I went into the big city last week to apply for a visa extension. The actual immigration office was such a mind-numbing experience that I don't want to say anything more about it. But I took a little side-trip.
At one of the temples in Kyoto, I'd drawn one of the paper charms that predict a range of good and bad luck. If the latter, you're supposed to tie it to a tree there rather than let it follow you home. Usually I can recognize the kanji for good and bad, but I didn't see either this time. So risking it, I tucked it in my pocket to take back to my electronic dictionary. I checked it, and was perturbed to find it signified "bad though not terrible" luck. "I should tie it up at the next place I go to," I thought, and promptly forgot. And brought it back to the east. And then it sat with the rest of my souvenir papers until I thought, "Ah, maybe if I got rid of it my luck might change." Not that I really believe in that sort of thing, but it can't hurt.
There is a temple in town but I'm not sure where it is. So since I was going to pass the place A. and I visited way back in June. I tied up my bad luck and took a new picture for nostalgia's sake:
I ate lunch surrounded by some very friendly and familiar pigeons:
Yesterday I woke up to the sound of the wheels louder than normal, which usually means rain on the pavement. I groused a bit at having to wear my raincoat, but got ready. When I swung the door open - there was nothing but white. There was maybe three inches of snow, when we didn't get more than a desultory sprinkle in either December or January. I've never biked in the snow, so I would have liked to walk for safety - but I was at the time limit. So I set off.
By that time, it'd actually turned to rain so most of it was quite slushy and easy to glide through. The hardest part there was avoiding pitholes and curbs hidden underneath the snow. But I've taken the same path every day for months, so I'm pretty familiar with every nook and cranny.
Then I reached the busy road so I had to stay on the sidewalk - and this is when it got dangerous. Here the snow had been packed by feet walking to school, and had turned into icy peaks and ruts. My poor bike shuddered and swerved as much as a car with multiple blown tires. I would have gotten off and pushed it - but no time. Luckily, that stretch was only a few blocks and then I was on the side roads between houses near the school. There is no sidewalks in that area, and there are almost no cars, so I could easily bike along the tracks left by early vehicles. I got safely to school with a minute to spare, but between the rain and the waves of slush sent over me by every passing car, I was fairly soaked. I only had one class yesterday because of tests, so the entire day I spent shivering at my desk. The rain and sun in the afternoon cleared it all up by the time I went home. Because my gloves and coat were still soaked through I rode home with just my scarf, but it had warmed up so only my hands were chilled.
I love when this happens - snow on the ground and blossoms on the trees:
Possibly the only reason I'm not a bigger fan of Remioromen is that, for the life of me, I can never remember how to spell their name. I know them by sight, though, and I can even recognize the lead singer's voice. "Sakura" came to my attention because it's being used in a commercial right now. That version, however, is an elaborate, soaring orchestral version, and I'll admit I like that better than this, which just sounds like every other Remioromen song - pleasant but not amazing.