The Tale of the Crazy Lady

Setagaya lineThe Setagaya Line is a silly little two car line that doesn’t go very fast. I’ve seen people whiz past it on bicycles, but it was the only way to get to yesterday’s job. After the first stop, a woman behind me started yelling quite loudly, “Excuse me! Excuse me!”

As is usual in such cases most people ignored her, but the conductor was obliged to go see what the fuss was about. The yelling woman had a cane but wasn’t old and didn’t seem to have any trouble walking. From what I can surmise, she wanted to sit and asked a young guy to get up and he ignored her. The train stopped at the next station. Yelling woman and two young guys got off and stood on the platform. The conductor took the guys aside and spoke to them quietly. The train pulled out of the station with the guys standing on the platform looking bemused. I don’t know what happened to yelling woman.

I can only guess, but assume the conductor said something like, “OK. This is clearly a case of crazy lady. In the interest of keeping the peace, would you two mind waiting for the next train?” So very Japanese.

This course of events made me a little late for work, but everyone enjoyed the Tale of the Crazy Lady so they forgave me. After all, a little crazy is the spice of life.

Meditation Cat Says….

Meditation is turning up some very interesting sensations: movement in the mind although the body is stationary, warmth, lightness, realization. I didn’t feel like it this morning but did it anyway. I’m glad I did.

If only the dickhead down the street with the jackhammer would knock it off.

Meditation Cat says…

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Stay on the path.
Don’t worry about where it leads.

The journey is the only destination.

Perspective

After seventy-one straight days of morning meditation
and my first yoga practice in over a month,
I can say that I’m feeling pretty good.

Life isn’t perfect, but it could be a whole lot worse.

We can and do decide for ourselves how we perceive the world around us.

tiger

Sometimes things are not exactly what they seem.

dog horse ditto

A little adjustment might be all that’s needed.

toner cat

It may be that all you need is a hug from someone you love.

lion babies

And if all else fails, there are always baby goats.

little goats*I’m sorry I can’t post attributions for these, but a heartfelt thanks to whoever created them.

Only in Japan

One of Japan’s ever-so-clever solutions to never having enough space for things is the parking elevator. There are two more parking spaces UNDER this car, and this gizmo is the elevator control.

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I sat on a bench today and watched a man drive his car out of the lowest of the three, then return to the gizmo and lower the top level back down to ground level. It was pretty cool.

Then the man got in his car and started to drive away.

He left his keys in the gizmo.

I thought about running after his car yelling and waving my arms, but then wondered how long it would take someone to call the police and report the lunatic foreign lady terrorizing the neighborhood.

Then I realized nobody would steal the keys anyway. What possible use would they be to someone who wasn’t renting one of those parking spaces?

The US is the only place I know of where theft is about taking stuff rather than needing stuff.

While I was lost in that reverie, I heard someone call, “Eda!” and looked up to see a woman in a lovely white silk kimono. It took me a minute to register Nakamura-san from the dojo. I’m used to seeing her in sweats.

When I passed by again an hour later, the keys were still there.

The balance between the expected and the unexpected is one of the things that give life its spice.

The Path to Heaven is Paved with Blueberries

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In my opinion, there are few alimentary pleasures in the world greater than the almighty blueberry. It is a perfect little orb of delightful sweetness. Its delicate skin resists the teeth ever so slightly, teasing the palate and then exploding with juicy joy.

For many years, I had to live without them. They just weren’t available except at high end department stores where they cost just over the total of Greece’s national debt. You’d occasionally get a piece of cake with a blueberry or two on it but that was the extent of it.

Then a few years ago, they started becoming available all year. They travel well and it’s always mid-summer somewhere. I’ve bought blueberries from Chile, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, the US. But even those come in tiny boxes and cost…let’s say the national debt of Romania.

I sigh for American supermarkets where they practically give the dear things away.

blueberries in USPhoto by Marcellie  Used with permission.

So when I saw that Rodger was leading a Meet Up to pick blueberries, I jumped on the bandwagon.

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There were about twenty of us, a very nice group of people from all over.

blueberry crew

That’s me at the front crouched over, wearing my Cookie Monster hat and very cool retro RayBan shades.

Three trains and a bus got us to the “Yours Garden” farm where we paid about $20 to eat as many of the spherical delights as we could manage as well as pick about a kilo of them to take home. We were each given a plastic basket and then the farmer parted the mesh gates to heaven.

