Tag Archives: friends

Liar, Liar

I was just lamenting my inability to respond to the Two Truths, One Lie game as suggested by the inspired SAJ because I don’t have a crystal ball. But just then, the postman arrived at my door and brought me the ultimate…uh…not exactly a unicorn…uh…possibly one of the ugliest little creatures I’ve ever seen…and I have found my muse. MC, your timing couldn’t have been better. I take this as proof of the power of the tribe.

Seer 3
We’re taking suggestions for names. Glorp? Fizzbit? Snarg?

And now, properly accoutered, I give you a selection of Eda’s Oracular Insights. (I will miss my doctor’s appointment if I take the time to respond to all of them, and helping pass the intervening time was the whole point, but I love each and every response. If anyone wants to keep playing, please comment below or on Facebook.) Entries are in gray, my responses follow.

I lettered in high school. I have read the Lord of the Rings three times. I had a kitten named after a dictator.

  1. Me, too! But then, the whole cross country team did. We were like that.
  2. Liar. Twice, maybe, but not three times.
  3. Excellent! Was it Julius? Attila? Adolph? Donald? My first pet was a brown hamster which I named Brownie. I’ve improved in the creativity department since then. My cats are called Twitchy, Monkey Boy and George.

I once voted for a Republican. I’ve shot a gun. I like eating wild game.

  1. Liar. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Me, too. Nothing to be ashamed of. Carrying one into Walmart is another story.
  3. Yeah, well, I’m game, too. (Sorry.)

Fleetwood Mac was at my first wedding. I hold an orange belt in karate. I’ve visited Africa.

  1. I so hope that’s true. Unless they didn’t sing. That would have sucked.
  2. Liar. You’re tougher than that.
  3. Well, if you haven’t, you should. Bucket list.

I met Weird Al Yankovic in the Tucson Mall. I met Brooks & Dunn in the Warwick RI Airport. I met Jefferson Starship by nearly getting hit by their car.

  1. Liar. I know for a fact that Weird Al has never been to Tucson. (Now who’s lying?)
  2. That’s some kind of a cowboy band, isn’t it? Entirely possible.
  3. Well done. I was once knocked off my bicycle by a Noh actor. I figure if you’re going to get hit, get hit by someone interesting.

I have heard Nina Totenberg having sex. John Turturro (the actor) called me the “C” word. I have been to Japan.

  1. Ah, the paper thin walls of the Wabash Motel 6.
  2. Liar. I will not accept anybody calling any of my tribe members the “C” word.
  3. And we had a lovely time strolling around the imperial palace under the cherry blossoms with the emperor sipping tea. That was a good day.

I speak three languages. I was a sled dog musher. I am related to a former U.S. President.

  1. Coptic, Aramaic and Sanskrit, right? All very useful.
  2. Down, girl!
  3. Liar. Or at least, who would ever admit it?
I am eligible for the DAR. I have been to a nudist camp. I love karaoke.

  1. Me, too. But that also goes on the list of stuff I never tell people.
  2. And we’ve seen the tattoos to prove it!
  3. Liar. We’ve heard you sing.

I played go fish with Walter Mondale. I have traveled to all the contiguous states. I went to a Black Sabbath concert.

  1. And he cheated.
  2. Liar. Everybody always forgets at least one.
  3. Totally possible. My father took me to see Deep Purple when I was ten. He was trying to be cool and didn’t know any better.

I have sky-dived. I was a contestant on Jeopardy! I took a llama for a walk.

  1. Me, too! Crossed that one off the bucket list years ago.
  2. Liar. But that’s on the bucket list along with the annual crossword puzzle competition in Stamford.
  3. OK, but how do you know he wasn’t walking you?

I was shoved out of the way by Walter Cronkite in the Des Moines airport baggage claim. I won 3rd place for my strawberry jam at the MN State Fair. I was in a NYT article on ballroom dance lessons for kids.

  1. It’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it?
  2. Liar. It was 1st place. You’re just being modest.
  3. Ah, you twinkle toes. Tiptoe through the tulips….

When I was a kid it bothered me so much when new dolls had no underwear that I would cut up sheets and sew little underpants for them. I compulsively colored inside the lines and if I ever made a mistake would use whiteout to make things right. After reading How to Eat Fried Worms, I dug up and fried a worm and brought it to school in a tiny sandwich for my friend.

  1. I can see that. We may be the product of a somewhat liberated generation, but we were raised by one that wasn’t.
  2. Good thing you got over that! You never would have survived child-rearing.
  3. Liar. It would have had to be a very tiny friend, indeed. And where would you find a tiny-enough lunchbox?

Japan version: I once was a gaijin talento on a Japanese game show called “Mama-san POW”. I once was paid for impersonating a French woman at Isetan Department store in Shinjuku. I once was baptised by a Japanese Christian cult that promised to show me a “traditional Japanese ceremony”.

