toasty, dry, and musical

2015-09-01 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- The Willamette valley can get warm (summer daytime highs of 36 degrees Celsius are common) but the Pacific northwest coast is pleasantly cool.

We bought firewood for our wood stove. Our truck bed lacks a fence so we bought a half load for $40.
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Most of the wood in this batch is birch. We stacked the wood outside our front door in a covered breezeway.
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The wood stove keeps the house toasty and dry. The stove is effective all year long.
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Oregon had a good blueberry harvest this year. Ice cream is obligatory when we're so close to Tillamook, a region famous for dairy products. We bought our firewood there too. Most people would not drive that far to buy firewood. We know a beekeeper who runs a small mill there.
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Noriko likes fresh home-made potato chips. Heat canola oil to 180 degrees Celsius. Slice potatoes with a mandoline over the oil. Fry one layer of chips at a time (the slices stick).
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The trick is letting the chips cool and dry after frying them. Don't eat them hot -- they're still mushy! Wicking away oil using coffee filter paper is best, kitchen paper towels are acceptable. We never use salt.
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I rearranged the music room a bit. My iPad-mini keeps track of pitch, amplitude, and time. I love my Carol Brass horn, heavy as it is. Buying 3 horns in the 1st year or trumpet practice was excessive, yet necessary for our migratory lifestyle.

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Before lessons I warmup at a beachside state park across the highway from the community where my teacher John Bringetto lives. Passersby pay no attention to my playing. Thank heavens!
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John directs and plays in the Lincoln Pops Big Band. They gave an entertaining performance at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. John is standing in the rear, playing a flugelhorn for Chuck Mangione's "Children of Sanchez". Most people in the audience danced. Sorry Noriko! Maybe I'll learn how to dance after I learn to play trumpet. John says it will take 2 more years for me to play the notes I need. Can you imagine an artist spending 3 years preparing paint? That's what it feels like to practice trumpet!
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energizing on the oregon coast

2015-08-08 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We finished this semester as much as we could and flew over to our home in Oregon. We will conduct research, improve our teaching skills, strengthen our bodies, and learn to play trumpet.

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yambara dam construction site

2015-08-02 YAMBARA DAM, JAPAN -- With Noriko's parents we visited the Yambara dam construction site near Naganohara town in Gumma, Japan. We drove down to the area that will eventually be covered with water.

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The soon-to-be-submerged railway tracks are surprisingly left behind. Usually the metal is recovered for scrap.

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Equally shocking were the sagging powerlines supplying electrical power to the train motors. Of course these are dead wires (that is, there is no electricity running through them). The sheer wastefulness of the construction project scared me.

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chris botti concert in sapporo

2015-07-16 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We attended a trumpet concert by Chris Botti. He was born in Portland, Oregon. Travels around the world. Wonderful and thoughtful team of entertainers. They let us photograph and video-record their performance. I won't post here on this public forum the pictures we took.

Noriko won a ticket, and I bought mine.

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birthday trip and presents

2015-06-22 OTARU AND SAPPORO, JAPAN -- For my birthday this year (which is also the 1st anniversary of my trumpet playing) we took a weekend trip to Otaru, a seaside city less than an hour west by train. We visited their aquarium and relaxed at a hotel with a 24-hour private furo-style bath. On our way back I got a birthday present!

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The
Otaru aquarium (a private institution) is located on the seaside with outdoor seawater pools for seals, sea lions, walruses, dolphins, and penguins. Indoor fish tanks hold local fish as well as species from various parts of the world. Near the aquarium (shown on the upper right corner of the picture) is the Hiyoriyama lighthouse, the oldest and still operational lighthouse on Hokkaido island.

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The aquarium animals appear content. Ill or handicapped individuals are kept in separate pools so that they need not compete for food. Blindness is common with age, we learned.

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Our
hotel is a short steep climb (16 percent gradient) from the aquarium. It is located 70 meters above sea level, which is the same as our house in Oregon, except we are several blocks away, and the slope is gentler.

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We had our own private furo-style bath. Because the water was somewhat lukewarm, we could bathe for as long as we wished.

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At 19:18 Japan time, we viewed a sunset from the cliff above the sea. I practiced trumpet. My trumpet teacher
John Bringetto told me to practice every day. This was my first time practicing outdoors.

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The following afternoon we returned to Sapporo, where at the
Yamaha music center my new instrument was waiting. I tested it in a soundproof room at the store. Noriko and Maki (the salesperson, who is also a French horn player) said that my current instrument sounds brighter while my new instrument sounds deeper. Hmm ... I couldn't hear the difference from behind the bell. The 2 horns certainly blow different. The new horn needs more air. The old horn is noticeably heavier. This suggests my new horn is made of thinner material that may dent easily.

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My expensive new toy is a
YTR-8310Z model designed by Yamaha in collaboration with Bobby Shew, the jazz trumpet player. Notice the difference from a regular 8310Z? Mine has 3 rings. A regular 8310Z has U-shaped saddles on the leadpipe and 1st valve slide. For that minor change I paid merely $30 extra and patiently waited 4 months.

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My new Yamaha case (pictured on the left) looks classy, feels solid, and I'm glad to have it. It's probably made for people who drive, and carry multiple bags. It stores 2 trumpets top side up, but nothing else -- no music, no cleaning supplies, no audio recorder. My old case (pictured on the right) stores 1 trumpet laid flat on its side (which I don't like) but has room and pockets to carry a fair amount of gear. Plus it has straps for carrying on my back. I suspect that I'll use my old case to carry my horn, and use my new case to store my horns at home. We don't own a car in Japan.