asakiyume: (miroku)
Sometimes in yoga class, we balance on one foot. If we're all balancing with no problem, the instructor suggests we try it with our eyes closed. "It's much, much harder," she says. Have tried, can confirm.

This came up in the movie Roma, which I watched the other day. The protagonist--young housekeeper Cleo--is trying to get in touch with the asshole father of her baby, who's doing some kendo-style training out in the back of beyond. They're all chanting Japanese numbers in unison and taking stances, and then a guest sensei-type says he's going to show them something impressive, and he asks for a blindfold. Blindfolded, he balances on one foot with his arms forming a diamond over his head.

"You think this is nothing much?" he says to the trainees and those watching. "You all try." So everyone starts trying, and everyone's losing their balance and hopping around and falling over. Except Cleo. In a long-distance shot of her up on the ridge, with other onlookers, you see her balancing perfectly. It's just for a moment.

... Annnnd it doesn't really have any significance? The movie just keeps going along.

I was telling the story of this to the healing angel, and she immediately tried doing the thing--of course, who wouldn't! But she really, really wanted to be able to do it, and this was making me think how driven people are to have external markers of specialness, regardless of any meaning or context. If she could do it, or if she gets to be able to do with with practice, what will that mean... other than that she can balance in a manner that very few people can do? Is that in itself an accomplishment? I mean, if it makes you happy and doesn't harm others, I don't have a problem with it, but.

... Which is also making me think of an assignment the students had at the program I help out at (not the jail, the other one)--they had to talk about the use of the word "special" as an insult. One of the other volunteers went so far as to say that no one ever wants to be special in any way; everyone just wants to blend in. I don't think this is how most people feel; I think a lot of people would like to be special if it's a good kind of special and not a bad kind, especially in societies that set a high value on individualism. But maybe I'm conflating good-specialness with excellence.

... Just random thoughts. I haven't posted in a while and wanted to share something, and that's what came out.

traveling

Oct. 9th, 2018 10:38 am
asakiyume: (autumn source)
For reasons that would make a good story, which I will tell any of you if I see you in person, but which I won't go into here, we made a journey to Canada yesterday.

That is a long trip for a day trip, may I just say, but anyway. We encountered some interesting people along the way.

The Leaf Lady

She was from England. We encountered her at a a rest stop and information center on the interstate in Vermont. She was here, apparently, for the foliage, which is looking pretty magnificent in northern Vermont right now, but my phone got itself in a tizzy trying to update operating systems, so NO PHOTOS.

Leaf Lady: Excuse me, where are the leaves?

Visitor Center Staff Person: There's a board out front that tracks the foliage. It's best in the Northeast Kingdom right now.

Leaf Lady: All right. How far is it to Kingdom?

VCSP: You're entering it now.

Leaf Lady: And so I'll see leaves?

VCSP: Well, it's overcast today, so it may not seem as impressive, but yes.

Us, mentally: THERE ARE BEAUTIFUL LEAVES LITERALLY ALL AROUND YOU.

We made up a story that one of her children, who likes mountain biking and free running and recaning old chairs and making cheese, came to the United States and married a Vermonter and wanted her to see this beautiful place, but the mom is very suburban and didn't really want to come and this is her passive-aggressive resistance.

That center had a school parent-teacher group raising money by offering fresh coffee and baked goods fro a donation. Excellent.

The anti-tourism border guard

We crossed into Canada at a very small crossing point. There were no other cars on the road, and only one border guard, a young woman in her twenties.

Border Guard: And what is the purpose of your trip to Canada today?

Thanks to Wakanomori's research, we had a good answer to this question.

Wakanomori: We're going to see the museum in Coaticook.

Or was it a good answer

Border Guard (incredulous): No one goes to see the museum in Coaticook!

Wakanomori (laughing): Uh, well, we are.

Me (piping up from the passenger's seat): It's a holiday in the United States.

Border Guard: It is here, too: Thanksgiving.

Me: Hmmm. I wonder if the museum will be open, then...

