Armchair Historians

Ruth Rosenfeld, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami

November 17, 2020 Ruth Rosenfeld
Armchair Historians
Ruth Rosenfeld, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami
Chapters
Armchair Historians
Ruth Rosenfeld, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami
Nov 17, 2020
Ruth Rosenfeld

Today Ruth Rosenfeld shares her personal account of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a history that literally shook her world.

Ruth Rosenfeld is an author, blogger, photographer and world traveler. She has been to all but one of the world's continents, lived in four countries and visited over fifty! 

Her yet to be released travel memoir, Go Wherever You Want, is an account of her unique experiences living abroad in three different countries over an eight year period. Always looking for a new challenge, she has had many careers. Most recently she has been an international teacher, tutor for at-risk youth, and chair of a cultural arts center. 

Ruth Rosenfeld website: https://ruthrosenfeld.com
Ruth on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rrontheroad
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rrontheroad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ruthrontheroad/

Resources:
Tsunami Stones: https://bit.ly/32KORul
Shibuya Crossing: https://bit.ly/3eYHDaO
Shōji Hamada: https://bit.ly/38HlBbo
Fuchu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuchū,_Tokyo
Sendai: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sendai

Pop Culture:
Unsolved Mysteries: https://bit.ly/3lF52jZ
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki: https://bit.ly/3lF52jZ

Show Notes Transcript

Today Ruth Rosenfeld shares her personal account of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a history that literally shook her world.

Ruth Rosenfeld is an author, blogger, photographer and world traveler. She has been to all but one of the world's continents, lived in four countries and visited over fifty! 

Her yet to be released travel memoir, Go Wherever You Want, is an account of her unique experiences living abroad in three different countries over an eight year period. Always looking for a new challenge, she has had many careers. Most recently she has been an international teacher, tutor for at-risk youth, and chair of a cultural arts center. 

Ruth Rosenfeld website: https://ruthrosenfeld.com
Ruth on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rrontheroad
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rrontheroad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ruthrontheroad/

Resources:
Tsunami Stones: https://bit.ly/32KORul
Shibuya Crossing: https://bit.ly/3eYHDaO
Shōji Hamada: https://bit.ly/38HlBbo
Fuchu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuchū,_Tokyo
Sendai: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sendai

Pop Culture:
Unsolved Mysteries: https://bit.ly/3lF52jZ
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki: https://bit.ly/3lF52jZ

Anne Marie Cannon:

Hello, my name is Anne Marie Cannon, and I'm the host of armchair historians. What's your favorite history? each interview on this podcast begins with this one question. Our guests come from all walks of life, YouTube celebrities, historians, to my next door neighbor. There are people who love history and get really excited about a particular time place per person from our distant or not so distant past. The jumping off point is a place where they became curious, then entered the rabbit hole into discovery fueled by an unrelenting need to know more, we look at history through the filter of other people's eyes. Come to historians is a Belgian rabbit production. Stay up to date with us through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Wherever you listen to your podcast that is where you'll find us. I'm chair historians as an independent, commercial free podcast. If you'd like to support the show and keep it ad free, you can buy us a cup of coffee through coffee, or you can become a patron through Patreon links to both in the episode note. I'd like to take a moment to share with you a dig part of Great Britain had to say about armchair historians. Just utterly delightful. This is such an understated delicate and downright delightful podcast. The subjects covered are engaging and the rapport between hosts and guests elevates the whole listening experience. Take note of this one. That was dig pods review left via Apple podcasts. Wherever you listen to armchair historians, be sure to subscribe, like and review wherever possible. I love living in this small town in the Colorado Rockies. Some of the things I love most include the historic landscape being surrounded by breathtaking VISTAs. But most of all the people, the people who live in visit hair some of the most interesting I've met now my travels. My guest today is one such person. I met Ruth the resident of the National Historic Landmark District in which I live around five years ago at a wine and cheese reception for the museum I was working for at the time. One of the first things we discussed was travel, a topic and experience we are both passionate about and to topic which is preoccupied many of our conversations over the course of our friendship, which found footing in that first one. Over the years I've learned that Ruth is a brilliant writer that she's lived in four different countries been to all but one continent and his visited over 50 countries. Today, Ruth shares with us a more recent history about a natural disaster, which directly affected her life. Ruth Rosenfeld, welcome and thank you for being here today.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Thanks for having me.

