Monday, May 24, 2010

Ikebana Lesson #1 Basic Upright

Okay, so after a demonstration at one of the charity events I attend regularly, I decided to take a couple of classes of Ikebana arranging...and it is turning out to be a great experience. The sensei is cute, so wise and so funny all while being 85 years old if you can believe it. When asked by another student what that student could bring back for her from the States, the sensei replied, "a new boyfriend"...haha.

So the school of Ikebana that we are learning is the Sensho Ikenobo School and the style is Moribana (flat vase). We had to buy a few things for this class...a flat suiban (container), a kenzan (frog), and a pair of good hasami (cutters). I didn't have a container yet so I used a pottery bowl for this first lesson. I have since purchased a total of 2 containers, and 5 frogs...some of the smaller frogs are just for using in upright vases to keep my flowers from slumping over (non-ikebana arrangments).

Keiko-san sensei is our teacher and she is very well known in the Ikebana community...she has students that have been learning from her for decades and I am honored to have a chance to learn from her as well.

I am considering joining Ikebana International...we'll see how I feel after my classes.

Okay, on to lesson #1- Basic Upright.

First we had to do some math...figuring out the length to cut, and the location and angle of the flowers is all by formula for each type of arrangement (my kind of arranging...hehe). We learned about the Heaven, Earth, and Mankind parts of the arrangement. The points of consideration for an arrangement which are line, negative area, movement, and depth. We learned that the flower is not always the focal point of the arrangment (Main) and is sometimes just the Supplement.

For this first arrangment we were told we were using English broom (which was our Main) and then supplemented with Japanese/Chinese Bellflowers (purple) and Peacock Flower (white aster) as filler. The Peacock flower looks a bit like a daisy flower...

We actually measured and cut all our flowers in advance, and laid them out in three piles. We put the frog into the container where it needed to go (depends on the time of year), and marked off our frog into quadrants so we would have the parts of the arrangement in the right spot. Then we started putting flowers in, using the formula and rules for this style of arrangement. The senseis were there to help us as we went. Once we had the Main, the Supplement and the filler in, Keiko-san would come by to check it...if it was good, she would nod and then ask us politely to take it apart and re-do it so we could learn it without help.

Once we did it again on our own, she came by to give us the nod and we were done. We all keep notebooks for the class. I take pictures as I go so I can put them in my notebook for reference later. Each arrangement gets resituated when I get home as well as water added to the container...I have been really enjoying have fresh flowers in the house and proud of the arrangements I have made!!


Three Years Ago on In My Words...Back in the Land of the Living

Sunday, May 16, 2010

10 Years of Mishka (5 Years Later)

I did this same post 5 years ago but figured since it was an anniversary of sorts that I might see how things have can click on the old version in my link below if you want to check it out.

10 years ago:

I was in between twenty-something and thirty-something.
I was living on the West Coast.
I had two cats, one named Madison, one named Chase, who we had just adopted.
I was getting ready to move to Japan.
I had a network admin certificate under my belt.
I had a pretty good job with easy hours and fun people.
I was playing soccer again pretty regularly.
I was living in the house we bought three years before.
I was spending a lot of time with my family.
I was becoming very skilled on computers.
I was not writing, singing, doing art, or playing music much.
I was too busy a lot of the time to really enjoy things.
I finally paid off my school loans and we were completely out of debt (minus the mortgage).

5 years ago:

I was thirty-something.
I was living in NC.
I was still working on my graduate program.
I had lost Madison in 2004 to old age but still had Chase and she was loving the sun room.
I had my house on the West Coast rented but was not happy with my rental company.
I was writing and reading more.
I was exercising more.
I was skinnier than I had been in a while.
I was missing my friends from Japan and hadn't really made any new ones.
I was playing soccer with two local leagues.
I was investing pretty heavily in our futures.

