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LIFE'S CONNECTIONS

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Is there some kind of Universa... Is there some kind of Universal influence guiding my choices??
KELLY'S BIRTH

Fifty-three years ago, October 26, 1967, it was 12noon. Lynette, three-years-old, and I, eight months pregnant, were in the playroom under the stairwell. We had just finished watching Seattle TV’s, “Wunda Wunda is my name, for boys and girls, I’m glad you came.”
As Lynette and I traversed the hallway, passing the front door and starting up the stairs for nap time, my water-bag broke and I started hard labor.
I made it back down the stairs, through the hallway, past the playroom door and into the kitchen; making sure I was calm on the outside so I wouldn’t scare Lynette. I grabbed the kitchen towel, held it between my knees and rotary dialed my husband, Sam, on the kitchen wall phone. No one answered at the dental office as they were out to lunch!
I rotary dialed my doctor, Dr. Lamke, and she was out of town!
I rotary dialed 911 and the police! The receptionist said they didn’t provide such services as taking me to the hospital.
By that time, I was having a hard time standing with the pain, but it was intermittent so I had a minute or so between contractions. Lynette was hovering over me worried during the times I lay on the floor.
I rotary dialed my neighbor five houses north, Penny Simkin, and asked if she would come and get Lynette!
Meanwhile, working to keep Lynette occupied, I asked, “What should we name the baby?”
She became animated as she was good at naming all our animals and “Snow White” our car. She answered, “Bogene if it’s a boy and Judy if it’s a girl. I don’t know where she got those names.
“Lynette, please go answer the door,” I asked of her as Penny came to the front door and I continued to lie by the kitchen doorway.
Penny offered to take me to the hospital, but she first had to get a baby sitter for her three preschoolers. She called another neighbor, Sally Herard, across the street on the next block there on 23rd Avenue East. Marvin Herard, Seattle University Art Professor, happened to be home and ran over to sit the four youngsters as Sally had their own preschoolers at their home. We were friends because we got together regularly for neighborhood Halloween Trick-or-treating, Christmas cookie decorating & ornament making and birthday parties with all the kids.
I grabbed a larger bath towel and ran out to Penny’s blue and white Volkswagen bus without a coat, without my purse and I don’t remember locking the door. As I lay on the back seat, we headed to Northwest Hospital. We didn’t worry about seat belts those days. We passed University of Washington Hospital, a few blocks down the hill from where we lived, but I thought we should go the extra 10 miles, as that was where my doctor and hospital where we had our first born was. Good thing she knew the way.
Half-way to the hospital, I said, “I think we better hurry!” I was never scared because I didn’t know the gravity of what was happening and as a nurse, I was trained to handle emergencies calmly.
Penny says she thought of running some red lights to get a police escort, but with family morals and education, we were appropriately indoctrinated to follow the law.
As we pulled up in front of emergency, about 1:30pm, Penny ran in and fortunately the Delivery Room was all ready for another patient with the Obstetrician and Anesthesiologist already there and scrubbed. The doctor ran out, examined me and said, “She’s breaching!” They wheeled me in on the stretcher and Kelly was born at 1:41pm, five weeks early. She weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces. The statistics at that time said most of the babies and half of the mothers die when the placenta comes loose like our Placenta Previa situation. We were fortunate to have had a quick delivery.
Kelly had to stay in an incubator for two more weeks until she reached 5 pounds. Sam and I went daily to give her breast milk. Kelly was an active kicker during the pregnancy and given her successful hyperactive personality, we joke, “She kicked her way into our world!” She is the owner of her own successful web-design company since 2000, “gotomedia”.
Penny Simkin was already interested in Childbirth Education, but Kelly and I like to credit ourselves a little with the thought, “We helped nudge her into becoming the world renowned educator that she is.” Bastyr University School of Midwifery is called “Simkin Center”.
Since that time, over 50 years, until our 2020 Covid-Isolation, Penny, Sally and I have almost never missed getting together for our birthday celebrations - May, September and January.
September 2020, Penny and I did a Covid-Visit on her back patio, still on 23rd Avenue East. I now live on Mercer Island, 13 minutes East. After we caught up on the activities of our children, we talked about the challenges we face as 80+-year-olds. I mentioned wanting to try learning to write fiction, as I continue to mourn the loss of my husband two years ago, isolate because of the Covid World Pandemic and restart a new life. Penny told me her grandson Freddy’s wife, Arshia Simkin, was teaching a writing class in North Carolina. I went home and immediately enrolled in the virtual, Tuesday, Advanced Fiction Workshop.
At home, I went to my computer and chose a protagonist. My goal is to provide a more intimate story of the Japanese Immigrants who came to America between 1890-1924 and how they faced challenges in their lives with our heritage values. My great grandfather came to Seattle in 1897 and the 1980 census shows our successes. With the deadlines and the 6week REDBUD course, I have gotten to five chapters and almost 20,000 words. I missed most of the first class because I had 6pm on my calendar. Six PM Eastern Standard Time is 3pm here on the West Coast. I missed the last class because my computer got hacked.
Thank you, Arshia, Roberto, Madeline, Makala, Jenny. Without the class this story would have been 500 words or less. As I write this story for the “Final Reading Submission”, I am realizing I submitted the story about my sister being born in the car on the way to the hospital, as my first homework for this class.