Anne Marie Cannon:

I'm not sure exactly what you're going to talk about. I think it has something to do with Japan, because I know how much you love that topic. So I'm going to just will go off to the races that I'm going to ask you, what's your favorite history that we're going to be talking about today?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

This history is not old history. It's relatively modern. I lived in Japan for three years. And during the period that I lived there, what around the time that I was ready to leave? There was the huge earthquake and tsunami.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Oh, yeah, yeah. So that's what I will be talking about today. Okay, so that is very recent, its history nonetheless. So this is going to be an amazing topic, because you were there.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Yes. Let me talk about the disaster first. And then I can talk about where I was actually, I lived west of Tokyo, about a half an hour west of Tokyo. So I wasn't in the thick of everything, but I certainly was affected by it. So first, there was the disaster, the 9.0 earthquake, which is stronger than anything that's been recorded in the last hundred years. Wow. And after that, that caused the tsunami that led to the damage. They both led to the damage at Fukushima, which was the nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi that was affected. There was a lot of pieces to this. There was a fear afterwards that the whole nuclear power plant would below which I don't think was something that people could see internationally, but it was very much felt by the people who are living there then. And then there's the effect that it had on my Japanese friends and their lives, even years later.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you were living in Japan at the time?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Yes, I had kind of a change. of life in my 50s, I, my husband died, my kids were gone. And I went and taught in three different countries for eight years. and Japan was the last one. I was there for three years. And actually, I went back a few years later and did another semester I was teaching at a university there. And I, I took off that semester, that was, that was going to be my last few months. In Japan, I had an apartment, and the lease was up in the middle of the summer. So I was planning to be there through the summer. And I, I did well enough by had a little bit of savings that I just thought, I'm going to kind of teach this last semester, I'm going to do a little traveling, I'm going to do some writing. I was in my little teeny little Japanese apartment, sitting and typing on my computer, writing on my laptop.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Do you remember what you were typing at that moment?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I have been working on a book about my story living in the three countries. Yeah, I was working on my book. And I'm not sure what what piece I was working on. At the time. I had inner those Japanese doors that have small panes, and usually you see them with paper. But I have one in my apartment that had glass panes. And it would you know, pull from the living room and separated from the entry. And at times, it would kind of make a little noise it feel as if they're always mild earthquakes and there were storms and such. But it started rattling louder and stronger than I had ever had happened before. And I knew that this was a was an earthquake. And what you're told when you live in lands that have earthquakes is to stand in the doorway, the door jamb somewhere in your place, that would be the the strongest place that would be less likely to be affected. So I jumped up and stood in the door jamb of the bathroom. And behind me in the bathroom, the medicine cabinet opened and things were bouncing all over the place and banging. And I thought oh, and I could hardly you know, everything was shaken. It affects your vision and everything. So I, I took one big step into my living room and grabbed my laptop and purse and ran out the door. I was on the second floor and I ran into the street. And there were a few neighbors around and everybody was just standing there kind of in circles looking up. And the shaking went on for five minutes. And that exaggeration, the you could feel the sidewalk rippling underneath your feet. Wow. And I was a little ways from the downtown area and the town that I lived in. And I could see we could see the the tall buildings go like this. And the Japanese are very careful about the structure of their buildings stand earthquakes, so nothing toppled or fell. But later on, we heard that there was a lot of damage inside because they were just you know, well,

Anne Marie Cannon:

