Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where the streets have no name

My Sweet and I have just finished over 14 hours of sitting in very cramped places. California to Japan. My body is saying, "Hey I need to move" while my brain is saying, "I am so fricking tired that I think I am going to stop telling the legs how to move."

During the 2 hour bus ride from the Tokyo airport to his sister's place, My Sweet kept saying things like, "I used to hang out there with my college mates," or "This is a new building." I said things like, "Oh really?" when I wanted to say, "Hey, I am sleeping here!"

I have just a few impressions of Japan (note that I have been here for about 3 hours and as subtly implied before - very sleepy). Everything is so much smaller here; My Sweet keeps saying, "My word, I don't remember things being this small."

And as for the title of this column. The streets often are the size of alleyways, and they usually do not have any posting of their name. So even people who are Japanese literate can get lost. And as a side note, it is very disconcerting to be in a place where not only do you not speak much of the language, but you can not even sound out the words. In other countries I have traveled, I could usually have someone write down the address and I was able to figure out the signs. But here, I can not even use a dictionary! Aarrgghh!!

If this seems to ramble incoherently, it is because I am about to fall asleep, but my husband is chatting with an old boss. So I am entertaining myself with the laptop instead of insisting they translate everything. Aren't I an understanding wife!

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Happy Birthday To You

Yesterday my sister and I threw a party or my Dear Sweet Mother's 60th birthday.

It was a bit of a surprise for her - not the date or the guest list, both of which she had controlling voice in. The surprise was where - at the local bowling alley! Yes sir ee bub - we had a grand time knocking down some of the tenpins. What surprised most of the guests, who hadn't been in a bowling alley for a couple of decades, was the electronic board, which not only told you which pins you had standing, but also gave hints on how to throw your next ball, knew if you were right or left handed, and kept score. I loved that - no more having to remember how many extra points to add on for a strike or for a spare. The down side is that you can't cheat on your score.

The most enjoyable part for me as co-host was the "Who knows Rose best" trivia game. (Those were my questions, Mom even though Kris and I collaborated on narrowing down my original list of 60.) What made it especially fun was telling all her friends what Grandpa's versions of the answers had been. Here are a few examples:

Me: Question 10 - How old were you when you had your first kiss?
Grandpa: 14
Mom: I was probably 16. Who was there to kiss in Montana?

Me: Question 17: How many car accidents were you the cause of as a teenager?
Mom: 2
Grandpa: Yes, and it was the same car. And it had to be a Cadillac.

(OK, if it doesn't sound so funny, trust me, in my head it is hilarious!)

And of course this is a bit sappy, the truly best thing was to see how many people were willing to come out to honor an amazingly wonderful woman who taught me everything about strength, love and faith. Happy birthday Mom.

P.S. My Sweet and I are heading out bright and early tomorrow to visit his mother in Japan. So, for the next two weeks my postings may be even more sporadic than usual. Until then, Sayonara Baby.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

ye ol' blogge

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

English geeks unite! What English major didn’t have to, sorry get, to memorize this part of Chaucer’s prologue. If that is not enough, then check out his blog! (Thanks Dot) Yes you can check out what he thinks about life today. (His today is our yesteryear, so there may be some time/space continuum issues here.) You can check out glossaries, biographies of the time, and you get to know little known rumors such as his secret life as a pirate – complete with a parrot and an eye patch. (I thought you’d like that doodah!)

Speaking of writers who have spent time in the United Kingdom, Bill Bryson has royally pissed me off! I love his stuff – he has a wonderful perspective on quintessential life. So I figured that a book about a road trip to find out about small town life would be a perfect read. The only reason I have not put this book down (other than a quirky inability to not finish a book I have invested in reading 10 or more pages) is that I keep hoping that at some point he will stop talking like an angst ridden Goth teen. Every place he goes is a major disappointment for him, too touristy and tacky or boring. DUH! Tacky and touristy is a big part of small town life. However, it is jsut the surface stuff. Everyone knows that the real value of American small towns is getting to know the people. How in the name of Aunt Millie is he going to do that by spending less than 3 hours in any one place! You Euro snob! And the kicker that got me today was when I read that he found the Giant Sequoias ugly and boring! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? If he had bothered to, oh I don’t know, maybe walk a little bit away from the parking lot, he might have found what he wanted - the tree that you could drive through. Plus the regal beauty of the trees. Or if he went on a ranger lead walk. Oh but wait, that would require actually spending time there. Sorry, he just really really irritated me today. I will now have to renew my joy by reading some of his later – and way more insightful books like this one or this.

However, there was a great line in one chapter where he exclaimed: “(The town) had been eaten by strip malls.”

