Monday, May 28, 2007


::reading bird by bird::
::sharing an excerpt that i, as an indecisive libra, found important:
(Anne Lamott is dress shopping with her friend who is terminally ill) p.170
"Then I said, 'Do you think it makes my hips look too big?' and she said to me slowly, 'Annie, I really don't think you have that kind of time.'
::thinking about how i use time and how i would rather spend this most precious commodity::
::allowing myself to focus and put other projects/interests/diversions on the back burner::
::finding two new blogs that help to confirm my idea that teaching is a good day job for a person like me::
::taking a break from blogs and blogging::
::hoping you are well::

Sunday, May 27, 2007


early morning trip to the farmer's market:: finding a local community garden, in full bloom:: rediscovering conscious consumerism and consumption:: the book feeding the whole family by cynthia lair:: tempeh sandwiches, ginger-peach tea, spring beet soup to cleanse::

vegan banana nut muffins (gluten-free as well)
4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup soy milk
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups of flour mix (i used one cup of white rice flour, 1/2 cup of sorghum flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup potato starch flour + 1/2 t of xanthan gum)
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts

pre-heat oven 350 degrees F
mash bananas well then add milk and vanilla
in separate bowl, mix sugar and margarine then add to banana/milk
sift flours and baking soda then add to liquid mixture
add nuts then pour into muffin tins
bake 10-15 minutes
makes one dozen muffins

happy weekend

Thursday, May 24, 2007

shout out

this is one of sebastian's many self-portraits. yes, that is his angry face. no, he's not really angry.
this is my lazy way of replying/getting in touch with a few people that i owe responses to. i am thinking of every single email, call, comment i get, not to mention the numerous gifts that are in progress. please know that i am thinking of you even if i don't mention you here.

first, i wanted to mention that my good friend amie just opened up her etsy store. there are some cool little works of art there now and she told me she would be updating soon with much, much more so please check her out. amie and i met in ceramics class in high school. we sat at the same table with another girl (who is also a great artist and, ahem, hasn't written to me in a long, long time) and i am proud to know such talented ladies.

okay, here are the personal responses:
heather: i got your lovely (and long) message and i will call you soon. really. i promise. this weekend. for real.
momoko and eileen: i am sending your baby gifts to you soon. very soon. i just have to remake one part because i worry that your babes are getting too big.
hiromi: i am really sending you a package. and a postcard. i really love getting mail from you and i do hope that we will see each other soon.
eko: i can't believe that shara-chan is four and renka-chan looks just like her now. we will be mailing shara-chan's b-day present tomorrow.
for all those people who i promised postcards: this weekend, seriously. i finally found my stamps.
elizabeth: i want to send you a birthday present but it will be late because mom is out of country and i don't know your address. but please know that i am thinking about you.

whew. there are actually more but i think this will have to do for now. hope everyone is having a good week!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


still working on my flickr uploading but it goes slowly as sebastian interrupts, demanding to look at his favorite pictures and video clips, all involving trains. the kyoto (unlabeled at the moment) pictures are just a tiny, tiny portion of our good pictures of japan. there will be more. many, many more.
other weekend projects:

one of my resolutions was to start container gardening. local and organic food is very important to me but hard (um, impossible) to come by in jacksonville. i could write more on why it is impossible but typing with one hand (nico's sleeping on the other) prevents the explanation for now. i am glad more people are hopping on the bandwagon. of course, my little tomato and pepper plants aren't to be compared but for me, it is a start. one day when we can have a little plot of land, be it community or personal, in a place where the soil isn't poisoned i'll be delighted but until then the most crucial lesson is for the kids to understand and connect food to its place of origin. also, i want to learn how to be as green as we can be in any situation. i believe that since almost 70% of the world's population resides in urban centers, then sustainability needs to be adapted and adopted within the city regardless of socio-economic status. (this is all that i researched and wrote about at university. i could write more but again, my right hand cramps at the thought of all those words.)

my other project, clean and organize my art+craft area. i'll be sewing that dress tonight or tomorrow as soon as i get the pattern traced and cut out.

i'm actually storing most of my stash away as i need to put all crafting projects on the back burner while we figure out our schedule and near future directions and, of course, study for the jlpt. i promise i won't post too much about the jlpt but i must say that it is funny to be teaching the basics of one language and learning the core of another. strange but utterly helpful, if that makes any sense. anyway, happy weekend.
***edited to add: i am getting rid of a baby knitted gift set that is quite charming but completely unnecessary for me. if anyone here is interested, leave a comment. i would rather give it to someone who values it than just drop it off at the goodwill. to see (poorly lit, sorry!) pictures of the set, go here. if more than one person is interested, then i will hold a little drawing.***

