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FISH MAN

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MY DAD THE FISH MAN MY DAD THE FISH MAN
“Miya sama, Miya sama”, from Gilbert and Sullivan’s MIKADO was heard out of the Dodge truck as Dad loaded it each day - Japanese can goods from our basement cellar storage, Tofu from Amano’s, Gas at Kagi’s, Bread from Home Town Bakery, Dairy from Home Dairy and Fish and groceries from Ontario Fish Market.

The customers were the wives of Japanese farmers within a 70 mile radius from Ontario, Oregon, called the Treasure Valley on the Idaho/Oregon border. In the early years, 1940s and 1950s. We were all so poor we didn’t have time or cars to go in to town for groceries.

Dad liked playing his violin, his musical saw and singing in the church choir. He installed a musical horn on his truck with four notes. As he entered each farmer’s driveway he played a short musical tune.

Usually, the wife was out helping with something like weeding onions or thinning beets. She heard Dad’s music and came in from the field to do her shopping from the shelves along the walls of the van and the huge icebox that held the fish and meat products in the back. Soda pop was in crates in front of the shelves.

Dad bagged the groceries and carried them into the farmhouse kitchen and maybe had a cup of tea while he got paid and wrote out her order for his next delivery.

Dad was also the carrier of news and gossip. I often helped him in the summer, when school was out, so he could get home sooner. It was my job to close the icebox, clean off the cutting board and knife used to cut off the amount of fish or meat the customer wanted and take down the scale.

As I sat back down on one of the soda pop crates and went back to reading my Nancy Drew book, I could hear wafts of Dad’s laughter out from the kitchens.

On the way home on Thursdays, from Caldwell Ice Company, Dad loaded all the walking space on the truck floor with 100 pound blocks of ice for the Ontario Fish Market to put in their cold storage. We cut up the ice with ice picks for sale and for the ice boxes.

“The Fish Man” is unique to the Japanese Ethnic communities in America and mostly along cities on the West Coast where there were rural communities of Japanese Heritage residents. Japan is surrounded by the sea and my grandpa remembers the “Fish Man” walking to their farm houses, shouldering a pole with a basket on each end with samples of fish for sale.

In Japan there are still businesses with a fleet of vans with food items that supply households that are remote and sometimes the elderly that have a hard time going shopping. With Covid-Isolation we are experiencing door to door deliveries, but we don’t shop from a motor vehicle nor do we get serenaded with a musical horn.

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QUALIFYING FOR JUNIOR NATIONALS IN SWIMMING

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NOTRE DAME HIGH SCHOOL S... NOTRE DAME HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMER
Our grandson, Zac, qualified for the Long Course Summer Junior Nationals. He did the 100 Fly with a smoking 56.35 at the Irvine Spring Cup Meet.

The butterfly stroke is one of the most difficult swimming strokes. It requires an exact technique, strength, rhythm and takes a lot of practice.

He goes to Notre Dame High School, not the college. I love their slogan: 'Educating Hearts and Minds'."

Swimming has been one of his family's main sports. Swimming develops flexibility in muscles and joints, strengthening muscles groups of both the upper and lower body without dangers of impact injuries. Mostly, it takes Practice, Practice, Practice - and many years of parent driving to practice and swim meets!

The USA Swimming Futures Championships and Speedo Summer Invitational will take place the first week of August 2021.

Go Zac!!!

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THERE IS NO GOOD WITHOUT EVIL

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YIN - YANG YIN - YANG
The Yin/Yang principle suggests, we are constantly influenced by good and bad choices as we live daily. The goal is to keep a balance. Yin (literally the ‘shady place’) is the dark area. Yang (literally the “sunny place’) is the brightly lit part of our lives. It is not the getting rid of the dark that will lead to fulfillment but rather an understanding of both dark and light.

A Japanese heritage example of this concept is the acceptance of elements of the Yakuza — Japanese Mafia. After both the 1995 Kobe earthquake and 2011 Fukushima Tsunami disasters reports were that the Yakuza were the first responders in helping. 

One of the notorious Yakuza individuals in the Seattle area before WWII was a person referred to as “Kinpachi”. Two stories exemplify Kinpachi’s impact on our community. 

