About Me

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California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reforestation Worldwide

The problem of deforestation (loss of trees => desert) is occurring worldwide at a rapid rate.
In developing countries, people cut down trees to sustain their own lives, but in the end are worse off than before, because nothing will grow in a desert.
When people remove the trees from an area, the area becomes dry, and seed dispersing animals dissappear.
The plants that are there already cannot live in a dry environment and die under the dry heat.

There are two inspiring stories I'd like to share, one that I learned about for the first time today, and the other I learned about several years ago.

I heard about the story of Toyama many years ago. He is an old Japanese man who is planting trees in the Gobi Desert of China and Mongolia. He has been doing it for 15 years, since he was 80. He is now 96, but is still trucking. You can read Toyamasan's story here.

The other story is of Jane Wynne, at Wynne Farm in Haiti. I first read the article on Haiti today on NPR. Haiti is suffering from severe environmental degradation. She is one of few people who is preventing it at her farm. She also educates Haitian children about how to prevent deforestation, and teaches them how to plant. Here is the Wynne Farm story.

Related to the issues that face rural areas, is the heat issue that faces cities. Cities are technically deserts, more or less. There is an ocean of rooftops reflecting the sun. Something called the "Heat Island Effect" affects cities where there are not enough trees. These cities are very hot. For a long time, I was really interested in becoming an architect, and designing "Green Roofs" to help with the environmental issues that face cities. You can read more about Green Roofs at my website, http://www.spaz.org/~sofia/greenroof.html

Recently my JHS students have been studying about Mother Theresa. She was like Wynne and Toyama. She focused her energy on helping, and was successful in saving the lives of many homeless children in Culcatta.

Today I realized that anyone can help with global problems if they try.
I also realized that most people don't want to step out of their little lives to help the world. They feel too busy, there are too many issues in their own lives.
But there are problems everywhere, even in our own towns, like homeless issues and orphaned children, and hot, dry asphalt in our cities. If I think about myself, I don't really do anything to help, I have dreams, but I don't act upon them. How to plan, donating time, and other issues get in the way...but really...

If everyone stepped out and acted like Lynne and Toyama, we would have a wonderful world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nishimera Mountains

We have been landlocked for a month now... there was a landslide and we can only leave one way. But these mountains are so beautiful.

We have been taking ane extra hour detour to go to Hitoyoshi, but finally, on Thursday night, the road will open up.
Friday is my birthday, I will be 33!
Many fruits of Summer we have been enjoying...
From June 2009

Cute and various mushrooms!
From June 2009

From June 2009

Abandoned buildings!
From June 2009

From June 2009

The bunnies at the elementary school!
From June 2009

"Kuagata mushi" and "Kabuto mushi"

I wanted to share my favorite bugs with you, and give you a little background, too.
When I lived in Mexico, when I was 12, we had to do a horrible homework task, for which I got a "0" because I didn't do it. I have never done anything that involved extreme animal cruelty for school, and I consider this to be cruel. Each student had to find 30+ bugs, freeze them, and pin them to a cardboard and identify them. I didn't want to hurt the bugs, so I didn't do it. But other kids did, and they came back with some huge beetles, with horns and fangs.

At the time, I thought that they were really strange, but now that I live in Japan, I know that they are the most popular pet in this country. Every little 5 yo boy has at least one. They fight them, the one that gets the other one out of the circular area wins. At least, this is legendary, but I haven't ever actually seen them fight them. Mostly they jst hold the bugs and play with them. There are two kinds, Kuagata mushi(Stag Beetles, in English), with jaws, and Kabuto mushi (Rhinoceros Beetles), with big horns. I like Kuagata best.
From June 2009

They eat nutritious jelly that you can buy at the store here in Japan... in other countries you could feed them watered down maple syrup or honey maybe soaked in a paper towel. In the wild they eat sap, nectar and fruit as adults, and wood chips as larvae.
Here is more information about Stag Beetles, or Kuagata Mushi.
They are kept in plastic containers, in woody soil, with their jelly, over the summer.
They are found all over the world.

I don't recommend keeping them as pets (for more than a few days),
because they only have a few months to mate, after having been underground as larvae for a long time, one to three years. They die if you touch them too much, too.
So I keep my beetles for a few hours, and then let them go. They are fun to play with.
The last time I let one go, I put her in one of my planters outside, and she came back the next night for me to feed her some more jelly!
It was cute.
From June 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cleaning up the Topiary at JHS

Lately I've been working in the garden at the Junior High School, cutting away at the topiary and bushes. They are like big bonsai, and I have been having a lot of fun.
The driveway.
From June 2009

The courtyard...
*Photo deleted to protect those involved*
and after (the Principal helped me remove the trees)
From June 2009

Its so green around here, and it rains so much... I think that they do this every year and it grows back....

Friday, July 10, 2009


From Sofia's Myriad of Colors

The cicadas have been singing...
"meee, meeee, meeee..." late into the evening.
They are so pretty, with their delicate wings, and their three ruby eyes on their heads.
I really love them.

Cicadas spend one, passionate week flying around, mating, and making a lot of noise. Then they die.
But before that week, they have been underground for a number of YEARS! Depending on the species, 3, 7, even 14...
These cicadas were acting shy...
From Sofia's Myriad of Colors