Japan – Day 3

I went with J and Mu, the dog, for their morning walk so that I could see more of J’s town.
Breakfast was yummy pastries, again! This time sitting in the restaurant and eating them. I really like the red bean paste ones.
Kamakura by train wa the day’s main activity. It was nice for J to get out of the city, and the train trip took only a little more than an hour. Outside of Tokyo the land is towns, villages, and plots of farms for vegetables, rice, and ornamental trees. Little shrines can be seen tucked into hillsides and forests, and buddhist temples were easy to recognize by now as they went by. It was one of the trains on the JR train system, so our pass worked for it, hooray! Kamakura is a small town near the water. We got off the main train and switched to a small local one to get to the actual part of town near the Giant Buddha, a main reason for tourists to visit the town. Walking there from the train was fun, lots of little shops and things to see. The temple was one you had to pay for, because of the Buddha I guess. And we rounded a corner of shrubbery along the stone path and there he was. So huge. Breathtaking. Japanese students took pictures of each other standing at his feet waving the peace sign with their fingers. An offering of oranges and flowers was in a large bowl nearby. To the side there was a giant pair of sandals hanging on a wall that belonged to the Budda. For an extra 50 yen, we could go inside the giant bronze statue itself, which we did! Inside the other tourists milled around and shoved yen into the walls and seams of the statue.
Behind the statue was a lovely little garden where we took a short break before heading back out down towards the train station. We passed a small craft shop on the way that had lampworking stations set up! They looked very different from mine, but it was neat to see, and they had many of their beads for sale in the small store. The owners were making pottery when I passed by. We stopped for some sweet potato and green tea soft serve (purple and green!) ice cream and saw what looked like the end of the road, so we passed the station and kept going. From there to the left we could see the water, so we walked there, standing on the dark brown sand next to old sinks and fishing boats. Windsurfers were out on the water, and racing boats further out to sea.
We milled around and J picked up some shells for his nephews, then we turned back and returned to the small station, and back to our main stop.
The last tourist stop of the day was a shrine where J and I picked our fortunes. The view was astounding at the top, you could see all the way down a street back to the train station, with Torii gates inbetween at intervals. To get a fortune we paid 100 yen, then shook a box until a stick with a character came out. The woman behind the table then selected a fortune based on the character, telling her which pile to pull from. It turns out mine was the worst! To fix it, I had to tie it off at the shrine on a board specifically for
that purpose, but at that time we didn’t know it was so bad. I still have it, and at this point J has cheekily suggested throwing it away as an equal solution, or buying another one to replace the bad news. ;)
We took our tired feet home after that, relaxing back in Oizumi before heading out for the night’s dinner adventure. Yakiniku! Korean bbq, Japanese style. J ordered several types of meat and they brought us a charcoal brazier that set into the table. J cooked everything for us, different cuts of beef and even round slices of cow tongue! We had rice to fill the space not quite filled by the meat and the boys had beer. Soon it was back home to laze around, drink brown tea and call it a night. J and M have been AMAZING in the food department, showing us all these differnet things we never would have found on our own. I will definitely be missing the food back home, but we do have a HUGE Japanese market near us that we keep meaning to go to. Now, we finally will.


DLJ and J picking out breakfast at the local neighborhood bakery in Oizumi.


The giant Buddha


Inside the giant Buddha


Ramen, once the plate of veggies and meat has been added to the noodles and pork broth. This might have been my favorite meal. This or the sushi meal to be discussed soon!


From the top of the large shrine we visited in Kamakura.

Day 2 – Japan

(I’m writing this on Friday, our last full day in Japan)

