hilltop big band

2017-11-03 CORVALLIS, OREGON, USA -- On the same day of Ken Saul's classical trumpet concert, we attended a big band concert several blocks away in downtown Corvallis. A gentleman who attended Ken's concert told us about the big band concert happening that evening. So we changed our plans for the afternoon.

Hilltop Big Band is part of the Corvallis Community Band. Tonight they played at the Old World Deli.

The deli is affordable and friendly. The audience seating area is L-shaped. Alas the band faces the edge of the shorter leg of the L, such that most members of the audience have compromised sight lines and acoustics. I would suggest that at least the loudspeakers be placed at a 45-degree angle with respect to the stage so that the sound propagates to the center of the audience.

We sat on the wings to enjoy a clear view of the 4 trumpet players in the back row. I was impressed with Mike Freeman, who stood closest to me for most songs. (The trumpet players took turns playing lead.)

During intermission, I chatted with Jim Cameron (right of photo, counting on his fingers) who plays trombone in the Hill Top Big Band. I met Jim when he and John Bringetto (my trumpet teacher) formed a duo, where Jim played keyboard and voice, while John played trumpet and flute. Jim remembered me and Noriko! How nice of him.

ken saul plays spanish trumpet

2017-11-03 CORVALLIS, OREGON, USA -- Our friend and mentor Ken Saul performed trumpet at the Oregon State University Memorial Union.

Ken carefully and meticulously warmed up before his performance.

Ken quintupled on Bb, C, Eb, and piccolo trumpets plus a Bb flugelhorn.

OSU hosts concerts every Friday at noon during term. Here's Ken's concert program.

After the concert, we met Ken's wife Lily, who comes from Sapporo. We hope to spend more time with them next time.

taft tigers

2017-11-01 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Gabe, son of our friend Lori, is a senior at Taft High School, and captain of the soccer (association football) team.

Gabe is number 24, in the white shirt towards the right of the picture.

I got great seats next to the Taft HS Band. I learned a lot from observing their playing.

We congratulated Lori and her mother-in-law after the match. The Taft Tigers won 6-0. Actually I predicted that after the 1st goal but nobody was taking bets!

back home

2017-10-29 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- The last 10 weeks were fabulous. We learned so much during our trip to England, Flanders, and Holland. Today we're back home!

Assembled my trusty Carol Brass 6580 and played it side by side with my Carol Brass Zorro that I played during our Europe trip. My chops (brass instrument jargon for my lips, cheeks, and tongue) had assimilated to playing the Zorro, so that the 6580 (although it has warm mellow sound) feels more difficult to play, and heavier too.

We installed internet at our house. Drew, the cable person, installed new cable and connectors from the utility pole to our wall outlet. We agreed to distrust the existing old coax.

For the past 13 years we had intentionally avoided having internet at our home because we would become glued to our computers. There is so much work that we need to do online that we no longer have a choice. Besides, we get to watch the news on our big screen. Alas the top news was yet another terrorist attack.

Bokeo (whom we adopted from our sister Keiko) has become our household deity for internet.

We froggified the living room wall with pages from our frog calendar.


2017-10-26 AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS -- We returned from England to Holland, and spent a few days in Amsterdam before flying home to Portland, Oregon, USA.


All of the floating stores (shops on boats) along the right side of this canal sell tulips, both flowers and bulbs.

We almost bought tickets for trumpet jazz playing at the Bimhuis, Holland's premier jazz venue. Alas the concert starts and ends too late in the evening for us.

A free ferry crosses the river Ij from Amsterdam Central train station. The white low building on the left is the Eye museum of cinematography. The tall building with the white tower on the right is the Lookout Tower, formerly the head offices of Royal Dutch Shell.

The fantastic view from the observation deck.

sunderland air museum

2017-10-24 Sunderland, UK -- I remain infatuated with aviation, although I no longer fly. By chance, we spotted a road sign for an aviation museum.