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ONTARIO SYMPHONY

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ONTARIO SYMPHONY
Arriving at Bellevue, Washington’s, contemporary Westminster Chapel just in time for the lights to dim, I quickly sit along the aisle in the left section. The Bellevue Philharmonic is playing Respighi’s CHURCH WINDOWS, but I am reliving last weekend’s 500 mile trip to visit with a favorite aunt and uncle in Ontario, Oregon and enjoy a family reunion.

The horns announce the descent from Eastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains into the Treasure Valley and the turn off Interstate highway I-84 into Ontario. The low tones of the clarinets suggest the low clouds and drizzle driving along Idaho Avenue. The kettle drums roll along with a periodic tap on the bigger kettle as I recognize the familiar landmarks of my hometown, “There’s where the Ontario Fish Market used to be.” That was our family business.

My memory turns me left at the Elk’s Lodge and the violins point out the exceptionally green, carefully manicured lawn and lets me know it is my aunt and uncle’s white house with the green awnings as I park.

I step through the screen door onto the enclosed porch and knock. The cymbals crash a waft of acrid smell as I open the door and the base fiddles tell me how dark it is as I enter the living room that has not changed in 45 years. The long sofa is on the right and the stuffed chairs on the left with towels and spreads protecting the fabric. Regular paid help keeps everything in perfect, spotless order as directed, but the years have put a gray wash on colors that were originally muted and quietly elegant.

Straight ahead on the day bed next to the mahogany dining set is my aunt, like an elegant French horn. As I get closer, I see her curled hands and feet from her 20 year decline with arthritis since she was in her 50s. The beat is slow and the tones are low as she can only move an inch at a time and has not been out of the house for years.

“How are you?” the French horn greets me.

“I am fine,” the saxophone answers for me.

And like Auntie’s prompt and meticulous letters, we catch up on the weather, what her children and grandchildren are doing and how much she enjoyed the chocolates I had sent. She always shares chocolates or jam with workers and visitors.

The oboe, my uncle, joins the conversation. In hesitant melancholy tones, he says, “I didn’t know anything about it until they sent me this. Here’s the press release you wanted.”

It is the announcement that he, as a small business owner of a grocery store in Ontario, has been named runner-up to Fred Meyer as 1972-73 Oregon businessman of the year when he was 54, my age now.

Later, when we are alone, Uncle says, “This ice pack on my back helps me get a few hours of relief from the pain so I can sleep.” Then he holds his chest and shakes his head as if trying to clear the fog of depression and says, “I can’t overcome my panic attacks. Walking helps, but as soon as I come back in the door, it’s the same again.”

On another day, he leaves the family reunion banquet early because he feels he cannot leave his wife alone for more than an hour or so.

As I am leaving this summer weekend family reunion, my aunt comments, “I think of what I might be doing if I weren’t crippled. Sometimes I wonder what I could have done that was so bad to deserve all this?”