J took M to work by riding double on his bicycle to get to the local train station. I waited outside on their wraparound type balcony to snap a photo, but didn’t time it very well, catching only J on the bike. Better luck tomorrow. While he was out he went to a local favorite bakery and brought back a selection of baked goods for us to have with our morning milk tea. We were ready to roll out a little after ten. On the agenda for the day was something M had found in a magazine article and saved for us. She knew about my interest and glass and had seen an article a few weeks before about a local small business creating glass c himes. Each chime was hand-blown, then hand-painted. They were a summer tradition, the gentle sound meant to provoke feelings of coolness as they caught the breeze in the middle of Japan’s humid summers. Recently, with the advent of air conditioning they were no longer needed to lend a hand to the imagination of coolness, but were still lovely to hear. The family had been creating these for decades, and they were called furin. The family business was tucked away in an older, blue collar neighborhood which required many train changes to get to. As we walked I remarked that it somehow made me think of a beach town. J responded it might be because I was smelling the water nearby; the neighborhood was not far from it. We passed many auto repair shops, a group of welders working on a large frame of a truck, not wearing any visors. We finally made it to the small, brown building. Out front, three large baskets held chunks of broken glass. We could hear a small hammering noise. Through a window were shelves, with round glass objects on them but the light was turned off. J called his wife at work and she called the place, to tell them there were three foreigners right outside unsure where to go. A thin woman came out and beckoned to us, walking past the room with shelves. J said she said “this is where you buy” and kept walking. We turned a corner and followed along the side of the building, towards what would be the backyard area. There were piles of bags holding things like hundreds of glass doorknobs. Another corner and suddenly we were in a small foundry, with two men exchanging large glass punties , one starting a small ball of glass and the other enlarging it and doing the actual blowing to make a small glass ball. He would then hand it back to the first, who by that point already had a new teeny starting ball ready to go. The first would then take the finished ball and rest it in a tray of very small glass shards, knocking it off the punty and sanding the bottom of the chime down quickly, then leaving it in the tray to start a new one to hand off to the older, experienced blower. They worked in silence once we approached. We all wondered how often foreigners came to see them in this tucked away, completely invisible from the outside family tradition. We all agreed that the vast majority of any visitors they had would have to be local Japanese.

After watching for several minutes we thanked them. I had tried to answer questions for J from my limited experience with glass blowing and my larger knowledge of glass in general, and he really seemed interested in what he was watching. We traveled around to the front building and went in the door where the objects were on shelves. On a raised platform sat the thin womaan and a man, we guessed her brother or husband. A Japanese radio station went on in the backround, mostly talking and no music. The man was sitting on a low bench surrounded by small bowls of paint thickly crusted from years of additions. He had a small brush and was painting designs on the now-cooled glass balls. The woman was working with a fresh batch of balls, sanding them down further and discarding any imperfect specimens. The prices were very reasonable so I chose one I liked with dragonflies. There were two with different tones and chose the lower toned one. J bought the other as well as one with a wave and a rabbit painted on it. The woman wrapped them up asking if J wanted extra padding for travel. He said no. When she got to ours, he said yes. “Aren’t you traveling too?” she asked. “No, not me, I live here!” he said. All three were placed in small white boxes and put in small plastic bags. We all said “Arigato” and left back into the small but busy indutrial street. Glasswork in a small family business! What a find! I was elated and J and DLJ were both happy as well. We were getting hungry so we made our way back to the train, stopping at a convenience store for a particular snack that J really enjoyed called *whats it called*. These were triangles of rice in crunchy nori (seaweed). Each one had something different in the middle of the rice. The outer packaging had three numbers showing the order in which you unwrapped it to get it to pop out smoothly. I chose one with tuna and mayonaise in the middle, DLJ had salmon and mayo, and J I think also had the tuna, he had said that was his favorite. These were awesome snacks, healthly but packing energy for the afternoon. J said many Japanese just have on of those for lunch. I wonder if the huge Japanese market near our house will have them.

We moved on, traveling to the museum. Alas, it was a Monday, and it was closed. But we still wandered around on the grounds, which were absolutely deserted. It was kinda fun. While J lamented his luck on the phone with his wife (M acted as our offsite navigator many times that day, at work with the Internet) we looked at the few displays outside, the trains and the large sumo building. The season had ended the previous day. While changing money in a hotel before going to the area, we had seen a sumo wrestler sitting in the lobby, his hair all styled and wearing the traditional clothing. It was neat to see one!

We next went to a nearby Japanese Garden, but it literally closed one minute after we arrived. J was frutrated by now but we were fine, every place we went was something new to see, so it wasn’t a big problem. But by then we were getting in the mood for our later destination: J and M’s favorite ramen place. I was almost drooling in anticipation of this all day. Back on the train and off towards a giant department store where we had actually started our day looking again for a watch. The store had watches, but they were much more expensive than the one we saw in Electric Town the previous day. But it was fun to see the sorts of things sold there, lots of modern furniture and accessories, and bunnies, puppies and beetles for pets!

