asakiyume: (autumn source)
Hanging on a wall in my father's house is a three-inch-deep wooden frame, about a foot tall by eight or so inches wide, divided into cubbies of different sizes. Many of them have 1970s Star Wars action figures in them: an R2-D2 that my brother buried in the garden and that decades later my mother unearthed; Luke in Episode Four white; Luke in Episode Five snow gear. One cubby holds a blue plastic barrel, which, if you unscrew it, opens up to reveal a slightly smaller yellow barrel, which can also be unscrewed to reveal yet another smaller barrel in a different color. There are about eight nested barrels, and when you open the smallest one, there's a monkey glued into one of its halves. A barrel of barrels, with one monkey.

But the lower right-hand cubby contains something remarkable: a tiny red door, a perfect miniature of my father's front door, complete with dolphin door knocker, sitting in a miniature door frame. The door knob is only about four millimeters in diameter, but if you take it very carefully between your thumb and forefinger, you can turn it and open the door. If you put your eye close to the open door and lean to the right, you can just see into the kitchen, and out the window above the sink to the backyard. And, if you take something long and thin and strong, like a cooking skewer, you might be able to get that window open. Then, if you wait and if you concentrate, you might feel a tiny breeze against your cheek, and you might hear the leaves of the big oak tree in the backyard rustling, and the oak's battalions of devoted chipmunks, chirping.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

I wrote this just now. I think I'm calling it "kitchen guest"

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
My dad has a friend--and now I have a friend--who co-owns a vineyard and winery--the Hudson Chatham winery. I was especially interested to get a look at it because I'd just copyedited a novella by Joyce Chng in which the protagonist inherits a vineyard. It was really cool to see the actual reality.

My big takeaway was that a vineyard is HARD WORK. Here is my friend pruning the vines in a cold time of year (she gave me permission to use the photo)

Here are those same grapevines this past weekend. Lush! The Hudson Chatham winery grows both white and red wine grapes, and many of the wines it makes are what are called estate wines--made totally from grapes grown on site. (This isn't true for a lot of small New York wineries, which make wine from grapes they buy in, and even the Hudson Chatham winery buys in some grapes so it can make certain sorts of wines, like Chardonnay.)

grape trellises

Here, up close, are some Seyval Blanc grapes, for white wine. They'll eventually turn a yellow color; they're about as big as the green table grapes you get in the supermarket.

Seyval Blanc grapes

Seyval Blanc grapes

And here, just beginning to get some color, are some Chelois grapes, used to make red wine. They're smaller, only slightly larger than the wild fox grapes you can see out in woods and fields.

Chelois grapes

photos of pressers, barrels, bottling machines, corking machines, and labels )

Last but not least, the wine on display in the tasting room!

wines on display

My friend invited me to come help out with the harvest this fall. I want to give it a try!

asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
[ profile] wakanomori announced last night that we had to watch a particular episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Darmok." It had come up in a discussion of Japanese poetry translation--relevant, because part of what makes translation of Japanese poetry difficult is its reliance on shared cultural references and metaphors to convey meaning, and the episode is about the Enterprise's encounter with the Children of Tama, an alien people that the Federation has never been able to communicate successfully with. The universal translator is no good, because the Children of Tama communicate entirely in cultural references and metaphors, and these are unknown to the Federation.1

The aliens beam Captain Picard and their own captain, Dathon, down to the planet El-Adrel, where Dathon assiduously repeats pertinent cultural phrases ("Darmok and Jalad, at Tanagra," "Temba, his arms open," "Shaka, when the walls fell"), trying to make Picard understand.

The way in which understanding finally dawns, and what happens after that, is very effective and moving and involves Picard reading from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Picard remarks at one point, "In my experience, communication is a matter of patience, imagination. I would like to believe that these are qualities that we have in sufficient measure." Those words of hope and confidence filled me with pathos, thinking of where the world is today.

Anyway. It's a good episode. I recommend it.

