asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
In Japan, today through January 24 is the microseason called "butterburs bud"

One fond memory I have of living in Japan as a family was the 60-plus-year-old director of the daycare where my kids went teaching me how to prepare fuki. In spring you could buy it in markets, but it's also a wild herb that you can forage. I remember where we foraged ours: there was this cut-through with a little bridge, and then you came up behind/beside the Watanabes' shop, which was a sort of convenience store in their house. We bought our kerosine there. I think I still have the director's hard-to-read instructions somewhere--maybe stuck inside a Japanese cookbook. I hope so, anyway.

I've seen butterbur here and thought of picking it, but I've never done it because I'm afraid it might not be exactly the same plant. It also gets translated into English as "coltsfoot."

Here it is--not a bud, but vigorous leaves:


(source)

And here it is, prepared:


(source)

Wow, I guess when you cultivate it, it can get quite large! The stuff we picked is much, much smaller.


(source)

Wikipedia tells me that the plant known as butterbur in Massachusetts, Petasites hybridus, is also called "bog rhubarb, Devil's hat, and pestilence wort." Gotta love folk names.
asakiyume: (november birch)
I was looking at some of my earliest journal entries, trying to see what had me hopping with inspiration back almost thirteen years ago, and I discovered this:
Little Springtime, the Peaceful One, had to list things that happen with regularity in nature--just a few examples. She said, "I've already got things like 'Bears eat skunk cabbage in the spring...'--as if THAT'S the first regular seasonal thing you'd think of! I only just learned that about bears last week. It made me think, it would be fun to have a list of things that happen very regularly that people rarely think of (like the bears and skunk cabbages, frankly).

I thought, that idea dovetails nicely with Japanese microseasons, which Wakanomori introduced me to a few years ago. There are 72 of them. Right now, for instance, we're in 雉始雊 Kiji hajimete naku--pheasants start to call. (More broadly, we're in the period called 小寒 Shōkan, "small cold," which will be followed, from January 20 through February 3, by "greater cold." Just warning you.)

But it might be fun to get as particularistic about place as for time. If you can divide the year into 72 microseasons, how about microclimates? Of course years can vary so wildly in terms of what happens... it would take lots of observations to have microseasons that would really apply fairly regularly year after year.

These last few days, here, we've been in the microseason of thin wind--the kind that slips between all your layers and curls up right against your skin, trying to warm itself, a hungry ghost of a wind. I haven't heard any pheasants calling.
asakiyume: (miroku)
[personal profile] sartorias's really moving entry on places she's lived and what became of them reminded me of a conversation I had yesterday when I went out looking for an iron. I'd been ironing, and mine had given up the ghost, just one sleeve short of a finished shirt. (You know what that means! I finished ironing that sleeve by heating up my cast-iron skillet on the stove. We need full use of all our limbs in this household.)

There were no irons at the supermarket and no irons at the CVS, but at the Dollar Store I hit the jackpot. The cashier, a woman maybe in her forties, was chatty, so I told her the story of ironing the remaining sleeve, and she expressed delight at meeting someone else who used a cast iron skillet and said it was good thinking. I said, "Well, it's what the old irons were made of, after all. My grandmother had a couple of them--she used them as doorstops."

"My great grandmother had some of those, and she used them as doorstops too! She used them to keep us out of her bedroom," the cashier exclaimed. "But I can't picture using one as an actual iron."

"You know those old cast-iron stoves? They used to put the iron right on that, and then when it was hot, you could use it."

"My great-grandmother had one of those stoves!" the cashier said, eyes shining.

"So she could have used the irons as actual irons," I said. "Where did she live?"

"Oh, over in Bondsville. You know where 'the grog shop' is? Across the street from that. It's totally different now though. After she died no one wanted the house--except me; I wanted it, but I couldn't afford it--so they sold it. The new owners totally changed it. I look at it, and it's not--it's just not the same house."

--All that's left are memories and shared stories. But sometimes those can be so vivid, like [personal profile] sartorias's, or the cashier's, and when you share them, they live in someone else's mind, too.

