Category Archives: USA

Doll Festival/Girls Day Tea Ceremony Celebration

Old Country Club Road NW

Happy Pi Day  (Jane sent me the greetings and Randal explained it to me!) 

   So, now that we know I don’t do math or any kind……  Saturday I took the day off from LeRoy and he and Randal went to Puppy Play at Hanging Rock Veterinarians.  For two hours LeRoy ran away from all of the other dogs either hiding behind Randal or visiting the other dog owners.  So Yay he likes people!!!  The last 5 minutes or so apparently LeRoy discovered the other dogs weren’t out to eat him so nosed a few of them.  LeRoy likes his dog interactions to be one at a time and then it’s fine.  We’ll take him back to Puppy Play which they do every other week and see if things improve.  But being among a gang of dogs just might not be his thing.  LeRoy definitely loves Stoker next door.  And now he’s over his fear of leaving the yard so goes with me on my two mile morning walk.  Today we had to learn that the huge “one arm bandits” were only coming for the trash and not him.  By the third time they passed us, we were okay.  What I did on Saturday was attend a lovely Tea Ceremony at Washington and Lee University in Lexington; quiet and contemplative unlike “puppy play.”


Terra Firma which is getting more Firma is the weather improves. 

Doll Festival/Girls Day

I can’t remember which came first, Chimaki’s card telling about Doll Festival/Girls Day or Jane’s invitation to attend a Tea Ceremony in celebration of Doll Festival/Girls Day.  But both made it possible for me to take part in this lovely tradition in Japanese culture.  Back in the mid-1980s on a visit to Japan (as well as a visit with Chimaki) with my friend Martha, her brother Bob and her neighbor Mike; we were able to observe a performance of a Tea Ceremony in the Ginza area.  And then years later, I’m sure thanks to my friend Becky, I participated in a Tea Ceremony at Roanoke College. 

“March 3 is Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival or Girls’ Festival), when people pray for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house. They offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls…. The practice of displaying these dolls on the third day of the third month on the traditional Japanese calendar began during the Edo period (1603-1868). It started as a way of warding off evil spirits, with the dolls acting as a charm. Even today, people in some parts of the country release paper dolls into rivers after the festival, praying that the dolls take people’s place in carrying away sickness and bad fortune.

Most families take their beautiful collection of dolls out of the closet around mid-February and put it away again as soon as Hina Matsuri is over. This is because of an old superstition that families that are slow in putting back the dolls have trouble marrying off their daughters.”


Chimaki’s card showing the Empress and Emperor Doll.  Notice the Emperor is on the right looking at the viewer.   At the Tea Ceremony we were told that the positions of the Emperor and Empress were not fixed but depended on if one followed the Tokyo or Kyoto Tradition. 

Emperor and Empress Doll Positions

Old and Modern Styles in Kyoto

Kyoto Shimbun 2009.2.23 News

     The day of “Hina-matsuri,” or Doll Festival, is March 3. In Kyoto, there are different ways to display “Mebina,” or the empress doll, and “Obina,” or the emperor doll, depending on the hina doll shop. Long-established doll shops are more likely to display the empress doll on the observers’ left and the emperor doll on the right, whereas newer national chain stores tend to display them in the reverse of that. It is said that a mixture of both displays is a phenomenon peculiar to Kyoto.

     The Hashimoto doll shop in Shimogyo Ward, established in the late Edo Period, displays the empress doll on the observers’ left. The doll shop owner explained, “Most long-established shops set up dolls like this.” On the other hand, a shopping center that was opened five years ago in Ukyo Ward displays the empress doll on the right. The person in charge said, “This is the way they are commonly displayed in our nationwide chain of stores.”

     Which is the proper way? The Japan Dolls Association in Tokyo explained, “Either way is acceptable.” However, that does not mean there is no proper display. In general, hina dolls are called “Dairi-bina,” or a pair of dolls modeled after the Emperor and Empress, based on the Imperial Court culture. Prior to the Taisho Period, the Obina was displayed on the observers’ right all across the country. Furthermore, it has been said that Obina should be displayed on the east side for the sun rising, when dolls are placed at the Kyoto Imperial Palace facing the south, which is the direction of its front gate.

