Sunday, December 15, 2013

That time of year again

I love when they make a giant pile of snow across the street. They will cart it away soon, but it's still fun to see. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A home day

Today is a sorting day. Ugh. I much prefer looking out the back window at my yard, which kind of looks like the moon at the moment. Not that I've ever been to the moon. Actually, I doubt the moon has fences or weeds. Anyway!
I did find some fun stuff stashed in a closet, like a ferry ticket from my early days here and some pretty stationery from Kyoto. 

But it's been mostly junk. 

So, while I sort, here's a picture of Kutsugata on Rishiri Island (October). 



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Darkness


It's dark these days! Sunrise is not until 7:02 and sunset is at 3:50. It's a far cry from the summer, when it starts getting light in the 3 o'clock hour. 

It's 5:25 AM now, and quite dark. But soon, it will be light. The daylight always comes again. 
And check out this snowman that the neighbor kids built!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let it snow

I love snow!
This evening, my favorite fat and heavy flakes were falling. It's so pretty. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Conference Time

Every year, all the Hokkaido JET ALTs come together for a conference midway through the contract year. It's now called the Skills Development Conference. It used to be called the Mid Year Conference, in case anyone was wondering.  

Leaving for my final SDC this morning was a strange feeling. It kind of marks the end of an era. As usual, the winter train ride was gorgeous. I sat with a friend. We chatted and read as we made our way south, picking up several more ALTs along the way. 

Besides the conference, there are so many other memories. The trip usually involves a foray to the German Christmas Market. There's often Christmas shopping and ventures to Starbucks. And, since we are close to the winter solstice, it's dark. A lot. 

We also eat lots of yummy food. The Northern Four of us went out for Indian food. We went to a new spot. Everything was really tasty. Look at this naan!
It was super huge. 

Although I'll be staying in a hotel during to conference, tonight I am staying in my favorite hostel, the Time Peace Apartment. Yay. 

So, this weekend has already been a time of reliving old memories and making new memories. I shall try to control the rampant nostalgia as the conference goes on. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

50,006

Here's a play version of my book cover. 

Officially winning this evening was exciting, but the winner video was pretty lame. Bahahaha! I'll just have to make my own. 

I kind of feel like I wove a giant piece of cloth this month. Now, I just have to turn the cloth into a dress. 

Apparently, my 50,000th word was "at"

Please feel free to encourage me to get back to the piece of cloth and turn it into something wearable!

Friday, November 29, 2013

New winter hood

I saw a new style winter hood that I thought would be really nice for spending time outdoors. But I didn't quite realize how it would look on. 
I'd like you all to join me in giving the NSA a warm welcome to my blog. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As of yet today, I have eaten no wonderful Thanksgiving foods. I had school lunch today that included my least favorite food IN THE WORLD! Shishamo is basically a small fish that you eat in its entirety - head, tail, bones, eggs, and all. Today's version was fried, so at least I didn't have to look at it. Ugh. 

But there's a tree up in the station! Actually, there are two. So fun. And some random Santas. 

So, this year I have a lot to be thankful for. But one thing has become sharply clear to me this year. I've been wrestling a lot about what to do with my future. I love being near my family, and I love being off on adventures in faraway lands. It's a hard choice, but one that I'm incredibly grateful to have. I'm grateful to have a family that is loving. I'm grateful to have opportunities for adventure. So even though I have some hard choices before me, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have those hard choices.

I am also thankful that even though I was goofing off writing this blog post and missed my bus by a split second, another bus that happened to be going my way showed up right behind the bus I missed. Oops. 

But I am NOT thankful for shishamo! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

20,062

Broke 20,000 words today! Hurray! I am almost caught up. 

My story is a little goofy, but the most important thing is to just get it written. 

My characters are not behaving well. They keep causing problems for my main character. Poor thing. Someone told her she looks like a demented librarian today. 
Here's a homemade caramel coffee drink I made this evening. And my NaNo stats. 

Now, before you get too impressed with today's number, I actually added a document that I hadn't counted and updated my word count that was inaccurate when I started. But it looks kind of cool, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pocky Day

1111 is sometimes called Pocky Day in Japan. The reason is a little silly. Pocky are a stick-shaped snack, so they kind of look like the number 1. 

Each year, I look forward to Pocky Day, because it's kind of fun. 

This year, I decided that I wanted to have a Pocky party. So I invited two friends over, and I found several flavors. 

