Some Happy Words on this Leap Day…

TrishaDM (aka “At least we made it this far…”) has nominated me for an award!  It’s a very nice Leap Year gift… if there are such things.  🙂

Honestly, there are some days when I’m so focused on the Stats page and get kind of down when the numbers fall.  Then there are such uplifting moments when a note will come from someone or during a conversation with a friend, they will say, “You know, I really enjoy reading your blog!”  (And inside, I’m feeling like, “WHAT?!  You read my blog?!!”)

So, first and foremost, many, many “arigato”s must be given to TrishaDM.  Please take a moment to check out her blog.  Her words always bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart… am sure it will do the same for you!  She has given me another reason for wanting to go to visit Canada.  🙂

Okay, here are the rules which are to be followed:

  • Nominate 10 fellow bloggers.
  • Inform said bloggers about their nominations.
  • Share 7 random things about yourself.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Put the Versatile Blogger Award picture in your post.

So, I nominate the following blogs, in no particular order:

All these people have probably been nominated for this award and others many, many times… but they deserve them many times over!  🙂

Let’s see,  seven random things about me:

  1. I LOVE popcorn!!  (Okay, maybe that’s not very random… hee hee)
  2. I fell out of a second-story window when I was about two years old.  No broken bones, no bruises… just a very freaked out mother… or so I was told.  🙂
  3. I can touch my nose with my tongue.
  4. I have an allergy to shellfish.
  5. I love the smell of strange things like gasoline and exhaust from taxi cabs.
  6. I used to stand and balance on my dad’s hand when I was very, very small.  (Will have to look for the photo of that…)
  7. The year I turned 39, I felt like I had turned 16 again!  Loving life, one day at a time!  🙂

So, that’s that… guess I need to write to the ones I nominated… off I go… 🙂


♬♩Sing… Sing A Song… ♩♬

Well, the Academy Awards are over for another year.  I’ve seen quite a few status updates on Facebook and also blogs here on WordPress.  Thoughts on the winners, the almost-winners, the ones whom were snubbed, the fashion…

And again, I thought I was going to write about the Oscars as many others had today, but blog subjects have a strange way of changing quickly… almost as quickly as the weather changes in Hilo, Hawaii.  (Was there last autumn… trust me, it’s amazing how rain can turn to sunshine to rain to sunshine again with rainbows!)

Anyway… I received two FB messages this morning from a couple of guys I worked with on a recording project earlier this month.  Both included a link for the finished project, which meant I had permission to share it with friends and acquaintances in my “little” world.

This may have been explained somewhere along the way in a previous post… I love singing!!  And I’m blessed and privileged to record from time to time… anything from sound logos to “la-la-la”s in a commercial to children’s songs for an English school to background vocals for local rock/pop artists.

This time, I got to sing a song with another singer… a 70’s style song which will be used for an event to be held for the opening of a new IKEA store here in the city.  Click on the play button, if you’d like, and if you really enjoy the song, you can even download it!

IKEA Spring 2012 Fukuoka Opening

Brownie Points from Beloved Bloggers (^^)/

Oh, happy day!!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen!!  🙂

The “ping” sound of a new message in the inbox made me look.  I saw there was a new blog post by a new favorite of mine and the title of it was, “And the award goes to…”  My first thought was, “Yay!!  Someone gave her an award!!” and I proceeded to check it out.

Krystal (aka Unabashedly Poetic) had followed the instructions for the various awards she had received and had made a list of 10 bloggers she wanted to nominate.  I skimmed over the list, clicking on a few of the links to see who see likes to read, then went back to the list and saw a smiley face next to one… “Birdie, the hard boiled egg“.

She nominated me… not for one or two awards, but four!!  😀

And since I will have a chance to say a thing or two about Krystal later, let’s move on to the main event!  🙂

First Award:  Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments – A list of 10 questions to be answered by the nominee… and a list of 10 bloggers you’d like to nominate for the award.

1.  Describe yourself in seven words.   Weird, Bi-lingual, Happy, Musical, Affectionate, Smiley, Empathetic

2.  What keeps you up at night?   Thoughts of my future, worrying about my loved ones or a mind full of really, REALLY good daydreams!  (Or would they be called “nightdreams” when they happen at night?)  🙂

3.  Whom would you like to be?   Well, to be honest, I’m  happy being the person I am!

4.  What are you wearing now?   Black sock, blue jeans, a blue long-sleeve shirt with white stripes and black & white fuzzy slippers.  (Yes, I live in Japan! 🙂 )

5.  What scares you?   Falling, losing loved ones, not being able to say words of farewell…

6.  What are the best and worst things about blogging?   Best thing:  Writing and sharing all these thoughts which swirl around in my head.  Worst thing:  Sometimes feeling pressed for time on days when the work schedule is extremely busy.

