Saturday, March 31, 2007

beauty all around

this last week i have been busy with pragmatic affairs such as registering sebastian for preschool and getting my driver's license renewed. i left my kids with their nana (aka my mom) while i went to the department of motor vehicles. the dmv is notorious for the guaranteed bureaucratic experience but it was really quiet at the one i went to and the parking lot was lined with beautiful pear trees in bloom.

back in my parents' yard, the citrus plants were both blossoming and bearing fruit. my parents don't even bother picking the fruit off their trees anymore so when we go, jason spends most of his time gathering cumquats and lemons.

in the backyard, the tree my mom calls a hattie pear (it is a grafted tree that was passed down from her aunt hattie mae) is also waking up to spring. we keep an eye on this tree as well since my parents gave up fighting the racoons for the pears years ago. my mom blames the racoons when i ask why she no longer gardens. when i was a child, we had a beautiful garden filled with squash, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, okra, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, melons, peas, and marigolds. i was homeschooled for a while and i used to run around with my pet goat and eat sun ripened fruit right off the vine/plant. that was before the area was developed and there used to be tons of huckleberry bushes and blackberry vines growing wild everywhere. my cousin and i would catch blue crabs from the creek that ran next to his property and his dad would cook them for us. those where the days when we used the term property instead of yard.

and since i am an island girl, i can never pass up an opportunity to visit the beach. i love the ocean but i doubt i will ever live this close to one again as my heart is divided with my love for the sea and my love for the mountains. perhaps this is part of the reason japan appeals to me. if i could settle someplace like shikoku, then there would never be a conflict.

by the way, thank you so much for all the lovely comments. it always warms my heart to read them though i can't always carve away enough time to respond. i will work on that though, i promise.

happy weekend, friends.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

poetry thursday*

from poetry thursday:
"Now for this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea. Last week, we brought you Dennis’ idea of writing in response to an image. This week, we bring you dogfaceboy’s idea, which takes ekphrasis a step further.
First, let’s define ekphrasis. It’s not as scary as it sounds. It is simply “a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.” (If you are wondering how to pronounce it, it sounds like emphasis.....
So this week, if you want, try stepping inside a work of art and writing from that perspective"

I just read W. Somerset Maugham's Moon and Sixpence and so naturally I thought of Gauguin's Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? which I actually had the pleasure of seeing at the Met on a spontaneous roadtrip in our pre-parenthood days. Anyway, without further ado...
Red Beard

They leave the bush
drunk from my brother’s
palm whiskey
The Priest, the Doctor,
the Ship’s Captain,
pairs and pairs of
blue eyes blind
seeking escape from the
vines and flies,
back to the comfort
of roads, and teacups,
and newspapers filled with men
Your bondage went unnoticed
The toils of your turpentine soaked
hands were mere spectacles,
causing as much mirth as
the sight of our son,
red hair against brown skin
standing naked in the mud
They ask me what I think of
your art, a word that is
laughed over,
a joke
When you leave the room,
they say, "So many women
it’s no wonder
he prefers hut to house"
I say there is
only one woman,
I am all women,

They call you a madman
I call you Barbe Rouge

where we're at

we've been making use of the van this week, visiting my hometown for its gorgeous beach and small but excellent saturday farmer's market. everytime i visit, i tell jason how i wish we could live there if it wasn't for the fact that it is my hometown (and thus a little too close to my folks). a decade ago i scoffed at the prospect of living there but i've been away long enough to develop a more appreciative perspective.

i've been thinking a bit about alter ego after reading arc and mav's words on the subject over at port2port. mav's alter ego and mine would undoubtedly be good friends as my high school ambition was to open a cafe in this old brick house (on 5th and ash for all you readers familiar with fernandina) that has since been host to a coffee shop and italian restaurant. of course, my place would have been different (and, ahem, better) and my alter ego is working there now baking vegan sweets and brewing organic coffee, all served on locally made pottery. another alter ego is working at NPR doggedly, interning her way up like her mentor. still another one stuck with her high school sweetheart and is out there making hippie dresses and grilled cheeses at phish shows, sleeping in vans and walking around with hairy legs and dirty barefeet. it is nice to think of all these selves in the world, focusing on a different aspect of the same core.

