Wednesday, February 28, 2007

spring has sprung

is it still february? really? because sebastian's sporting a tank top and shorts, all the windows in the place are wide open, the birds are singing, bees are stinging, and i will venture to say that spring is now here. which, in florida, is a really nice time except for the fact that it is just a short treshold to summer. we arrived back here in july so we only had to suffer through the last four months of summer and now it is coming back again. so soon. but today it is spring and we are pressing flowers, drawing suns, making leaf impressions, and digging in the dirt some more. sebastian's main occupation outdoors is the pursuit of lizards and chochos (butterflies). all my craft energy this week is being spent on the alphabet. a felt version, a sandpaper version, stencils, salt letters. sebastian's finally taking more initiative in the writing department so i am supporting him the best that i can. for nico, we are making mobiles as suggested by the montessori books i am reading. he's really keen on grabbing things (including any race cars or thomas trains that happen to be lying around) and pulling them into his drooling mouth and he's rather good, in my biased opinion, at flipping over. not to mention how huge he is, already stretching out his 6-9 month clothes. anyway, time to get back into the sunshine. take care. xoxo
p.s. i have an interview at a downtown coffee shop this thursday. let's hope that it will exceed my expectations.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

tea and breaks

a breezy blue-skied day in the mid 70s. journey to the park with bucket, shovel, quilt for spreading out on, little diggers, montessori books. made some sunprints with the flowers from the park then pressed them in the montessori book for more adventures later. trying to get things in the house straightened out. made a brown rice pasta salad, poached catfish with a lemon tahini sauce, and a fruit salad along with some iced pear flavored white tea. applied to two jobs today, plan to send my resume out some more this evening when the kids are sleeping. one job is in the neighboring county and in a way i wouldn't mind moving there. closer to the beach, more florida-y, if you will. but now my tea is gone and so is my break. hope all is well with you and yours. take care. xoxo

Friday, February 23, 2007

a quick hat

we went for a walk earlier and it occured to me that my pale little one needs a hat.

i love reversibility. and upcycling. this was made from my maternity dresses.

lessons from our seniors

when i use the pool at the Y usually i am sharing the lanes with older women hoping to ease their joints by participating in classes like aqua jogging. these women are all full-bodied as is the case with a lot of southern women over 70. they still manage to squeeze into a bathing suit and enjoy themselves, making friends and comparing complaints. closer to lunch hour, some younger women come to swim and they are so self-conscious about their bodies, shyly slipping out of the cover-ups and hurriedly diving into the water. some women even wear their board shorts and tank tops in the pool so that their bikini-ed bodies are never exposed to the critical eye. they are around 20 years old or so and they still glow with youth. they have stunningly beautiful bodies but they can't see themselves from an objective perspective. they worry that they are too fat or flabby while the older women with their wide backs and hips laugh and waltz through the water like whales.
i spoke with a man today who turned 80 yesterday and was dazzled by nico and by life. he said, "you know, i can never get over it. i wake up each morning overwhelmed by the miracle of birth, the miracle of life. i can build houses, huge buildings but nothing compares to the spark that builds humans, seeds of love. we take it for granted, we throw it away but nothing is more precious than that baby you are holding. you must be amazed everyday. you are so lucky"
nico is 3 months today.



Wednesday, February 21, 2007



I am at a loss
To say to whom if not to you
I might show plum blossoms;
For such beauty and such fragrance
Only the best judge is a judge at all.
-Ki no Tomonori
With plum blossom scent,
this sudden sun emerges
along a mountain trail

Searching storehouse eaves,
rapt in plum blossom smells,
the mosquito hums
-Matsuo Basho

Pure white plum blossoms
slowly begin to turn
the color of dawn
-Taniguchi Buson

*In the midst of this world
we stroll along the roof of hell
gawking at flowers

A flowering plum
and a nightingale's love song
he remains alone

The blossoming plum!
Today all the fires of hell
remain empty


*This poem is truly my favorite. The idea of hanami, "gawking at flowers", "in the midst" of the supposedly more pressing concerns of our life is so aptly gorgeous. It reminds me of a line from Kerouac's Dharma Bums when the main character Ray, having made it to the top of a mountain that he had been afraid to climb claims: "It's impossible to fall off mountains". They share the same spirit of living despite (or even because) of the absurdity of life and our frail expectations and attachments. Enjoy the change of season. And for you Kiwi/Aussie readers:
Autumn approaches
and the heart begins to dream
of four-tatami rooms

