A Brief Interlude

A passing out of programs

the rapping of the baton,

orchestra’s warming up;

lights will be dimming soon.

Curtain opens up

velvet, soft, grand.

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My girl will be taking part in shichi-go-san, 七五三.

But you know, she is quite different in this town.

A stroll through the gardens,

not the same clap at the temple.

 

Her prayer comes down first from another mountain

and bathes in streams of another East

even as it mixes, develops

on the slopes of Tama River.

 

The intones of an Aaronic benediction,

the chorus of Totoro, and a complete feast

with red beans and white tabi socks with the neat toe split.

 

Do you hear that song?

Sono uta wa nani desu ka?

The rise and fall of the amida,

the Jewish call to worship,

the Sh’ma.

 

And over her lifetime,

or through the span of one year,

Sakura, traditional melodies danced with fans,

skipped in summer sandals,

praised in yukata,

digging up dirt with kabuto-mushi.

Frogs and a single reed, the whoooosh of wind through leaves,

lai lai lais ending as the sun slips down.

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Hers is the crescendo of crickets, violins, a trumpet.

The buzz of cicada, and the whirr of a jet plane

over the Pacific,

the pianissimo

in the covering of eyes.

What are two songs or some sounds that meld together in your life, from your languages & cultures? What songs are your kiddos/future kiddos inheriting?

Nesting, 2, sidenote

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Funny, On the night I’m thinking nesting, there is a Big Bird nesting episode on Sesame Street, an up-high nestful of squaggling, squeaking birdies on my walk, and this–my daughter happened to spot a box in my room, a sweet white box with a sticker of a yellow egg. Inside this, a piney wooden egg, some packed-down blue shreds and in the very interior, my son’s umbilical cord, like waxen floss, gathered like old Indian leather.

It was all, minus the cord, handmade.

In Japan, the cord is special, maybe even sacred? Certainly not to be tossed, not lost, not for some blue plastic biohazard box.

This is the very thing, even another string, inflated and filled with life, travelling life, which held, first tied mother and child together. And “heso“, or the point of connection, that little belly button navel, never seemed cool until my little peewees sported their own.

It only comes from being born. For Mother, too. A being born.

The nest becomes the beginning, a collecting place of all that will change.

What is an interesting or funny momento saved from your own birth, your child’s, or someone you know? What do you wish you’d saved? Would you be creeped out by an old withered umbilical cord?

*Interesting umbilical cord article re Japan: read here

Thinking About Nests, Part 1

I read a call for submissions today. The magazine wants writing on the subject of nests. I did some thinking. Actually, this mini-piece is part of a larger string I’ll be posting. A kind of series as I think on Nests. 

Please add your own thoughts. Let’s pool a big ball of yarn on the subject of Nests. 

Look to the prompts at the end. 

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The baby eagle has landed. Us on the rooftop of our birth house in Ogikubo, Tokyo.

I. The Practical, Remembered

The grassy, stringy idea of a nest is haphazard clumps of using what you have–think “junk drawer scavenger hunt meets beach cleanup”. Emptying your pockets to buy that soda. A taking inventory. The real science of storks building their own 2-meter-wide nest in some coastal floodplain. They don’t just happen, right?

Imagine the pressure and scrutiny of that wife. “You brought home that string? Why the hell did you choose raffia and why is it red?”

Sometimes it’s less Dwell magazine and more like Supermarket Sweep! “There’s a string! Freaking get it! I’m thirty-seven weeks!”

And yet…

There is a calm in building. In growing that round orb of a womb and needing to finally clean behind the oven while daytime TV plays in the background–maybe six episodes of Ellen.

There is a sonata, a Charlotte’s Web, a cocoon. A taking part in the communal notion that you are becoming peasant-bloused Earth Mother, cocoa butter slathered on thighs and buttocks, your holistic CD to turn the pain of childbirth into some sweet meditation.

“Just some pressure,” you will chant in singsong later, when the amnesiac hormones have done their job, making you a bit like Jason Bourne. A mere spoonful of sugar, loves…

It was all love and that dang Enya stuck on repeat.

But no matter. You have your girl. You have your boy. The rooms in that one mainframe of a nest lived in, made holy with each breath. Stories read, accents discovered, silly voices realised. It’s every piece of string coming together. Pinocchio becomes a boy, Ponyo gets her own belly button. There is Joy.

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Even the still-mismatching pillowcases, the make-due duvets. Hearts are warm. Feet are socked. Bread becomes buttery toast. The life of birds and their song: at some point, the little ones whistle, too. They pick up their most-wanted toys and it’s all a soaring. A lifting off of yesterday, preparing. Wiping off peeling pink toe polish, releasing the sticky Band-aides. A lifting off of feet. And from here, from this lookout on the second floor, I can see the leaves turning. Ginkos readying to yellow, maples crinkling. Shifts in the air, landmarks, some more of those strings that got us here, tie us here. A cozying, batting down.

