Monday, February 27, 2012

366 Project, Week 6

(36/366) The super tiny produce section in my local grocery store. Thankfully it was full this time when I went in. (Side note, I’m now 1/10 of the way finished with this project – wow!)

(37/366) It was bento day at the junior high school. So I packed up my lunch and put it in my cute bento box.

(38/366) Was trying to see if I could stop the snow. Not really the greatest of pictures.

(39/366) I was staring at my banana saying “I know I should eat it, but I really want something sweet.” This is the result.

(40/366) What my desk looked like that day – lots of Japanese study and tea, not a lot going on at the elementary school. This is actually what a lot of my days look like.

(41/366) My favorite buttons in the staffroom! Push the smaller of the two pink ones and then the bigger one and hot water comes out! In the winter time, they are so wonderful because a hot cup of tea is my favorite way to spend slow afternoons.

(42/366) I spent the weekend with some friends. One was trying to make Valentines Chocolate for her husband and co-workers. We were her test subjects (pretty good role to play in the making of chocolates).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

366 Project, Week 5

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(29/366) A sign I drive by regularly for an old rest stop that has since closed down. It has several old vending machines inside and a window that used to be for ordering Bentos (what the sign says).

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(30/366) I was driving home and realized I still hadn’t taken a photo for the day. I spotted this scene and knew I wanted to capture it.

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(31/366) Driving back from an elementary school, I spotted this scene. I wanted to capture it but the power poles kept getting in the way. I decided to try and embrace them and see what happened.

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(32/365) I made sweet and sour chicken for dinner and wasn’t super happy with the results, so I decided to see what affect flash would have on the photo. Using my wireless flash, I was able to make my dinner stand out more and the background darker.

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(33/366) After my success with the sweet and sour, I decided to see if I could isolate the strawberries. I liked the results.

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(34/366) If it’s the breakfast of champions, can it also be the dinner of champions?


(35/366) This was the fun part of the day – I went snowboarding with two of my students. One is about the same height as me and the other is super, super short (and cute!).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fun times

This evening my neighbor R, who went boarding with invited me over after Eikaiwa (my adult English class). She bought some cake this weekend and decided to share it with me. (yum!)

After cake, we were talking and somehow parts of speech came up. She was surprised when I asked about it and I explained that usually in America we don't straight out study them, but we do things like mad libs that make us learn them. I was kind of explaining the game, but she didn't seem to be getting it, so I decided we should try it. The first one was the funniest and luckily she understood it pretty easily. (The next one was about the beach and required a lot more understanding of American culture). 

Here's what she came up with (the formatting is a bit weird): 


Once upon a/an cell phone (NOUN), there were three little pigs. The first little pig was very pretty (ADJECTIVE), and he built a house for himself out of cds (PLURAL NOUN).

The second little pig was handsome (ADJECTIVE), and he built a house out of body soap (PLURAL NOUN). But the third little pig was very sweet (ADJECTIVE), and he built his house out of genuine boots (PLURAL NOUN).

Well one day, a mean old wolf came along and saw the houses. 'how! (EXCLAMATION!)' he said. 'I’ll move (VERB) and I’ll hike (VERB) and I’ll blow your house down.' And he blew down the first little pig’s butterfly (NOUN) and the second little pig’s surf board (PLURAL NOUN). The two little pigs ran to the third pig’s house. Thereupon, the wolf began blowing, but he couldn’t blow down the third little pig’s heater (NOUN) house.

So he drove (VERB - PAST TENSE) off into the forest, and the three little happy (ADJECTIVE) pigs moved to Chicago and went into the sausage business.

Giving credit: This came from the iphone app.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Night boarding

A night boarding adventure with my friend, R.

She even helped me practice toe-side. Falling on my knees in the snow on our local hill wasn't as bad as I had thought, though the snow was packed pretty hard.

**Testing out mobile posting, so you're getting a pretty terrible iphone photo. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A day in Furano

The day started with meeting a friend at the station just before lunch time. After we met, we went and found the visitor’s guide that now features us!