I could imagine if your apartment had the medicine cabinet, throwing things out at you that what was going on inside of other buildings.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Right.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So how far were you from the epicenter?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I was actually 25 minutes west of Tokyo by train. And the epicenter was East off the coast of Sendai, which is a city that is northeast, a little north and on the coast. I was quite a distance away. So what happened was the earthquake came first. And the earthquake caused the tsunami. And the villages along that Eastern northeastern coast had just had this massive earthquake. People were trying to get out the roads were damaged, vehicles were damaged. Some people were looking for other family members. And basically very few people had time to get out of town. Before the the tsunami came. The tsunami was estimated at about 15 meters high which is almost 50 feet. Wow. It's enormous. I I was obsessively watching videos and things afterwards. And there was one where Some people were on top of a building. And I don't know whether I think it was the fourth floor. And they were videoing it. And it just kept coming, the water just kept coming and you don't see it like waves, it just kind of floats in and just keeps coming and covered everything. And soon that that building was the only thing sticking up. There were cars floating by and all kinds of things. One of the really interesting things that I read and heard was that some of those villages had a sign up the hill from the village. That said, don't build past this point. And nobody knew what it meant. It was from so long ago, that obviously there had been a tsunami of that magnitude at some point. And people who were alive at the time, erected that to warn people, but nobody paid any attention. I think there was one village that that survived, because they had built up the hill, from one of those signs, there's still a lot of people who are displaced, and not going back to those villages, because 19,000 people, or unaccounted for, they never found the bodies. And then at the same time, the fishermen have power plants, nuclear power plants. You know, the Japanese government had thought that they should build these power plants in areas where they were somewhat depressed or poor, would give people jobs. So it was not the best placement it was, it was close enough to the ocean to be affected by it. And initially, there was damage the power plant from the earthquake, and the cooling system went out. Then the tsunami came. So it was like a double whammy. And they never planned for that. I think if they have one or the other, they would have been able to compensate. But they had never planned for that magnitude of a disaster.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you were able to go back into your flat?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Yes, I was able to go back. And at the time, I hung around with some Japanese friends at a jazz club. I have one friend who he texted me with warnings do this do that. wear a mask when you go outside, because what happened was initially at Fukushima, they would let off steam to try to reduce the pressure, there was meltdown. They were trying to reduce, reduce the pressure. And that stuff is going out in the air and you're paying attention to to which way the wind is going. Is it coming over this way? You know,

Unknown:

how far were you from the power plant?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Oh, I was pretty far from the power plant. But now it's all in the air. It's Yeah.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Now so pretty far. What does that mean? Well, I

Ruth Rosenfeld:

was west to Tokyo, and it was north of Tokyo, it would have been quite a few hours to travel up there. We were terrified that it would be carrying carrying radiation over the city, you know,

Anne Marie Cannon:

I couldn't even imagine where you now were you kicking yourself for making the decision to stay?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

No, no, no. In fact, I didn't even think about leaving initially. I had friend Japanese friends who encouraged me. And some of them said I would leave if I could, where can I go you know, but why stay here? You know, I we don't know what's going to happen. And I went to the jazz club and I can remember sitting there and there was an aftershock. There was a lot of aftershocks and this one was pretty strong. And things were swaying the they were hanging lamps and they were they were swinging, everybody stood up and everybody was trying to decide whether ran out again. And then it settled down. People got on the phone Eileen called somebody they knew they somebody checked on their phone to see where the aftershocks center was and somebody called a friend there and to see, okay, if they were okay. You know, it was just we were all on pins and needles. There were people at the jazz club friends of mine, who knew people were telling stories about one had elderly parents that lived in and watch a which is one of these areas on the coast, but they lived up the hill and they were okay. But they had no power and they probably had no power for a long time. People were talking about people that they knew were affected in one way they were There was somebody, there was somebody that somebody knew who worked at Fukushima, but happened to be off that week visiting their families someplace else. And then there was another guy who went back to work at Fukushima, and nobody had heard from him since. So people had to go in to this situation and try and stabilize it. So one of the things that happened was, they shut down all the power plants, and Japan is an island. And they were quite dependent on nuclear power, because they didn't have a lot of other sources. So they shut all the nuclear power plants down until they could

Anne Marie Cannon:

be shame, right.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And they set up a blackout schedule. And a friend's son called me to translate. It would be having trucks go through the streets with loudspeakers, telling you what in your neighborhood hears this that, you know, here are the rules. So I had some people to help me.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you don't speak Japanese.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I speak some Japanese but beginning conversations, you know, where I live, and I work and where I'm from. And then usually, the people who and I took some Japanese classes, but the people who are not older than me are younger, have studied it in school. And their English is so much better. They can communicate and understand subtleties. And I, you know, I'm like an idiot in Japanese, you know,