Border Guard: And where are you from again? Massachusetts? And you're coming up just to see the museum?

Wakanomori: It's a long story.

Border Guard: I have all day!

Wakanomori then told her the story of how he and the older kids had biked this route to Canada years ago, and how he'd noticed about the museum then, and....

Border Guard: I see--so you're retracing your steps! Well, enjoy yourself. Maybe you can get some honey or cheese!

Interestingly, we saw a place selling honey a little further along the road--so we could have!

The gas station attendants

These were boys who looked to me like maaaaybe they were 14 or so, but I guess they must have been older? They were full of life and smiles, and they were going to pump our gas! It wasn't a self-serve station. Going to Colombia has emboldened me in languages that I'm not fluent in, so I tried out my rusty, rusty French: "Avez vous une salle de bain?" And he answered me in French and pointed out where the bathroom was! 通じた!(This handy word means literally, it passed through and more accurately, I made myself understood. THE BEST FEELING)

The man at the museum
The museum had a definite shut vibe to it, though there were other people walking the grounds when we got there. We rang the doorbell, as requested by the sign. After a bit a man appeared and told us, politely and with a smile but at length, that he was desolé and that it was un dommage, but the museum was closed. We nodded and thanked him but he kept apologizing, and in that moment all I could think of for "we understand" was 分かりました and entendemos.

The fox spirit
On the grounds of the museum, the healing angel spied a fox. It ran under the museum porch, but then came out again and ran up some stone steps leading up a hill behind the museum. It was very tall for a fox, with long, graceful legs. It stood on the steps halfway up the hill and regarded us, very foxy. Then it ran the out of sight. It was a prince among foxes, a god, a spirit.

Annnd then we came on home, long drive back. Hope you all had a wonderful Indigenous People's Day/Thanksgiving/Monday.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Went walking with the healing angel along the narrow causeways in the Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke. On one side of one causeway the water level was higher, so it was flowing through pipes to the other, lower side, and as it did, it was forming tiny whirlpools.

tiny whirlpools-parent and child

Here's a closeup on one--it's like a morning glory, and the reflected sun is a bright bee.

tiny whirlpool swallowing the sun
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
I generally like, or at least don't mind, people talking to me, but I *do* notice when it's out of the ordinary. Today, I have the distinct impression that I'd inadvertently sprinkled myself with talk-to-me powder.

First in the supermarket, a girl stocking the shelves, looked up as I approached and said, "Is it raining outside?" (It's not; it's a sunny day.)

"No," I told her, "It's still clear out."

"It's just... " she indicated a rumbling noise coming from overhead. "It sounds like thunder."

"Hmmm, yeah, it does. Could it be the air conditioning units?" We mused for a few minutes more and then I went on with my shopping.

Next, as I was gazing abstractedly at the grass-fed beef, a man came up to me and said, "Is this the grass-fed beef?"

"Yes, all of this," I said. There were about three shelves of little one-pound packages.

"Oh! And it's only $7.00 a pound! That's better than at [competitor supermarket]. Over there it's $9.00."

"Then this is a bargain," I said, though I don't really know what constitutes a bargain in the area of sustainably raised beef. In the end I didn't buy any--I don't know whether the man did or not.

Last was at the farm stand across the way from the supermarket. There's a young guy staffing it, vaguely familiar looking. He obviously had the same feeling about me, because he abruptly said,

"Whose mom are you? You look really familiar."

"What year did you graduate?" I ask back, and it's the same year as my youngest, which is complicated, because (a) she detested high school, and (b) about six months after graduating--and moving overseas--she came out as trans female.... which means her classmates knew her as a boy.

Always in these situations I have to make a snap decision: go into the story, or don't go into the story. This kid seemed friendly enough, but I have no idea what kind of relationship he and my youngest had, or if they even crossed paths. So I asked him if he knew [child's old name] and he said yes, that they'd been in band together.

"Tell him I say hello," he said.

"What's your name?" I asked.

