gozarks.com weblog

Today is the present… be the gift.

Master Plan June 6, 2016

Fourteen month ago (aka: April 2015, about two months into my recovery from death) I contrived a ‘master plan’ with a multi-prong purpose. Aside from the obvious of getting my affairs in order, I set my sights on recreating my life; making my surroundings most amenable to me; doing things I always wanted (but never had time) to do.

Thus the necessity to ‘clear the decks’, take stock, and renegotiate (with myself) what is ‘important’ to me… and what is not. Which, as I have pursued various means of ‘downsizing’, has provoked me to ponder the proverbial question: “What’s it all about?”

Why do we ‘do’ whatever we do? What makes one thing more interesting or important or worthwhile than another? And what it all comes down to for me is that once you have the comfort of a decent place to live and the security of knowing that you may reside there for as long as you wish and will always have sufficient nourishment, the only thing that makes anything truly worthwhile is feeling the warm-fuzzies that flow from convivial companionship.

shop05_060316

Front entrance to the artisan workshop and gallery that my daughter and I put together so we could ‘yard sale’ our trash & treasure .

And for these last many months I have had the joy of working with my youngest daughter on a (HUGE) project: to de-clutter, reorganize and convert my backyard garage (pictured above) into the artisan workshop and gallery I’ve dreamed of since the day we moved to this household a decade ago.

shop04_060316

Our yard sales have become popular with our neighbors who often consign clothing, books, and housewares to our yard sale.

We closed the shop over the winter, but reopened this past Sunday (June 5, 2016).

shop01_060316

Our newly reorganized yard sale shop.

Though I know it may not look like it, the way we now have things set up, the left side of the above area now rather easily converts to 8′ x 12′ artisan workshop with workbench including table saw (not pictured) which are along the left wall, behind the hanging clothes.

shop02_060316

Fancy dishware, athletic bags, home furnishings, hair curlers, school desks and gift baskets are among the ever-changing processional of oddities, goodies, and collectibles that parade through our gallery.

My daughter has dubbed the shop “Shaundeli” — and you can see more of the stuff we offer on our Facebook Page. We are planning now for the 4th of July weekend and invite you to come by for a visit and maybe to join us in a game of horsehoes…!!!

Because, like I said, it’s really all and only about the warm-fuzzies… <smile>

Anyway, the following pic is of the completed dinette-booth I created in the mid-cabin of my RV, which I initially set-up about 3 weeks ago save for the detailing, ie: since then I have fabricated and installed a ‘trim & support’ edge for the clear plastic tabletop, covered the (ugly green) cooler with a fabric skirt (which you cannot see in the pic), added a decorative (but durable) cover to the seat cushion, and topped it all off with a nifty decorative pillow.

dinette_complete060616

My mid-cabin dinette.

So… it looks like I am ready for lunch on the road…!!! Now, to figure out just where I want to go…

Anyway, my Japan Chronicles shall continue next time with our visit to Hasedera Temple..(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

 

 

 

Japan Chronicles: The Great Buddha May 28, 2016

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,GOD,JAPAN CHRONICLES — gozarks @ 2:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I took over a hundred pics of the gardens, statuary and structures that are the Hasedera Temple and the Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple, both of which are in the port town of Kamakura, population 175,000, which is about 6 miles (as the crow flies) north west of Yokosuka, where we stayed with my youngest son.

kamakura_yokosuka_map

Kamakura, home to many Buddhist temples and gardens, is (as best I remember) about an hour’s commuter train-ride from Yokosuka.

Our day touring the temples started with a walk along Blue Street to the train station, about which I must say that Japan’s public transportation system is highly efficient, clean, modern and provided my introduction to ‘heated toilet seats’…!!!

It also provided very easy access to all the places we visited, fairly inexpensively.

me_plustwo_train

One of the few times on public transport that we were able to sit together… and as you can see, we were all elated with the experience <lol>!!!

The down side, however, is that the physical capacity (ie: available seating) on trains and busses is routinely filled beyond the max, thus making for (shoulder-to-shoulder) standing room only… which is especially challenging when ‘trying’ to stay together as a group –and/or- carrying several bags of groceries or luggage.

Thus to a Michigan girl like me, born and raised in the land of FoMoCo, there will never be anything quite as comfortable and convenient as my own private automobile… Unless <ahem> it is my own private RV… <smile>… but I digress.

buddah_courtyard052816

The Great Buddha is nearly 40 ft. tall and weighs roughly 121 tons.

