Monday, December 31, 2007

Continuum. 2007 to 2008 and beyond!

From Turtle Tranquility Temple,
at this end-of-the-year
beginning-of-the-new-year cusp,
Yuki, Jesse, and I wish all our friends
(and all beings)
continued good health, abundance, and contentment.

May we always remember
our lives, this earth, our universe,
all beings, and all events with Gratitude-Appreciation-and-Joy.
From 2007 into 2008 with Love.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Real Work

[click on the image to see it enlarged]

The poem below is a recycling of a post from July 2005 and feels appropriate for this moment in my life. Dedicated with love to everyone I love. I've paired it with the above drawing I did about three years ago. I put this drawing out to the universe as my "build it and they will come" desire. I want to build a school where language learning and arts and hands-on projects are everyday inspirations. Draw it and it will manifest??

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~Wendell Berry (Collected Poems)

If you are reading this and have lots of money (or fund-raising ability), inspiration, creativity, and community spirit to contribute to the building of this school, let's talk. Until then, I'll keep on envisioning this school, drawing it into existence.

Please feel free to follow or join the expanded conversation on my flickr photostream. There you will see more details on my school.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A winter meal

miso shiru

natto on rice

nori for the natto & rice

steamed kale

takuan (pickles)

tofu with grated daikon, soy sauce, and sprouts

sencha (green tea)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nolliag Shona Dhuit

Nolliag Shona Dhuit

I got the idea to post this song from a flickr friend who posted it on her photostream. I had fun singing along with Enya and listening to the Irish Gaelic. Reading the lyrics while listening gave me an idea of the letter-sound relationship (grapho-phonetic correspondence for you TESOL/TFL types).


Saturday, December 22, 2007

full moon night

[Kyoko Kumai. Wind from the Cloud Wall Hanging. 1992. Stainless steel wire]

The old man who lives down the street from me had a heart attack. I found out tonight when I was walking with Yuki. We walk by the old man's house almost everyday. Tonight, a younger man came out of the old man's house, walked down the steps and past me and Yuki to the street side mailbox. The man looked at me and said he was picking up mail for the man who lived in that house. I nodded. He asked if I knew which mailbox was the old man's and if I knew which key was the mailbox key. I didn't know, but I held out my hand and he gave me the keys. In seconds, I found the right box and the key that fit it. Sometimes other people can help with the small things when big things like heart attacks happen. I just happened to be there, able to jiggle keys, and open a mailbox. The man picking up the mail may have been a relative. As he took the mail, the man said, "he had a heart attack--at my house; he's in critical care at TMC." I nodded. What could I say? I often saw the old man outside planting or weeding; I live down the street. So, that's what I said. The old man is over 80.

* * * *

By the way, if you read my harrumpff posting a few posts ago, you will see that my blogger header image has reverted to its original appearance. Is this a case of computer magic? Or, perhaps another case of "empty boat(ness)." The empty boat story goes something like this:

It was a calm, clear day on a turquoise lake. A woman was out in the middle of the lake in her row boat, contentedly reading a book while slowly drifting on the the calm waters. After a while, the woman saw what looked like a red leaf way off near the other shore. As the leaf moved a little closer, she saw that it was a red houseboat. It was still quite a distance away, so the woman went back to reading. In a few moments, however, she saw that the houseboat was coming straight towards her boat. She started waving her arms frantically and yelling. Doesn't the captain see her? Why isn't it swerving out of the way? As the houseboat crashed into her smaller boat she was still shouting, but she also saw that there was no human aboard. She had been frantically waving her arms at an empty boat.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

clear day

Today I bicycled from my house to epic cafe, enjoying the glorious blue sky and warm sunshine on my face. I've been holed up for the past several days with a head cold, kind of flu-y and fuzzy headed, so being outside felt like a real celebration. I can breath through my left nostril now; a wonderful thing, breathing. Right nostril breathing still to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Teapots 10, 11, & 12

My little cha book is filling up.

Teapot no. 10 (210)

Watercolor and sumi brush pen in my handmade cha book.

Teapot no. 11 (211)

Paper cut outs glued into my handmade cha book.

Teapot no. 10 (210)

Green fountain pen ink (that looks aqua on the pink paper) and watercolored yellow spots.

