Monday, September 5, 2016

How Cannot You Put the Heart Into?

My father called me last night.

Father: What's new?

Me: Not much. Same all, same all.

Father: How's Marilyn?

Me: She's doing good. You know, she's fine as 17 years old. She gets up by herself, walks around if she wants. She eats well. So, it's good.

Father: Well, she seems to be good taken care of... If you put more your heart into her, that hurts you more...

Me: Well... but that's all I can do.

Father: Chibi was suffered at the end... She was in so much pain. I had to let her go...


He was remembering his last dog, Chibi. She lived for 15 years. She was a stray mutt. My friend's fiancée got her as a puppy. Then, she found a fancy apartment which didn't allow pets a couple weeks later she got the puppy. She moved into the apartment and had her friends pass around the puppy until she would get her new home. None of her friends was living in a place which allowed pets. The friend asked me if anybody wanted the puppy. I asked my parents if any of their neighbors were thinking of getting a dog. When I told them how the puppy was treated, my father told me to bring her home though we already had a dog. Next day evening, I picked up the puppy. I didn't hear from his fiancée a word even we knew each other and she knew the situation. That's how Chibi joined my family.

At that time I was living with my parents. It's common that girls live with their family until they get married in my country... just in case you feel that's weird. Her first night, we left her in her make-shift bed at the foyer. At the middle of the night, she started crying. It was dark. She was alone. Nobody was around her. She didn't know she got her forever home. She didn't even know if she was safe or not. The scared puppy never stopped crying. I brought her into my bed. She was so attached to me since then. My parents ran business at home, so they were always around her. But, she spent most of a day in my room alone while I was at work. When she took naps, she hid in a small space where she found in the house and nobody could reach. It looked like that was something she picked up on the street to protect herself. That broke our hearts. At that time, she was as tiny as fitting in my palm.

When I moved out of my parents', Chibi filled the empty nest. She got all my parents' attention. Especially, my father enjoyed nurturing her. She was smart. She listened to him well. He put his heart into her. He adored her, and she loved him back more. A couple years later, I moved to the US. They were even more bounded. My parents found she had a problem with her hip. They gave her as much as comfort they could. They took her everywhere they went. She wanted to go anywhere they would go. They were always together. She made their life brighter and more vibrant. She was the excitement of the old couple's life.

No matter how perfect care we give them, and/or how much love we give them, dogs' life spans are unfortunately much shorter than ours. Chibi's time came. Her lever and kidneys were giving up, and she was in great pain. They had to make the decision. Her death took big chunks of my parents' hearts. My father emailed me the news. I called them. They were crying over the phone as if they lost their child. I didn't know how to comfort them. I could feel their grief, their pain and their sorrow. We always had a dog since I was four. We had sent off our dogs to the rainbow bridge multiple times. But, this one hit them very hard. I told them how great life they gave her and she would appreciate everything they did for her knowing any of my words wouldn't be able to make them feel better. I felt so powerless. On the top of it, I was thousands miles away from them. I couldn't even hold their shoulders.

A couple years later, my parents came to the US for my wedding. They met Marilyn. She welcomed them very well. She hung out with them a lot during their stay. They fell in love with her. They took pictures of and with her. They went for walks with her. They had avoided to have another dog. They were still grieving. They started sobbing whenever Chibi came up in our conversation. But spending time with Marilyn triggered it. They got a Shiba mix puppy.

They adore their dog, Goro. My father has spent a lot of time training him. He listens to my father well, but he also doesn't hesitate to tell what he wants. They are inseparable. Goro keeps my father's life structured, and helps him stay healthy. After his chemo, my father lost tremendous weight and strength. He couldn't even step out to the yard for months. Goro helped him rebuilt his strength. Now, he can enjoy his life again though he still has the cancer. My father tells me how high maintenance Goro is (well, he's still young and has a lot of energy to burn.), but I can tell he's smiling over the phone.

