Sunday, October 14, 2012

Harvest party - How do you celebrate fall?

I threw a party last weekend. I often have parties with seasonal themes. The theme of this party was "harvest." So I made decorations and dishes related to harvest or fall. I collected dried leaves, hay, wild flowers, acorns and pine cones at parks and bushes, and bought a pumpkin, squashes and corns. I decorated whole my apartment with them. I cooked Japanese dishes and seasonal dishes using squashes and sweet potatoes. We prepared hot spiced apple cider, too.

My American friend made Tsukimi dango. Do you familiar with Tsukimi? and dango? Tssukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. We display decorations made from grass called susuki and eat rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the full-moon. He did not know about Tsukimi at all, but he looked into Japanese harvest party online and found out about it. He made Tsukimi dango. Even though he had never eaten dango before, it was just perfect; both how it looked and how it taste. I got susuki-like grasses from a bush, and served together.

It was like a party blended American celebration with Japanese traditional celebration for harvest. People enjoyed the decorations and dishes at the party.
How do you celebrate this season?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Birds are dumb?

Do you think birds are stupid? I do not think so. In fact, the smartest parrot in the world named Alex had the abilities of a five-year-old human. He knew 150 words, he could distinguish between many shapes and colors, and he could count numbers. It is obvious that parrots are good at speaking. But Alex was not just mimicking, he understood the concepts. He could communicate with humans. Unfortunately, he died about four years ago. His last words were " You be good. I love you" It made me cry, but the stories of Alex made me feel happy.

If you are interested in Alex, there are many  . Or you could read the book "Alex & Me" which was a bestseller in 2009. I read through the book and I was really impressed with Alex and the scientist.

I have a cockatiel as a pet. He is not as smart as Alex the parrot, but my bird is also called Alex. Actually, I named it after the smartest parrot. Alex is so cute and friendly to me. But he cannot speak any words and sing songs, even though I am teaching him as hard as I can. I thought he was stupid.

Someday, I found out that he loves peanuts. When I was eating them, he came to get one and eat it. Within a few days, he remembered the sound of the container of peanuts being opened. Whenever I open it, he comes to me immediately. I put a peanut on the red lid every time. He picks up it from the lid. He identifies the sound!

The other day, I bought peanuts in the same container except it has a green lid. He listened the sound of the container opening, and he came to me as usual. But I put a peanut on the green lid, he suddenly froze in his tracks. He looked at me and climbed on my shoulder. He seemed to tell me “ It’s a different color”. So I put the peanut on the red lid again, and then he got off my shoulder and ran directly to the peanut on the red lid. Great, Alex, you can identify colors!

I think that he has more potential that I still have not found yet. I want to find it. He might be smarter than I thought. Anyway, Alex is so cute. Here is a picture of him.