While in the visitor’s center, we spotted a flier for Furano Burger and said let’s go there for lunch, we’d both heard good things.

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R’s favorite Japanese past time is looking through the Café books they put out. Here she’s found the one that featured this café and is investigating thoroughly.

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After I went looking for some good photos around the shop, our food came. This is the standard Furano burger.

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When we finished our food, we went on some not so exciting errands and then headed up to the New Prince Hotel area to visit Ninguru Terrace – the perfect place for a stroll in the winter snow. And when it’s not Christmas or birthday shopping time, a cheap place to explore.

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When you walk up, these snowmen greet you – on one side of the map, they say Ninguru Terrace. On the other side, they say “he yokoso” (welcome to). Such a fun way to enter.

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The snow and being in the middle of the forest was so pretty!

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Watch out for bears!

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More snow, cottages and stairs!

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After our walk around we had gotten cold enough we decided it was time to go check out the last of the Onsen in Furano we hadn’t visited – the one in the New Prince Hotel.

Their onsen wasn’t particularly huge or with lots of baths, but it had a lot of nice resting areas.

When we came back out we saw the night lights of the terrace and decided it warranted a quick walk through, just enough to take a few pictures and head to the car.

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The lights made everything look so magical.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Awesome photo tip

Toward the end of last year, I somehow found myself on Brooke Snow's blog. After reading just a few posts and looking at her pictures I was hooked.

I absolutely love the way she captures life. She deems herself a lifestyle photographer, but I just like the way she captures her subjects - couples, kids, families all of them.

Earlier this week I watched one of her most recent blog posts, a "tiny tip." Such a great tip, nothing super huge or ground breaking.

Watch to see the tip: (she does a better job explaining it than I do).

Do you already do this? Is this a helpful thing for you or not?  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Watch out!

This afternoon I had to make the long walk home from my junior high. It is about an hour of walking, up hill both ways (if you count the bridges) and in the snow. Of course, because I only go there once a week, I have an annoyingly large amount of things to take with me. Ugg!

Today I decided that after a rough day (nothing related to school), that I was going to make it a fun walk home, take my time.

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While not my favorite of the ones I took, I liked this one. The sign says “chui” (pronounced chewy) and means caution . . . and it’s pointing at me.

Watch out for the petite, female foreigner with a camera!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

366 Project, Week 4

What a start to a year! In the first 6 weeks, I had a whirl-wind visit home, got really sick, didn’t re-contract and crashed my car. I’ve managed to keep up with most of the 366 project photos, but I haven’t been so good about posting them.

During week four, I finished with the weird illness I had again.

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(22/366) I continued to be sick and spent tons of time reading on my new Kindle. Since I was around my house, I decided to see what happened if it ran out of batteries, entirely. The photo above is the result, and the only photo I took that day.

(23/366) Continued illness and an unhelpful doctor’s visit – it was decided even after I got really sick that I had a cold.

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(24/366) What does one see all day when they’re sick on the couch? Oneself, of course! Here are my jeans.

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(25/366) My new winter jacket. One of the reasons I liked it was the textured pattern it had.

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(26/366) Back to school – finally! This was on my beautiful drive home from the school that is the farthest from where I live and I love the drive.

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(27/366) I signed my contracts today with a pen similar to this, it was a hard decision. I will be leaving the JET program in August and most likely Japan, too. I’ll be sad to leave my town, friends I’ve made here and to not be able to study Japanese so easily, but I’m super excited to be back in a place where good friends don’t live so far away.

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(28/366) I met a friend in the town near mine today. The sky was so bright and the LCD screen on the back was so hard to see, I decided to shoot in raw. This is the first photo I’ve taken from start to end in editing in raw. The clouds that day were so amazing.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Woke up to really bad neck pain, nothing else still hurt from snowboarding, so I knew it wasn't related. On a happy note - it's the fastest I've bounced back so far! 