Anne Marie Cannon:

so what were you teaching there, then, if you didn't see English, you weren't teaching English.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

You know, teaching English. It was an extracurricular program at a university, I taught at a Women's University for three years, and then another university, co Ed University, that was a really good school in Tokyo for half a year when the second time, but it was it was a conversation based curriculum. So we would engage them in conversation, and then try and get them talking to each other using the vocabulary and grammar that we were learning. It was being fun. And it's good way to get to know people as teach English.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, you are one of my most adventurous friends, I have to say that. And that the thought of that in a place so foreign to me, the thought of it is, I don't have the courage to do that. I'll go to England because they speak a version of English but you're a brave soul is what I'm trying to say.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I enjoy learning about different cultures and meeting people learning about their lives. And, you know, when I first started out doing this, I My first job was at American school and Guatemala City. And, you know, I pretty much hung out with the expats there. And little by little, I became more immersed in the different countries that I lived in and got to know people and didn't hang around with the Americans. Because you get

Anne Marie Cannon:

into Ico and yeah, right. Right. Right. So how long were you there for?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I was in Japan for three years, three years. And then I went back about two years later for another half a year, semester,

Anne Marie Cannon:

after the earthquake,

Ruth Rosenfeld:

right, actually, when the earthquake happened a little while after that the following week. A good friend of mine, who was the director of the school that I taught him in Guatemala, was there visiting her family because her daughter, married a guy who was with an international company, and they were in Tokyo for a few years. And we had planned to get together. And her family left. And she had us a flight on Thursday, and we talked we were going to talk earlier in the week. And she said, You have to make a plan. You have to pick a plan, what are you going to do? And I ended up getting a flight for the same day so we could travel to the airport together. This happened March 11. So that was a little bit further into March. And I went back to the states for a month. And then I had planned a trip in May anyway. So I went ahead and did that I met my son and we just

Anne Marie Cannon:

went to China.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And and then I went back to Japan and stayed until my lease was out and I was glad to see my friends again. See everything.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you went back to Japan? Okay, I'm trying to get the timeline here. So you

Ruth Rosenfeld:

about a month and a half or so later, later, a couple of months later. And how long was

Anne Marie Cannon:

after that?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

It was the middle of the summer.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you stayed there another couple of months? Yeah.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And they still have the blackouts. And one of the things that really worried me was that just west of where Fukushima was, was the biggest farm belt, where vegetables came from, I was terrified to be buying fresh fruits and vegetables from that area. And my my friends, my Japanese friends had different points of view about it. One said, they're telling us It's okay, but they're lying. But the government would play down the risk from the power plant and how much radiation was in the air. And it's not enough to be harmful. People who really didn't believe it, I had one friend who said you, it's not an issue, but we have to be careful of the children because you could have more built up through your life. And so did they.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Back there was radiation in the air?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Oh, yeah. Not where I was. But you know, in that area that and it was all over the place. Those villages that were affected, that whole area was sealed off. There are a few people, I've seen videos of a few older people who lived there, and that was their home and their lives. And they decided to go back and take care of their animals. But there's almost nobody there. You know, it's it's still very much affected.

Anne Marie Cannon:

But why did you go back? Why did you decide to go back?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Well, the power plant didn't blow. I had, I had my life there. You know, I lived there for years, I had my stuff there. I have my friends there. And I didn't want to just disappear. And leave everything. You know, I had commitments and, and I'm glad I went back. I have to say though, that when I got on the plane, this is this is how scary it was at the time. When I was going to the airport with my friend. I sent a text to one of my Japanese friends who had organised a goodbye night for me at the jazz club. People coming. And I emailed them or texted him and thanked her. And the text that she sent back to me said, If Tokyo is left, we will meet again. That's how scared everybody was.

Unknown:

Wow.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

But I wanted to go back. And I was relieved actually, that I had planned to leave that summer anyway. So that kind of worked out timing wise, pretty well. And I was glad that I wasn't teaching because I wouldn't have been able to leave. It was some It was quite an experience. And you know, just last month in October they they have been TEPCO, which is the company that that runs the energy systems. They have a new president in Japan, Avi is is out and suka is the new president. And Sega announced that TEPCO would begin taking all the contaminated water that they have been storing. They're still cooling the reactors and will be for a long, long time with ocean water, but they have to store them the contaminated water that's passed through there. They announced that they were going to start releasing it into the ocean. They announced this last month in October.

