Saturday, August 31, 2013

After the Yasumi

My Japanese class had a three week summer break and we came back this week.  The first thing our teacher had us do was “read” a couple of passages out loud in hiragana and katakana that were written top to bottom, right to left. It was very difficult! Up until now, we have had left to right, top to bottom. I use the word read rather loosely. Even though I recognize the hiragana and katakana symbols, I don’t feel like I’m really reading yet.  Katakana is the set of symbols used for foreign borrowed words.  When I see katakana, I sound out the syllables, then roll them around in my head until I figure out the English words they sound like.  (If I can’t figure it out, I say it must be a French word). There are no spaces between words, like in English. With hiragana, I sound out the syllables, then try to figure out where the words start and end. Some common words jump out.  If that doesn’t happen, I look for particle words (wa, ga, no, ni, o, e, mo, etc.) that indicate a word separation.  Verb endings (masu, mashita, etc.) are somewhat helpful, except that they usually come at the end of the sentence. English sentences are subject-verb-object, while Japanese sentences are subject-object-verb and the subject is often omitted because it is understood.

On top of that, you won’t usually see hiragana and katakana, without kanji, except in children’s books and our textbook. Sometimes I try to guess at things.  There is a sign at the front of the bus that says

Shi i to be ru to (katakana)
Some unknown to me kanji symbols
Kudasai (hiragana)

I’m guessing this says Please wear your seat belt (shi i to be ru to).

I really need to study more!

One of the Japanese teachers finished her bead on perforated paper necklace and was wearing it.  Very nice!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Brown and White Giant Panda

You may already know that the Giant Panda is my favorite animal. The large black and white bears are rare with only about 1600 left in the world. I just learned that one in China is the rarest of the rare because he is brown and white! His name is QiZai and he lives in the Shaanxi Research Center in Northwest China.  At the end of this short article are a couple of YouTube links where you can see this cute and unusual panda in action.

Another Sampler Pear
Here is another one day stitching project from Samplers and Santas – Sampler Pear VI. They only take a small bit of linen and a little thread.  Don’t be surprised if I stitch up another before finishing them into some type of ornament.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

TAST 79 Crossed Chain and the Birdmen of Sapporo

This week’s stitch at Sharon B’s Pintangle Blog is the Crossed Chain Stitch.  I tried it out with #12 perle (ecru) and #8 perle (pink).  I also did a line alternating the crossed chain with the woven cross, then some individual crossed chain stitches with #8 perle (green).

Birdmen of Sapporo
I like seeing most live animals. City Birds (I think they are pigeons) are the exceptions.  I think these things are really creepy. When I saw these men in Odori Park with birds on them I was both horrified and fascinated. I had to take the pictures, but I didn’t want to get too close.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Morning Star Count - Just Like Snowflakes

No two flowers will be alike.  I’ve started making piles of flowers with the same petal fabrics, so that I'm sure to make the inside fabrics of those flowers different.  So far I have 18 different petal fabrics and a few more than that on the insides of the flowers because I had some small scraps of fabric that weren't big enough to get six hexagons out of them.  I have 52 flowers made and I still don’t know how many more flowers I need to make a quilt. Check out everyone else's epp projects and learn how you can join in at Life Under Quilts.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Berry Wreath Block

I haven’t completed much on this silk ribbon miniature quilt project and I know why – I haven’t worked on it much. As pretty as the silk threads and ribbons are, I don’t just love working on this piece.  Not yet, anyway.

I replaced the red basting stitches with cable stitches done in white silk thread then I stitched one area – the Berry Wreath.

The hoop is another issue I have with working on it.  The largest hoop I have is 13 inches.  This is not big enough for the entire project and I won’t be able to move the hoop around because it will smash the silk ribbons.  I looked for a larger one at a couple of shops in Sapporo but the largest one I saw was only 24 cm. Another option will be to see if I have stretcher bars that are big enough to accommodate this piece. We’ll see how much I get done on it this week.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mei Xiang Gives Birth!

Giant Panda Mei Xiang gives birth to cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC at 5:32 pm on 23 August! This is very exciting news!  You can learn more at the Zoo’s website here.

I Am Not Eating Natto

Before coming to Hokkaido I had never heard of natto. After being here a year and a half, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I have tried it.  I haven’t tried it and I’m pretty sure I won’t.