Got the email just before second period that, as I thought, my insurance didn't cover my car. Sadly, I've had it less than 6 months. I spent most of second period trying not to cry (the neck thing really didn't help). 

After my last class, my supervisor and I went to the hospital in the big town. They took x-rays and everything in  my neck is fine. He basically gave me a prescription version of what I had been doing - Salonopas patches of amazing and pain reliever. 

Then we headed out to my car to collect my stuff. The minute I saw it I had to hold back the tears again. More than anything it's frustrating. And the whole pile of "what if I had . . ." questions wanted to jump back in. 

Thankfully my supervisor was then willing to head back into town to give a friend a box for an upcoming ALT meet, so I don't have to try to get it on the train (or in a car with friends). 

Now I'm back and feeling loads better with just the patch on my neck . . . kinda wishing I had refused the pain meds and only taken these.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I’ll start this post off, by saying I’m ok. 私は元気です。

You probably realize something not so happy is coming after that.

The short version of the story is yesterday I hit some ice, lost control of my car and it’s pretty badly damaged. But, as I addressed before, I’m ok.

For the longer version of the story, read on.

Last week a friend had come out and so we did a bit of shopping, went to an onsen and rented movies. I had exactly a week to watch them and return them. Meaning, they were due on Saturday.

When Saturday rolled around, I was tired and let myself sleep in. I decided I’d go to the movie store after boarding with some students (which was awesome and I intend to blog about it later). Off I went, with a mug of chai in one hand and a purse in the other.

Though we’d had a pretty good blizzard while my students and I were boarding, the weather had cleared up. The roads in my area and the farm-y next bit were perfect.

When I got to the forest-y bit of the drive, the weather turned horrible again. It was snowing so badly that the visibility was really low and the cars ahead of me were kicking up tons of snow. I got through that just fine and after the forest-y bit of the drive it was pretty good weather again. Because of this I took the back road into town, instead of the slow road filled with lights.

I realized that when other cars drove past, I would suddenly lose visibility and suddenly. So I kept pretty close to the speed limit – 60k (around 35mph). Not fast by any means.

Along that road, my car slipped and suddenly wasn’t going straight any more (this was a long, straight road). Instead, I was headed across the other lane and for the snow covered fields on the other side. I tried to slow down, but my car wasn’t to be deterred. I saw the power pole coming, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Thoughts flashed through my mind of what the outcome might be of this one.

I hit on the left passenger side, right about the same place as that wheel and did a 180. My car stopped facing the road. I turned on my hazard lights, in hopes that someone would stop, as people have every time

I’ve gotten myself into a snow jam.

I decided it was time to get out and see how bad the damage was. I couldn’t open my door. I decided to crawl out the window, because sitting and not knowing was going to make me even more nervous about what happened.

Outside I discovered that my door was just jammed in the snow my car had jammed itself into. I walked around to the other side. I found that I had smashed in the panel above the wheel and the wheel was at about a 30-45 degree angle. I didn’t know whether my wheels were turned so I wasn’t sure whether to be worried or not yet.

After sitting there for a minute I finally managed to wave someone down from within the car – surprisingly a few cars passed. That car and one more stopped to help. The guys who got out called the police for me, gave a description of where I was and passed on my number. Then they headed off.

I waited. When L texted me back from my “please pray” text. I decided to call and talk to a familiar voice. L was good company in something like this. She has a super calming voice and wouldn’t let me regret what would happen, with all of my “if only I had done . . . instead” comments, she came back with you never know when these things might happen.

After a few minutes on the phone with her I saw emergency lights getting closer and closer. Suddenly, about a quarter mile from where I was, they stopped. Then another one came. I didn’t know why they weren’t coming, but I could only imagine something worse had happened on the road.

After about 25 minutes on the phone with L, I decided I needed to call the police and see what was happening. L looked up the numbers for me and I was about to get off when another car pulled over. It was another guy who seemed to have a car full of people. This time though, when he spoke, I realized I knew the voice (he was wearing glasses that I’ve never seen). He’s one of the men in my eikaiwa and his family (all of whom I teach at eikaiwa or elementary school), the S family, were in the car.