Monday, February 19, 2007

the five hour bag

gone are the days when i could sew a bag in 30 minutes. i made this one over an extended period today, trying not to get frustrated by the constant interruptions. i am happy with the end product. i used canvas from jason's store, a floral printed canvas that i found on the bargin table, as well as cutting up some of my maternity dresses for the black and grey material. it's reversible so i guess it is more like two bags, making it the 2.5 hour bag. jason said my headband looks rather old-fashioned. looking at the picture, i think it looks rather rhoda-ish but i don't believe jason has ever even seen the mary tyler moore show. his loss. anyway, this weekend's sewing was marked by my newly adopted habit of using the iron, measuring tape, and pins. the designs may be a bit simple but i am not too concerned about that at this point. anyway, now i must clean my little corner of the room before sebastian reminds me again that i "messed up" his room. he keeps going in there and saying "just look at this mess". what a nag. hope everyone is having a lovely one. take care.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

a sewing break

i managed to squeeze in some sewing during nico's nap this morning and i ended up with this groovy little headband. i don't think i have posted much about my sewing projects but i thought i would begin including it here like i do with the poems. i have actually been sewing since my early teens and used to sell hippy dresses and bags at local shops in my youth. i can't imagine that they were very good but they sold anyway. there is a long line of seamstresses in my family. i had a great-aunt annie mae whose quilts now hang in a museum of cultural history, a grandmother who sewed her own hats and party dresses, and a mother who sewed all of my halloween costumes and my prom dress (which i designed myself). she taught me the basics but it wasn't until recently that i developed the patience to sit down and iron and use needles and measurements. now i am really excited about developing the skills needed to produce the many, many ideas crammed in my head. so i'll be exhibiting my practice pieces here, if you don't mind. hope all is well. take care.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

they call him mellow yellow

yesterday was a day full of hassles so today when i asked sebastian what he wanted to do, he said, "let's just stay home and rest". done and done. i am trying to organize my days and nights better so that during the kids' awake time i can be *with* them instead of tackling chores and personal pursuits. one of my wacky ambitions is to manage to wake up and get to the Y when it opens via bike (they open at 5) so that the hassle of diaper bags and interruptions won't be included in the day. the less hassles the better, right? anyway, i have a pot of chili to tend to and a cranky nico protesting the swing so i best be off. happy weekend.
p.s. here's what my valentine gave me. considering that we rarely give each other presents, i am rather unmaterialistic in terms of personal wares, and we share a cultured aversion to the holiday, it was a very unexpected but happy surprise. thanks, jas.

(we traded the trains for animals today. such a nice change.)

(it always feels hopeful to tidy up my work space, though it is a bit cramped. at least it is cramped with good things.)

(a patient nico who sat for a bit in his swing so i could moo and baa with sebastian and his farm)

take care. xoxo

Thursday, February 15, 2007

poetry thursday*

the leaves were unsettled by the whisper of unseen forces. the currents of wind took them by surprise and bullied them out of their peace on the sidewalk, forcing them to fly, dance, stumble until they were scattered once more. the green ones tried to resist but those crisp with age realized that there are no options and surrendered immediately and soared high with unintentional grace, too tired to fight, to question. the baby turns over on the bed, the boy hits a ball with a bat, the aunt finds out she has a tumor in her womb. above their heads the moon rises, the tide swells, and we are swept along, turning brown at the edges.


happy heart day

i was about to chuck this sugary madness but then...

the kingdom of love and the collective of hearts were built (the taffys are the citizens, and that's a m&m river with kit-kat bridges, plastic cupcake mountains, and a lollypop sailing vessel that is shared by all citizens). please, please don't let sebastian know this is candy.

we also made some things that won't be 86ed immediately after the photo....(yes that's a chocolate espresso cheesecake)


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


pomme granate

succulent garnets
caverns teeming with rubies
i wander, joyful

躑躅 tsutsuji

stolen azelas

white dancing curtains
bees linger under blue skies
winter shies away

Monday, February 12, 2007

just another sunny day

"I had not very much to say. It was a record of hard work and of little adventure; of experiments in this direction and in that; of the gradual acquisition of the knowledge of books and of men. " (p. 96)
from the moon and sixpence