     However, the Emperor stood to the right, or the observers’ left, of the Empress in the Showa Enthronement Ceremony in 1928, and also, the Emperor, who was dressed in Western style, stood on observers’ left in a picture. That seems to be why the doll industry in Tokyo has interchanged the position of the emperor and empress dolls from the pre-war period. That change has spread across the country. However, according to Kyo-ningyo Commerce-and-Industry Cooperative, long-established shops in Kyoto alone have voluntarily honored “Yusoku-kojitsu,” or traditional court and samurai rules of ceremony and etiquette.

     The Japan Doll Association calls the way of displaying the empress doll on observers’ left in long-established Kyoto shops “Old Style,” and the opposite way “Modern Style.”

     Only the Kyoto store in Shimogyo Ward, of the 18 Takashimaya department stores located around Japan displays the dolls in both the old and modern styles. Dolls made in Kyoto are displayed in the old style. This even applies to sweets modeled after hina dolls; although most of the cake decoration and package designs sold at department stores are modern style, most long-established Japanese-style confectionery stores in Kyoto maintain the old style.”

Jane’s friend Tam (who you met when we all visited the Japanese Calligraphy exhibit at Washington & Lee) is again responsible for our invitations to the Tea Ceremony at Washington & Lee University which has a lovely Tea Room on campus enhancing the Japanese Studies Program.


Elizabeth, a librarian at W&L and her mom Tamara, a retired school librarian.  Both Tam and Jane still work with Virginia Reads and school programs and getting books and kids together.

Chanoyu Tea Society at W&L

A Student Organization

Tea Society is a student organization made up students at Washington and Lee University who are interested in the study of chanoyu, the traditional art of the Japanese tea ceremony.   This group performs numerous tea demonstrations for on-campus and community organizations.  Please contact Professor Ikeda ( if you are a student interested in joining or if you are interested in scheduling a demonstration for your group.

Chanoyu Tea Society Slideshow which shows more than my limited few photos the tea room and the various aspects connected to the tea ceremony.



Gift of a Tea Room Name

The Washington and Lee University Tea Room in the Watson Pavilion received the name “Senshin’an”(洗心庵)or “Clearing-the-Mind Abode” from Sen Genshitsu, the 15th-generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tradition of Tea.

. discusses the architecture of the Tea Room which is as important as the actual ceremony.  Everything about the room’s design, the specifically selected scroll and decorative piece all work to help the host and guests focus only on the moment and the tea ceremony. 

clip_image004 clip_image005

Professor Janet Ikeda and students Stephanie Hernandez and Jannelle (The letters on Jannelle’s name tag were still too small for my zoom to allow me to read.)

Stephanie explained the Tea Ceremony as we watched it performed by Jannelle, acting as host.  


Tea Room Empress and Emperor Dolls


Decorative scroll and more dolls to set the “topic” for contemplation. 

Scrolls and additional decorations are changed according to the season or occasion to encourage thoughts on a specific topic.  Apparently the decorations on tea cups may mirror the topic.


The foamy, warm green tea is an acquired taste I think.  Boiling hot Brit Rail tea is my preference.  But the sweets, served before the tea,  were lovely to look at and tasted very good! 


Tam, Janet and Jane outside the Watson Pavilion built to house the Tea Room. detailed history of the festivals. tea ceremony explained through dialog

And in case you were wondering about Boys Day……

The Japanese Boys’ Festival called “Tango no Sekku”, plus a Song for the Holiday called “Koinobori”

May 3rd, 2006

Tango no Sekku is celebrated on May 5th. In Japan, this day is called Boys’ Festival. It’s been celebrated for over a millennium. Originally it was celebrated in the houses of warriors. It celebrated boys’ courage and determination. Many of the symbols of this day are about having the character of a warrior. Eventually this day became important to all households in Japan with boys.

After WWII, Boys’ Day became toned down. This holiday officially became known as Children’s Day or Kodomo no hi. It’s supposed to be a day to celebrate the health and happiness of all children. But many people still see it as Boys’ Festival.

Large carp windsocks, called koinobori, are displayed outside houses of families with boys. There’s one windsock for each boy in the house. The largest windsock is for the oldest son of the house.