  1. Yes, we’ve been fighting to free the Mama-san POWs for years.
  2. We foreigners are all the same, after all. We all speak the same language, we’re all six feet tall and none of us can use chopsticks.
  3. Liar. They said it was holy water but it was sake and they were yanking your chain.
I spoke Dutch fluently as a child. I have fostered over 100 dogs for periods of a few days to a year and a half. I grew up with a duck named Goose.
  1. Liar. You were just making silly guttural noises and pretending it was Dutch.
  2. Of course you did, and you’re a better person because of it.
  3. Remember when we were young enough to think that kind of thing was funny? Why did the chicken cross the road? What color was George Washington’s white horse? What’s green and says, “I’m a frog?”

Loss if innocence is an inevitable part of growing up, and those few of us who don’t manage it end up lost in eternal childhood. I can’t judge whether or not that’s a good thing, but with all of its challenges and tribulations, real life also brings joy, fulfillment, satisfaction and sometimes, when we’re lucky, bliss. On those days when it’s hard to get out of bed, I try to remind myself of how much less life would be, how much less I would be, without a little struggle. Still, sometimes I lie on the floor and put my feet up in the air and count my toes just because they’re there.

My turn. Which is the lie?
  1. I have about a bazillion pairs of unicorn socks.
  2. I love vegetables but eggplant makes me gag.
  3. I am going to let cancer get the best of me.

Some Days

Some days just hum along minding their own business and making very little difference to my general outlook and attitude. Other days I feel like a human yo-yo and need to make plus and minus columns just to get a vague understanding of what karma is throwing at me. Today was one of those days.

It started off well enough. I did a short morning wake-up yoga class followed by a rather pleasant meditation where I joyfully hit the zen zone a couple of times. Nice.

Then I discovered a message from a friend saying let’s have lunch tomorrow. The thing is, Messenger tells you what time the message came in but not what day, so I thought it arrived at 7:11 last evening when in fact it had arrived at 7:11 this morning while I was still dancing with the dream fairies. So I thought tomorrow was today but it turned out that today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. When I arrived in Shibuya there was, of course, nobody there. Well, no. That’s not quite right. There were gazillions of people there, but none of them were waiting for me.

I felt a bit foolish, but decided to make the best of it. I’d been hungry for pizza for a while and there isn’t any good pizza in my neighborhood. Both Pizza Hut and Dominoes have deteriorated so badly that I’d rather eat the box. The Japanese pizza places are almost as bad but in a different way; they put things like corn and potato and curry sauce on their pizza. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in many parts of the world.

So there is a place in Shibuya, kind of a long walk in the wrong direction, but it has nearly authentic New York pizza sold with attitude by the slice and they even have pink lemonade. I indulged and, feeling better, I made the long trek back to Shibuya to go to a specialty shop I’d been meaning to visit. Of course, they’re closed on Wednesdays.

Big sigh.

I’d also been wanting to look for some orange essential oil. Unfortunately, I dread shopping even more than going to the dentist. But I decided to suck it up and forced myself into some twee shops selling scented soaps and body gels and myriad other goops and glops that I would never use in a thousand years even if the Easter Bunny left free samples on my doorstep. In fact, I found lots of orange oil but the prices were staggering. Literally. With one shop lady hovering over my shoulder, I looked at a price tag and nearly fell over.

Not wanting to know what further shocks the Goddess might have in mind for me, I bought some ponytail holders, tucked my tail between my legs and scurried for home.

As a thank you gift for my costume work, the cast of Big River gave me a charming sketch of Huck and Jim.

Huck and Jim

For some reason, the sketch really speaks to me. I feel like some days I am a little white boy with a sassy attitude; other days I am a big black man with a heart of gold. Metaphorically, of course. Some days I am up; other days I am down. Some days I am up and down. Some days. Other days. Days flowing together as the Big River that is my life.

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.

Amy and Me

Back in December, my old friend Amy was in town, however briefly. We had been roommates freshman year in college, and lived together pretty much all the way through school after that, except for junior year when I was abroad. Sophomore year, a group of us shared Pine Tree House. Pine Tree House 1983 That’s Amy at the upper right.

I’ve since lost touch with most of these people, except for Darrell. He’s sitting next to Amy.

After college, Amy went on to become a lawyer and then some kind of big cheese with the United Nations. She jets around the world doing her part to make it a better place.

She had flown in from Doha or some such and was supposed to be in town just for one night, but arranged to stay an extra day so she could hang with me, then fly three quarters of the way around the world in the wrong direction to get back home. That made me feel pretty special indeed.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAShe was staying at The New Otani, a posh hotel in a business district. The only time I’d ever been there before was when a wealthy student of mine took me to a hotel restaurant called La Tour D’Argent and I got the menu without any prices on it. Oh, my.

The first day, Amy and I spent a couple of hours just wandering around the neighborhood, catching up. We’d both been through some similar challenges in recent years and had a lot to say. I can’t tell you how good it felt to be able to open up like that. I’ve had wonderful friends here over the years, but one problem with being an expat is that people leave, and as you get older, it gets harder and harder to replace them.

