Sunday, July 29, 2007

111: Silence is Platinum + A Birthday ShoutOut

Living in a small two bedroom apartment with four people, two of whom are under five and two of whom are rapidly approaching thirty, is, well, interesting. Now that Plan B is pretty much down the drains, we are drawing up the plans for Plan C. But this is not easy especially since we are still mourning a bit over the deceased Plans A and B. They were such nice plans. They had so much time and effort invested in them. And yet, as the songs says:

(i just like any excuse to post kenny rogers and the muppets singing together)

anyway, plan c is forthcoming. i've been able to have a few hours of relative silence as jason and sebastian spent the night at his folks. a bit of writing, a lot of dishes, and a lovely cherry-peach cobbler made in honor of my dearest friend a's birthday. (okay, so maybe i just happen to realize that today was the 29th after i made the lovely cobbler but still....)
HAPPY 28th A! I can't wait to see you and R. We have been looking forward to your return for over a year! When you get here there is a cup of tea and (depending on how soon you get here) a bowl of cobbler waiting for you, my love. Hope you are having a wonderful birthday and we'll see you soon!!! XOXO

hope everyone is having a happy weekend. take care.

Friday, July 27, 2007

110: Making and Made

a new project in the works, designed to help me focus on the natural environment around me, to seek out the good and green in my corner of the planet. i will have more soon.

still enjoying our play dough. i used this recipe and divided it after it was cool and mixed in food coloring. we had four separate ones but green+yellow+blue have joined forces.

trip to the library, animal books and chapter books to be read together at bedtime. now that i am not working evenings anymore we are really enjoying the evening routines of dinner and bedtime again.

some projects finished. a simple cotton cloth, good for use with wee ones.

the linen dress reformatted to a simple book bag.

quick embroidery, done in between games of candyland and castle building. it says motasete itadaku which literally means "humbly be allowed to carry." big enough for composition and sketch books, a few books to read when those unexpected moments open up that allow my attention to be directed to paper instead of a child.

speaking of which, both kids are now hanging off of me so i better sign off. today was too hot for the park so sebastian is certifiably insane right now and driving the rest of us batty.
hope all is well with you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

109: Signs of a Good Day

today is one of those days that make me wish to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. the kids have been not so crazy and we have actually just had a lot of fun. the trick to staying at home with kids is to disconnect from "real time" and just be home. usually on tuesdays i am home until around 4:30-5ish when the kid watching shift changes and jason comes in and i go out for my evening class. like i've said repeatedly, i do enjoy teaching but i also really love not working as well. my mellow approach today has also been helped by a few glasses of iced chai latte. so good.

anyway, we have been crafting fools today. some potato stamps, beetle and crocodile.

a very lovely mess. homemade play dough, a batch of whole wheat chocolate oat cookies, lots of stamping action, and salt letters. oh, and mr. bump made a few appearances today for mr. baby (as sebastian insists on calling nico lately. he's mr. sweetheart and i promise he bestowed that upon himself) as he continues to believe that he can stand up sans holding on to anything. poor unbalanced babe. thank goodness for the soothing powers of mr. bump aka cold pack.

bbc planet earth is our go-to when the heat becomes too much and we just need sebastian to chill out for a few moments. sebastian is drifting away from trains/planes/automobiles and has a newly focused interest in animals of the world. he doesn't even flinch when the gigantic great white shark attacks the seals. we put up a map of the world in his room and he is learning where all the different animals live. it is really amazing how well he remembers geography.

and a good day for nico, access to some sort of paper product to chew on. his teeth are pushing through like mad and all he likes to do is to find books, important papers, boxes, etc. and chew them until they become a pulpy mess. kinda like a puppy, i suppose.

and for me, i was happy to find my tomato plants are actually making, gasp, tomatoes. well, three of them. but that is three more than i thought i had.

jason will be home soon and we'll get to have yet another candlelit dinner of leftover millet and summer vegetables. if the rain passes, perhaps we'll even make it to free night at the museum.
a good day indeed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