Saturday, May 19, 2007


kyoto - 19
Originally uploaded by any-mari.
one of my weekend projects is to organize our photos. part of this scheme involves uploading the best of our collection on flickr. so if you wish to see japan from our perspective, please visit my flickr. xo

Thursday, May 17, 2007

busy bees

i am absolutely intrigued by the plight of the honey bee in north america. i have been thinking so much lately about connectivity and the scheme of things and wondering how life will unfold on this planet. the bee is such a vital part of the mechanics that make our human existence as we know it possible. a place for everything and everything in its place. i am researching honey bees right now in preparation for my next print that will be for both postcards and cloth.
on the homefront, we are all having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the new schedules. i do really like my job and it confirms that mainly i enjoy teaching, something that i resisted for so long.
and yet.... the drive is a hassle (especially since i hate driving) and this split schedule situation (jason and i alternating childcare with work) is not easy. we are tired and unorganized. i need to find my watch. and buy a battery for it. this, i believe, is the root of my troubles. i don't follow the time of man very well.
the kids, i am afraid, are getting the short end of the stick. two tired parents, distracted by work and trying to juggle household duties with parenting and other pursuits of the art+craft kind.
i'm really not trying to complain.
we are having a hard time keeping up with nico. he is not yet crawling but he is fast and adventurous. much more so than his brother. i am so glad we are on the first floor with this one instead of the third like we were with sebastian. he really keeps us on our toes.

unless i can pursuade him to be tucked away in his new sling. within five minutes, he is lulled to sleep.

anyway, my chores call.

Monday, May 14, 2007

homesickness + directions

lovely new album for mama's day.
enjoying the new bjork album via the radio blog club.
missing japan, as usual on the weekends. we flip through youtube for images of the places we miss.

realizing it is already may and i still haven't started my proper study for the jlpt. feeling a bit overwhelmed but ambitious.
i do like my summer job despite being so green behind the ears in terms of teaching esl. glad that my path involves this element. i have decided to apply to several liguistics masters programs by next winter. we're impatient to return to japan; perhaps this will open up the possibility of returning sooner than later.
finished the sling as a mama's day present for myself. put nico in and he immediately fell into a deep sleep. next up, a linen dress using a japanese pattern book. good opportunity to crack open my jisho.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


an afternoon off to clean and be here with these boys. microstoria and stereolab. candyland and almond scented glowing floors. reading the jungle book with sebastian and watching nico watch himself in the mirror. light streaming in, shifting shadows.

a rose from one of my students for mother's day. i enjoy having students again.

lists filled with projects to be completed within a short period of time. a linen dress, market totes, screenprinting, baby sets, kitchen sets, lunch bags. i'm going to re-incorporate paper moon with this blog; no need for the separation since there are no borders in my life, no space or time for division. realizing i need to collect more ocean relics to catch the sunshine. perhaps a journey to the sandy coast will be added to the list, along with parks and play, good food and wine.

happy weekend. xo

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


ah, blue sky. how i missed you.

you see, for about two weeks we have woken up and gone to bed under smoky skies. some days it is so bad that ash covers everything like a fine dust. there are forest fires all around in georgia and florida and it is only may. we are experiencing a major, major dry spell. the dirt cracks under your step. as one sign we saw at a park outside of gainesville said, it is not if, but when the fires start. and if the ground is so dry that it is likely to self-combust consider the other elements of concern, like agriculture.
it hasn't rained in a long, long time so we need to conserve what water we have.
we are urban renters so we don't have a lush lawn to keep green or even a dishwasher but there are some steps that we have taken to help.
we use a dishpan in our sink. this helps keep the washing water from leaking out as it tends to do with a drain plug and thus saves us the step of refilling the sink basin. also, when we rinse the dishes, we fill the pan (to a moderate level) with just water and dip the dishes instead of running the faucet the entire time. afterwards, the water can be used to water the plants.

we added a valve on the showerhead that allows us to turn off the flow of water while soaping and scrubbing but it maintains the water temperture so when we rinse there is no adjustment needed (or shock of too cold/hot water).

if you have a leak, fix it. if you have somewhat unavailable superintendents like us, then collect the water and use it for something else.

