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In September, I went to the U.S. for a couple of weeks. First I visited my sister and stayed at the Green Fountain Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast where my nephew and I had also stayed the evening of my mother's funeral. Then I went to Ohio to visit my uncle Ernest (my father's brother) and his wife Taeko for the first time in several years. I had a chance to see their daughter, Cecilia, and their son, Charles.
From September 11-18, I visited Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. After a 5-day integrated weight loss program, I participated in the Inner Quest Intensive.
For the month of July, I had a visitor from California, Debbie Jones. She's a 20-year-old university student who's studying Japanese and, in her own words, an "anime geek. In addition to visiting all my university classes and making new friends, she enjoyed going to the flea market (see her "loot" in the photo) and shopping at a used bookstore in the neighborhood for manga. She and I went to Otaru one day and, with my good friend Eiko Takahashi, visited Mt. Tengu and the aquarium.
June 6th: My chorus, Sapporo Academy Chorus, had its annual concert at Kitara Hall. The program consisted of four parts:
Part 3 had to be completely memorized, which was extremely hard for me since everyone else had been familiar with the songs since they were children. I wasn't able to participate in Part 4 because of not enough rehearsal time, so, for the first time, I was able to watch my chorus perform from the audience. According to a friend who came to the concert, one of the most spine-tingling moments was the a cappella solo by my voice teacher, Ootomo-Sensei.
- Mozart's Ave verum corpus, Gloria, Laudate Dominum, and Regina Coeli
- Verdi's Stabat Mater
- A medley of Japanese songs called "Furosato no Shiki" ("The Four Seasons of My Hometown")
- Several Japanese minyo or traditional folk songs
June 5th: A friend and former colleague at Hokkaido University of Education, Chip Bozek, married a woman he met at his church, Satomi Ito. I was able to attend the wedding at International Christian Fellowship Church, which included a great deal of music with the church's "band," and especially enjoyed singing "Amazing Grace." The couple is now living in Kitami where Chip is teaching. You can see a photo of Chip and me in 2004 when he guided me around Furano in Hokkaido.
May 12th: My mother's funeral was held. The next day, my sister, nephew, uncle, and I went to the cemetery where my mother's parents are buried and scattered her ashes, in accordance with her will. As we rode together around the area, my uncle Kenneth pointed out places where they had lived, worked, and played as children. An interesting synchronicity is that, right after my mother's death, my sister had turned on her car radio and the song that was playing was, "I'll be seeing you in all the old, familiar places."
On April 19th, the day after my sister's birthday, I suddenly got a call from her that my mother, Dorothy A. Martin, had passed away. Although she had been suffering memory loss and complained of stomach aches, her sudden death came as a shock to us. That Tuesday morning, she had not gone to exercise class as usual, and people were so concerned that they had someone check on her in her apartment at Tudor Oaks. She had collapsed and was already gone by that time. The day before, she had gone to Bible study and, at the end, had said, "Are we done already? I wish we could keep on going." Those were her last words.
In addition to teaching part-time at Hokkaido University of Education and Sapporo University, I began teaching at Fuji Women's University. Teaching classes for all women is a change, but the atmosphere is delightful. There's a cooperative spirit that I sometimes miss at the other universities. I teach a conversation class with 30 students and a literature class with 15 students. For the later, I spent two months in February and March designing lesson plans for the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
March 5th: A farewell party was held for Toshiko Morimoto, a friend and kindergarten teacher, because she was going to Indonesia for 3 years to teach. She has studied English with me privately for a number of years and also speaks Spanish since she taught in Honduras with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Japanese equivalent of the Peace Corps) for a couple of years. She is one of the most enthusiastic people I know, with an aura that stretches beyond any room she's in. See photos of the party or even a movie of the room where we had the party by clicking on Suite D at Party House. Also see photos of the visit Toshiko and I took to Hokkaido Shrine on January 2nd.)
April 4th: Mac and Tippy, my furkids, underwent surgery to become neutered. They were very calm about the whole process, but it was Mac who was a little tipsy when they returned 3 hours later, still feeling the effect of the anesthetic. I also noticed that his voice changed. The two, however, are as active as ever, playing their favorite game of hide, seek, and attack!
February 12th: I went to the memorial service for Hiroko Yamazaki, a former student at Asahi Culture Center. It was unusual in that it was a luncheon held at Sapporo Grand Hotel, hosted by her daughter. At the beginning, at a small altar with her photo, some Buddhist priests chanted the prayers for the dead. They were exceptionally good at chanting, and we learned later that they had come for the service from a temple in Kyoto where Hiroko went once a month to study Zen. During the luncheon, there was a slide show of her life, gradually moving back in time. At various points, people spoke in her memory, talking of her work as a dietician and her interests in gardening, in learning English, in tea ceremony, in piano, . . . This was a woman who lived life to the fullest until the end of her 84 years. In fact, she had played in a piano recital in September, 2004, just 3 months before her death. One of the most poignant moments of the service was when her piano teacher played the same piece as the slides of her life gradually moved from her birth to her final days.
January 23rd: I sang in my chorus's annual in-house recital. This year I sang a Gershwin medley, including Someone to Watch over Me, They Can't Take That Away from Me, and I've Got Rhythm. The only problem with the last number is that I don't have a good sense of rhythm!
January 2th: I again went with a friend, Toshiko Morimoto, to Hokkaido Shrine for hatsumode or the first visit of the New Year. See photos of our visit.
See more news from 2004.
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