Puppy name

Hi All,

   Sorry about the puppy name confusion.  We had lots of name suggestions and sort of settled on Cruiser.  But Randal really wasn’t wild about it and it was more about our prior life than our land life.  LeRoy was the name of the very first Australian Shipherd Randal met.  So our LeRoy is named for him.  It’s the name on his new name tag and the name at the Vet so I guess it will be his final and formal name.  He probably thinks his name is NO Bites.  Though he has finally learned to lick my hand almost as much as he wants to chew on it. 

Hope that clears up the confusion. 


Le Roy and the Toilet Paper Roll

1058 Old Country Club Rd NW

Hi All,

    Instead of Hi I was was going to be “cute” and type BARK BARK but LeRoy never barks really.  Only once so far and that’s when I woke him from his couch nap with Randal. 


Randal teaching Leroy to nap.  I teach him to go for a walk.

But from the subject line you can guess where this is going  And funny enough I had just finished reading a Houzz blog about why we love our dogs even when they track mud, chew favorite possessions and want everything they shouldn’t have.

LeRoy does get many things right.  He doesn’t wet his bed.  I take him out 10 pm and 6:30 am and so far so good.  He lets me pry all those bad things he’s attempting to eat or chew out of his mouth without any real protest; like sticks and torn kitchen-mat patches and Randal’ slippers.  He was good at the vet.  He didn’t fight his first day home shower.  And he really likes people and small dogs once he meets them.  And he’s learning about come and stay. 

The toilet paper was a brand new, large, never used roll and I should have realized when LeRoy wasn’t visible and was being really quiet that something was up.  His second mistake was dragging it out of the guest bathroom and all around upstairs.  If he’d left it in the bathroom, it would not have been noticed for a bit and he could have blamed it on the toilet paper goblins or something.  Bad Leroy…..

clip_image002  The view from our room where he dragged it from the bathroom, into the hall and then back down the stairs….

clip_image003  The view from the hallway looking into the bathroom


Giving me the “stink eye” after I let him know chewing up an entire roll of toilet paper, not a good thing.


He tried to make up for it by “helping me make the bed.”


His Aunt Jessica gave him his new favorite toy that squeaks at both ends which is much less annoying than a destroyed roll of toilet paper or wet chewed slippers.  Cute isn’t he!

Our new puppy!

Happy Thursday,

   I hope the terrible weather earlier this week is over for everyone and no one is freezing or without power.  Good thing we’re supposed to have an early spring.

   So we have a dog.  Actually an Australian Shepherd puppy to be exact.  About 8 weeks old.  We’ve had him about 24 hours.  He has only peed on the floor once and only cries a little at night.  Randal built a wire playpen for him where he will sleep at night and while we’re out of the house.  When he’s fully house trained then he’ll probably sleep with us.  I am conscious of not spending every waking minute with him because then when I can’t it will be harder (for both of us!)  So I leave him at times and he either plays by himself, cries a little, or goes to find Randal.  Our wonderful landlords are dog folks so that’s why we are able to have a puppy while renting. 

  Randal had an Australian Shepherd for years so that’s why we chose that breed.  He seems to ride in the car with no problem and put up with a shower to clean off some accumulated dirt from his prior life.  He is a bit wary of humans but never tries to bite or snarl when we pick him up.  He actually quite likes it.  And he seems to listen.  And today he made eye contact which he didn’t  yesterday.  I think Randal and I are his first human friends.  He lived with his litter mates and was well fed, but not cuddled or talked to.  At least that’s what it seems.  So he’s done well for being with us just one day. 


Hi name is Cruiser for obvious reasons.   Land Lubber would have been ridiculous. Hilary was out because it’s a male and he just didn’t look like a Bernie though we did consider it. 

Cruiser has a vet appointment on Tuesday at Hanging Rock Animal Hospital and then hopefully we’ll teach him about a collar and leash so I can have a walking buddy!   He’s still small enough that if he got tired I could carry him.  But as my friend Sharman taught me; a tired dog is a happy dog!  I’m sure there will be more photos to come.  He has sort of learned to “smile” so hopefully I’ll capture that next.