M had mentioned a street we could go to to look for a watch. Ameyoko Street. We had no idea what we would find. Turning a corner, it was amazing to see. Lights everywhere, thousands of people, hundreds of market stalls with fresh fish, food, vegetables, crazy t shirts, urban clothing, jewelry. It was like a giant outdoor market. In between a few streets in a covered area was a hive of small shops and sellers, an endless maze of commerce. DLJ found a G-Shock he liked at a good price, slightly less than what we found the first day in Electric Town. He purchased it and we made our way back out of the market, passing pachinko parlors and milling crowds back to the more slick, wider streets of the shopping district near the train to take us back to near the department store.

The ramen place was one bulding down from the department store, a long narrow room with heavy wooden stools Everything was red and black and behind the counter were large vats with times written on them in black marker, the time they started each broth. We all ordered the same thing by coincidence, pork broth with all the extras. Waitresses shouted behind us finding seats for new customers. The room was so narrow that those in line stood right behind the diners. We were the only white folks in the room while 20 or customers slurped noodles to our right and left. Within a few minutes our ramen arrived, the broth and noodles in a bowl topped with a plate includng pork, onions, a season half an egg that had been marinated in soy sauce, seaweek, softened bamboo, and other mix ins. I moved half the batch from my plate to the bowl and grabbed a first clump of noodles with my chopsticks and sllllllluuuuurp, slurp, slurp….

AAAAAAH. Oh, sweet Heaven. The last time I had had even decent ramen was in Japantown in San Francisco at Sapporo-Ya, and this was transcendent ramen J had taken us to. So. Good. Each bite was just….oooof. I moved most of the rest of my plate of includes to the bowl. DLJ was a happy camper to my right. The waitresses called and the men behind the counter kept dishing up noodles and broth, sometimes stirring the giant vats with a wooden paddle and holding samples of the broth up to the light in a small vial contraption. It looked like they were testing pool chlorine. They took their broth seriously. I finished my whole bowl (a sign of reverence) and we got up quickly and left, as the wall behind us was almost completely lined with people waiting to sit and eat. I grabbed a card and we were out the door back into the busy street. I was elated.

DLJ stopped for some ice cream in the train station and we went back home. It was now past 7:00 and the trains were crammed with salarymen commuters. We packed in like sardines until our stop, transferring to the smaller train back out to J And M’s Oizumi neighborhood, then home with tired feet. At the corner by their house we heard a tinkling sound I had heard most nights when the wind blew, waiting to go to sleep. It was a sound like a bell. We looked in the yard and there, hanging off a tree branch, was a furin, a single glass chime in the evening air.

Pictures:

Baked goods for breakfast! I am really liking the ones with red bean paste in the middle.


Furin family business.


Blowing the chime.


Ameyoko street, the marketplace where DLJ found his new G-Shock. It’s solar powered!


cooking ramen.

More later, don’t want this one entry to be any larger than it already is.

glass and tongue

Very tired. Leaving for Kyoto tomorrow. Monday we had an amazing adventure as we hunted down a family run glass business, making furin, handblown glass chimes. We ate ramen of the Gods, today we went to Kamakura and saw the giant Buddha, had sweet potato ice cream and saw the ocean. Korean-style bbq for dinner, done Japanese style. Many kinds of beef including cow tongue. Yum! Longer entry after we return to Tokyo on Thursday, and more photos later.

konnichiwa

I woke before the streetlight was extingushed on the corner, listening to the wind blow the rain around from the last night’s rainfall. The sky started to turn blue as the wind tossed a sheet of metal around somewhere nearby. A bird would cry with such regular precision, after hearing all the crazy sounds the train system made, I wondered if it was a pleasant signal for something, a time of day or an event. J says that at 6 pm a sound comes over the neigborhood’s loud speakers telling all good children to stop playing and go home and was their hands for dinner. Slightly big brother, but very community bonding at the same time.

