<   2009年 04月 ( 6 )   > この月の画像一覧

ミッション・レポート Mission Report

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ドラ息子、ただ今、4年生の最大の課題「ミッション・レポート」に取り組んでいます。いえ、正しくは「取り組ませて」おります。「ミッション」とはキリスト教の伝道所で、18世紀の後半、スペイン人によってカリフォルニアの21カ所に建てられました。たいていのミッションは、低い建物が中庭を囲むように四角に建てられ、一角が教会になっています。そこでスペイン人宣教師やアメリカ先住民(インディアン)達が集落を形成していました。

課題は、一つのミッションについて調べてレポートを作成し、さらに成績「A」が欲しかったら模型を作るというもの。しかもこれは、学校ではなく全て家庭でこなす課題なのです。「勘弁してくれよ〜!」と叫びたい気持ちを抑えつつ、いや実際には叫びつつ、「私にとってもカリフォルニアの歴史を勉強するいいチャンスかも。」と楽しくやることにしました。

ドラ息子が選んだミッションは、カーメルにある「 Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo」、通称「Carmel Mission」。早速「調査旅行」と称して出かけてきました。3月の半ばでした。以前、他のミッションには数カ所行ったことはありますが、このミッションは初めて。ちょうど日曜礼拝の最中で教会は満員、外には観光客が大勢いて活気にあふれ、教会といえば想像するシーンとした静寂な雰囲気とは違ってました。しかも高級住宅が多い土地柄か、華やかささえ感じられます。

ミッションについて調べていくうちに、今の私たちの生活といろいろな面で深い繋がりがあることを発見。特に感動したのは、それぞれのミッションが場所を考えて建てられていることです。最寄りのミッションに1日で着ける距離だけ離れているそうです。200年以上も前に宣教師達が歩いた道が、今では主要道路となってカリフォルニアの経済や文化を支えている、どうりでキリスト教関係のスペイン語の地名が多いわけです。サンノゼだって例外ではありません。

でも、先住民にとってミッションでの生活は過酷でした。いきなりよそから来た人たちに、自分たちの生活を覆されたわけですから。厳しすぎる戒律、宣教師達への反発、逃亡すれば連れ戻されての仕打ち、伝染病など。スペイン軍が撤退してから朽ち果てるばかりだったミッションも、今では歴史的遺産として綺麗に修復され、当時の真の姿は想像するしかありませんが、カリフォルニアの繁栄の陰にはこういった悲しい歴史が存在すると思うと、複雑な気持ちになりました。

さてさて、提出日まであと1ヶ月切りました。どんな仕上がりになるでしょうね。
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My dragon boy is now working on the “Mission Report,” the biggest assignment in fourth grade. To be accurate, I am “having him work” on it. Missions are religious settlements established by the Spanish to spread Christianity in the late 18th century. There are 21 of them throughout California. Most missions have a long line of low buildings in a square, surrouding a courtyard. At one corner lies a church. Spanish missionaries and native Americans (Indians) formed a village there.

In this assignment, dragon is supposed to research on one mission and write a report. He also has to make a model of the mission if he wants to receive grade “A”. And all of the work is supposed to be done at home, not at school. “Give me a break!!!” Suppressing my desire to cry, no, actually crying, we started to work on the assignment. “This may be a good chance for me to learn California history.” I decided to have fun.

Dragon picked “Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Carmelo,” which is in Carmel and also called “Carmel Mission” in short. Quickly acting, we were on a day trip to the mission in mid March, calling it a “research trip.” We had been to a few other missions before but had never been to one in Carmel. We arrived in the middle of a Sunday service and the church was packed with people. Outside were so many tourists, creating a lively atmosphere different from what I usually imagine about church; very quiet and serene. The surrounding rich neighborhood even seemed to be adding pomp to the place.