108: Dai Ni No Kokoro (Second Heart)

from bosca bella cemetary, fernandina beach
all of these shifts of direction have made me aware of my desire to find my true path. over and over, jason has asked, but what do you want to do? and i just shake my head, confused by my options and limitations.
the duration of this search has taken has taught me patience. it has taught me how necessary it is to sit, to be silent. to listen and to wait.
certain means of clarification have revealed themselves to me recently. this quiet film, a library find picked up after a conversation with my french student who dreams of becoming a nun. the book that i actually first picked up while writing an article on teikei farming in japan. in this important text, i have learned about passivity and the second heart, the heart that rests within the first heart of arrogance and pride. the second heart feels "the reality of the power of love, of a wisdom that transcends the level of human capabilities... Modern society is a product of dai ichi no kokoro (first heart), the heart of the three dimensions. It is a society beset with mutual plundering and killing... It is only through our dai ni no kokoro that the true human world will evolve, bringing with it a love that guarantees its preservation." (Yanase Giryo pages 24-25). also, the inaka edition of the kyoto journal, our last purchase from japan that we've been slowly reading. this article has stimulated me, making me consider the rural-urban situation even more. in the article, he asks why is the city always invading the countryside? when is the countryside going to invade the city? for me, this is something i've always been interested in and feel that land use and in particular urban farms and community gardens are such a crucial element for urban development. it is ideal to consider moving to the country like barbara kingsolver and living off the land, but by 2050 80% of humans will be in the cities. the cities must become sustainable and one of the first steps is connecting people to the environment through their food sources.

a little shift in our plans came in my e-mail today and part of dealing with it was a little search through to see if there are any new jobs that i can apply for. i saw my dream job again and it made me think about how i can get the experience necessary to obtain such a position. i am trying to get a plot in the neighborhood community garden and i've always wanted to WWOOF but simply do not have the time or resources to do that in the foreseeable future. perhaps grad school is on the horizon?

i appreciate having the time and space, here and elsewhere, to sort these things out. i don't know anything still but i'll continue to collect these hints like luminescent gems, lighting my way along the path. thanks for reading my rambles. i promise that soon i'll have something true and (semi) solid to report.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

107: family affair

we're a young family. most of our friends that have kids started their families when they were older than i am right now. the friends that are our age are just starting to consider children. when i graduated college, sebastian was almost one. by the time i start grad school, both kids will be walking and talking. and i will still be relatively young.
i'm writing this because we honestly forget sometimes that we are a young family. there are advantages to being a young family that are sometimes overlooked because of the numerous disadvantages. we don't currently have a lot of resources. or time.
i often tell those friends of mine who are starting to feel a little pressured to start their family to relax. enjoy your pre-child days. go on vacations to places where the water is unsafe. the kids will come when they want to and when they get here they will do as they wish. they are your guests, little humans that need to be shown around the place.

i will most likely never be a full-time stay-at-home mother, but i never had my sights set on that job anyway. this summer both jason and i have been working and it has been a strain on the family. the good thing is that i have discovered that i really enjoy teaching english to speakers of other languages. i could not probably create a more suitable career for myself besides for being a writer. i empathize with language learners but mostly, i simply like humans. i like making situations smoother for people so that they can focus on what really matters. i have so much respect for all of my students, even the young ones that are more interested in boys/girls than the lesson. i remember what is like to be young; after all it wasn't too long ago.

this fall, regardless of what happens with grad school or japan, i will continue to teach. if things go as planned i will be able to teach at two places and then jason can stay at home with the boys. this is really important to me. i would gladly work the graveyard shift if i thought that my labor was benefitting the boys. jason has read my montessori books and agrees with the philosophies and methods involved. he's a good stay-at-home dad and as unconventional as it is, i wish that more families had the opportunity to allow the father to stay home. we are attachment parents (to a degree); i breastfed sebastian past his third birthday and will probably do the same with nico. i sleep sandwiched between them (and haven't had a full eight hours in over four years). we are very close. when nico was born, jason was working all the time but this summer he has been home and nico has really become attached to him. he gets so excited when he sees his dad or even hears the key turning in the lock, he crawls madly over to greet and climb up jason's leg. sebastian and jason are naturally close after two full years together. this past year when jason was working, he'd get a bit short-tempered with the kids but when he's here all day with them, on their level, he understands them better.
of course, being home doesn't bring home any bacon but we're mainly vegetarians here anyway. besides, as our rimpoche says, time is not money, time is time. it is precious.