He told me. I reported the whole thing to my youngest via messages. She said asking abrupt questions was very much that guy's personality. I said maybe it wasn't him; after all, I'd been wearing talk-to-me powder.
asakiyume: (cloud snow)
I took a break from the work day to walk with the healing angel to Dunkin Donuts--she had an errand there. We walked on the trail. I was amused to see that although New England Central Rail would like to prohibit people from using a particular natural crossing, people have gone right ahead and continued to cross, as both the snowmobile treads and the cut-through in the mound of snow indicate:

trail closed

Do not thwart our paths of desire!

...

There was dance music playing in the Dunkin Donuts. I would like to turn twenty-one on certain weekend evenings and go dancing. I would wear extravagant makeup and cute clothes and flirt with everyone and not mind about making a fool of myself on the dance floor--I would just enjoy the music.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)






The healing angel, who longtime readers of this blog will remember as a child of 9,10, 11... is soon to embark upon new adventures. Rather than going straight to college, he's going to try to work for a bit in the land of his birth--England. To that end, he had to renew his British passport, not used since he was a baby. (He's used his American one several times since then.)

Today it arrived, and wow, the words at the front are redolent with the fragrance of Empire:

Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

Requests and requires. Without let or hindrance! It's the ontological opposite of Movie!Gandalf's "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

ETA: The American equivalent:

The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.

America, up your game! Where is your require??


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Yesterday the healing angel got a card-shaped envelope from the emergency room where I'd taken him at the beginning of his medical adventure. Since I'd already paid the sizable deductible for taking him there, and since, anyway, it wasn't bill-shaped, I was curious.

"What's that, a thank-you-for-visiting-us card?" I asked, sarcastically.

The healing angel opened it. Inside was this message:

We hope you are feeling better after your recent visit and we truly appreciate you entrusting us with your health care

It was signed by (well, printed with the signature of) the ER doctor who had taken care of him.

"Um, yeah, seems to be!" the healing angel replied.

I felt surprisingly moved by the gesture. It wasn't personal, but as a protocol--a thing to do automatically--it was kind and touching.

... Or so I felt, unalloyed by cynicism, for about a minute. Then I wondered about the dad who'd come because he'd been turned away from urgent care--who had no choice but to visit the emergency room. I thought about people who are going to be hurt way more in the pocket than I was by this visit, and I thought, for them the card will be pretty cold comfort. And what if you're not better? What if your condition is chronic and getting worse? Or what if you were treated poorly? Though I have to say: all the interactions I overheard were respectful and kindly.

Still, even with those thoughts, I get a lump in my throat. That message is reaching for the personal relations that people crave, and the reaching is worth something, even if the signatures are printed on.


asakiyume: (cloud snow)
Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes last entry. The healing angel is recovering quite nicely, though still with lingering joint pain. Hope that goes away for him. This week is winter vacation, so that gives him more time to recuperate without missing more school (he's already missed two weeks).

In English he's supposed to be reading The Kite Runner. Although I was pleasantly surprised by his last book, Angela's Ashes, this one is every bit as awesomely depressing as Good-for-You English-class books come. We've been reading it out loud, and to get us through the current chapter (we're still in the very early part of the book), we together created a drinking game--but with the drink being ginger ale.

Behold:



The check marks represent how many times the thing in question came up (and consequently how many times we took a drink). Hassan is the narrator's childhood playmate and servant, whom the narrator treats rottenly. The narrator's got Big Regret about this as the adult telling the story, but right now we've been working up to whatever Really Terrible thing he's going to do to Hassan. Hence drinking game prompt no. 1: take a drink every time the narrator makes a dark allusion to the thing that made him what he is today.

Drinking game prompt no. 2 and no. 4 are self-explanatory. No. 3 is my shorthand for "disappointment in failing to receive his father's love"--the narrator's father is emotionally distant and not very interested in his son. Drinking game prompt no. 5, Hazaras, means take a drink every time Hazaras, the despised ethnic group that Hassan belongs to, are mentioned.