When it got light enough for me to see the clock, a rectangular blue and white rectangle over the (what room?) depicting a map of the world (Japan in the centerpoint and almost obscured by the hands) it was 5 AM.
I rummaged through the gift basket J and M left for us and found a packet of strawberry chocolate mushroom candy, eating them in the cool morning light as sound of the wind tossed through the room.

Everyone was up by a little after 8. That’s when I realized my purse was missing. Wallet, train pass…I had my passport on my body, but I was concerned. I didn’t have many bags, I know I got it on the bus with me from the airport. J hopped on a bicycle and rode to his mother’s, where the car was. He was back within five minutes. No purse. M got on the phone with the bus company. Her Japanese became more and more excited. When she came back in the room, she smiled. They had it. Somehow in my sleep-deprived state after 11 hours on a plane I had made it all the way to Tokyo, and then left it somehow on the bus. Our morning plans changed slightly as we drove to the local business office of the busline, uniformed employees walking to the desk holding my bag as soon as we walked through the door. Everything was still there, as I had expected by this point. “Origoto!” I hugged my bag and nodded my head in a slight bow, when I felt like I should really be on the floor in supplication.
From there we drove back to a train station and M let us three out, she was off to run errands and rest her 8-months pregnant self, and we were to begin our day’s adventures with breakfast in a small bakery.

Walking in, sweet and savory baked goods were arranged on trays, and we grabbed a white tray and tongs as we walked in. A few other customers were milling about the small shop, picking up white bread sandwiches with the crusts neatly removed already before wrapping. I selected a fried piece like a donut, but filled with Japanese curry, and a dessert that looked like a brioche with custard egg on top. This was my favorite; when I bit inside, a rich, amber sweet honey oozed out of the middle. We munched on these treats while we stood on the train platform, taking us away from Oizumi to Harajuku to see the large Meiji shrine and to wander the city streets.

To get to the shrine we had to cross the famous bridge full of fruits, young girls and men dressed outrageously for the hungry lenses of tourists and other photographers. Their outfits were impeccable, but DLJ and I found ourselves desensitized and did not classify their outfits as outrageous. My years as a goth, swirling in clubs fangs and various arrayed fishnets and DLJ’s simple experience of living in San Francisco for years lessened our fascination with the fruits and more interested in all the photographers. Still, clothing itself in Japan is a wonderful thing to watch. Everyone looks stylish. If their clothes are torn and full of holes, each tear and gap is deliberate. And for those with a style of flair, accessories and makeup are well-cared for on every female face, and the men are just as attentive to their appearance. Still, amusements arise, like the large “gangbanger with slightly baggy jeans, a large pendant prominently around his neck of a giant, bejeweled and encrusted “WB” televison network logo.

We stopped in a five-story stored called kiddieland, full of Disney, Hello Kitty and all sorts of crazy stuff like a cute pink bear with claws and a bloodied lower lip, as if he’d just eaten something, or more likely, someone.

A quick trip to a convenience store refreshed us, grape soda for DLJ, milk tea for me, and we went back to the train to switch overselves over to Electric Town, where J and DLJ could marvel in the geekery. Signs, wires, computer parts, video games, robots, and otaku, the sunlight and social skills-deprived Japanese equivalent of the American computer nerd. J was on the hunt for a special light bulb for a burnt out light in his hallway, DLJ was on the eye for a new G-Shock watch to replace his many years old one he no longer wore, and I was just along for the ride. Up and down we trooped, finding a good price on the watch but waiting to see what we find elsewhere first, we can always go back.

J already is an intrinsic part of our adventures, his Japanese has been invaluable to us in terms of getting around easy, reading maps, and just plain finding things. He has local knowledge and imparts it, flavoring our trip with the feel of the everyday, the real life of Japan, along with the sights and sounds we share with all other tourists.

Lunch was in a small downstairs Italian restaurant. The milk tea had filled me, so I only had a melon soda float while the boys had two small flat crust pizzas. Climbing to the surface again, we started to make our way back to the train, after successfully finding J’s bulbs in a large lighting store our third or fourth try. He bought three to ensure never having to hunt like that again for a 13 watt bulb.

