sisters, and she has to take care of her sisters. She has to take a bath at least with two younger sisters and wash their hair.
Anyway we enjoyed writing something on strips of paper. What a peacful world it is!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Flower arrangement

Loot at this photo. I made it.

My friend and I went to a flower shop and arranged flowers which are mainly herbs in this doll-shaped container. I put it  at the door.
The owner of the flower shop prepared six kinds of flowers . First I put net in the bottom not to spread soil, and put soil and dressing. Next I raveled the plants and divided them into two or three, and put them into the container of my choice.
Making something is fun. Appreciating my work is fun. But I have to water it every day. It's troublesome. But it's not necessary to weed. It means it's the season to weed. I know, though I always take care the entrance, the grass grows in the backyard. Probably this weekend I'll weed. Today after I write it, I have to attend a study meeting.

Well, before going to the flower shop, my friend and I had a lunch at a new Chinese restaurant.
There something interesting was served. It was a fortune pie.

The fortune telling in my sheet is that if you use your brain and physical body more , you 'll get more power. I know it. So I continue writing this blog, and I sometimes go to workout.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Scrabble game

Did you play board games when when you were little? I used to play "Game of life", of course in Japanese version.
The other day I had a chance to play a board game, which is Scrabble game. Is it or was it familiar in your country?
Mike who runs his own English class, hold an event just to enjoy English through playing game. The fee was 1000 yen, but he prepared some kinds of drinks, (including calorie zero coke for him), sweets, snacks for people who don't like sweet, and cakes. Nine adults attended at the event.

One is an high school English teacher, some are private English school teachers, some are beginner of learning English, some are just Mike's friends.
To concentrate on playing game changed us into kids. It was fun.

Adults often have to think many things hardly and logically. But sometimes it is necessary to play with someone simply.  Thanks Mike to give such a wonderful opportunity.