Anne Marie Cannon:

That doesn't sound like a very good idea.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

No, there was they have changed their mind since then they've rescinded that. But the fisherman there's a big fishing industry in Japan. And they were terrified that their livelihood would be killed and environmental groups spoke up and protested. And so they rescinded that. So I don't know what they're going to do with all that water at that point.

Anne Marie Cannon:

It's radiation, right? Doesn't that stick around? Like for ever

Unknown:

years? I

Anne Marie Cannon:

just did. I'm thinking about that because I don't know if you listen to it, but I just did an episode about the radium girls.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Oh, yes, I did. Yes. The

Anne Marie Cannon:

hosts of mystery history podcast. I interviewed Jordan in Alli. Just remember that was a thing you know. And so it's like what happens? What happens to that and where are they storing? At

Ruth Rosenfeld:

somewhere on the grounds there, but I do recall hearing that last month and being been pretty freaked out that they were going to do that. But, you know, then Japanese government does those kinds of things. they announce something and then they say, Oh, no, no, it's nothing. It's nothing. Don't worry about it. It's using tape, do

Anne Marie Cannon:

it anyways, do you think they would? No,

Ruth Rosenfeld:

no, I think that it would be pretty obvious if they did something. Okay. It's being monitored. But it's all interesting. So when I went back, like a year and a half, two years later, they still had a blackout schedule, they still had some rules about and guidelines that you don't, you don't keep your air conditioning in the summer, in the summer, it's horribly hot and humid that you don't keep it 70. You know, you keep it at whatever, 90. So that it doesn't come on quite that much. I think they have activated a few of the nuclear power plants around the country. But I'd have to check that. I know that when I was there, they were talking about opening one that was on the southern coast. And people were just up in arms. And I joined a protest in downtown Tokyo.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Did you write your sign in Japanese?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

No, I didn't do a sign. You know, when I go to these things. I run around with my camera and take pictures of everybody. Oh,

Anne Marie Cannon:

that's right. Of course you do.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And it was so different from a protest here. You know, they have the police clearing the streets for them and escorting them and it was quite amusing dance. Yeah, they chanted and, and they had signs in both Japanese and some English, No Nukes, No Nukes, and they had music, you know, bands on trucks. And then we went through that, you know, if you've seen pictures of the biggest intersection in the world with all of these zebra striped, you know, the lines and people are going every which way in this huge, huge intersection. That's Shibuya Crossing, and we marched to the Shibuya Crossing, and they stopped all the traffic. It was, it was good thing to be a part of

Anne Marie Cannon:

when these type of natural disasters happen, there's so many different stories or any, you know, any kind of big tragedy that affects a large area with lots of people and communities. There's always that one story, that one story that sticks out in your mind. You know, I heard this from people like, you know, my dad was, he was a cab driver. And when Kennedy was shot, he was driving one of the a politician, an important national politician in Cleveland, you know, and so there was that story, right? Memory like that about this?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Well, I, I told you my story of where I was, and those are things that when you hear about something or when something happens, you are very much rooted in the place and what was happening at the time. I, I did kind of compulsively watch a lot of videos about people and their stories. I remember one woman who lived in one of the villages that was destroyed, and she was still living in what looked like a little closet years later, because she didn't know where to go, you know, she didn't have family elsewhere. Her family was gone. And she she didn't know what to do. You know, you just feel so badly. The guy who went back I just saw that pretty recently we went back to his village to take care of the animals because there were all kinds of animals roaming roaming around and knows if they had some harm done to them. But by the radiation but he fed the animals and cared for them and said you know this is something he can do. This is where he's always lived. Those are the stories that that really touched me I think.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So when you went back a year later after you you went back for a couple months when and finished out your lease and said goodbye to your friends and packed up all your things. And you came back home. Did you know that you were going to be going there in a year did you just decide you're going back?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Well you know I was turning 60 that year. I spent my 50 is traveling have still done a lot of travels after had rented out my house for eight years, a couple of different families living in the house at different times. And they paid off my mortgage for me. So I could come home. And I gave them a few months notice I could come home, and I didn't have to work so much. It was a good situation. But I came home and was working on my book and realized that what I really wanted to do was go back and visit the places that I lived and connect with the people there again and see, but it was like now, so I went back to Guatemala. And then I was in the Czech Republic for two years, I went back to Prague, then I wanted to go back to Japan. And the, the company that I worked for I taught at universities, but I actually was employed by a company that places you in these jobs. So I thought you know, that might be the easiest way to go back and visit is to do it another semester.