1 As the tall one observed, "They talk entirely in memes." Unsurprising, then, that the episode has generated memes of its own--like this one, featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

asakiyume: (bluebird)
My dad was recalling living, soon after getting married, in an apartment in Cambridge, before I was born, more than 50 (closer to 60) years ago

"Teens would gather on the corner in the evening, boys on one corner, girls on the other. They wanted to get together but weren't sure how. Every now and then a boy would walk over to one of the girls and punch her lightly on the shoulder . . .

"There were some nuns living somewhere nearby. Your mother would open the window so she could hear them singing plainsong . . .

"There was this bank, and at least once a week its alarm would go off. I'm not sure what that was about . . .

"There was a billboard showing a woman holding a stack of freshly washed clothes. It was for a laundromat nearby."

I'd heard the first story before; my mother used to tell it too, but not the others.

asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
Some time ago I posted about creating a matching game with quotes from Warriors of the Wind, a mangled dubbing of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind which we have an affection for in my family. I didn't have it quite done for New Year's, and then it became hard to find a time when the whole family was gathered, but tonight, on the occasion of a family birthday, we all gathered and played. True, the healing angel was ill (he's been sick with a virus now for more than 10 days...), and the ninja girl had to play with us via Facetime from Japan, but we did it! All six of us played, and everyone laughed and had fun. Even the cat got in on the game, temporarily sprawling himself on the pile of matches and then watching with big eyes as we grabbed the cards and shouted out the lines.

asakiyume: (turnip lantern)

Just so you can see how much fun the script of Warriors of the Wind is, consider the following pairs (ETA: not all are dialogue pairs--only the third and fifth are actually exchanges between people; the other three are one person speaking):

--I never saw so much pollution
--You couldn't cut it with a chain saw [note: the people saying this manifestly do not have chain saws]

--Let's teach these insurgents a lesson in crowd control
--Drop a bomb on them!

--Are you going to boil me in oil or burn me at the stake?
--Hmmm, take your pick!

--I can take off anywhere
--Except under fire!

--I really love this valley!
--And I loathe it

(That one's a real family fave. If one of us asks another if they can do something, we'll often reply, "I can [do X] anywhere... except under fire!")

asakiyume: (turnip lantern)

In Japan at New Year's, one traditional pastime is to play a poetry matching game involving the Hyakunin isshu, a collection of 100 highly regarded poems from the classical period. I've never actually played it, but it's done by reading out the first portion of the poem and then having people compete to be the first to grab the card that completes the poem (... except when I look online it seems that maybe what you're grabbing is just a version of the poem with an illustration? ... Not sure how this actually goes down...)

Anyway: the principle is that everyone knows the poems so well that if you read just the first portion, everyone will know the second portion.

In our family, we have something like that, but it's not poems. It's the dialogue from Warriors of the Wind, a translation of Hayao Miyazaki's movie Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ). It edited the movie badly, removing some of the most important scenes and inexplicably changing the names of the characters. Which is all to say, it's not a great film--at all. And we're pretty big fans of the actual film, which we saw originally in Japan (though nearly a decade after its release).

However! The dialogue of Warriors of the Wind has an over-the-top, overacted delightfulness, with exchanges like this [not present in the original script]:

"I don't believe you're as evil as you pretend to be, Queen Selena"
"ah-ha-ha, oh, but I am!"

And some of these lines have become real family touchstones. For example, when Nausicaa (called Zandra in this version) falls beneath the Swamp of Corruption (called in this version the Toxic Jungle), she has a thought monologue that begins "The endless ironies of life" (not what she thinks in the original). So, we often will say that to one another when something ironic comes along.

You get the idea.

So I thought it would be fun to make a matching game with the dialogue. We'd say one half of an exchange, or one portion of a monologue, and people would have to race to get the second half.

I didn't have it ready for New Year's, but I've got it ready now. Here are what some of the paired cards looked like before I glued them to backing and cut them out:

photos of a few of the cards )

I'll try to take a picture of all the cards when we play. I'm realizing as I type this that it's pretty much the innest of in-jokes, and therefore kind of inaccessible, but ... I'm going ahead and sharing about it anyway.

asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)

"Their rapt immersion evokes a familiar resentment in me"
I remember the ninja girl telling me about a scene in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, with everyone in the family in their own corner of the house, deeply engaged in their private pursuits. I remember at the time I felt implicated--she didn't mention it in an accusing way, just in passing--but still: it seemed to me even then something that we, as a family, were prone to.

