Posted in Life

Thoughts from Etty Hillesum

From An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum:

…And finally: ought we not, from time to time, open ourselves up to cosmic sadness? One day I shall surely be able to say to Ilse Blumenthal, ‘Yes, life is beautiful, and I value it anew at the end of every day, even though I know that the sons of mothers, and you are one such mother, are being murdered in concentration camps. And you must be able to bear your sorrow; even if it seems to crush you, you will be able to stand up again, for human beings are so strong, and your sorrow must become an integral part of yourself, part of your body and your soul, you mustn’t run away from it, but bear it like an adult. Do not relieve your feelings through hatred, do not seek to be avenged on all German mothers, for they, too, sorrow at this very moment for their slain and murdered sons. Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears his grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do not clear a decent shelter for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge — from which new sorrows will be born for others — then sorrow will never cease in this world and will multiply. And if you have given sorrow the space its gentle origins demand, then you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich. So beautiful and so rich that it makes you want to believe in God.’

forest road


Posted in Life

Destination: Funeral

You know how some people have a destination wedding? Well, I’m having a destination funeral. Oh, it’s not for me, it’s for my dad. He’s going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

I looked at the Shutterfly site to find a suitable funeral announcement, but there were none there. I thought about adapting a birth announcement–the one with the picture of the baby sleeping and the words “Pure Heaven” underneath. I have a photo of my dad in extremis that would work nicely.

My dad will be buried with full military honors. It sounds like it will be quite a production, with a caisson, a bugler, and a 21-shot salute (3 guns, 7 shots each). My dad converted to Catholicism during his adult life, but I was raised a Protestant so I opted for the chaplain of that stripe. Sorry, Pop.

I’m not much for the war culture, but it was the Air Force that gave my dad a job and the GI Bill, and it was the Navy that gave him a commission and sent him to Vietnam. He earned a place in Arlington National Cemetery, and it is my duty to see that he gets there.

His cremains (yes, that’s the word for cremated remains) are now sitting on top of the piano. His Vietnam Veteran cap sits on top of the box holding the cremains.  The box is wrapped in plain brown paper. I tied a bow around the box at Christmas time (my dad was a festive guy). When I thought to remove the bow in early February, I realized that Valentine’s Day was approaching and red was still appropriate.

I would like that box to stay on top of the piano. I’d like to decorate it with a green ribbon for St. Patrick’s Day. I’d like to put the red ribbon back on for Whitsunday. But by then, the box will be far away in Arlington National Cemetery.


Posted in Current Events, Life, WTF?

Jessica Ghawi, who wrote under the name Jessica Redfield, was a victim of the shooting in Aurora, CO on July 20. She survived an earlier shooting incident at the Eaton Center in Toronto in early June. Her blog post about that event is above.

A Run On of Thoughts

I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.

What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I’m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting…

View original post 951 more words

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Life, Pasadena

Lincoln Avenue Nursery

I have known for a long time that the previous owner of my house was also the owner of  Lincoln Avenue Nursery.  I stopped at the nursery once years ago on a rainy day, but I didn’t stay to look around.  Since then, I have driven up Lincoln Avenue about a zillion times thinking to myself, “I want to stop in there one of these days.”

Last Sunday was One of These Days.  Last Sunday, I stopped. I walked through the whole (huge!) property. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

From the nursery’s web site:  “In 1923, a Japanese family bought the nursery. Ms. Mary Takemura’s mother ran the business.”

I live in the house that was owned by Mary Takemura’s mother.  Her surname was Matsuzawa (I wish I knew her first name).  When Mary and her sister sold the house after their mother died, they sold it with everything left in it except for their mother’s clothes—-the furniture (I’m still using the dining room table and the sideboard), the dishes (I regret getting rid of them), and the stuff in the drawers.

Yes, I still have some of the stuff that was in the drawers.  I use the tacks once in a while.  The Antiobiotic Candettes container holds 3 razors and 2 3-inch sewing needles.  In case I ever need them.  I didn’t know/remember that the bathtub caulk was still in the drawer.  That’ll get tossed today.

I couldn’t get over the size of the nursery’s property.  There are tens of thousands of plants, trees, shrubs, and succulents there.

I felt like I was at a micro version of the Huntington.

Mary Takemura died in January 2011.  From her obituary:

…She was a lifetime resident of Pasadena and is survived by husband Henry (married 62 years), with whom she ran Lincoln Avenue Nursery for more than 50 years; daughter Joan Takemura (David) Johnsen; and sister Ruth Sumiko Matsuzawa Ikeda.