As I learned more, I discovered deep links between the missions and our present life in various aspects. The most intriguing fact was that the misisons were built a certain distance away so that they could travel to the nearest mission in one day. And those paths that Spanish missionaries walked more than 200 years ago are now in use as vital roads to the California’s economy and culture. No wonder there are so many Spanish Christian-related place-names throughout state. Yes, “San Jose” is no exception.

However, mission life was very harsh for native Americans. Their life was suddenly changed by the strangers from somewhere else. Disciplines that were too regimented, revolts against missionaries, cruel treatments after being brought back from escape, epidemics, etc. After the retreat of the Spanish Army, those missions were left to decay. Now that they have been beautifully restored as historical monuments, it is hard to imagine what the life was really like back then. Thinking about such sad history behind California’s prosperity, I felt very mixed.

Anyway, we are down to less than a month before the report is due. I wonder how the projects will turn out.
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[PR]

by danceofdragon | 2009-04-27 14:13

舞姫のお誕生日 Princess’s Birthday

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舞姫、4月15日で14歳になりました。今年のバースデー・ケーキは珍しく私の手作り、といっても超シンプルなバナナケーキです。シンプル過ぎて写真に撮るのも忘れたくらい。舞姫本人はあまりケーキ類は食べないので、周りがちゃっかりいただきました。

誕生日といえばやっぱり産まれた頃を思い出します。私たちの、親としての出発はかなり普通とは違いました。生後2ヶ月でてんかん発作を発症、即入院、退院後の通院は、まだお父さん、お母さんと呼ばれるのにも慣れていなかった私たちにとって、堪え難い試練でした。どんなに時が経っても、あの時のことを忘れることはないけど、舞姫と積み重ねていく時間が増すほどに、幸せな時間の割合が大きくなっているのも確か。

これからも、うどんとバナナをたくさん食べて、元気でいて欲しいと願うばかりです。ただ私よりも大きくなって欲しくないんだけど、、、。

(写真)左はろうそくの火を消す時。ドラ息子が舞姫の手を持って手伝ったら、勢い余ってろうそくが飛んで行ってしまいました。右はデイケアで作ってもらった冠をつけて、ますますプリンセスらしくなりました。かぶりものが大嫌いな舞姫が、冠をとらないように後ろから見張っているドラ息子です。

My dancing princess turned 14 years old on April 15. This year, I made a birthday cake for her, which was very unsual. But it was a super simple banana cake. So simple that I forgot to take a picture of it. Since princess is not very fond of cake, the rest of us enjoyed it.

A birthday brings memories back from the time she was born. Our parenthood started in a very unusual way. Princess started having seizures at the age of two months. She was immediately admitted to a hospital. Even after coming home, we had to go back to the hospital so many times as an outpatient. It was an intolerable experience for us, fresh mom and dad who weren’t used to being called mom and dad yet. I will never forget those days how much time will pass since then. However, one thing I’m sure of is that as the time we spend with princess accumulates, the portion of happy times gets larger.

I just wish for her well-being, hoping she will keep enjoying noodles and bananas. I don’t want her to be taller than me, though.....

(Photos) Left: The moment to put the candles out. Dragon tried to help, holding her hand, then they worked so hard that they knocked the candles away. Right: Princess in the princess crown given at her daycare. Yes, she truly looks princessy. Dragon is watching from behind in case she tries to take the crown off. This princess hates to put on anything on her head.
[PR]

by danceofdragon | 2009-04-23 00:13

バナナ2500本なりぃ〜 Total Comes to 2500 Bananas!!

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先日、今年の家庭菜園に備えて、コンポストの容器を初めて開けてみました。ちょうど1年前に買って以来、野菜の切れ端や刈り取った芝生やら、せっせと入れ続けました。時には中で無数の芋虫がうごめいていて気絶しそうになったり、ショウジョウバエが飛び交ってて息もできないくらいだったり。近づいて蓋を開けるのにも勇気が要ります。でもこういった生き物が一生懸命働いてくれるおかげで、野菜が土に戻り、また自分たちが生きていけると思うと、感謝しないわけにはいきません。

最初は「大きいぃぃっ!」と思った容器でしたが、あれよあれよという間に埋まっていき、溢れるんじゃないかと心配になったことも。でも分解作業は着々と進んでいました。下の小さな扉を恐る恐る開けてみると、下の方はちゃんと土に戻ってるーー!感動です。強烈な臭いの中、下半分の堆肥を畑に撒きました。ずっと行方不明だった皮むき器も無事救出。やっぱり紛れ込んでいたか!