I become aware that I am still in Westminster Chapel. The music crescendo builds. My fingers are tightening, my lips are thinning, my shoulders are tensing as I feel years of her love, fears, determination, frustrations, resentments, helplessness and anger held majestically in an alert mind and uncooperative body.

The triangle rings out my disappointment because she and I can’t play together. I always thought that someday I would repay my aunt’s kindnesses by going with her to a New York Broadway play or on a cruise to Alaska.

The bass drums pound out my anger because my uncle has been a responsible, giving person all his life and this is his pay. He was the oldest son, taking his role seriously. He was the one who helped his grandfather, during the depression years, to eke out an existence on his farm in Japan at the age of 6 years old. When Uncle's mother died in 1926, he and his 3 siblings were taken to Japan. It was his determination that built the successful Ontario Market grocery business after he returned to America. In 1985 he was Grand Marshall for the annual Ontario Christmas parade.

The conductor’s exaggerated gestures portray frustration because of my aunt and uncle’s dark prison-like existence I see and feel helpless to alleviate. As the music is concluded. I think of the saying that goes: “There is no such thing as a problem that does not have a gift.” Where are the gifts for them?

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WRITING FICTION

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GAMBATTE - PERSEVERE, OVE... GAMBATTE - PERSEVERE, OVERCOME OBSTACLES
"KEEP ON TRUCKING"
Signing up for a fiction writing class is a major challenge, but what else is there to do with Covid-Isolation?

I've decided to try writing a novel called "GAMBATTE".

I consider myself a fair writer and a descent recorder of incidents.

Our first assignment is to write a "flash". Now that I have read as to what a flash might be, it's something I feel comfortable trying because it's short. Short, is the way I write to keep the reader's attention?

Here's my example: BORN IN CAR
It was 2am, the morning after Valentines 1944. The tan one-seat 1940 Chev coupe with only a window and shelf-like ledge behind the seat, was slipping and sliding as well as speeding the 12 miles to the hospital, along the snowy country gravel road, from their farm in a place called Sand Hollow. The Japanese man was driving, his wife in labor next to him and the 5-year-old, half-dressed girl, with a coat but no shoes, curled up in the window ledge. “Hurry, hurry! It’s coming! It’s coming! in exaggerated but muffled whispers so the 5-yr-old would not be frightened.

"I'm... going as fast as I can," was the frantic reply. He parked in front of the hospital steps, ran to get help and was followed out by a nurse. They clamped the umbilical cord and cut it. The placenta was laid on the hospital steps while they carried healthy baby and assisted the mother into the hospital. Coming back to clean the blood and debris, the nurse was shocked to have totally missed seeing a 5-yr-old still on the window ledge, until she heard the child's voice, “Won’t the baby freeze out there on the steps!?”

WHAT DO YOU THINK??

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VOTING??

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FOUNDATION OF OUR FREEDOM FOUNDATION OF OUR FREEDOM
My neighbor and I Covid-distance visit every Tuesday. She is an immigrant who worked to get her citizenship and the right to vote.

Both of us plan to vote. Therefore, a good part of our usual 3-hour visit out in her garden patio is a discussion of whom we vote for.

I have long held beliefs on both sides of the political divide. We are free because we agree to have differences of opinion.

Listening to a TED talk or two, it seems "reason" is no longer the answer. Both sides are right, but the problem is that we know how to deal with anger, but not disgust.

The solution?

According the Jonathan Haidt: read HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE again by Dale Carnegie.

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OVER CONFIDENT??

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A POPULAR JAPANESE APHORI... A POPULAR JAPANESE APHORISM WHERE MONKEYS
ARE PART OF SOME OF THEIR LANDSCAPE.
Mary’s Place is a non-profit temporary place for homeless families in the Seattle area. They made arrangements the first of 2020 to use the old Keiro Nursing home that closed a year ago and was sold. The buyers agreed to allow use by Mary’s Place for a couple years until they began construction of a new high rise.

The building was originally created and used by the Japanese American community. Linda, the communications director of Mary’s Place, agreed to some drawings that depicted Japanese values.

