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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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: 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

 

Home to roost… June 19, 2011

My previous rant about “The Power,” addressing the insidious and sublime ‘police state’ mentality and how desensitized ‘we the people’ have become to the unfathomable perils of it, came home to roost here in Arkansas yesterday. But please, let me start at the beginning.

Yesterday, my daughter Shawna and I treated ourselves to a concert-outing. (See poster at right.) It proved to be a pleasant and entertaining ‘family style’ event. Our whole time there, people were smiling and happy. Kids frolicked on an improvised waterslide. Folks visited. Music played. And the sweet-cool evening breeze off the White River bathed us all. Even my daughter ‘had fun’ (and you know how persnickety teenagers are)! For your enjoyment, I have posted a few photos, below.

But sadly, as I hear tell, after my daughter and I headed home, around-about 10pm the local constabulary pulled-up two patrol cruisers in front of the stage and shut the whole shin-dig down. As I understand it, this action was taken resultant of complaints about ‘noise’.

Now I can’t say how loud things got after we left, but while we were there the music was loud enough to be appreciated and not so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself think. And it was, after all, a music festival.  A place where one might expect the drum-beats to reverberate.

I also confess that I have no knowledge about what (if any) ordinances exist in Baxter County that limit the decibel of sound one may issue forth from one’s own private property. And I stress here that this was a private event, accessible only by purchase of a ticket, presented by an independent promoter at a private campground at an ‘end of the road, way-out-of-the-way’ location.

I also don’t know who the people were who filed the complaint and I don’t even know for a fact that a complaint was filed. Everything I know about what happened after Shawna and I left is hearsay… though it all comes from trusted sources. 

Still, no matter the facts what I do have is common sense, a strong understanding of what is fair, right and just, and a growing outrage over what ‘we the people’ are subjecting ourselves to in the namesake of ‘doing something good.’  I mean, what are we doing (as a society) when we use ‘police power’ to treat a bunch of harmless, fun-loving families like they are  rowdy-punks having a destructive kegger in somebody-elses woods?

Where are the ‘rights’ of the people who peaceably assembled to enjoy the music? People who were all there voluntarily… who chose to be in a place where people were celebrating… where NO ‘harm’ was being done and no ‘crime’ was being committed. Who honors their rights and those of the musicians who came to perform?

If you are even a wee bit concerned about this, please call the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office ( 6/20/11 CORRECTED: 870-425-7000) and politely ask what ordinance was violated by the folks at the Arkansas Family Music Fest held near Old Joe, Arkansas, on Saturday, June 18, 2011. Then please, let me know what they tell you. In the interim, enjoy the photos…

 
 
 The crowd gathered on lawn chairs and snacked from coolers as the musicians played on stage.
 
 

One of the several band that entertained during the music festival.

Folks mixed-and-mingled throughout the event.

 The improvised waterslide was an absolute favorite with ALL the kids (young and old)!!!

And there were even totally awesome souvenir T-shirts…

And as already mentioned, my daughter (that’s her, second from the right, with the folks at the Monster Energy Drink booth) had an excellent time.

All in all, it was an event about which the whole community SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!

My fellow Americans… Where are you?  

 

BirthDays March 2, 2011

If I had gone to our state capitol today, in the hopes of addressing the membership of one of the various legislative committees who are considering bills which — in my self-esteemed wisdom — deserve critical attention, then I would not have shared breakfast and conversation with my daughter. Reason enough, it could rightly be said, for not going. But the issue to me is bigger than that.

Today, I am 62.

Thus, in my self-esteemed wisdom applied to me, I have arrived at a new benchmark. The beginning of a time in space where I get to more freely choose those things that will fill my present moments. And, with my children now predominately at the helms fo their own lives, my business obligations all satisfied, a comfortable roof over my head, a reliable vehicle to drive and the benevolence of a tidy Social Security pension, the expanses of what I may if I wish to do with my time are, perhaps for the first real time since I was twelve, seemingly limitless.