ところでこの堆肥、大部分は舞姫が食べたバナナの皮でできています。1日7本食べるとして、1年で約2500本の計算(- -;)。こりゃ今年の堆肥は、超栄養満点に違いありませんな。

It was time to start our vegetable garden. In order to be ready, we opened the composter for the very first time. Since we bought it exactly a year earlier, we had kept putting in vegetable scraps and pieces of mowed lawn. Sometimes I saw a whole bunch of caterpillars wiggling inside, which made me almost faint. Other times, I couldn’t even breathe with countless small bugs flying around. It took a courage just to get near the composter and open the lid. But I told myself that thanks to these creastures working hard to decompose the food waste back into soil we were able to feed ourselves. I could not help but be grateful to them.

Although the composter looked so HUGE!! at first, soon it was getting full and I once worried it would be overflooded. But the decomposing procedure was certainly under way. When we fearfully opend the small door at the bottom, there was soil back from those food scraps!! Was I amazed or not!! In the nose penetrating smell, we scattered the lower half of the compost all over the garden. We retrieved the vegetable peeler that had been missing quite a while. I knew it was accidentaly thrown there among other food scraps.

This compost, by the way, is mostly made of banana peels that my dancing princess had consumed over the year. Let’s say, she eats around seven bananas a day, which times up to 2,500 bananas a year (- -;). I bet we have super nutritious compost this year.
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[PR]

by danceofdragon | 2009-04-13 13:28

並んでる! The Same Height!!

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約4歳、正確には3歳10ヶ月の年の差がある舞姫とドラ息子。もちろん、舞姫の方がずっと大きかったわけで、それが当たり前の光景だったのが、ふと気がつくと二人の頭の高さが同じになってる、、、、。最初は目を疑いました。ドラゴンが雨後のタケノコのようにニョキニョキ伸びていたのはわかってたけど、舞姫にもう追いつくとは。

バスルームの洗面台で二人が並んでいるところを、後ろから写真に撮ろうとすったもんだしていたら、ケーシーが聞きつけてやってきました。狭いところで押し合いへし合いしながらの不思議な家族写真となりました。

ちなみにドラ息子の方を測ってみたら148cm。舞姫の正確な身長を測るのは不可能だけど、そのうち弟に追い越されるのかな。。。いや待てよ。私とケーシーもいつか息子を見上げることに???

Approximately four years, precisely three years and ten months. This is the age difference between my dancing princess and dragon boy. Of course princess was always taller than dragon, which I had taken for granted. But the other day, I noticed that their heads are around the same height. I could not believe my eyes first. I knew dragon was growing fast just like a bamboo shoot after rain. I just didn’t think he would catch up with princess so soon.

I tried to take a picture from behind of the two standing side by side at the bathroom sink. While I was struggling to get a good angle and timing, Casey heard us and came in wondering what we were doing. Then this picture of a strange family crowded in the small space.

