Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Pretty Things

I haven't shown the old milk jug for awhile.  Ha!  It's what I got.  I need to wander off the deck more, I guess.  But, you know. . . my home life is endlessly fascinating.  

Or beautiful, at least.  Pretty.  

But the garden is a mess.  Somehow time got away from me this spring.  I did not take care.  It was the illness after the mulching that did it.  But, I think, there may still be time to plant.  I've had a beautiful flower garden in the past, a tiny patch, but in this subtropical climate, flower gardens are difficult to grow and maintain.  The wild greenness wants to take over.  In its native state, this land is not so very lovely.  It is a furious, swampy place with perpetual muck fires and choking vines.  Flower gardens are not natural anywhere, though, I guess.  Flower gardens are human creations like paintings and music, created for much the same purpose.  

I will make a container garden, perhaps.  I should, at least grow herbs for cooking.  I used to, but that has been unremembered.  I will once again.  

And catnip, too, though the neighbor's cat goes crazy for it and rolls in it until it is gone.  But that is, by and large, its purpose.

I think I'm easily influenced.  I've binge watched "Shogun" for the past three nights.  I've almost finished the series.  Now I want to drink sake from shallow cups, slurp noodles and strange foods from lovely bowls.  I have some.  I have beautiful tea pots and small, heavy tea cups, too.  I want Japanese papers and fabrics.  All the aesthetic things.  

I taught a course in The Personal Essay at Country Club College for a few years.  Maybe I'll tell you about it sometime.  It will be a confession.  But here was my takeaway from that course, one of the most beautiful essays ever written, an essay called "In Praise of Shadows."  I've sent it to several of my friends who have upcoming trips to Japan, but everyone should read it.  And then you will want to see it for yourself.  


The store in the giant warehouse that used to be a fish market has filled its rooms with hanging fabrics and lines of dried plants in a particularly Japanese fashion.  Much of its houseware is created in a Japanese tradition.  Against the walls lean handcrafted ladders made of bamboo. The space is like a set waiting for the cast.  

I'm afraid I'm fascinated by "the exotic."  The "other" if you will.  It is "wrong" of me, I know.  This morning, lying in bed, I thought about my ex-wife's grandmother.  She was a great and grand woman, and she was my pal.  I met my ex just after her grandfather died.  He had been in the navy and then worked as a contractor for one of the Air Force bases on the coast of the state.  We often stayed with my ex's grandmother on weekends.  Her house was filled with many things she brought back from her trips with her husband to Japan--lamps and pearls and other decorative things.  I remember as a child hearing people talk about going to Japan.  Many of our father's had fought the Japanese in the Pacific, and so my image of Japan was a mixture of suicidal kamikazes and bowing geisha in flowing robes.  Japan was the land of pearls and lacquerware.  It was a place devastated by atom bombs.  

I was not intrigued.  

Things change.  I was scheduled to teach at a university in Shanghai in 2020.  They were going to fly me there and pay me well for a six week course.  I was going to use the money I made to go to Japan.  But as we all know, 2020 was the Year of Covid, and it never happened.  Now I will have to pay my own way.  A trip is in the making now for next spring.  

But who knows what will happen in a year.  I don't really want to think about it.  The planet is not healing.  People around the globe are not becoming more joyful.  

That's enough of that, though.  Today is set to be beautiful, blue skies and moderate temperatures.  We must make the most of the beauty that we have.  

I will buy some herbs today and pot them.  And then they can become part of my photo portfolio, too.  Maybe I'll make prints and hang them in the kitchen.  

That might be nice.  

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