25 July 2008

Gifts from the past

Read the previous post (below), this is an update:

I received yet another package FedEx yesterday. This was in a FedEx letter sized envelope. The contents are described below:

  1. One souvenir shop book on Higashi Honganji (Shinsu Honbyo). This is in English, has a treatise on Shin Buddhism and Buddhism. It is a seven minute walk from Kyoto Station, and we totally missed it. Hmmm.

  2. A tablet of Utamaro stationery that is beautiful. (The cover is pictured below). It says 20 sheets. I suspected that a few have been used. And I was right - as usual. There are 9 sheets left.

  3. Some sort of flat pocketbook, with some paper in it. The fabric is beautiful and it's in its original package, which is old.

  4. A furoshiki - looks fairly new and definitely unused.

  5. A handkerchief in a package. It is wrapped like it has a napkin holder on the top and has chickens on the motif. And sakura.

  6. Another thing of stationery - this with the modern stylized kimono wearing girl. I wonder if she is the Japanese version of Holly Hobby? This has 4 sheets of cloud shaped paper (with sakura water stain as well) and 4 envelopes.
  7. Two pieces of finished cloth in a package. They are new (possibly 21st century) and of a size that could be tea towels, or placemats.

That is it. Now the questions are coming: in light of what comments I could understand from Motoko-chan, is she planning hari kiri and giving away her Japanese life's gatherings to someone who would (possibly) appreciate them? Am I too nice to strangers? Or just too nice to strange people? Was conversing with someone on a plane being too nice? What could I possibly send her that would not clutter up her life further, causing her to send it on to someone else that was kind to her? (I would love her to send it to her English teacher. Hmm, there's an idea. If I had a beard, I would stroke it now.)

So, I have two big futon, a collection of stationery and fabric things and a book about a shrine I didn't know existed.

My daughter can have the futon when I'm done scalping them.


23 July 2008

More Non Sequitors

I got a call from Motoko-chan the other day. (See "Random Acts" 04/17/08) She wanted to send me *something-something* in the mail and wanted to make sure that I was still there, which is here, which is where I am currently. It is very difficult having a telephone conversation, as I have stated before, with someone who sounds like they are pronouncing the English in kanji. And is ahndoh, etc. However, I was able to understand these things:

  1. Motoko-chan goes to the Senior Center once a week for English class and TaiChi. (I personally think the English teacher should be fired. If you know this person, tell them to look into some other program, please.)
  2. When asked if she misses her homeland (near Hiroshima) she informed me that, no, people where she lives in the U.S. are very nice and friendly. People there smile a lot, and people smile at her. According to her - remember she is well over 60 years old - women who smiled too much when she was growing up were "loose women". NOT my opinion. Do NOT shoot the messenger. It just cracked me up. Especially since things have changed a lot, I think.
  3. She is going to die sometime soon, and has no one to inherit her *something-something* that her mother made (I know it involves siruku or silk - she says siruku) and she wants me and my daughter to have it because we like Japan and things Japanese.
  4. The above item was made before WWII. 1938 I think she said. or 1948. Which would be AFTER the war. Just in case you have trouble figuring that out.
  5. I have forgotten all of the rudimentary Japanese I learned in two weeks. Unless I think about it for a few days. Sad. Very sad.

I received a package tonight. From Motoko-chan. It is a huge package and I thought she sent me her life's belongings in one go. Not so. Just the futon that her mother made. From silk (at least on the front sides). I could not believe she sent 2 futon. I didn't see the silk, the way they were folded and just laughed out loud. The way the Japanese say futon it sounds like spitting. Almost. Which is what I wanted to do after sleeping on 2 of them for 2 weeks.

The silk is very beautiful, though. Very beautiful. Hmmm.

Toad and Vole are GONE. Sad as well.

Something mysterious is breaking off the tops of our tomato plants and dill weed and even sunflowers and peppers. These are TALL plants. Hero-hubby has the idea that it is revenge plucking by angry grackles, frustrated that he changed to safflower seeds in order to discourage them from coming around. So he changed the seed back to what he calls "real bird seed" to appease any and all bird creatures that might have revenge as a motive for breaking off the tops of plants. The actual truth may lie in a number of STORMS that we have been having, but these things are GONE and not just green-stick fractured and hanging. So...

I think it's punk squirrels, up to mischief.

My nephew (37) thinks my son (27) is his nephew. He is the oldest grandchild of either set of grandparents. Logically, he is the oldest offspring of my sister. He could not possibly have a nephew 10 years his junior. I am seriously concerned for him. Seriously. Could have just been a Freudian typo, but it will still be fun to razz him for the rest of his life about it.