Anne Marie Cannon:

When you went back to Japan, did you go back to the same place,

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I was close. I was to towns over there to train stops over. And I could walk out in the hair for an hour. So I could still be in that area and see my friends.

Anne Marie Cannon:

And then you came back to the US and lived in your house? Yeah, okay. And I was like, Who is this woman living in Japan and telling me all these crazy stories about traveling, you are very soft spoken. And every time you tell me a new story like this, I did not understand the extent of this now you are so immersed in this, this earthquake and tsunami situation. So I'm always flabbergasted by you, and

Ruth Rosenfeld:

don't

Anne Marie Cannon:

you I have I've learned a lot from you about being independent and about figuring out how to make things happen and being resourceful. And when I moved here, I have that same wonder list that you do. I mean, it's a different version of it. But you know, I lived in England for three months, that was my memory. And I was traveling a lot. And then I moved here and I didn't travel for a very long time. And you would always tell me about these new adventures you had coming up. And you even though you maybe weren't traveling as much or living for extended periods, you were you always have the right now is a little different. But you always have an adventure on your Horizon. All right.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And I had a couple plans this year. But you know, obviously, they're not going to happen. But yeah, I'm always looking for something new and interesting to do. And, and I volunteered for places like habitat and voluntary English speaking couple of volunteer English speaking groups in Europe. And usually I can, I can do a week of something useful, and then do some traveling around and and I look for those opportunities. That's good.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So is there anything else about the earthquake and tsunami that you haven't talked about that you wanted to?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I did want to mention that when I was worried about the farming area and the fresh foods when I when I went back that second time, you know, it still hadn't seemed to have changed all that much. So I ended up buying a lot of packaged foods and imported foods, and I had some native Japanese foods, but they probably laughed at me because they were living there. And they had to do what they had to do you know what you can do what your comfort level tells you?

Anne Marie Cannon:

Right, right. Do we see this history anywhere in pop culture? Is there a movie? You know, I did just watch a documentary. I think it was unsolved mysteries. It's a new version of it. And I think that's what this is. This one was about and it's about and I know you don't believe in this stuff. So but I'll keep it short. But it is a documentary and I'll put the information in the Episode Notes. And it was about all the paranormal ghost sightings of people who supposedly it was a really interestingly done, it was different. that there were all these spirits that didn't realize that they were no longer alive and

Ruth Rosenfeld:

still. Yes, yeah. Yeah. Well, I have one for you. And it is a book that I absolutely love. It's a few years old, and it's called a tale for the time being, and it's by Ruth Ozeki z EKI.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Okay.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And obviously she's a Japanese origin or her family. It's the story of two women. One woman is Canadian. A woman living on the west coast of Canada and British Columbia, she finds on the beach, a package. And it's a journal wrapped in plastic. So it wasn't ruined in the ocean.

Anne Marie Cannon:

And it's a true story. No, that's a novel, okay.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

But it's a novel. But she's reading the journal. So the the other part of the story is a young girl in Japan, who is writing this journal, and her life there. And it. It's beautiful. And it's so indicative of Japanese culture. There's a little magical realism in it. It's a lovely story. And it is definitely a story about that, because the girl was writing this before. And the woman is finding it after and knew what happened in Japan. And there's all this stuff that has washed up, which is, you know, historically true. On the western beaches. Wow, that's interesting. So that is a fact that there was a lot of things that washed up from that natural disaster in Canada on the west coast, Canada and Northern California, I think, as well. So I