As we gathered in Jack and Del Uchida’s kitchen in the early 1990s, on Seattle’s Beacon Hill, we shared our first OMOIDE stories. Jack told us about accidentally running into Kinpachi on the streets of Tokyo on one of his visits to Japan. He said, “I recognized him from a distance because he had an imposing body and his arms hung long like an ape.” Kinpachi had been deported back to Japan in the late 1940s because of his unlawful activities. Jack’s comments as he told us of the incident was that they met as friends.
Tak Kubota told me a story of when he was young and ran the movie projector at Nippon Kan Theater on 6th Avenue in Seattle’s International district. The Yakuza arrived regularly to get paid for being protectors before the show could go on. It is my understanding the same issue was true for a number of the early hotel and restaurant businesses owned by the first Japanese to immigrate and have businesses in Seattle in the early 1900s. There were incidents of racial harassment but Tak indicated the protection was extortion and uncalled for.

None of us were afraid of Kinpachi. His wife was a Sunday school teacher for Sam and my girls. His children are still upstanding members of our community. 
Does that mean we approve of what Kinpachi did? No, that’s why we tell the story of a bad example. His career choices were wrong -- he was deported and he had to leave his family behind.

Every community and each social group have Yin/Yang elements. If you make bad choices there are consequences. Yakuza stories are “Yin” - colorful and fun to tell - for “Yang” results?!

Bio notes: Tak Kubota’s family were the creators of South End Seattle’s Kubota Japanese Garden and Tak also had a hand in establishing Kawabe House for retirement. Jack Uchida was one of the early Boeing Engineers and also engineered the famous Tsutakawa Fountains. He was likely on a trip to Japan to deal with one of the fountains.

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KENJI'S GIFT

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Drawn my granddaughter Drawn my granddaughter
With the beginning of “in-person” Seattle Mariner baseball games, after a year of Covid-Isolation, I am encouraged and equally uplifted as I remember the experience of Kenji’s gift. It is also heart warming to watch NHK television and see how the Japanese value handicapped participants, as the 2021 Olympic torch is being carried around Japan in anticipation of the Summer Olympics.

It was the first of October 2013, the end of that Seattle Mariner Baseball season. My husband, Sam, and I were given front row Mariner tickets in right field behind Ichiro— still the heart throb baseball hero for those of Japanese heritage. While we waited for the start of the game, I chose to stand and dance around to keep warm because there was no one in front of us to shield us from the cold breeze. I began to introduce myself to the fans around me. There was a family of three behind our seats—a mother and her two sons. It looked as though they were from Japan and had made a special trip to Seattle to watch Ichiro, and they were carrying an Ichiro sign.

Since I speak Japanese, I struck up a conversation. Kenji exhibited “Down Syndrome” symptoms and the mother explained, “Kenji worked seven years to save money for this trip as a bus boy and a dishwasher in a restaurant. He insisted we include his older brother, Yosuke, on this trip.”

I decided to make it a party with a few more of the fans around us and Sam ran to get refreshments to share. We hollered to get Ichiro’s attention and he did acknowledge us once.

One of the fans with season tickets explained, “ Balls often come our way. I will give it to the boy if I catch one.”

Later, one ball did come our way. The people behind the Japanese guests caught it and gave it to Kenji.

I have no memory of who the opponents were or who won the game.

As Sam and I climbed the stairs to leave, the mother stopped us and handed me the ring she was wearing. It was a fad in Japan at that time to make beaded jewelry. This one had a cross hanging. The mother said it was a memento for me to keep.

The ring in still in my jewelry box and keeps reminding me of the ripple effects of Kenji’s heritage values and the gift of his story we can pass on.

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COVID-ISOLATION BREAKOUT CAR TRIP

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PICTURE CREATED WITH PRES... PICTURE CREATED WITH PRESSED FLORA
by Mariko Maita
HURRAY! I had both Pfizer vaccinations over a month ago and the four of us at our house are getting out. We are still avoiding public gatherings so car trips is our choice.

Since March of 2020 our household of four and our cousin’s household of four have contained our socialization to our two households. The younger six are on a spring break RV excursion to Idaho. Day before, they drove past Sand Hollow where I grew up. Highway 84 touches a corner of my father’s farm.

Yesterday, I came back from Raymond, WA, after an overnight with Mariko-san. We spent 24 hours of almost non-stop conversation about our lives that includes both of us having lost our spouses in the last decade and what we want for our future.

Research confirms that talking and social support are the best ways to handle “Stress”.

Mariko is an artist known for creating pictures with pressed flora. For example, she looks at a hydrangea petal and it reminds her a bird head and then she layers other flora to complete a picture. One of her most impressive works is a large piece that includes a girl playing her guitar; all parts drawn with pressed flowers.

When she created the “Fish Picture” she says, “It was made by accident. I was making something else, then one petal came to my eyes to tell me ‘tiny goldfish’. One dahlia petal shows the fish’s mouth. I cut some petals for the body, tail and fin. Seaweed are horsetails.