after fernandina, we headed back to jacksonville via a car ferry and went to jacksonville beach in order to visit the only japanese food shop in town that everyone had been telling us about. we brought home some natto, mochi, konnyakyu, daikon, shiso, and good gohan among other things. the very friendly owner (who left hokkaido for florida over 30 years ago) gave sebastian some pocky and we had a really nice chat. it was so good to hear japanese spoken again, though it wasn't kansai-ben like we are used to. we have yet to meet any japanese people from the kansai area so they always chuckle at our okini (kansai ben for arigatou-we also emphasis the tou so it's a-ree-ga-TOE gozaimasu instead of domo a-REE-ga-to gozaimasu like the shop owner). oy, we need to return to japan soon. where else is this knowledge going to be of use?

i went to observe a class today at my alma mater's english language program. kayla of just like sew came across this blog a while back and, being the wonderful (and super talented) person that she is, suggested that i submit my resume for a part-time esl teaching position this summer. it is really exciting to be able to do the work that i want to do. i like being in the classroom but since our goal is to return to japan in a few years (on a semi-permanent basis hopefully) i also want to gain experience that can be applied in the future. so this is a fantastic step. thanks again kayla!
anyway, some stir-fry for dinner then off to the bookstore in search of blueprint. i'll probably read some more craft as i'm too, um, frugal to ever buy it.
i hope spring has spread a little further now. i hear that the sakura are finally in bloom. happy hanami friends.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


this post that you are reading is post #70. that doesn't include the number of posts on previous blogs; it is exclusive to nico's lifespan. the chunky monkey has been with us for four months now and our life as a family has shifted and evolved, becoming sweeter with this little creature who, when properly entertained, flaps his arms like a bird. when he was born we thought he looked just like sebastian but now, though there is a similarity (and an absolute adoration of his older brother), he is his own person. his eyes slant downwards when he smiles or laughs, he's extremely ticklish under the chin, and he is plumper and juicier than his onisan. right now, he's an expert in flipping over and pushing himself up and if he starts laughing whenever he's up, then he falls over, which is priceless. in short, he's nico. happy 4 months, my little one . i couldn't imagine the world without you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

poetry thursday*

a human experience

thousands of little suns
set by hundreds of hands
fingers and thumbs
bringing the sky
to the earth
in celebration of being beings
a path weaves
through the melting wax
and chanting cicadas
and we follow, awe-struck
the august wind pervades
like dragon's breath
and in the middle of this
crafted universe,
young girls spin like planets
their robes of flowers
orbiting around them,
never touching the ground

*this week's poetry thursday's prompt was to use an image that is inspiring. in my archives i found this image taken at a recently created tradition in nara, japan (where we lived) called tokae which means, essentially, light flower gathering. it is a simple concept but has a tremendous impact. i like the effort put into this event that coincides with obon, the midsummer holiday when the dead come to pay a visit and their families greet them with bonfires and lanterns (i'm simplifying it here). to me it is inspirational because this new tradition has no real rationality (religion-wise) but is done, as one of my former students said, "just because". many hands coming together to create beauty for beauty's sake. how human.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

i get around

we're pedestrians. we walk most places and sometimes catch a bus or ride a bike but typically we're dodging traffic and stopping to look, smell, listen to something every five minutes or so. sure, it isn't speedy but it is our way of life. occasionally someone lends us a vehicle and we drive to those places that are too far to travel to by our usual means. it's fun for a day but both jason and i always develop bad headaches when we drive and neither one of the kids are keen on being strapped into child seats. i watched a bus turn the corner while we waited in this week's borrowed van and i felt envious. when you catch the bus you get to sit there in the air conditioning for 75 cents , the kids never cry because they are held and can see what's going on around them, and you get to your destination when you are scheduled to, and on top of all of that, it makes al gore pleased. for the way that we are set up right now, not having a car is a luxery. we may not have lots of money, but we have time and we try to spend it well.
all that being said, one of places i never get to visit but really long to go to is the thrift store. two kids and the bus and bags of treasure are not a pleasant mixture. it turns out that if i remove public transportation from the equation, two kids at the thrift store is still no picnic but i did manage to bring home some good finds.

some pretty skirts perfect for the warm weather that seems here to stay.

a linen calendar for 20 cents from 1981 complete with horse and buggy (too small to see in the picture).

a garbage bag full of cotton yarns for two dollars. major jackpot.

now i can finally make use of this book

mr. pingi looks like he would fit in around here. sebastian's favorite show (besides for thomas) is pingu which i adore as well. i made a few amigurumi ducks during the long spring break last year when there were no classes but plenty of time spent sitting in an empty teacher's office. the penguin looks a little more difficult but a good evening project to do while i listen to the archives of this american life.

now it's time to gather my shopping bags and walk (gratefully) to the store. i finally updated the craft blog since i finally finished something so if you care to have a little look see...
hope all is well with you and yours.