Thursday, February 08, 2007

poetry thursday*

a pearl fence marks the
border between her
sagging neck and shoulders

rose red paint colors her
neatly trimmed fingernails
applied with an unsteady hand

we meet once a week along
the river road but she
never remembers my face

she greets me and mentions the
unusual weather for
the weather is always unusual

if it is a blue sky, and it usually is,
she’ll say how it matches a
print dress she once wore

there was a USO dance and her hair
was pulled back with combs
her lips redder than blood

he was so tall then, she’ll say
and so handsome in the uniform
with the polished brass buttons

so handsome, she’ll repeat
he had spent the afternoon shining
his shoes in anticipation of someone else

but he danced with her instead
and in the sixties they left their
four grown children up north

and came here because he liked
palm trees and her body in a
bikini, though you may not believe it

now not a month goes by without
a devoted great-grandchild flying down
to be by her side, but to tell the truth

she would just prefer to have him
though it was twenty years ago when
a heart attack broke his body

her wedding band remains embedded
on its finger like a vine cutting
through the thick flesh of an oak

are you married, she’ll ask me
with my nod, she'll say a good man
is worth his weight in gold

then we part and she continues on
with her memories rolling around
like a glass marble in her mouth

*this week's prompt: change

seagulls are glorious birds

today was stunning. no time to write but tomorrow i'll be back with a poem. until then, some more maude love. xo

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

easy as pie

pie isn't exactly easy it turns out but i enjoyed the process even so. sebastian and i peeled apples and sang silly songs to distract nico from crying then we rolled out the (gluten-free) crust using a wine bottle.

i was really happy to have a pie cooling on the windowsill while a meatloaf cooked in the oven. yes, a real meatloaf. it was my first ever both making and eating. i wanted to make a warm "traditional" meal since jason had a poor start yesterday (got up late, missed the bus, ate a snickers for breakfast, typical monday antics). oh, and the vegan plan is back on the shelf.

this morning, i overheard a neighbor telling another neighbor "well, it's just another day to get through". how many people live their life with that attitude? incredibly sad. i've started reading Transforming Problems Into Happiness by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. it is kind of like a cliffs notes version of some of the basic dharmic texts but it is beneficial. "the thought of liking problems should arise naturally, like the though of liking ice cream or the thought of liking music" (p. 11)
i watched harold and maude last night and i totally heart maude. i'm sure you've watched it but there are some stunning shots and amazing lines like:
Maude: I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They're so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?
Harold: I don't know. One of these, maybe.
Maude: Why do you say that?
Harold: Because they're all alike.
Maude: Oooh, but they're *not*. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*,
[she points to a daisy]
Maude: yet allow themselves be treated as *that*
[she gestures to a field of daisies]


Maude: A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're just backing away from life. *Reach* out. Take a *chance*. Get *hurt* even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE!
Maude: Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.

Harold: You hop in any car you want and just drive off?
Maude: Well, not any car - I like to keep a variety. I'm always looking for the new experience.
Harold: [smiling] Maybe.
Harold: Nevertheless, I think you're upsetting people. I don't know if that's right.
Maude: Well, if some people get upset because they feel they have a hold on some things, I'm merely acting as a gentle reminder: here today, gone tomorrow, so don't get attached to things.
Maude: [gesturing to a sick tree growing through a sidewalk] Harold, we have *got* to do something about this life.
Harold: What?
Maude: We'll transplant it. To the forest.
Harold: You can't do that.
Maude: Why not?
Harold: This is public property.
Maude: Well, *exactly*.
Harold: Maude?
Maude: Yeah?
Harold: [Pulls a ring from his pocket] Here.
Maude: [Gasping] A gift!
[Reading the engraving]
Maude: "Harold loves Maude"
[Looking up at him]
Maude: And Maude loves Harold. This is the nicest gift I've received in years.
[She throws the ring into the lake, to Harold's surprise]
Maude: So I'll always know where it is.

anyway, my tea break is over. time to tackle the daily lessons and get out under the blue blue sky. hope all is wonderful with you and yours (and if it's not, you should change the way you are looking at it). xoxo

Monday, February 05, 2007

staying in

the other night over a bottle of wine and a deck of uno, i had an epiphany. i don't have to go to work tomorrow. i get to stay at home. and further more, i want to stay at home. i have always wanted to stay at home, or at least not go to work or school (hence why i had a huge record of absenteeism all throughout school and have been known to call into work, or, um, quit when i just couldn't stand another day punched on my timecard). i have been putting so much pressure on myself to find a job or, even worse, a career when i know what i want to do, i have always known, but somehow i had lost my hold on the thread that anchors me to myself. let me tell you, my epiphany may seem more like i was just stating the obvious but truly i feel so very much better. i don't have to go to work tomorrow.