So now I'm actually reading Fun Home (for book group), and I arrived at that part, and it's even more indicting:

It was a vicious circle, though. The more gratification we found in our own geniuses, the more isolated we grew.

Don't get me wrong: as a private person with lots of things I like doing alone, I'm not advocating lots of enforced togetherness and activities that are first choice for no one. Especially now: my kids are all out in the world or are very shortly going to be venturing out into the world--it's right for them to be doing their own thing. But Bechdel describes her natal family as like an artists' colony, and that's not what I want for when we do all come together. I guess where I'm at now is that we should be looking out at each other with interest and receptivity (and love)--that that's what a family does for its members.

1992, as seen from 1969
On a lighter note, the healing angel got a collection of Philip K. Dick's short stories for Christmas. I've never read any Philip K. Dick! So, we've been reading some of these stories after dinner. Last night we read The Electric Ant (1969). It's about a guy who discovers he's a robot and decides to tamper with his inner workings to try to alter his perceptions of reality . . . or perhaps reality itself, guys! Like psychedelic drug trips, only with computers.

His reality is mediated via a roll of punch-card magnetic tape. There are flying cars called squibs and video phones (that you dial, and that are stationary) called fones, and if you want to access a computer (a big giant UNIVAC-style thing), you have to dial it up--no personal computers. It all takes place in the far future of 1992.

asakiyume: (autumn source)

Little Springtime took some embroidery with her to our family's Thanksgiving get-together, prompting my father to bring out a sampler his mother had made when she was in seventh grade, in 1920:

Here's the overall sampler:

sew a fine seam )

A sixteen-year-old's engineering notebook, from 1913-1914 )

And last is a photo not from generations past--it's from this most recent generation of oak leaves: an oak leaf gently afloat on a rolling cobweb sea, between the inner and outer windows:

I liked it--so restful, so liminal.

PS--big thank you to everyone who's contributed suggestions in the previous entry. I'm slowly listening to everything. It's going to be an excellent playlist.

asakiyume: (autumn source)
Tomorrow, in the small hours in the morning--the 3:00 am hour, to be precise, I get in the car and drive two hours to the airport, on my way to the Sirens Conference, which this year is on the theme of spies and revolutionaries (awesome). I have some excellent roommates, and will be meeting some LJ friends in person for the first time and other old friends whom I haven't seen since summer--very excited for that.

... I've been even more scarce than I thought I would be, these days. I've gotten notification of entries posted, and been unable to take the time to read them, because Wakanomori's family is here, and I've been kept busy with that. I apologize. When I come back from Sirens, I'll catch up somewhat, though probably not entirely. But I've thought of you all each day.

One thing Waka's mother had been really eager to do was see Old Sturbridge Village, so I took them there. I didn't go in myself, but I took these photos on the outside.

Iris seeds

Iris seeds

They look like blackberries, but they are hard and seedy. A man from Mississippi was marveling at them, and we got to talking. He told me about when Hurricane Katrina came through and knocked down a tree of his, how he planted a replacement tree, and it sent a branch or runner, I can't remember which, scooting along the ground, and then lifted up one blossom, like cupped hands. I loved that.

Dark wood, bright window, red impatiens, lantern


Doesn't it seem very serious, almost foreboding? And yet the flowers. Like a grim old minister who then smiles, like an ogre who lifts a baby bird gently and sets it back in a nest.

Grasshoppers and Butterflies

grasshopper weathervane


They seem metaphoric but the metaphors keep changing, and meanwhile they're real in themselves.



Autumnal abundance, a garden of peace and plenty.

Feel free to just look at the photos without commenting. I may get a chance to answer a comment or two this evening, but then I'm back to silence until Monday at the earliest.