We had a lot of fun! One friend brought homemade pumpkin soup, so we enjoyed that as well. 

In other news, we have a lovely blanket of snow now that really hit after I got home from work. In the driveway, it's about pinky deep. 

This is from this morning, when it was a thick dusting. 
Although it kept snowing, the stuff on the ground mostly melted by afternoon. But once the sun went down, it got slick and then layered back up. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another strange moment in life

Today, I had one of the weirdest experiences of my life. And I've had a lot of weird experiences here! This one may have just topped them all. It's at least in the top 3.

It all started when I was reading the special lesson list for the gym. About once a month, a class called furomashin pops up. It happens in the pool, and I've always wondered what it is, and if it is fun. Recently, I've tried several classes in the pool, and I have enjoyed all of them. But furomashin was one I'd never attended.

In Japanese, I had been reading it wrong. I thought it had something to do with formations (visions of synchronized swimming appeared in my head). Last night, I pointed it out to a friend to see if she knew what it was. The way she pronounced it made it sound like flow machine. But neither of us knew what it was. So we asked a gym staff member, who said that it was like waves and water aerobics.

We looked at each other. "Do you want to try it?"
"I don't know, do you want to try it?"
"I'll go if you go."
"OK, let's try it."

So today, we headed off to the gym for the class.

It had nothing to do with water aerobics.

And my friend is a native speaker of Japanese.

All the class members had to link arms. The ends of the human chain grabbed onto what looked like a big waterski rope handle. Then, a big current came from the furomashin and blasted us away. Basically, we looked like a tight knot of people trying to survive a disaster together. One member held on to the middle of the bar and really tried not to drown.

My friend and I were pretty much like, "What the heck is this class??"

Spending 45 minutes linked together with strangers is not exactly my favorite way to spend time. Yikes! On the other hand, if I ever fall off the ferry with five strangers and one friend, I now feel prepared to hang onto a life ring and be dragged behind the ferry until they can haul us in.

Afterwards, we recovered with dessert.

posted from Bloggeroid

First snow

I love the first snow of the year! It was really late this year (11/8). Please pardon the owl - got unintentionally photobombed by a student.

Even more beautiful was tonight as I left the office. Big, gorgeous, fat flakes swirled in wind in the night sky. Fat snowflakes are my favorites. 

Each season has such pretty points!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

5412

It's Day 3 of NaNoWriMo, and I've been doing a lot of things besides writing. However, I'm pleased to report that I'm on target and a teensy bit ahead. And I've been getting in lots of exercise. A healthy novelist is a creative novelist. I have no idea if that's true or not, but it sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

I would show you a picture of the cool lunch I had today, but it looks kind of gross in the picture. Oh, why not?
I promise it was 85% delicious. I met some friends for lunch, and we all got the same thing. 

Tomorrow is friends on Skype in the morning, and then a Thanksgiving celebration. I'm looking forward to it all!

Happy Thanksgiving! Lol. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

2055

It's the end of day 1, and I'm at 2055 words. Not bad...I'm ahead of schedule. And I'm already dealing with writer's block. Augh!

One of today's writing places - a library before it opened. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo Eve

One minute! Love the anticipation and the excitement if the blank page. 

Creepy Girl

My coffee from the coffee shop has no lid, and I'm in transit. This is in no way convenient. 

In order to hide my weird coffee, I tried to exude creepy foreigner vibes to keep people from sitting near me on the bus. 

The opposite often happens on the train. Sometimes at the first stop, most of the window seats fill up. So at the second stop, I neatly tuck my things away so someone can sit next to me. Only tumbleweeds. 

So today I try to send off a creepy vibe, and someone immediately sits near me. 

I think my creepy and nice vibes are mixed up. 

In other news, I sat outside on the ferry today. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ow

I hadn't been cooking much for a while. 

I restarted over the weekend. 

In the past 24 hours, I cut my left middle finger and then proceeded to burn same finger. 

Ow. 

In other news, here's a picture of my favorite boots. 
And the beach near my house. 

And in other other news, NaNoWriMo is coming! 2 days!

I have no plot. 
The only named character is a random secondary character. 
Oof. 




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Freedom!

Oh, how I love weekends. Today was an especially good day. I got new glasses. My friends wanted to see a pic, so I tried to take one of myself. 
It was harder than I thought. 

