Friday, September 05, 2014


Today’s coffee: Dominican Republic

Here are a few stories from this week.

Our farm continues to provide us with more food than we can eat. We’ve more or less decided not to eat out until things slow down a bit. Since tomatoes are quite expensive in Japan, Keith, who loves tomatoes, planted 24 tomato plants, each of which produced 15+ large tomatoes. Keith also likes to eat pasta with tomato sauce. Last Saturday was a movie night for the youth group; we made a big pot of spaghetti sauce with sausage and eggplant. (I continue to be amazed at how much these skinny middle-school kids can eat.) Sunday night, we had leftover spaghetti. On Monday, we realized some of the tomatoes were starting to go bad (and we have no freezer space), so guess what? More spaghetti. Tuesday we had no time to cook… so, spaghetti. Wednesday and Thursday? You guessed it; spaghetti. Tonight I’m making soup.

Soup made from my mom's Italian tortellini soup recipe! Except you can't get tortellini here, so I stuffed wonton wrappers with ground chicken, basil, cheese and garlic. I made too many, so we deep fried the leftovers.
For our day off on Monday, we went hiking. Since we were pretty tired, we chose a hike close to home—手稲山 (Teine-yama), which we can see from in front of our house. We’ve not had a single day off with good weather since July; although we were both tired, we knew that we would regret it if we didn’t take advantage of the perfect hiking weather. The hike followed a stream with waterfalls for a lot of the way; then the final climb had us scrambling over boulders. From the top, we could see all of Ishikari and Sapporo… although it was a little weird to walk through a forest of TV and radio towers as we neared the peak.

This part of the hike went on for a bit longer than I would have liked... but it looks cool, anyway.
This is Ishikari, our city. We live on the far right side, in the center, just above a patch of trees. As you can see, we're close to the beach.

Tuesday was our first tea ceremony lesson after our teacher’s summer break in August. Over the past couple of weeks lots of stuff happened and we suddenly got very busy; thinking about the lovely two hours of peaceful tea ceremony class gave me motivation to keep plowing through task after task. By Tuesday afternoon, I was so tired that I was slurring my speech and making all kinds of stupid mistakes during rehearsal with Shino. Still, after taking a break of over a month, I managed surprisingly well at the tea ceremony lesson. Sitting in front of the pot of gently simmering water, I had a space to rest, even as I played the part of the host and prepared tea for Keith and Noriko.

On Wednesday, we had our muffler fixed. My friends here used to call our car ヤンキー車, literally “Yankee car,” since somehow “Yankee” came to mean gangster or delinquent in Japanese. (Take that, New York.) But no more. Our car no longer rumbles; we don’t have to be embarrassed coming home late at night. While driving home from rehearsal today, I kept trying to clear my ears, only to be surprised that they weren’t plugged.

It’s a concert weekend! We’re off to Nayoro, about 3 hours north of here, tomorrow morning. This time I’m going to try to take seriously what my teacher always told me: short practice session the day before (everything should already be perfect, right?) and only warm-up the day of the concert. I think I might have convinced Shino to do the same. After all, playing cello and speaking Japanese seem to require the same sort of brain-power, so I often find that while I had plenty of energy to get through an entire concert in the US, I tend to lose focus toward the end of concerts I play here. Tomorrow’s final piece is probably the most difficult piece I’ve ever played. So, I’ll try to go to bed early.

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