Jul. 6th, 2015 04:12 pm
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
Here are some thoughts and pictures I've saved up over the past few days. First, a picture of magnificent skies. Such weighty clouds, such gauze of rain over there in the distance, and such uncanny light:

portentous skies

Influential rain

Some days later, there was a walk alongside a canal. Rain was coming down, not severely, but--and we hadn't expected this--fairly unquittingly. It was watching its influence spread as it hit the canal water. Lots of little circles of influence:

And here, in a photo by [ profile] urbpan, is a magical creature, bred of wetness, despite the fact that the ancients associated its kind with fire. See how his hind quarters melt away? And he sparkles darkly. You can find out all about this salamander, a "leadback," at [ profile] urbpan's entry here.

The winner of NPR's Sunday puzzler yesterday was a 15-year-old, Arushi Agarwal. Will Shortz asked her if she'd been playing long, and she said she'd been playing for five years: her parents had thought that working on the puzzle each Sunday would be a great way to stretch their minds and spend family time together. I was so charmed by that notion! What a fun family thing to do! ... Only if everyone participates willingly, but Arushi seemed very happy. She has a brother, too, who's part of all this.

"So did you have help solving last week's puzzle?" Will Shortz asked.

"Yes, my brother helped me."

(The puzzle had been, take the name of a major US company, take off its first and last letters, and the remainder of the letters, in order, will spell out the name of a well-known singer.)

She went on, "We figured we probably wouldn't know the singer, so we took a list of the Fortune 500 companies and just went through it. When we got to "Walgreens" and took off the W and the S, we thought, 'Al Green seems like a pretty viable name,' so we went and looked, and yeah, he's a singer."

"So you didn't even know him," Will Shortz remarked with a laugh, and she said no, so he played her a clip of an Al Green song. And then she did the puzzle on air, and acquitted herself admirably.

I fell into a daydream about the Agarwal siblings figuring this out, the parents enjoying their kids working on it... I'd like to draw the picture, but I don't know if I will...

Rock of the month
[ profile] a_soft_world was visiting. She told me about how she and her brother used to like breaking rocks open, and how they'd display the rock of the month--the one that was most fabulous or interesting inside. On our walk by the canal, in the influential rain, she picked up two, and the next day, we hurled them at a large boulder, and they did shatter! And here is one, split open:

Surely worthy of the title of rock of the month.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
[ profile] wakanomori and I are at my father's house tonight, just to make sure he's doing all right, and to bring over a spare computer that I can use if I need to be here again for any length of time.

My father is telling us stories of his youth, of traveling to Italy after World War II, when he was a young man. He was visiting his grandmother in Palermo, and he recalls that they had to put two iron bars across the doors at night because there was a bandit, Giuliano, who was robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. (My great grandfather had started out poor but had made his fortune in Boston, so his widow counted among the rich.)

I searched Giuliano out on Wikipedia. He's quite a looker!

Salvatore Giuliano (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Here, yanked shamelessly from his Wikipedia page, is an exploit worthy of the silver screen (and indeed, Giuliano got a film--and an opera):

The bandit's most famous exploit occurred early in his career in 1944—the robbery of the Duchess of Pratameno. He and his men sneaked into her estate unnoticed, and Giuliano was in her salon before she knew what was occurring. He kissed her hand and showed respect for her noble status, but then demanded all of her jewelry. When she refused, Giuliano threatened to kidnap her children. After she handed the loot over, he took a diamond ring from her hand, which he wore for the rest of his life, and borrowed John Steinbeck's “In Dubious Battle” from her library before leaving (which was returned with a respectful note a week later).

My dad also mentioned meeting up with a woman who'd been tortured by the Nazis, escaping from a bordello a well-meaning relative had tried to take him to--oh, all kinds of stories. But the bandit Giuliano stood out.

off line

May. 5th, 2015 07:18 pm
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (wanderer)
I'm taking care of my dad right now (nothing too serious) and have access to the interwebs about twice a day for 15 minutes, so alas, not on LJ (or Twitter or Tumblr or FB) right now.

