February 10, 2021
February 10, 2021
September 15, 2020
September 7, 2020
We named him Milo. He eats and sleeps in our garden but also sleeps in the neighbor’s garden. He stays away from us when we come near, but he has made himself at home. Look how happy he is.
I thought Milo would keep other cats away, but this yellow cat has come twice this summer wanting something to eat. Milo shares.
I don’t think Milo will share his winter house.
Here is Our History with Kittens and Cats
On 9-11-07, we rescued four little kittens in a neighbor’s garden. The neighbor couldn’t handle it. And the mother hadn’t been around. I had never had a cat in my life before. I was the one who was rescued.
September 13, 2007 Cat and Kitten Rescue
October 21, 2007 A Forever Home for Kittens
January 17, 2008 Kitty Bandages
October 21, 2008 Fish Heads and Cages!
April 23, 2009 Another Stray Cat!
October 15, 2009 Cat in the Bean Field
November 6, 2009 Another Rescued Kitty
September 7, 2020 The Garden Cat(s)
June 30, 2020
Last February, I was so thankful to have finished the final galleys of my second verse novel, Beyond Me, based on our experience of the aftershocks in west Tokyo from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011. After 3 years of remembering, researching and writing it, we were advised to self-isolate for COVID before being quarantined in March.
After these 4+ months of going only to the grocery and hardware store, walking twice to the Botanical Gardens and riding up Mt. Fuji yesterday (for our 30th anniversary) I can still hold strong to the things I wrote about and what got me through Tokyo’s month of aftershocks; family, friends and pets, and tending Earth (for me gardening).
Here as in the Acknowledgements, I would like to thank my children for skyping me away from the manuscript, to Papa and friends Mari Boyle, Kathy Schmitz, Kristin Ormiston and Cam Sato for pulling me away to do fun things; to SCBWI Japan’s advisors Holly Thompson, Naomi Kojima, Mariko Nagai, Avery Fischer Udagawa for always organizing an active calendar of events for us; to Mariko Nagai, Mari Boyle, Avery Fischer Udagawa, Emina Udagawa, and Cam Sato for reading and commenting on the story, to Mr. and Mrs. Toida for feeding our neighborhood and allowing me to photograph their work, fields and vegetables over the years, to the Chikamatsu family for guiding me through ups and downs, to our dogs for grounding me and to our rescued cats for teaching me cat culture. Letters and conversations about Somewhere Among from readers, family and friends, especially Nancy Rinehart, The Austin Kirwans, and my mother kept me going back to the table to finish Beyond Me.
I am grateful to editor Caitlyn Dlouhy, Atheneum Simon & Schuster, the S&S design team, and to agent Holly McGhee for making it all possible.
I had been afraid the subject might be too heavy for COVID19 times. Then in May 2020, Booklist said it was “an essential read” for tweens. These are different times.
My hope is that there will be future middle grade novels and translations centered on the hardest hit areas of the disasters of March 2011. There’s so much to learn.
Beyond Me is my second published love letter to Japan, to my American-Japanese children and their father, and to my Japanese in-laws. I can envision writing only one more book set in Japan, a memoir for adult readers. But that might take a while. I am pulled to write children’s stories set in a faraway land, the United States prior to 1984.
description of Beyond Me
Set in west Tokyo during The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. Maya, 11, is finishing fifth grade, preparing for choir performances and going to cram school when the earthquake knocks Japan off its feet. She and her family are unharmed. Earth keeps moving, but life comes to a halt.
Everything is up in the air. Maya grounds herself by watching and helping her Great-grandfather farm. She finds other ways to calm herself and to help others. Based on our experience of the aftershocks in west Tokyo.
Simon & Schuster, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, Atheneum, June 2020.
June 9, 2020
I see birds everywhere in west Tokyo. They are in my garden and in the farmer’s fields outside our windows. Before the pandemic, I walked to the grocery store or to the station every day so I would see them in the trees along the street, in garden trees, and on buildings. I would take the camera with me (before cellphones) and I would take walks just to photograph them. So naturally, birds have shown up in my writing. My middle grade novels are set in my neighborhood in west Tokyo.
Here are the birds of my second novel, BEYOND ME, coming out on June 30, 2020. Click on my photos to look more closely, but also click on the link below each photo to see photos at Cornell Lab’s eBird. Be sure to click on “Listen” on their page. You can hear what I hear almost every day.
I was thinking of Chinese Hwamei (Garrulax canorus) for the bird that disrupts Maya’s class choir practice. I hear them but have only seen one. High in a tree at sunset, this bird sang its heart out. (Made my heart sing.) Sadly, this photo is not good. Chinese Hwamei on eBird.
Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) are here through all the seasons. They are hard to photograph. They move fast in a flock. Eurasian Tree Sparrow on eBird.
Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) are also called Common Pigeons. Our neighborhood barber’s wife fed a flock of about ten before they closed their shop. The Rock Pigeons used to spend their days in the tree in a tree lot next to the barber shop. I miss them. Here is one sitting on an air conditioning unit. Rock Pigeon on eBird.
White Wagtails (Motacilla alba lugens) zig and zag and wag through the farmer’s fields every season. In a recent interview with the Audubon Society, Jane Goodall said she liked Robins and Wagtails. I like them too. Wagtails are fun to watch. There is another wagtail that visits the fields called the Japanese Wagtail (Motacilla grandis). I don’t see them as often. White Wagtail on eBird.
Oriental Turtle Doves (Streptopelia orientalis) never come to our garden anymore after a crow got a turtle dove nest. They sit on fences or in trees. There are usually two turtle doves together. This one is always along. On the day of this photo, a Eurasian Sparrow was sitting on the fence nearby. Oriental Turtle Dove on eBird.
Japanese Bush Warblers (Horornis diphone) are heard but rarely seen. They are a sign of spring. I don’t have a photo of one! Here is a photo of a wagashi dessert shaped like a Japanese Bush Warbler. Japanese Bush Warbler on eBird.
I have many photos of birds dating back to 2006. Recently, I started uploading them with the time, date and details to Cornell Lab’s online database, e-Bird. The data may help scientists know bird populations and bird patterns.
(My list isn’t public yet. I am still working on it.)
March 16, 2020
This morning a group of children from a nearby daycare center in west Tokyo was out enjoying a walk. Some schools have closed. Check and follow the guidelines from your country’s department of health or its center of disease control. (U.S.)
We’re all told not to touch our faces and eyes and mouth without washing our hands first. And to keep distance from humans.
Many of us are self-isolating and most of us are social distancing. But we can still get out in nature. Run and play. Or sit and watch. Take note. Draw pictures. Write poems. Or read some.
In your own backyard. Watch out for bugs. It’s spring and they’re waking up. Identify them here. Trees are blooming and leafing. Birds are on the move. Set up an account at the U.S.A. National Phenology Network’s Nature’s Notebook or these international sites; iNaturalist or Budburst or Cornell’s eBird. Take photos to upload to help scientists’ research. Celebrate Urban Birds.
Plan a garden. Plant seeds. Check The Old Farmer’s Almanac Kids.
Walk through nature. Through the neighborhood. Through a park.
Look up. Observe clouds. Take photos. Join a cloudspotter group at The Cloud Appreciation Society.
Chart time by the movement of the sun through the house. Where’s morning light? Afternoon? Sunset? You may get hooked and want to track it through the seasons. You may want to follow your shadow outside. Or make a sun clock.
Connect with the world through Nature for All.
Take virtual trips to botanical gardens or national parks near and far. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook. Sign up for their newsletters.
Update: This came out the day after I posted on Here and There Japan. From Children & Nature Network (C&NN.) I’ve been following this site for years. Richard Louv offers 10 Nature Activities to Help Get Your Family through the Coronavirus Pandemic.
C&NN Finding Nature
further update of resources: Share your ideas using the hashtag #findingnature
Check out activities for National Park Week 2020
C&NN’s The Ecologist School
December 4, 2019
On my visit this year, many people were crossing Togetsukyo.
A brochure is offered in English at the gate. On the cover, Rikugien Gardens is described as a “Special Place of Scenic Beauty” and “Graceful daimyo garden filled with refined mind of Waka poetry.”
To see what this is, check HTJ post Bug Trap.
Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association’s brochure:
To read more about visit see my Instagram post here.
August 20, 2019
We visited Shima Onsen Sekizenkan, a hotel, onsen and bridge that inspired Miyazaki’s 千と千尋の神隠し, “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” or “Spirited Away” in English. Big Sister was in elementary and Little Brother was in nursery school when the movie came out in 2001. It has a special place in our hearts.
It was so nice to see that the hotel and town have no images from or mention of the movie. But on the road, on the approach at a distance from the village, there is a “melody line,” a stretch of pavement that plays a stanza of the movie’s theme “Itsumo Nando Demo” when crossed over. Lovely. A two lane road through forest. Can the forest hear it as cars pass? Not sure.
February 3, 2019
January 3, 2019