Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turtle Talk

"So Let Me Tell Ya About this New Gal" (Click Photo for Full Effect)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Still looking for the elusive wildlife, but only came up with some little crawlers and flyers in the insect world.  Oh what a world there is out there in bugville.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eyes in Focus

It's early, early Monday morning.  Yesterday I searched and searched for exotic wildlife for my photo assignment this week.  I am supposed to submit three portraits of wildlife with eyes in focus.  All I could come up with were three more stray kitty cats.  They are every where here and all of them are well fed.  I will try again today to find an alligator or an elephant, but it could be tough.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dr. Kobayakawa and the Turtle

It's pouring rain outside.  Yumiko is at ballet practice.  Ken went with his friend Tamon to the 50th anniversary reunion of his middle school and I am here all by myself which does not happen often.

What trouble can I get into?  I thought I might try to describe a situation that happened to me for the second time earlier this week.  Ken and I had gone back for his regular monthly appointment to see his neurologist. (People in Japan see their doctors much more often then they do in the U.S.)  Ken's doctor is a very fine man, a good doctor, but a little aloof.  He has, however a wonderful assistant doctor.  This young man - Dr. Kobayakawa is probably about 30 years old.  He is very tall and thin.  He always wears a white doctor's jacket over a shirt and tie and usually has on the same khaki pants that are frayed at the bottom.  Ken usually spends about ten minutes with his main neurologist and then about 30 minutes with Dr. Kobayakawa.  Dr. Kobayakawa speaks to Ken in Japanese.  He listens intently, asks probing questions, and laughs at all of Ken's jokes.  I am always trying to understand what they are saying, but usually cannot get the gist of it.  I just watch and listen.  They are both so intent on each other and both so enjoy talking to one another.  This has happened every month since we came here last August.  But for the last two times we have been to see Dr. Kobayakawa, I began crying.  Not gulping crying, but tears streaming down my face crying.  I tried to stop, but somehow just couldn't.   Both Ken and Dr. Kobayakawa became concerned and I think a little embarrassed.  I can't explain why Dr. Kobayakawa makes me cry, but I think it is because he is one person in this world who really understands what is happening to Ken.  He knows how totally difficult it is to be a Parkinson's patient.  He knows all the symptoms and he knows how strong and good Ken is about it.  Ken never complains.  He has read everything about Parkinson's.  He knows how dangerous the medications can be.  How addictive they can be and for that reason takes as little of them as his body can stand.  He knows if he took more, his symptoms would be less.  Dr. Kobayakawa recognizes what an ace of a man Ken is.  I can tell through their conversations how much he respects Ken and how much he looks forward to seeing him every month.  He always gives Ken a few tests to check how Ken's brain is functioning.  Usually Ken does marvelously on each one and Dr. Kobayakawa is always blown away about it.  I know that I was not crying because I am sad, but because I am so touched because there are people like Dr. Kobayakawa in this world.

On a lighter note, here's a picture taken yesterday of a little turtle stretching out his neck enjoying the sun in Arisugowa Park. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poppy in the morning

The poppies are blooming all over Tokyo.  Here's one taken this morning.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back to the Wildllife

Well now that the Sister Party is over I'm back to the wildlife - That's wildlife photographs.  My homework this week was to submit three "macro" shots of wildlife of any kind.  Here are my candidates.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Barbara's Questions

My dear friend Barbara wrote me today wanting the REAL scoop on the Riley/Baumert Girls visit to Japan.  She asked me a few questions and so it gives me great pleasure to answer each as they came across my e-mail.

Question:  Did everyone do the naked bath? 

 YES!!!!  Marjorie and Suzy were a little more enthused about the bath than Julie was, but everyone did, in fact, shed their clothes and get into the water.  Julie and Suzy had a little private bath in the Kyoto Ryoken Hotel.  I was there and witnessed it personally and was totally thrilled to see , as Barbara says, "American girls doing Eastern things."  At the Heta Hot Spring - Julie had had enough, but Ken, Yumiko, Suzy, Marjorie and I could not get our fill and went back to the bath time after time.  (At the request of Barbara, I will not show any photos of these naked events.

Question:  Has Ken had enough of females for a while?  

NEVER!!  He still loves us all.  (Actually I am afraid to ask him.)