Dragon measured 4 feet & 10 inches. It is impossible to get a precise height of princess but it won’t be long before dragon passes her. Wait! How about Casey and me? Are we going to look up to see our son someday??
[PR]

by danceofdragon | 2009-04-09 03:43

二つの賞状 Double Award

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ドラ息子の学校では、4年生から成績が優秀な生徒は表彰されることになっています。1学年三学期、それぞれの学期で表彰されます。なんでも「honor roll」という名誉が与えられるとのこと。

我が家には無縁のことだろうと関心を払わずにいたのですが、なんと4年生の一学期の成績が案外良かったドラ息子、表彰されることになりました。でも、その「honor roll」ではなく「honorable mention」だとのこと。なんだか舌がからまりそうな言葉ですが、「honor roll」まではいかないけど、そのすぐ下の成績だともらえるそうな。いわゆる「佳作」といったところでしょうか。

「へぇ〜、うちの子が表彰されるのぉ〜!」と嬉しいやら信じられないやら。「ま、最初で最後の表彰式かもね。」と覚悟しながらケーシーと二人で見に行きました。去年の12月のことです。ふたを開けてみるとだいたいクラスの半分くらいは表彰されてたから、「じゃ、平均をいってるわけね。」と苦笑い。

それから数ヶ月、二学期が終わり、なんとまたもや「honorable mention」です。「またやったね!!」大喜びで今度はばびぃも引き連れて参観しました。朝、舞姫がスクールバスで学校に行った後、余裕で行くつもりだったのが、その日に限ってバスが故障したとかで、いつもより15分くらい遅れて到着。舞姫を見送ってバタバタと出発、表彰式にはなんとか間に合ったけど、どうしてこうなるの(^_^;)。

とにもかくにも「やっぱり表彰されないより、された方がいいよなぁ。」「うちの子なんてカッコいいの!!」ちょっとウルウルしながら、思いっきり親バカ気分に浸りました。本人はいつも「僕、honor rollが欲しい。」って言うけど、宝くじじゃあるまいし。最後の学期はどうなることやら。

実はこの週、もうひとつ嬉しいことが。5ヶ月前カンフーでブラウン・ベルトに昇格したドラ息子ですが、なんとその2段に合格したのです。あれよあれよの出来事にあっけにとられるばかり。「こうなったらブラック・ベルトも夢じゃなくなってきたぞ。」しかし、テスト代やら新しい武器代やらで財布は薄くなる一方、すっかりカンフー貧乏です。やっぱ元とらないと!

At dragon’s school, students in 4th grade and up are recognized in every trimester if they score excellent grades. They receive an honor called “honor roll.”

I didn’t pay any attention to that since I didn’t even dream of it for my dragon. To my suprise, however, he did well in the first trimester of 4th grade and was to be recognized at the assembly. But it was not “honor roll” that he got, it was “honorable mention.” Thinking, “What tongue-twisting words they were!” I learned “honorable mention” was for those whose scores were good but not enough for “honor roll.”

“Wow, my boy is going to be recognized!!” Part of me was very happy and another part of me could not believe it. Talking to myself, “This may be the very first and last award we will ever see dragon receive,” I watched the assembly with Casey. It was December last year. It turned out about half of the students from each class were recognized either “honor roll” or “honorable mention.” “OK, this means he is around the average,” we laughed.

A few months later, the second trimester was over. Again he won “honorable mention.” “Hurray, he did it again!!” Very excited, we took Babi to the assembly this time. We were supposed to have a plenty of time to get to school after seeing princess off to school in the school bus. Then there was a happening. Her bus didn’t came until 15 minutes later than usual because of some mechanical trouble. They had to switch buses. After princess got on her bus, we rushed to school and barely made it. Why do things always happen to us?

Anyway, I let myself be a doting mom for a moment with teary eyes, “After all, it’s better to be recognized than not.” “Isn’t my baby so good looking??!!” Dragon always says, “I want honor roll.” Does he think this is a lottery? Let’s see how he does in this last spring trimester.

As a matter of fact, we had another good news in the same week. Dragon, who was promoted to brown belt at his kung fu school five months earlier, passed the test to be a 2nd brown!! It was such a jaw-dropping development I could not keep up with it. “Now, becoming a black belt is not a dream.” But our wallet is getting thinner as fast, too, for testing fees and new weapons. We are totally kung fu poor. We have to get all the money back after all!!
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[PR]

by danceofdragon | 2009-04-03 14:59

待ってました! Here They Are!!

