Thursday, 29 April 2010

Things I love Thursday

A rather random list this week, but here goes...

- seeing people take the time and effort to do something for strangers, like the freight train driver who rang the train bell for the little boy waving from the overpass. It was a small thing, didn't take much effort by the driver but it thrilled the little boy to no end!

- my new hair cut - I decided last summer not to cut it and instead to keep growing it out so I could do a do for grad and my hakama wearing. That now behind me I went to my hairdresser on Monday. He's known for months that this day would be coming and was almost excited as I was to chop! I ended up getting new bangs too. I'm really happy with the result. Ask me again in a few weeks when the novelty of having to blow-dry a "style" and not wimp out with a pony-tail has worn off, I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune but for now I love feeling light and bouncy.

- classes - I'm sitting in on the grad class my prof is teaching this term as there is only one actual student. I love taking classes - learning and discussing - and not having any grades to worry about means its fun!

- ice hockey - Not that this is a new thing, I've loved hockey (or rather one particular player) since elementary school. But I've been getting a lot of hockey recently. Its playoff time in the NHL, and my Vancouver Canucks just made it into the second round. I've also gone to a couple of my university's games. They are one of the better teams in the top Tokyo league, but after a few disappointing years of third place finishes, have made it into the finals (TONIGHT!!) for the spring tournament. I'm doing my best to turn U into a hockey fan too, and he's been a good sport about heading out to the arena to watch games and shiver. I think his favourite part is still watching the Zamboni, but he's figuring out the game bit by bit.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Happy Birthday

How I spent my Sunday - with 4500 other Tokyo Girl Scouts of all ages - celebrating the 60th anniversary of Girl Scouts in Tokyo.

(ps - Achan and anybody else who is interested, I snagged a bunch of Tokyo area badges as well as a few 60th anniversary badges. So, let me know if you're interested in a badge swap!)

Monday, 26 April 2010

Christmas pudding

The only problem with grandma' Christmas pudding,my dad used to say, was the rum hard sauce. Not that it wasn't any good, quite the opposite actually - it was TOO good. Prompting dad to take too much. He'd eat his pudding and be left with a dollop of hard sauce. Naturally he'd have to have just a little bit more pudding to finish up the hard sauce. But somehow he'd always take just a liiiiitle bit too much pudding, and would need a little more hard sauce to finish up his pudding... and on and on.

I seem to have the same problem with knitting. One ball of yarn I was given for my birthday last year was turned into the soft green lacy scarf I already wrote about. Since I had thought that scarf needed expanding I went searching to find more of the same super gorgeously soft yarn. None at my regular yarn shop, none at the store where my friend had bought it, none left in any of the online shops I googled. I did, however, find some gorgeous variegated yarn and ordered 17 balls in two different colours.

one ball of yarn turns into 18 balls

Six of the online purchased yarn turned into my Olympic project shawl (one ball left over).

one ball turns into 12 balls and one slightly too small shawl

I gave up on finding the same type of soft yarn, and bought a single ball of soft bobbly beige-flecked yarn.

one ball turns into 13 balls and one slightly too small shawl

I then didn't use the beige yarn, making a small-ish green lacy scarf.

one ball turns into 11 balls, one slightly too small shawl, and one small lace scarf

I decided to try and actually use up yarn, casting on for a neckwarmer with the beige bobbly yarn. I used most of the ball on the neckwarmer, but it seemed a little bland in the beige so I bought a gorgeous ball of brown mohair to edge - doing blanket along all the edges.

one ball turns into 12 balls, one slightly too small shawl, one small lace scarf, and a neckwarmer

The last little bit of the beige bobbly yarn and the soft brown mohair have already been cast on as a lacy scarf for another retired Brownie leader. And once I finish the lace shawl I'm working on for a friend is done I'm looking forward to some straightforward stockinette again and turning one large chunk of my stash into a shawl.

one ball turns into 1 ball, one slightly too small shawl, two lace scarves, one neckwarmer, and one ruffled shawl

Oh, and the neckwarmer? It is going to my landlord's wife. A month or so ago she gave me a pair of Girl's Day doll, made by her grandmother after the family's set had been destroyed in the war. The landlord and his wife are preparing to move from one apartment to another, and this was part of their de-junking process (I've been warned that the kimono closet is getting cleaned out in May and the landlord's wife has her eye on a few for me... I don't know if I'm excited or scared). More so, however, the landlord's wife is giving away many of her possessions as she was diagnosed with cancer in the fall (something in the mid-section, she was vague about exactly where) and has been undergoing chemo treatments since then. I've seen her puttering about in the flower boxes wearing a soft knitted cap and fluffy scarf but thought that, especially with the lingering cold weather, a neckwarmer might be more convenient and get in the way less. Hopefully it will keep her warm and be soft against her skin. Just a little something, but hopefully it can help her in her battle.