Oh, and I had my second cataract/astigmatism surgery this past Thursday.  All went well.  So now both eyes see distance and I need magnifiers to read close up though I can read emails with must my slightly-nearsighted left eye.  Dr Wood made it that way because I just didn’t want to be totally dependent on glasses for reading.  When my eyes are fully healed I’ll get new glasses to wear all of the time because I miss them and feel as I would if I biked without a helmet. 


Terra Firma

Feeding the birds and squirrels in the snow

Old Country Club Rd NW

Hello to you all,

I hope anyone who has had to deal with the snow and wind these past few days is safe and warm and with heat! I think we were really lucky here because the winds didn’t come as predicted. I never lost power and was stocked up with food and books. And being retired I didn’t have to worry about getting to work. I did go out for my morning walk today and am glad I don’t have to drive anywhere. The roads in our neighborhood have been sort of plowed once but now the snow is packed on them. At the top of each hill is a stop sign so that makes it a bit tricky. I’m glad Randal is home and his truck has 4 wheel drive. Once upon a time these snow-covered hilly roads wouldn’t have fazed me at all. But then I had a Volkswagen Bug which went everywhere when I lived in New York and worked up on a mountain. And I was 30 years younger and used to snow driving. Not now.

I spent the “Blizzard of 2016” clearing the walk and part of the driveway (hired neighborhood guys did some of it too), ‘praying’ the power would stay on, worrying when Randal would get home from his forced layover in Chicago, AND making sure the birds and squirrels had food during the storm. I kept clearing the patio table and refilling the bird feeder and cob holder and shoveling some of the patio so I could put out seed and then along the edge of the dining room sliding door which was covered just enough so the birds could feed. And given day we get at least 75 to 100 birds feeding. Some are repeat feeders but often during the day we’ll see a dozen cardinal and 20 or so mourning doves, several blue jays, nuthatches, titmouse, towhees several different woodpeckers and a variety of other small brown birds. Word has definitely gotten out about the Johnson Backyard Buffett. We have two feeders and two suet holders as well as the patio table where each morning I put out sunflower seeds and unsalted peanuts in their shell for the jays to carry off in two seconds flat. It’s all very entertaining.

I took some photos, but even standing in the house looking out the windows they sense I’m there and it scares them off. I hate doing that especially now so I didn’t take many photos. I even have to sneak quietly to wash the dishes because the patio table is just outside the window and my movements causes them to fly away.


Through the kitchen door windows.


One of the many cardinal families.


Red Bellied Wood Pecker at a suet feeder,

My sister and my niece unbeknownst to each other gave Randal and me tractor shaped suet holders and several cakes of suet for Christmas/Hanukkah.




Squirrels gotta eat too.

I put sunflower seeds in the flower pot. My brother-in-law Jim made the cob holder and the squirrels are so funny sitting there eating.


Looking across the road to the golf course. The Roanoke Country Club owns the road along the course. Sunday mid-day the grounds crew plowed the road also clearing away any snow blocking the entrance to our driveway and even finished the U-shape stretch between our driveway and next door too!

To all of those who are Senior Citizens or who like me is just about to become one

1058 Old Country Club Rd NW

Hi All,

   I’ll be 65 tomorrow and finally eligible for all those senior discounts that begin at 65 to say nothing of having had to pick a Medicare policy.  I remember my 75 year old mother saying that looking in the mirror surprised her because an “old lady” looked back and she didn’t feel old.  And  I read somewhere on the Internet that most people feel themselves 20 years younger than their chronological age.  Personally I think that starts in your 50s when you are beginning to sort of be old, but you definitely don’t feel it.  I don’t feel old most days but some days I think about only having 25 or 30 more years and how fast that will fly by.  And then I think about Global Warming and wonder if the world will be here in 20 or 30 years.  Good Grief.  In the meantime I walked my almost 3 miles daily walk this morning and then went biking on the Greenway with Edwina, my 75 year old neighbor. is a wonderful site dedicated to older folks who celebrate age.  Many make me look like a “spring chicken” as they are in their late 80s or 90s.  is a wonderful video posted recently on their cite. 

So Happy Birthday to me!


Terra Firma

Words of wisdom from our friend Heidi Trautmann

1058 Old Country Club Road

Roanoke, VA  24017


Hi All,

    I add the USA because we still have many friends around the world.  And because we have traveled we know the world is the people we met and not what we see on the news. 