There is no doubt that my father adores Goro. Chibi, however, still has a special place in his heart. When he hears how Marilyn gets old, he starts thinking of his Chibi. That reminds him his sorrow and pains. He is over eighty. This old man doesn't even cover up his feelings like he used to anymore. He is afraid Marilyn's time could run out anytime, and faces another death again.

Yes, it tears your heart apart. It breaks you. I know... because I've been there. But, how is it possible not to put your heart into them? They give you themselves — their trust, loyalty and love... How many times in your lifetime do you experience that anybody give themselves to you and ask no return? If you don't put your heart into them and they passes, you'd get hurt even more by not doing that with a great regret you'd never be able to fix.

So, why not? Put your heart into them. They never take it away from you. Even when they leave you, they don't take your heart with them. You feel it's gone with them, but it's still there. That's why you feel the pain and sorrow. They mark on it, but never take it away from you. So, you could do that again with other dogs. When you feel hurt and your heart is missing at their death, that tells you how much you love them, how much you gave them, and how much they loved you. How could be better honored their lives than that?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


















仕上げにEtsyで見つけたステンシル。この頃ダマスク柄が流行り始めた頃だったのですっかり影響されてしまった。Etsyのショップはなくなってしまったけれど、このステンシルを買ったお店はMaison de Stencilsで今も健在。素敵なステンシルが揃っています。






Dining Room Face Lift

Once snow covers the ground, it's just nice to stay in the house. Outside is too cold to do anything unless you like hanging out in 20 degrees or below. Then, we get cabin fever or depressed. Knowing how to entertain yourself is a key to get through a long winter.

We moved into this house two weeks prier to Christmas six years ago. Once Christmas was gone and the life in the house started functioning, some bugs started wiggling in my stomach. This is one of those stories...

Cabin fever set me on fire before finishing unpacking from the moving. I'd stayed up until three o'clock in the morning and moving boxes around alone for a couple of weeks. It was time for something new for my own sanity. "What am I doing? This is not fun anymore. I'm supposed to do something fun! This is our own house. We can do anything we want. I'd planned all sort of things before even moving in. Why aren't they taking shapes yet? I WANT MY HOME TO BE PRETTY!!!!!! ARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!" A typical cabin fever. I had to do something before being institutionalized.

I picked one of the most painful projects—removing wallpaper. This seems to be a challenge to your sanity, but oh well I just needed something different at that moment. Fortunately, there are only three rooms which have either wallpaper or borders.

As always, you should know your enemy. Research minimizes your headaches and frustration—you've got to do whatever for your sanity. Google is always a good place to start. You see others' experiences a lot through the Internet. Some success stories, some nightmares, silly stories, and etc., etc. For any house projects, I check Lowes website. Under their project tab, you'll find good resources such as buying guide, how-to videos and so on. I also go to Home Depot and ask them questions about tools and material. They are nice and helpful. I like hanging out there learning something new. This Old House cannot be forgotten.

As for removing wallpaper, I learned that it's totally up to the material of the wallpaper, it could be mostly paper or vinyl. Some resource says using a steamer. Some says using a hair dryer. Some says using adhesive remover for wallpaper glue. Some says just spraying water. I decided to start with water. Well, it's better to try the easiest method first, isn't it?

I sprayed water on the wall, gave it a couple of minutes, then peeled the wallpaper. The edges came off, but not the whole thing. I noticed the water was not penetrated to the wallpaper. This was not working well. It was time to make a trip to a hardware store. There were so many tools to remove wallpaper. There, I found this poker. There are two wheels with teeth on the back of the handle. As you go over a wall, the teeth create small holes on the wallpaper.

After going over the wall with the poker, I sprayed water on it. A couple minutes later, the wallpaper came off much easier.

This guy helped to peel the wallpaper without damaging the wall.

Over the weekend, three walls were done. After all, water just took care of it. Fortunately, there was only one layer. The horse hair plaster appeared under the wallpaper. It seems the previous house owner took care of older wallpapers. Lucky me.