Mary graduated from high school at Gila River Relocation Center, studied 2 years at Wooster College, Ohio, and graduated in 1948 from UCLA with a degree in Psychology. She was also an artist and worked at drawing, painting, making pottery and calligraphy.

I never learned about the Japanese Internment in school.  I learned about it when I moved to this house, built just after the war.  Built just after internment.

I wish I had contacted Mary before she died.  I would love to hear about her life, about her mother’s life, and about her father.  I feel connected to this family–when I go out to the lemon tree in the backyard and pick a lemon; every year when the cherry blossom tree in the front yard blooms.  And every time I need a 1/2 inch tack.

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Life

Lil’ Rex

First I found his collar in the backyard – “Lil’ Rex” and a phone number. I returned the collar and met his owner who mentioned that all three of his cats, Lil’ Rex, Big Tex, and Spanky, spent the majority of their time in our yard (which he dubbed “Shangri-la…for Cats.” The Scout started feeding Rex tidbits from the barbecue. No, no, no, I said. He’s going to be here all the time. But furry tiger-looking things have a way of making sure their needs get met, and Rex knows how to work the meows and the purrs and the stretches that say, “Surely you see how beautiful and talented I am, especially compared to my brother Big Tex who is too stupid to get over here and eat your food.”

I’m terribly allergic to cats.  But I let Rex sit on my lap and scratch him under the chin and talk to him like he’s a dog. I don’t think cats care for verbal niceties, but Rex puts up with them. Afterward, I walk to the washing machine like an arthritic robot and remove all my clothing. In the shower I hose off like Meryl Streep in Silkwood.

He looks like a lovely ampersand to me.

Beau chat

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Life, My Stuff

The Drawer

I am cleaning out The Drawer That Never Gets Cleaned Out. Some things I’ve found:

–My ex-husband’s address book from the early 80’s (and mine too)

–A certificate of congratulations from the Young American Bowling Alliance recognizing my then-7-year-old son on his high game (80) and high series (200) (November 11, 1991)

–At least twelve key chains (I quit counting), including one that is a brass replica of a ticket to Phantom of the Opera

–My TWA Frequent Flight Bonus Program Member card (Not Transferable)

–A tiny vial labeled Smoke Bomb Oil

–The instruction booklet for a pager

–The key to a car I haven’t had since 1997

–More return address labels than I’ll probably ever use

–A booklet from Pacific Bell that includes instructions for a rotary phone

–Four bookmarks with sayings on them: 1) Love is sharing your book. 2) This book very good, but this bookmark DELICIOUS! (with a picture of Cookie Monster). 3) When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. 4) I finally got it all together…but I forgot where I put it.

–A little plastic thingy that connects a cable to VHF/UHF thingys on a TV

–A Home Depot card with a receipt showing a store credit of $123.63 (12/10/03)

–Gummy bear earrings (discolored, disfigured)

–The key chain I used in junior high and high school, which has a green frog on one side and a mirror on the other

–Lip gloss, Dr. Pepper flavor

–A piece of 8.5 x 11 paper folded four times with a tiny pencil drawing of a stick figure on the outside and the word “INTEGUMENTARY” written twice on the inside

–Keys and locks—some actually go together

–A laminated picture of Katherine Harris on a chain that says: “Conspiracy Theory #359: W. is Katherine Harris in disguise. Think about it.”

–The broken off arm of a bowling trophy (the arm that has the ball in it)

Sifting through stuff = Sifting through memories = Sifting through places and stages of life and people = Sifting through ideas and identity.

I didn’t expect that cleaning out this drawer would lead to the Zombie Resurrection of Memories, but it did.  I was progressing nicely.  Several items were already in the garbage.  Then I got the urge to make a list, which I knew would become this blog post.  Then I had to take a photo, so I asked The Scout for the black velvet background and drafted him to assist with composition.  Then I dug through the trash and found the Smoke Bomb Oil.

Why the Smoke Bomb Oil?  Because I miss my boys.  They are men now, and I am fortunate enough to see them from time to time.  But I miss my boys, and I have dreams about them as little kids.  Can I blame this on hormones?

Some years back, my dad told me several times that he missed me as a little girl.  I didn’t appreciate him saying that to me.  I’m still here, Pop, right in front of you! But now I know what he means.

I parted with the Smoke Bomb Oil, but not with the button with the baseball kid, or the bowling certificate.  I regret to say I couldn’t throw out the bowling arm either…not until it is reunited with the rest of the trophy (which I still have).

One drawer down…the rest of the house to go.