there is the matter of the toilet but i'll spare you a photograph. standard toilets use about seven gallons of water with each flush. so, how can i politely put this, just consider if the flush is necessary. also, if the tank is large put something in there to displace the water (a soda bottle filled with water works) so that the tank does not fill itself to capacity.
if you have any more suggestions, please leave a comment. i'll probably do a post on ecological living once a week from now on. hope all is well. xo.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

joining the discussion

it seems like everyone has been thinking along the same lines lately in terms of the role of blogging in our lives. i would put some fancy links to the numerous blogs where this subject has come up but most of you know what i am referring to and if you don't you can click on any of the links in my sidebar and probably come across others voicing the same concerns.
i don't like the word blog and i am not a particular fan of the internet. sure, it has its uses but in general most of the stuff is unnecessary. i walk around in the evenings and glance at the windows of my neighbors and discover that most people are spending their precious free time sitting in front of the warm glow of one box or another. in our house we have no t.v.. we just don't like the noise or the mindlessness of it. that is not to say we don't watch t.v. sometimes or that we aren't addicted to "the office". i do like well-written programs and maybe ira glass is right and this is the dawn of the golden age of television.


but life is too short. i don't want to look back and reflect on my time sitting passively through horrible advertisements and canned laughter. and this is part of the reason i am not reading fiction these days, despite my reputation as an avid reader. and yet it seems that blogs have stepped in to take over those minutes once spent feverishly reading or scribbling away in my faithful black and white composition book. i have met some amazing people through their blogs. in some ways, i feel like i have made so many friends just by peaking into their world via their blog and for that i am grateful. i am grateful for the time that everyone spends keeping their readers informed and connected. all the people seeking a better way. it makes me feel less lonely. i marvel at those mothers out there that produce enough goods to fill a shop and then still have the time and energy to not only take care of their lovely families but to document the process as well. i know that it is tough because i struggle to find a good balance every minute of my days. my plate is completely overflowing and yet i feel compelled to carve out a little bit of time for this blog because this device has seen me through such a huge transition in my life.

i started this blog (if you look at my profile, you can see the beginnings) as a means of keeping in touch with my students and friends in japan. leaving japan was the hardest decision i ever made and still not a day goes by that i don't harbor a bit of doubt that it was the right decision.
that said, the first year in nara was tough.
i had never lived overseas or taught english or had any interest in japan. i didn't care about tea ceremonies or kanji. i missed my son because i was at work most of the time and even with a budget we had a hard time scraping by. and then i was put in a horrible school two days a week where everyone was overworked and overstressed and i really wanted to leave. the students were the same and in a communication class, that is not the atmosphere you want. on tuesdays and fridays i regretted waking up and at the end of the day, i had to wait at the bus stop only to be harassed constantly by the nationalists in their ridiculous charter bus shouting ridiculous things at me, the little gaijin hired by their government. i was not happy. i was not what everyone at that school expected me to be and i didn't want to be that impossible person, no matter how hard i tried. so i started taking lunch breaks because though that is not the norm, i had a contract that said i could do whatever i wanted to do for forty minutes a day. at that point, i didn't care if i was sacked. so i left the campus and started exploring the surrounding suburban neighborhood. same house next to the same house next to the same house. and then i found a path. it led me through the woods behind the school and at the end was a temple surrounded by glowing emerald rice fields. it was beautiful. there were koi ponds and vegetable and flower gardens and benches and it wasn't like all the temples near my apartment (i lived in the heart of nara city); it was humble and well used. so i started going there. i could sit there and hear the school chimes and know that just beyond the trees, people were scurrying and i felt happy because i wasn't. i gained a good dose of perspective. when i came back from spring break, i discovered that i had been transferred again and this time it was to a school that was a lot like my base school, which i loved. so things changed pretty quick mainly because i was seeing things better. our life in japan became sweeter.
and then i got pregnant. in the end i decided to leave because my students at the base school were graduating and they needed a teacher who would be there to help them prepare for their entrance exams.
they were that terrific.
leaving them was very hard so i set up a blog to show them my life in america and to stay connected. some of them still read it and email me though they have already graduated. over time, this blog has kept me in touch with people beyond those i met in nara. my family uses it to watch the kids grow, as do many long-cherished friends who may not be able to touch base with me on a regular base without it. it saw me through my down period when i couldn't find a job and i was still adjusting to so many things: becoming a stay-at-home mother to two, being a returnee, being unemployed, being indecisive about my direction, being on the run from my student loan officers. i started to sew again because of the many inspiring blogs i have come across by having my own. i started to understand the purpose of creating, the beauty of process, of just making something with my hands. incorporating this into my life has made me more steady.
and so i will keep writing here despite my disdain for the term blog. and yet, like i mentioned, the posts will be infrequent and probably a bit rambling and unexceptional. i sometimes don't have the time for clarity and most of the time i don't have time to even sit here at all. what i am bringing now is what is behind these words.