Friday, 23 April 2010

A scarf for a scarf

Last year for my birthday I got a whole bunch of yarn from one friend. There were five balls of beige-y grey-y linen/cotton/hemp that I turned into the checkerboard scarf I already wrote about, for the friend in question, but there were a few single balls, including one of a gorgeously soft pale green yarn. It was a pleasure to knit, and I turned it into a small lacy scarf, with the idea in mind of giving it to T-leader, one of the older women who had long been in charge of the Brownie troop I'm with, but who had retired last year. Having finished the scarf, however, I convinced myself it wasn't big enough, and so I shoved it into the back of my knitting shelf because I couldn't track down any of the same yarn (but I did stumble upon some other gorgeous yarn by the same company and somehow ended up ordering it in two different colours, in rather big batches for larger projects... hmmm, wonder how that happened!).

I eventually found a similar-ish soft yarn in a beige/brown colour that I thought would be complementary, and dragged out the lacy green scarf to steel myself for the mamoth job of picking up all the stitches. But before I did I decided I should try to block it... rather aggressively... and so I wet it thoroughly and stretched it rather vigorously before pinning it out on an extra futon. The next day I un-pinned it and after trying it on decided that it was perfectly acceptable as a small scarf (of course this had nothing to do with my avid dislike of picking up stitches... nothing at all!)

And, to make a short story long, as my father often teases me, on to the title of the post...

I took the green scarf to Brownies last week, in the hopes of giving it to T-leader's daughter, who is a leader in the troop as well, working with the junior and senior high school-age girls. I was somewhat disappointed to find out she wasn't feeling well and so wouldn't be there, and figured I'd have to take the scarf home and wait for our next meeting. Fate decided to help me out, however, as T-leader herself showed up suddenly about a half an hour after we started practicing for our fly-up and investiture ceremony. I grabbed the wrapped scarf, angling in to try and talk to her, but she had been immediately surrounded by other leaders happy to see her.

I started to hand her the scarf, just as she handed me a parcel about the same size... a hand-made scarf! We both started laughing when we realized what was happening.

She's a weaver, and had long been promising to make all the Brownie leaders cashmere scarves when she bought a huge batch of un-dyed cashmere a few years ago. She had bought a few huge cones of plain cashmere yarn for weaving and then dyed it herself in small batches. The first scarf she made was a deep pink with squares of magenta, for herself, then a brown scarf with herringbone ribs for one of the other leaders, but two of us were still scarf-less. Until last weekend when I was presented with this gorgeous scarf in shades of blue (some that match my Girl Scout uniform perfectly). It is soft and warm and absolutely lovely.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Things I love Thursday

This week is going to be a short list, not because there aren't other things I love this week, but... well, maybe you'll be able to figure it out...

- work "hanami" - despite the rain keeping us from being outside enjoying the beautiful late-blooming sakura at its peak, a small group did show up for the museum hanami party this evening. Despite planning to leave early after having a quick bite to eat I ended up finding myself helping up with the clean-up...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Bookcase Tour Tuesday - East & West

I finally got back onto Kimono Reincarnate's Bookcase Tour Tuesday bandwagon.

This week's book is a catalogue from a fascinating exhibit that I was somewhat disappointed by. The catalogue, however, is gorgeous! (I apologize for the quality of the photos, I'm playing around with my brand-new baby, and with the low light the close-ups didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped)

The exhibit - Self and Other: Portraits from Asia and Europe, had a fascinating idea, contrasting portraits from Asia and Europe:
(Asia doesn't just mean Japan, there was artwork from China, Korea, Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka...)

their leaders

of self

of the other (before contact)

of other at start of contact

of changing self as a result of contact

and of other again

The exhibit was disappointing in that it didn't go far enough for my liking - it didn't begin to raise all the questions I was hoping it would raise. The catalogue, however, in addition to all the images, and unlike many Japanese museum catalogues, has a large number of academic articles (that I have yet to read fully, I admit) that look interesting and intriging.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Fruity Warriors

As happens regularly when I bring up an idea, U wasn't too keen when I reminded him that this weekend was Washoku Warriors weekend and we had a meal to cook and photograph so I could get my blurb in to La Fuji Mama by this week.

And, as happens 99 times out of a hundred, despite his initial uncertainty, U ended up a very happy camper - he enjoyed cooking (and this time remembered the difference between a TEAspoon and a TABLEspoon) and LOVED the end result.

We cooked all three of the suggested dishes, unpen-jiru (Temple Garden Chowder), horenso no ohitashi (Spinach Steeped in Broth), and kajiki maguro no yuan yaki (Citrus-and-Soy-Glazed Swordfish).