The courtyard surrounding The Great Buddha – a national treasure cast in copper by priestly fundraising efforts and anonymous artisan hands back in 1252 – is open for visitors to stroll at their leisure. Formally known as ‘The Seated Buddha Amida Noyorai’ and also by the familiar name Daibutusu, The Great Buddha is the principle deity of the Kotoku-in Temple.

buddah_child052816

The child standing at the base of The Great Buddha gives you some idea of the grand scale of this magnificent work of art.

As much now (if not more?) a cultural (tourist) attraction as a pilgrimage and worship site, visitors of various denominations bask in the sublime poise of ancient arte-factual antiquity, dappled like a stone-hewn canvas with colorful bursts of fragrant blossoms and lush greenery.

carved_stone052816

Beauty, simplicity, endurance hewn of stone.

When first built, The Great Buddha was enshrined in a hall, but over the course of a few hundred years the building was damaged and ultimately destroyed by two typhoons and an earthquake. Since 1498 The Great Buddha sits in the open-air Kotoku-in Temple, visited by vast numbers of Buddhists of all sects from around the world and all over Japan who come to pay their respects and invoke the wisdom taught by the Jodo Sect of the Kotoku-in Temple: “To liberate all beings.”

pink_boquet052816

The courtyard is awash with glorious blossoms.

According to Jodo teaching, one only needs to chant the phrase “Namu Amida Butsu” (I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha) to be liberated from the karmic wheel of ‘good vs evil’ and reborn in the ‘pure’ land, aka: Nirvana. Aka: Happiness.

bamboo_well052816

Tucked back in a side-pocket of the courtyard: this old well with a bamboo cover, strung together (I imagine) much as such would have been ‘way back when.’

All of which (and the following several photos) I’ll leave you with this time around, noting that of the hundred pics initially mentioned, today I managed to go through about a third of them, selected those that I wanted to use, set-up and photographed the last image you’ll see below, then cropped, resized, color- and contrast-corrected, resolution-optimized, uploaded and published the batch…

tree_crutch052816

Have you ever seen a tree-crutch quite like this…???

Also noting that, obviously, I have yet to travelogue the photos from Hasedera Temple (which shall be forthcoming next time around) and all the while reflecting on the ‘sacred truth’ of Buddhism as nicely articulated by Debra Maxwell in a comment posted to this Youtube of the Buddhist “Heart Sutra” Chant

“To know the truth of life, to make your life a meditation, you don’t need to shave your head, go to a cave or chant.”

sacred_water052816

Many who entered the temple washed their hands with water dipped from a ceremonial cleansing station.

As I would say, just think of every breath, thought and action of your life as ‘sacred’ <smile>… Mainly because you are and thus it is… (((hugs))) ~Christine

ornate_dragon052816

The ornate dragon cast in the stately work of art speaks to the Mystic Law and Celestial Magic of Enlightened Devas in Nirvana.

 

great_buddah052816

The pronounced circle in the center of The Great Buddha’s forehead is representative of an enlightened being’s ‘third eye’ which sees through the superficiality of matter to the heart of the invisible from which pure love, sublime peace and blissful pleasure emanate.

 

key_chain_ticket052816

I got this key-chain with the tiny bell on it (symbol of Buddha’s voice which sustains the order of the universe by powers that come from within the devotee’s own life) at the gift shop on the grounds of The Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple. Also got the ‘smudge stick’ there and, of course, the admission ticket. The sweet elephant change-purse came from a shop along the way from one temple to another in Kamakura.

 

 

Homefront May 16, 2016

I have to digress from my Japan Chronicles… but just for a moment <smile>… to share a nifty new way I organized things in ‘Louise’ (’02 GWV 20′). The pics below show the way I’ve had things in the ‘mid-cabin’ set up ever since I started equipping for extended travel.

midcabin_storage01_051416

Mid-cabin storage, as it has been since I first started road-tripping in my Class B RV.

Same area, below, from another angle…

midcabin_storage02_051416

Mid-cabin area, utilitarian but otherwise not very functional.

This mid-cabin area, as I had been using it, held an ice-chest (used mainly for ‘dry storage’ but also very handy for refrigeration on short runs when or other times when it makes no sense to use the 3-way fridge), a couple of ‘pantry boxes’ (with sugar, seasonings, pasta and canned goods), a set of drawers (with office supplies, tools, and misc.), some ’emergency water’ (in the pink crate), a stool, a trash can, and a place (behind the pink crate) to keep all essential vehicle documentation (owners manual, maintenance records, registration, etc.)