A dense collection of aircraft and land vehicles, all in various stages of restoration.

A telegraph key caught my eye. It is called the
bathtub key, and was used by many British aircraft. It has a spring-loaded cover to hold the key down (to transmit a continuous signal) to notify that the aircraft is going down. The same with Japanese aircraft during WWII.

The museum is located immediately adjacent to the
Nissan UK plant at Sunderland. Turns out the Nissan plant was built on the old airport grounds, close to freeways, sea ports, and major commercial airport. The old map below shows runways arranged in an inverted V shape. This is where Nissan is located now.

scarborough castle

2017-10-18 SCARBOROUGH, YORKSHIRE, UK -- On a blustery day, we visited the English east coast.

The castle perches on a promontory that has been occupied by humans since prehistory.

Noriko fell in love with this well-developed coastal town full of fun and views.

belas knap

2017-1-20 BELAS KNAP, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- We visited a burial mound, which in Japan would be called kofun (古墳).

We hiked up a rather steep pasture to reach a well-restored mound. The mound is shaped like the top half of a hotdog bun -- long with rounded ends, and raised along the longitudinal axis.

Several entrances were placed on the circumference. One entrance is described as false -- or perhaps it was reserved for a different purpose.

The burial chambers have been reconstructed so that the original stones can be clearly appreciated in the context of their intended use.

The Belas Knap long barrow is well documented. A few references for the lay public (such as myself) include
English Heritage, Stone Circles, and Britain Express.

st andrews church

2017-10-20 COLN ROGERS, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- We visited many churches. One church that retains its older style is the Church of Saint Andrews in the village of Coln Rogers.

The church blends in with the rest of the village because the building is not too large and is built from the same type of stones as the local dwellings.

The room closer to the front of this photograph dates from the 11th century. The tower in the rear is a later addition.

The vertical strip on the middle of the north wall (pictured facing the right of the photo) is a pilaster strip (a decoration that looks like a column supporting the ceiling or roof) and is characteristic of Saxon architecture.

Another Saxon feature is this lancet window (a narrow window, often with a pointed top, although this example has a round top) carved from a single block of stone.

The interior is clean and cozy.

An explanation of the building's history and design.

mechanical music museum

2017-10-18 NORTHLEACH, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- We visited the Mechanical Music Museum (formerly the Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music).

A knowledgeable lady who loves music boxes gave us a detailed tour. She has lived in the same house for 54 years, and worked at this store for 19 years.

I was captivated by
Thomas Edison's phonograph (pictured left) because when I was an undergraduate student in the linguistics department at the University of Tokyo there was a similar device that had made recordings of Ainu speech in the 19th century. We were prohibited from playing the device for fear the needles would destroy the precious recordings. Eventually the university contracted a technical firm to read the grooves using lasers and to covert the visual imagery to sound. But I digress. Here is a close-up photo of the needle from Edison's phonograph.

Gramophones were commercially successful because vinyl records could be mass-produced by pressing. Edison's device may have had better
audio fidelity. Edison himself called the phonograph "his baby", and spent 52 years improving it. But his recording cylinders could not be duplicated. Here is a picture of a gramophone needle.

Music boxes, hand-cranked organs, reproducing pianos ... the museum is full of technical wonders. We would have stayed all day, if it were not for a constant stream of visitors who deserved tours and demonstrations.

inn and pub

2017-10-17 BROADWAY, WORCESTERSHIRE, UK -- We had a drink and enjoyed conversation with the local gentlemen at the Crown and Trumpet inn and pub.

The building was built in the 1780s -- fairly new by Cotswold standards. The building behind used to be stables. Today there are 5 bedrooms upstairs, and a pub downstairs. On Thursday nights they have live jazz.

Noriko had a
Stroud, a local brew. Although we are still unsure, so far it seems that English beers have a lighter, thinner flavor than some Belgian trappiste beers. I had a non-alcoholic beer.

st james church

2017-10-17 CHIPPING CAMPDEN, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- We visited St James church in the village of Chipping Campden.