we've decided that it is not time for sebastian to go to school. he was so into it months ago but now he keeps saying he wants to stay home. so again, i'm listening to him. it will be easier to homeschool with one person home full-time and even with me working, i won't get more than 35 hours a week so we'll have more precious time together. throw a little fuel-efficient car in the mix and we are looking at a good year ahead of us. there are plenty of things to do without sending him to pre-school everyday.
it also helps that our landlord is busy cleaning out a garage for the studio. jason will have his own separate space for painting and screenprinting. i'm recruiting my dad to help me make a textile printer: it is a key rail that allows you to attach frames to it and simply print, lift, and slide. brilliant.
i believe we'll still realize our goals of learning japanese and returning to japan but until then we plan to live and live well.

happy weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

106: where we are

we are trying to embrace the "if you can't be with the one you want, love the one you're with" attitude in regards to place. jason and i both grew up in the area so we have very mixed feelings about florida. my little island hometown is being over run with condos, his parents' neighborhood is awash in suburban sprawl. strip malls replace stands of pine trees and saw palmettos for the simple reason that people here obviously need the combination of grocery/sub shop/chinese take-out/nail shops every quarter of a mile down the road. the florida that the developers are growing is utterly boring. what could be less imaginative than taking a perfectly good piece of land and plowing it down for commerce and parking lots. and in florida, hot, humid florida, flat parking lots are just stupid. you can hear the metal of the cars bending under the sun. what a waste.

but then sometimes, i get a reminder of how beautiful florida still is. like when i looked out my window to see this statuesque great white egret hunting for lizards and gekkos in the bushes. sebastian hung out on the balcony quietly watching the bird's slow movements. he's learning how to be still around animals now, how to enjoy without scaring anything away with his enthusiasm.

i really hope that we'll have a car when autumn comes so we can go camping. the kids won't be ready for the cold springs just yet but by fall nico should be big enough for the backpack and we should be able to do some weekend hiking and exploring. i want them to really understand what a unique place they were both born in so that they can share some of the magical memories of a place that will soon be obsolete. unless of course the definitions of "development" and "progress" used in florida change soon to reflect a more sane and sustainable version.

we can always hope.

Friday, July 13, 2007

104: After Dark

Another late night trip to my hometown. Inspired by Jason's co-worker, I am paying more attention to light.

Friday, July 06, 2007

103: Anniversary

Today, last year at this time I was arriving in Detroit. Sebastian and Jason had returned one week before so I flew solo. I was bumped to first class for the long flight from Kansai Airport to Detroit. I had a window seat and strained to see if our friends were at the visitors tower where we had all taken the kids months before to watch the planes land and fly away. As the plane took off, tears threatened to spoil my view of the blue-green mountains, small fishing boats off the coasts of Wakayama and Mie prefectures. The flight was indulgent and I felt out of place. I watched old movies and thought about my son waiting for me. I think I only slept for about 20 minutes during the long, long flight. And then, beneath me, America's heartland laid out like a checkerboard. Backyards came into focus, swimming pools and swingsets scattered behind little boxes called home. The airport was typical but I felt removed from the frustrations, detached, a feeling that in some ways has become permanent. I was back but I didn't want to be. I fed quarters to a phone and a still jet-lagged Jason tried to reassure me while I whispered about the bizarre happenings around me. A father slapping his child, two obese women complaing about the price of a candy bar, the airport employee who was rude to me until she realized I was American. I waited for an hour with large families in knitwear, headed for a visit with the big M. On the connecting flight to the Sunshine State, I was squeezed between these people who wanted to switch seats with these other people and ended up chatting with a guy who had just finished up his tour of duty in Korea. I learned so much about that man but now I can't remember a single detail except that he called women "skirts" and I thought that was rather quaint (albeit sexist). My parents found me and they looked the same except they were different. I waited for ten minutes at the luggage claim for my olive green umbrella from Muji, despite their suggestion that I forget it and just buy a new one from Wal-Mart. We stayed at a Days Inn outside of Orlando and ate at the attached IHop. Or was it Denny's? It was All-American Food either way and everything was too big and the a/c was too cold. And that was that. I was home. One year ago today.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

102: Enjoy Your Hotdogs

as said by one of my students leaving class yesterday

look people. four pearls in little nico's mouth. and he's trying to stand independently.
just thought i would brag on the tiny monkey a bit.

now back to my vocabulary lists. and that is listS with a capital S.
hope all is well. xo