This arrangement worked very well. Everything was readily accessible and yet sufficiently ‘out of the way’ so I could still  had room to move around the cabin. However, one feature that I had really wanted in an RV — that I didn’t get with this one — was a ‘dinette booth’ where I could sit at a table to eat a meal, watch some TV, or do some computering. And, even though I have tried several arrangements to give myself these little luxuries in the aft portion of the cabin, with the way the couch/bed is situated (which is otherwise very comfortable), it just doesn’t work.

And I was thinking about this quite a lot on the last excursion I made with ‘Louise’, before I went to Japan, and was struck with an idea that seemed so brilliant I couldn’t wait to try it out… but wait I had to, until we got home and after I got unpacked, which is now 99% true <grin>.

So the other day I played with a ‘new grouping’ of the stuff in the mid-cabin:

midcabin_booth01_051416

Mid-cabin reorganized.

This is ALL the same stuff, just arranged differently.

midcabin_booth02_051416

Mid-cabin storage now also functions as a dinette.

And I absolutely LOVE this new arrangement…!!! Not only do I have exactly the same amount of convenient storage space as before (and in fact, I actually have better access to the ice chest and a better location for vehicle documents which are now in the pink crate that is under the table-top, behind the stack of drawers), with the addition of a ‘table top’ I now have the benefit of a ‘private booth’ where I can sit to eat a meal, do my computering and watch a bit of TV…!!!

What a hoot…!!!

Gee… how I love it when a plan comes together. And the best part, to me, is that 99% of everything needed to make the conversion was right there… ready and waiting for me to create (from thin air <smile>) exactly what I had wanted all along.

Somehow, I think there is a life-lesson in this… but I’ll leave it to you to contemplate this moral to the story <grin>.

Looking forward to next time and more of my travelogue from Japan…!!! (((hugs))) ~Christine

PS: Had to share the following pic of the key-chain for ‘Louise’… which is now sporting a shiny medallion that the kids got for me when they visited Tokyo Tower. The custom-crafted inscription reads: “BEST MOM EVER” 2016-04-27, (heart) A (heart) S (heart) J (heart) S (heart)… which are Adam’s, Shalom’s, Josh’s, and Shawna’s initials wrapped in a whole bunch of love…!!!

bestmom_keyfob051416

Key-chain token from the Tokyo Tower.

 

 

 

Japan Chronicles: Where, What, How. May 9, 2016

Where did you go? What did you eat? And, how was the weather? The top three questions folks ask when we chat about my trip. Thus I start with a couple of maps…

Where in the world is Japan...

Where in the world is Japan…??? Roughly 6000 miles from our home in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, which is well beyond the right horizon of this globe… somewhere south of Canada.

The red-circled region of Japan, on the map above, is shown in close-up, below:

what??

Yokosuka, a thriving cosmopolitan city of about 400,000 residents, is in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan.

While we were there, we went mainly to a lot of places that regular folks who live in Yokosuka would go…

"Blue Street" so named because of the bright blue pebbles embedded in the blacktop paving and the decorative brick-work of the sidewalks that border it.

The shops along “Blue Street,” so named because of the bright blue pebbles embedded in the blacktop paving.

We walked along Blue Street every day, going to the local malls and window-shopping along the way.

Another pic with Blue Street in the background.

Another pic with Blue Street in the background.

I love the above pic (which shows a snippet of the beautiful sidewalks that border Blue Street) because of the impish and whimsical looks on the faces of both my young men <smile>. which reminded me so greatly of when they were little kids… as did the girls… radiant and smiling as always.

Foods at the mall.

Foods at the mall.

One mall we shopped at had 9 floors of shops. One floor was like a large grocery store, one floor was filled with various bakeries.

Baked treats.

Baked treats.

Everywhere, people were friendly (though we did our best to be respectful and NOT take photos of ‘strangers’ as this is considered rude and offensive in Japan) and the service was super-polite and professional.

Josh, making a purchase at one of the bakery shops in the mall.

Josh, making a purchase at one of the bakery shops in the mall.

And with appreciation and respect to the folks who happened to be in this photo of Josh, as you may note, we were often the only non-Japanese in the room.

We also dined at the mall, which had several floors devoted to eateries. In the pics below, we are enjoying the fun of an ‘all you can eat’ hibachi buffet.

Me (aka: Christine Louise Beems) and Shawna.

Me (aka: Christine Louise Beems) and Shawna.

Simmering below are thinly-sliced strips of beef and pork tongue (in the foreground) and marinated chicken (in the background)

Grill-your-own is the way this buffet works.

Grill-your-own is the way this buffet works.

The way this ‘all you can eat’ (about $20 per person) buffet worked, you got to order ‘more food’ (from your selected buffet menu) as many times as you could cook it and eat it in 90-minutes.  And there were side-dishes, too… we got some kimchi and some rice and some really creamy ‘mashed potato salad’… which is really big in Japan and served rather routinely, the way we serve coleslaw, in Arkansas.

