Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Fill-in #9

1. When my blog is broken, I.. feel lost. Although actually, knock on wood, my blog hasn't ever been broken (Thank you Blogger!) but our internet connection has been rather sporadic lately and when it's not working I do feel cut off.
2. I saw the most amazing cutest kitty sleeping on my bed.. this morning! :)
3. I have to admit I'm not really sure what's coming out soon, I'm rather out of it for movie news, but since I just read an article about it I'll say The Golden Compass the new movie I'm most looking forward to seeing. I am curious how it'll compare to the live theatre version of the His Dark Materials trilogy I saw at the National Theatre in London.
4. Work: Necessary and .. time-consuming but sometimes rewarding.
5. Of all the new current tv shows I watch, I enjoy .. House and Grey's Anatomy.. the most. Very much influenced by the fact that I've been watching Season 3 of Grey's Anatomy on DVD recently and watched Season 3 of House before that.
6. If only .. money grew on trees.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to .. starting a new book (I finally finished reading 'them'), tomorrow my plans include .. something we haven't decided on yet since it depends on the weather.. and Sunday, I want to .. hopefully take some pictures of autumn leaves if we couldn't do so on Saturday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9: Winter

Banner courtesy of samulli

13 signs that winter is on its way
(in my little corner of the world)

1. The leaves have finally changed colour. (photo taken last weekend)
2. You can comfortably wear wool sweaters, even a jacket and scarf some days!
3. You trade in your light cotton blankets for the electric blanket and the down duvet.
4. You plug in the toilet seat!
5. The cats sleep all curled up instead of sprawled out trying to get cool.
6. You start craving hot food like soup, hot udon or soba noodles, nabe, shabu shabu ...7. The yaki imo man is making the rounds on a regular basis and you get the yaki imo song stuck in your head.
8. You bring out the heaters and the electric bill starts to sky rocket.
9. It gets dark even earlier, at about 4:30 pm.
10. Other people start complaining about the cold. (I love this weather! No sweating seconds after showering, cozy sweaters and beds!)
11. The vending machines have switched half of the machine over to hot drinks. (I love Japanese vending machines!)
12. The shops are decorated for Christmas and you start humming Christmas tunes on your way home.
13. You start worrying about writing (and in my case making) your Christmas/New Year's cards on time.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Japanese Literature Challenge

I haven't read as much JLit as I'd hoped to this year so the Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by the lovely Bellezza, is just the thing to encourage me to read a few more. It starts this Friday (Nov. 30th) and runs for 2 months (until Jan. 30th) and the goal is to read 3 books. I'm pretty much flunking out of my year-long challenges that end next month but this seems do-able.

Here are 3 books that I think I'll read for the challenge:

Tales of Moonlight and Rain - Akinari Ueda -- I had planned to read it for the R.I.P. Challenge but other books got in the way. Plus Bellezza loved it!

Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata -- I'm cheating slightly since I was already planning to read this for the Book Awards Challenge.

The Elephant Vanishes - Haruki Murakami -- It's been a while since I've read anything by Murakami and I keep buying his books so I really should get around to reading them. I think this one has been waiting on the shelf the longest.

Course, I also might like to read something else by Junichiro Tanizaki, which would fit in nicely with the 2nds Challenge, since I loved The Makioka Sisters by him at the beginning of this year.
Or there's The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima or The Ocean in the Closet by Yuko Taniguchi, both of which Bookfool really liked.
Or Twenty-four Eyes by Sakae Tsuboi, about a rural primary school teacher, which I think Bellezza might enjoy.
Or Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura, a slim book that's been staring at me for a while now.
Or... Or... there are so many really. It's too hard to choose.

In addition to the JLit books already in my TBR stacks, Bellezza has gone and posted a list of recommendations which has made my wishlist suddenly that much longer. (Click on the link to see her list)

So we'll see which ones I actually do read in the next 2 months but I'm looking forward it. Thanks for organizing the challenge Bellezza!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

a different perspective

Regarding the previous post, Janet asked "Is the background of the first one water or sunlight?!"
I could've just told her but where's the fun in that? ;) So here's a shot from a similar angle that will make everything clear.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Last weekend we went in search of red maple leaves. This weekend it was all about the glorious yellow ginkgo trees. Photos taken at Showa Kinen Park on Saturday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday Fill-in #8 ... on Saturday

1. I enjoy.. reading (of course!) and sleeping late in a cozy bed.. more than anything else.
2. Blogging satisfies my need for.. interacting with others, sharing my love of reading and having someplace to show some of my photos.
3. When I look at a full moon, I feel.. peace.
4. If I want a snack, I usually reach for.. something salty.
5. The most recent movie I saw, Ocean's Thirteen made me.. pass some time in the airplane enjoying the eye candy.
6. If only.. the weather could stay like this all year long.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight yesterday I'm looking forward to.. we went for a walk, and enjoyed the autumn colours, tomorrow today my plans included.. taking pictures and eating out ..and Sunday, I want to get some stuff done around the house!