Here's a tailor's stove with an iron on it, courtesy of --Kuerschner 17:20, 1 March 2008 (UTC) - own work, own possession, Public Domain, Link

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Mrs. B., retired kindergarten teacher that two of my kids had, who also ran a 4-H group that one of my kids participated in. She and her husband also had a farm in town and sold produce at local farmers markets--he's passed away, and she doesn't do that now, but she was in the 4-H tent, next to the baby calves, holding an adolescent duckling, with silky black feathers, cradled in her hands, a smile on her face.

"How are the kids?" she asked, and I talked about the two who are in Japan, and she talked about her daughter who's been in Ireland for 12 years. And then four children came up, curious about the duck, and she started explaining how it was still a duckling and the smallest of its siblings, and she pointed out where the others were.

She's a wonderful woman. If only you could have seen her smile and the gentle way she held that duck.

Here are those baby calves.

calves

deer

Apr. 26th, 2018 08:58 am
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
Deer have been wandering through the woods/swamp behind my house in the mornings, it's on their route from one place to another. I love how they're both present and invisible. You have to wait for them to move to see them, just ripples in the air, they blend in so well, but with watching eyes and their white-flag tails if they're startled.

I think with their camouflage they could wander across worlds and dimensions and centuries. It makes me understand why the shishigami, the forest spirit, in Princess Mononoke, is a deerlike creature.


He grants both life and death; maybe he moves between those worlds or states.

And it gives me new insights into the end of Chekhov's short story "Ward No. Six," where the main character, just before dying, has a vision of deer:

There was a greenness before his eyes. Andrey Yefimitch understood that his end had come, and remembered that Ivan Dmitritch, Mihail Averyanitch, and millions of people believed in immortality. And what if it really existed? But he did not want immortality—and he thought of it only for one instant. A herd of deer, extraordinarily beautiful and graceful, of which he had been reading the day before, ran by him; then a peasant woman stretched out her hand to him with a registered letter . . . . Mihail Averyanitch said something, then it all vanished, and Andrey Yefimitch sank into oblivion for ever.

(The collection of Chekhov short stories from which this is taken is available to read for free on Project Gutenberg).

I remember almost nothing about that story, except that image. ... I might reread the story. I took three books with me to England when we lived there as a family; a collection of Chekhov short stories was one, and I read and loved most of them. My memory isn't what it might be, but I know what roads to walk down to recover things.

And deer know all the roads, and how to be a part of the landscape and yet not of it. That's their magic.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I thought I'd do a messages-in-bottles writing prompt tomorrow, which meant I needed to collect a bunch of bottles, so after work I just walked the main drag near where I live, and sure enough, turned up PLENTY of little nips bottles.

I cleaned them and covered them with glitter. Fingers crossed that the writing exercise goes okay.

sparkly bottles

I didn't post that image directly into Dreamwidth. I posted it to Flickr instead and then copied it from there into here. I pay for both my Flickr account and my Dreamwidth account, but Flickr is solely for archiving photos, and it has much more storage available, and this is an issue because in three months I'll cease to have a paid LJ account--I'll still crosspost there (for a while anyway), but there's no point in paying for both it AND Dreamwidth--which means I'll lose access to any photos that are stored there. That turns out to be quite a few photos, so right now I'm engaged in the cumbersome process of taking any images that were stored there and storing them here, instead. Otherwise, come May, bunches of entries will suddenly have little question marks where once they had pictures.

It's a weird process. I'm working backward from the present. As I do, I'm unlocking all my back entries, which somehow, when I poured LJ into Dreamwidth, came over as friends locked. It's kind of melancholy making. I'm only back in 2016, and I've had a journal since 2006.