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It was blistering hot but it had rained the day before so the little round morsels of perfection were plump and juicy. Row after row of ripening perfection stretched into the distance. As I approached each new bush the lovely purple gems practically called out: “Pick me! Pick me!” It was gym class for fruit. The berries flew off the stems, half into my basket and half into my mouth, the occasional tart one easily forgiven by the next bite of sweet perfection.

When my basket was full, my lips starting to pucker and I looked like this…

Violet blueberry…I decided I was done.

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The fruit of my labor. Nyar nyar nyar.

There were blueberry pancakes for Sunday breakfast and a lovely blueberry cobbler is cobbling in the oven as I type.

Ah, rapture. Thy name is blueberry.

Meditation Cat says…

During this morning’s meditation, I had a moment of ultimate clarity. I was totally synched to the universe, at one with myself and all the energy swirling around me. It hit me as hard as a punch to the gut, but a punch delivered by a unicorn wearing cotton candy boxing gloves.

I can only hope that sort of thing will keep happening. It sure made going to work easier.

Having a sparrow ask for a bite of my sandwich at lunch didn’t do any harm, either.

That…just…doesn’t…happen.

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Have I moved into some sort of parallel universe where the impossible becomes possible? Has the inside of my psyche become the Magic Kingdom? Will I be required to pay royalties to Disney for that?

Or has the continuing heatwave finally melted the last tenuous strands of sanity knocking around inside my head?

Meditation Cat says…

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Monkey Shines

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The sarusuberi trees are in bloom. I’m not usually a big fan of frilly pink things, but I do love these flowers.

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There’s something almost artificially perfect about them. Maybe it’s a reflection of the culture they live in. Plus I admire their bravery; they blossom in the midst of the worst of Tokyo summer. Plum blossoms come in second for valor as they arrive at the end of winter. In that sense, it’s hard to have much respect for the vaunted cherry blossom. Granted, cherry blossoms are lovely and I have waxed poetic about them in this blog several times, but they do choose a much less challenging season to bloom in.

The first time I saw a sarusuberi tree, I asked a friend what it was called, then asked if that was a Japanification of Salisbury. “No,” she said. “It’s slipping monkey. Look closely. The bark is quite smooth.”

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“Saru” is monkey. “Suberu” is slip or slide. The same verb is used for skiing or stepping on a banana peel at the supermarket and taking a header into a pile of cabbages.

Intrepid explorers Mayumi Ishizuka and Finn Many-ens discovered this unusual example of Unkey-monkey Japonicus in the depths of the Florida Everglades.

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The Unkey-monkey likes nothing better than slipping around on the branches of local sarusuberi trees.

That and bananas. He likes bananas, too, so do be careful if you take him to the supermarket with you. Or at least stay a safe distance away from the cabbages.

Om Feeling Better

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This morning was day 45 of my meditation journey. I sit on a cushion in front of a window and look at Meditation Cat until my eyes close and I sink into myself seeking calm and space and rest.

I was lost at first, but now I want to do the practices, even need to. I’ve never been a morning person, but find myself waking up extra early on work days so I can practice before I leave. I’m becoming greedy for that feeling of peace. When I can’t find it, I feel sad, frustrated. For the rest of the day, it feels like my socks are inside out and my ponytail is too tight.

But then there are brief moments when nirvana opens its limpid eyes and glances at my soul. Those are moments of pure bliss, of lightness and freedom and I want to laugh out loud. On the flip side, those moments are sometimes followed by equally brief but equally powerful bursts of pure emotion, often grief, and I want to sob.

Grief, regret, sadness, pain: none of these feelings do my spirit or the world any good. While I cannot deny their substance and reality, I can refuse to let them control me. I’m learning to embrace those feelings, acknowledge their existence, give them a hug and a scratch behind the ears, and then let them go, pushing them gently out into the universe where they can burst apart like sparkling fireworks and return their energy to the universal all. Perhaps in time that energy can learn to look for more positive directions.

For the longest time, I thought only truly stupid people could be truly happy, but I think there’s more–and less–to it than that.

I am unlikely to ever go vegan or worship crystals or wear clothing made of hemp, but have decided to heed the wise words of Meditation Cat:

We are only as miserable as we allow ourselves to be.

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