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Family traditions / Valentine's Dayタイトルをクリックしてください

Happy Valentine's Day!Image result for happy valentine's day When I was a child, my mother used to make a big heart shaped cookie for each of her children and my father.  Each cookie was decorated in pink and white icing, with our name on it.  The cookie was delicious.Image result for valentine lacy cookies My father would buy us each our favorite candy bar and make a message out of it, something like this:Mother's Day Candy Bar Poster, As children, we would take cookies or candy to a neighbor's house, put it on the front porch, ring the doorbell and run away.  This was our "secret valentine".Ding Dong Ditch Victoria and Mackenzee After many years of absence, I decided to start the tradition in my family this year again.  I haven't been able to meet my kids in a year, due to the Corona virus, so I sent valentine cookies instead. What family traditions do you have around Valentine's Day?  Or anything else?  Please tell me this week. Fiddler on the roof - Tradition ( with subtitles ) - YouTube   Part 2. I went on my first winter camp in two years.  Last year there was no snow.  For the first time we stayed in separate tents due to Corona.  With the blue sky and the beautiful scenery, it was one of my better camping experiences, so I wanted to share it with you.


恵方tacosタイトルをクリックしてください

Happy Setsubun! This year Setsubun falls on an irregular day, February 2nd, so I decided to celebrate in an irregular way. 恵方tacos!! I faced south by southeast, and wished for the quick end of Covid 19. Here is an interesting article on why Setsubun is on February 2nd this year: Japanese Setsubun Festival to Fall on February 2 for First Time Since 1897     Setsubun is a Japanese festival that traditionally marks the end of winter. Many Japanese people have grown up enacting scenes in which one family member wears the mask of an oni (ogre) and is driven off by the others throwing roasted soybeans. For generations, Setsubun has been on February 3, such that many Japanese have probably thought it always falls on this day. However, in 2021, it will be one day earlier, on February 2. What is the reason for this? In the traditional Japanese calendar, based on Chinese sources, the year is divided into 24 sekki. The first of these is Risshun (the beginning of spring), which often starts on February 4. As the start of the year, this is an important date, and Setsubun is set as the preceding day. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, which calculates the moment that Risshun begins, reports that in 2021 it will take place at 11:59 at night on February 3. Accordingly, this year Setsubun will be on February 2. The variation comes from the difference between the 365.242189 days in the solar year and the 365 days in the calendar year. Despite the correcting effect of leap years, a small difference remains. This is why Risshun sometimes begins on February 3 or 5, meaning the date of Setsubun also changes. The last time Setsubun was not on February 3 was in 1984, when it was celebrated on February 4. One has to go back to 1897 to find the last time that it was on February 2. It may thereby seem like a rare occurrence, but from this year, Setsubun will be on February 2 every fourth year for some decades. (Originally published in Japanese. Banner image © Pixta.)Setsubun 節分: A Seasonal Tradition - It's Japan Time


Let it snow!タイトルをクリックしてください

After an almost "snowless" winter last year,  Akita got two years worth of snow in a few days last week.  We all spent a few days shoveling out from under the snow.  Personally, I don't mind shoveling snow.  It's like Zen for me.  The before and after is so easy to see and so satisfying. I woke up this morning (1/17) to a new beautiful white cover over everything.  I'm about to go out and get more Zen., but first, let's learn some idioms about snow.

  1.  Snowed under  To be very busy or overwhelmed with something.  With test season coming up, I'm really snowed under at work.Have you ever been snowed under? I feel like that quite often. 😕 | English idioms, English language, Idiomatic expressions
  2. Pure as the driven snow  Absolutely virtuous or chaste, pure.  She's just sixteen and pure as the driven snow.As Bright and as Pure as the Driven Snow: A study for teen girls on God's Plan for Sexual Purity Before Marriage by Molly Lemmons
  3. white as snow  Extremely white or pale in color or complexion Now that my grandfather has stopped dying his hair, it's become as white as snow.The Borgia Crime Family Film - PART 8 "his head and his hairs were white like wool" | Facebook
  4. snow job  tricking someone using a lot of flattery.  Their sales technique is to always begin with a real snow job, after that, the customer is open to anything.snow job
  5. snowball into (something) To grow quickly into something bigger, more difficult, more dangerous, etc.  The situation in America with the protests at the capitol could quickly snowball into something dangerous, even a coup d'etat, if it isn't controlled quickly!GOP HUG: A TRUMP Snowball's Chance in Hell – TRiUMPhant! Women
I hope you are doing okay and don't have too many muscle aches.  Go get some Zen! Today's BGM

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Dean Martin

  Oh, the weather outside is frightful But the fire is so delightful And since we've no place to go Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow Man, it doesn't show signs of stopping And I've brought me some corn for popping The lights are turned way down low Let it snow, let it snow When we finally kiss goodnight How I'll hate going out in the storm But if you really hold me tight All the way home I'll be warm And the fire is slowly dying And, my dear, we're still goodbying But as long as you love me so Let it snow, let it snow, and snow When we finally kiss goodnight How I'll hate going out in the storm But if you really grab me tight All the way home I'll be warm Oh, the fire is slowly dying And, my dear, we're still goodbying But as long as you love me so Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow


Happy Moo Year!タイトルをクリックしてください

Japan's National Holidays in 2021 | Nippon.comA new beginning!  A new hope!  A new President, A reset! Did you have a nice New Years celebration?  I stayed home, visited my father-in-law, and went cross country skiing on the 1st.  It was a satisfying and safe new year. This year is the year of the cow, bull or ox.  here are some common idioms about bovines.

