Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Unusual heavy snow in Seattle

Seattleites have experienced freezing snow days. Because it was very rare occasion, I took video and posted YouTube. The bridge shown on the video is Interstate 90.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving




My family and neighbor family across my house had Thanksgiving dinner together. I cooked some food and the neighbor cooked others. It’s nice to celebrate holidays with others.
I don’t think of any similar celebration in Japan. Japanese people view full moon in fall for moon festival. The moon is called harvest moon. People put Japanese pampas grass and rice cake offerings by the window. According to http://www.sci-museum.kita.osaka.jp/~kazu/index.phtml, this custom was originated from China and because it is the harvest season of taro-roots and people in China have taro for the moon festival day, the origin of the moon festival started in order to celebrate harvest of taro. Thanks are probably given the god of nature not to people.
It is nice to give thanks to others and share meals. I think people in America generally have a big heart and generous. Homeless or poor people can find some place to eat free. I read and hear stories that some restaurants offer Thanksgiving dinner to homeless people, and that volunteer collect free food for needy families. I have never heard homeless people in Japan can go some place to eat free.
We should always be thankful to food which we eat, people who grew, and to share meals with other people. But we don’t. Thanksgiving Day is the good occasion to remind me of this.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My experience on the day of 2008 presidential elections

On Nov.4 2008, the presidential Election Day, I worked at a poll place near my house. It was rainy dark morning before sun rise, I walked to the location. About 6:00am, I started setting up private booth, posting signs, and etc with other poll worker which consisted of 3 high school girls, 3 African American ladies, 3 white ladies(2 workers and a inspector), two Asians(a young Chinese speaker and me). There were 3 more workers than the previous elections.

At 6:30am, one man entered the place wanting to vote. It was a half hour early to open the poll. So he had to wait until 7:00am. As soon as we opened the door at 7:00am, voters flooded into the place. This is my forth time to work at this location. Before this election, we had only few voters showed up. At this one, the lines of voters were long early in the morning. I heard bad traffic was caused by voters driving toward to the poll place. Many people said that this is their first time to vote. They were not only 18 years old new voters but older voters. Many families came to vote together.
I have never seen observers here on the previous elections although my husband told me there were always some observers at his voting place. At this time, there were three observers there. Two of them were there from early in the morning until the poll closed. One even took notes how many voters voted the location and how many incident reports were recorded.
There was a person who took photos. 7 private booths were occupied and voters filled their ballot on the extra tables.
After 6:30pm, only few voters came. It was almost 8:00pm. One of fellow workers took a short break and saw her text message learning that Obama won the election. I saw fireworks when I was collecting VOTE signs. There were 8 times or more voters in this poll came to vote than the previous elections. I could read one or two chapters of my book while I was waiting for voters the previous elections. I had merely enough time to say hello to some acquaintances at this time. We were lucky to have done all closing process smoothly and head home around 10:00pm. It was the long busy day.
The next election, people will mail their ballot and there will be no more poll places in Seattle. I love being a poll worker to be a part of the election process. I miss meeting and working with fellow poll workers and greeting my neighbors. I am grateful to be here to experience these all excitements of America.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Daniel recommends you to attend these four one act plays.


Daniel wrote :
I went with Fumiko this Sunday to see Act One, Six Sundays, put on the by Theatre 9/12. These are four original one act plays which are interesting and thought provoking. Our set of plays started off with, Canyon's Edge, which is played in part by my favorite Actress Kate Szyperski, who plays the role Kathy. If you have not ever seen Kate cry, this is the time to see a convincing

expression of emotion. You just want to ask her what is wrong, and as I was sitting in the second row, I felt bad that she was crying and I was not doing anything to help. In watching the play I saw the actors, but not all the actors were being seen on stage. I saw the pieces but failed to put them together correctly. Fumiko explained it to me afterwards. I am curious to know what you think? The next play was "Duty, Honor, and Profit". This play contains the most actors of all the plays and spread out over multiple years. By investigating the "unnatural" death of his college friend, the play investigates if "Honor" of a solider is being lost in Iraq. After a short intermission in the very nice ACT Theater building, in which the performance was being held in one of the side rooms, PC Panic took Place. The audience was transformed into an active participant, in the play. No one in our group took up the bait, but I wonder if other audiences become more participatory then ours? This play takes place in a Post Office, in Southern California. The title is "PC Panic." From the title I thought it had something to do with Personal Computers, but the meaning is the other "PC". This entertaining play, demonstrates that there are different ways in dealing with Political Correct issues. Direct Confrontation, or call it something else, and everyone some will believe. The final play, of the afternoon was "Ibsen's Note", as the title suggests, this is not a comedy. The three actors discuss issues about "love", and how it weighs on life and death decisions. Do you think that the quality of love you have prepares you to make life and death decisions about the ones you love? I recommend that you see these plays while they are showing, and I recommend that you call ahead and make reservations, as this week's afternoon showing had only two vacant seats.

