Tag Archives: hope

Out of the Frying Pan

We’ve set our departure date for August 4 and I am determined to downsize. I give each item a feng shui moment, asking it, “Do I really want to carry you across the Pacific Ocean?” More often than not, the answer is, “No.” We toss old documents, choose which photos need to be kept, which are better forgotten, give things away, delete no-longer-relevant computer files. I had four boxes crammed with old letters at the back of the closet, couldn’t bear to toss them, couldn’t bear to read them. So we had a bonfire in the back garden.


Fire: cleansing, mesmerizing, comforting, final.

We continue to wait out the ridiculous quarantine period (83 more days!) and there is an unhealthy coating of frustration mixed into the sparkling tropical fruit salad that awaits us halfway across the Pacific.

Or so we hope.

kilauea eruption

I took this photo in April at Volcanoes National Park. There were two sputtering pools of bubbly lava, far enough in the distance to seem unreal. No biggie.

I came back to Tokyo, carried on with preparations.

And then Kilauea started to kick up her heels.

So far the lava is only flowing in Leilani Estates, which is two developments away from our house, about 15 miles, a safe distance, we hope. But I have this nagging image in my head, a scene from Minions, where a T Rex is balancing on his toes, trying to keep his balance by flailing his tiny, useless arms and then…

***Spoiler Alert***

…he topples into a pit of bubbling lava.


I can’t describe how painful it is to read the news, to watch new vents opening, creeping northwest, creeping toward our little piece of paradise.

When I asked Realtor Ron to make our offer on the house, I started to cry. I hadn’t realized how much I wanted it until it looked like I might get it. And now I might not get it after all.

But at the same time, I’ve lived here for 32 years, lived through typhoons and earthquakes and tsunami. And I’ve had cancer and will live with the fallout from that for the rest of my life. I’m finding an odd sense of comfort in that, in the way that things go in parallel, they go full circle, they usually work out in the end. One way of the other, we will move forward into whatever the future holds for us.

For now, we wait. And we hope. There’s nothing else we can do.


I first joined Crystal Sports Club in 1993 to supplement my hospital physical therapy after knee surgery.


It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s a nice gym–two aerobics studios, a machine and weights area, a full bath (sauna, three tubs and both Japanese seated and Western standing showers) and wicked good massage chairs. But one of its finest features is that it’s inconveniently located a solid 20 minute walk from the nearest station. That means that most of the members live nearby. We see the same faces again and again. The place has a nice small town feeling in the midst of a city of 12 million souls.

Some people have been members since the gym opened 30 years ago; some of them go every day. It is the focus of their lives, like the older gentlemen that once hung around the town pharmacy playing checkers while their wives gossiped around the cabbages at the A & P.

Last month we were informed that Crystal will close its doors at the end of February. It will be torn down and replaced with an apartment complex. Now there is a pall hanging over the building; some members have confusion and loss etched on their features. It is a loss not just of a place to exercise and chat with friends, but of a sense of community.

Twitch n George

My last adorable kitten post got over 30 “likes” on Facebook, and the people connected to those likes range from family members and girls I played with when I was a baby to high school and college friends, colleagues and gym buddies. There are even a few that I’ve never met but have developed relationships with over the Interwebs. This is my community.

As Crystal prepares to bid us adieu, I don my star-spangled pointy hat and ermine fringed brocade robe and peer into my crystal ball, hoping to discover what the future will bring. There will be loss; that is guaranteed. Will there be gain? I can only hope.


I went to a performance of Perspectives by the Tokyo Artistic Theatre Ensemble. It was a selection of performance pieces reflecting inspiration from this lovely painting by Frankie Cihi.


The delightful undulations of the leaves and flowers in the painting gave physical form to something new in my life. Every now and then, at unexpected moments, I see tiny twinkles of light. They appear in the corner of my eye, almost out of view, grabbing my attention away from whatever else I might be doing. What are those twinkles? Some sort of energy? The souls of fireflies past? What’s left behind after a baby’s first smile?

I began to wonder if they might be spillover from some sort of parallel energy universe that we can’t see but is all around us. There could be a constant cascade of sparkling light pouring from the spout of my tea kettle. Perhaps when I close my eyes, the lights appear, and when I open them they are gone, like some sort of cosmic game of Peek-a-boo. Perhaps it’s where brownie points come from and where they go when we redeem them. Perhaps we are constantly surrounded by great swirling masses of multicolored light and hope and good intentions but we just can’t open our eyes wide enough to let them in.