  1.  A cash cow.   a product or service that makes much money                       I hope the new Subway sandwich in Itoku is a real cash cow.Home - Cash Cow Project
  2. Have a cow.  to become very angry and upset about something   When I told him we canceled our Disneyland trip, he had a cow.Note to Devin Nunes: 'Don't have a cow, man!' – Blog for Arizona
  3.  Holy cowused to express strong feelings  of pleasure or anger    HOLY COW!! We won the jumbo takarakuji lottery!HOLY COW" from game WORLD SELECTION | Nobutaka Miyachiオフィシャルブログ Powered by  Ameba
  4. Until the cows come homeuntil very late, for a long time                  We stayed at my Father-in-law's drinking til the cows came home.On vacation until the cows come home
  5.  A sacred cow.  a person or thing that is never criticized or changed even if it should be                                                                                                     Public health insurance is a sacred cow in Japan.Sacred Cows - Julie Hyde Leadership
  6. A bull in a china shop.  a tactless person who  upsets plans, a very clumsy person                                                                                                  President Trump ran America like a bull in a china shop.Trump’s foreign policy nuttiness was on full display in NBC forum - Los Angeles TimesBull In A China Shop : The_Dotard
  7.  Hit the bulls-eye.  to reach or focus on the main point of something  You really hit the bullseye about my bad lifestyle habits.Bullseye — How to Hit Your Target Goal Every Time | by Gary Ryan Blair | Mind Munchies | Medium
  8.  Take the bull by the horns.  to take decisive and direct action          It's time for me to take the bull by the horns and look for a new job.What is the meaning of the phrase 'taking a bull by the balls'? - Quora
  9. As strong as an ox.  someone who is very strong.                                     Did you watch the RIZAP matches on New Years Eve?  Those fighters are as strong as oxen!The Game Changers Film Changed My Life: Full Summary - GRiT MiNE
  10.  As awkward as a cow on roller skates.  Very clumsy or uncoordinated.                                                    When I first started snowshoeing, I was as awkward as a cow on roller skates. As Awkward as a Cow on Roller Skates | Figurative language, Cow, Roller skates
I'm really looking forward to the coming year.  I hope it's a great year for all of us!  See you soon.


The best of times . . .タイトルをクリックしてください

One of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="227"]Credit: Getty Images/General Photographic Agency Charles Dickens (1812-1870)[/caption] wrote a book "A Tale of Two Cities" (二都物語) in 1859.  It is about the French Revolution.  It's a very good book that has been made into many movies.  Today I want to talk about the opening.  It is one of the most famous openings of any book.  Here it is in English: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. 日本語 それは最良の時代であり、それは最悪の時代であり、それは知恵の時代であり、それは愚鈍の時代であり、それは信念の時代であり、それは不信の時代であり、それは光の季節であり、それは暗闇の季節であり、それは希望の春であり、それは絶望の冬であった。我々の前には全てがあり、我々の前には何も無かった。我々は皆直接天国に至りつつあり、我々は皆直接別な道に至りつつあった・・・早い話が、その時代は現在とはとてもよく似ており、その時代の最もうるさい権威の何人かは、良かれ悪しかれ、その時代は最上級の形容詞によってのみ、受け取られるべきだと主張した。 Old 日本語 (which do you think is better?) それはすべての時世の中で最もよい時世でもあれば、すべての時世の中で最も悪い時世でもあった。叡智の時代でもあれば、痴愚の時代でもあった。信仰の時期でもあれば、懐疑の時期でもあった。光明の時節でもあれば、暗黒の時節でもあった。希望の春でもあれば、絶望の冬でもあった。人々の前にはあらゆるものがあるのでもあれば、人々の前には何一つないのでもあった。人々は皆真直に天国へ行きつつあるのでもあれば、人々は皆真直にその反対の道を行きつつあるのでもあった。――要するに、その時代は、当時の最も口やかましい権威者たちのある者が、善かれ悪しかれ最大級の比較法でのみ解さるべき時代であると主張したほど、現代と似ていたのであった。 Amazon.co.jp | A Tale of Two Cities DVD・ブルーレイ - The other day, I thought how much this fits our present situation.  In the past few days we have had great news about many vaccines being approved and vaccination has begun in many countries (not Japan unfortunately).   At the same time, the number of cases is rising rapidly in Japan, and a new strain of Corona has been found in England. 2020 has not been a very good year for any of us, but at the same time, I do have a lot of good memories from this year.  I know I will never forget this year, but I hope we can all hold on to the good memories and let the bad ones fade away. This morning (Dec. 21st), I've been making banana bread for some of my classes.  My house is filled with the delicious aroma of baking. [caption id="attachment_2024" align="alignnone" width="800"] Preparation / ingredients[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2025" align="alignnone" width="800"] Ready for the oven.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2027" align="alignnone" width="800"] Delicious banana bread![/caption] Here is my Christmas present to you.  Enjoy!

