The Small Things

I have written about my zen California life before, and expressed my appreciation for the little things in life, too. As I learn to take more in stride and put less pressure on myself, I’m seizing every moment to appreciate the small joys all around me… and I simply wanted to revisit that for a moment 🙂

Take, for starters, my glorious Pink House, and sunny California afternoons and sunsets. I’ll admit that it’s been a little too hot lately to spend much time in my shade-less back yard, but the temps are just starting to cool enough in the late afternoon to allow for a glass (or three) of crisp rosĂ©, accompanied by fresh peaches and vegan cheese on my Brooklyn slate cheese board.

 

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The Storm Beneath the Bougainvillea

IMG_7349Tetsu didn’t merely wander into my life. He stormed into it like the impetuous Okinawan typhoon of steel for which he was named, full of spunk and tenacity. Although it seemed like he’d been in my life forever, my Boy Named Su was only with me a little under two years… And I still can’t believe that he’s gone.

I’m generally against letting cats outside. While I recognize the closer tie to their wild ancestry than dogs, there are simply too many dangers. Of course, I have mostly lived in urban apartments in high traffic, high risk areas. In Okinawa particularly, there were too many diseased strays, plus the chance of being picked up by Japanese animal control and sent to the gas chambers. There was also plenty of traffic…

But our little Pink House in Southern California has been something special. It has this magic to it. It tantalizes with its ephermal Ferngully distractions. It’s quiet. Nothing bad ever happens here. And I got comfy. Continue reading

New Year Stumbles & Oops

IMG_1278I don’t typically believe in New Year resolutions. I think they tend to set us up for failure, and (as a risk-averse individual) I generally try to avoid such situations.  I prefer smaller, bite-size endeavors, knowing that only some may stick – and that’s okay!

For instance, I wanted to take just the month of January to detox in a handful of ways: no drinking, more plant-based food, more exercise, a tighter budget, less time on social media, and a re-strategized job search (although I am working part-time now.)

This is fairly standard stuff after the holidays, which are saturated with rich party food, alcohol, excessive spending, and social, yet sedentary, activity.  Given that the months leading up to December were also full of the eating out, drinking, and dismissal of routine exercise that comes with hosting guests and trips to Vegas, I’ve been needing that detox for a while now!

But, 2018 has had other plans so far. Continue reading

My Favorite Little Corner of the World

Goodbyes are never easy. It’s an old clichĂ©, but we all know it’s true. My Okinawa goodbyes were not particularly graceful or memorable. They were actually rather abrupt, but in some ways, I like that better. As my friend Sally said, it’s like ripping off a BandAid. Or diving head first into cold water. You’ve just gotta do it. And in the end, most of my goodbyes were not that serious, because I know I will see many of these people again. But there was one goodbye that was harder for me. Because I know I will never see my Uken family again.

IMG_0099_20160207124157It’s hard to explain what Uken Beach means to me. On the surface, it may seem obvious: I like cats. Cats are my spirit animal. And believe it or not, I haven’t always been as obsessed as I am today. Sure, I’ve always loved them, but it wasn’t until my mother got rid of my cat while I was in college (without my knowledge) that I truly realized their significance in my life. As my mom struggled with mental illness and my home life disintegrated, Sammy was my consistent source of comfort. When I didn’t have her anymore, I felt her absence on a very deep level, and from then on would obsess over when I could finally get another feline companion of my own. Continue reading

“An Unlikely Bestseller”: The Guest Cat

It’s been a hot minute since I read a book for pleasure in its entirety. imagesFor a while, I was in the process of reading three books, because I couldn’t decide which to read first and each one satisfied different moods at any given time. Of course, work, school, OkiPaws, and Chuck generally compete for my attention, so neither of the three books (despite being pretty good) have been completed.

While browsing Huffington Post, I came across 12 Books That Will Lift You Up When You are Down. I briskly scrolled through but then quickly backpedaled to examine one title closer: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. If you know me at all, you know why I backpedaled, but the fact that it was a book about a cat written by a Japanese poet made me all sorts of curious:

A bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife ― the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens….

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Catching up with September

So many mini-adventures in the month of September! Since it’s been a while since I last blogged, I’m going to give an abbreviated version of the month’s highlights. Then at least I can be all caught up and start afresh when I leave for CHINA at the end of next week 🙂

1. Miyagi Island & the “Hidden Beach”

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I had heard a lot about this little spot about 20 minutes and a bridge away from where we live. For me, it fell short of expectations. Granted it was low tide, but the large-pebbled sand was unusually harsh on our feet and the water was mostly seaweed and murk. It’s too bad we don’t have our snorkel gear and special ocean shoes yet, because that’s what I hear Miyagi is truly known for. Still, it was by no means a wasted trip. There were some lovely views, interesting rock formations, and the ride down was an adventure in and of itself.

2. Southeast Botanical Gardens

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Not a very exciting name – and nothing of particular note to share about it – but a pretty place, nonetheless. The gardens are expansive and lush. Chuck kept commenting how he felt like he was in Jurassic Park! Highlights included feeding the capybara, giggling with the spider monkeys, and having zen moments in the lotus garden 🙂 The giant spiders lurking at random corners though… not so much!

3. Okinawa World

IMG_3363Okinawa World is one of those places that’s mostly gimmicky cultural theme park, but with some really cool surprises – like canoodling with the “lucky” white python above. We hung out with pythons, habus, and boas, and lived to tell the tale. I even tried habu sake, albeit inadvertently (I thought it was some fruity plum wine!) Chuck tried the much safer sugar cane juice. We also toured the 300,000+ year-old Gyokusendo Caves, which were truly awe-inspiring. The low point was touring the “zoo” of sorts, especially when I saw the mongoose. Poor guy was going nuts in captivity.

4. Ziplining at Forest Adventure Park

I don’t think much needs to be said, except that I faced my fear of heights with admirable gusto (if you ask me.) Just watch the video…

5. CATS – as always 🙂

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New babies at Uken Beach means both joy and sadness for this girl. I’m pleased to say that more have survived this month that I originally thought, though a couple are missing… I like to think there are more survivors than usual because of my high-protein visits!

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And then there’s my own precious little fur babies, loving each other hard – as you can see in this pic. They are endlessly entertaining. So far, there hasn’t been any blood. I think they both secretly love it!