Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Enabler vs. Supportive Friend

In the Spring I went to the Tokyo Hobby Show and had my fill of interesting eye-candy. Some things spoke to me more than others, but the one thing I thought was really interesting were some multicolored purses I saw at a booth – the hoards of Japanese ladies surrounding the booth would be my big clue that something very cool was there that I had to see. With very little English, and even less Japanese (on my part) I was able to purchase the supplies that came with an instruction sheet ... that was of course in Japanese. I seem to be accumulating multiple sewing projects, and it would appear that for our time here in Japan I have acquired a taste for Japanese handbags. I have collected numerous patterns, which are all naturally in Japanese. I keep buying, and stuffing the patterns in my craft drawer (please note the word drawer, not room, not closet, but drawer - in a years time I have gone from a studio space to a drawer!) with the hope that one day I would be able to pull them out and spend hours sewing away, making really chic bags out of Japanese obis (the beautiful sashes they wear around their kimonos).

So I have two problems. The first is that I cannot read Japanese. The second is that I do not have my sewing machine (a.k.a my "Ferrari" - Jeff's name for my Bernina, which has to do with how much it cost not how fast I sew, although I can make it go pretty darn fast thank you very much). Not one to let a couple of obstacles like language barriers and lack of essential machines to get in my way of accomplishing a project I figured it would all work itself out ...

First problem solved. I have a neighbor friend, Etsuko, who is Japanese and happened to fall in love with a guy in the Navy and now follows her husband all over the world too. Lucky her, for the first time since they've been married she got to come home to Japan. Lucky me, I asked if she would mind looking at the directions and help walk me through the process and she said yes. As she started looking over the instructions she commented "wow" and I of course wanting to be clued in and asked "what?" It turns out the "fabric" I bought isn't really fabric but tatami matt webbing that's used to cover the edges of the tatami matts. O.K. I think, now that's cool. I'm going to make a purse out of tatami matt webbing. Love it!

Second problem, well sometimes you need your friends to support you in your endeavors - by either standing firm and saying "no" ... like as in "no, you don't need that Mocha Frapp if you plan to fit back into the clothes you arrived here with" or they could be an enabler and respond like my friend Val did with a "sure you can borrow my sewing machine, even though you put yours in storage for 3 years so that you could explore life beyond the machine." Thank you Val for being an Enabler! I had so much fun creating this bag, mmmm, well o.k. I'm sure sewing to most of you wouldn't be on your "fun" list but maybe creating would be ... and so for the first time in quite a while I created something out of flat pieces of webbing and even though I'm sure some of my "winging it" with the instructions wouldn't pass with the Japanese ladies I wiggled my way through to see what they were all looking at, it worked for me and I was ... inspired.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Normally, automobiles really don't do much for me, they are a necessity, a tool to get me from one place to another. Just show me where the gas goes, hand me the keys and I'm good. It's just a car. Vintage cars however are a completely different story. My dad loves old cars and for as long as I can remember he has stopped at every vintage car show we happened to pass by, if a vintage car is in a parking lot he will amble over to it - drawn to it like a moth to light. He knows the details ... make, year, etc. And if the owner is around, it will be at least another 10 to 15 minutes before we're on our way - he gathers all the info. Perhaps it was this exposure to vintage cars from a young age that I learned to appreciate their beauty. And I had my dreams, when I was younger I really wanted a 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible ... in red of course. On the weekends my dad and I would stop and look at the cars for sale in the parking lot of a local store and I'd dream ... but it wasn't meant to be. Too much money, not very practical for driving back and forth to college in ... it sure was fun to look though.

This past weekend was Friendship Day here on base. The gates are open and after standing in hours long lines to get through security the Japanese are welcomed on base to various festivities. A couple of ships are open to tour, there are music performances, many organizations selling various kinds of American food - pizza is a HUGE hit here (I actually see the Japanese walking out with luggage carts with 10+ pizza boxes strapped to the luggage carrier with bungee cords - and I wonder why? The pizza I've had out in town beats what we have here on base). I avoided the crowds, it was a beastly hot and humid day, and hunkered down inside our air conditioned townhouse until 4:30 ... when I grabbed my camera, hoped that the afternoon light would be my friend and I headed to the auto show portion of Friendship Day. There I figured I had photo ops galore to continue practicing my photography skills (and I use that term loosely).

There were all kinds of cars there, many newer souped up cars and low-riders (hadn't seen those since we lived in San Diego) but those did not interest me, I passed them with hardly a glance my focus was on something a couple of rows over ... like that moth to the light, there was a 1965 Black Ford Mustang, beautifully restored. There were also some other really cool older cars that I wished I'd had my dad next to me telling me about them - an old yellow pick up truck, a beautiful British sports car. All were great opportunities for me to practice my photography, I learned a lot that day about lighting and reflection, angles and focus. I still have such a long ways to go, but each time I'm out I learn a little bit more. And, I realized I really loved taking pictures of these vintage cars – they are beautiful, and the care their owners have taken to maintain their beauty for others to enjoy is well ... inspiring.