Mark's Banana Bread

125 grams shortening 200 grams sugar 2 eggs 3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas 150 grams flour 3/4 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in bananas. Sift together dry ingredients, add to banana mixture, mix well. Add walnuts and chocolate chips if you like. Put in a greased and floured pan, bake at 175℃ for 30-35 minutes. After cooking wait five minutes then remove from pan to cool.

Let's all have a safe, quiet and at home new year's celebration.  I'm looking forward to seeing you all next year.

Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!

Premium Vector | Merry christmas and happy new year 2021 greeting card  

Today's BGM:  STYX, The Best of Times (1981)

45cat - Styx - The Best Of Times / Lights - A&M - Brazil - 47.010 Tonight's the night we'll make history Honey, you and I And I'll take any risk to tie back the hands of time And stay with you here tonight I know you feel these are the worst of times I do believe it's true When people lock their doors and hide inside Rumor has it, it's the end of paradise But I know, if the world just passed us by Baby I know, I wouldn't have to cry, no no The best of times are when I'm alone with you Some rain some shine, we'll make this a world for two Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime We'll take the best, forget the rest And someday we'll find These are the best of times These are the best of times The headlines read, "These are the worst of times" I do believe it's true I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise But I know, if the world turned upside down Baby, I know you'd always be around, my my The best of times are when I'm alone with you Some rain some shine, we'll make this a world for two The best of times are when I'm alone with you Some rain some shine, we'll make this a world for two  


Gratitudeタイトルをクリックしてください

Classic Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes Last Thursday was America's Thanksgiving Day, followed by Black Friday.  This year was very different than most years because of Covid 19.  Many Americans spent their holiday alone, including my mother.  Others visited their families by Zoom, and far too many ignored the advice of medical professionals and went home for Thanksgiving.  I am very worried about another wave of Covid 19 in the next few weeks. I was busy Thursday, so finally yesterday (Saturday 28th), my wife and I celebrated a late and small Thanksgiving alone. [caption id="attachment_2006" align="alignnone" width="530"] Yummy Potatoes before cooking[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2008" align="alignnone" width="530"] Pumpkin Pie before cooking[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2012" align="alignnone" width="573"] Pumpkin Pie before eating[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2010" align="alignnone" width="530"] Thanksgiving dinner for two.[/caption] Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude for the good things in your life.  This year has had so much negativity, that I think it's about time for some positive thinking. I am thankful for living in Akita, one of the least effected places in Japan. I am grateful for the beautiful nature we have all around us.  It can really take our minds off the problems in the world. I appreciate the delicious food we have here. It means so much to me that I have students who return each week. Today I took down my Thanksgiving decorations and put up my Christmas decorations. It looks like it will be a quiet Christmas and New Years celebration this year, but I am so thankful that we are all still here to celebrate!


The Light at the End of the Tunnelタイトルをクリックしてください

After four years of ever increasing darkness, I am finally cautiously optimistic.  I think I can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. The last few months leading up to the election have been really hard on me mentally.  I've had problems sleeping etc.  I didn't feel like updating  "Mark's Phrase" either.  Sorry about two months of silence. As the results slowly trickled in about President-elect Biden's victory, I have been feeling a glimmer of hope.  Then last Friday night I went camping to Kawarage Jigoku for the last time this year.  Saturday morning as we drove home, this greeted us. I'm hoping that this is a sign of good things to come.   Biden campaign in Idaho is united, energized and mobilized | Community | idahostatejournal.com   Joe Biden for President: Official Campaign Website   How Trump Lost – Mother Jones   Here are a few more pictures from the last few weeks.  I love autumn! I also got new glasses last week, to really help me see clearly. I also had my first kiritanpo nabe of the season yesterday!  Delicious!  Life is good!

きりたんぽ鍋のレシピ。秋田県のご当地鍋の美味しい作り方。 | やまでら くみこ のレシピToday's BGM

"I Can See Clearly Now"

Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day It's gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day

I think I can make it now the pain is gone All of the bad feelings have disappeared Here is that rainbow I've been praying for It's gonna be a bright (Bright), bright sun shiny day Look all around, there's nothing but blue skies Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies I can see clearly now; the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day It's gonna be a bright, bright sun shiny day


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