3 years ago:

I was thirty-something.
I was living in NC but jumping through hoops to come back to Japan.
I had just had a great Christmas trip to Panama, Belize, Costa Rica and Florida.
I had started shaving Chase regularly to keep both of us sane.
I had started looking at selling both the house in NC and the one in WA.
I was playing soccer.
I had just graduated with my master's degree.
I was officially volunteering for Google and getting lots of experience.
I was blogging a lot.
I was being creative again for the first time in a while.

1 Year Ago:

I was still thirty-something, but creeping up real close to forty.
I was living in Japan in a really cool Japanese house three blocks from the beach.
I still had Chase but we had fixed up the backyard so she could be outside part of the day.
I no longer had either home in NC or WA but owned one in OR that was being rented.
I had added two more countries to my list of travel places.
I was spending the majority of my time working for free for several non-profit organizations.
I was still volunteering for Google.
I was only being creative on selective days because my schedule was super tight.
I was not spending enough time enjoying the outdoors, singing or writing.
I was not playing soccer at all (due to lack of participants).


I am now forty and it is not as bad as I thought.
I am still living in Japan but getting ready to move to Hawaii in the fall.
I just got home from a great trip to Kyoto.
I have been able to see 8 of the Japanese islands so far and hope to get a few more in before we leave.
I am getting all my sh!t together so I can get a job when we move.
I still have Chase but she is getting older too.
I still have the home in OR and thankfully it is still rented.
I have not had any visitors from the US this time around and am looking forward to living a bit closer in the near future.
I am not writing as much as I want to, but am trying to work on that.
I am reading a lot.
I am on an exercise plan to get back to a fitter me as soon as possible.
I am getting ready to celebrate my 18th anniversary this year.
I am still not playing soccer (still no participants).
I am still investing pretty heavily in our futures.
I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to a bunch of my closest friends this summer.
I am looking forward to moving to a new place and having new adventures.
I am looking forward to being able to travel some more in this part of the world.


5 Years Ago on In My Words...10 Years of Mishka

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kijimuna Attack

It is three in the morning. I am sleeping fact more soundly than I usually do when I am in a new place. I hear a tap, tap, tap...I wake up. "What was that?" I think to myself, it must be Jocelyn...but I am not sure if she is tapping on the wall or on the door. I make my way to the door with no glasses, in the dark, in an unfamiliar room. Knowing how nights in her house full of animals can be, I am hoping that she is not just suffering from insomnia and in need of company as I really do want to go back to sleep. As I get close to the door, I forget that there is a step down and I almost kill myself falling towards it.

As I reach the door, I think I better ask to make sure it is Jocelyn at the door...and it is. I open the door, still feeling groggy and incoherent from being in such a deep sleep. She asks me if I am okay...I tell her I am. She looks back towards her room and tells me that something is in her room...a spirit or something. That it has woken her up on the hour for the last three hours. That the first time, it grabbed her hand, the second time it tried to smother her, and the third time it turned her TV to black screen and tried to wrap her up in the blanket so she couldn't breathe or move. I am a bit skeptical and still feeling the effects of my deep sleep so I ask her if she wants to sleep in my room. She says yes.

We walk over to her room and grab her bedding and pillow and drag it all back to my room. We make up the bed for her. She tells me again about what has happened to her now that I am more awake and can actually grasp it. We both lay down on our beds and turn out the light but continue to talk about it and question whether we could have disturbed some kind of spirit during our travels that day. We had been to several historical sites on our tour of the island, specifically a cave that had a shrine in it and was really dark and spooky.

While I have had my own experiences with ghosts/spirits in the past and am a firm believer, I am not sure how to take what has happened to her. I am hoping that it is over and we can both get back to sleep as we have another full day ahead of us. We continue to talk off and on as I get more and more sleepy. I do not realize that it is already past the 4 o'clock hour.

At some point I fall back to sleep. I am having this dream about Jocelyn, where we are in my room and it is now 7:20am and the sun is out, the room bright. I am thinking to myself that the night before must have all been our imaginations, and am about to tell her this when her daughter (Jocelyn doesn't have a daughter), walks into the room. She is about 8 years old, blond hair in a ponytail, and named Brianna. She walks over to Jocelyn's bed and starts talking to her. Jocelyn is playing with her hair and while this is going on, I am thinking to myself, "how did I not know that Jocelyn had a daughter considering how much we hang out?". Just as I have this thought in my dream, I wake up, open my eyes and realize that I was dreaming because the room is still dark.

