Starry Wanderer or Name That Bowl!

One of the steps in the tea ceremony ritual is to take time to admire the tools used. Called haiken, it's a chance for the guests to take a close look at the items and for the guest to explain a bit about them, how they were made, their history, etc. The last tea ceremony practice I went to I had a chance to bring in a bowl I bought. And it definitely had a story behind it.

I first fell in love with this bowl while browsing the net when my friend Oolong was over.

The picture is from the Etsy shop I bought it from, Art To Hold

 I have a weakness for things with a celestial or star motif and this bowl just called to me. Tea bowls are not exactly inexpensive things, and at the time, I thought I'd put off getting it. But when a few weeks later I was in need of retail therapy (this was about the time my family got the news a very close friend of the family was nearing the end of his battle with Lou Gherig's Disease) I remembered this bowl. My friend loved the night sky as much as I did but for very different reasons (mine more metaphysical and his very strictly scientific). So I bought it.

And I waited...and waited...and waited...

Somehow, for some reason still unknown to me, Etsy grabbed an old address to send it to, my parents' old home half a fair sized state away. Never mind that I had placed an order just a week before and it came to my home just fine, as had the all the other orders I had ever made through Etsy.

I contacted the seller, who was super sweet about the whole thing (really I can't plug his store, Art To Hold enough - if anyone out there is in the market for a Japanese chawan or tea bowl, do check his shop out). He helped me track down phone numbers for the post office to try to sort things out. I got a hold of an actual human being at the post office near my folks old place and she found the package and pulled it so it could be sent to the correct address, no additional charge to me or the Etsy seller.

And then I waited...and waited...and waited...

Somehow, for reasons slightly less obscure but no less frustrating, my bowl got caught up in some strange sorting process based on the bar codes on it and kept pinging back and forth between a few different post offices. It got as close as Philadelphia before it got bounced back to somewhere else it wasn't supposed to go. I got to be quite friendly with the postal employee I has contacted initially. We apparently were both big tea lovers. She collected tea pots and one of her most cherished pieces had come from Japan. I actually talked to her the day my friend died and her kindness then, as well as throughout the whole thing, is something that will stay with me.

Finally - on my son's birthday which happened to coincide with a full moon no less - the bowl arrived in one piece at my home. The first person to drink from it? My friend's daughter, who loves Japan the way I and her mother do and loves the stars the way her father did.

My cha-do set, with it's snazzy new bowl.

So I related this whole story to my tea class and finished with "It really needs a name after all it's been through." (It's pretty common for distinctive tea tools to be given names). I asked the Japanese speakers how they might translate "Starry Wanderer" in Japanese - and got blank looks. Some concepts are hard to translate, but I may play with it it until I find a good translation. In the meanwhile, although it doesn't have a Japanese name, it does have a song.

Song Choice: The Wanderer by Dion

3 Guesses, First 2 Don't Count...

There's a blog hop over at Lexa Cain's that asks people to talk about their dream destination...

Yeah, so is anyone out there shocked Japan is mine?  Didn't think so.

My intro to Japan started the way most Gen X-er's did. Anime. Though my first anime was not as well known in the US as the ones most people my age connected with, it's widely popular in Japan (I swear I'm not trying to be hipster about it - in fact if more US folks discovered this old school gem, I'd love it!). The main character's design is reminiscent of Snow White - if Snow had to dress as a boy and kick some ass sword fighting!

Princess Sapphire kicked royal butt back in the day when competent girl fighters were rare

One of the places I'd have to visit in Japan is the Osamu Tesuka animation museum, as he is the creator of Princess Knight (Japanese title: Ribon No Kishi) and is generally known as father of modern anime and manga, because so much of the style of anime derives directly from his work.

I also need to pay homage to a modern master of the art and visit the Ghibli Museum. For those not familiar, Hayao Miyazaki is a co-founder of Studio Ghibli and director of some of my all time favorite movies.

If you haven't seen Spirited Away, do it now!!!

Some time needs to be spent in Osaka. This city is known for it's culinary delights. A famous expression says that citizen of Kyoto will ruin themselves through extravagance in clothing while those from Osaka will ruin themselves though food.

I'm not a baseball fan, but I've adopted the Hanshin Tigers out of Osaka because of my desire to visit the city. Plus their fight song rocks.

I'd love to soak up some older culture and history of Japan as well, so Kyoto is a must. The tea school I belong to, Urasenke, is based out of Kyoto. Also I'd love to catch a performance of traditional Japanese performance arts there.

Speaking of Japanese arts, I want to visit sites sacred to Benzaiten, Goddess of the Arts and a Lady I have high regard for. There are several sites sacred to Her but the one I want to visit the most is in Enoshima, where one of Her most famous legends takes place (Her taming a dragon).

I was thrilled when I discovered this song about Benzaiten by Blackmoore's Night

So where would you go if you could go anywhere?

NaNoDeJaWriThrmo...or something like that (An Insecure Writer's Support Group Post)

Part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group postings

The good news is that I have made a nice start to the novel. I've got an outline, chapter summaries for the first few chapters, a nice chunk of background info (world building sort of things and character summaries) and most of chapters one and two written.

Nope, didn't win NaNoWriMo this year - and I didn't expect to.

I expected it to be a kick in the ass to start writing down ideas that could fill a novel, and it was that. I also knew the combination of the emotional roller coaster I've been on, along with my fear of failure was a rich petri dish for procrastination to flourish. So my goal was just to start, just see I could get something done, even when I felt not so great. And possibly see where my procrastination temptations lie. I can't say house keeping is usually so alluring I can't resist it - but when the choice is between that and trying to figure out the perfect words to describe a scene, well, let's just say my house looked awesome in November. Also, I am glad Candy Crush has a limit on lives.

My actual goal is to have a rough at least 80% done story by the end on January, making this a 3 month jog instead of a 1 month sprint. It's just more realistic for where I am. So while I feel, yeah, I kind of was lame in making writing my priority in November, the 3 month goal works. I'm not giving up; I'm taking it at my own pace. The goal isn't to hurry. It's to finish.