In Search of Light Houses in Door County
28.07.2015 § Leave a comment
Allen came home to visit so we drove to Wisconsin again. Going on a road trip is relaxing because there is no need to plan ahead. We drove to Algoma in search of the light house there. It turned out to be smaller than we had anticipated. Not a light house, but instead a light tower stood still on the shoreline. The color of the tower was beautiful against the blue water, especially the reflection in the waves. The air felt cool in the 90 degree temperature. The beach below was not crowded and the noise was muffled by the vast open water and sand. A very old church stood facing the lake. It reminded me of the old cathedrals I visited in France and Italy. It even smelt the same way.
11.02.2015 § Leave a comment
Day Trip to Matsumoto City
15.08.2014 § 1 Comment
My sister came to Japan to visit me, and we went on a one-day visit to Matsumoto city. It was a two and a half hour train ride from Tokyo to the foot of the Japanese Alps mountains.
The area is well known for its miso and buckwheat noodles. So, for lunch, I had wasabi leaf noodles with grated radishes. My sister had deep-fried burdock noodles with field greens. They were refreshing and delicious—and beautiful.
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 »
Garden of Fallen Camellia, Blooming Jade
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 »
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 »
02.05.2013 § Leave a comment
I don’t know when people stopped learning how to sew. I guess when ready-to-wear became a common thing, maybe after World War II? I wonder how many young people nowadays know how to do the simplest sewing?
During my childhood, when I visited my grandparents with my siblings and cousins, we would run around their house playing like wild kids. One time my grandmother held me down to show me how to sew up a split pair of pants. She showed me the step-back stitch, a stitch technique that would make a strong seam. I was fascinated and learned it with great interest. That was my only official sewing lesson, but I still use the technique whenever I need something firmly sewn.
The other day I was mumbling that I needed to buy another pair of winter trousers, the kind made of wool with a lining to keep me warm in the coldest winter. My husband went to my other closet and pulled out a whole bunch of trousers and asked me what I was planning to do with those. « Read the rest of this entry »
Isamu Noguchi and Yoshiko Yamaguchi
09.04.2013 § 3 Comments
Only recently did I learn that at one time Isamu Noguchi was married to Li Xianglan, a woman with a fascinating life. This knowledge came as a shock to me, or almost like regret, because Li Xianglan was such a legend and such a prominent figure during my childhood. She was a very famous singer and movie star during my mother’s youth. My mother was her diehard fan and would sing her songs and talk about her all the time. There were no pictures of her in those years because of her mysterious status and I always wondered, how beautiful could she be? What happened to her after she left China? I did not know that she had a long career after she left China using two different names, Yoshiko Yamaguchi and Yoshiko Ōtaka.
Affinity with Music
01.02.2013 § Leave a comment
Symphonic Collection Inspiration
I volunteered to be an art teacher at day camps quite a few times through my youth and during my children’s adolescent years. Besides typical art projects such as still-life painting or going outside to paint landscapes, I later decided to inspire the children to experience the artistic elements. One time I had them draw the feelings aroused by touching contrasting materials, such as hard angular rocks compared to soft cotton or fur. « Read the rest of this entry »
Contemplation on Compassion
11.01.2013 § Leave a comment
I drove by an animal lying in the middle of the road yesterday morning. By the time I had passed by I recognized it as a cat instead of a raccoon or a skunk. The worst part was that it was still struggling, not dead. My mind hurt to see her body twisting over and over again and all the cars just speeding by, mine included. The scene remained in my mind for a long time, still visible today when reminded.
I was wondering why I felt sadder after I discovered it was a cat. Is it normal that we respond more to beings that are closer to humans? Or how our minds think of a raccoon or a skunk differently than a cat? « Read the rest of this entry »