It's time to think about primer. I'd never painted old plaster. Something should be different from drywalls, I thought. During the research, I found a story that somebody used latex based primer, and the paint peeled off with the primer from their wall one week after they painted. How frustrated they would be! This made me think it's better to use oil based primer even it takes longer to dry and its smell is stronger than latex based one. This is not a good project in a cold weather. The project was paused until it got warm enough to open the windows.

In the fall of the year, I finished primer. The room looks much brighter. At last, the prep work was complete.

Now, the fun part begins. You start seeing the dramatic progress. Once the base color is painted, the room looks much better getting out of the hospital room look. It got a life.

Before moving into this house, I found the stencil at Etsy for this room. The shop is gone from Etsy, but you can find it at Maison de Stencils. It's highly recommended. They have beautiful stencils.

There was a miscalculation. Because of the details of the design, the paint easily got under the stencil sheet. I had to wash it after every application. This made the process extremely slow down. I had thought this would be the most exciting and fun part of the whole project. I was wrong. It was a totally nightmare.

After the agony and some time, it was finally done. Yay! I love how it came out. On the other hand, I swear I would never ever do stenciling again!

I thought this would be the end of the project. Oh well... Once the walls were done, the ceiling started grabbing my eyes. It was just too bright against the walls. I didn't like it at all. It's time for painting again.

Lighting is always tricky and interesting at the same time. I applied the same color as one for the stencil on the ceiling, but look how dark it appears on the ceiling.

The ceiling came out slightly lighter than the walls. I expected to have a little bit lighter color than that, but it's ok. Now, the ceiling is blending into the walls. Nothing jumps out. The paint is also shinier sheen than the walls'. It reflects light better and helps brightening up the room.

It took two years to get there, but I cannot be happier. I don't say the dining room is complete, but I can say its painting job is done. No more painting.

Maybe because of the design of the stencil, people think it's wallpaper. It is STENCIL, Baby!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016





  • ハウス(日本的に言うと、特製)ローメイン
  • クラブラングーン — カニクリームコロッケの中身をワンタンの皮に包んで揚げたものって感じ
  • とき卵スープ — 卵にしては不自然な黄色が気になるところ。
  • エビと野菜の炒め煮
  • チキンとパイナップルの甘酢あん
  • 牛肉と中国野菜の炒め煮 — 中国野菜とメニューには書いてあるもののどれが中国野菜なんだろう?


右下のソースはダックソース(duck sauce)って言うんだけど、鴨もアヒルも入ってないです。中国語では酸梅醤と書くらしいので、梅が入ってるのかもしれないけど、杏子が入ってるとか、プラムが入ってるとかイマイチ材料のはっきりしない謎のソース。果物らしい酸味のある甘さが特徴で、私の感覚ではゆるい杏子ジャムって感じかなぁ。揚げ物につけて食べるらしいんけど、アメリカ人向けの(店内にアジア系のお客を見ることのないという意味で)中華のレストランに行くと、料理を頼んだすぐ後に拳サイズのパンと一緒に供されるんだけど、パンにつけて食べたいって感じの味でもないんだよね。その出されるパンも見るからにパサパサしてまずそうだし。











Thursday, January 7, 2016

Slow Start 2016

In the world, people have got back to work. I'm still enjoying my time-off with Marilyn. Waking up after the Sun is up, and enjoying coffee on the couch wrapped up in the blankets listening to Jazz... There is no "Go! Go! Go!" Who cares the train schedule?

At the beginning of December, I found out I had one week of use-or-lose time. I decided to take the time-off around the New Year's Day instead of around Christmas and celebrate the new year in my culture way according to our oldest history book written in the early eighth century.

The First Three Days of the New Year

In Japanese culture, the first three days of a new year are designed to be slow days. We prepare meals for these days in advance by the New Year Eve. We eat the prepared dishes, drink and relax at home with our family.