Question:  Does Yumiko wish you were more like one of her Aunts who is so much cooler than her mom?  

NO WAY - and if so - no allowance for the next six months!!

Question:  Are you relieved not to consider breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a crowd each day?  

Oh my - the answer is yes.  In fact, I was thinking about take-out for the three of us Kono's for the rest of our stay in Japan.

Question:  Any picky eaters like me?

Let me just say that my home cooking was never appreciated so much by any crowd at any time in my life.  

Question:  What kind of shopping did you do?

Wood block prints, Japanese dresses, crane insence burners, more wood block prints, chop sticks and chop stick holders, green tea, Japanese spices, more wood block prints.

Question:  Anyone feel unwell? 

Not a chance.  We walked, talked, laughed, cried, and really had a wonderful time.

Question:  What did I miss?

You missed it all and we missed you.

A Few Pics from our Recent Travels

Well, the girls got back on the plane today and by the time I write this they will almost be back in Denver.  We truly had a wonderful ten days.  Beautiful gardens in Kyoto, visiting the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Hot Springing at Heta Hot Spring near Mt. Fuji and shopping up a storm in Tokyo.  Here are a few photos from our travels.  Top is the view from our hotel near Mt. Fuji; Ken, Julie and Yumiko on the boat on our return trip from Heta Hot Spring; Suzy, Marjorie and Yumiko on an early morning walk near the fishing village at Heta Hot Spring, Takae, Yumiko, Julie, Suzy and Kitty at the Gardens at the New Otoni Hotel in Tokyo, and finally Julie and Suzy at yet another temple in Kyoto

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We are alive and thriving.

Just got a minute before everybody wakes up and breakfast begins.  We've been on a whirlwind tour for the past seven days.  My sisters Suzy, Julie and their friend Marjorie got here to Tokyo last Saturday and we have been going non-stop since they arrived.  We got back from a beautiful, beautiful trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima late Wednesday and will be leaving again this morning for an overnight stay at a Japanese Inn near Mt. Fuji tonight.  Everyone has survived and thrived with lots of stories to tell.  More photos will come, but here's one of all of us with Ken's brother Tokuya San and his wife Sumiko San and Ken's sister Takae San.  This was taken last night at the New Otoni Hotel after a great family dinner.  And one more of Julie, Suzy and Marjorie with our new friend at the Inn where we stayed in Kyoto.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Party Begins Tonight!!

It's 5:45 a.m. and the sun has been shining for a good hour.  There is no day light's savings time in Japan so the day begins very early here.  As I write this, my sisters Suzy and Julie and their friend Marjorie are winging there way here on a Northwest Airline from Denver.  They are expected to arrive at 5:00 this afternoon.  I'll pick them up at the Narita airport and bring them back here.  Our apartment is too small for three more people and just one bathroom, so they are staying next door at the Florashian Hotel.  The party begins tonight!!

On the wildlife front - still searching for the grizzly bear, but in the meantime yesterday I captured a duck in the mud and a fuzzy bumble bee in mid flight as he buzzed my head.  Here y'are, just for fun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I started a new 0n-line photo class today.  The subject is "Wildlife." The instructor thinks we students will be on safari in Africa or else finding mountain lions or bison somewhere to photograph.  My photos may be a little on the tamer side.  I got up early this morning and hunted down a huge mosquito and two ferocious stray cats - one a Garfield look alike (that I have photographed before) and another black and white cat hiding behind a leaf.   (You can click on each photo to get a better view.)  The next four weeks with wildlife should be a lot of fun. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Julie, Suzy and Marjorie are coming!! And an old cat.

It's Wednesday morning and my sisters and their friend Marjorie are coming to Tokyo this Saturday for ten days!! Yikes.  I need to get in high gear to make sure all goes well.  We will be traveling to Kyoto and Hiroshima and to Mt. Fuji.  I am doing the navigating this time, as Ken will stay home with Yumiko.  I hope we don't end up in North Korea.

In the meantime, yesterday was a beautiful beautiful spring day.  Ken and I had lunch in our favorite little tempura place near the Gaienmai train station.  In the morning on my way back from school I saw an old kitty cat sitting in an alley behind a window and took her picture as she looked back at me.  Here she is.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shinjuku Gyoen and the Abandoned Lot

Today was just a beautiful day here in Tokyo.  The temperature got up to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sun was shining and all is well.  I went on a little field trip with the Nishimachi school moms to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.  Another cherry blossom extravaganza. We had lunch in the park that included a little tea ceremony, pork and rice with a somewhat raw egg,  followed by sake (much better) and a few rice crackers.  The cherry blossoms were again FABULOUS.