This is an odd and wonderous place to be, the liberating sensations of which wash over me like warm effervescent tides of sunshine and smiles.  It is a lovely place of mind to simply be. No ‘pressure’ of any great magnitude to ‘get things done’. Not that there isn’t a ‘to-do’ list — which I know is a double negative, but serves the point well. Because there is and will always be a to-do list. Its rigors, whether consciously chosen or memetically engendered, are assigned from our first breath of life.

Knowing this, when posed with a meaningful and substantive equation to resolve — such as ‘what do I want to do with the rest of my life?’ — my solution is simple. I ask myself “What will I be doing the day after all the ‘problems’ are resolved?” And of course the operative ‘problems’, generally speaking, constiute a whole lot of different things and are usually respective of the circumstances immersing my moment-to-moment reality.

At one time in my life, for about ten years, the ‘problem’ was how to steward our family resources to make sure all the bills got paid, that we had a comfortable home, reliable transportation, nutritious food and suitable clothing while homeschooling four children and being the (hopefully) loving spouse of a disabled person.  That decade resounded with a series of life-quaking problems, such as arriving home from work one day to find all four of our children (then ages 9, 7, 5 and 3) ‘missing’ from our home and yard while their dad slept on the couch and, when awakened, had no idea where they were.

It was a revelation for me to come to grips at that moment with the inhibiting constraints of my husband’s disablilty.  The ‘problem’ was real and huge. That instant of cognition added a heaping of ‘new tasks’ to my to-do list, some immediate and many long-term.

Thankfully, the children were quickly found playing at a neighbor’s. And I resolved in that moment for everyone’s sake that my husband — whose dysfunction is predominantly cognitive — must never be left alone with reponsibility for our children ever again. Thus, until we divorced some years later (by that time our eldest was 18 and our youngest was 12) I was effectively a single-parent ‘head of household’ for a family of six. And trust me, there were many problems.

But always there was this vision of what life would be like ‘after’ all the problems were resolved, and a yearning for some sort of blissful meadow of contentment to prevail in my life and, to whatever degree it is in my power to affect it, in the lives of all others… all of which comes with its own set of problems. Such as, for example, the crossroads I am camped at now: Taking stock. Inventorying my ‘to do’ list. Assessing what is (and what is not) truly important to me… Asking myself, somewhat obsessively, ‘what do I want to do with my time now that I am more free than I have ever been as an adult to make the choice…??? 

And the truth of the matter is that I just don’t know yet…

What I do know is that I don’t want the rest of my life to be a recurring processional of things I have already done, which brings me back to the legislative hearings I did not attend. For better or worse I have been doing my bit as a ‘good citizen’ to uphold my civic duties for over forty years. And, respectfully, over the passage of time I have done this with increasing vigor. But now I have arrived at a break-point and before I take another step forward I need to assimilate, digest and ponder which direction I really want to go…

Which is exactly what I am doing and, as with the choice I made this morning, this path of ‘not’ doing is feeling pretty good…. except for the part of me that still feels a duty to share what I’ve learned about all of this stuff over the course of the last 62 years, in the hopes of making life better, easier, simpler and more satisfying for everyone, every day.  So I’ll have to see what I can do about that… (((hugs)))

 

Whew… June 28, 2010

The last 5 days have been enormous.

We arrived home about 2 hours ago, somewhere around 1:45pm, having set out from Shawnee (Shawna was delighted with the name), Oklahoma, around 8 this morning.

The drive the day before (aka: Sunday), leaving Magdalena around 7am, brought us 600 miles closer to home by the time we stopped. And that evening (which was only last night, but feels like a week ago), we dined at a marvelous Chinese buffet where Shawna had octopus for the very first time. (Note: She liked the tentacles but did not care so much for the head.)

Backtracking further, the day I wrote my previous post (June 24, aka: last Thursday), was the day we arrived in Magdalena, New Mexico, and for a scant 68-hours (aka: 3 nights and 2 full days), soaked up the ambiance and culture of this sacred (a term I do not use lightly) community which pokes its head up through hard-scrapple terrain like a cactus blossom in the arid mountain plain… all of which I’ll say more about, later.