Going to the glasses shop today was kind of fun. They served tea while I was getting the glasses fitted. I got to choose a case, and since we have more freedom to be cute here, I picked out a Hello Kitty case. Then, I got a color analysis! There was a style consultant in the shop today. I've always wanted a color analysis, so I was excited. I came out as spring. Time to go shopping for some lime green shirts. Heehee. 

After the glasses expedition, I came home and met my friend. We drove to one of the outlying areas of Wakkanai, and found a cool farm restaurant for lunch. 
That's a field of cabbage in the foreground. :-)

The food was really delicious! 
We got two meals and split them, because both the local beef burger and the pizza sounded really yummy. 
They also had self-service salad and the most amazing tomatoes I've tasted in a long time. Years. 
But my favorite thing may have been the self-service coffee. Not just for the coffee, but because you got to choose your own mug from a sea of gorgeously unique cups and saucers. 
Here's mine!
On our way back, the sky was beautiful. 
I love autumn skies!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My little brain

Sometimes, the limitations of my mind are quite frustrating. 

There is so much in the world that is amazing and beautiful, and there is no way I can make even the limited amounts of things I see stick. 

Here are some examples of things I saw today. They were just brief moments of beauty in the day. 

This year, the fall is the prettiest that I've seen here. Somewhere, I saw a beautiful red tree. There is a soft golden cast over many trees in town and on the train line. 

From the train this afternoon, the end of the sunset was beautiful over the sea. And the edges of Rishiri floated in the distance like a dream. But it was too faint for me to capture (I'm not even sure the camera was pointing the right way). 

Tonight, as I walked to the glasses shop, I saw half of a brilliantly red moon. 

Then, as I was walking home, I heard the tremendous squawking of swans. I looked up, and a wedge of swans was soaring overhead. Their white bodies were bright against the black sky, and it was just breathtaking. 

I just wish I could sear all the beautiful moments into my mind. Know what I mean?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lovely things

Sitting on the deck of the ferry on a chilly fall morning while the sun saturates my black tights. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just me being cool

Here I am, just hanging out on a bridge in the middle of nowhere and radiating my natural coolness. 

Yup. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall adventures

Today couldn't have been lovelier. The winds have been quite high for a few days, but I woke up to a sunny morning dawning. 
Took a walk in the morning, an then came home for a round of ukulele practice. I'm currently working on a version of Finlandia. It is very slowly starting to sound like music. 

After that, I took my book to McDonald's and had breakfast. I love breakfast at Mac. I don't have it too often, but it's so nice when I do. Ah. 

Then, I caught a bus bound north to Cape Soya. It was the best kind of trip - one where I struggle between treating myself to a delicious book or treating myself to the gorgeous sights sliding past my window. I usually end up with a happy medium. 
The sea from my bus window. 

I disembarked at Cape Soya, slung my backpack over my shoulders, and headed out. I decided to walk for a while to see what I could discover. I didn't find much, but I did wind up at Japan's northernmost post office. 
Oh, and I found where I want to live. A little dollhouse addition to a real house!

I also found myself intrigued by the color and texture of this wall. 

Eventually, I found myself back at Cape Soya. I was surprised to see so many tourists. 

I was tickled by the tourists in full-on down winter coats. Today was windy, but I think it was either in the upper 50's or lower 60's. Not that cold. 
Here's ye olde monument. 

After looking around and doing a little Christmas shopping, I retreated to the bus shelter. 
As you can see, it looks like the monument. This shelter actually turned out to be quite brilliant, because I could sit in the front right window and enjoy my book and the scenery without the wind. I could even open the window without the wind blasting in. 
Here I am, looking out the window pensively. 
I did a little more walking around before my bus came, an even got in a chat with home. This picture is from the top of the world, looking down on creation. Can you name that tune?
This one is back on the bus heading home. The water was an amazing pale green color - so beautiful to watch. 

By the time I got home, I was so tired. But I didn't want to waste valuable sunlight. Here in cloudy Hokkaido, sunshine is a precious commodity. So, I curled up in a sunny corner of the living room, read my book, and ate an amazing peach. 
This is a seating corner that I made. 

After a while, I decided to go on my third walk of the day. And I saw some pretty sights!
I love these plants. And the sun made them gorgeous in person. 
I waited around for a long time to catch the train headed out!

Finally, I ended the day with delicious sushi with my friends!
We had fun and ate a lot!

It was really a great Saturday! Tomorrow, I'm headed south to a school festival. Hope I can get up for the train!