Thursday, April 30, 2020

Zuversicht

Zuversicht is one of the small number of German words I know. I don't speak German at all, and I have never studied it, but I have picked up several words from the titles of chorale preludes that I have learned to play on the electronic keyboard. I've learned the word Zuversicht from Jesus Meine Zuversicht (BWV 728).

According to an online dictionary. Zuversicht means confidence, trust, and assurance.
The English translation of Jesus Meine Zuversicht on this web page is Jesus Christ, my sure defense.

I like this beautiful piece of music, but I used to play it without knowing the meaning of its lyrics for a long time. I didn't know it was a chorale about death and resurrection.




Jesus, meine Zuversicht
Und mein Heiland, ist im Leben!
Dieses weiß ich: soll ich nicht
Darum mich zufrieden geben?
Was die lange Todesnacht
Mir auch für Gedanken macht? 








Jesus Christ, my sure defense
And my Savior, now is living!
Knowing this, my confidence
Rests upon the hope here given,
Though the night of death be fraught

Still with many an anxious thought.










Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Yogurt

I have homemade yogurt at breakfast every morning. I usually have the yogurt with fruit such as a banana, an orange, kiwifruit, and avocado. I sometimes add some honey or jam.

We make a jar of new yogurt using the culture from an older jar every other day. My mother got the original yogurt from a friend of hers decades ago, and kept making new yogurt, until she passed away about seven years ago. Then my father took over the work. Several months later, when I moved in with him, I took it over.

It is easy to make yogurt. First, sterilize a jar and a spoon with boiling water. Then put 2 tablespoons of yogurt and 2 cups of milk into the jar. Stir. Place the jar in a warm place. The optimal temperature is 25 degrees centigrade (77 degrees Fahrenheit). It is done in 4 to 7 hours, depending on the temperatures.

Recently I've read a few books on microbiota, and learned that probiotics including yogurt is good for the health. I'd like to continue making yogurt as long as I can.





Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Xylitol

Though I seldom chew gum these days, if I were to be asked what my favorite type is, my answer would be 'gum with xylitol in it', because it is said that this sweetener is good for the teeth.




Incidentally, I'm interested in the word xylitol. The English prefix, xylo- means wood, as in 'xylophone.' Xylo- comes from the Greek word ξύλον. (I've studied a little Biblical Greek before.)

According to Lexico, the origin of xylitol is  xylose+ -ite+ -ol. The second element, -ite, is used to form names of chemicals, and the last part, -ol, denotes alcohol.

In fact, I would rather ruminate on etymology than chew gum.










Monday, April 27, 2020

Walking

My favorite form of exercise is walking. It is the least expensive of all sports, unless we are particular about your clothes and shoes. We can walk anywhere, any time, as long as we like. 

I like walking along the river near my house. I sometimes cross the bridges, observing the river, the sky, the mountains in the distance, and birds. I feel the wind blowing. Walking is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.




I often walk to the supermarket. It's only a fifteen-minute walk from my house. I also walk to church. It takes less than 25 minutes. I sometimes ride a bicycle, but I don't own an automobile. My carbon footprint is small. Walking is good for the environment, as well as for the health.



What is your favorite type of exercise?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Veni Emmanuel

Veni Emmanuel is the name of the tune for my favorite hymn for Advent, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. The beautiful melody in E Minor seems to express the longing of people waiting for their Savior to come.

Reading a web page at hymnary.org to learn more about this tune, I was surprised to find that it was originally music for a Requiem mass. This article in Wikipedia tells us more about the history of this famous hymn.  I find it interesting to read about the historical backgrounds of songs.








Friday, April 24, 2020

Ume

Since my childhood, I have loved the white flowers of ume, also known as 'Japanese apricot' or 'Chinese plum.'  They are in blossom at the coldest time of the year. It seems to me that the fragrant blossoms symbolize patience and hope.



The photo above shows a branch of the ume tree that my father has been taking care of for decades. It's a bonsai tree, so it is placed inside our house in winter.


What is your favorite flower?



Thursday, April 23, 2020

Teddy Bears

My favorite toy is a teddy bear. -- To be more exact, my favorite toy to make is a teddy bear.

Years ago, I happened to find a book on how to make teddy bears, browsing books randomly at a small bookstore near the railroad station. The teddy bears were adorable. I had never dreamed of making a teddy bear myself, but the book made me curious and I bought the book after all.

Several days later, I opened my sewing box, which had gathered dust, and started making a teddy bear with a scrap of cloth. Immediately, I was hooked.

Since then, I have made dozens of teddy bears. I have given some of them to my friends, and sold some at church bazaars. The rest of them are still with me.







Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Student

Some people regard me as a former teacher of English as a foreign language, some think of me as an amateur church organist, and others may consider me to be a volunteer translator. My favorite job title is, however, a 'student.' Whatever I do, I would like to identify myself as a student, always eager to learn something new. Currently, the subjects I'm studying diligently include linguistics, music, cooking, psychology, and medical science.





What kind of subjects do you like studying now?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Rinck

Johann Christian Heinrich Rinck (1770-1846)

I came across some of the beautiful pieces written by this German composer at IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project), while I was looking for short preludes and verses to play at church. I had never heard of him before, and I am thankful that I have discovered his music, which resonates with my heart.

I have downloaded the following sheet music, and I sometimes play one of the short pieces on the reed organ during the Sunday worship service.


I like Rinck's works because their pleasant and graceful harmonies often fills my heart with comfort, peace and hope.


The piece I like best in these collections is the chorale prelude, Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (Dearest Jesus, We Are Here).





Monday, April 20, 2020

Quiet Places

My ideal place to spend a vacation is somewhere quiet, surrounded with beautiful scenery. I seldom go to popular tourist spots because I easily get exhausted in crowds.

For my next vacation, I would like to visit a quiet hot spring in the mountain or stay at a small inn by the sea.








What is your favorite place to spend your vacation?


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Playing the Electronic Keyboard

My favorite pastime is playing the electronic keyboard. I've been an amateur church organist for years. I played the reed organ at church, but I practice with the electronic keyboard at home. I practice for at least two hours every day.

I started learning how to play the electronic organ at the age of six, not because I wanted to, but because my parents wanted me to.  One day, they suddenly asked me which I liked better, the piano, or the electronic organ. I had no idea. I had never seen an electronic organ before. Some of my friends were taking piano lessons, and I had heard them play the piano. I didn't like following suit, so I chose the road less traveled by. I took a lesson once a week.

Later, my parents told me that they made me take music lessons not because I was a promising musician, but because I was a hopelessly bad singer. They wanted to do something to improve my musical sense.

My father bought me an electronic organ, with upper and lower manual keyboards and pedal keyboard. As a child, I didn't spend much time practicing at home, and it took me a lot of time to make progress. I kept taking lessons mainly because I was proud that I was learning to play the musical instrument that few of my friends could play. In those days, NO ONE imagined that I would be a church organist some day.

I came to love playing the keyboards only after I began to serve as a church organist. Now I can play almost all the hymns in our hymnals, and I've learned to play more than 100 and counting chorale preludes. I could keep playing the keyboard all day long.

What is your favorite pastime?






Friday, April 17, 2020

Our Daily Bread

About three decades ago, I took part in a summer camp at the Bible Institute by the Sea of Japan. The camp was organized by some Canadian missionaries, and they taught English to the participants. I had a very good time talking with them in English. At the end of the four-day camp, one of the missionaries gave me a booklet, which I started reading on the train on my way back.

I found the devotional booklet inspiring. As soon as I got home, I wrote to the ministries to sign up. Since then, I have been reading Our Daily Bread every day. Today, I still subscribe to the paper version, and visit their website from time to time as well. I like the web version with interactive features and audio files, but I find the paper book more comfortable to read.


About 20 years ago, they started publishing the Japanese translation of Our Daily Bread, too. When I visited their website in Japanese in 2012, I found that volunteer translators were wanted. I applied for the position, and had the privilege of working with them for several years, translating part of the booklets into my native language, Japanese. I'm thankful for this great learning opportunity.

What I like about Our Daily Bread is that its concise and inspiring articles written by dozens of authors in different countries in the world help me understand the Bible better.






Do you subscribe to the paper version of any newspapers or magazines? Why, or why not?



Thursday, April 16, 2020

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

I started to study English as a foreign language in junior high school in Japan. When I was in the 8th grade, the teacher gave each of us a copy of English Songs for Boys and Girls, and had us sing a song at the beginning of the class as a warm-up activity. I still have the song book with me now. -- Through the book, we learned to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," " Mary Had a Little Lamb," "London Bridge," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," and so on.



My favorite song in that book was "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."





Nobody knows the trouble I've seen,
Nobody knows but Jesus,
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen,
Glory hallelujah!

Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down, O yes, Lord!
Sometimes I'm almost to the groun', O yes, Lord!


It seems that the highly sensitive teenage girl identified herself with the lyrics easily. -- When I first sang this song in the classroom, I had heard of Jesus, but I didn't really know who He was. I accepted Him as my savior more than 7 years later.





Singing a song in a foreign language may help us learn the pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and cultural background of the language we are studying.

Have you ever learned to sing a song in a foreign language? 



Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Miso Soup


I have at least one bowl of miso (soybean paste) soup almost every day.  -- A typical Japanese meal wouldn't be complete without miso soup. --

There are countless recipes for soup, and the following photos show some of my favorites.




tofu and nameko (butterscotch mushrooms)



potato and wakame (sea mustard) 



shijimi (basket clams)


What kind of soup do you like best?



Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier

I am an amateur church organist, and I have the privilege of selecting the prelude for a worship service when I am on duty. I usually play a piece that seems to match the verses the sermon is based on, but sometimes it seems that there are no relevant hymns. In that case, my go-to chorale prelude is  Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (BWV 706).  The harmony is beautiful, and the lyrics are suitable for preparing ourselves for the worship service, whatever the theme of the sermon may be.


German Text:

Liebster Jesu! wir sind hier,
Dich und dein Wort anzuhören.
Lenke Sinnen und Begier
Auf die süßen Himmelslehren:
Daß die Herzen von der Erden
Ganz zu dir gezogen werden.


English Translation:

Dearest Jesus, we are here
To listen to you and your word.
Direct our minds and desires
to the delightful teaching of heaven:
so that from the earth our hearts
maybe completely drawn to you.

reference: http://www.bach-cantatas.com





If you were asked to name a piece of music whose title begins with the letter L, what would be the first one that comes to mind?

Monday, April 13, 2020

Kumquat

I like all kinds of citrus fruits, and the kumquat is one of them. Kumquats are like miniature oranges, only about 2 centimeters (approximately 0.8 inches) in diameter. Eaten fresh, some of them are sweet, some are sweet and sour, others are sweet, tangy, and slightly bitter. I appreciate their various nuances. Kumquat comport and marmalade are also good. Kumquat sauce goes very well with sautéed pork. 

We call this fruit kinkan in Japan, where I live. Kinkan and kumquat sound similar, don't they? Suspecting that the English noun may come from Japanese, I consulted a dictionary. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word, also spelt cumquat. is derived from a Chinese word.
The Cantonese dialectal form of the Chinese name kin ku 'gold orange'
I consulted a few other dictionaries and found that the Japanese counterpart also comes from Chinese. It is interesting to note that the original word is spelt as 金橘 in Chinese, whereas the Japanese word kinkan is spelt as 金柑. 金 means 'golden' and both 橘 and 柑 mean 'citrus.'

Kumquats are sold here only at the coldest time of the year. These small golden oranges help us survive a harsh winter.





What is your favorite fruit?



Saturday, April 11, 2020

J. S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is my favorite composer. Though I haven't listened to all of his works, I have never been disappointed with those I have listened to so far.

When I was in elementary school, I was a member of the instrumental music club, and our repertoire included Fugue in G Minor "The Little" and Air on G String, which were arranged for ensembles. I played the harmonica, the melodica and the soprano accordion. Through the club activities, I probably began to connect the name of the composer to his beautiful pieces.


Fast forward about a dozen years, I started to serve as a church organist. The collection of short chorale preludes I got had several pieces arranged by J. S. Bach, which were more difficult to play but far more beautiful than the others. The more I practiced playing them, the more I came to love them.

Since then, I have listened to more of his works, and practiced playing more of his chorale preludes, all of which I love. I'm afraid I do not have enough vocabulary to describe, analyze, and explain the beauty of  his music. All I can say is that I LOVE the works of J. S. Bach. I'm really thankful that I was born after he composed all these pieces and that I live in the era when sheet music, CDs and audio files are so easily available."

The truth is that I would rather listen to or practice playing his music than talk about it.


Elias Gottlob Haussmann [Public domain]


Who is your favorite composer?




Friday, April 10, 2020

Indigo Blue

My favorite color is indigo blue. There is something noble, calm and practical about this beautiful color. It seems to me to be reliable and reassuring. Indigo blue goes well with any other color, doesn't it?







What is your favorite color?





Thursday, April 9, 2020

Hot Chocolate with Milk

Yesterday, I wrote about Green tea, which I have at breakfast every day. I also mentioned I often have cold barley tea in summer.

Today, my topic with the letter H for Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is hot chocolate with milk, my favorite drink in winter.

As soon as I come home on a freezing day, I wash my hands and start making a cup of hot chocolate.--On my way home, I have already started dreaming of having a cup of hot chocolate on getting home. When I have to go to a place I don't want to go very much on a cold day, before leaving my house, I always remind myself of a cup of this comforting drink that I am going to have on coming back.

To make hot chocolate, I put a tablespoon of instant cocoa powder in a cup, add some boiling water, and stir. The instant cocoa powder contains enough amount of sugar. Then I add some milk, and microwave. -- A perfect treat for myself.





