Monday, March 31, 2014

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #2

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English.

The Second Poem:

春すぎて
夏来にけらし
白妙の
衣ほすてふ
天の香具山
--持統天皇

Spring is gone,
summer is already here;
white sleeves
whittle over
the evergreen Mt. Kaguyama.
--Emperor Jitou
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Emperor Jitou

The wind raises
your long black hair,
beads of sweat
roll down your white neck
with the sweet smell of summer break.


***
Back Issue:
#1) Emperor Tenchi

Friday, March 28, 2014

Forgotten Lost Underwear Shopping Spree at a Church

The Cathedral of Our Lady, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium

Inside of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (The Cathedral of Our Lady, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium), there are several small chapels. One of them is where people visit to pray for finding something they lost— glasses, wallets, maybe rings— then God will find their lost objects (the origin of the chapel is that Jesus’ foreskin was there and God forgot to take it back to heaven, but that’s not really advertised at the entrance).

My grandmother used to chant an incantation when she lost her cooking timer (my sister and I also hid it in a kitchen drawer and set it for 60 minutes). When she lost her things, she tied scissors to a long rope and dangled them from a tea kettle. Over her dining table, the scissors would hang from the kettle as she chanted, “Please lead me to my watch.” I just find it easier to blame my husband for losing whatever it is and make him find it—maybe it’s a generational thing.

In Antwerp, minus scissors and a kettle, there is a beautiful and well decorated alter for people who lost things. The walls are painted historical family crests, and candles light angels along the walls. I felt that I could definitely find my lost things when I tried to recall what I lost recently.

I did not lose any objects (that I remember); with the exception of my glasses, I am usually good at placing my things in the same place every time. Once I found my glasses in my hubby’s underwear drawer—perhaps that’s when I lost that “falling in love feeling” after five years. Could God help find a “feeling” like a lost object? I came here from far away so I must try to pray. I lit a small candle and closed my eyes saying, “Please let me fall in love again.”

Suddenly it occurred to me after this trip that I should clean up my closet. I really want to throw away old underwear and replace them with all spring colors with laceworks (or that’s the excuse I will use when shopping for them). I know someone will like the new collection. I hold my hubby’s hand to leave the church. 


De Kathedraal 
Address:
Groenplaats 21, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium

+32 3 213 99 51

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #1

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The first poem:

秋の田の 
かりほの庵の 
苫をあらみ 
わが衣手は 
露にぬれつつ
--天智天皇

After harvested fields 
in a borrowed shack, 
through the patched straw roof 
dewdrops creep down,   
soaking my sleeves over the long night. 
--Emperor Tenchi 
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto 

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Emperor Tenchi

My white sandals stain summer dirt  
under an empty blanket. 
I want a brush to paint 
what you see in the field,
though I only have brown in my pocket.


***

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #3
Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #4

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #9
Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #10




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tea Time with Mr. Tea

Mr. Tea 

I found my new companionship in a measuring cup in Amsterdam. Mr. Tea was designed by InvotisHis face seems accurate. Anyone would teabagged this much would be sleeping with a smile.

Daskas (toon op kaart) 
Address: 
Haarlemmerstraat 27
1013 EJ Amsterdam
t | f 020 625 9594


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Food – Bistro Maurice Walplein Brugge, Belgium


Bistro Maurice

“I would like to have a tiny chocolate desert” I said after fantastic dinner.
“Do you have fifteen minutes?” an owner at Bistro Maurice said. 

The restaurant was located in a corner of Walplein and Zonnekemeers streets in Brugge, Belgium. They served Belgium traditional meals (Flemish meal) and local beer along with French style dishes. The owner was very friendly and kind to translate all the menu items into English for us. Their beef stew (Stoofpot Kalfsvlee) was well seasoned (nutmeg?) and delicious— and I noticed that there are carrots in every meal in Belgium. I couldn’t help but wonder that people eat carrots to offset any chance of gout (with all the beer they drink). Maybe it’s just in the culture and they don’t even think about it.    

After fifteen minutes, with two cute hearts of syrup on the plate, I had moelleux chocolate cake (fondant chocolate cake) for the first time. When I cut the small muffin-like chocolate cake, chocolate was melting out from inside. Its outside was crunchy, but the inside was warm and semi-sweet. My hubby took the best shot of myself with the cake.

Like the restaurants, the chefs in Belgium take extreme care of their dishes, like preparing an art on a plate. In addition, good restaurants have clean tables and facilities and shiny silver ware. My hubby was surprised that their simple table cloths at Bistro Maurice were made in Belgium (not in China).

I will come back for the moelleux chocolate cake for sure. And I added to my to-do list to make one myself. I just bought a bag of flour— surprisingly I have never purchased flour before. I traditionally do not bake, especially not something as prominent as moelleux chocolate cake.

Bistro Maurice
Address: 
Walplein 13 
B-8000 Brugge, Belgium 
Phone: 050-611-811






Monday, March 24, 2014

Brilliant Beauty – Belgium Women

Saint Catherine

I am so curious why women in Belgium are so beautiful. I met several of them in Belgium at hotels, cafes, bakeries, and subway stations. They are extremely kind and charming. They have very healthy skin— their cheeks are soft and smoother than American girls— and very fashionable. Most of them have very thick black glasses— I assume that it is trend for them— and wear black leather jackets with skinny jeans.  They smoke after meals or during office breaks. Then they drink beer in the evening with cigarettes at cafes. And then they smoke while walking back home.