What were the challenges, the moments of calm, the funny bits in your nesting? What did you think you needed, but in the end, learned it was okay to let go of? What is surprising, still, in your quest to create an organised home filled with harmony?

 

I’ve Discovered Bloglovin’

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/11245883/?claim=4qvjeyusvny”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

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In between life, my girl’s coughing, cheering on my boy’s almost crawling/face-planting, hunting for the lost obi for kimono-wearing this weekend, & still working on the many bags of two-small, giveaway, or unseasonal clothing, I’ve discovered Bloglovin.

Definitely inspiring to see sooo many amazing, gorgeously well-written blogs and I’d love to do big things with my blog (i.e. me) as we ready ourselves for winter and a new year.

Follow me!

Preserving Flowers

I’d like to preserve this day, when we took Kariin’s Baba (Obaachan) to make a little dried flower wreath for her 71st birthday. It all rolled out, just like planned, but better.

For starters, we all showed up, relatively on time– the men in what KT directed them to wear: a necktie, shirt, pants, and yes, underwear. “Men will look handsome, and ladies will wear a pretty dress,” she firmly stated. Rules are rules when a three year old purposes something including any mention of underwear.

Actually, the day started with Le Bistrot de Marc, where we toasted my Mother-in-Law with cabernet sauvignon and a lovely meal from the French countryside. Our table overlooked the old, wooden bridge of Oji and an herb garden. You could squint and swear you were in Provence, especially a Provence packed with Asian tourists. It was all terrific. Kariin ate every spoonful of her potato soup, her delicate white fish laid over grilled sweet potatoes in a mikan and beurre blanc sauce. She didn’t dribble or anything. A real sophisticated big girl, using the adult silverware until halfway, when she switched to silver that was more petite.

We rolled into a cab (still hungry from our French food), Jude, Kariin, Baba, & I, leaving the others to their train ride to our home.

“To the flower shop, mate! And step on it! Go!”

Actually, it would have been someone else explaining in Japanese where exactly we were going, with a good sprinkling of “sumimasen/excuseme/thankyousir“.

You know, Japanese cabs can feel more like a luxe limo service than a smelly jungle of NYC sweat; there are no piles of trash, no cursing, no loud sports radio. Many drivers wear white gloves, have white seats, and doors automatically open and shut. All of this lent to our carefree, pretty feeling as we piled in and out in our lacy, beaded, crinoline, velvet fall-in-the-city finery. (Plus Jude in his cotton onesie).

It is such a lovely shop, bursting and brimming with life and chlorophyll! I could just LIVE there, or take baths.

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Very Anthropologie, non?

Their materials were all laid out: fragrant star anise, dried in its super star pods, stellar pokey stars housing other seeds, preserved creamy white roses, pine cones, mini rose pine cones, all that sorta dried stuff. All texture and design.  They poked and placed and finally glued with an oozing hot glue gun and the flower woman’s help.

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Baba really got into it and Kariin only left the table a couple of times: to play with her brother and to see if the shop dog, Radish, a downy Airedale, was finally awake and out of hiding. (He never emerged).

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Mover over, Radish dog. There’s a new Alpha in town.

We left with a confident flower-artist, Baba, their jointly-made wreath, and a sleeping brother. Up the hill we walked for our fancy cake and blowing out candles time.

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I know every birthday is special. I’m alllll for celebrating those we love, and it seems all the more important that we let our grandparents know how cherished they are. I know–I’m always thinking about our disturbingly, haltingly, fleeting time on this Earth. I want everyone to live like Methuselah and be sharp and keen, doing Sodoku. I really love this woman, in particular.

It just felt so good to have helped plan a whole day full of activities I knew my M-in-L would love. Can you imagine if I put that thought into everyone’s birthday? I always feel like I lack in the celebration department. Things fall apart and I don’t get that card in the mail in time for its round-the-world commute. I obsess over the right gift, scouring websites and pinning stuff, overthinking but then letting some big ball drop. I was so happy with these results.

Long live French food, flowers, and gorgeous, overpriced dessert! Muah! And long live our Baba!!! I’m going to send her an “I Love You“, tout de suite!!

Any celebrations you’ve planned for those you love that you are especially pleased with? Grandpa, Mom, friend, sis, son? Or maybe you PLANNED something rad, but it all fell apart like stale pound cake?! What’d you do? How’d it go down?

turn of the season

Living with seasons changing

means i still need a system.

Trash bags with Sharpie labels

turn up months after I needed that leather jacket.

Still hoping for KT’s knit lavender scarf before it’s winter.

Also fall is here

so where are all my socks?

What the heck is your system?? Where do you put the outa season heaps of items?

Serendipitous Soap

After a harried, fairly frantic, crazy-nuts, delayed, emotional getting me & my boy to the airport & onto our plane (actually 2 planes later than booked for, a breakdown of trains, a tiff on the phone between me & my man, an embarrassing outburst from me, involving the f-bomb & two very straight-laced & concerned flight attendants), look what my airplane stocks in the loo?

Grace. Deep breaths. phooooooooo.

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