Anne Marie Cannon:

was gonna ask, yeah,

Ruth Rosenfeld:

yeah, it would be interesting to do a little research about what all was found and what kinds of things they were able to realize from some of those artifacts, you know, people who tried to escape on boats and things, of why you to tell our listeners more about you and who you are and the book that you're writing. All right. I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, in high school during the New York race riots, I can really relate to a lot of the things that people are feeling now, in those kinds of racially tense situations. I went to college in these. I was living in New York. I was an art student. And I was a half an hour from Manhattan. So I spent a lot of time going into New York City, to art museums and galleries and things that was in the late 60s, early 70s was a great time to hang around New York City. And then my senior year of college, I had a pottery shop in New York State with some friends, some fellow Potter's, and then I left and traveled around the country and ended up coming to Colorado. What year was that? 72. Okay. And I lived in Denver for almost 20 years. And then I was in my second marriage with a kid and a stepson, and we moved up to the mountains, and in this little town where I met you,

Anne Marie Cannon:

Georgetown, Colorado,

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Georgetown, Colorado, charming little town, but it's close enough to Denver to to still get a city fixed once in a while. Right, yeah, during the pandemic, but

Anne Marie Cannon:

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Now, it's a good place to be. And it's a wonderful community. So I've been involved in a lot of voluntary stuff. So you were married? You had a son? Yeah. Okay, George. Yeah. And he was young, you know, he was 51.

Anne Marie Cannon:

I was 44. At the time, you've told me this before. So that must have been very devastating. But you always have said that he was the love of your life.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I had a first marriage, and we were good friends, but it wasn't the same. And we drifted apart after a while. And

Anne Marie Cannon:

so he was the father, George, who passed away of cancer in the 90s. He was

Ruth Rosenfeld:

the Father, Son, Adam.

Anne Marie Cannon:

And Adam was how old when he passed away.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Adam was 12. Okay. Once ad went to college, I thought, well, what am I going to do with myself my job? Wait,

Anne Marie Cannon:

wait, wait, wait, wait, you need to back up. You need to back up because I want you to tell your whole story that I know. So. So what what was one of the things that you and your son did? How did you connect with your son? You know what I'm trying to say? So what did you guys do?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Well, it was just the two of us. It was an interesting time because he was an adolescent. He was a preteen. And this is the time of life that you start arguing with your parents and you don't want to be around them and stuff. But we bonded. we bonded we play games at night, we watched movies. We went down with started travel and I just took them and started taking trips. First of all People we knew and then to just explore different places to Europe and Costa Rica, we just did some different travels. And he loved to travel. And he's often come and traveled with me in various places in his adult while

Anne Marie Cannon:

since I've known you, you've gone on quite a few trips with your adult son. So that that is an unusual story, especially for an adolescence. Yeah, to bond in that way. And so what were some of the trips that you guys went on overseas?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Oh, we did a backpacking trip. No, we did. Spain and Italy, we did take a train through southern France and stuff it nice. We did some time doing that we have since done Iceland, Ireland, Mediterranean,

Anne Marie Cannon:

you had this look on your face, like you're talking about what you ate for dinner or something. And I'm just telling you, from my point of view, that's, that is so amazing, and that you are able to give him that, you know, we

Ruth Rosenfeld:

we relate as as adults have never treated him like a little kid, you know, what a

Anne Marie Cannon:

world you opened up to him. I mean, I could not imagine having such you know, a cool mom that that just like looked at the world the way you did and took me to all these places. That was a beautiful thing, a beautiful thing that you did with your son.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Well, you know, these things never would have happened if we hadn't had the earlier tragedies. My my parents died soon after my husband, oddly enough, and suddenly, I didn't have anything to keep me. So I thought, I've always wanted to travel. Let's go explore the world. Yeah,

Anne Marie Cannon:

well see, a lot of people would have thought otherwise. Well, I do I have the sun. So I can't travel. But you didn't let that be an obstacle you looked at as an opportunity. And it was great. You're an exceptional person. Because I don't know anybody who's ever done the things that you've done in the ways that you've done them. And then after Adam went away to school, you continue traveling, you found Bigger, Longer opportunities, because of course, you probably couldn't do a lot of that before because he was in school.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Right? And, and like I said, my job situation was changing. And I just needed, I needed to change, I needed to do something different. I knew I needed a new, a new challenge in my life. And it was a new episode.

