Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Neko-chan eats some hot dog

Stray animals are very rare here in Hokkaido. Probably because animals are so expensive.  Who would lose one after paying 198,000 yen for a kitten? Dogs wear cute costumes and are always on their leashes with their people.  Cats are usually in houses, although I have seen a cat or two walking on a leash.  Recently we’ve noticed a skinny, rough looking black and white neko prowling around the neighborhood. Ted was sitting out on the balcony reading this weekend when he called me to see the cat. It looked like it was eating a bug (maybe the one that flew in our apartment?) or chewing on some grass. We tried talking to it in English and Japanese and it looked up at us. It probably felt pretty safe since we were on the third floor. Ted threw it some chunks of hot dog. The hot dogs didn’t go right to the cat, since they were coming from the third floor on a windy day, but the cat finally found them and ate them.

It didn’t seem to be in any hurry, but continued on its way after eating its little treat.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Snowman Teacup

Here it is – tiny teacup #6 of 18, finished. 

I’ve decided to stitch this afghan for Ted’s mom.  I think she will put it to use (being cold all the time) and I think she will like to look at the stitched cups.  On the phone she always asks if I am stitching and says I do some pretty stitching. So, while I originally thought I would stitch on this project here and there, I’ve decided to continue working on it.

Friday when we were walking downtown, we came upon another men working scene. If you look at how they are dressed, you'll get an idea of the summer temperatures in Hokkaido. It's summertime, but nowhere near as hot as Raleigh, NC! 

While waiting for the traffic light to change, we met this charming lady who wanted to know where we were from. Ted is in shorts and a t-shirt, but she is is very proper, wearing her hat and gloves.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ted the Bug Boy

Bug collections are popular in Hokkaido.  We’ve seen big beetle type bugs in the mall selling for 2000 – 3000 yen.  We’ve seen bug boys out in front of our apartment building catching their own bugs.  We’ve heard of two brothers who have a live bug collection in their closet. At the university there is a lightning bug club.  The students grow their own lightning bugs in aquarium/terrariums. There is some kind of fascination with bugs here.

A big bug flew in our door and landed on the ceiling. Did I mention, it was big?

Luckily, we had finished a jar of jam and hadn’t yet taken the jar out to the recycling.  Ted stood on the step stool and caught the bug in the jar.

He poked holes in the lid and took it over to the university, where he found out the name of the bug is kami kiri. That translates to paper cutter. He brought it back to the “yard” behind our apartment and took some close up pictures of it, then let it go.  I wanted him to turn the bug around three times so it would be confused and not know how to get back to our apartment, but Ted thought it was confused enough and he left it on the bark of a tree.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ivy Teacup

I’ve finished tiny teacup #5 of 18. In case you are wondering about the names, I’m not making up them up.  These are the teacup names in the pattern book. 

We saw this rainbow looking out from our balcony. Even the sky is beautiful in Hokkaido.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Summer Olympic Games

I’m not really a fan of any sport and don’t care about watching sports on television.  All except for – the Olympics.  I love watching the Olympics.  I record the broadcasts and watch them for weeks.  I love hearing the stories of the athletes.  After being here for almost eight months without a television, this is the first time I’m missing not having one. And wouldn’t you know, this year the Olympics are in a city I love.  I’m sure there will be all kinds of interesting things about London on the Olympic coverage.  I’ll have to do the best I can to follow them on the internet.

The Summer English Olympic Games
The semester is coming to an end. Last week, as a semester review activity, my class participated in the English Olympics.  The class was divided into three teams weeks ago and each team made up a team cheer in English that they have been practicing. Each team signed up their team members as participants in the various events, such as vocabulary, simple present tense, simple past tense, ordering from the menu, comparisons, etc. The winner of each event was the one with the most correct answers, but in case of a tie, the fastest was the winner.  We had to cut out several of the events because we ran out of time, unfortunately. It was hard for me to know how long it would take, but I think it’s better to have too much planned than not enough. Here is one of the vocabulary events.

There were ten photos on the wall and the participants had to choose from two different adjectives (which were in their weekly vocabulary) to more appropriately describe each photo.

At the end, I totaled the points to find out which team would take the blue (1st), the red (2nd), and the white (3rd) medals.  I made the “medals” with the help of my scrapbooking tools. I used to volunteer with Special Olympics when I lived in Illinois and I remember every participant received a medal or ribbon, and so did every participant in the English Olympics.

First Place Fish

Second Place Bears

Third Place Dogs
This week is the final exam.  I’m sure they will all do well.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Men Working

I was out for a walk yesterday and came across two sites with Men Working.  Whenever there is any kind of work going on, from taking down a building to snow removal, there are always men with hard hats and reflective vests on duty to keep the public away. If there is any kind of visibility issue, they will also have big flashlights.
Winter Man Working

 I never see any women doing these jobs.  I’m not saying there are not women doing these jobs, I just haven’t seen any.

In the downtown area near the train station, it looked like men were taking down the roof over the sidewalk.  There were two men whose job was to keep people away and the others were taking down the roof. I’ll probably go back this way again soon to see what this will look like when they are done.

At busy intersections there are under the road walkways.  I usually take the underground walkway so I don’t have to wait for the light to change and also so I don’t get run over crossing the busy street.   Yesterday the steps down were blocked, but I couldn’t read why.  I also couldn’t ask anyone.

There were some big yellow trucks with big hoses going down. 

I wanted to know what was going on down there.  I dare not go down the steps and I couldn’t see anything from the top looking down on either side of the street.

If I were anywhere else I would think they were washing the urine out, but people don’t use the underground passageway as a toilet here.

I just had to cross the street above ground and keep going. The Men kept Working.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let Us Eat Lettuce

We’re eating salad from our garden. This is what we picked yesterday.  We planted seeds that were a "salad mix" and we're not entirely sure what is salad and what might be weeds.

Quilted Cat Update
Here’s what I’ve done on this project.  There is a mistake somewhere, but I can’t find it to fix it. I’m just going to try to work with it and see what happens. I was working on this for a long time before I figured out that the beads are represented on the pattern by different kinds of circle symbols.  It would have made the cross stitch so much easier if I had known that! I want to finish all of the cross stitch before I start the beads, but the beads are calling me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

YoYo Slippers

We have been working on our butterfly towels for a couple of weeks now.  This week we took a break from the butterflies to fancy up some hotel disposable slippers.  At first Okuda San was surprised that we would start a new project without finishing the last one, but I told her we would finish this new one in a day and we did. (She doesn’t know about all my unfinished projects yet).  After laying out the fabric pieces, the buttons, the trim and various doo dahs, I showed her how to make the little fabric circles known as yoyos. For the next two hours we cut and stitched and picked out buttons. Here are the finished products – hers on her feet and mine from all sides.

Next time it will be back to the butterflies. This is what mine look like so far.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Yesterday our neighbor gave us this ika – freshly caught that day.

We sliced the big white part into small pieces and ate it raw (sashimi) with some wasabi and soy sauce. It has a chewy texture and isn’t easy to bite off a piece, so it’s good to cut into smaller pieces.

Ted sautéed the tentacle part with some onion and green pepper and soy sauce.

Even though we were told that the squishy stuff in the little bag was oishii, we knew that it was squid guts and decided not to eat it.