i've been rearranging the house. i have accepted the concept that we will remain in one place for a while so i am trying to make it more livable/workable. i moved the computer out of the bedroom to the living room so that i can write when all the boys have boarded the nightime express to sleepytown. i brought the swing out of sebastian's play/classroom (and our studio space) so that nico could join me as he would be the one to wake up the others with his flapping and grunts (the one downside to the family bed). before we were never in the living room but now it is a lot more cozy with the glow of the imac to warm us and the grey chair near the bookshelf for easy reading access. i'm sure this is more detail than you care for but i wanted to share the process of settling down. part of my epiphany included the basic fact that i hadn't recognized how taxing all of the transitions of the past year have been. it started with the recontracting debate, the getting settled in nara, the finding out that i was pregnant, then trying to figure out if we should still stay or go, then deciding to leave at the same time being told we were expecting a girl, then moving back to j-ville into the same building we left two years earlier, discovering how different jacksonville is without a car, giving birth to nico instead of ingrid, then realizing we have to pay for jason's school, followed by my attempts to find a job and the debate over grad school, followed by disappointments and finally, now, acceptance. acceptance that we need to be in jacksonville for some reason that we are working on finding out. acceptance that we have to pay for jason's school. acceptance that we must be productive and creative anywhere and everywhere. acceptance that i am home and jason is at work. acceptance that the transportation system here stinks. acceptance that we must establish and stick to a budget. acceptance that jason's gluten intolerance is for real.
acceptance opens the way for happiness. i am not fretting anymore (this is huge as fretting is a mild term for the truth of my anxiety disorder). we are working on the things that really matter to us: family, friends, education, art, reading and writing, mindfulness. it is slow, but we are working on it here and now.

the weather has been a tad cooler lately which makes it possible to stay indoors and enjoy multiple cups of tea, muji slippers on our feet, the blessings of steam heat, and baking. yesterday i made some butterscotch-chocolate chip cookies that were delicious and gluten-free. i am working on the transition to a gluten-free diet so i have to improve my cooking and baking skills (though i needed to do that regardless of the gluten factor ;)). i checked out some dvds from the library on thursday: antonia's line, groundhog day (happy belated, by the way), the exocism of emily rose, harold and maude, and who's camus anyway?. we watched the exocism of emily rose last night with some hard cider but i must say it wasn't as scary as i had hoped, though it was interesting. maybe harold and maude tonight as we are the only two people on earth who have not watched it. too busy watching the office, i suppose. anyway, i am off to start our dinner of (vegan and gluten-free) shepherd's pie with mighty miso gravy. hope all is well with you and yours. take care.

P.S. 誕生日おめでとう, Renka-chan! One whole year! Wowee!

Friday, February 02, 2007

good v. bad

this is how i've been feeling for a while.

but today....

...i looked at my life and i saw only sweetness.

good things: gingerbread cookies with coconut and chocolate, wine and uno, sunlight and cool breezes, babysitters, story outlines, iced tea, kimya dawson, uncle b's nikon, old friends, new friends, toothless grins, free laundry service, no place to go. hoping that your sunshine is triumphant. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Thursday, February 01, 2007

a day off

it may seem that a stay-at-home mother has endless days off, but truly my only days off are when jason is around and healthy. these last few weeks jason has worked overtime to cover all the people struck down with the flu only to wind up sleeping through two days of his life, tucked shivering under his covers. then sebastian got it. i must say i have a lot of bravado concerning my kids' illnesses; i keep my chin up and try to keep all the horror stories i have some how collected concerning sick children out of my consciousness (though i will think, what did mrs. march do when beth was sick with scarlet fever? oh yes, she rubbed beth's feet to bring the fever down from her head. and then i will proceed to rub my hot boy's feet, just in case. i do draw the line at leeches, so don't worry). i really have always had a hard time reading stories or watching movies with children or cute animals because they are, 9.5 times out of 10, the victims. this began with old yeller when i was four. though i did watch nobody knows over the weekend, but that was only because it was filmed in japan and i knew it was a tragic story to begin with. i suppose movies with healthy children that live happily until they are 112 would be too boring but personally i would watch them because they would help to balance the fear that i carry with me, the same heavy emotion all parents have, conceived along with our children. anyway, the illness has now (knock on wood) left the building and today jason had a day off. and it was nice. very nice. i hope everyone is warm and genki. take care. (P.S. HAPPY THIRD BIRTHDAY, L.!!!)