Anne Marie Cannon:

When did you actually start writing the book about your traveling?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Oh, that's a good question. I'm glad you asked that. I journaled pretty extensively while I was living in those countries. And right off the bat, I just said I had a had a website, you know, I had been a computer geek, I had a website, and I started posting photos in stories. And I realized this was a great way to keep in touch with people because my friends back home would comment and you know, otherwise I wouldn't hear from them. And I did that through the whole time. My journaling was often included more personal stories about people that I didn't post, I just posted the travel stories. So I just recently started a new website last fall, and blog, I'm pulling up some of those older stories.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you have an amazing blog, what's it called?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I guess it's called musings from the Colorado mountains, because that's where I'm coming from now. I've always used are on the road. So that's kind of my handle. So is an interesting, how

Anne Marie Cannon:

would you describe what you write about?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Well, I suppose you could call it a travel memoir. But it's much more in depth than most travelers that just breeze through a place and meet a person or two. But I've stayed there long enough to make friendships and learn about the culture. And really in each place in each of the three countries. I became more and more involved with the people in the culture. It's much more in depth in travel stories that you generally find. Do you have a title? Yes, it's go wherever you want. When I told my son what I was going to be doing, I was going to this job fair to find it an international teaching job. I took him out to dinner and I told him all this and he was in college, but he wasn't that far away. He wasn't living at home anymore. He thought about it. And he said, Go wherever you want. Just send me a ticket. So that's where the title comes from. Did he come and visit you when you lived in Japan, he came to each place. He's the only person who came to visit me in each place. So he had some understanding of what my life was. And each of those and some of the people that I was friends with, came exploring with me.

Anne Marie Cannon:

That's nice. Yeah, that's really nice. I guess one of the things I want to know is why did you pick the history you picked? And what is it that you want people to know about that? Like, what's the most important thing about that history that you want them to know?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I have to say that I'm not much of an amateur historian. I'm not someone who reads a lot of historical novels and has a lot of knowledge about different times in history. This was something that I experienced. So it's something that I I know about, and I can talk about, I think, you know, when disasters like this hit when natural disasters like this happen, you know, in Guatemala, they would have mudslides, sometimes that would and they just had one that wiped out villages, and the horrible things happen. And people need help. And it up ends everything. And we all go through our normal lives and say, oh, gee, that's too bad. But when you come into contact with it, it touches you in a way that that it's hard to imagine. Other people can understand. But Japanese are resilient people. And for the most part, they've, they've done quite well, to leave it behind. It's still a part of who they are now. It's absolutely, yeah. It's part of who they are.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Everybody has a story about that event. Everybody was touched by it.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Right. And there's a sorrow that they live with. There's a grief that they live with, when you go through anything, whether it's a personal tragedy, or, you know, we've got fires here in Colorado, and people who are displaced, whose houses burned or were at least had to evacuate for a while and things happen all over the place. It's, it becomes part of your who you are, and your understanding of other people go

Anne Marie Cannon:

well, and in a way it's become a part of who you are that experience.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

That's true. That's true. And I do think about it.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

I think we touched on a lot.

Anne Marie Cannon:

What is okay, your website?

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Oh, it's Ruth rosenfeld.com.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Ruth Rosenfeld, calm. Okay, I'll put a link in the Episode Notes. Yeah.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

And the blog is one of the menu choices

Anne Marie Cannon:

in the book is, we're not sure when that's coming out. But

Ruth Rosenfeld:

book is done. I am hoping I'm reluctant to self publish. I would like to find a publisher to pick it up. So I am in the process of seeking an agent and we'll see how that goes.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, if you're a traveler and you love to travel, you can travel now check out Ruth rosenfeld.com read her blog, because you'll feel like you're there. She's a brilliant writer. So Ruth, it was so great talking to you. Thank you so much for being here to today.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Thank you and Marie. This has been a lot of fun to to talk about. I've enjoyed it.

Unknown:

Thank you. Bye.

Ruth Rosenfeld:

Bye. Bye. Thanks.

Anne Marie Cannon:

There you have it. That was Ruth Rosenfeld. To find out more about Ruth and about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. Be sure to check out our episode notes. Thanks for tuning in. Have a great week.