St James church is a wool church, so called because they were built with money from the wool trade. At one point, wool accounted for half of England's exports. The town of Chipping Campden was known across Europe as a prime source of wool.

The church of St James is built in the perpendicular style.

The church was built and modified over time. The oldest tomb in the church dates from the 13th century. The oldest windows of the church -- dating back to the mid-15th century -- is in the upper part (the part above the transom) of the stained glass on the far wall above the altar. The lower part (below the transom) is modern -- it was made in 1922. In America that would count as old!

Placed in the south chapel close to the altar are effigies of Sir Baptist Hicks, later created the 1st viscount of Campden, and his wife Lady Elizabeth née Mays. Sir Baptist died in 1629 at the age of 78. He donated 10,000 pounds to the church, at a time when 40 pounds may have bought an entire village.

countryside walk

2017-10-16 LOWER SLAUGHTER, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- Noriko and I took a walk from our cottage (a fancy name for a rental townhouse) through farms into Lower and Upper Slaughter continuing to Brouton-on-the-water.

We still struggle with public footpaths. We are uncomfortable walking through other people's property (even with their permission) because it is where they work.

Footpaths are not always obvious. You need to develop an outdoorsy sense, like a hunter or tracker.

Unlike the Lake District or Yorkshire (where we stayed the past 2 weeks), the northern Cotswolds region has much more cows and horses than sheep.

A local lady pointed out a prestigious equestrian school. If it hadn't been for her commentary, we would have completely missed it.

We had tea at a
mill in Lower Slaughter, while we dried our wet clothes.

The weather improved later in the day, while we had a late lunch in

The town has 5 bridges. Cars can ford the river at certain spots -- that is, vehicles can wade across the shallow water.

We admired what must be the last flowers of the season.

Their church has been impressively remodeled inside, while retaining the historical exterior.

We wrapped up the day with a visit to the
Motor Museum. Lots of British cars, many of which I had never heard of.

cotswold stone

2017-10-15 STOW-ON-THE-WOLD, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- We arrived in northern Cotswolds, in a village named Stow-in-the-wold or Stow for short.

Unlike the 2 former places we stayed during this trip, this week we are staying in the middle of the village, within easy walking distance to shops.

This area is known for Cotswold stone, also called honey stone for their milk-tea color.

Cotswold stone is beautiful. In this district, most stores and houses -- even primary schools -- are built with Cotswold stone. I suspect that some of the newer construction uses fake stone, because the hue is different -- it has a deeper orange shade.

We took a walk in the neighborhood. Kero was thrilled to have local folk strike up conversations with him.

cream tea

2017-10-13 THORNTON RUST, NORTH YORKSHIRE, UK -- Noriko has been comparing clotted cream and lemon curd.

Clotted cream is somewhere between butter, mayonnaise, and cream, but without the salt. Rodda's is the leading manufacturer in the UK. We found a few other brands, which differ markedly in color, gloss, texture, viscosity, and taste.

Lemon curd is a lemon-flavored spread like jam. We tried various brands, and they also vary considerably. We will search for clotted cream and lemon curd when we return home. We think they go nicely with plain scones. Fruity scones are too sweet for us.

sheepish trumpet

2017-10-10 THORNTON RUST, NORTH YORKSHIRE, UK -- Finding places to practice trumpet is easier in England than Belgium because in England we have a rental car. My routine for the last several days has been: park off highway A684 safely alongside a sheep farm, sit in the rear seat, roll up all windows, and practice trumpet.

Rain or shine, the sheep keep on grazing. Once or twice a day (certainly around noontime and sometimes in the late afternoon) they sit down to ruminate. I enjoy gazing at the sheep and landscape while I play scales.