He and I talked for a few minutes, when the tow truck showed up. The tow truck guy helped me out of the car and then suggested I wait with the S family in the car. I discovered that his kids who I adore were in the back. Mrs. S asked me what had happened and I told her.

As I was telling her, the phone rang, it was the police, telling me there had been an accident down the road and they’d be along soon (probably 40 minutes after they had been called).

The tow truck looked at it for a while, but I suspect they weren’t allowed to do anything until the police came, since they were called. They came a few minutes later.

The police man climbed into the car (he was invited) and took my name and info and then asked me questions. Mrs. S helped for the bits of Japanese I didn’t understand.

After he left, Mrs. S told me she’d call a name I didn’t recognize at the BOE. Just as she was telling me this, my supervisor Mrs. K called. Mrs. S took the phone and explained what happened in Japanese for me. 

Then they finally began to pull my car out. Initially it was thought I’d be able to drive my car, but when they pulled it out, it was increasingly obvious that the tire was not in the direction it should have been. It turns out that the hit not only damaged that panel but my axle as well.

The S family followed the tow truck and my car to the shop in the big town. We retrieved my stuff and a few things I thought I might need in the next week. I left loads of stuff in my car and figured I’d get it out later.

The mechanic estimated it costing 50-60 man ($5-6,000) to fix it. Mrs. S said something about insurance and when I said I didn’t think it covered my car, she said Mrs. K had said something. I’m not sure what will be the result of that, but I’ll find out tomorrow at school.

In the end the S family stayed with me through the ordeal with the tow truck and then to take my videos back (most expensive video rental ever!) and to grab something to eat (I had expected to eat dinner in Furano and it was past 9 pm at this point).

The funniest part of the whole thing is that during the combini food stop, Mrs. S and I headed in, walked past the mat for wiping your feet and hit a wet spot, I could see her lose her balance and couldn’t do anything as I lost mine too. We both went down on the floor hard.

After the whole thing we drove back into town together. I’m so thankful that God provided someone to help me with all the Japanese and all the details. I’m not sure I could have explained what had happened or done any of it as well as the S family helped me with it.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

366 Project, week 3

During week 3/4 I got sick. So there are a few holes as I just didn’t think about getting a photo.

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(15/366) The mountains on my drive home from church. I loved the combination of sky and mountains.

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(16/366) My kindle cover. I had forgotten to take a picture and it got toward the end of the day. I really liked the texture of the edges.

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(17/366) My students were playing karuta. Karuta is a Japanese traditional game where one person calls out a word that corresponds to various cards. These were in super stylized calligraphy, so I couldn’t read them well enough to play. For example, I looked at this one, skipped the crazy calligraphy on the left, and read it “さも” (sa-mo). One of my students had to point out the squiggle on the right which reads “し” (shi), so it actually says “しさも” (shisamo).

(18/366) I got super sick on Wednesday this week, including puking and a fever. I was barely able to keep myself going through the day, let alone remembering to be creative and take photos.

(19/366) Though I finished getting sick the night before, I continued to have a fever and very little energy on Thursday. I spent most of the day on the couch.


(20/366) On Friday, I ended up feeling good enough to move around a little. My supervisor brought me fruit and as I looked at it sitting on my table, I liked how the light caught the plastic on the bag. It took me several shots to get the variety of light the way it is now. I finally ended up bumping the exposure down while focusing on the right part of the bag. I don't really love the way I framed it, but I was finally happy with how I caught the light.

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(21/366) While browsing pinterest this day, I noticed someone had made a really cute zipper pack for their headphones. I thought, “that looks cool! I should do that.” Then I realized that I didn’t need to, I had already had the non-sewing version of this idea – use a coin purse. I especially liked this shot because of the star on the silver part of the lower headphone. I kept spotting it in the camera, but couldn’t tell, in camera, if I had caught it.