The day after her meetings, Amy wanted to do some shopping, so I suggested that she come to my neighborhood, and when she got here, she said she’d really like to have a massage. “Sure,” I said, “there’s a place by the station that’s quite reasonable.” I hadn’t been there but had wanted to try it. The place was on the third floor, and as we were climbing the steps, she suddenly stopped, turned to me and asked, “This isn’t going to be one of those…sex kind of things, is it?” I just laughed and said, “Nah. This isn’t that kind of neighborhood.” I liked that she didn’t have any way of knowing that.

An hour later, both semi-comatose, we were re-arranging ourselves, and she said, “That goes on the list of one of the best hours of my life.” Yup. It really was.

After a Really Great bowl of noodles for lunch, we hit a couple of stores. She started running out of cash and asked where there might be an ATM. “No problem,” says me, “there’s a Post Office around the corner.”

One of the oddly third world things about Japan is that the banks are not on the international banking grid, but the Post Office ATMs are. That still amazes me. I’ve gotten cash from my US bank account at ATMs in Luxor, Egypt, and the Middle of Nowhere, Cappadocia, Turkey, but in Japan, an otherwise (sort of) fully developed first world country, you have to go to the Post Office. (I’ve heard they’re thinking of rectifying that in time for the Olympics, so they’ve still got six years to dither about it.)

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAI promised I wouldn’t tell the umbrella story, so I won’t. Let’s just say that Amy was inadvertently naughty, and it didn’t occur to either of us to give it back.

Amy wanted to buy a Really Great Knife, so I took her to the Really Great Knife Store, but on the way warned her that my knife vocabulary is rather limited.

“Suck it up, kiddo,” she said. “You know more than I do.” So I did, and we managed to procure a Really Great Knife as well as some other stuff. Amy has always been a fan of tools.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAHaving had about all the shopping either of us could take, and still having some time before her flight, we came to my house. Here in the study, I noticed her looking at this shelf. “That’s my vanity shelf,” I said. “It’s all stuff I’ve published.”

She stared at me for a moment and then said, “So you’re kind of famous?”

That one surprised me. “I guess, in a very small way and a very small world, I am kind of famous. But you can’t begin to compare what I do with what you do.”

And then she was gone, but it was wonderful to get a fresh perspective on my life by sharing it with someone I’ve known so well for so long. I loved that I could use my language and experience to make things happen for someone I care about. Sharing memories of people we both knew, and things that we did together, and all that’s come between then and now, and the people that we’ve become isn’t something I get to do very often. Most likely, neither of us will ever cure cancer or invent a better mousetrap, but I think we both turned out pretty well.

Thanks, Amy. It was a great day.

Amy and Me, December 2013
Amy and Me, December 2013

The Tale of the Pie

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA I was mixing up the ingredients for a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie using the antique wooden spoon my mother sent me and I wondered how many other women, over the years, had mixed up those very same ingredients for that very same purpose using that very spoon.

Or almost the same. Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here, so we feasted on Saturday. And Japanese pumpkins aren’t orange, they’re green. And I had asked for the spoon because all I could find here were flat paddles made of bamboo. Their shape hurts my hand if I have to do a lot of mixing. And there’s something about the feel of a smooth, well-seasoned wooden spoon handle that brings out the holiday spirit in me.

I have learned to find substitutions that will work, making do with what I can find here when I’m trying to create things that are not a part of this culture. And I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. The pie came out pretty well.

That's Yoshio's delicious cranberry upside down cake next to it.
That’s Yoshio’s delicious cranberry upside down cake next to it.

And everyone seemed to enjoy it.

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Misha and Miranda

Despite the sorrows and tribulations of the past couple of years, and we’ve all had them, we can still stuff ourselves with turkey and all the fixin’s and take the time to appreciate the people we love.

Tokyo is already whipping itself into the usual year end frenzy. Trees are illuminated in a gaudy but somehow tasteful explosion of consumerism, the supermarkets are playing Christmas songs ad nauseum, and Santas and Rudophs are springing up like an infestation of locusts. But things are going to be all right. I’ve got my wooden spoon, and it somehow gives me a feeling of belonging and continuity. So I will gird myself to survive the holiday season and plow on into next year.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Crumble

At the office the other day, a friend asked me if I’d baked anything lately. I said, “No! I’ve been too fxxking busy working.” And she said, “Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever heard you drop the F bomb before.” Love that expression. And I am no foe of foul language. I just try to keep it clean at the office.

The universe has given me a brief respite; I’ve just had a glorious two days off. Boxercise yesterday, gloves-and-mitts today. Unfortunately I got partnered with a little old lady, so while I endured her kitten punches, I thought about apple crumble, and then made one.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAYum. There’s nothing like comfort food when one is stressed out. Thanks for the inspiration, Margaret. You always make me feel good.