Fumiko Wrote:

I loved the play. I asked Daniel write about it. I took some photos to share. If you want to see Kate in her play, you have to go and see it.




Friday, August 29, 2008

Back to Japan 3: My sisters wedding in Tokyo

My sister had her wedding ceremony when my family went back to Japan.
She was married legally last winter. She and her husband waited to have their ceremony to have my family from Seattle to participate. Their wedding ceremony was held July 11th. It was humid and very hot typical Japanese summer day. Temperature was about 93 Fahrenheit and humidity 80 percent in Tokyo. The ceremony was at “Teppozu Jinja“which is old Shinto-Shrine two blocks away from their apartment. My sister left her apartment around 9:00am to get ready. I joined her to be dressed up traditional Kimono. When I went upstairs of the shrine, my sister was dressed up white wedding Kimono. She was pretty and looked happy. Then the lady started working her hair and make up.
I have worn my Kimono when I graduate my university in Japan and my wedding reception. This is my third time. The lady used 3 or 4 cord and couple belts to dress me up Kimono. My waist was larger than typical Japanese ladies but my old Kimono still fit me and the dresser managed to dress me up nicely.
My sister and I were dressed up with layers of Kimono in the room without air conditioner. The room was cooled by two large blocks of ice and an electric fan. The ice was melting too fast and the water was overflowing from the ice bowl. The hair dressers had to stop their main job to clean up the mess. Strangely when I worn my Kimono, I didn’t feel heat although I had hard time walk or sit.
The ceremony started. It was my first time to attend Shinto wedding. In this occasion, even my two sons had to wear nice suites at their first time. The gloom and his family member and his friend sat one side and the bride and her family members and friends another in front of the altar. After the gloom and bride sipped sake three times each from a set of three cups, the both family drank a cup of sake. Then my sister joined to the gloom’s family. And so on. The ceremony was over and the picture time. It was sacred ceremony and my sister looked beautiful and happy.
After the wedding, my sister and I changed western cloths. We headed to the reception dinner at the restaurant in the tall skyscraper. We socialized with the both families and friends having full course dinner created for the wedding reception. Everyone was happy including my parents and the gloom’s parents. I am happy that my sister found her companion for life. Please view more of her wedding photos include my family. Click here to link Picassa web album.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to Japan 2-Trains


In Japan, I often take trains mostly Japan Rail way trains. Trains are safe and very punctual. When my train was 5 minutes late due to the broken bar at the train crossing, 5 minutes delay seems like big deal. The apologetic announcement was made at the station to the passengers several times. Since many trains run so frequent, this 5 minutes delay probably affected more than 1 train schedule.
I always buy Japan Rail pass either for 1 week or 2 weeks when I go back to Japan. With this pass we can ride Shinkansen (Bullet train), local trains, JR buses and ferries as much as you like for limited days. This pass saves us money. Without JR pass, the ticket from Tokyo to Hiroshima costs about $300 round trip. 1 week pass cost about $300 and I can ride more than one round trip and local trains. I travel more places in Japan using JR pass than my friends who live in Japan.
Lastly I will tell you unfortunate side of the trains. I noticed there were gates at the platform at train stations. I heard the shocking story. My Japanese friend told me that she witnessed suicide. She thought it was strange to see a young woman sitting on the platform. At the moment when the train approached to the station, the girl jumped down to the train track. The train couldn’t stop on time. My friend was so shocked and ran away screaming. The girl was 15 years old. SAD. If the these gates were at the station, the girl may not be able to sit at the end of the platform and still alive.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back to Japan 1 : Sizes

Photo on the right is my husband standing by the door in the train. His head is higher than the top of the door of the train.


I came back to Japan to stay with my parents and attend my sister’s wedding ceremony. I decided to write about Japan. When I arrived to Tokyo Narita Airport with other Japanese, I always realized that I grew much larger than other Japanese people. I was bit tall but my weight was average as Japanese woman before going to Seattle. However, now I am big around stomach and heavy. I went to store to buy my clothes near my parent's house and found that my size was in the large size section. When I went to Costco to buy my pants in Seattle, I bought the size which was somehow smaller size than several years ago. I don't think I lost weight. American sizes seems to get bigger. In US, I don’t have to go big size section and my size used to be large but now is medium. Japanese people are still smaller than American although the large sizes can be found in the store.
I realized that if I live in Japan, I will walk to train station and everywhere without my car and eat mostly Japanese food. It will make me loose some pounds.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Marie's funeral

The photo above is young Marie.