That means not to disturb the God of the Stove, where actual cooking occurs, and give a quiet time to the God of the Year during their stay. The God of the Stove actually stays on the stove. It is important not to use fire on the stove to let him stay. He brings great harvest and good health for the year at the visit. His leaving by any disturbance means he takes everything good he brought with him.

In fact, most part of the new year's feast is enjoyable without reheating them, and preserved well without refrigeration for this purpose. Nowadays, we refrigerate it because of the heating system of our houses. I'm pretty sure this wasn't necessary until about 100 years ago.

At more traditional families, the women in the families get a break. Their men take over preparing meals and dishes during the three days.

Based on our mythology, the God of the New Year visits every home with fortune and prosperity at the sunrise of the New Year's Day. It seems that the God of the Stove also visits at the same time. It doesn't sound like they come together.

The New Year feast is an offering to the Gods. Each dish has a wish for the new year such as good health, wealth, great harvest, a big family, long life (especially for old people), prosperity, and so on. We have them a little bit of each wishing a great year after the Gods enjoy them.

My Version... Off the Tradition by Limitation

I was inspired by my friend who are into flower arrangement. Not knowing anything about it, I just tried. There are some rules for the selection of flowers, but here in the US, I cannot do much about it. Anyway, besides my skill, it is always nice to have flowers in everyday life.

Of course, the Christmas decoration is still there. We get to enjoy that as well.

I spent the New Year's Day munching goodies and relaxed. Here is Marilyn's New Year's Day... not so much different from her usual weekends. This is her new thing these days — getting outside air without completely being outside. Our heating bill is going rocket high.

After her 16th birthday, she's lost more mobilities as her hind legs and hip lost more muscle. She is still a happy girl though.

I received one order from my Etsy shop. What a great start of the year for the shop! It's also time to donate the profit from the last year to a charity. I'm thinking to which one to donate.

On the second day, Marilyn and I dropped off some treats at the local humane society. A meet and greet was going on between a cute hound and his two potential future siblings. Fingers and paws are crossed for the pup.

Marilyn, as a former shelter dog, wishes all animals who need forever home will get sweet one soon. She know they have lots of love to give just like she does.

The third day was spent to maintain the Etsy shop. This was perfect for the miserable cold day. My assistant with a tail supervised me. I have to admit I don't spend much time with it. People however check my stuff and sometimes add to their favorites. That is very thankful. A new pillow cover section has been added. Hopefully I have more time for production for new items this year.

After the third...

In Japan, people go back to work on the 4th. My slow day still continues...

Another freezing cold day, I went to see my riding partners with carrots.

These pictures were taken in summer. I tried to take new pictures, but its battery died. They now have long winter coat and blankets in the barn. They are good taken care of. I cannot wait to ride them in a warmer weather.

Marilyn needed a little attention. She often gets stuck at the edge of her beds lately, and cannot get herself out. Then, she cries for help. That is the weakest and saddest whine I've ever heard. I made the bumpers for her from the leftover foam for her cart.

This is her cart. She doesn't enough strength to go for a walk anymore, but loves to go out. Somebody in the Facebook group I belong got one for his old dog and shared the information with the members. He put a dog bed and blankets to make his pooch comfortable in it.

In my neighborhood, I thought she needs a little more. Youssef told me about the site who sell custom cut foam for my project to restore the bench in the living room. I ordered a 4" thick firm foam from them. Their pricing is reasonable and the delivery was quick, too. One thing I didn't was measuring the inside of the cart. I got the dimension from the product description of the cart. Apparently that measurement was not correct, and I had to trim off the excess. The excess turned into the two bumpers. Everything happens for reasons, right? Now her cart is ready for action, and she doesn't get stuck at the edge of her beds. Marilyn can go visit her friends. She got double wins!

Sometimes, it is nice to spend time without planning anything and do things spontaneously. That's how my slow days have been going.