Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Holding Patterns

Well, I've been back from vacation for a few days now, and am still uploading and organizing the ton of pictures I took. The trip went off with only a few minor glitches and it certainly was a good time. I'll get the links to the pix up shortly.

In other news, we have been extended here through December 31, 2008. I won't be coming back stateside as soon as I thought I would. This is both a relief and a source of consternation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


A Birthday Poem
Ted Kooser

Just past dawn,
the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
ith his bucketfor the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ready, Set, Go ...

... on vacation! We'll be heading out first thing tomorrow. I won't have the laptop with me so this is the last entry for a while, unless I get a major jones and hit an internet cafe.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The First Breath . . .

One week until my birthday (yikes)! Because we will be travelling and probably NOT bringing the laptop along , I wanted to blog about one of my birthday gifts from Chris, a calligraphy scroll.

The scroll is currently hanging in our tokonoma (alcove). I change out the decorations in it around the first of the month. Sometimes there are scrolls, sometimes kimono, sometimes sculpture. I like to mix it up. Since July is my birthday month, I decided to hang up my gift.

One of the reasons I adore my husband is that he "gets" me. How else would he know that I would love a scroll that reads "The first breath is the beginning of death" as a birthday present? And in spite its zen sound, the quote is from Thomas Fuller.

The gentleman who did the scroll is a retired school teacher, who taught computer programming (COBOL and FORTRAN) and also worked as the principal of the school. He's retired now and doing calligraphy as a way to earn a bit of money. He was very sweet and took the work very seriously. We liked his work so much that we ordered a scroll for Chris (also a birthday gift) and a placard for me, which I will photograph and feature later.

The image below is a close up of the character on the bottom. The drier-looking strokes where the brush has begun to dry out and you see striations is termed "flying white" and is what gives the calligraphy its dynamism and is one of my favorite parts of the work.

Calligraphy is interesting because every rendition is personal and unique and you can see the artist's personality shine through. Two artists writing out the same phrase will have completely different-looking results. If you follow an artist from the start to the end of career, you can readily see how experience affects the strokes ("experience" includes the aging of the body). I recommend The Art of Twentieth-Century Zen: Paintings and Calligraphy by Japanese Masters by Audrey Yoshiko Seo with Stephen Addiss to see some great examples.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hi Ben!

Hi Ben!
Originally uploaded by bakagaijiin
I've been missing my 10 am tea-and-treat with Ben. So I had some tea with him in spirit.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Mysteries of the Human Body

We went to see the local version of "Body Worlds" at the Aomori Museum of Contemporary Art.

Chris was kind of grossed out. I was a teeny bit, too, but mostly I was utterly fascinated AND I got to hold a plastinated BRAIN!
In case you were wondering, the brain was pretty heavy and it felt similar to soapstone.

We also went to the permanent exhibit. One of the "famous" permanent exhibits (a giant dog sculpture) was closed for cleaning/renovation and as a result, we got two pencils free from the gift shop. This cracked us up because the ticketing clerks totally apologized for it and handed us the pencils with much pomp and circumstance. Hee hee!