(In writing this entry I went and looked at a plot summary to see just how bad a thing we're in for. Oh. My. God.)

Let's change the subject. Here is a photo of a fire hydrant with a metal marker on it. It looks sort of like the hydrant is a child holding a balloon. If the snow gets high, the idea is that the metal marker is still visible, so (a) snowplows will be careful and (b) people will dig it out. As you can see, one of the neighbors did indeed dig it out. Thank you, civic-minded neighbor!



For a couple of years, someone or ones went around bending and twisting the markers . . . but that person (or those people) must have lost interest in that very mild form of troublemaking, because there's the marker, tall and straight.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (wanderer)






The healing angel's illness is mysterious and tenacious enough that we're off to a infectious disease specialist tomorrow. Work also continues fairly busy, and between caring for the healing angel and work, I haven't found time for much else. I miss folks here but peer in now and then while I'm working.


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: (Hades)
You dip into a book, and the part you read happens to be an iconic part of the story.

... I don't actually know if the part I read is iconic, but I bet it is. I just bet.

The book, which I've never read, is Angela's Ashes. The healing angel has to read it for school and doesn't want to, so I said, We'll read 20 minutes tonight. (That was last night.) Then this afternoon when he got home from school, I quit work for ten minutes to read another little bit. Yesterday the two brothers had to pick up leftover bits of coal from the street to light their Christmas fire, and their bag had a hole in in it, so the coal kept falling out, and then it started to rain. The rain was the icing on the cake of desolation, and we laughed like the heartless creatures we are at the awfulness.

That wasn't the moment that I think was iconic though. It was when the dad tells them that their new baby brother was brought for them by an angel who left the baby on the seventh step. Seventh from the top or the bottom of the stairs, the narrator asks. The top, the dad explains, because angels come down from heaven, not up from someplace as miserable as their flooded kitchen. And later the narrator sits on that stair waiting for the angel and imagining talking to him.

... That was beautiful and I figure it has to be iconic. Just chance that the healing angel (speaking of angels) should pick that section.


asakiyume: (bluebird)
The healing angel has an English assignment he really doesn't like: he has to have someone he knows tell him a story of personal heroism--they have to tell him about something they did that's heroic. It doesn't have to be capital-h heroic; it can be everyday heroism ... the point (if I understand it right) is to think about what heroism is and how it can be present in anyone's life.

We talked about it a while. What sparked in my mind was a world filled with heroes, how everyone surely does have stories--though I think lots of people have been too beaten down or derided to feel bold enough to acknowledge their own heroism.

I had to pick up something the next town over, and I got it into my head that I'd ask--if I could do it without making the people I asked too uncomfortable--about heroism.

I asked two people. One was a woman at the cash register at a shop where I bought something. The other was a guy sitting on a stoop collecting money in a plastic cup. I was really tentative both times, asked if it was okay to ask a strange question, etc. etc.

The woman at the cash register was nonplussed. "A story of heroism, huh? I don't know; I've never thought about it. That's a really hard question!"

"Should I let you off the hook? It's okay if nothing comes to mind," I said.

"Really? Okay! Yeah, it's just--I can't seem to think of anything right now," she said.

"I understand! I don't know what I'd say if someone dropped the question on me, either. I guess it's lucky I'm asking instead of being asked," I said.

She had very pretty red lipstick on and the dramatic eyeliner that's popular these days. That's what I remember about her looks.

The guy on the stoop did have a story for me:

"My daughter had her son taken away from her because she's a heroin addict. So three times a week, I make my way to B-town so I can spend time with him. Whatever he wants to do, even if it's just watch Power Rangers, that's fine by me," he said.

I was practically overcome.

"Wow, that's really great. That really is heroism. Thank you, you've really made my day," I said, and he really had, because what an amazing thing to share.

"You've made mine, too," he said, and extended a hand, and we shook.

What I remember about him was that he had sandy-colored hair and a goatee, and tattoos on his neck.

