the japanese, a stalwart people

A bowl of miso soup

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My husband and I had dinner at Tokyo, a small Japanese restaurant. Some might call it a “hole in the wall.” Regular diners, like ourselves, use the phrase lovingly. In other words the restaurant’s appearance is nothing spectacular, but its food is “to die for,” and its prices are fair. My combination dinner of miso soup, salad with Japanese dressing, teriyaki salmon, California roll, brown rice and a peeled orange that was sweet and juicy, “hit the spot.” I love Japanese food, at least the westernized version of the more traditional fare.

California roll served in Shanghai, China. Pre...

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During dinner my husband asked if I’d thought about the next topic for my blog. I said “Yes, that I had.” The recent Tsunami in Japan had me thinking about its people. While I don’t know anyone who lives there, I’m well acquainted with their culture. Hawaii is a melting pot of ethnicities, Japanese being one of them. Historically they were enlisted to work the plantations, replacing the first wave of immigrants, the Chinese, who improved their lot, moving from laborers to small business owners.

Growing up among the Japanese in Maui, I saw them as a quiet, soft-spoken, hard-working people. Family and honor were important in their culture. They were leaders, for sure, but they led by example. Children knew what was expected of them, because they did as their parents did. And the adults seemed to do whatever was necessary to provide for themselves and their families, by simply doing. They grew their own produce, they fished, they opened small mom and pop grocery stores. From what I observed, the Japanese seemed a very self-sufficient people. Moreover, I never heard them complain. It seemed they felt anything was possible, if they just worked hard enough.

When learning of the devastating losses it has suffered in the wake of the Tsunami, I could only think that Japan will re-emerge strong once again, like the mythological phoenix which arose from its own ashes. It is not a nation that cries out in desperation. Instead its people will put their noses to the proverbial grindstone, and rebuild their country from the ground up, making it even better than before. If God ever imbued a people with the gift of everlasting hope, in my opinion it would have to be the Japanese.

for a country of hard-working people…hugs and prayers…hugmamma.

in-laws, like siblings

Unlike my own siblings who were older and not living at home during my childhood years, my husband’s 11 brothers and sisters were very much present during the 3 years we dated, and the early years of our marriage. Because my husband was the eldest and we were a couple, it seemed as though his siblings were mine also. And the respect and admiration they had for him, was extended to me by virtue of our relationship. That was different from being the youngest in my family, where I had to mind the wishes of my brothers and sisters. I reveled in the role of  “big sister,” and I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming, loving, fun brood of in-laws.

  • My age, Michael was the bronzed, Greek god of myths, who surfed and dated Miss Hawaii’s, one being the niece of Hawaii’s governor at the time. Glad I was never competing for his attention, I relished the position of future sister-in-law instead. But through the years, my brother-in-law has aged into a soft-spoken, humble man of spiritual substance, happily married for many years.
  • A year younger than me, Kathy was a beauty who turned heads. While the details are fuzzy, I do remember having driven her in my car to a rendezvous with a young man, after she climbed out of her bedroom window, unbeknownst to her parents. I don’t think they ever found out, until after I was safely married to their son.
  • Twins John and Mary were usually out with friends, so that I was less familiar with them. Both attractive, they seemed ensconced in a world of beautiful, fun-loving, party people. At the time, I felt they were so totally out of my league. Thank goodness middle-age levels the playing field.
  • Homemaker Julie has always been the surrogate mom. Even at a young age, she seemed to relish cooking, cleaning, supervising, counseling. She always did it from love, never out of obligation or for mercenary reasons. So it didn’t surprise me when she rose to Director of Revenue Services at a renowned, boutique hotel on Waikiki Beach. 
  • Dan is a man with a big heart for his wife and 4 daughters. Nothing is too much for his bevy of lovely women. In his younger years, I saw little of him, since he was a teenager who kept to himself, as most young men that age do.
  • Cindy has always been a sweetheart, with a smile as big and open as her generous personality. Things may have frazzled her from time to time, but I never noticed. Her husband knows he’s a very lucky man for having won, and kept, her heart these many years.
  • I don’t remember Louise’s younger years, except that I was told she looked most like my husband when he was young. But in recent years we’ve enjoyed a great camaraderie with she and her husband, one based upon good-natured teasing and laughter.
  • A handsome, little boy Richard captured my heart with his sweetness and adulation. He seemed to treasure the times my husband and I involved the youngest siblings in crafts we would make as Christmas gifts, or goodies we would bake for the family, or on outings where we would take them along. He was like a little brother who always wanted to be at our side.
  • Rambunctious Lily was always heard AND seen. Her wide eyes and large smile readily admitted to mischievousness. She had no patience for fools; she still doesn’t. She and her husband have made life fun for their 3 sons and 1 daughter, all beautifully raised to be respectful of their elders. My husband and I always enjoy hilarious times when we visit with Lily and her family, no matter how infrequently it may be.
  • The youngest, Pat, will always have a special place in my heart because she and I share the last rung on the family “ladder.” My husband is glad that he’s becoming better acquainted with his youngest sibling, 13 years his junior. Again, it’s nice when older age “levels the playing field.” My most vivid memory of Pat as a child of 2, was when she climbed onto my lap upon our first meeting. While I chatted with others in the family, getting to know them better, she kept trying to put her hand inside the front of my shirt. I’m sure I was blushing, as I kept trying to stop her. I think my husband finally came to my rescue, taking his sister into his arms. I thought she was cute then, I still think she is now.