7.  What was the last website you looked at?   The Zama Alumni Association website  (A site for the school I attended… I’m privileged to be a part of the team working on the site with special people.)

8.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?   I’d like to be less of a worry wart.

9.  Slankets, yes or no?   Well, since I have no idea what a slanket is, let me look it up.  ** A few moments later **  Mmm, no.  Comfy ole blankets and throws don’t need any other competition.  🙂

10.  Tell us something about the person who tagged you:  She is like a bright ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds on a gray day!  Her words put a smile on your face and her positivity is infectious.  (Could be because she’s very happily engaged.  🙂 )  And her stepmom went to a rival school of mine here in Japan… small, small world!  Please check out her blog:  Unabashedly Poetic

Krystal, thank you so much for the nomination!  I hope there is a day when I can repay your kindness in full!  🙂

Now for the 10 bloggers I’d like to nominate:

These nominations are for this award and for the three awards listed below.  (Apologies to those of you who have already been nominated for these awards before… just wanting to share and show some love!)  And if I read Krystal’s words correctly, the nominees are automatically winners of all the awards on this page!  Congratulations… or “Omedetou gozaimasu!” in Japanese.  🙂

   Second Award:  The Sunshine Award – Rules:  Thank the person who gave you the award.  Write a post about it.  Answer the questions that come with it.  Pass it along to ten people and let them know they’ve received the award.  (The nominees are listed above.)

Favorite Color:  Purple

Favorite Animal:  Otter

Favorite Number:  Eighteen

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink:  Water

Facebook or Twitter:  Both, but probably use Facebook more often.

My Passion:  All things music!!  🙂

Getting or Giving Presents:  Definitely giving!  It’s priceless to see the emotions which spread across people’s faces when they open a gift!

Favorite Pattern:  Smileys  (Is that considered a pattern?)

Favorite Day of the Week:  Tuesday

Favorite Flower:  African Violets

  Third Award:  The Liebster Blog Award – Found an explanation on The Mirth of Despair.  There are also a list of rules on the blog, As The Pendulum Swings.

“Liebster” is a German word which means dearest, favorite or beloved.  How touching it is to be thought of in this way!  🙂

  Fourth Award:  The Candle Lighter Award – To learn more about this award, please click on the following link:  Believe Anyway




Such a happy day, all thanks to Krystal!  And once again, please take a moment to check out her blog, Unabashedly Poetic.  You’ll be glad you did!!  🙂

♫♩I Enjoy Being A Girl ♬♪ (I’m Just Not Very Good At It…)

Because of a class/work schedule change tonight, I’ll be able to go out and join a party with a friend, his wife and their friends… about 15 people total.  Participating in get-togethers like these is not common for me since most of my nights are filled with English classes.  (And the “partying mood” is not alive and well when one is getting back home at anywhere between 9:30pm to 1:00am.)

Since there’s excitement in the air, I thought I’d do something different and use hot curlers in my hair.  ** Insert LOTS of laughter here!**

Those who know me well know that I’m not really a girly girl.  I don’t wear makeup.  I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt type of person.  (Wore overalls for my 8th grade school pictures… my mother wasn’t thrilled about my choice.)  Hair care includes washing, conditioning and if the weather is cold, blow-drying.  If it’s really hot, the hair goes up in a ponytail.  If it’s really cold, a hat is added.

It is fun when someone wants to put makeup on me, but after a while, the skin feels like it can’t breathe and 9 times out of 10, I totally forget about the mascara I’m wearing and rub my eyes, as I normally would.  This is always followed by, “Oops…” or “Uh, oh…” after noticing there’s black stuff on my hands.

Anyway, back to the hot rollers…

At the moment, there are nine of them still in my hair.  I haven’t gone to get my bangs cut recently, so one hot roller was used for my bangs, too.  About an hour ago, this particular one started to fall out, so I took it out and was going to re-roll.  Curiosity got the best of me… a trip to the bathroom to check the mirror… a huge laugh burst from me.

Half to the left, half to the right!

My bangs looked just like Charlie Chaplin’s feet!!  Right at that moment, a good friend called and I couldn’t stop laughing to say, “Moshi moshi,” (“Hello” in Japanese) and she asked what was going on.  When I explained the above, she also began giggling and said, “Why are you doing something you never do?!”

Touche’!!  🙂

So, here I am… bangs have been sprayed with water to help “calm” them down a bit and now dried to straighten them out again.  A big round-brush is standing by, ready to work along with the hair dryer.  We will see if the second attempt at the bangs will be a success or not.