I wonder what I'm doing, a little. Why does this even matter? ¯\(ツ)/¯
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Today in church one of the altar servers was wearing red ballet-slipper-style shoes with sparkles.

red shoes

They were beautiful, and I was thinking, wow, church has come a long way since Hans Christian Andersen's time (different denomination, too, but let's sail by that issue), when the poor protagonist of "The Red Shoes" eventually HAS TO HAVE HER FEET CHOPPED OFF for the sin of indulging in vanity by wearing her red shoes to church. And then, even after she's repented and had her feet cut off, her bloody feet, dancing in the shoes, keep her from entering the church!

I have vivid memories of the illustrations accompanying this story from the version of HCA's fairy tales that we had when I was a kid--particularly the one of Karen, the protagonist, her hair a wild golden tangle, pleading with the executioner to cut off her feet. With much searching (a zillion people have illustrated HCA, including famous people like Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham), I found that the edition we had was called Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by twin sisters, Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone. They had an overly pretty, slim, stylized way of drawing people that I was fascinated by. I couldn't find the one illustration online, but I did find the one of her going into church all in white... but with the offending red shoes on. Unfortunately the person who took the photo cut off the feet (LOL), so you can't see the shoes, but you can see the glow from them:


(source)

If you click on the source link, you can get more of a sense of the illustrators' style. They had a great illustration for "The Wild Swans" of the prince who ends up still with one arm a wing, but I thought you might like this fairly hot (in an overly pretty way) picture from Tales of Greeks and Trojans:


(source)


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: (Dunhuang Buddha)






Wakanomori was given a t-shirt when he was last in England. It came wrapped around this album cover:



I have not ever heard this album, but when I was a little kid, I know my parents had a Jethro Tull album. My parents had quite the record collection. I remember once being babysat, and the babysitter brought her boyfriend over, and they proceeded to go through the record collection. I was Discomfited.

When I got a little older, I used to like looking through the various Beatles albums: Sargent Pepper, Rubber Soul, Revolver, the White Album, even Magical Mystery Tour.** There always seemed to be ones I wasn't expecting--which led to a recurring dream that I was looking through the records and came across that one album that I was always forgetting about, that had all those cool songs, not the ones everyone knows, but those other ones. I would be so excited to find this album... but in the morning it always turned out not to exist.

I used to have, and sometimes still have, similar dreams about, of all things, clothes. When I was little and wore more dresses than I do now, I used to have dreams of looking in my closet and discovering that there were all these dresses in there that I didn't know I had. Beautiful ones! I was going to look beautiful! Alas, these dreams, too, were never true, and my closet always had only the same old clothes in it.

In this post I'm really living up to my LJ moniker, Asakiyume, shallow dreams. They were fun, though, those dreams, both sorts.

**Also, let's see: Abbey Road and Let It Be. And maybe one of the early ones--but maybe not: maybe that was one of the dream albums.


asakiyume: (glowing grass)






I first tasted this grass when walking with [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo one May a few years ago. It tastes like a combination of vanilla and the scent of a mown hayfield. I love it. And each year since, I enjoy it, and then it fades from my mind until the following May, when I see it, remember, and am delighted anew.

one of my favorite grasses

It is in bloom right now. Tiny tiny flowers.

this grass tastes like vanilla

grass in bloom


asakiyume: (tea time)






One of the women I do essay tutoring with was telling me about the breakfasts her great-grandmother used to make for her and her siblings.

"She'd always make us the same thing," she said. "A cup of tea, and cinnamon toast."

She was smiling and her eyes were sparkling as she told me, and I could practically taste the cinnamon and feel the warmth of the tea. I love cinnamon toast.

What's your idea of a great breakfast? I remember my grandfather used to have an orange, cut like a grapefruit, so you can scoop out each of the triangles around the center. He'd also have an English muffin or toast, and he'd melt butter on one half of the muffin (or one piece of toast) by putting the other half of the muffin (or other piece of toast), fresh from the toaster, on top--the warmth would melt the butter.


miscellany

Dec. 21st, 2015 08:01 am
asakiyume: (miroku)






Angel
My mother had very elaborate Christmas cookies that she made with us kids: we made the recipe for sand tarts (a flat, roll-out cookie suitable for cookie cutters) from The Joy of Cooking, then iced the with almond-flavored white icing, then painted on them with very fine paint brushes and food coloring. (Some examples.) I have my own cookie cutters, but earlier this year my dad wanted to clear out the old ones we had as kids. I got the angel.