... Please feel free, but not compelled, to share a story of heroism...


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I feel very proprietary about the boardwalk near our house because I helped it get built (in a roundabout way--I didn't actually help build it). So, when someone leaves a crumpled-up can of soda or a Dunkin Donuts coolatta cup on it, I pick those things up, and I try to keep the marsh it goes through clear of rubbish, too. I love the marsh even more than the boardwalk.

When I saw some mischief makers had managed to push a shopping cart over the boardwalk rails and into the long grass in the marsh, I was frustrated. It would be very hard to fetch the shopping cart back out: everything's overgrown right now, including the sharp-thorned rosa multiflora and the poison ivy.

This was the situation:



The sides of the boardwalk are chain-link, so it's extra hard to get the cart up (and it must have been hard to push it over into the marsh, too)--you can't just reach it onto the boardwalk; you have to get it up over the guardrails, which are about my chest height.

I thought that if we had metal hooks and ropes, maybe we could get it up. So I bought some at the hardware store, and the healing angel and I cut the cord and threaded it through the holes in the hooks.



Then we tried fishing for the cart, and we caught it! And we were able to turn it rightside up. But it was VERY heavy. Heavier than I was bargaining on. So I checked, and seeing that there wasn't any poison ivy or other pernicious plant in that part of the marsh, I went out to the road, climbed over the guard rail, and went under the boardwalk into the marsh. I was thinking maybe we'd have more luck just pushing it out from underneath the boardwalk, straight onto the road, rather than trying to lift it over the boardwalk's rails.

Here's us fishing for it. The healing angel is actually rail thin, not beefy the way I've drawn him, whereas I'm more middle-age rounded than the aspirational me I've drawn.



Fortunately it's been pretty dry this summer, and where I was walking was muddy but not actually flowing. I was wearing flip-flops. Once underneath, I trying pushing the cart in the direction I'd come, but it wouldn't move. Hell, carts can be hard to push on smooth supermarket floors if their wheels get jammed, and there was plenty of long grass and mud to jam its wheels there.

So we were back to our original plan. We realized we could inch the cart up bit by bit if I lifted and he pulled, and in between pulls he tied the ropes to the chain-link. We got it up pretty high, and at just the right moment a family came walking by, and the father was able to grab the handle, and between him and the healing angel, they got it back onto the board walk.

Here's us before the family came along


Then I pushed it back to the supermarket while the healing angel rolled up our cords into the neat bundles in the photo.

I felt so deliriously pleased with myself! I saw a problem, thought up a solution, got the bits and pieces needed for the solution, and tried it, and it worked. I don't know if that's ever happened before--not with some mechanical, technical thing, anyway. I know it's a stretch to count this as mechanical or technical, but I do. And the healing angel seemed pretty pleased too. And we did it together! And we enlisted help from passersby. It was good, very good.

And now the marsh is no longer hampered by a shopping cart. It's all just long grass and song sparrows again. Yay!


asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
The healing angel and I were eating a late dinner, very late. (How late? Like 10 pm) There came, from outside, a loud, hollow rumbling, like a kid peddling a Big Wheel. It seemed really close, like the kid was maybe pedaling up our driveway.

I realized it was someone rolling their trash bin to the end of their driveway. Probably my neighbor across the street. But it sounded like maybe she'd rolled it right up to my porch.

Since the healing angel had looked as nonplussed as I felt at the sound, I told him what I thought it was.

"No," he said. "That's not it. It's a carriage. A carriage that rolled out of the past into the present--just as it was going past our house--and then rolled back into the past again."

Later Little Springtime came home, and I told her the story. "Big Wheel? Trash bin? Can't you even tell," she said, "that it was an elephant dragging himself home after a hard day? Those were his footsteps you heard. And what about his tears? His sorrowful tears, made of mercury, not saltwater--did you hear those, as they hit the pavement?"