Am thinking that the makeup will stay OFF today… the extent of it may be some Carmex lip balm.  (LOVE the stuff!!)

I mean, what could go wrong with some lip balm, right?  🙂

Fingers crossed… 😀

Passwords to the Heart

We have so many passwords we have to deal with every day.  Passwords for our bank accounts, email accounts, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (haven’t used that one in a while), iPhones, personal safes, computers…

Do we have passwords that can open up our hearts?

Is there a special word or phrase, a certain look or smile that helps you to open up to someone?  Does it take a glass of wine… or two or three… for you to open up to a stranger?  A sympathetic expression?  An empathetic nod?

No, this isn’t what I was planning to write about today, but as I was walking the dog tonight, I started wondering about what it is that makes people express their inner thoughts to others.

That thought spurned into another:  Why is it that a lot of people are so quick to share their deepest and almost confidential thoughts on blogs or to complete strangers out here in this world we call the Internet?  Their own family members may not know what makes them tick because it’s not discussed, yet ones in this virtual world might know everything about the person.

Who do you let into your heart?

Do you have a special password?

Do you let anyone in?

Do you think people are too open on the Internet?

Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions…

When I Grow Up…

This morning, I had to drive across town to one of the kindergartens where I teach.  English classes are held there for the oldest kids (5 and 6-year-olds) and we see each other once a week.

March is graduation season in Japan and the kids will be starting a new chapter of their lives when they begin 1st grade at the local elementary school.  There were only two more times left for English classes (today and next week) and I had told the kids that for the last class, they could have a “Game Request Day”.

Today, I told the kids to go and get their sketchbooks and crayons.  While they were all settling back into their places, some on their seats and others on the floor, I wrote, “My Dream” up on the blackboard.  When I asked what they thought it said, most of the kids were trying to sound the words out and a few could actually read it with no problems at all.  (Yes, I was happy!)  The task was to write those words at the top of the paper and then draw a picture of what they want to become when they grow up.

Most of the little girls wanted to be models or idols or cake shop and flower shop owners.  Most of the little boys wanted to be soccer players, baseball players and train conductors.  There was the occasional Kamen Rider (an action hero over here) or a Pokemon Master, but most of the dreams were very realistic.

When I was their age, I wanted to be a singer.  As my friends and I got older, their dreams changed and mine didn’t.  All through elementary school, middle and high school, becoming a singer was the only dream I had because singing was like breathing to me.  I was always a part of the school choir, I sang in the choir at church, I sang in my bedroom, while I was in the bathtub, in front of the mirror… music was (and still is) my passion.

But I didn’t necessarily care about being in the spotlight.  If I was singing harmonies while someone else was taking the lead, that was fine by me!  I simply wanted to be singing!  (And that feeling hasn’t changed… and I still want to be a singer when I grow up!  🙂 )

A lot of the kids today asked me what my dream was when I was little and after telling them, I also said that they should never give up on their dreams.  One little boy said, “But, Sensei (teacher), you’re an English teacher, so your wish didn’t come true.”  But I explained that I also sing songs for commercials on TV and radio and have done back-up vocals for local artists.  I told him that anything is possible.

After hearing this, the little boy went to draw his picture.  When he came to show me his completed drawing, there were two separate pictures:  one of a soccer player and one of a baseball player.

“I want to be both!” he said with a grin on his face.  “Anything is possible, right, Sensei?”

Wanted to give him a big hug and cry, but instead, I held his soft face in my hands, nodded and said, “You’re absolutely right!”  (Precious, precious kids…)

So… what do you want to be when you grow up?  🙂

I Love a Rainy Night…

Do you ever find that a song will pop into your head and it may be that you haven’t heard this song for years and years, but it’s there… all of a sudden… and you can sing all the words to the song without any problems at all?

It just started to rain a few minutes ago and this song popped into my mind…

This is NOT a song you’d ever hear on the radio stations here in the city where I live, trust me!  And I cannot remember the last time I heard it, yet I can remember the lyrics, the harmony parts, the guitar solo.  Funny how the brain can store all of this information!  (In my case, there are rows and rows of file cabinets with songs, lyrics, movie titles, musician names… and maybe a very small drawer with stored math equations.)  🙂

Has a song popped into your head today, out of the blue?  🙂

P.S.  Mr. Rabbit may be playing this tune from up in the heavens somewhere… he was such a great singer/songwriter.

That Yummy, Fluffy, Puffy White Stuff (^^)/

What is something (an edible something) that you could not live without?  Some type of food that if the doctor told you, “I’m sorry, but if you keep eating (fill in the blank), you will experience major health issues!” you’d continue eating it anyway?

