Monday, December 12, 2011

Attack to my old Email account

My old email account is compromised. I haven’t been used my old account for a long time. It is my first time since I started using computer many years ago.
My husband told me that he received strange email from me and it seemed that my email account was hacked. If he didn’t tell me about this, probably I would have not known it had happened. Fortunately it was not my current account but I changed my password of all sites. The old password had 11 characters include numbers and symbols. I realized no passwords are safe when cunning smart hackers decided to attack.
I often heard that we needed to change password often. I haven’t changed my password for a long time. There are several website about how often change the password. I like answer from the wiseGEEk:
I like to prevent being attacked again. My decision is to change password every 4 month and select strong password. I set my calendar reminder to do so.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sustainable Seattle tour

I organized a custom tour in Seattle for Yukie who is from Eco Conscious Japan. She writes blogs and gives lecture about sustainability. She asked me to plan the tour of sustainable places in Seattle. Fortunately my husband, Daniel , is a real-estate broker and took LEED class. LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. He suggested to take her Seattle city hall, Olive8, and a house which is advertised as the greenest house in Seattle.
Instead of my describing about buildings, here are pointer to websites regarding to each building and places.
Seattle City Hall (The city hall design described in website of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson) (Quest of the city hall)
Seattle downtown library which is not sustainable but is very interesting design:
Freeway Park (This site shows nice photos.)
Olive 8 (visitor of Olive8 )
City cabin built by Green builder Martha Rose (Cabin website) (Martha Rose website) Broker Adrian Willanger’s blog) Builder Martha Rose’s daily news site
In addition to these buildings, I took Yukie to my neighborhood gardens, Bradner Garden which is organic demonstration garden and Childrens play garden which is created for children with all abilities .
Bradner Garden Information
Seattle children’s play garden
By organizing and accompanying Yukie to this tour, I learned a bit about what make garden and house sustainable.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tribute to my mother

It is almost three months after my mother passed away. I would like to write my last blog about my mother, Shizuko. I wanted to see my mother to ask her about her life.
After her death, I found some photos show her life from her childhood to recent years. I asked my father to show me her photo album. I took digital photos of all her old photos, selected several and organized by the age. It was interesting experience seeing my own mother being a baby, young child, then grown up. My younger sister was not interested in seeing her photos as I was until I showed my slide show of her photos.
Shizuko was born in 1934 as oldest daughter in 4 girls whose father was sailor. Shizuko helped her mother grow their own vegetables and take care of house chores. Her father wanted her to get a good education while her mother was conservative and didn’t want her to go to even high school. Young Shizuko protested to go to high school and finally allowed going to vocational high school one year later. After graduating high school, she went to sewing school to learn how to sew custom garments and dresses. I heard that her mother had borrowed money to buy nice Kimono and clothes. Shizuko sew nice garments for her mother and sisters to save money while she taught at a sewing school. She was very fashionable herself and dressed nicely. She met my father in young single volunteer group in the small town of Saka where they had grown up. They got married in 1958. It was unusual for them to fall in love and married back at the time. Most her friends got married by arrangement.
When I was young, other students praised my mother’s good looks. She was tall for a Japanese lady and good looking. She worked hard to send her two daughters to university. She sew custom-made clothes to send two daughters to private university while her conservative husband didn’t believe girls should be educated. She was proud of us. She liked my American husband, Daniel. She loved her two grandsons. I saw similarity between my mother and Daniel. They read all the time and know many things. Last time I went back to Japan with my American family, my mother told my sister and I to dig and to bury the kitchen compost to the vegetable garden, but we didn’t understand what she wanted us to do even after she described it twice. We asked Daniel and he seemed to understand perfectly what my mother wanted without asking her. The work was done as she wished.
She died on April 22nd, 2011. I got to her funeral on time while my husband and children were too busy to accompany me. Her spirit seemed to visit my husband and my youngest son. While I was in Japan, my husband called me that something pushed him very hard to wake him up early in the morning. At the same time, all lights in his bedroom turned on and off. He doesn’t believe in ghosts or anything after death but he felt this had something to do with my mother. My younger son saw her in a dream in which she was walking around her room. She may have wished to see him one very last time.
I had many things which I wanted to ask her and share much time with her. If your mother is healthy and can tell you about her life, I hope she could tell you what her life was like in her childhood or before you knew her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My mother’s Death and ceremony