Colored paint shows who owns the sheep. Stone walls keep sheep corralled. The stones are merely piled on top of each other. Sometimes walls crumble, as shown towards to the upper left of this picture. We talked to a farmer who owns 15 miles (24 kilometers) of wall. He said his walls need constant mending.

I brought my Queen Brass (OEM Carol Brass) Zorro student trumpet. When I'm careful, I point the leadpipe straight ahead, so that the valves and bell are offset to the left.

After scales I took a break by playing by ear the theme song for "
Astro Boy". Hmm, listening to my recording, the song sounds pitifully wailful. Where did his 100,000 horsepower go? Am I doomed to play soulful tunes?

wensleydale cheese

2017-10-10 HAWES, NORTH YORKSHIRE, UK -- We toured the Wensleydale cheese factory.


They have a comprehensive visitor center, starting with traditional tools for making cheese.

Wensleydale cheese is immortalized -- for me at least -- through
Nick Park's "Wallace and Gromit" series. I made my pilgrimage!

We got matching T-shirts. We chose a tea-themed design because we've been enjoying tea so much.

mount grace priory

2017-10-09 MOUNT GRACE PRIORY, NORTH YORKSHIRE, UK -- We visited the ruins of a Carthusian priory. A priory is a place where monks or nuns live and work, and is smaller than a monastery or an abbey.

The Mount Grace priory was built in 1398 for Carthusian monks, named after the Latin name of Chartreuse (near Grenoble, France) where the austere order was founded.

Carthusian monks lived in individual houses called cells. Cells sound like jail cells or at best a room within a building, but at Carthusian priories including Mount Grace, each monk had a 2-story house with a substantial garden. The cell in the foreground is what remains of the original. The house behind the wall is a reconstruction that gives an idea of how large it was.

The monks met and prayed together, several times a day. But the monks did not talk, because they were vowed to silence. Other than for religious services, they would spend their days and nights in solitude.

Tiny openings in the walls allowed meals to be passed through while avoiding human contact.

The priory continued to expand, partly because the priory earned considerable income from its vast holdings of land, and partly because people paid to have mass offered for their deceased. The priory was abolished following the dissolution of monasteries by Henry VIII. At that time religious institutions became the property of the king.

wensleydale ice cream

2017-10-01 THORNTON RUST, NORTH YORKSHIRE, UK -- A few houses down the street from our cottage in Thornton Rust is a dairy farm that makes ice cream.

As we walked past on our way back from a hike, we said hello to the owners. They showed us their jersey cows waiting to be milked.

We also saw calves (all girls) at 2, 4, and 6 weeks of age. The 2-week-old calf was calling her mother. The other girls were eager to eat.

We learned that over 30 years ago our rental cottage was a milking barn (a "cow 'us" in local talk) belonging to the dairy farm.

cat bells over derwent water

2017-10-05 KESWICK, CUMBRIA, UK -- We are staying for a week in the Lakes District, recommended by my cute cousin Satoko. Our cabin (a 1-year-old double-wide mobile home with fancy furnishings) is located about 20 kilometers north of Derwent Water, one of the lakes in the area.

Along a narrow twisty lakeside road, we miraculously found a place to park, and climbed a hill overlooking Derwent Water. In this area, lakes are often called water or mere.

When we left the car, we didn't plan to go all the way to the top. The trail began with a wheelchair sign. I thought it led to a viewpoint a hundred meters away.

We didn't know until halfway up the hill that this was none other than
Cat Bells, the most popular of all hills in the area. The name Cat Bells comes from an older word meaning lair or den of cats, presumably wildcats. Folk etymology may have altered the name in the direction of mice putting a bell on a cat.

The weather was gorgeous. Maybe I should say "absolutely smashing" like the local folk.

Derwent Water has 3 islands, formerly inhabited by religious hermits.

Near the summit, we talked with a gentleman enjoying portable operation on 2 meters. "Portable operation" is ham radio talk for bringing your radio on a hike.

The 360-degree panorama from the summit is outstanding. Cat Bells is essentially treeless.