Tuesday, February 28, 2012


These pictures are in Tokyo and Kyoto. I unfortunately wasn't the photographer of these two top pictures. When I lived in Korea I went to Japan a few times and I think it's beautiful, but I didn't get to go to the places that I wanted to. I was in Fukuoka three times for visa renewals, but that wasn't so bad. It's not really a touristy place so I got to see some real, small town, every day village life. The first time I was there, I saw a bunch of men running through the streets wearing the sumo wrestling underpants (I don't know the real name). They were carrying huge paper scultures and taking them to the nearby temples. I had forgotten my camera on that trip. It was quite a site, I just stood in the street watching all these half naked men running by and I couldn't help but wish my MOM was there with me. Ha! Fukuoka is really quite lovely, each time I was there I wandered into a new part of town and discovered new places. Once I was there while the cherry blossoms were blooming and I found this beautiful park with a lake and Koi fish. The sun was warm, the sea air was fresh, and I just walked and walked. I found a used book store and bought Kabuki magazines and Geisha book marks and beautiful paper. The second time I went to Fukuoka, I was on vacation with two of my friends. We found a museum that showcased artistic renditions of Japanese Monster Lore -scary stuff- which inspired a popular cartoon about a demon who's father was his eyeball and it would pop out of his head to help him from time to time. We went to a Buddhist Temple and offered incense and said a prayer and of course went shopping. We went to a famous noodle house where you had to sit in solitary booths and eat by yourself, even though we all went together. This time I had my camera. I took this picture secretly under my curtain. I couldn't see who gave me my noodles. Japanese culture was very different then Korea's. I'm not going to point out how many differences there are, but let's just say, when I needed to have some privacy, Japan provided it.
There is a trough running down the middle for the noodle preparers to stand and anonymously feed you

 While there I bought a beautiful silk Kimono, one of my dreams is to have traditional dress from the various places I visit, so one down about a million to go. My friends and I played dress up in our hotel room. I'm looking out the window at Hakata Train Station. I'm not wearing my Kimono properly, but my nose looks wonderful doesn't it? Anywho, one of my next goals is to figure out how to tie an Obi. 
 So one of the coolest things was seeing the huge paper sculptures up close. They were still on display at different sites around town. The Japanese make such beautiful paper and paper crafts. I bought as much paper as I could afford, which really wasn't much but it was enough cause I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I just knew I wanted some.
Notice the intricate patterns, so pretty
Close up with more detail
There are so many different Japanese crafts to try out (like the intricate paper dolls called Washi Ningyo) which I'd like to try someday. I was wondering what to do with my newly bought paper and I remembered the hair ornaments worn by Geisha called Tsumami Kanzashi. These are traditionally made of silk and rice paste, but I decided my paper would work. So I started experimenting. This head piece is really elaborate, but for everyday wear, by some one not of the Flower and Willow World, totally impractical. So beautiful though, and I wanted to capture the same feel without being super ecentric. 
This piece was made by Kuniko Kanawa ,found on Etsy
So this is what I came up with. I'm actually still playing with finishes, but I like the way they are turning out. Simple but beautiful and they give a very elegant air to what ever they are worn with.
I'm still researching different methods and trying to figure out some of the more complicated pieces -that are so amazing- but for now I'm happy with my results.

Japan is a place I will definately go back to. I wanted to go as I was leaving Korea, but a month before I was scheduled to leave the Tsunami hit. Many of my friends said that I should have gone because the Airplane tickets were so cheap, but I didn't feel right about being a tourist in a mourning country. It's a beautiful place and it truly inspires me. Someday I will go to Kyoto, I'll go in the Spring time when the blossoms are out. Yes I definately will.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

If the Shoe fits

I have some amazing shoes (and some nice gams to go with them).
I'm also really lucky to have about a million nieces and nephews in my extra large family. There are quite a few of them who like to try on my super fab shoes. Many of the girls of course, but there is a certain boy that right now has the same size feet as I do (he also has great legs), he likes to try on my shoes too. Now it's pretty likely that I won't have children, but I have wondered who in this huge group of sibling offspring, if any, will fill my shoes. There has to be someone similar to me in taste and talent, it is a rather large gene pool after all. All of us are talented in some way. I just wonder if any of them will like what I like and excel at what I do.  Each one of them is so precious and I love them all so much. I hope that they will have fond memories of thier crazy aunt and her willingness to let them try on her $200 shoes. I hope they remember the hikes up to our favorite spots to watercolor what we see. I hope they all know how much I love and adore them. And yes, I do have a hope that one of them at some point will ask me how do you do that and will you teach me.

This is my beautiful niece in my stewart weitzmans


“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”
George R.R. Martin

This is a beautiful illustration by David T Wenzel   (you can find more of his lovely stuff on his website)
A long time ago one of my friends said she didn't want to indulge in fantasy because she felt like it was an escape and that she wouldn't have the skills to deal with reality if she was always escaping. I remember feeling so sad for her.
I have recently read The Hunger Games Trilogy, I've read Harry Potter, many of my favorite books are based on Robin Hood and Arthur, and like many others my all time favorite is Tolkien. I've read Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lords or the Rings. If I could get my hands on the other out of print works, I'd read them as well. My friend said that fantasy is an escape, but it's Oh so much more then that.
I love a good story, but they have to be really well done to impress me.  I especially like stories where the lead becomes the hero through the choices he or she makes, and not because it's predestined or chosen for them. For those of you who haven't read The Hunger Games, I won't give it away, but I want to be like Katniss. Her achievement is won through sacrifice and personal loss. She gave up everything to gain something better. It wasn't what she wanted, but she did what she did because it had to be done. I love stories about people who step up and take the challenge even when it seems too hard. Frodo is a similar character. He simply asks what must I do? I think that Frodo's story, as a fictional character, is more based in reality than many real characters I know. Frodo goes on a journey to vanquish an evil. He is small and unskilled, he is scared and unsure of himself, but he finds the courage to step out his door into the unknown. Along the way he finds friends in people he wouldn't have ever trusted. He finds out who his real friends are. He finds out how much he is loved and needed. He finds out how to empathize and feel what the truly wretched have felt. He learns what real evil is and how to recognize goodness. This fantastical story has inspired me to think differently and be creative. I am but a small Hobbit on this planet, but I musn't be afraid to leave the Shire. I would miss out on so much.

Fantasy is always spilling over into my reality. The bright colors of my dreams stay with me, I paint them on my canvases. The spices are in my cooking and my behavior. Someday, I will live in a Hobbit hole. The truth is that anything can be made a reality if it is dreamed and I am a vivid dreamer. I hope that my friend has learned to be one as well. There is magic in fantasy.

Some lessons from the Wise One
I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
J.R.R. Tolkien

I better stop here before I reveal just how big of a Tolkien geek I really am, though I fear it's already to late for that ;)