Monday, March 19, 2007

time to invest

consumerism has its place, i suppose, if you perceive it as investing rather than shopping. i received a random check saturday and being the non-savers that we are, we decided to direct our unexpected funds into investments that will serve to develop and enhance our life. aka we bought pretty things.
like these books: so informative and lovely. it was such a silly rush to actually buy these books that i've been eyeing forever. (silly as in i actually embraced the bag. can you tell we rarely shop, i mean, invest?)

i developed a little crush on this target sweater when sarah of the small object posted about it. i thought i'd copy her color selection but then this pretty green was on the rack and who can resist a pretty green.

this was my cheapest investment. 2 bucks at a yard sale along the way to the cafe for breakfast. yards of lovely 1920's fabric.

now these books are the result of long-term investing but i feel that they should be included since i have finally dusted them off to begin preparation for the japanese language profiency test (level 3) that is now less than 9 months away. this is a big investment in myself and our future and also a big investment of time. in order to study i will have to develop a night owl routine that is alien to my life right now. but if i want to get into this graduate program (or something similar) then i need to up my nihongo skills like mad crazy.

the orchid show at the garden club of jacksonville was this weekend and jason did his own investing there. (i was allowed a quick walk around the fantastic center display before having the honor of dragging a tired sebastian down to the park where he could touch all the plants to his heart's desire without fear of being scolded).

i hope everyone had a lovely weekend. a belated happy st. patty's day to all of ye. may you all find lucky shamrocks and pots of gold at the end of your rainbows.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

oh so quiet

the combination of creative and physical pursuits recently has led to a certain stillness of my usual mental chatter. swimming and yoga before sunrise, gifts to be made, charcoals rubbed and erased against paper, my surroundings clarified through constant observation and attempts to understand the present, to be, to be. not writing much these days, all spare energy is spent cutting, sewing, carving. today sebastian is off to his nana and papa's so i'll be trying to get a lot of work cranked out and posted over at papermoon. perhaps some poems on the horizon as well. the ides of march is upon us, friends. xoxo

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

march marches on

the weather here has been sunny and warm, postcard perfect. yesterday we had our first real spring "picnic" style dinner with some kampyo nori rolls from the sushi place down the street and japanese potato salad washed down with the very refreshing lemon cucumber water. jason rides his bike to work and his route involves a bridge so it is time to switch to a cooler evening meal.

sebastian's chugging away at his abcs. he responds well to this montessori inspired method of feeling the letters. here he gets to know the letters cut from sandpaper.

and here he writes them in salt. it is so effective. he even does the japanese technique of writing the letter on his palm with his index finger. i like that he is really introducing himself to the letters so thoroughly. he's been memorizing the pages of his favorite storybooks and reciting them verbatim. i know it's not true reading but it is amazing to be a witness to his development. everyday i am stunned by how big he is and yet how small he remains at the same time. my little big guy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

take me out tonight

(taken at 3 am from an exxon station)

my dear friend a and i decided that the time was ripe for a night on the town, our hometown in fact. it was surprisingly quite bustling and there is nothing stranger than running into someone you went to preschool with, especially when both of you are a tad tipsy. the fantastic thing about this random evening is that i woke up this morning (just a "tiny bit sick" as sebastian put it) and everything here is so radiant.

nothing like some pirate punch to put things in perspective.

i'm so lucky.

Friday, March 09, 2007

the good life

(taken by sebastian)

i'm doing my best to keep to the middle path, to have a level perspective. sometimes i get overwhelmed with all my ideas and projects and expectations but it is so empowering to realize i can just let go and enjoy what is here and now. i had a good time walking back from the Y with sebastian today. it is only about 8 blocks away but it took us over an hour; trains, construction cranes, and navy planes. what more could a three year old ask for? it is good to walk at his pace, to literally stop and smell the flowers and blow the dandelions. it is a life where clocks are ignored and butterflies are followed. a good life indeed.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


::grand trees stretching high into the vast blueness::

::perfect persistent sunlight::

::appreciation of today::