For me, it’s POPCORN!!  🙂

That Yummy Fluffy White Stuff

That Yummy Fluffy White Stuff!!

I have loved popcorn for as long as I can remember!  Growing up, my mother made popcorn every Saturday night.  From 7:30pm, we’d be watching a show called “Quiz Derby”.  It was a 30-minute quiz show that we’d watch as a family every week.  It was a show like this…

At about 7:45, she’d go into the kitchen and start cooking.  You could hear her shuffling around, the “clank” of the lid on the popcorn pot (which was actually a tempura pot that she used for popping popcorn) and a few minutes later, you could hear pops… a few at first and then continuous stream of sound.

The quiz show would end and, just like clockwork, my mom would walk into the living room, sit down on the floor next to me with a BIG bowl of popcorn and our favorite Saturday night show would begin.

In my mind, it was like this:  popcorn = “Hachi ji Dayo! Zeiin Shuugou!” (“It’s 8 o’ Clock! Everyone, come together!”) and vice versa

For those of you who grew up in Japan, here’s a nostalgic clip for you.  For those of you who grew up in other places, this is the variety/comedy show we watched every Saturday night at 8pm.

So, through the laughter and singing along with the top-selling hits of the time, you could smell that wonderful warm smell and hear the crunch of popcorn!

Nowadays, there are so many different types, so many different flavors.  But for me… put it in a big bowl, just sprinkle a little salt on the top and… perfection!  🙂

Do you have a popcorn story/memory?  What’s your favorite flavor?

Cats and birds and a dog… oh, my!

I’m currently taking care of a mini-zoo… or that’s what it feels like most days!  🙂

I have three cats of my own.  Used to have five and now there are three.  Two of them understand only English… one understands my facial expressions.  (That one is deaf… has been from birth.)

Then there is one dog, Tostito.  He belongs to the ex’s sister’s family.  (Are you confused now? 🙂 )  She and her husband are missionaries and are currently Stateside.  I’m taking care of their beloved puppy dog while they’re there.

Then there’s the rest of the “zoo”.  A friend of mine is currently in Hokkaido to be with her parents who are both in the hospital.  She and her husband went up there at the beginning of last month and asked if I could take care of their pets… three cats and five birds.  (Well, there were originally seven birds and two of them died.  Talk about feeling TERRIBLE!!  Later found out that those two had been sick and it wasn’t my fault… still felt bad about it though.)

There are days when things get totally crazy taking care of all the animals.  Then I begin to think about my friend who’s with her parents.  I have it easy compared with her.  So, on this day (as on many other days), I count my blessings and think of all the ones who care and love me and am thankful… thankful for life, for love and for all the furry creatures in the house!  🙂

No Hands, No Flow

You know how when some people are singing on a TV show or at a karaoke bar, they move and wave their hands up in the air as they sing the melodies?  Have you ever thought that was strange?

I thought it was slightly… well, “fake” is not the word I’m thinking of… maybe over-doing it?  It would often seem like the person was acting and I would wonder, “If the person’s hands were tied together, would they still be able to sing?”

I used to think this way… until today.  🙂

This morning, there was a narration job in my schedule.  (A two-hour job at a recording studio in town)  I’d gotten home after 4am from a separate recording/singing job, slept as long as I could and took off to do my best with narrating.

Got to the studio, called my contact, he showed up a couple of minutes later, had a short meeting with him and the mixing/sound engineer, and into the recording booth I went.

Things started out a bit rough.  For some reason, there was an echo in the headphones as I read.  Told the sound engineer about it and he thought it was something to do with my volume controls in the booth.  Tweaked things a bit… no change.  Continued with the narration and just couldn’t get into the groove at all.

Finally, the sound guy found it was a control on HIS side.  (And the echo disappeared… yay!)  We re-recorded some of the beginning and it all began to flow smoothly.

It was then that I made a new discovery.  As I read a phrase like, “This process will be harmonious to our natural environment,” with as much feeling as I could, I noticed my hands.  They were moving and flailing about, as if they were attempting to be as descriptive as the words on the page!  It was SO comical!  For the next several sentences, I put my hands on my lap and guess what happened?  It was as if the gentle flow of the words started to bump and bounce around.  What?!!  Why?!

I asked the engineer if we could record that part again and once the red cue light flickered, I began to read and let my hands do what they wanted to do.  Once again, they were moving, explaining, describing… and the flow was smooth.

So, to all those people out there who flail their arms around while singing, I apologize for my former opinions and won’t doubt you from this day forward.

Lesson learned!  🙂

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