The great thing about cookies made with this cookie cutter is that because the connecting bits (neck, joint of the wings) and arms are so thin, often they get moved this way or that when you're moving the cookie dough from the counter to the cooking sheet. So the head will tip back (gazing heavenward) or forward (deep in prayer) or the wings will flex outward or move toward the body. If the dough gets too warm, then the angel can get elongated in the transfer to the cooking sheet, or shortened. It makes for a various collection. I'll try to post some.

Center versus Periphery
It's fun to think about which categories comprise the Bad Guys in tales. For example, in dystopian fiction, usually the State is Bad and the Insurgents are Good, though sometimes (as in The Hunger Games) all groups end up being Bad (which brings up a more fundamental Good versus Bad dynamic in Western fiction: that the Individual is Good and the State/Society is Bad--unless we're talking the horror genre or certain sorts of cop or detective fiction, in which case the State/Society is Good and the Individual may represent Eldritch or Some Other Sort of Bad. (Yes, I'm enjoying capitalizing things today.)

So I was thinking about the Center and the Periphery, specifically about the national government versus local governments, and I was thinking about cop shows. I was thinking about how they quite tidily feature both sides in both roles. In ones favoring the Center, the heroes are from the FBI or other national agency, and they're brought in to deal with a difficult case that the corrupt, ignorant, and inept locals don't have the wherewithal to deal with. In ones favoring the Periphery, the local force must manage to solve the case despite the interference of the arrogant, high-handed feds, who often have an endgame that's at odds with the local need for justice or solution of the case.

Helpful Pamphlet
Saw this on a rock. Someone left it out as a helpful message, maybe? But then days later I saw it had fallen off the rock and was rain soaked. Not all messages reach an audience that can receive them.



Okay, to work I go. I have a big job I need to finish by the end of the day tomorrow.


asakiyume: (autumn source)
A friend's son has recently mastered the art of whistling with an acorn cap. When she told me this, I remembered how my daughters used to make acorn whistles with the nut part of the acorn. They gouged the nutmeat out, leaving the shell, with a neat, round, opening up top, and they decorated the outside with patterns in nail polish. They were beautiful, and they made a clear, shrill whistle.

I thought I'd make one for my friend's son--whom I met recently, in Colorado, where I went for the Sirens conference. More on that in another entry.

I decorated the outside with patterns carved with a box cutter. I liked the subtle look:

acorn whistle

decorated acorn

decorated acorn

acorn whistle


asakiyume: (autumn source)
I love the colors that acorns come in. Also, I just like acorns. I pick up one, and then I say, "Oh, and this one. Oh, this one too. Oh that one there! Gotta have that, too." I enjoy this as much now as I did when I was six with my grandmother.

And this is a great year for acorns--as for apples, as for hickory nuts. I think the fruiting trees are anxious to reproduce; I think last year's winter made them consider their mortality or something. Anyway, the apple trees are bowed down with apples, and acorns are lining the roadside.

acorns


medley

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:



Salamander
And here, in a photo by [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com profile] urbpan's entry here.



Puzzler
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
[livejournal.com 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: (Em)






On September 10, Em was remembering how her big brother used to play with her and her sister:

[He] would swim with us on his back and let us jump from his shoulders into the water . . . He once brought home a magnet from inside a computer and showed us how it would gather up all of Tammy’s bottle caps.

(Have you ever seen how strong a hard drive magnet is? It's strong!)


Do you have siblings? Older or younger? (Or both?)

If you have siblings, what's a good memory of something you did with them in childhood? I remember sliding around with my sister, both of us on our stomachs on the hard crust of ice on top of the snow, pretending to be seals.


asakiyume: (Em reading)






I participated in this week's SF Signal Mind Meld. The question was excellent: what is your favorite memory of a library or bookstore? As several of the participants said, it's hard to pick just one! I told a story of an unusual encounter . . .