The other day, I went Portland with my family to attend the funeral of my husband best friend’s mother. Her name is Marie. I didn’t know her well. I saw her when she and her husband came to Seattle to join the parties of her son, Peter, and when we attended two of her sons’ wedding ceremonies. I remember she invited my family to her house several times and she cooked nice healthful meals for us. She welcomed everyone who visited to her house. She always smiled and said to whomever she met that she was pleased to meet her/him. I remember her as a beautiful old lady and brighten the mood around her. I imagine her like pretty white flowers lighten up the room. On 19th of April, 2008 she died at the hospital surrounded with her seven children with their spouses and her nine great-grand children who loved her very much. She was 79 years old and 6 months to be 80 years old. She was married to her husband, Art, for 52 years. Marie and Art hardly fought. Peter only remember his mother was very angry at her husband when she suspected her husband flirted with some lady. Then Marie was so furious to throw things around her at Art. She was deeply in love with Art. I heard that Art loves her very much that when he dies, he will be buried holding Marie’s ashes in his arm.
Her public funeral was held at the Catholic Church in Portland. Her life was celebrated with many attendees whom her life touched. She completed her life with full of happiness and love.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Is Seattle dangerous city ?




I have lived in Seattle for 19 years and became a victim of crimes three times. I was brought up in Japan and lived there for 30 years and was never encountered crime. Does it mean Seattle is dangerous city or US is the dangerous country?
My first incident was two months after I came to Seattle. It happened in the morning on the way to the bus stop. A man came across the road and grabbed my bag. I tried to hold on my bag. He was stronger than me and took my bag and ran. I went back and my host father reported the incident. I was very afraid going anywhere by myself for a long time. The mugger was never caught.
The second incident happened when my first son was about three years old. We lived in rough neighborhood of Rainier valley. Our house had security alarm. In the day of the incident we forgot setting the alarm. When we got home in the evening, the front window of our house was broken. We found that someone stole our computer. Our house was no longer safe place. My son was afraid going home. The police recovered our computer by stopping gangs’ car and caught the thief several days later. The thief was the neighbor’s eleven years old son who lived three houses away. Our neighbor was from Cambodia and didn’t speak English and he showed my husband a stack of business cards from police officers.
The third happened the last month. Our house was broken into at about 2:00am in the morning. Being tired and sleepy my husband and I forgot locking the doors of our house and turned all the lights. I never expected that someone came from the back door after going through the fence. When my husband woke up by our cat jumping down from our bed, he saw the shadow of the man. He yelled at the person.”Who are you? What are you doing my house? Get out my house.” I thought he was a sleep talking. But I woke up and found our two laptop computers were gone. I wanted to run after the thief. But my husband stopped me going out. He was still half a sleep. I phoned police immediately. The police officers came to our house with their dog about 10 minutes later. They found my husband’s camera on our drive way. The dog sniffed the trace of the criminal to only couple blocks from our house. You may think we live in the bad neighborhood. We live in the nice neighborhood. We walk around our neighborhood safely at night. We have some view of Lake Washington and our neighbor’s house was sold close to million dollars. Our house is small old three bedrooms house while the houses across the streets have better view and are new and large. I don’t know why the thief decided to come to our house instead of other fancy houses.
Fortunately no one was hurt and nothing important was stolen. The both laptops were repaired by the computer technician and were not in good shape. One of my stolen laptop computers had been infected by virus and another have problem turning switch on. The thief may have hard time to sell these old imperfect laptops. I haven’t heard any news from the police. After this happened, my cat which used to sit by my laptop disappeared couple of days and she have never sat her old place again.These are my bad experiences since I came to Seattle. Although my carelessness somewhat contributed to the incidents, I feel unsafe even my doors locked. It seems somebody is watching us and s/he takes advantage of an unguarded moment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are jeans American uniform?



Recently I went to two big events around Seattle and recognized that many people worn jeans.
One event was North West women’s show. As the name indicates, the attendants were mostly women. It was held at QWEST field. As you see in the picture on the left, the more than a half of the women in the picture wore jeans. Another event was Hops & Props at the museum of flight. This was the beer tasting event. More men attended to this event than women. While I was waiting to entering door in the long line, I observed the people in the line and saw so many legs with jeans. I didn’t realize so many people wear jeans. Then I remembered when my father visited me from Japan, he mentioned that everyone wears jeans. He used to wear his trousers until he realized that he look different from others with his gray pants. He started wearing his only blue jeans which he hardly worn in his house in Japan. He wore his jeans every day until the day he left Seattle.
I used to wear Blue jeans often. Recently I seldom wear my jeans because I like to look better by wearing other pants when I go out.
By the way, my sons don't wear jeans. They wear sweat pants instead.