I thought I would never lose my mother so soon. She seemed to be better when I saw her in January. I planned to see her April 28th. According to my mother’s youngest sister who stayed her bed side until her death, my mother was looking forward seeing me and planned to stay alive. My mother fought against lung cancer as much as she could, but she was not able to make it. She passed away on April 23rd.
Her passed away about 1:30am. I caught an air plane from Seattle as quickly as possible and sat by my soulless mother’s side at 10:00pm on the same day. I wished I could have seen my mother alive. She was gone and only her small lifeless body lay in front of a small Buddhist altar. At least she looked very peaceful and pretty.
The next day many people came to see her. People viewed her peaceful face and touch her face. I heard young wives in the neighborhood came to see her, cried and said that my mother taught many things to them. My mother must have been very kind and helpful to her neighbors.
Two days after I had slept in the room next to where her body lay, we hold wake or Otsuya in Japanese. This is Japanese custom that people keep vigil all night by the body of the deceased before the funeral. My mother’s body was moved into the coffin and covered with bright white Kimono. The coffin was carried by the hand carriage to the specially made car which is to carry the coffin but not hearth. My father, my sister and me rode with my mother and got to the funeral hall around 3:00pm. The ceremony was held at 6:00pm. My mother’s friends and relatives came to attend the ceremony. Buddhist monk read a long sutra and people went front to close to alter which was decorated with flowers and offering and my mother’s photo, bowed, light a stick of incense and prayed. About 250 people attended the ceremony. After the ceremony, 6 of relatives including my father and I went to a room with my mother’ coffin. We took turn to stay by my mother’s body; 3 slept and 3 awake.
The next day, my sister and I were dressed up with black Kimono which our mother had prepared for this day. At noon the funeral was held. Buddhist monk read sutra. Each of attendants went front and bowed, offer incense and pray. At the end of the ceremony the coffin was open. We saw her face very last time and offer fresh flowers around her. She was surrounded by a lot of white and colorful flowers. I cried and cried for my mother. I could not stop crying. My sister who sat next me told me that I made her cry.
After the ceremony, my father and I rode her hearth to the crematory. Over 70 relatives and friends of my mother went to crematory to say the last good-by to her. Her living form was carried into the room to be burned. 2 hours later, the announcement told us that we are ready to collect her bones, In a large warm room, we gathered around my mother’s skeleton which was just burnt. An attendant directed my father and me to hold couple of large sticks at first and she passed each bone to us to pick up and put into the white container. We took turn to collect my mother’s most bones. The container was full and closed. The attendant wrapped the urn around white clothes. I carried it in my arms. It was still bit warm and very heavy although it was just bones without flesh. My father and I carry her urn home. In the evening, another monk came to the house to read sutra. Our relatives attended this last ritual of the long day.
7th day of her death another 7th day ritual was held at our parent’s home. Buddhist monk read sutra and made small talk about death. Our relatives attended and had vegan dinner together.
There would be every 7th day ritual until 47th day. Someone told me that the dead person would be still between living and dead during this period. After 49th day of the death, the person goes across the river between living and dead.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prune Kitchen constructions

Checkout the slide show above to see Prune kitchen construction from start to end.

Last month, building permit of my private kitchen addition was finalized. I like to write about building my new kitchen, named Prune kitchen.
Because my first son moved out of Seattle to attend university and a tenant moved out, we decided to move back to our previous house. It was the house where I met my husband,Daniel, and got married 20 years ago. We had wedding party in the backyard of this house. The move was to celebrate our 20 years of our marriage in addition to cut our expenses.
We decided to move to the downstairs 2 bedrooms and 2 baths portion. It was good enough for a couple with one teenage son. The kitchen downstairs was very small. It is too small to store all my kitchen tools and extra food. So my nice husband decided to design a kitchen addition. We discussed how kitchen should look like. I wanted a kitchen where I can cook with others and teach cooking classes. Kitchen need to have a lot of storage which I can find ingredient easily. We decided to make our kitchen practical as commercial kitchen but is still for our private use. He submitted the plan in April and the construction started quickly. He hired contractors to build foundation and frame of the house, do electric wiring, and dry walls. Our roof was done by a neighbor next-door. Daniel did much work by himself to save money. I selected the color of interior and outside house and bought paint and building materials. Our weekends’ family activity was to paint the house inside and out.
Daniel bought used 3 compartment sinks and commercial starless steel counter top. Kitchen addition was mostly completed in September and we moved to current house.
Daniel called inspectors for the final plumbing and building permit last month and the building passed the inspection. I love my brand new large kitchen. We named this kitchen Prune kitchen because we had to cut our favorite Italian plum tree in order to build the kitchen addition. I have been using my kitchen for various cooking events. I will be writing about it to food blog soon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sightseeing around Hiroshima in One day

These are the photos and a video from my trip.

My parents live in a town called Saka, 20 minutes train ride from Hiroshima. During my visit to my parents’ house, my best friend in Tokyo came to see me. This was her first visit to Hiroshima. I planned sightseeing trip with her to go to interesting place to visit while we could talk.
We met at Hiroshima JR(Japan Railway) station at 10:00am and took JR train and short ferry ride to Miyajima. ( You can watch interesting video on this site.)Miyajima is famous for Historical Shrine and Torii gate built in the water. We walked around and ate roasted oyster and cooked conger eel on the rice which are caught locally. ( We visited Old Shinto Shrine and a large old Buddhist temple.
Next we went back to Hiroshima city to the Peace Memorial park. We walked around A-Bomb dome and the park. We had leave without seeing Peace memorial museum and it will be her next visit.
Finally we went back to the JR Hiroshima station. Hiroshima is famous for Okonomiyaki(Checkout We went to the second floor of the station building to have the Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki at Reichan2 where local Hiroshima residents’ favorite Okonomiyaki restaurant.
We were full and happy spending nice time together. We departed to catch our train home at 6:00pm. My friend called me and told that it was one of her best days in her life.