But how about you guys? What are some of your favorite memories?
asakiyume: (dewdrop)
I'm not Muslim, but the fact that people in my online spheres are celebrating Eid reminds me of a time, many years past, when our phone number was the same as the phone number of a mosque in Quincy, Massachusetts--but with two of the digits reversed.

It took us a while to realize what was going on. All of a sudden one day, phone calls started coming in asking us when the sun was setting. And other calls began with the greeting salaam alaikum, which I hazily recognized for what it was, though I didn't know how to respond. Finally one day someone asked, "Is this the mosque in Quincy?" We called information and asked for the phone number for the mosque in Quincy, and everything became clear.

From then on, it was easy enough to say to callers, "Oh, you must want the Quincy mosque," and give them the correct number. Regarding the time of sunset, I remember thinking it would be handy just to have the information present--save people making another call--and I have some vague and confused memory of somewhere, somehow obtaining it on a small card, but I'm not sure that I actually did, and if I did, I'm pretty positive I never had the nerve to actually volunteer it.

The most memorable conversation was one call that went like this.

Caller: "Hello, I need to speak to the imam."

Me: "I'm sorry, but this isn't the mosque. That number is [number]"

Caller: "No, but I just have one question, which maybe you can help me with."

Me: "I really think--"

Caller: "Is there a fee for remarriages?"

Me: ". . . I think you'll need to ask the imam."

Eid mubarak, for those celebrating.


asakiyume: (Dunhuang Buddha)






Oh no! It's an entry about dreams

Re-laying the track

A dream about train tracks being taken up and re-laid, in a slightly different place, while I'm on the train

A person in the dream asks, somewhat non sequiturially, given the circumstances (but hey, it's a dream!), but what if you're on the last car? And then the response was something like, so long as you're on the train, you'll get to the destination, but the route will change.

Ahh, the tinny sound of dream profundities. And yet, to actually see the track taken up while sitting on the train--visually compelling.


Don't ask for whom the company operates (it is not for you)

A rich and powerful man looks out over a nearby city, at some construction project going on, and says, "I'm thinking of buying that company."

Me, anxious: "This is an economically depressed area with a high poverty rate, so I hope if you do, you find a way to create more jobs, not simply streamline it to eliminate jobs."

Jasmine and burdock

A woman I knew in grad school offers me mood-enhancing pills that are like pastilles: one is raspberry, another is jasmine. We're sharing a room, but she retires under a tent of gauze to sleep, and I don't want to disturb her, though I'm filled with a desire to talk about careers, children, youth, and aging. So I walk outside, where people are admiring a huge burdock plant, remarkably tall, and with even more-giant leaves than usual, growing by a billboard.


asakiyume: (bluebird)
Yesterday I found this photo of the ninja girl's kindergarten class at the Martin Luther King, Jr., elementary school. Here she was in a minority, racially, but she didn't ever remark on it. The teacher wrote the names of all the students on the back of the picture, and as I read them, memories bloomed. I remembered the ninja girl mentioning some of them, though she herself has no recollection.



She went from this class to a rural school in England, where she was an anomaly because she was from America--and then came back to a somewhat rural school in the United States, where she was regarded as English, initially, having picked up the accent, and was also an anomaly because of having lived so many places (I've posted pictures before of her at in daycare in Japan).

But for all that I characterize this town as insular, it's not entirely so. Some families have lived here for generations, but others are recent immigrants from Russia or Poland. The nearby cities have a large Hispanic population, and some families have moved here. The next town over has a sizable Cambodian population, and there are Cambodian families here. One of Little Springtime's classmates was from Somalia. And so on. Poke around, and I think lots of places reveal more variation than meets the immediate eye.

Still, there's a definite difference between the kindergarten classes in this town and the one the ninja girl attended.


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asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
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