At the train we boarded for Ginza, where we spent an hour in a small cafe resting our feet, watching the ads on the giant video screen below a cafe where folks people watched and were watched from those below. M met up with us and we were off to the Imperial Hotel. Along the way in Ginza we stopped at a small model ship store, an amazing paper store filled with handmade papers of all colors, and textures, and the basement of a department store. J loves models and wanted to see what was going on in the small store, filled with tools, slats of wood, and finished boats. In the paper store they chose paper for their baby, paper representing the month he would be born, and looking at the paper for their months as well. We moved on from there to the department store, M said tradition was to buy a gift when meeting parents. They were about to meet mine, as mine are in Tokyo at the same time, exploring a few days before starting a cruise around Asia. Rough life. We went to the basement of the store where all the food was, endless counters of new textures and flavors, and on the weekends the purveyors had samples of all they were selling. M selected a small package of Japanese confections, shaped like elaborate flowers, and we were off again, walking to the hotel several blocks away.

In the lobby, my parents were nowhere to be seen. M talked to the desk and we called the room, nothing. I checked a smaller lobby, nothing. The night before I had called and talked to my father briefly, telling him we would meet them in the lobby at 7:15. At 7:30, the time of the reservation, we were standing alone in an enormous hotel lobby. They hadn’t called. I realized they must have gone to the restaurant already, it was the only explanation. We walked on, around the corner, and waaay down the narrow street I could see Dad. When I had called, he had taken a sleeping pill to get a good night’s sleep to combat jet lag. And he had complete, absolutely, utterly forgotten I had even called. “Now that you mention it,” he said, “the phone was kind of off-kilter on the base. I thought I had just knocked into it.” By the end of dinner he VERY vaguely remembered one part of our conversation. But it all ended well. My parents were traveling with friends from where I grew up in New Jersey, so all eight of us entered Tofuro, the restaurant, and were led to a sliding door where we removed our shoes and put them in cubbies, stepped up to the platform within and walked to each of our pillows around a sunken table. Sake and beer were ordered, food figured out (we had M order for us for the most part, and she chose wonderful things, both “safe” for us foreign devils of a less-adventurous nature as well as fresh fish and other seafood for those wanting more challenge. The door slid shut and we were alone in our own private room.

My parents were delighted at the experience, and I think everyone had a good time. Before we knew it it was quite late, and we stood and filed out, retrieving our shoes and going back out into the warm Tokyo night. J insisted we walk them back to the hotel, so it was there we said our goodbyes. I delivered new earrings for Mom, and we were off again, walking to the train for an hour long ride home to the other side of the city, then walking the last meters through their quiet neighborhood, and then to bed again on the floor, futons on tatami mats, heads on shaped pillows, feet tired from the journey but the mind and body very content.

We are so lucky to be staying with friends. Our trip has already been colored in ways impossible for those traveling and staying in hotels, without the benefit of local language speakers and friends with opinions. Going shopping for a lightbulb may seem banal, but with a quest new doors and experiences are opened up that never would have been otherwise. The inside of a lighting store in Japan isn’t a shrine or temple, but it has its own uniqueness, cast of characters and scents, and never would we have found them without our hosts.

Lost in Translation moment.


At the handmade paper store.


Near electric town. I loved the shapes and the woman on the cel phone is bonus goodness.


Dinner in the private room at Tofuro.

Sayonara

I am all packed to go, except for this computer. So we will get a taxi soon to the train station, then off to the airport. J is going to meet us at Narita, we will take a bus closer to his home then go out to dinner. I’ll call my parents after that, they are already in the air, since they have a layover in LA. I’m feeling ok. I think the flight class thing I did yesterday helps. I have a list of good things to think about if I get nervous and we will just see how it goes. We have lots of movies and I have a good book and Myst to play. I am really looking forward to getting there, such a strange new place. A big new place. The red line in my head of my little trail of all the places I go will get much, much longer.
Ok, time to pack this up. I have to go to the kiln to see how the dish turned out, then shut everything down in there. Email our friends who are watching kitties and see if they can water stuff. Must do that before shutting down.

I’ll post from Japan at some point. Have a good week everyone, think good calm plane thoughts for me all day today till you go to bed.

