Monday, November 23, 2015

Setter on Tsumugi

Come autumn I love wearing this Ohara tsumugi from the Kyoto area, the autumn leaves reds and ochres brighten even a dull day with warm rich colors. I don't remember where I bought this kimono, but I have fond memories wearing it on short breaks exploring Nikko and Kyoto with people I love, autumn, of course, and for me, each year as I wear it I relive Proustlike the experience over the years.
I vividly remember the excitement of finding this blue tie-dye tsumugi: the kids in kindergarden, and off I went with a great friend to explore her invitation to a kimono sale in Shinbashi. She was a big fan of Kihachijo, way beyond our budget, of course. Neither of us were expecting to purchase, simply to enjoy the wealth of fabrics and colors and the freedom from motherhood, only by chance I delved in and picked this kimono out of a pile of fabric rolls and was instantly smitten. Haggling desperately to bring her down to a price I could afford with the kids and education and all, I was overjoyed with my prize! Although I've worn it many times, I particularly remember donning it for a jazz live in the boonies some years back music, inspired musician friends, relaxed and happy times just letting the music lift us up and take us away. 
I couldn't be doing this with Chiaro di Luna, she was a slobbery wee sweetie, kimono fabric cutoffs are a prize to be made into cushion covers, bags, chouchous or Japanese shoe straps, ohana. I miss her sorely....
Photo of Oshima tsumugi with chirimen obi: Lelantos 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rest Assured

 Rest assured you will not be forgotten, little Luna. The day begins with a thwack at the little cymbal, a stick of incense and a wee candle-lit prayer as the chimes reverberate round the room. The beautiful pictures of Luna are courtesy of Pension Olive in Nasu, taken when she was having the time of her life, running free in the giant dogrun and enjoying tidbits from their delicious food, passed out surreptitiously under the table. Rest assured, little sweetie, that the mundane bliss of regular meals, varied walkies around the neighborhood, snuggle time and play time, will go on, just as though you were here, and who is to say you are not?
The autumn air is balmy and the trees are beginning to share their splendor. Nobu and Claire enjoy the freedom of a slightly longer leash now I'm not busy with three setters. Claire particularly seems to enjoy the space, she took care of Luna, making sure she didn't bump into things, reminding her to slow down and stay in the group. Walking in the park the leaves rustled along behind me today, in spite of there being no wind to stir them, as though Luna was speeding to catch up, and walk with us again.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Goodbye Chiaro di Luna

The Japanese grandmother passed away early Sunday morning, so we snuck out of the house leaving the three dogs sleeping, and drove over to do the last honors. After the doctor pronounced her dead, I cleaned out the cupboards in her room, packed up her stuff and loaded it in the car, waiting for the body to be washed. They asked me to help do her last make-up, so there I was at three in the morning painting lipstick on a corpse. After that we had to wait for the hearse to arrive and carry her to the crypt until the last service and cremation: Yokohama is overcrowded right now, so it took some time to organize, (the crypts were all full until 1400 that day when a cremation would take place, so she had to be carried to a provisional crypt first) and we finally got home around 5 am. 
Meanwhile in the evening I had a professional show dance performance, so I was then slapping on foundation and painting lipstick on myself to hide the shadows of a sleepless night...when I got back around eight in the evening, it was like Luna had been waiting and waiting, the neighbor came by to ask after granma, and we all sat round chatting and stroking Luna, and she peed a great lake, sighed, and passed on, ever so gently in the warm circle of love. I was so wrecked by then, I called the pet ceremony organizers and CACI and then just fell asleep next to her, stroking her gently as usual.
I woke around three and she was quite cold, and it felt like I could go upstairs and get some rest alone before morning walkies with Claire and Nobu. I spent some time clipping all the flowers I could find in the garden: chrysanthemums, tsubaki, tsuwabukiso leopard plant, and purple lantana. It seemed fitting, because Luna loved to run around in the garden for hours on end. At the crematorium we arranged her lovingly at the final altar, her head resting on Sofie's little memorial box, it felt like Sofie had come to greet her and be with her, and indeed a friend has confirmed she dreamed the same thing.
After a prayer, and a final goodbye kiss, the body is cremated while you wait upstairs, I was zonked out on the couch for an hour, and then we go to pick the bones off the tray with chopsticks and put them in the urn, starting from the tail and working our way up to the crowning head on top. Luna's wee skeleton was so cute, just like the energy of her living self, a very moving ritual.
Finally the bones are pulverized and you can take her home in her wee urn inside the beautiful brocade box with a bunch of time to set up an altar yet, it was off to the human funeral parlor to dress granma in a cream silk satin damask kimono after a professional make-up session, and then lift her gently in all her glory into her white linen brocade coffin, looking ever so pleased with the film star treatment.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Time origami

Time seems to slow down and fold in on itself, no need for rush and surge and passion, a slow gentle progression of weakness and awareness, a slow shutting down of will and way...
Today Chiaro di Luna would not eat her breakfast of bok choy and pumpkin with bonito flakes, brown rice and chicken breast, not even the smallest bite...and even that most delightful of smelly delights, cheese, the real French deal, not your processed stuff, was unable to whet her palate. Nobu and Claire were dancing in the wings jostling to get in at the unexpected feast, but I've put it away for supper.
A friend brought by some freshly caught raw deer meat from the mountains: wonder of wonders, she wobbled to the door to greet her, and has swallowed a few tiny slivers of red meat while resting on the kitchen mat, surrounded by the inane bustle of the other setters. Somehow around her time has slowed, the universe is softer, gentler, blurry at the horizon which is folded in to greet her. Such a miracle, such strength is needed to be close to a passing, a relentless pressure of foreboding and prescience behind the ears, a dull cloud hanging over the brain...loving and weeping and loving, and slowly, stillness creeps in.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Moonbeam Fading

I've spent the best part of the day suffering from fatigue and sleeping with Luna after returning home late from St. Paul's 21st Williams Cup judging all day yesterday: great speeches, an excellent show of creative young people at work, particularly also on the part of the organizers...Meanwhile Luna's no longer wobbling around, more like staggering, but still valiantly goes out to the garden. I go with her to catch her if she collapses on the way back in.
She's turning up her pretty little anemic nose at dry food, so gets special VIP treatment, a whole pack of delicious soft food all to herself: normally reserved for topping and split between three dogs. Ordinarily it wouldn't be enough, but since she only gets up to pee and is mainly resting, it should be sufficient. Out walkies the locals are all asking after her, surprised to see the other parent with just Claire and Nobu. Thank you for all the love and prayers to ease her passing, we are blessed. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chiaro di Luna

This morning the moonbeam princess has not been able to walk far, just to the corner of the block for a poops and peewees which used up every ounce of her strength, so I carried her home discover a huge puddle she made with the effort of walking to the door. 
She's still able to lift her head and sit up, poddle over to gulp her drinking water, but no way she can cope with a walkies with Nobu and Claire.
Nobu is close by watching over her as she rests on my coat, probably the last time she'll be upstairs...Nobu is right there offering moral support, he's the man of the house, gotta watch over the ladies...two years of love to warm her heart on the long journey when she goes.