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Archive for October, 2008

 

Today must have been a good day for viewing fall colors because there were throngs of cars and motor bikes snaking up the mountain road to Mount Bandai area. We had to fight our way  to a parking lot and on the trail we were with hundreds of people walking down to the river.

The senior citizens here in Japan are so sprightly and energetic and they manuevour their way down the steep trail ever so well. When we got to the river bed, they walked on rocks and scrambled down rock faces. They amazed us.

The colors were so awesome, oranges, burnt umber, browns and reds. Dave took the new header picture I just put up. There were some fantastic pictures from the lot Dave took with his Olympus E 410. I love the water pictures he took on slow setting. The pictures I took with my Olympus SP 350 were not as clear and the colors were not as bright and I kept running out of batteries! Grrrr…

The fall colors might peak next week and then totally gone. The mountain side looked so beautiful.

I uploaded some pictures on flikr. Check it out. http://www.flickr.com/photos/13044535@N04/sets/72157608179174789/

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I went to the gym today. It was a cool and beautiful autumn day. Dave is better after a bout of tumminess the last three days. He had Malay chicken soup, leftover from last night’s dinner, for lunch. I decided to have a tuna sandwich and managed to slice my thumb opening the can. I was howling in pain as well as seeing all the blood. It took us a few minutes to find the bandaids. It was soaked as soon as Dave put it on but he told me to ignore the blood, even though it was dripping out of the bandaid. No sympathies from that one – he who had cuts from chainsaws and box cutters. Despite the cut thumb, I enjoyed my sandwich.

About 3pm we rode our bikes to the castle as my friend Junko san mentioned something about a festival. We were either too late or too early because nothing was going on over there. On the way back to the apartment, I noticed that the small shop selling imported clothings from India and Asia was opened for once. We went in and looked around and there were beautiful tables and beads and necklaces from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There were beautiful silk skirts from Thailand and embroidered shirts as well.

The man behind the counter chatted with us and he pointed to pictures of mountains on the wall. Then he said I draw maps and he showed us what he was working on. He pointed to the pictures on the wall and he said, “I climbed K2 in 1977.” We  were stunned and so impressed! He spoke some English and proceeded to show us the maps of the Karakoram, which he had drawn and published. I told him that I had just finished reading  Three Cups of Tea, the book by Greg Mortenson and he had mentioned about the Karakoram and the Baltoro Glacier. Then, Tsuneo san opened up a beautiful map of the Baltoro Glacier that he had surveyed and published!! Dave and I was just so excited. You can check out this site formore info: http://www.jac.or.jp/english/jan/vol1/NEW.pdf

He told us that he is now 70 something (I think he said) but he still goes up to Northern Pakistan every summer and proceeded to show us pictures of his last trip, enormous beautiful mountains as the backdrop. I asked him for his business card and googled his name. That’s how I found out that he has labored for years to draw and publish Mountaineering maps of the Karakoram and Hindu Kush.

He took us to his second floor shop and showed us allthe artifacts he has brought home for sale. One item that intrigued me was wooden shoes from Afghanistan. The front and back were like horses’ hooves and the foot is placed on a small platform with leather thongs. He has pictures galore and he and his wife invited me back and I will definitely go back to the shop.

Meeting him has inspired Dave and I to get the Lonely Planet Book on Trekking the Karakoram and maybe do the trip one of these days. Tsuneo san, like Greg Mortenson, has had a hand in building schools in the Nepal mountains for kids. Every year when he goes there, he always brings school supplies for the children.

What a beautiful day and meeting Miyamori Tsuneo was a bonus!

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My friend Junko took me to a kinder activity at a local elementary school. There must have been about 60 kids whose  ages range from about 4 to 5 years old. They were all seated on a turquoise colored tarpaulin, in their turquoise colored uniforms and little tiny turquoise colored shoes were all arranged on the edges of the tarp! What a sight. They all wore little tiny caps, yellow, white, red.. oh they are so cute!!

When the grown ups started the mochi process, they all stood up, put their shoes on and gathered round the huge wooden pounders chanting out songs. I am amazed how they knew which shoes belonged to them!

To make mochi, rice is cooked and then placed inside the huge wooden vessel. Then a couple of guys used big pounders and they took turns to pound the boiled rice until they are soft and gooey but pliable. Then, they are made into balls and some are soaked in soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed or dipped in soy powder and sugar. They are quite delicious, although, you could gag on one if you put too much in your mouth! I discovered that the hard way! You have to take small bites and chew slowly.

I forgot how cute kids are when they are all gathered together.

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The sun was out for a short while but I really missed the bright blue skies of Truckee. No place can compare to Truckee when it comes to blue skies and beautiful views and weather! If anyone reading  this would love to know more about my bit of paradise go to my good friend’s website: www.tahoetruckeehome.com , you could check out rental homes for summer or winter rentals and even check out home avalabilities if you ar ein the market to buy a home.

I am nursing a cold that I literally caught in the plane, 6 hours into the flight to Japan. We had a leak in the plane and so the captain imposed water conservation like no hot teas or coffees and we had to wash our hands using mineral waters. Maybe someone did not wash his hands and I caught his cold ..who knows. If we did not conserve we would have been diverted to Alaska for repairs etc. but I am mad cos I really wanted to work out in the gym and meet my friends here.

Every morning I turned on CNNand watched more bad news- how low can the DOW go down? It is so depressing. I am also following the news on politics and hoping that my absentee ballot will come throught the mail. I want my vote to count so it’d better come soon.

We went to a farewell dinner for one of Dave’s guys last night. There were nationalities from about 8 countries. We had beef sukiyaki – a huge pot on a small gas stove on the table where we cook raw slices of beef and veggies – and endless supply of beer for two hours. We all sat on the floor on tatami mats but I am sorry, this method of sitting just does not agree with me. Poor Dave was in agony…me too.  Give me table and chairs anytime!

I have been making chainmaille jewellry since I came back and picking up my knitting again and counting the number of weeks before I go home again to truckee!! We just found out that we will be here for another 6 months. I really do not mind as long as I am with ma hero and as long as I get to come home to see my babies.  I hope to see the cherry blossoms again before we leave Japan for good.

BTW one of my babies has a website – check it out – she has such happy illustrations – www.stellarbaby.com

Sayonara – til next time!!

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