I hadn't ready the directions fully so we ended up without daikon or carrot for our chowder, but added some spinach to the leek and shitake mushrooms we had bought and were surprised with how well it turned out.

(The most fun part of the cooking process was definitely the chowder, as U had never seen the oddness that is cornstarch and a small amount of water - is it a solid? a gloopy liquid? Good fun)

The spinach didn't end up getting finished quite soon enough to be included in the meal, but I love spinach so I am very excited to have it for my bento at work! I love the smoky flavour and simplicity of this dish.

By far and away the highlight of the meal, however, was the fish. U took one bite and then just about inhaled the rest of the fish right away (later complaining that he wished he had savored it more slowly!) It was delicious. The combination of citrus flavours (I used freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for the marinade and glaze, then yuzu peel for the garnish) with the sweet saltiness and then the meatiness of the swordfish... wow.

We both agreed we'd be making this recipe again - soon! And were thinking about perhaps trying it as a sauce for a stirfry - perhaps combining the swordfish with veggies like broccoli and snowpeas...

No gold for me

Going through my photographs the other day I realized I hadn't yet posted the finishing of my olympic shawl. I finished it a few hours after the closing ceremony, so I didn't quite get it done in time to qualify for a medal, but I did much better than I had expected. The only trouble is the reason I finished so much sooner than I had expected to is that the shawl is MUCH shorter than I would have hoped. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, as I'd just keep knitting it to make it longer. This one, however, is knit lengthwise, with the fringer worked into it as you go along (by the way, the BEST and ABSOLUTELY EASIEST way of making a GREAT LOOKING fringe!). So that makes it impossible to keep knitting to make it longer.

I LOVE the yarn - it is a gorgeous mix of colours, mostly browns with green/blue/oranges as well. I figured it look great with just about anything - it goes great with jeans. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with it (it really is too short) but it sure does look purty!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Cozy cozy not so little star

On an impulse last year I bought a large amount of variegated green wool on the internet. It was originally delivered to some other building in my block (this happens regularly, mail is a hit-or-miss thing in my neighbourhood, for a week I had mail for some other foreigner who lives nowhere near me sitting in my box before it magically disappeared, another time I waited in vain multiple times over a week for a parcel that was delivered to just about every other building, according to the impressive collection of "we tried to deliver but..." forms pasted onto it... )


anyways... right, so mail somewhat iffy...

The yarn finally arrived on my doorstop via a rather confused construction worker from the office nextdoor. He apologized for opening the parcel and admitted to being confused why they were being sent yarn! I wasn't so sure when I first got it all myself either, and kicking myself for impulse purchases shoved it to the back of a cupboard and forgot about it. As I realized just how much of my very limited cupboard space it was taking up I pulled the yarn out and got started on a lap blanket for myself. I didn't like the first pattern I tried, but fell in love with a quirky star-shaped blanket pattern I found on Ravelry. I worked on the pattern on and off throughout the summer and early fall, ending up continuing long after the pattern instructed me to bind off. I finished knitting in November and it kept my toes somewhat warm as I finished off my thesis. It just wasn't as warm as I had hoped, however, so I bought a large piece of green fleece and lined my blanket with a double layer of fleece - suffice to say it is VERY warm and cozy now, and I'm still using it in the evening when I sit at the computer.

(sorry for the poor quality of pictures this time around!)

Friday, 16 April 2010


I've got a whole bunch more knitting that has been waiting around for sunny weather to be photographed, and then to be given to the recipient, but mostly to be written up and posted...

Two years ago I made a shawl for a friend from school, giving it to her after the entrance ceremony as she started her phD and I my MA. I wasn't sure she liked it much when I gave it to her, but this past winter I did see her wearing it quite a bit, so maybe I was wrong. Either way, she had made it clear she wanted another knitted item from me - a lacy scarf. Last year for my birthday she gave me quite a bit of yarn - including 5 small balls of a hemp/cotton mix that immediately struck me as "her" colour. I dutifully took the hint but it took me forever to get the scarf done as I discovered soon after I started that I like hemp/cotton mixtures even less than I do regular cotton (ugh!) and that I MUCH prefer knitting with colour - beige-y grey-y blah does not a happy knitter make. Sigh. But I powered through and my friend, at least, was very happy with the result...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Grrrr... - or trying to feel the love on a Thursday

Today was not a day full of things I love, but I suppose writing a list is even more important on days like today - a day that started late when I slept through my alarm and then took a dive when I discovered sauce as I bit into the "meat and mayo" sandwich I had bought in a dash through the station conbini. Sauce... with tomatoes in it... which is not good seeing as I'm allergic to tomatoes. But I knew I wouldn't have enough time to buy anything else to eat and still get to work on time, and trying to do a morning of work (not to mention my morning commute along one of the most crowded train lines in Tokyo) on an empty stomach was not an option. So I ate the sandwich. By lunchtime my stomach was very very unhappy. Ugh. Oooooh, and then there was the old lady taking up the entire bagging counter of the grocery store as she not only bagged her groceries but also simultaneously removed all extraneous packaging (this is Japan, there is always LOTS of extraneous packaging) - As I waited for a clear spot of counter to put my groceries in my fabric eco-bag I watched in disgusted awe as she removed raw chicken chunks from their styrofoam tray and used the plastic wrap cover to wrap it all up (all this using her bare hands, though she did wipe them on the wet cloth set out - note to self never use the wet cloth to wet my fingers when I try to open a plastic bag... ugh, shudder!)