Teapot 12 & 11 together

Monday, December 17, 2007

teapot nos. 8 & 9

Teapot no. 9 (209)
Sumi brush pen and watercolor in my handmade cha book.

Teapot no. 8 (208)
Fountain pen & colored pencil drawn inside my handmade cha book.

8 & 9 together in my handmade cha book.

View my newly started 100 Teapots Set 3.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shodo 書道 connections

My calligrapher friend, Inso Chung, sent me a selection of his calligraphed bookmarks this week. He does Korean, Japanese, and Chinese brush calligraphy, translating selected poems and phrases into English on the back of each bookmark or card he makes. We first met in Monterey in 1988 when I was a student in the Japanese Studies program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). Inso-san was a Korean teacher at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey and would come to the MIIS library, where I worked part-time, to use our Chinese and Japanese reference collection. We'd always greet each other in Japanese, and in time, we shared some of our calligraphy with each other and spoke of Japanese poets.

Years passed and I returned to Monterey and MIIS in 2003 to attend graduate school for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Again, I worked at the MIIS Library part-time and again I met Inso-san and we resumed our friendship as if no time had passed. Inso had retired from the DLI and was selling his brush calligraphy pieces at the Monterey Farmer's Market, among other places. I am inspired by Inso-san's lifelong practice of brush calligraphy and his enjoyment of East-Asian poetry. Inso-san is one of those living gems who keeps the wisdom, poetry, and art of the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese poet-seers alive with each brush stroke.

Friday, December 14, 2007

leaky pen & fancy pen

I am sick today with the flu, mostly staying wrapped up in my Nepalese woolen shawl, in my pajamas, under the covers with the heat turned up, and drinking lots of hot tea. I finally cleaned out my fancy fountain pen, the Waterman one, and it is writing smoothly now. The Waterman doesn't leak like my cheap Shaeffer fountain pen, but it's also not as fun. It's more serious and weighty in my hand.

I want to be well soon. I'm cooking a birthday lunch for a friend on Sunday afternoon.



Blogger changed the sizing of my header picture without notifying me first. I am breathing in and out with this annoyed feeling. Instead of my previous full header image (see below--taken from an acrylic mural I painted), I am left with a fraction of it. I'm annoyed when my computer does things without asking me first. Crashes are one thing. I know of no computer who asks first, they simply crash. But, changing layout elements without asking.... Maybe there's a way to restore the full header image that I haven't learned about yet.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Using the dark to make light

The lights went out tonight from a rain storm. I lit some votive candles then went for my art box. By candlelight glow, I did some snipping, measuring, and gluing, and a lantern came out. The hinges are made of a manila folder (the same material I used for the covers of my cha book) and the lantern sides are pieces of leftover washi--Japanese paper--with marigold tissue paper that I cut into shapes. There's a turtle, a star, a sun, and a crescent moon.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Extraordinary leaping moments, Batman!

I sit here with a silky black cat stretched across my lap, a white furry dog at my feet, and a cup of hot green tea before me on the table. Sunlight streams through the blinds and I hear a jet flying overhead. It's trash and recycling day today. It's all so ordinary and that's why I love it all.


Anything is ordinary.
All special ever is
Is a little different.

~written by my friend Tom from Waltham, MA.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

taiko taiko and more taiko

Today I drummed for five hours with Odaiko Sonora at the Tucson Marathon, mile 24.5. The day began early with the set up of the various taiko behind the Basha's in Catalina. The sky had cleared after a few rain stormy days, so we had beautiful sunny dry weather. At around 7:00am, with bachi in hand, we began to roll.

Our task was to cheer on the marathon runners and walkers with our exuberant drumming, smiles, and cheers. Seeing the marathon participants' appreciative smiles as they ran by was really heart-warming. And for me, a beginner with Odaiko Sonora and with taiko, drumming for such a concentrated period of time gave me the opportunity to practice taiko songs, drills, and the jiuchi over and over with my more accomplished senpai. Now I'll have a new store of body memories from which to draw on the next time I play. I noticed today that when I stand and play to the right side of another player, imitating her or him with my gaze toward the left, it is easier to pick up the rhythms and beat than if I'm viewing from my right side. I want to develop my right viewing/learning transfer-ability, too.