I recently received an email from our friend Heidi Trautmann.  We met her and Kalle, her husband while we were in North Cyprus.  Heidi is an artist and writer and very wise woman.  I asked if I could share some of her email to me about the release of her most recent book about the arts of North Cyprus. 


Terra Firma


If you want to paint a chair, you must become one …….

Heidi Trautmann’s new book: ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus,  Volume II’

Presentation of the book and Exhibition at the National Archive and Research Centre in Kyrenia on September 29 at 17.30 hrs.

“If you want to paint a chair, you must become one or if you want to paint and describe a tree in a painting or in a poem, you must become a tree to know its roots, to feel its skin with scars and knots and to know why the branches reach high to learn the rules of the kingdom of the winds….and if you want to know a people you have to become one of them.

You have to sit with them and talk, see their eyes change colour when you ask questions; you have to visit their homes and drink their coffee and see their souvenirs on shelves in their home; you need to know the games they played as children and the books they have read and the hopes they had from the very beginning till now, the tears they spent on mishaps in life, the anger or pride they have felt when things went wrong.

I learnt to read their paintings and their poetry, in them I found their ways of judging the situations they live in.  I went to see their theatre plays over many years. ……”


Heidi with her newest book ready for distribution. is Heidi’s website which is filled with art and wisdom.

“You will live among so many beautiful trees. I love trees, they were my first friends and I hid all my treasures among their roots.”    Heidi Trautmann in a recent  email to me.


Heidi’s lino cuts of her trees. 

New Bedford part 1

Hi Everyone,

  I have a hard time sleeping when there is a Red Sox game on, so I’m up following it. It started at 2:10 but I just got up.  Still half the game left to play.  It might be the last one for a while since we seem to be planning to leave Sebana Cove tomorrow on our way to join Sail Malaysia.  Our first stop will be an overnight anchorage at Jason Bay which I think is cool since “Jason Bay” plays left field for the Red Sox.  It’s 60 miles from Sebana so we’ll have to leave at daylight.  Then it will be on to Tioman Island.  Our friends Ruth and Cliff on Icicle will leave either today or tomorrow with the same plan. 

More from our visit to the States…..

  I grew up in New Bedford, MA.  My growing up friends Harriet and Bruce still live in the area: Har in Dartmouth and Bruce in Westport.  But both of those areas say “New Bedford” to me.    We grew up on Plymouth Street in New Bedford’s West End and it was a great place to grow up.  New Bedford has great beaches, a mix of several cultures, and the best steamed clams anywhere.   or   or

      Appropriately the brochure about New Bedford starts out…..   ” “Around the World!”    The crews of New Bedford’s famous whaleships sang out this cheer as they embarked on voyages that took them to every corner of the globe in pursuit of whale oil……Today, New Bedford is an authentic seaport city with a large fishing fleet and working waterfront.”  There is a huge Portuguese community, hence the great steamed clams and wonderful Portuguese food.  There were other influences too.  At the beach we poured vinegar on our french fries and there were places to get fish and chips reflecting an English influence. When I smell vinegar I think of the Acushnet Beach where we learned to swim and hang out until we were old enough to drive ourselves to Westport and Horseneck Beach with its sand dunes and waves for body surfing.   And there was a French area too, in the North End.  The North End was French, the South End was Portuguese and the West End was where the Jewish community lived.  But by junior high everyone was mixed together and there was only one high school so everyone went there.  New Bedford wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a good place to grow up and it is definitely worth a visit if your travels take you there.

  Across the Achushnet River from New Bedford is Fairhaven where you can find the monument to Joshua Slocum, the first man to circumnavigate the world alone on his sailboat Spray.   Growing up we rarely ventured across the bridge to Fairhaven or Marion, but now it is a favorite place and we always stop there when we visit Har and Bruce, the real reason we go to New Bedford.  

“Acushnet” comes from the Wampanoag or Algonquian word, “Cushnea”  meaning “as far as the waters” from Wikipedia 


Our favorite corner in Fairhaven.  Pumpernickle Restaurant where we “always” eat lunch and Euro across the street where we always find something to buy that we can’t live without.  And the Millicent Library just down the street.  We seem to always enter New Bedford from Fairhaven so stop there first. 