Mariko’s art is available at the South Bend Riverside Gallery on the main road to the ocean on southwest Washington coast highway.

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DESIDERATA - SOMETHING THAT IS NEEDED OR WANTED

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WRITTEN IN 1927 WRITTEN IN 1927

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

​Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

​Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

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OBSTACLE CLEARING

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“DON’T DO THING... “DON’T DO THINGS FOR CHILDREN THEY CAN DO THEMSELVES”
It’s Easter Weekend! Time to SPRING OUT for a successful rest of the year. Particularly, the girls have time with Spring Break from school.

Today, Mom decided on a session of “OBSTACLE CLEARING” because there is no school next week and the following week a road trip is being planned. Goals for our life need to be clear for the time ahead to avoid nagging and unnecessary problems.

Mom, 11 & 13 as well as Grandma sit at the kitchen table with different colored post-its for each of the four of us. This is a design thinking exercise where you map your goals to the things that are obstacles or annoyances that block your Chi and do not let you get to the flow you’re looking for.

The Pomodoro timer is set for 10 minutes and we all write “things that bug us”; one on each sticky.

Next we take turns reading our post-its and transfer these stickies to sections that make “categories”.—Time Constraints, Household Messiness, Shelter Needs, Thought Blocks, Dog Concerns, Device Overuse, Food Matters, Sister Challenges and Social Needs.

Then we talk about possible solutions. The first one we all think is easy to identify and do something about is the Dog Concerns. The big problem is that Suki is not motivated by food or treats. She wants attention and play. The agreement is to work on teaching Suki to “Whisper”. We like her watch-dog tendencies, but her loud barking is a problem.

Then we take a break, but during the break it occurred to me the 11-yr-old loves dealing with food. She agrees to be in charge of meal planning with our Sunday Family discussion time. She is also criticized for not spending as much time with the dog concerns.

When we come back from break, it becomes clear 11 is willing to free her Mom of the burden of shopping for our food deliveries. 11 has already shown us awareness of cost savings and health needs. The incentive, besides the ability to use the iPad, she says, “13 takes care of the dog so I can help with this.”

WHAT A LEARNING DAY!!

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IDENTITY

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CHOOSING TO LIVE WELL CLAR... CHOOSING TO LIVE WELL
CLARIFYING OUR AIM IN LIFE
Listening to and reading 12 RULES FOR LIFE and BEYOND ORDER, by Writer, Psychologist/Philosopher Dr. Jordon Peterson, I am led to clarify my identity. Peterson suggests that in playing my game of life, I develop a target or I will have nothing to aim for.

The first game I can remember playing as a 4-yr-old was the game of house. In my last blog post, I told the story of Sand Hollow and how Dickie Randall and I dug in the sand and adjacent cave, playing house.

At recess when I was in first grade, I remember a group of us gathered under an oak tree. We gathered the fall leaves, that had fallen, into the outlines of a house. I remember even creating a toilet in the section we made into a bathroom. There is incongruity in that picture memory of our play, because I was living in a farm house with only an outdoor toilet at that time in my life. But it does indicate what I saw as my future.

Moving on to the first years of playing house with Sam, when our first daughter was born. I remember I couldn't take my eyes off this wonderful gift of humanity. We watched her sleeping, awakening and playing for the whole first year, saying to each other, “Last year she was a nothing."

Assuming there would be a good chance I would live to see great grandchildren, I asked myself, "What do I need to do as a mother to ensure, self-reliant, responsible, generous and well-adjusted great grandchildren.”

Much of my circumstances have recently changed at age 82 and I am choosing to paint a target that enhances my original pictures. Peterson says, “The best way is to "write" and begin by choosing a problem that you can help to solve.”

My choice is to identify and clarify my target. This is not easy for me. I have a hard time saying that I am a writer. As described by Peterson, “God created us all equal.” We are all filled with voices both good and bad or evil. It’s up to us to take responsibility and choose. The problem is: The voices minute by minute distract me from my target.

Breaking my words down to implementable behavior, I choose to play “WRITER”. I am choosing playmates - mentors as well as learners I can help - that will help me stay on track. When I hit the target, I will have published a novel on the Japanese in America Experience.

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GROWING UP IN SAND HOLLOW

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"...a desert so rugged, so dre... "...a desert so rugged, so dreary..."
To be a Pioneer, didn’t I have to head West in a Covered Wagon pulled by horses? It occurs to me now, 2021AD, that my own family similarly pioneered new territory in Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho, from the early 1900s moving East. I was born in 1939 in Bully Creek on the Oregon side of the Snake River that forms the Idaho/Oregon border. Therefore, at the age of 82, I write my own Little House on the Prairie.