The healing angel and Little Springtime are awesome

. . . but now I need to go to bed. *sleepy*


asakiyume: (glowing grass)







Behind this grand old mill building is the Mill River, which [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo took me to several years ago.



Little Springtime, the healing angel, and I went down to the very spot she had shown me (and, actually, the healing angel was along on that trip too), but really what we wanted to get to was a sandy island a bit upstream. The problem was that there was a waterfall between us and upriver at this point.

The healing angel hopped quite nimbly across the river and signaled to us, after a time, that we would find a place to scramble down on our side if we walked back along the highway a bit.

We walked back up the highway, and sure enough, did find a place to scramble down to the water.

Here is the healing angel, already on the island we want to get to.


a few more photos )
asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
I had some Canadian pennies that, technically, I shouldn't try to use here. (Actually, I'm sure no one cares much. In addition to Canadian pennies, I've got English half-penny coins and euro penny coins that I've gotten in change.) So, I decided to flatten them on the train tracks this past Tuesday. (Don't worry: there are no known cases of pennies on the tracks derailing trains.) At 4:10 pm, I heard the train whistle, so I went out with the healing angel to see if I could collect my flattened coins.

I only recovered one:

One for the tracks
One for the train
That left one
That still remained


It was extra shiny in a thin circle all around the edge: like the bright sliver of new moon that cradles the old moon--which I saw later that night, with clouds racing by it.



Since my sister and I often made necklaces of cranberries as kids--theoretically to drape on the turkey as it was cooking for Thanksgiving, but really we'd end up wearing them ourselves--I think of cranberries as being beads. Beautiful bright red beads that, nevertheless, you can cook with.

Mama, why are you unstringing your necklace?
Don't ask questions, child
But why are you adding them to the soup?
Didn't I just say not to ask questions? Now bring this cup of tea to our guest.
Mama, are you going to serve him soup with your beads in it?
Take the man his tea!
I am, but I just--
Now!




tansy

Aug. 10th, 2014 07:29 pm
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
All the tansy in my yard had flopped over, so I cut it way, way back and turned some of it into a door wreath. My front door gets BAKED BY THE SUN. Seriously, the healing angel and I have talked about the possibility of using it, somehow, for electricity or power generation. But anyway. This means the tansy wreath will . . . not freeze-dry, but the opposite. Flash bake?

Later in the day, the healing angel was going upstairs (the stairs are right by the door) and said, "I smell an intense smell of tomatoes."

Now we know what tansy (which has a pretty unique and powerful smell when it isn't baking) smells like when it's baking.

tansy wreath



asakiyume: (man on wire)
At the train station, there were single-serving packages of instant oatmeal for sale. Not just any instant oatmeal, but Super Premium oatmeal. Super premium oatmeal? How does oatmeal get to be super premium, exactly? What distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill oatmeal? Are there any other things that are unlikely candidates for super premium status? The healing angel suggested traffic cones and elevators. I suggested intersections and nail clippers.

ETA: super premium oatmeal goes HARDCORE )


asakiyume: (God)
Yesterday I took the ninja girl to the bus station, and noticed the people there. This evening I went to pick her up, accompanied by the tall one and the healing angel.

This evening at the bus station there was a crazy person--older man, tall and lanky, with one milky-white blind eye, standing in the center of all the seats, speaking at random. “Shall I invite you to the wedding?” he said to one person. The tall one and I assiduously ignored him, heads bent over books. The healing angel was ignoring him too, concentrating (he told me later) on some missing tiling on the floor that looked like the Norse letter D.

The crazy man passed by us on the way to the bathroom, looked at the healing angel, and said, “You’re twelve, aren’t you.” And since the healing angel is twelve, he said, “Yes, I am.” And then the man said, “You know the scripture passage--‘Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ Do you have the keys to the house yet? ....First the house keys, and then when you get to be a little older, the keys to the car!” And then he went into the bathroom.

It was a kind of stunning experience.

Little Springtime was disappointed she didn't get to come along... if I had known it would be such an adventure, I would surely have taken you, Little Springtime!


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