Monday, January 7, 2008

does it look like we're studying computers?

School's on again and we're studying about computers this month. First stop, the new library (where we paid one dollar to park for 40 minutes).
Then it was off to Marott park on 75th Street. I think we'll try to keep this up, even through winter, because it is the most perfect way to begin learning. I had resigned to giving up nature walks for the winter, but this warmer weather is inspiring.
Next time I'll remember to bring Nigel some shoes and keep him from eating sticks.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

kaori's departure

I took Kaori to the airport today. She will be back in Japan by tonight, making it a long 12-hour flight with a 13-hour time difference.
She requested chocolate chip cookies, so I loaded her up with an entire batch and a loaf of banana bread as a "yapa"(Ecuadorian word). She is taking back yogurt-covered pretzels and natural peanut butter, her other American cravings.
Unlike last time, she left thinking that she would be back to study, possibly even in our home again! So the goodbye was more like another "matane" or see you later.
Something beautiful always happens when I've taken one of our Japaneese students to the airport... their friends show up to say goodbye. All three times the departure times have been early in the morning, too. I thought that maybe it's a Japaneese thing, but it's not only their Japaneese friends that arrive to send them off, it's other students from China, Taiwan, Mongolia and (I think) Korea. Could it be the situation of living abroad that ties these students together like this? I like it anyhow, and am so glad to witness this expression of caring and I'm even more glad that I am challenged by it. I can definately be a better friend even if it involves early mornings.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Takoyaki is a Japaneese octopus dumpling. A while ago, Mike saw Anthony Bordain sample takoyaki in Osaka on the Food Network. He asked Yoriko about it when she arrived in August, and she told us that it requires a special kind of cooking dish. She remembered his interest in it and had her parents purchase the dish and Sambi bring it when she visited. Then they surprised him with a takoyaki feast as a Christmas present.
Since that time we have used the dish several times, including experimenting with it as a pancake ball maker, filling the inside with chocolate and rice krispies and dipping it in maple syrup.
Here's what real takoyaki is like... The cooking dish is like an electric grill that has small half-circle cups in it. Ours has a raised octopus image in the bottom of the cup that looks like a minature ghost. The batter gets poured into the cups until they are full. Each ball gets a peice of boiled octopus in it, and is then sprinkled with green onion and crushed nori (dried seaweed). Using a stick, the balls get turned over so the flat side then becomes round too. Once complete, the balls are put on a platter, topped with okonimiyaki sauce (which tastes like a mild barbeque sauce) and bonito flakes (dried, shaved fish). Mayonnaise is the dipping sauce.
It looks so amazing and unusual when served. It's a whole bunch of perfect balls with the bonito flakes curling and waving because of the rising heat. Yoriko and Sambi weren't as impressed as we were with moving flakes, maybe it's commonplace. Do we have anything like this (a food that moves) in the US?
We learned that in Japan, you can't get this in a restaurant, that it is something only sold from kiosks, most commonly in Osaka. This food is something that families and friends make together. Everyone gets involved in the turning of the balls, and each batch could be slightly different, some with cheese, or whatever else appeals to the group.
Thank you to Kenichi, Ituyo, Yorkio and Sambi Uchida for the gift and the experince. We felt like we were part of your family when we experienced takoyaki!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

happy new year

So far, in this new year, I've been struck several times with the painful complexities of who we are.

It's not a happy reminder, but HAPPY new year anyway!

Matt and I got away this afternoon to enjoy a hot cocoa together before his departure. We talked about just this. I said that we simply cannot change ourselves, no matter the amount of effort. I've been thinking that we can experience clarity and enlightenment about who we are and decide what situations to put ourselves in (based on those understandings) but that the central part of who we are will remain. I've been trying to run away from that ugliness, trying to deny it's existence and trying to cover over it with layers of logical and correct actions.

It doesn't work.

The pain of my humanity and the scars of relationship, they are still there, and they feed that ugliness. So, while my responses may be tempered (sometimes), my interior writhes and can't be hidden.

And HAPPY new year! In the midst of wading through all of this difficulty, I discover something great! The amazing reveals itself in my children and in a natural ice crystal painting on their window that looks like the tree of life. And the complex looses it's wound, it becomes purposeful, complete and perfect.

Thanks Matt for coming all this way and walking through this with me. I love you!