All of a sudden, I feel these two hands pushing down on my blankets right over my hands and chest. Pushing hard, knocking all the wind out of me. I can't believe how hard the pressure is. I try twice to say Jocelyn's name but I have no air in my lungs and it just comes out as squeaks. I can feel myself not being able to take a breath in. I finally push my hands back from my chest and the pressure is released. I take a huge breath in and then say "oh my gosh". Jocelyn turns over and says, "what?". I tell her, "it just happened to me!!!". I grab my phone and look at the is right at 5am. My heart is pounding...

She gets up and looks outside...the sun is just starting to lighten the sky. We talk for a few minutes but amazingly, I fall back to sleep. Minutes before 6am (which I expect will be the next attack), my phone starts to vibrate like I am getting a call (even though I am not and it is not set to silent). Right after that, Jocelyn's phone lights up like she is getting a call but she is not. Either the power of the spirit is diminishing with the coming of dawn or some other force is trying to wake us up to keep us from being attacked again at 6am. We wait out the top of the hour and then both doze back off until our alarms go off to get up at more attacks that night.

We get dressed and get ready to meet Alex for breakfast. While we are drinking canned coffee from the machine and sitting on the seawall near our guest rooms, we talk over again what happened the night before. At this time, Jocelyn informs me that what happened to us sounds like a kijimuna attack. I know of the kijimuna but not the specifics of their attacks. I always just thought they were these little elf-like creatures that lived in banyan trees, and part of a myth. When Alex arrives, we relay the story to him (which sends him into fits of giggles) and then again when we get to breakfast at the other guesthouse. Irei-san tells us that kijimuna attacks are very common, and doesn't seem surprised by our story at the course of the day, we meet several others that have been attacked in similar ways.

I feel kind of weird about the whole thing...honored that I have experienced this very unique thing but also kind of scared of the fact that what I thought was a cute story, is real. I'll never look at a banyan tree quite the same way.


Five Years Ago on In My Words...Corona

Sunday, May 02, 2010

PC Rebuild Part One

Okay, so I started this last night....but didn't get the hardware part of it done until this morning and then started on the software fun.

I don't know if I explained why this even came up but it seems that a video card overheated and fried part of my old motherboard (MOBO). I built that computer in 2003 so I am not unhappy with the performance or distance I got out of it, but it was obviously time to upgrade.

Since I haven't had to build a machine from scratch since 2003, I had to do some serious research into the new technology out there. I wasn't going to be able to just replace the motherboard, I had to do a complete rebuild because things had changed so much.

So I talked to some computer people, did some research online and finally ordered everything I would need (minus the powersupply (PSU) which I bought locally so it would fit my old ATX case) from TigerDirect.

Priorities being what they are, I had all the parts here for a couple of weeks before I actually got down to it, but this weekend was open so I did it. I had already gutted all the stuff out of the my old system that would be useable for others and gave it away. That would include a old PSU, old RAM, a old CPU, a old video card, and a old sound card, and I found someone that would take them off my hands. I planned to make my old hard drive into an external (actually did that weeks ago), and reuse my DVD burners.

I removed the bad motherboard last night, and the old floppy drive and started the rebuild. The hardware was pretty easy to do, and I have done it before so I was pretty sure what to do. I had to recheck the manuals and the web a couple of times just to make sure I was connecting new things correctly (since most of it is new technology to me). When I was done, I had a new MOBO, a socket 3 AMD Phenom II CPU, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a terabyte SATA hard drive, a 500 GB SATA hard drive, two DVD burners and about a gazillion USB ports...

This morning when I booted it up, I was able to get into the BIOS, make a few adjustments and start down the software road....stay tuned for the next installment on this...


Two Years Ago on In My Words...Patio Turmoils