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sorry I have been away

I know, I should have called, or at least let people know that I was going to be out for a while. I will never do it again. Cross my heart and hope to live.

This week My Sweet and I went to my favorite camping spot among the Giant Sequoia trees. As you look at this picture, keep in mind that I am almost six feet tall and not of a slender build. So these trees are enormous. "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness," John Muir.

Back in the day pieces of the trees were sent to the World's Fair, but no one believed that trees this big, stumps big enough to use as dance floors, were real. They called them the California Hoax. All I can say is that J.R.R. Tolken had never seen them, or they would have been King of the Ents. If Peter Jackson could take creative liberties and have the elves come to Helms Deep to assist in battle, then he could have done a greater service and created some Giant Sequoia as Ents.

This has been a bit of the process for replenishing the reservoir of my soul.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Where I am From

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.And medicine, law, business, engineering - these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love - these are what we stay alive for.”
This is one of my favorite quotes from the film The Dead Poets Society. I especially used it when my engineering major friends would wonder why the university even had an English major.

One of my fellow writers showed me this exercise that focuses on tangible things from our past. It is really quite easy when you follow the form. In doing the exercise, however, we discovered that life is too big to put into one poem. You have things from your childhood, the emotional teen years, college, Mom's side of the family, Dad's influence, and what not. Every day new memories and ideas come up. So, I think I may have to put the date in the title because they are the images that impressed me on that particular day. This weekend I took a stab a writing my own focusing on the pre high school years.

I challenge you to write your own Where I Am From poem and post it (you can put it as a comment). It is easy when you use this template

Where I Am From in Early July, 2006

I am from easy listening and beach music,
NPR and Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story;
From refrigerator muffins and Chef Boyardee’s Stuffed Raviolis;
From neighborhood games of snipe hunts and midnight hide and seek;
And from riding bikes all over town.

I am from Howdy Doodie and the Electric Company,
From M*A*S*H and Mork and Mindy;
I am from milk and Pepsi, rainbow suspenders and hiding from Sleestaks and Tyrannosaurus Rex;
And I am from all manifestations of William Shatner -
Star Trek, TJ Hooker and Rescue 911.

I am from the raspberries in Grandma’s garden,
Sweet firm cherries from the roadside stands,
And from frosted cakes with jellybean eggs and coconut dyed to look like Easter Basket grass.

I am from telling the same family stories over and over,
From “Do you remember the time when your brother pissed off your sister and she cut off his hair?”
And “Mom, that’s my story and you’re telling it wrong!”
And from “If your sister tells The Licorice Story again, I am going to puke.”

From the “Clean up your plate because people are starving in Africa,”
and “Don’t worry, things can be replaced but people can’t.”

I am from grounded in the Bible, saved by grace, liturgical Lutherans
From communion wafers, hymnals and the eternal flame.

I am from good Midwestern stock, Norwegians and Oakes,
From the mother who was willing to pick up Crazy Karen at the train station at four in the morning in another town,
The sister who stole your licorice yet made sure you got your handmade clock from Grandpa,
And from parents willing to drive three hours to pick you up at the air port even though you forgot to write some of the minor details like the arrival time, airline, and city of departure.

I am from pioneers and sea travelers,
A grandma who took off across the West to find a better life,
And another who hopped a train to California to marry the man she loved,
From people leaving for somewhere new, yet always remembering that
Home is always the place where you can always be yourself.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!


A friend of mine mentioned in her blog that she has a hard time knowing how to play. This set me to some serious thinking about what it means to play. So much of our childhood games have origins that were very purposeful. Think of Mother May I or Simon Says, teaching children manners of asking permission and doing what they are told. Sports are training for endurance, good for hunting and battle. And lets not forget playing house and Easybake Ovens for preparing for the running of a house and capture the flag are great for developing strategies. I am not sure what hide and seek or the Hokie Pokie do, but if I thought about it long enough I could figure it out.

So if playing is really training, what it the difference between work and play? In Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, there is the famous scene where Sawyer gets his friends to do the chore of white washing the fence by convincing then that it is fun. Sawyer then makes a mental note that "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." Obligation, makes me think of duty and judgment.

Things we enjoy - cooking, painting, carpentry, can be work or fun - attitude is the thing. Play is freedom to make mistakes and messes. Play is not worrying about the purpose. Let spirit or imagination run amuck. Look goofy, have game night, splash on the beach. Playing means not having to look good, but it is also ok to have winners and successes.

Wow, what a bit of philosophizing. Sorry about that. I am now off to find out what the Hokie Pokie is all about.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!