One of the 300,000 pioneer’s passing through this area wrote in her diary: “…desert so rugged, so dreary and…changes of thousand and thousands of years  won’t  yield anything worthy of consideration to the support of human life”.

In the 1920s the Black Canyon Dam on the Payette river, near Emmett, Idaho, created new farming opportunities, even before the Owyhee Dam created water for irrigation in the 1930s on the Oregon side. The Snake River rises in western Wyoming, then flows through the Snake River Plains of southern Idaho, the rugged Hells Canyon on the Oregon–Idaho border and the rolling Palouse Hills of Washington, emptying into the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities, Washington. It marks the Idaho Oregon border in what we call “The Treasure Valley” west of Boise, the capital of Idaho.

When I was 4-years-old, spring of 1943, Dad rented the Gilman farm next to the Randall family farm. Dickie Randall was my first playmate. The place is called Sand Hollow because the whole area is filled with “sand-draws”— a pond of sand, like a huge sand-box. Dickie and I played for hours digging in the sand draw below his house and next to our driveway. The sand had fallen or was blown out with wind and rain from the hillside, leaving the more compact soil, which became a cave-dwelling like place. We played house in the cave and I called myself “Yvonne” pronounced “Why-vonne”. Dickie had an older married sister named Yvonne that came to visit from Nebraska and I thought that was the prettiest name I had ever heard so I used it for “pretend”.

I did a lot of hanging-out at the Randall place. Their house was a square cinder block house with a flat roof. One day, I got too close to their German Shepherd when he was eating. They fed him out in their back yard next to the chicken coop where they collected eggs. The dog probably had almost my whole head in his mouth as he guarded his food. Dickie’s mother picked me up and carried me home, crying herself, along with me crying and bleeding all over my face, “I’m so sorry!! I’m so sorry!! What can I do?!”

All the men folk were out in the fields with their horses so Mom drove and Mrs. Randall held me as they got into our tan, one-seat Chevrolet Coupe. I think they left Dickie to fend for himself as he was a year or two older than me. Rushing to the doctor meant a couple miles out to Highway 30 on the graveled Sand Hollow road and twelve miles southeast to Caldwell - the main highway to Boise - for the stitches.

It’s surprising Mom knew where to go, but she was pregnant and had established a relationship with a family doctor. No one could afford much. I was born at home with a midwife and so were most others my age of that era.

My parents assured Mrs. Randall it was equally my fault and my memory is my feeling it my fault too. Maybe I had been warned not to mess with the dog when it was eating. After that incident our families became very close friends. We became part of the community, helping each other with harvesting and celebrations, being invited to Sunday dinners with friends after church, My mom and Mrs. Randall began exchanging recipes and almost daily chatted across their WWII Victory Gardens. Of course that made me wary of dogs. I can still feel the scar across the bridge of my nose.

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DOWSING OR WATER WITCHING

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HOW DAD CHOSE WHERE TO D... HOW DAD CHOSE WHERE TO DRILL FOR WATER
Having blogged about the metaphysics in the “Wave” in my last blog, I’m remembering a time when I was four years old and participated in Water Dowsing or Water Witching.

Water witching or dowsing has never been scientifically proven, but farmers all over have used this method when they drill for water. In 1943 Dad bought a 30-acre piece of property for farming onions and built a house. After the building was completed he brought Mom and me to the place to determine where he should dig a well for water.

I remember walking in the weeds of the front yard on the new farm, as our house was set back from the main graveled Sand Hollow Road in Canyon County Idaho. We walked around “witching” for where the water pump should be drilled. Mom was good at it. I could also feel the gravitational pull as I walked around the area with the willow branch. But even as a four-year-old, I can remember being somewhat skeptical. I think it was because old man Mr. Craig, who lived across the road was there too and made fun of Dad taking it so seriously.

There was a Willow tree near the irrigation canal, and Dad cut off a branch at the “Y”. With my two hands holding the two branches, I pointed the bottom of the “Y” straight up and forward. As I walked around our plot of land, where the water was closer to the surface, there was a gravitational pull and the bottom of the “Y” pointed to the spot where Dad dug and placed the pump.

I don’t remember having any problems with getting water. At first we hauled the water in buckets, but after we moved into the house Dad fixed it so there was running water to the kitchen sink. Eventually, he fixed a cold shower out the side door in the attached shed.

Today, I am less skeptical regardless of the fact that science can’t prove it. This is a good example of the energy beyond our five senses. It’s my feeling that this is an energy one can use for good or bad. But we have more control than we think with practicing positive thinking and positive prayers.

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