Padanaram Harbor where Har lives.  I love New England


Har took us to a daffodil field not far from her home, where it looked like spring, but felt cold to me.


Buttonwood Park  Ruth the Asian elephant standing behind me.  Yup, that’s her name and we’re about the same age too. She has a friend Emily the elephant too who is a bit younger.   Buttonwood Park is the next street over from Plymouth Street.  How great is that, as Rachel Ray would say, living around the corner from a park, zoo, tennis courts, skating pond, all part of Buttonwood Park.   Growing up it was all free. Unfortunately, now the zoo isn’t  free. but the animals do have better housing and care now so I guess the fees go for a good cause.  And I think you can check free passes out of the libraries with your library card.  You can see I’ve added an “I love New Bedford” button to my hat.  Har bought it for me.


Lobstah Dinnah at Har’s  per Randal’s request.  Eating lobster is great fun and very messy.  Har’s husband Dick, Bruce and his wife Jean were there too!  We spent a wonderful evening eating lobster and catching up with each other’s lives and thoughts and hopes. 


The most important reasons we go to New Bedford;  Har and Bruce…”the Plymouth Street gang.”


Perfect fried clams from the Oxford Creamery in Marion, MA!  YYYYYYUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!  Har’s’ niece and her husband own the restaurant and he does all of the cooking.  Go early, it gets jam packed!


Peter and Catharine Katzenbach and one of their labs outside their beautiful home on the Westport River.

The first time we met Catharine and Peter was when they welcomed us into their guest apartment for the 3 nights we spent in New Bedford.  Har’s daughter Sharon is married to their son John.  It was a lovely apartment, they were wonderful hosts.   We hope one day we can repay their hospitality “when” they come visit us on DoraMac. 


New England stone walls.  “Good fences make good neighbors,” as Frost wrote.  But it made for difficult farming as the stones had to be cleared from the fields first. 

end part one

Back in Roanoke

Hi Everyone,

  Just another quick update.  Randal and I are back in Roanoke after a great trip north to visit friends and family in Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia, Providence, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  Coincidentally and perhaps appropriately, we spent our last night of travel as guests of John and Jerie Milici who live on their Diesel Duck docked in Stamford, Connecticut.  Both Jerie and John will retire later this Spring: then they’ll throw off the lines and begin their cruising adventure.  It was great to see everyone and hard to say good-bye.  Part of our travels took us to New Bedford where I grew up and still have friends I’ve known since I was 4 years old!  We visited college friends, friends from Roanoke who had moved north, newer friends, and even made new friends who felt like old friends when we said our good-byes.  The weather didn’t always cooperate, but no monsoons or typhoons so it was OK.   I did take lots of photos and hope to share some when I can. And we did get to watch several Red Sox games on NESN and the Sox won most of them! 

   We still have friends to see and appointments to keep back here in Roanoke and so our time will be busy.  All too soon it will be time to go.  But we miss DoraMac and our pals back in Sebana Cove……..If we could only be lots of  places at once!

Ru and Randal

Here we are

Hi Everyone,

  Just a quick note to say hi and tell you where we are.  Today we are in rainy Chincoteague, Virginia home to Misty the Pony and lots of migrating birds.  Yesterday we saw egrets, a great blue heron, sand pipers, plovers, red-wing blackbirds, and an eagle.  I even saw two of the wild ponies that live on Assateague Island which the wildlife refuge island here at Chincoteague.

   We arrived in the U.S. March 26th and have spent time with family, friends, doctors, dentists and accountants.  We are heading up to New England soon to visit more friends.  I’m taking some photos but have no way at this point to share them.  We’ll be back in Roanoke about May 9th and will visit more friends and a few more doctors, though both of us are fine.  Just the yearly routine stuff. 

  DoraMac is back in Sebana Cove and our friends Cliff and Ruth from Icycle are keeping an eye on her. 

  We’re loading up on books and a few boat things and lots of good memories.

So for now, from Chincoteague, VA!


ps  My poor Red Sox are not doing so well.  Hmm.  GOOOOO Sox!