What is your favorite drink in winter?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Green Tea

I have two cups of hot green tea at breakfast every single day. I usually have a slice of toast for breakfast. When I was younger, I thought green tea did not go well with toast, but gradually I have come to like this combination. I make green tea every morning, as if it were a ritual.

During a break or after lunch, I usually have a cup of coffee, or a cup of black tea. In summer, I often have a glass of cold barley tea.

I also like trying various kinds of teas, including jasmine tea, buckwheat tea, and herbal teas.

There are always several different kinds of tea in our cupboard, but for breakfast, I never fail to drink two cups of hot green tea.


What is your favorite tea?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Fantasia in C Major


One of the pieces I enjoy playing on the electronic keyboard is Fantasia in C Major by J. S. Bach (BWV570). --Though my musical instrument does not have pedals, the bass part can be played with the left hand easily. -- I am fascinated with the peaceful, reassuring harmony of this beautiful work. I especially like the bass part in the latter half of this piece. 

As I am writing this, the pleasant music is playing in my mind.






What kind of music do you like best?



Monday, April 6, 2020

Emily Dickinson

My favorite poet is Emily Dickinson. My first encounter with her was in an anthology I found in the school library when I was young.



If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain



(#919)




The moment I read this poem, I thought I had just found a kindred spirit. Later, I read The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, The Letters of Emily Dickinson, and several books on her life and poems. I have to admit that some of her poems are too difficult for me to understand, but over all, I love her sensitive, concise poems. 

Emily Dickinson was a highly sensitive person, and probably this is why I can relate to many of her works.







Who is your favorite poet, and what is your favorite poem?



Saturday, April 4, 2020

Discover the Word


On every weekday, I listen to Discover the Word on the Internet. The radio program is a less-than- 15-minute Bible study conversation provided by Our Daily Bread Ministries. Through their programs, I've discovered fresh perspectives of some of the well-known stories in the Scripture, and learned something new from the books I'm not very familiar with.

In addition, they introduced to me a number of wonderful writers and their books. For example, the series, Taste and See, has led me to  the book Taste and See written by Margaret Feinberg. I've read When God Says No and  Resilient by Sheridan Voysey, and listened to the series, Resilient, in which Sheridan himself was interviewed. Later, I found Resurrection Year in the archive, and I was inspired by the radio programs. Last year I enjoyed reading The Making of Us by the same author. The theme of Sheridan's books, our broken dreams and our identities in God, appeals to me greatly, though we have different sort of broken dreams.


Discover the Word is my favorite Internet radio program, which deepens and broadens my undersdanding of the Word of God.





Do you often listen to radio programs on the Internet?



Friday, April 3, 2020

Chocolate


My favorite comfort food is chocolate.

I prefer dark chocolate,
because it seems better for the health.
The less sugar, the better.
The bitterer, the better for the health.


When I go hiking, I never fail to take some chocolate with me.
(I haven't been on a hike recently, though.)


Come to think of it, Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is like a hiking, isn't it? 
I could use some chocolate right now.







My theme for Blogging from A to Z April Challenge this year is my favorites.


What is your favorite comfort food?


Thursday, April 2, 2020

B Minor



My favorite key is B Minor. I wonder why.

When I was a beginner in music, the pieces I liked best was, naturally, either in C Major or in A Minor. The less sharps and flats, the better. (I still feel intimidated by works with more than four flats, and those with more than three sharps.)

Probably the main reason why I've come to like B Minor recently is that I like listening to Mass in B Minor by J. S. Bach. -- I especially like its beginning, Kyrie. -- The title, Mass in B Minor, seems to evoke a special feeling. 

Talking of J. S. Bach, my favorite piece in his Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1, is XXIV, which happens to be in B Minor.





Do you have any preferences for musical keys?










Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Aran Sweater


Now that April has come, it is about time we washed and stowed away our winter clothes in the Northern Hemisphere. Before I put my sweaters in the laundry basket, I will write about my favorite sweater in my first post in Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

Since my childhood, I have been fascinated with Aran sweaters. I love their typical 3-D cable patterns. However, I had never dreamt of knitting one for myself, until I actually made it more than a decade ago. I was an absolute beginner, teaching myself how to knit by reading books. -- My mother had tried to teach me how to knit years earlier, but it turned out to be a hopeless attempt.--

I don't know what came over me at the time when I suddenly made up my mind to take up knitting, and wanted to make an Aran sweater. I ended up spending all of my winter vacation in that year struggling with my brave new project. It was almost unbelievable that I was finally able to complete it. Since then, this Aran sweater, which I knit for the first time in my life, has been my favorite sweater.



Have you ever knit, crocheted, or sewed your own clothes?