Fastforwarding back to (almost) the present moment, by 2:30 this afternoon, sweet Shawna (who drove the entire trip, shy only about 200 of the roghly 4000 miles — incident free, I am thrilled to announce) had our chariot unpacked of luggage, technology, snack box, cooler and assorted trinkets gathered along the way, was showered, had donned fresh clothes, text-messaged at least 6 friends, posted 2 notes to Facebook, made plans for the night and was out the door to check in with her (previous) employer to see if a spot still existed for her to come back to work.

Also by 2:30, I had turned on both of my desktop computers and started downloading emails: 6oo+ to one account, and about 50 to the other. Also, I noted that the house was not cooling down from the humid 80-degrees the thermostat read when we turned the a/c on… a circumstance which had not changed even an our later, just before I started this note, and so I called to get myself ‘on the list’ of our local heating & air folks who will (thankfully) be able to come check things out tomorrow.

Which is fitting, somehow, to come home to the routine nonsense of life. The maintenance, repairing, maintaining, and outfitting of a home, which — so long as one owns one — never ceases… except for spaces of time such as indulged for the last three weeks, which have in every dimension perceptible have been sheer bliss and pure enlightenment…

 

Arizona June 24, 2010

Phoenix is a tribute to its name, at least from the perspective of the freeway by-passer. Surely, this city has won awards of some significant nature for the meticulous attention to detail expressed in the cultivated landscaping if its expressways… causing me to wonder: If the federal government is the ‘great equalizer’ in terms of maintaining a nationwide network of connecting arteries among the various states, what is Phoenix doing that the rest of us could model?

Because frankly, the state of our national roadways in other locations along our route unfavorably pales by comparison, with Colorado placing a somewhat distant second. In both places, however, one of the more impressive qualities is the mosaic embellished to the retaining and sound-deflecting walls that corridor the pavement. Denver has gone with a scribed ‘mountain & river’ motif, which scrolls along the top of the walls like an endless graphic tapestry that is surprisingly pleasant and much easier on the eyes than plain cement.

Phoenix, however, has captured the allure of Aztec temples with embossed geometrics and cultured landscaping, lush with flowering flora. Captivating.

Anyway, today we shall leave behind us the chimney rocks and blooming cacti of the Arizona high deserts. We spent last night in Globe, just a hop and skip to the New Mexico border on US 60, which we shall travel all the way to our current destination.

 

SeaSprites June 21, 2010

Tonight will likely be our last night in sunny/misty/foggy California, ending our quest for the last two days to camp in a place ‘by the beach’, optimally with some sun.  

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

  

Last night we camped in Santa Barbara. Very posh and pleasantly sunny, though unseasonably cool when we checked in, looking forward to a stroll on the beach just around the corner.  

Hunger called, however, so we set off to find dinner and ended up at an ornately bedecked and lavishly bedazzled India-cuisine restaurant in the heart of the tourist-trade district on (I think it was) Central St.  

The atmosphere was enchanting, lavish with tapestry ceiling and intricately carved woods. The presentation and service were charming and professional. Sadly for me, however, though I am certain the food was superbly prepared, I have never been a fan of curry and my hopes that perhaps my tastes had changed proved futile.  

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

  

Still, I reserved this news until Shawna — who was getting a first taste of the distinctive flavors — had finished her meal… or should I say stopped nibbling at it, sighed, and demurred that at least she liked the rice.  

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

 When I gave her the news that I’d never been a big fan of India food she, with raised eyebrow, enquired as to why I had not objected before we’d dined… and I told her that I wanted her to experience the tastes for herself, without my prejudicial influence. She smiled and said something like, yeah… but you coulda told me and I woulda believed you. To which I responded, sure… but now you know for yourself.  

What she did not get to know for herself, however, was that longed-for walk on the beach which was postponed after dinner last night, ostensibly until this morning. But with the fresh daylight, the sky was overcast and the breeze nearly chilly. So we headed on down the coast.Wending our way, making several wrong turns, keeping close to the seashore, we managed to find a motel that is right on Hermosa Beach. Not nearly so splendiferous in accoutrement, and nestled alongside a mixed residential and business district, the beach is literally right outside our door, the sun shines brightly and Shawna is enthralled!!!!