I find comfort in believing that could be true. Some people believe in the Tooth Fairy. Which is more likely?

Bingo Wings*

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAIt seems like I’ve spent the better part of this year on the minor injuries list, so it was with joy in my heart that I could finally do a dageki (gloves and mitts) class the other day. It was just Togo-kun and me, and he is about a foot taller than me and half my age.

He offered to do the mitts for the first round, then it was my turn. But being the sweetheart that he is, he didn’t want to hurt me any more than I wanted to be hurt. (When you hold the mitts, you have to absorb a great deal of impact, and my shoulder had only just recovered from a mitts-related injury.) Fortunately, Sensei demonstrated a rare moment of kindness and offered to do the mitts for me.

I know, I know. The belly is out of control. This lack of exercise is doing me in bit by bit. For Pete’s sake, I’ve even got the beginnings of Bingo Wings.

Don’t know what those are?

Imagine a woman of a certain age with a bouffant hairdo wearing a sleeveless double knit polyester dress emblazoned with over-sized azaleas. She raises her arm and calls, “Bingo!” and the skin on the underside of her upper arm flaps back and forth.

Charming, right?

I refuse to give in to Bingo Wings. I will not allow them to get the better of me. So far, at least, 50 has been leaps and bounds better than 49. I am determined that it will stay that way.

* Thanks, I think, to Wendy for introducing this term.

A Tale of Two Kittens

Plato and Dana were about ten days old when they came into our lives.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAWe had always wanted a cat, but our previous landlord lived in our building and hated all living creatures. She said I could get a fish, but the thought of curling up at night with a guppy was unappealing.

Scroll forward a few years. I was pedaling home from work one evening and saw a sign in a pet shop window:

猫!猫!子猫! (Cats! Cats! Kittens!)

We had recently moved and our new landlord lived in Saitama, safely far enough away that he would never be the wiser.

Someone had abandoned a litter of five tiny kittens in a cardboard box at the shrine down the street. I took that as a good sign, not the abandonment—that was flat out evil—but I thought the kittens might be blessed in some way. One of the neighborhood ladies had taken them home, but she already had three kids, two dogs, a cat, a goldfish and a turtle, and was pretty desperate to find homes for the kittens.

Dana was the liveliest, and prettiest, of the bunch. It was love at first sight for Rochi, not so much for Dana; her eyes weren’t open yet. The three kids gave their mom a beseeching look; Dana was obviously the one they wanted to keep, but mom shot them a warning glance that said, “We talked about this. Let them take whichever they’re willing to take.”

“I want this one,” says Rochi. (Duh.) “Which one do you want?”

I pointed at Plato, who was curled up in a ball, fast asleep and partly buried under other warm, furry bodies.

“Why that one?”

“Because he’s fat. He’s got a better chance of surviving.” I am inanely practical at times.

We took them home, made them a nest of fake fur and started feeding them kitten formula from tiny baby bottles. We’re the only parents they ever knew. Proof of this is that neither ever did the kneading thing, which is a memory of nursing. All they remember is mom had rubber nipples.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA090319_1137080203_1933~02








Scroll forward again, fifteen years this time. Plato got sick. I did my best to keep him alive but eventually he died. I posted about that at the time and won’t go into it now.

120621_2108~01One final scroll forward, this time a year and a half. Last week, Dana got sick. Really sick. So sick that we accepted it was over and would have to make our peace with that. Then Monday morning, I got up early. She followed me into the kitchen, looking hungry, and ate a bit of canned tuna. I did a little jig, then went back to bed to wait for Rochi to wake up. When he did, I touched his shoulder and said two words. “She ate.” He nearly jumped out of his skin (I  NEVER speak first thing in the morning) but quickly recovered himself and did a little dance on the way downstairs.

She’s still weak and won’t eat much, but she is eating. We have no idea how much time we’ve got left with her, but it looks like it may be a while.

I guess the point of all this is that I have no religion and don’t believe in God, but I do believe in hope. Without hope, there’s nothing, and for the time being at least, I’ve still got that.