Lizard awaiting adoption from the mall's pet store.

Lizard awaiting adoption from the mall’s pet store.

On another floor of the mall, we visited a pet store, which had pretty-much all the same kinds of puppies, lizards, and hedgehogs that you might find in just about any pet store today. One exception, however, was the tiny frog pictured ‘larger than life’ below, which was barely as big as a quarter and perhaps a distant cousin of the teeny tree-frog that lived for a while in my atrium and whose pic has been my FB icon for nearly a decade.

Tiny frog in pet store.

Tiny frog in pet store.

And on yet another floor of the mall, we strolled through a haberdashery, brimming with things to satisfy the most discriminating tastes of the most elegant and charming men…

Looking kewl...

Looking kewl…

About the weather, the overcast gray sky in the photo below is what we saw most of the time. And it was chilly, except during those joyful moments when the sun peeked out and it would get warm really quick.

Grey skies were our steady companion.

Grey skies were our steady companion.

Pruned trees, like the one above, line the sides of Blue Street, somewhat aesthetically bridging the gap between the high-rise cosmopolitan character of the city and neighborhood street shops of Yokosuka. I bet the trees look spectacular at the peak of summer.

Until next time (and our tour of two Buddhist Temples)… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Japan Chronicles: Homecoming May 2, 2016

Some of the best advice I ever got was “Start with the End in Mind.” It came, as I recall, from a management training program I attended back in the 1970’s. And, truth be told, to fully appreciate the reality of my present moment, we would have to go back that far and stroll through what all I’ve experienced since (and even prior to) then… and you would also have to be sitting next to me right now, in my bedroom, ensconced through big-window glory by a lush variegation of sun-dappled forest green with the lighthearted hymn of my tiny brook babbling in the background.

ASIDE: Did you know that, as new historians (an oxymoron?) now tell it, the first published author and also the first known person to utilize the phrase “I am” in print – which was a total linguistic anomaly at that time – was a woman. A high priestess, to be exact, who wielded more political clout in her day than did Karl Rove during GW’s administration. But don’t take my word for it… have a gander at “The Ascent of Woman” the next time you Netflix.

Back to the moment, at least for me (as I write), this space/time of here-in-now is pretty-damn perfect: I sit in my grandmother’s old rocking chair (that I reupholstered a few months back), tiny laptop (atop an old – 1930’s? – folding table) at my fingertips, immersed in the stunning beauty of nature, surrounded by an array of (what to me are) interesting, comfortable and somewhat unique accouterments of daily life, sipping fresh coffee (laced with just a touch of Irish Cream <smile>), fresh off a two week sojourn in Japan.

RANDOM NOTE: Add imaginary echo here, in a child-like girlish voice to replicate the lilt of my youngest daughter, Shawna, who is nearing 23, repeating the word as a cadenced mantra — “Japan… Japan, Japan, Japan… J-a-p-a-n” – which grew with daily intensity as we packed and prepared for the trip.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together in our 'trip of a lifetime' family vacation in Japan.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together on our family vacation in Japan.

And the two glorious weeks that we were together there, on a family-outing ‘trip of a lifetime’ were by even my most self-indulgent standards, saturated with decadent luxuries that gave great gobs of simple-pleasures to all involved. Truly amazing on so many levels, rippling through every dimension of life, and for which I am deeply thankful and tremendously appreciative of the good will and generosity of my children, without whom I would not have been able to make this trip… and who (for the most part <smile>) treated me like a queen and endured my persnickety ways with loving good grace and aplomb…

Thank you Adam, Shalom, Josh and Shawna for everything that each of you did to make our time together in Japan so phenomenally enjoyable. And thank you Patty (my eldest)… though you could not join us in Japan, we know you were with us in spirit…

Breakfast, prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son's apartment.

Breakfast — scrambled eggs with two kinds of tiny mushrooms and cheese and garnished with fresh (celery-like) greens, accompanied by pan-fried potatoes and onions and a warm buttered roll — prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son’s apartment as I did my morning computering.

Tales about all of which – from the nightmare of our flight getting there, to our day touring Buddhist temples and including the gastronomical and shopping delights we encountered along our way, I shall relate in dazzling detail  with more splendid photos in coming weeks… <grin>.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were in a 9-story shopping and food mall on in Yokosuka.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were just a few of those that bedecked the hallways of a 9-story shopping and food mall in Yokosuka.