Life is beautiful.

gloom

If I wasn’t so crammed full of things to take with me, I’d even consider taking the makings of a charm bracelet to create while on the plane. I get lost in the zone doing things like that, time would definitely move more quickly and I’d be heavily focused on something. It’s tempting but it’s not practical to haul the wire and tools needed. For all I know they might not LIKE wire cutters on the plane anyway.
I got really bummed on the way to work, planewise. I just hate getting on them. I’m sitting there and I’d give anything to move time ahead, to be over it, done with it, instead of this looooooong stretch of stress ahead of me. I wish I could be the later me, already done with the flying. I’m starting to get those feelings now. Don’t want to be today me. Want to be me in 48 hours. Me past it all. It’s not a fun way to think, it instills urgency and a wish for time to move.
Why can’t I just enjoy traveling? Not loving it, just…being netural about it at least. I really need to learn to deal with this and get past it. I love being places I visit, but getting there and back is a dark thundercloud on bookending the adventure.
Tonight is the packing of the dispatch bag with books, the Ipod, camera, some things I am bringing our friends and also my Mom, since I will see her and Dad Sunday night. How strange to have dinner with my parents in Japan. Familiar in unfamiliar place.
More later. I should be able to update from Japan (cause I’m going to get there all safe, right?) but I’m sure I’ll write at least once more here before leaving. *sigh*

Getting ready

This morning I went out to the kiln to check on the first of two green plates. I hadn’t made one of that pattern from start to finish in my own kiln at home…and when I opened it…everything looked fine. Step 1 complete. I am not sure I will get it finished by the time we leave, but I will get it almost there if not. I’m delighted things went the way I had planned.
I started laying out clothes and other items for the trip last night. I will try to do most of the packing this evening and have everything done by tomorrow night. All the important stuff I have, passport, train passes, guide book…
I’m going to try to take my usual amount of luggage, my travel bag and one carryon, my dispatch bag. It’s going to be tough, I often carry shoes for DLJ as I am a light packer…but this time I am carrying several things for our friends we are staying with. Gifts for them and their family, items they want but can’t have shipped to them…I hate checking baggage but…maybe it will be the way of things.
Our schedule is starting to come together. Kyoto later in the week, dinner with my parents, our hosts and a couple on the same cruise as my parents Sunday night. Our friends, J and M, told me last night that the extended family wants to have us for dinner Tuesday evening. Mom, Dad, sisters, brothers, cousins other in-laws. I am very much looking forward to this. It is exactly why I wanted to go to Japan while we knew people living there…the family, local, real-life sort of experiences that can’t be had any other way than having friends or family where you are visiting.
DLJ burned a bunch of our movies to digital format to put on my computer for the plane. I still haven’t decided if I am going to take the Ambien on the plane to just not deal with it for so many hours, or wait and use it to help ease the time transition. I guess I will probably go for the latter on the way there, but conk out on the way back. I think the flight back works out better for that anyway. I’m trying very hard to stay positive and focused on the fun we will have, not on the flight itself. Overall I am doing better than usual by this point…but I’m not free and clear of flying anxiety.
Today my goals are to return all my books to the library, save the one I am taking with me. I really should have another to read…one won’t cut it. There’s a local Powell’s outpost in my town, and though I am usually not buying books anymore…I think one for a trip is acceptable, and I can always sell it back or donate it somewhere when I am done with it. Or, maybe when I drop my books off at the library I will just rent another one. I usually know what I want so I put in a request order, searching for a book at the library means only having what is in that library itself to choose from. Maybe I will get lucky and they will have a copy in of something I will want to read. Any recommendations? =)

Seattle weekend

Coworkers are back after both flying to different places last week. I am envious their flying is over. I am going to bring my Myst game and play it a lot on the plane. Read. I want to fast forward and be home already. How messed up is that.