If you don’t know what this is, I’ll try to describe it the best I can – smelly, slimy soy beans. It has a smell worse than blue cheese and a slime worse than the insides of okra, two other things I don’t eat. People who eat natto act like it’s the tastiest food ever.  They eat it on top of rice, and they even eat it for breakfast. I think you probably have to start eating natto when you are young; you can’t just start eating it and liking it at my age.

Wikipedia says this about natto – It’s made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtillis (whatever that is) and is a rich source of protein. It is most popular in Kanto, Tohoku, and Hokkaido and 236,000 tons of natto are eaten in Japan each year!

Maybe people eat it for the perceived health benefits, surely they can’t really like it. I’ve read that natto reduces the likelihood of blood clots, prevents osteoporosis, prevents cancer, lowers cholesterol, prevents obesity, improves digestion, and reverses the aging process.  Even if all that were true (and it may be), I just can’t bring myself to put natto in my mouth.
I’ve tried many new foods since moving here, but I will continue to just say no to natto!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wrist Pin Cushions

The “University Wives Stitch Group” gets together once a week.  First, we have coffee and a treat, then we stitch for a couple of hours. 

A few years ago, I made a felt wrist pin cushion on a retreat with Susan Greening Davis. This turned out to be a good project with this group.

Next week, we will return to our bead-on-perforated-paper necklaces.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mark Twain Quote and Lunch Setto at Corona

I have been substitute teaching a number of English classes for four weeks this summer. One of the classes was a group of three year olds.  This Mark Twain quote comes to mind: "I'm glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again." 
'Nuff said.

Ted and I went out to lunch at Corona Restaurant and we each ordered the pizza setto, which consisted of the pizza, the drink, and the side dish (of the restaurant's choosing). Ted had the mixed pizza with cola and I had the seafood pizza with iced tea.  It came with a fruit salad in yogurt.  Ooshii kata.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

TAST 78 - Cloud Filling Stitch

This week’s featured stitch on Sharon B’s Pintangle blog is the Cloud Filling Stitch.  I tried it out using two colors of blue perle #8.

I added another row, using three stitches as the holding stitch, all in the same blue thread.

Finally, I put a few stitches inside the clouds – 2x2 woven cross stitch, 4x4 woven cross stitch, colonial knot, eyelet, and rice stitch.

I like this one! I can see there are a lot of possibilities with variations.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Adventure

We never really know what is going on until it’s over, and then sometimes, we still don’t know.  Ted saw an item on Facebook about a matsuri (festival) over the weekend that was somewhere close to where we live.  We don’t know what kind of festival, maybe just a summer festival.  We printed the kanji name of where the festival was held and took it to the bus station. In the cities, like Sapporo or Tokyo or Kyoto, things are written in romaji as well as kanji, but in our town, they’re only written in kanji and we’re illiterate. Ted found out from the woman at the information desk that to go to the matsuri location is 420yen each way and the bus leaves from slot 6 in about ½ an hour.  He also found out that there are only two remaining buses returning and he found out the times.  The return buses would say (in katakana) ta mi na ru (terminal) on the front. We were excited to be on our way! The sun was shining when we got on the bus but it was raining by the time we got to the festival. 


It was held in a big parking lot of a community center and reminded me of the summer carnivals in the small town where I grew up, except there were no carnival rides.

Our favorite restaurant, Bombay Blue, was there so we bought food to eat from there.

We watched some kind of children’s competition, where children ran to one of three animals – buta (pig), panda (panda), tora (tiger), then one animal was announced.  The children at that animal got to keep going, but the children at the other animals had to first go to the announced animal, then go on.  I don’t really know what that was all about.

The musical entertainment was a JPOP group called Fruity, made up of seven young women with fruit names. They were very cute and animated and at one point, they came out into the audience.

Their fan club, the Fruity Army were as entertaining as the singers.  They danced and sang and did all the arm movements that the singers did.

When it got close to the time of the last bus, we started asking about the location of the bus stop and no one seemed to know.  We knew it was probably on the other side of the street and we did eventually find it and make our way back home. We were very pleased with ourselves for having navigated our illiterate selves to another adventure.