PhotoHunt: Hot

(click on image to enlarge)
Hot chocolate, soba noodles, Tabasco, green tea

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #8: Victoria

Banner courtesy of Harlekwin

As promised here are some pictures from my recent trip to Canada. And yes, I can count but I thought I'd do a collage and well... consider it 3 bonus pictures. :)
(click on image to enlarge)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Happy Turkey Day!

Something to keep in mind tomorrow... (click to enlarge)
I missed Canadian Thanksgiving and Japan doesn't do Thanksgiving, but I had to share this shirt I spotted a while ago. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who are celebrating it this week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

'Hide and Seek'

by Ian Rankin

Fiction/Mystery, 1990
Orion Books, mm pb, 253 p.
Inspector Rebus series- Book #2
(#47 for 2007, 2nds Challenge- #2)
A junkie lies dead in an Edinburgh squat – spread-eagled, cross-like on the floor, between two burned-down candles, a five-pointed star daubed on the wall above. Just another dead addict, until John Rebus begins to chip away at the indifference, treachery, deceit and sleaze that lurks behind the façade of the Edinburgh familiar to the tourists. Only Rebus seems to care about a death which looks more like murder every day, about a seductive danger he can almost taste, appealing to the darkest corners of his mind.
I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s the only book I managed to read during my trip to Canada. And it’s my own fault that I didn’t enjoy this one more than I did. I kept reading it in fits and starts, and often while half falling asleep, so I can’t really blame the book for not fully grabbing me. It was fun to meet up with Rebus again after the first book, Knots & Crosses, which I read this summer and I do plan to continue on in the series.

My Rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 18, 2007

in search of red

Like for the cherry blossoms in the spring, in this season you can watch the progress of the red Japanese maple leaves as part of the weather report. So on Saturday we went in search of red at Rikugien, a traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo, where there were supposedly some red leaves already. I think they were a bit optimistic on the 'red rating' but we did find some here and there.

Friday, November 16, 2007

PhotoHunt: I love...

...water and sunsets.

Another sunset photo at my group photo blog here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

new acquisitions

Munro's Books

I took a long list with me of books to look out for but I was actually quite well-behaved and only bought 4 books while I was in Canada. That's not to say that there weren't plenty that I wanted, but I had to think of space and weight in my suitcase, and then I thought about all the unread Canadian books I have already at home. So I was good.

I did also receive a couple of books. You may remember that earlier this year I read a couple of books on Buddhism but neither of them did much for me. Well my aunt reads my blog (wave) and she knows someone who converted to Buddhism, specifically Tibetan Buddhism, so she gave me a couple of books on the subject. I look forward to getting into them hopefully sometime soon. Book-shaped gifts really are the best kind! Thanks so much O!

So here they are:

From top to bottom:
The Delicate Storm - Giles Blunt
I read Forty Words for Sorrow this summer and really enjoyed it. This is the 2nd book in the series.

The End of the Alphabet - C.S. Richardson
I think I first heard about this book from Lotus, who always has great recommendations. And it's such a cute little book too I had to have it. (I have a thing for cute little hardbacks!)

Cave in the Snow - Vicki MacKenzie
From the back: How an Englishwoman, the daughter of a fishmonger from London's East End, has become a Buddhist legend and a champion for the rights of women to attain spiritual enlightenment.
In 1976 Diane Perry, by then known by her Tibetan name, Tenzin Palmo, secluded herself in a remote cave, 13,200 feet up in the Himalayas, cut off from the world by mountains and snow. There she engaged in twelve years of intense Buddhist meditation. She faced unimaginable cold, wild animals, near-starvation and avalanches; she grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box, three-feet square - she never lay down. Her goal was to attain enlightenment as a woman.

Before I Wake - Robert J. Wiersema
I remember hearing about this one before somewhere (it was on my list) and he's also a local writer, living in Victoria. Since the shop had signed copies I decided to snatch it up.

Essential Tibetan Buddhism - Robert A.F. Thurman
I hope it's not too scholarly but it does look like a good overview.

How to be a Canadian - Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson
I wanted to get something else by Will Ferguson after enjoying Hitching Rides with Buddha. I was planning to get Beauty Tips from Moosejaw but then I saw this one on the sale table at Munro's and as you know the only thing better than buying books is buying books on sale!

And then yesterday in the mail I got the book I won from Les, A Great and Terrible Beauty. My first book blog win! Thanks again Les!

With these and all the other books I have around here I'm hardly lacking in choice!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

trip report

Jet lag sucks! It seems to be taking me longer than usual to get over it. I must be getting old! But how was my trip, you ask. Well, before I left for Canada I posted a list of the things I was looking forward to. So let's see how I did...
1. Browsing at some of my favourite book stores, such as this one or this one. Check. I visited both these bookshops more than once and stopped in a couple others as well. As you can imagine. I'll post about my book purchases another day soon.