The weekend in Seattle was a good time. We stayed with an old coworker of mine and it was great to see her again. Unfortunately, she woke up Saturday with a migraine, knocking her out of the day’s festivities. So on our own we went to another former coworker’s place after a breakfast at a Noah’s bagels. We got the house tour and I finally got to meet a long-time LJ friend, Gaaneden. Both of us have been journaling online for years, so it was nice to finally put a voice and a physical person with the life I’ve read about over the years. We all crammed in our little car and went into Seattle, using directions that our poor migrained friend gave us. DLJ is always a good navigator, with those and help from the locals in the car we got parked with no problem near the theatre where DLJ and I would be seeing DCD later in the evening. We wandered the famous Public Market looking mostly at crafty things, as fresh produce wasn’t going to do us much good so far from home, and my own local CSA is already paid for. ;)
We took a ferry to Bainbridge and back and sadly didn’t have time for the Science Fiction Museum, something to tackle the next time. We also caught up with a woman I have met online in the glass forums, and she was a kicker. I really liked her and hope to get to see her again in the future, as well as her husband. PreciousJade called her husband and he came in for a quick Japanese dinner with us before DLJ and I whisked ourselves off to the Paramount to see Dead Can Dance. They were terrific. Both Lisa and Brendan were in top vocal form, and it was an enjoyable evening. Back to Redmond to sleep, then up and out the door to visit Horticulture Guy down in Tacoma. His place was a trip, he showed us all his plants and we went to eat brunch in a little town on the Sound that had wonderful french toast. We then walked along a nature path overlooking the water, just talking. His girlfriend is very sweet and they still seem really happy together. Back to his house for some more talking and hanging out, and then we were loaded up with deliciousness…three different tomatoes, a yellow carrot he pulled out of the ground for us and our marionberry vine.
The drive home was quick and dinner was a mishmosh, including his tomatoes with fresh mozz and “the good stuff” balsamic I hide except for special occasions. I saved seeds from each tomato.
Now it’s time to do laundry and repack for Japan. I’m nervous. I hate being nervous. There’s no point to it. So I’m trying to focus on being excited instead. In the end, whatever happens, the time I have before me will be the same, and I should enjoy it instead of fill it with useless worry over things I cannot control. Easy to say, hard for me to do.

In the present

I made some beads last night that turned out fine. One didn’t do what I wanted. My abilities with metallic colors are shaky, not in actually getting the metals to come out, but to get them to stay once I put the bead in the kiln. Sometimes it stays, sometimes it does not. When it doesn’t, it just looks…blah. My blue metallic, for example, just stays a clear blue, not transforming into metallic blue goodness. I want the shiny!

Luckily, if I can’t figure out the mystery by December I am signed up for an intermediate bead class, where one subject is indeed using the metallic luster colors.

When I get home today I just put everything in a bag that I already laid out, make sure the kitties have good food and water levels, that the studio is shut down and then wait for DLJ. Hopefully he will get all his stuff ready quickly. I am always ready for trips first, I lay things out and pack early, so that when it’s time to go we can just go. I think for me this is one of those “marriage things” where you drive each other crazy, my wanting to leave on time and get going, and being ready ahead of time, when he usually is not. I sit around staring at the clock anxious to get going and irritated that things weren’t all prepacked before it was actually time to go.

Anyway, eventually we will get in the car and drive to Seattle, stopping for quick food on the way somewhere. Maybe I will just eat a Clif Bar. The weekend is full! Tomorrow we are seeing a bunch of friends during the day, folks I haven’t seen for months or years, or ever, depending. Two are former coworkers, one is a fellow online journalist that I’ve “known” for years, and maybe a recent aquaintance, a fellow lampworker, if the stars align. Then, Dead Can Dance! Then, Sunday, brunch with Horticultural Man, then seeing his home and hanging out. He does have a vine already potted up for us to take back home with us. Then home and I start my pre-packing for Tokyo. ;)

I worry about financial things and there’s nothing I can do about it. Stuff needs to get resolved. If it doesn’t, then we live the life of monks when we return from Japan. This doesn’t bother me, really. In the past year I have let go of so many wants, and perceived needs. Give me glass to work with and food, clothes to wear…and beyond that I don’t want much anymore. Just the ability to pay my bills and be comfortable and have DLJ with me. So the bite won’t bite me as hard as DLJ, probably. And he has some expensive dental work coming up. As it has been for a long time. I could go into how much easier it would have been to take care of it all this entire past year while for the most part, we both were working and the end of my contract wasn’t looming…but why bother. It’s the past, and how things are now are what we live with.