Ummm... right... so... things I love this Thursday...

- working full time - I LOVE being at the museum on a regular basis. Once a week just wasn't enough, I never felt like I knew what was going on. I also felt like it took forever to get any one project done. I currently have five projects on my hands (two different translations, one mindless, one artistic-ish, and one organizational) and three of them are almost finished. There is another project I will be starting with one of the curators on Saturday, a chance to try and put some of what I wrote about in my thesis into practice by revamping the English-language pamphlets (ie create a couple of brand new ones). I'm REALLY excited about this project as the curator I'll be collaborating with has made it clear that I will not just be translating, that we will be working TOGETHER to create the pamphlets, and that she wants my help on redesigning the Japanese ones too, as well as creating a bunch for kids (in Japanese). Very very exciting.

- bento-making - since I'm at the museum 5 days a week and not just one I decided I needed to start taking my lunch at least 3 days a week. I pulled out my bento box from the back of the cupboard and have been enjoying picking up little extras - like pickled plums and tsukemono, as well as re-usable plastic mini-cups for separating various types of lunch goodies. I'm nowhere near to making animals or cutesy anything out of my food, but I love having healthy and mostly home-made lunches!

- travel planning - U and I have decided to take a short trip over Golden Week. Museums don't close for holidays, so I had to be a bit imaginative when scheduling (yay lets work Tues-Sun, then have Monday off and do it all over again!) we do have 4 days to adventure off. After Umebossy posted about her "number" I got to thinking about mine, and realized there are only 9 prefectures I HAVEN'T been to: Akita, Yamagata, Niigata, Toyama, Fukui, Mie, Tottori, Oita, and Okinawa. With GW looming soon and only 4 days to travel we can't go very far but we've decided to head up to Niigata and maybe even check out Sado Island!

There, that wasn't so bad... and now I'm actually in a good mood!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Petal snow

There's more petals on the ground than on the trees - another sakura season comes to an end.

Friday, 9 April 2010


April in Japan is the start of the new fiscal year and the start of the new school year, or since I'm no longer a student I should say the start of the work year! I've been thinking about this for a while, and decided that with all these new things starting, my blog needed to get in on the action - particularly a name change since I'm not a Meiji girl anymore - now I'm a Meiji OG ("old girl" or alumni - or alumnae, or whatever...)

Anyways. So here goes. I picked a new name from the lyrics to a song by my favourite Canadian group - Great Big Sea.

And with a little imaginative spelling, I introduce you to "Somedays - U and Me!"


Things to love on a Friday

Where did March go? Here I was thinking that I'd have lots of free time to do all sorts of things before April hit and I'd be working 5 days a week... and then the reality of March happened - with a class trip, frantic extra work at the museum getting a special exhibit ready, and before I knew it my dad was arriving and grad was happening and now it is April... eek. So, here goes a long-last Things I love Thursday - a day late.

- graduation (wearing a hakama wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected it was actually great fun! the worst part was wearing heeled boots - I don't do heels!!)
- discovering that my actual diploma has two parts - one in Japanese and one in English
- having my advisor tell me that just because I was graduating didn't mean I was no longer his student and DEFINITELY didn't mean I was going to stop learning (or attending his study groups!)
- coffee dates with my dad (proving I can blame my coffee addiction on genetics)
- making the same puns as my dad (at the same time too!) and then being able to make similar puns in Japanese too!
- cooking for my dad (he LOVED the crab and green onion miso soup I threw together in a few minutes)
- sharing graduation with my dad (and having him take TONS of pictures - including a priceless one of me and a friend in our hakama with the university's football team!)
- chatting with my dad (umm, do you see a trend here?!)
- good meals with plenty of drinks shared with my father and my friends (we went out for dinner/drinks with my advisor, my sempai, a family friend, and...)
- three days in Shizuoka with my men - we ate amazing seafood, the boys drank sake and bonded... it was an amazing trip and a great way to break the ice. They both really like each other, and both are excited about a trip to Canada for Christmas!

My dad left yesterday and I miss him a lot - although I must admit it is nice having my itty-bitty little apartment back, it really is too small to share comfortably for any length of time when lare suitcases are thrown into the mix!