2. Visiting friends and their babies. Check. It was good to visit with family and friends including some I hadn't seen for a few years. Also fun to see how big 2 year old A. has gotten and meeting 4 month old E.

3. Walking on the beach. Check. I forgot to consider the tides so the morning I went to walk along a nearby beach the tide was in and it was pretty darn chilly but still worth it!

4. Smelling the ocean and generally enjoying the view. Check. Mmm something about that salty air makes me content and I loved being able to see the ocean regularly. It's so calming. No wonder I miss it terribly here where I'm surrounded by concrete.

5. Driving. We don't have a car here so I only drive in Canada when I rent a car about once a year. Check. Public transportation in Tokyo is really very good but it was nice to have the freedom to drive around whenever and wherever I liked.

6. Enjoying the Autumn colours. It'll likely be another month before the leaves turn here. Check. A lot of the leaves had actually already fallen but some of the trees were still quite full and colourful. It really helped put me in an autumn mood. The leaves have just started to turn here so I'm looking forward to getting out to see those soon.

7. Taking pictures. Check. I was busy visiting and shopping so I didn't take pictures every day but there were a handful of nice sunny days when I made a point to get out and take photos and just generally enjoy the weather and the view. So I have lots of photos of water, I just couldn't resist that blue!

8. Shopping. It's hard to find my size in Japan so I'll have a bit of a shopping spree for clothes and shoes. Check. Got some new shoes and pants and a few other things. I filled up my suitcase and then some so I can't complain.

9. Eating Ukrainian food. Gotta have my annual perogy fix. Check. Mmmm... perogies and sour cream! Had some borscht too which was great!

10. Eating lots of other foods I've been missing, like rhubarb pie, salt & vinegar chips, etc. Check. I had strawberry rhubarb pie, salt & vinegar chips, poutine, Cheerios, a Coffee Crisp, Canadian smoked salmon and root beer. Not all at once of course! :P

11. Relishing the calm and uncrowdedness! Check and double check! All that open space! My happiest moments were probably spent gazing out at the water and enjoying the peacefulness.

12. Enjoying the Halloween atmosphere although unfortunately the jack-o-lantern festival that I went to last year has been cancelled this year. :( Check. I didn't get to see all the pumpkins like last year but it was fun to see some decorations and costumes.

13. Walking down memory lane. Check. It was interesting to see how much has changed in the last year, what shops and such have disappeared, but it was equally fun to see those places that never seem to change and the memories they bring back.

I got to do everything I was hoping to so all in all a pretty successful trip I'd say. It is good to be home again though. Now I have to work at catching up with all of you. The number of unread posts in my Google Reader is really quite frightening. Oh and I'm planning to post a photo version for Thursday Thirteen next week so check back then.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

candlelight and roses

We went to a wedding yesterday, a friend of H's. But H is battling a cold and I still have jet lag so it was an early night. I'll post about my trip soon, promise!

Reading Update: October

My reading update for October is essentially my R.I.P. Challenge wrap-up post, minus one (Twilight). So because this jet lag is seriously doing me in, please see that post for more on my October books.

Reading Challenges- Progress Report:
R.I.P. II Challenge - COMPLETED!
Fall into Reading Challenge - 0 done, 5 to go (by Dec. 21st)
2nds Challenge - 1 done, 2 to go (by Dec. 31st)
TBR Challenge - 5 done, 7 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
Japan Challenge - 4 done, 8 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
O'Canada Challenge - 3 done, 9 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
Book Awards Challenge - 0 done, 12 to go (by June 30th, 2008) -- No Change

Reading Goals for November:
I really should only read books for all the various challenges that I'm behind on but we'll see how that goes. I know I won't finish all of these challenges by the end of the year but I'll try to get through some of the books for them in the next 2 months. I'm looking forward to an almost clean slate challenge-wise for the new year. But of course I've already been thinking about what new challenges I'd like to take on. The problem is that there are simply so many tempting ones it's hard to choose. Decisions... decisions.

Friday, November 09, 2007

home again

Back at last! It's always nice to visit but it's good to be home again. Although I didn't entirely feel that way when I arrived home Thursday evening to a dark, dirty apartment. Leaving H and the boys alone for 2 weeks was clearly a very bad idea! ;P
I am glad to be back though, and very glad to be back at my own computer! Sad isn't it to have Internet withdrawal?! I haven't even downloaded my photos from my camera yet but will do that today. I also need to post my Reading Update for October, then I'll be back with a trip report. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

shades of blue

I hope you all had a fun Halloween! But since it is now over for another year, I've replaced the pumpkin banner with some of the ocean view that I was so missing in Japan. (I was playing around with possible banners a couple of weeks ago- this is cropped from another shot from my trip to Victoria last year).
Sorry I haven't been able to visit your blogs. Unfortunately, the computer I have access to here is extremely, maddeningly slow so every little thing takes forever! It sure makes me appreciate my own computer at home. I appreciate your comments for me in the meantime and I promise to catch up with all of you when I get back