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年初、大々的に掲げた今年の目標の数々、その一つがこれ!「日本の新聞を読むこと」。Chiezoさんから、約1ヶ月分(5kg)の第一便発送の連絡をもらってから待つこと約7週間。なかなか来ないなぁと思っていた頃、玄関に何やら大きな固まりが無造作に放置されています。よほどの試練の末たどり着いたと見えて、よれよれの姿に「よく来てくれたねぇ。」と抱きしめたい気分でした(^_^;)。でもChiezoさんがきちんと梱包してくれたおかげで、中の新聞は無傷で輝いていました。

日本で長年愛読していた新聞です。インターネットでも購読可能だけど、やっぱり紙媒体が恋しい。それに英語のニュースでは、どうしてもつかめない部分がたくさんあって、中途半端な状態が続いていました。 それがこの新聞を目にした途端、活字が一気に自分の中に流れ込んで行く感じ。これよこれ。自分がどういう形で情報を取り入れていたかというのは、そう簡単には変えられないものだなと思いました。

「フムフムあの時のニュースはこういうことだったのか。」「へぇ〜、日本の総理大臣ってこんな顔してたのね。」「日本ではいよいよ裁判員制度が始まるのかぁ。」などなど。テレビ欄を見ては「面白そうなドラマが始まるぞ。」、書評を読んでは「あ〜読みたいなぁ。」どこを見ても新鮮です。1月の新聞を今頃読むという時間差はありますが、それはそれでいいものです。いろいろなコラムが満載で楽しすぎる〜。

ここ数年日本では、日本語を見直す気運が高まっているのが、離れていてもわかります。特に最近では漢字を読めない総理大臣のおかげで、ますますその手の本が売れているとか(^_^;)。理由はどうあれ大賛成です。外国にいると、母国語のありがたさがいやというほど身に沁みますからね。

どこにでも持ち歩ける新聞、少しの空いた時間でむさぼるように読み続けるかな。Chiezoさん、引き続きよろしくお願いしま〜す。

At the beginning of the year, I overly publicized a number of goals for this year. Among them is this, “To read Japanese newspaper!” Seven weeks almost passed after Chiezo-san let me know the first package was on the way. The very first package of 10 pounds that contained about 30-day copies of newspaper. I was getting inpatient when I found a large piece of mass offhandedly thrown near the entrance. Its shabby apperance was telling that the package had gone through a number of ordeals. “I’m so glad you finally made it!!” I wanted to hug it(^_^;). Thanks to Chiezo-san’s neat packaging, the newspapers inside were intact, shining beautifully.

This is my favorite newspaper I used to subscribe to for years in Japan. Although there is an online subscription, I missed paper media. On top of this, it was hard for me to grasp the whole picture of news through English media, making me feel a bit frustrated. The moment I held a copy of the paper, I felt the printed letters pouring in me all at once. Yes, this is it!! This made me realize once you have established a way of taking information it won’t be easily changed.

“Oh, now I get what this news meant at that time.” “I didn’t know Japan’s prime minister looked like this.” “I didn’t know the saiban-in (lay-judge) system was finally about to start in Japan.” etc. Looking at TV programs, “This new drama series looks interesting.” Reading book reviews, “I wish I could read this.” Everything looks so fresh. There is a time gap that I’m reading January newspaper now, but this is also good, too. The paper is so full of various columns that I get overjoyed.

In recent years, there has been a rising momentum in Japan to look at our language all over again. I can feel it even though I’m away. Especially nowadays, thanks to our prime minister who cannot read Kanjis (Chinese characters), books of that kind are selling even faster (^_^;). Whatever the motivation is, I like this trend. There is no time when you painfully appreciate your mother language than the time you are away from your home country.

I think I will devour the paper whenever possible, carrying the paper with me all the time, which is a big advantage of newspaper. Please keep them coming, Chiezo-san!!
[PR]

by danceofdragon | 2009-04-01 14:08