I had so much fun the entire day and hardly felt tired at all. I like the challenge of learning how to play taiko by playing taiko, by making mistakes and just keeping on going. The camaraderie is really fun, too. There's a lot of depth to taiko: the history, the drums, the actual playing and voicing, the aesthetics, and being a part of the very wonderful taiko-za, Odaiko Sonora.

teapot no. 6 & 7

Asagohan: breakfast. Watercolor and sumi brush pen in my handmade cha book.

I was all done with this one--I thought--when the brush flew in. Watercolor and sumi brush pen in my handmade cha book.

Friday, November 30, 2007

teapot no. 5

Drawn with red fountain pen ink in my handmade cha book. [click on photo for enlarged view of drawing].

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Practicing Right & Mindful Speech

I've been listening to this talk by Roshi Joan Halifax. It's a big topic. What are the implications of Right and Mindful Speech for oneself, in a family system/community, and for social justice?

Roshi gives the four Gatekeepers of Speech:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it beneficial?
Is it necessary?
and she adds, Is it the right time?

What is our intention? Our motivation?

Good questions that I ask myself these days.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The first dude?

If Hillary wins, will Bill be called "the First Gentleman"? I just checked Wikipedia to see what a counterpart term might be to "First Lady." According to Wikipedia, it's "First Gentleman" or "First Consort." I like "First Dude," myself. And though they are not running, I could see a co-presidency consisting of all the present and past members of the group "Sweet Honey in the Rock" plus Alice Walker.

Monday, November 26, 2007

teapot no.4 & a taiko drawing

Teapot no. 4 (my 204th teapot) I drew with Crayola Crayons and a Kaimei sumi brush pen inside my handmade cha book (茶の本).

I drew the taiko drums (the writing of which is one of those redundancies, like saying let's vamos, since taiko actually means drum or drums) at taiko practice on Saturday. Drawing taiko, observing more skillful taiko players playing, and just being around the taiko will surely seep into me, as Basho suggests.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday morning

Drinking puerh tea from little yixing cups in the cool air of morning, wrapped in my red woolen Nepalese shawl. I'm wrapped, not the tea, not the morning. Snug and cozy I am, watching steam rise from the cup. Jesse sits beside me on her woolen shawl which is really one of mine that I folded into a nest for her as I eat my breakfast. I feel the warmth of her furry silky body. Yuki's fur has a slight golden hue to it from the sunlight that filters in through the open blinds where he lays. He patiently waits for me to take him walking--and I will--after I finish my breakfast and do my stretches.

For the past few mornings after I wake up and eat, I've been doing a set of ten mindfulness movement exercises taught by Thich Nhat Hanh and his monks & nuns. I drew pictures (below) of each exercise and tacked them to my wall as a guide until they become "second nature" again. Hmmm, I wonder what first nature would be? Not doing exercises, probably...

In Monterey/Pacific Grove when I was acting as the faciltator for a weekly mindfulness meditation group, I was in charge of leading the exercises at the end of our meditation session. I had to count out loud and say, "breathing in, breathing out" during the appropriate stretches so that we'd all be moving and breathing in unison, more or less. My body remembers the movements. And I have memories of the friends with whom I meditated, breathed, smiled, stretched, and hugged. We always did hugging meditation after completing the mindfulness movements. In hugging meditation, the aim is to be fully present as we hug each other. We breathe mindfully in and out as we enjoy deep and simple touch.

P.S. the yummy breakfast you see above was my version of kayu, Japanese/Chinese rice "gruel." This time, the kayu consisted of brown rice, cabbage, kabocha squash, yellow onion, wakame, carrot, a few sesame seeds, shiitake, tofu, shoyu, miso, a few drops of sesame oil, and green onions.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pan galactic, interstellar, fibrous wonder that paper is day.

If you click on these images to enlarge them, you can almost feel the texture in the visible fibers of this handmade Sri Lankan paper. Touch with your eyes, see with your fingers, taste with your ears... Reminds me of what we did when I practiced the art of kodo in Japan (kodo 香道 is "the way of incense," or "incense ceremony"). In kodo, we "listen" to the incense rather than "smelling" it.

Similarly, the Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie listens and makes music in a non ordinary way.