09.09.2014 § Leave a comment
On the day we visited Kiyomize temple, the temperature was sizzling. At the entrance of the temple, there was a man, a one-man theater, passionately acting out his play. I was very touched by his passion for theater and stood there watching him for a long time. « Read the rest of this entry »
03.09.2014 § Leave a comment
Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The characters literally mean “stone in the bosom”. The idea came from the practice where Zen monks would ward off hunger by putting warm stones into the front folds of their robes, near their bellies. Kaiseki has since evolved into a sumptuous feast of 14 items including an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, and a steamed course in addition to other dishes at the discretion of the chef. We had a full-fledged Kaiseki dinner at Rangetsu Ryokan in Kyoto.
The nine Japanese-style servings took two hours. Here are the pictures. « Read the rest of this entry »
31.07.2014 § Leave a comment
There was a typhoon going on during my flight to Tokyo. My brother was very nervous about me going and called to ask me to reconsider. I came anyway.
During the class orientation in Tokyo, we were advised to check the school’s homepage for class cancellation information. They held class on Friday, but I experienced very strong winds commuting between school and home.
This morning I was awakened by a small alarm sound. I did not know where it came from, but there was a voice announcing, “You’re experiencing an earthquake.” I looked at the time; it was around four something. The floor was moving back and forth; it felt a little bit like a massage, only it was not for comfort or for fun. A scary thought came into my mind for a split second, and then quickly it went away. The shaking went on for, I’d say at least three to five minutes while I contemplated how fragile a life can be.
I think it is a healthy thing to be reminded once in a while of this very fact. A person can take this either way, positively making life more meaningful or nihilistically stop trying.
17.06.2014 § Leave a comment
One day I received an email forwarded from my meditation center. A catholic father who taught a world religion class was looking for someone to come to his junior/senior class for a Q&A on Buddhism. St. Viator High School is about a 15 minutes drive from Brentano, so I answered his call and have been going to his class every year for five years. « Read the rest of this entry »
06.05.2014 § 3 Comments
My Chinese name includes a word that means the color of jade. The same word also means the color of the kingfisher, so I have always been curious about the color of the kingfisher’s feathers. I have seen them on ponds in action, where they suddenly touch down on the water and fly directly upwards with fish in her beaks. It usually happens in a split second, so I hardly ever get a good, close look at the color of their feathers.
In the old days in China, the feathers of the kingfisher were used as inlays for women’s hair accessories. For those intricate hairpins with dangling beads that were pinned onto highly raised, decorative buns, the main component was often kingfisher feathers inlaid among gem stones and precious metals. It makes the birds romantic and mysterious to me. « Read the rest of this entry »
21.03.2014 § 2 Comments
My sister-in-law has a ranch house in Sunnyvale, California, that’s a five minute drive from the Apple computer headquarters. I have gone to her house during Christmas for over 15 years. Recently our stays have gotten shorter, so we get together, eat, chat and leave. And since it’s been cold outside I have not bothered to walk the small backyard for years.
This year, the days were warm and we had time to stroll in the garden. It is an insignificant backyard, but my eyes were fresh and I looked at everything curiously and saw beauty in everything. « Read the rest of this entry »
06.03.2014 § Leave a comment
As I look at this cartoon, the alarms in my head grow louder, telling me that I should not be sitting still. The message is very clear and true, especially considering what children do nowadays compared with how I grew up. I never owned a doll. My family did not own a television until I was in junior high school; we had a record player and a piano. I was always outside with neighboring kids playing and fighting for stones. Yes, stones. I loved stones. I still have a scar on my face from one of those fights. My mom told me I would hold onto the stones even when I fell asleep, and she could not unwrap my figures from them, I held them so tightly. « Read the rest of this entry »
14.02.2014 § Leave a comment
These colorful birds caught my attention.
24.01.2014 § Leave a comment
A few years ago, I was surprise to hear my gastroenterologist tell me that 100% of Asians are lactose intolerant. So I have been drinking soy milk all this time. Today Brentano’s intern introduced me to Lactaid, a milk that is lactose free. She said she has been drinking it for two years. Really? I got curious and immediately started reading the carton.
I don’t know when I started this habit of reading labels. I grew up in an era when we bought food by weight or by pieces from local markets. If you bought pork, the butcher would weigh the meat and tie a string of raffia on it so you could carry the meat without touching it. The packaging material included large leaves, like lotus leaves. Old newspaper was a luxury since it cost money to buy newspaper—although come to think of it now, that would have been the most toxic packing material you could have in those days. We would go to the deli next door to buy our daily supplies with our own bowls, go to the produce market to buy vegetables and put them in our baskets without any packaging. No plastic bags, no labels, nor would we know where the food was produced. My mother told me about how she bought sesame oil in her youth: They would bring their own bottles to the oil shop with its big drums of oil, and the shopkeeper would weight the sesame oil and shoot the oil through a funnel into her narrow necked bottle. « Read the rest of this entry »