I gazed at a lot of girls in Belgium. It was hard to resist not looking at them. Why were they are so beautiful even though they smoke and drink beer? Delicious bakeries are located at every corner. In Brussels, it is much easier to find chocolate shops than a Starbucks— I am not anti-Starbucks, but I am glad that I do not see them in Belgium. I saw girls who ate super hard baguette-sandwiches in the morning at stations while they smoked. They would share dark chocolate croissants with their friends. (the chocolate croissants are wonderful in Belgium) 


I felt a certain “freedom” from their attitude. They sit down in front of Saint Catherine’s cathedral and were so happy talking to their friends with some finger food and alcohol. With good food and friends, they can create a picnic anywhere. Even the old stone side streets have some stains of bird droppings, chewing gum, and trash—they seem not to care about those minor spots.

The girls wear colorful scarves with their black jackets. There were no rules for their fashion— they seem to try whatever they think looks good— They mix old and new trends with clothes from stores and antique/used shops. They are so naturally relaxed compared to girls from Japan and America. It reminds me of my French friend. She decorated her bathroom with Miss Dior’s paper advertisements in antique picture flames. Maybe because so much art and fashion comes from Europe, I felt a strong beauty about Belgium woman. But “relaxed” is a key descriptor for them.


So I try to relax when typing stories for my blog, eating Belgium chocolates from Mary in Brussels— My hubby and I did not have enough money to buy two boxes of chocolates from the store— and will be obsessing over observing Belgium woman for a while.

Mary – Galerie de la Reine
36 Galerie de la Reine
1000 Brussels
T: +32 2 511 39 59
Mon. - sat.: 10.00 a.m. - 8.00 p.m.

Sun. & holidays: 10.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Life - Dining Table Gardening - Green Onions


Green onions are growing well. It may take another two - three weeks to harvest. 
Art by my dear friend, Marina Veiler

Monday, March 10, 2014

Poetry - The Berkeley Poetry Review

Berkeley Poetry Review - the University of California, Berkeley accepted "Often As" and "3:30AM Minuet." Please kindly read my poems in the magazine. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Art - Chicago Botanic Garden


The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden
 

Orchids were used to be carried around in these glass containers from southern islands by ships. Now I really understand why orchids were expensive. I would love to have my own sun room in my house. There are forty five species of orchids in Illinois. Chicago Botanic Garden hosts vegetarian cooking classes during the summer. They grow own herbs and vegetables. 



Open Hour:
Open Daily,
February 15 – March 16
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: 
Adults: members/nonmembers: $8/$10
Seniors 62+: members/nonmembers: $6/$8
Children 3 to 12: members/nonmembers: $6/$8
Children 2 and under: Free
Address: 
Chicago Botanic Garden  •  1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brilliant Beauty - Gout and Japanese Rice Vinegar


I cooked a daikon-radish and carrots in a pressure cooker. I added one circle of white wine and a drizzle of sea salt and cooked for about five minutes. I also baked gobou-burdock in 350F until it became brown and crisp after I soaked it in vinegar water and microwaved it for five minutes. I cooked roots after roots a lot last week.

My husband who is still recovering his first gout attack ate the softened daikon-radish with soy sauce and baked gobou-burdock for snacks for a week. He loved the baked gobou-burdock! He said that it tasted like a healthy version of French fries. He feels less pain in his foot and the swelling has dramatically reduced. In addition, roots are full of fibers, so our digestive systems are working really well. I will keep cooking those roots for dinner along with many others. Surprisingly, there are so many roots available in the local supermarket. It is fun to adapt new vegetables to every meal.

I also started drinking Japanese rice vinegar after my one-hour baths. Japanese rice vinegar supports the immune system. In addition, the amino acids in the rice vinegar help prevent the storage of body fat, so it is very helpful for people with high blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the factors causing gout, and my husband has always had slightly elevated BP (along with a family history of uric acid buildup). I suggested he drink the rice vinegar, but he hates the distinguish smell and taste.

It is hard to drink only Japanese rice vinegar, it is even challenging for Japanese people. I mixed 20 – 30ml of rice vinegar with a slice of konbu-seaweed, slices of lemon, a spoonful brown sugar, and water in bottle because it dilutes the smell and taste. It stays in a refrigerator for a day. When he drinks, it is nice and cold, so the smell and taste are further reduced.

I asked, “Do you like it?”
My husband said, “It is ok. I won’t drink it everyday, though.”
I said, “It is good for your health.”
He replied, “I’m finally enjoying roots. Don’t want to ruin it with straight vinegar.”

The response made me super angry and irritated. I am thinking of improving his health. I read articles and study nutrition. However, when he said, “It is ok” with negative tone of voice, I felt that he seemed to not care. Well, I keep making the vinegar drink every night. It is helpful to keep maintaining my healthy skin anyway. If I was one of girls in the musical “Chicago”, I probably would have shot him in the head because of the irritation. Fortunately, I am not that crazy…yet.

I tried to understand that drinking vinegar would be stressful as he has always disliked it. I suggested he drink it every other day.  He only said, “Ok.” Ok— I breathed in deep breath and tried not to act like those woman in the musical. I also heard that there are pill forms of rice vinegar supplements (which he responded to much more positively). There are so many flexible ways to be healthy. I keep finding a way— it is good for both him and me— and not destroying our marriage.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Art - The Ohantin of the Opera - Last Day


The Phantom of the Opera

Theatre : Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago Illinois
Dates : January 09, 2014 - March 02, 2014

"Think of me, think of me fondly
When we've said goodbye
Remember me once in a while
Please promise me..."


”どうぞ 思い出を この胸に
二人は別れを告げるけれど
忘れないでいてね 過ぎし日の愛を。。。”
Translated by Keita Asari