my in-laws have always been generous, and loving…hugmamma.

in the spotlight

Did we miss out on something as children? The need to talk or be seen are phenomena which have overtaken our lives. On its face, blogging and reality shows seem like the highest form of narcissism. Why our need to be heard, to be seen? Author Lisa Sabin-Wilson says it best in “WordPress For Dummies.” Blogging is “…a means of expression.” I’d say the same might be true of reality shows.

I was very fortunate to accompany my husband on a recent business trip to Venice. Attending several scheduled events, I was able to watch the President and CEO of the company speak before large assemblies of people. What a performer! Of Norwegian descent and striking at 6’4″, his appearance alone commanded one’s attention. Speaking in accented English, smiles interspersed to lighten the mood, one couldn’t help but be charmed. He seemed unrehearsed, yet he spewed forth facts about the business which boggled my layperson’s mind. Most appealing was his humility in sharing the stage with employees recognized for their longevity with the company, serving in the least skilled to the highest skilled positions. Don’t you just love a boss who doesn’t take all the credit, and hog the limelight? (If I think really hard, I might have had one or two in my corporate career. Hmmm…thinking… thinking. Still thinking.)  And this is a man who rubs elbows with corporate giants, heads of state, European royalty and ambassadors.

In a million years I could not walk about a stage, owning it. I did try in my middle and high school years. In the ’60″s I was the dancing “queen”, doing the “mash-potato” all over campus. I harmonized in an all girls, Beatles look-a-like group; captained the cheer-leading squad; and choreographed theatrical school shows. When I wasn’t entertaining the masses, I was still a “cut-up” before family and friends, mostly friends.

In my own family I am still the “ham.” My daughter’s favorite description of my antics is that I’m “goofy”, loveable, but goofy nonetheless. I’m sure my in-laws would agree. But I pride myself in bringing humor to their lives. Without me my husband’s life would be pretty quiet. I bring a little luster to his life, according to my daughter and mother-in-law.

On the other hand, it’s my husband and daughter who work in front of people all the time. He makes regular speeches in meetings and public forums.  My daughter dances for a living. How much more public can she get? Talk about getting “butterflies” in one’s stomach. They would consume me before I ever made an entrance! Yikes!

So I blog. I blog to express myself as a writer. Therein lies my passion, putting thoughts into words. I will never have “writer’s block”. In fact I sometimes wish the ideas would cease flowing. They rush tumbling over one another trying to be heard. It’s as if I’m sitting encircled by little children, raised hands in my face, clamoring for attention. Calling upon one who begins to speak, only to be interrupted by others too impatient to wait. I have no choice but to give voice to them, these thoughts that are restless, wanting out of my head.

I think we all have a hint of Narcissus in us. A youth who in Greek mythology “fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and was transformed into the narcissus flower.” Did you know that it has a beautifully, pungent fragrance? Perhaps we’re all reincarnations of this heavenly blossom.

are you? I am…hugmamma.