Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 24/39

Dad's been good. He has good days and bad, and cold days and rainy days are bad. Today happens to be both. But on good days we laugh recalling the antics of family, friends and his past students, (he was a Chemistry professor,) until I fall off the chair and we're all crying in pain. I'm not sure how many more months/years we'll have these chances, but we don't worry about that too much; we're lucky we know funny or silly people, (mostly ourselves,) who do things we can laugh about decades later.

When I get mad at Dad, I try to remember the good things about him and our relationship. Without a doubt at the top of this list is how he's always been financially generous with our education and interests. Mom's most recent loom acquisition is case in point. Mom and I had a LOL moment when one day last week Dad came home from his rare solo outings irate, because I haven't been spending enough of his money since I've been back!!

Mom is better, cheerful and has gotten over a bad cold she had a few weeks before I came home. She has been weaving consistently, but does get tired, and her forgetfulness is a bit shocking. She is aware of this, and, like me, keeps making notes and tiny reminders but sometimes can't remember where we put them. Once again I'm reminded that aging is a gradual and steady loss of abilities we take for granted, and as she reminds me, we are at our youngest today.

I'm starting to get used to my parents' ways a bit; strange how I have to relearn their likes and dislikes every visit. At times I get a bit tired of their stubbornness and unreasonableness, but I know they like to do things their ways so I try not to challenge them. Too much. And then go back and do things my way when they are not looking. Sometimes.

* * * * *

On Sunday, I went to an exhibition of Japanese wooden chairs, in a museum I had never heard of, Yokosuka Art Museum.

From the road in front of the museum, we could see all the way to the Port of Yokohama and beyond to the right, and Chiba Prefecture's industrial area facing Bay of Tokyo. It was a rare warm, sunny day and there were quite a few folks out enjoying the view and a long walk by the sea, hopping into the museum, in some cases, only to check out the museum shop and perhaps have a cup of coffee in the Italian restaurant within.

The chair exhibition was wonderful, displaying hand- and factory-made wooden chairs of the last 150 or so years. It was lovely to learn that in some institutions, chairs made in the early 1900's were still in use. I loved the hand-crafted, somewhat ornate ones from the 1910's. Sorry, no pictures allowed.

What surprised me more was the quality of the paintings in their possession, and how much I enjoyed them. Again, the early 1900's were my favorite, and I never imagined Japanese artists painted wall-sized oils in such vivid colors back then. What a treat.

* * * * *

In Japan, department stores put on interesting art exhibitions and wonderful trade expos. At the tiny, and not so up-market department store we frequent, there was a wee craft show last week and Mom and I met lovely boxwood workers, Mr and Mrs Andoh.
In Japan, boxwood is usually used for making one thing: combs. But in Oita, Kyushu, a tradition of boxwood carving thrived for generations; now there are only a handful of crafts people left, making traditional items such as netsuke, but the Andohs have included accessories and more modern pieces in their product mix, and have managed to expand and thrive. Mr Andoh is the third generation in his family involved in boxwood carving. (He's also a mountain rescue volunteer.)

Mrs Andoh kindly took time to explain to us the special characteristics of boxwood which I can't recall, but the Andohs experimented beyond the traditional use/techniques and developed in particular what is called the "transparent" look where the shapes are left but gaps taken out, as in the first cherry blossom necklace seen here.
This was my favorite, a large peony brooch.

Boxwood darkens with use and age. As pieces gets handed down, they will darken with a slightly reddish brown. Lovely! And it's always a wonderful thing to be able to spend time with other makers.


  1. Love that beautiful wood carving. It reminds me of the wood work that comes out of Bali.

  2. Oh, yes, I know what you mean!!


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