I promised yesterday that I would not post another cherry blossom picture, so instead.... This month's assignment for one of my photo classes is April color.  I found this great abandoned lot near the cemetery full of purple and yellow flowers and a couple of old run down houses. I thought the colors were wonderful.  Here is my first attempt at this scene which does not do it justice.  I am going back there tomorrow - early morning - with a wide angle lens to see if I can't get a better shot.  If I do, I'll post it here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Full Weekend and One More Cherry Blossom Picture

Full, full weekend.  Yumiko's second sleep-over in two weeks.  This one was the right date and time.  Just one friend, but all went well.  The house has never been so clean and tidy.  We should have more of these.  (Only kidding!)  After we returned Yumiko's friend to her parents we had lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Nazoe at the International House of Japan - Great restaurant with the oldest Japanese garden in all of Japan.  Mr. and Mrs. Nazoe's daughter Aya stayed with us in St. Davids for almost one year when we first adopted Yumiko back in 1998.  After lunch, Yumiko and I went back out for yet one more walk through the cherry blossoms.  I think soon, I may tire of taking all these cherry blossom pictures, but just for the fun of it, here is one more - Yumiko reading her book under the cherry blossom tree.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Western Bathrooms and Cherry Blossoms

It's early Saturday morning, April 4.  (Another sleep-over tonight for Yumiko.  For those of you who have been following that saga,  I'll report on that tomorrow.)

Ken's brother Tokuya San is in the hospital.  He had elective surgery on a hernia about three days ago.  Here in Japan if you have even a simple operation you stay in the hospital for a long time - in Tokuya's case he will be there for a full week.  So yesterday, Takae San, Ken and I drove out to visit Tokuya.  The hospital is in another prefecture about an hour from Tokyo.  Tokuya looked great.  He was up and about and had great color.  He had a private room with a window looking out on beautiful spring trees that were in full bloom.  

It was a long ride to the hospital and we would have a long ride back home so Takae San suggested that Ken and I visit the bathroom before we take off back home.  As we walked to the bathroom Ken said he wasn't sure if my side was going to be an "Eastern" or "Western" style.  I told him no matter what, it was no problem.  When I got into the little stall, I was thrilled to see that it was western.  And not only western, it had all kinds of buttons.  Buttons for washing and drying and doing all kinds of things.  Anyway, when I was finished I pushed the button that I thought was the flush.  But just after I pushed it, I realized it was not the flush.  It was blinking red.  A few seconds later a nurse came rushing into the bathroom all in a fluster.  I had pushed the panic button.

Anyway, we got back home late in the afternoon.  I then met Yumiko who was waiting for me after school in a little Indian restaurant.  We ordered some great take-out curry, rushed home and told Ken we would be back to have dinner a little later.  Then the two of us went back out to photograph the cherry blossoms one more time at the Honzoman Gate to the Imperial Palace.  People were everywhere.  It is a full celebration here when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.  People putting blankets down on the sidewalks and having dinner and just partying. The spring colors are so beautiful.  Here are a few shots.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lunch with Joe

I had lunch with my friend Joe today.  I met Joe back in October or November.  She is a wonderful woman who feeds the stray cats and crows and other birds in Arisugawa Park.  I was trying to photograph a few stray cats back then as she was feeding them and we struck up a conversation.  She spoke very good English and was always so interesting.  We became fast friends very quickly.  I see her every time I go to the park around 8:00 in the morning as that is the time she feeds the cats.  She came to Tokyo about 20 years ago from Taiwan.  

We had a great lunch in a wonderful Italian restaurant in the Hiroo section of Tokyo.  We talked about life, reincarnation, the Dalai Lama, and the relationship between China and Japan.  A great lunch and a good friend.  Here's a picture of Joe as she is administering some eye medicine for one of her stray cats.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

Got up REAL early this morning in order to get out to Honzoman and take a few pictures of the Cherry Blossoms as they are just opening along the mote.  It was raining, but that made the colors just that much more intense.  Here are a few.