Right now, however, carrying forward the present moment and having elucidated the background harmony which carries the happy tune of my life, perhaps and hopefully you have sensed a glimmer of the awes and wonders that resonate in my little universe… the place where I live… the space where I make my home. And the profound joy that I feel just sitting here, absorbing the moment… super-saturated with the activity of simply being alive. Feeling so tremendously gratified to have — oh, so many years ago — started raising my family with the their successful adulthood clearly in mind.

Anyway, in the scope of my continuing present moments, I see some yard-work in my immediate future.

NOTE: It is phenomenally good to be home.

My youngest son, Josh, with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh's honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us...!!! More about this as my Japan Chronicles unfold...!!! His superiors were VERY complimentary of Josh and also very appreciative that we (his family members) were present for the ceremony because it is such a rarity to have a sailor's kin present for such events. We each were given an official Certificate of Appreciation from the Navy, signed by the Captain of his ship, to thank us for our support of Josh's service to the Navy. And the officers, senior enlisted crew members and his peers were all HUGELY complimentary of Josh... saying to me personally what an outstanding person he is, how great he is to work with and how appreciative they are of having him around.

My youngest son, Josh (front row, 4th from the right), with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh’s honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us…!!! More about this and lots more good news next time, as my Japan Chronicles unfold…!!!

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Sunshine March 15, 2016

So-o-o-o… landscaping skies returned today <smile>… and greeted my freshly manicured front entry…

The sidewalk to my front door.

The sidewalk to my front door.

Next on my list here, I’d like to paint the front steps. At one time they were covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting, but it was old and ugly and a couple of years ago I pulled it up and have been wanting to do something with the steps ever since, but just didn’t know what. Now that we have decided to get a new roof, I have decided that I will match the color of the front steps to it — after it is installed.

This is my 'utility yard'... it's to the west of my house.

This is my ‘utility yard’… it’s to the west of my house.

My ‘utility yard’ — so named because the door to my laundry room (around the corner) opens onto it, there is a clothes line strung above central green patch, and it is where we will eventually have a propane tank installed when we replace the electric range with gas — is a good example of how my wildflower gardens and meandering paths come together to create less maintenance work. The leaf-mulched areas in the  foreground and background the of the pic are flowerbeds and take advantage of seasonal leaf-fall (of which there is a lot) by using it in the area where it naturally occurs as mulch for beds within that area… thus eliminating the need to transport it someplace else… and reducing the area to be raked and mowed by 75%.

The ground around this downspout was low.

The ground around this downspout was low.

As you can see in the pic above, the area where water runs-off from this downspout had eroded, leaving a low spot. Not good. Water must flow AWAY from the foundation <grin>… And so my ‘big’ project today was to build-up the ground and reinstall the run-off stones.

Same area after a bit of TLC.

Same area after a bit of TLC. No more low spot. Happy run-off…!!!

Also, though I have no pics of it, my darling daughter Shawna and I were, over the weekend, able to get the potable water system in “Louise” de-winterized and working fine. Ah-h-h-h-h… a few more small steps toward being ready for road-tripping this summer…!!! (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

Rain, rain, rain… March 11, 2016

And more rain has brought a halt to landscaping fun for the moment. However, before everything turned wet, my youngest darling daughter and I managed to clear out all the scrubby-brush that was clogging this front corner of our yard, right where our driveway meets the lane.

Front corner of my front yard, overgrown with scrubby brush.

BEFORE: Front corner of my front yard, overgrown with scrubby brush.

AFTER: Same corner... much better looking.

AFTER: Same corner… much more tidy -and- you can see my house…!!!!

But back to the rain…. my heart goes out to all those who have been touched by flooding. My warmest good wishes and fondest hopes are for your expedient recovery.

One good thing about the rain for me is that I was able to confirm that the caulking I did around an old antenna cable that runs through my RV’s roof is still keeping things inside dry. And now that the weather has warmed, next on my ‘prepare for travel’ agenda is to fill the potable water tank and get that system de-winterized, ready for use.

Beyond that, headway is being made with getting all my other little projects (like doing the layout for the next publication  of Help YourSelf ) tied-up neat and tidy so that I am footloose and fancy free to pursue wherever my bliss leads me <grin>.

And lastly, but certainly not leastly <grin> I wanted to say a belated but super-big THANK YOU to my sweet child Shawna who, for my birthday, gifted me with a complete set of bed-linens for “Louise” (’02 Great West Van 20′) all matching the lovely comforter and shammed pillow shown in the pic of my aft berth, below…

I love the spacious look the mirrors give the cabin.

I love the spacious look the mirrors give the cabin.

 

(((hugs))) ~Christine