Speaking of water, my hero-hubby once again used his superpowers and not only figured out (during one of the above mentioned blinding rain storms) how the water was getting into the basement, but fixed it temporarily so that water has not been gushing in every time it rains. AND got another superhero set up to fix the problem permanently.

And now for something completely different...

15 July 2008


This is virgin's bower. It is in the same family as what us tame people call "clematis". I had read about virgin's bower, but never seen it, and never knew that it is, in fact, wild clematis. How unexpected and delightful. More v.b. because I couldn't get enough photographs of it.
It's amazing how trees grow in the mountains. They find all sorts of ways to get around rocks, snow and ice. Hence the interesting shapes. They grow in and around solid rock, breaking it up yet cementing it together with their roots. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

This is bracted honeysuckle. Doesn't smell like honeysuckle, but that's what the book says.

Lupines. In the wild. Very thick up there this time of year, and beautiful. Everything was blooming, it seemed.

Lupines, gallardia, all sorts of different white flowers that are hard to distinguish in the photo (cow parsley, yarrow, wintergreen, pearly everlasting and bear grass were all abloom) and mallows are in there as well. And crane's bill geranium, let's don't forget them. And yellow columbine.

These are glacier lilies. They are nodding together with the common European dandelions, which are not to be confused with Japanese dandelions, which grow only in Japan and are white/yellow. Anyway, glacier lilies only bloom just after the snow melts away from the plant that has been growing under the snow. Like croci, only up higher. We were up high. Oh, yeah.

These are carpets of yellow monkey-flower, according to the pathetic Rocky Mountain Nature Guide I have. It says they are in the snapdragon family, and were all over these hillsides on the Loop trail.

I thought this was orange agoseris, but I'm not so sure now. I did see orange agoseris, but I believe I took this pic to identify the flower, and can't find it! HELP. If I don't name this flower, I will probably die trying, and that wouldn't be pretty, now would it?

And last, but definitely NOT least, bear grass. It's actually a lily. Blooms once every 3-7 years and is fragrant only when there are a lot of them. One on its own doesn't do much for the olfactors. There was a lot of bear grass blooming this year, much more than we've ever seen. It was just beautiful.


What is it about moving water that moves us so?

Going to the Sun Road was built over, around and beside water falls. Small ones, most of them.
Many disappear when the snow does. Then you are left with stairsteps on the mountainsides.
All along the trails, there is a sound of fountains tinkling, somewhere. On the edge of your hearing. Then, from what seems like miles away, the tinkling turns to thundering and booming. You turn a corner in the trail and BOOM, there it is...
Turmoil, right at your feet. For some reason, us humans are incapable of NOT being moved by rushing, tumbling, roiling water. Whether in huge quantities, or just small trills. We feel compelled to re-create it in our homes, our yards, our malls...
and go to great lengths to see the real deal. Up close and personal.

There is just nothing like it.

12 July 2008

Wild Life

We just got back from hiking in Glacier International Peace Park (Glacier). It was our third year to go there (in a row). I highly suspect it won't be the last.

I actually saw some animals I never knew existed, plus some I had just never seen before in the wild. I am limiting this to the fauna because at some point you have to limit limitless things in order to get your brain around them. And the mountains aren't even limitless! The bear picture has been completely eliminated so as not to scare the kiddies. The fact that we didn't stick around long enough to get the picture is irrelevant. We could have, if we wanted to end our hike 5 minutes into it. We could have stuck around and gotten some very good pictures of that mama grizzly taking hubby down while I tried to dig in the back pack for the bear spray. As it was, I actually had the spray out for once, and the guard OFF. THAT's how close the bears were, people.

It was great.

In the exact center of this pic, on the water (above the wider black splotch) is an American Dipper. (Click on the photo to get a better view.) This amazing bird lives in rapids. It landed on the rocks, bobbed up and down like it was chair dancing for a while, then just disappeared into the water. Then it just as quickly jumped back onto the rock again! It's like a penguin that can fly. Amazing. Read up on them. They walk against the rapids, on the stream bed, under water.
This is a moose. I had heard of them before (yuk yuk) but never seen one in the wild. She was amazing as well. This is at Fishercap Lake at the beginning of the Red Rock Falls/Swiftcurrent Trail.
Say hello to my leetle frien'. And yes, I did feed this Columbian ground squirrel. He had it coming. Cheeky critter. Actually, the fact that he wasn't stomping, but was properly scampering endeared him to me.
Until he tried to run away with our back pack. This was the second time we caught him in there! I suspect he has seen these objects before. He had six or seven friends that were gathering like The Birds. I think they were planning on how best to abscond with the bag and get it into their dens before we could catch them.
This guy was just way too big on himself. He posed for a long time, then started to check out the people, which is when we walked away - quickly.

Don't worry - more to come.