Be back soon (I hope)--everybody stay well in the meantime!
asakiyume: (snow bunting)
There is nothing to this entry but a description of this family that I like to see in church, whom I saw today. And it's a long description! But for some reason I wanted to write it down here.

Read more... )

asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
We brought home Edge of Tomorrow from Redbox last night and vegged out watching it, and it was pretty fun, the way time-reset films can be (for me at least), though we kept shouting suggestions at the screen that the characters were too dim to take, and though we had arguments about better ways to end the movie.

Has anyone seen it? I had never heard of it, but the healing angel assures me it played in cinemas and everything.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
My generous brother offered me his old car, which would allow us to retire our gently rusting-to-pieces van. His car is much newer and has a ridiculously low number of miles on it. All that's necessary is to register it at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Except . . .

the course of motor vehicle registration never did run smooth )

Taking the learner's permit test

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
I had to take the healing angel to school yesterday as he missed the bus. Several of the schools in town are clustered near each other, so after dropping him at the high school, I cut through the parking lot of one of elementary schools, in time to see a bus park. The bus driver, wearing a vest with reflective tape on it, came out, and with her came her toddler son, also wearing a reflective vest.

Childcare in this country--it's catch as catch can. She has her son with her while she works. I had an office worker friend who kept her daughter with her in a playpen for her toddler years--the place she worked was child friendly, and the people she dealt with (visiting scholars from other countries) enjoyed getting to know her daughter.

Coincidentally, just as I was watching this scene, an R&B song came on the radio, a single dad singing about delighting in doing all the stereotypically motherly/womanly things for his son and not caring if he gets mocked. I wish I could have caught enough of the lyrics to find the song, because I'd share it. All I know is that it's not one of these songs by dads for their kids, some of which are, however, awesome.

Meanwhile, lots of grandparents are raising their grandkids these days--the girl I teach Japanese to, for instance, lives with her grandmother. Unfortunately, many of these grandparents have a hard time making ends meet--rules regarding benefits both to older people and to the children themselves aren't set up to take into account this living arrangement. (Article here: "Measuring Economic Security for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren".)

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
My dad was talking about this great BBC mystery series he'd been watching recently, a redoing of Sherlock Holmes, and I said, yeah, wow, there are lots and lots of those around these days, and he said, well this one is really quite good, would I like to see an episode, and I said, sure, why not--and, dear Internet, it was Sherlock he was talking about! It's so funny if you've heard something talked about and talked about and talked about in one particular way, to then hear it talked about in another way, you know? It can sound like an entirely different thing.

Furthermore, although I've seen about 20,000 images and gifs from Sherlock on Tumblr, and although I've read all sorts of discussions and squees and critiques, I don't think I've seen an entire episode, ever. Or maybe one, but definitely not two. So guess which one it turns out my dad has to show me? The one with Irene Adler! I remember everyone talking about it, what? Two years ago? A long time ago.

Well! The closeups on Sherlock and Irene's wrists and fingers and lips and cheeks were quite, quite nice. And Mr. Holmes's blue eyes in a face otherwise all wrapped up in black, for an execution, there at the end, reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia's blue eyes.

asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
We did manage to make some of our painted Christmas cookies--before Christmas even--much to my amazement. They all disappeared into a cookie swap, but we will make more. We will make some New Years cookies. Lucky 2013 cookies. But I don't think I've shown these before on LJ? No, I take it back: probably I have. Well, you can't have too many painted Christmas cookies.

painted Christmas cookies

painted Christmas cookies

painted Christmas cookies

We made only stars this time because of having to make 60 for the cookie swap--stars are the easiest shape to guarantee there will be lots.

I've been all kinds of negative these past few weeks, but I think and hope I'm mainly over it. I have a new resolve to notice about people. People are so worthy of notice--every little soul [no they are big: maha-atman] is gonna shine, shine, and all that. Have I said all this before? ... This is feeling very Battlestar Galactica -y, which is not surprising, as the ninja girl and I are finally seeing the last season of that show.

some good things about Christmas )


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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