The idea was generated because our friend, John, told me a story about his family picnics at the park when he was little. John explained, “Mom made us clean up the place as we were leaving so it was cleaner than when we got there. She said that was the Japanese way!”

That statement gave me an idea, The kids and families who come to live at Keiro could be inspired to learn some Japanese values for living. My granddaughter agreed to do a few drawings which Linda wanted to blow up and frame along some of the walls.

We decided on depicting a few Japanese sayings and five were completed.

Like the comic strip above suggests, the idea has “slipped off the branch”. The project is on hold. Mary's Place may not be able to use Keiro building after all. Some political issues are getting in the way of what we thought was a sure thing?

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STARTING SCHOOL

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SO WHAT?, NOW WHAT? SO WHAT?, NOW WHAT?
School principal, Linda Cliatt-Wayman from Pennsylvania says, “SO WHAT? NOW WHAT?” This is one of the mottos that changed their “failing school” 120% for the better. Wayman encountered too many neglected children who endured abuse or were left to raise themselves and she has spent her decades-long career demanding that students fight for their future. She has transformed three low-performing schools, dramatically improving test scores and the rate at which students attend college.

Her TED talk is particularly inspiring and we can apply this wisdom to our Covid-Isolated family situations. I like her examples.

It feels good and is socially prudent to be concerned about the “needy”, but we all have needs. We are working on it all and everyone here is excited to make our school situations successful.

The girls want to be teachers - at least that is what they are saying now. I trust ideas like Wayman’s are being incorporated into their learning so the girls will one day be ready to pass the skills on.

The illustration is a true story. One of the benefits may be that we no longer have to face such embarrassments with Covid-Virtual school??? The other part of the illustration story is that it was a 3 mile walk to get to school. Also, he couldn't get out his whole name "Shigeru" which was hard to pronounce. So the teacher gave him the name "Sam" and that was fine with him. For sure, we keep learning, it is always good to know history and reminds me to be grateful for how far life has progressed for us. Covid brings us a new era!!!

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SEX

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INTIMACY FILLS AS WELL AS ... INTIMACY FILLS AS WELL AS CREATES NEEDS???


Dear M,
It occurs to me the lines: “The seasons you’ve endured”, “This too will pass” and “resilience” in the wake of your goals for intimacy; are what prompted you to send me the meditation?

Listening to the various ways Hallmark movies say: “Follow your heart.”

We have shelves of books with suggestions for filling Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. We listen to computer videos, TV and radio that give a variety of scenarios. We live among family and friends who are constantly looking for the best ideas. Our "basic/having" physiological & health needs of food, clothing, shelter and security of privacy and financial are met. The question is, "Where and how do we fill Maslow’s interpretations of putting sex into this 'having needs' category?"

My take is that intercourse is basic for reproduction. Most of the other aspects of sex needs fall into the middle psychological, social and "doing" category. Our new dimension of life requires more thinking as well as trial and error for me too.

Therefore, my choices and maybe your choices are in the areas of “doing” with job, parenting/leadership, social, education and charity. That is how we fill our need for psychological security, autonomy, self-esteem and connection.

Sex is used to fulfill needs, but is not like eating. We don’t die if we don’t have it. There is also evidence that some SEX is even physiologically harmful. Men unlike women, in their brain hook-up and physiological make-up, use sex to fill different needs.

I like the fact that men and women bring different biological and psychological perspectives to life’s table, but so do different ages and individuals of the same sex in general. Good intimacy makes me smile!

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify some of this,
D

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"WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND"???

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From the other side of our wo... From the other side of our world, Japan
It's called "karma"!
Here in Washington State, Kay repeats this phrase: "What goes around, comes around" constantly. At age 79, she runs to clean the church, she makes sure John at the hospital or Barbara at the nursing home are not alone. As she treats her grandson to his favorite pudding pie she cautions, "Do the right thing, or you know you will pay for it later?"

Covid-19 isolation brought my grand daughter, Avery, home from Chapman University to virtual lectures in her Graphic Design field. Avery was listening to Steve Gordon's lecture when he mentioned, "One of the persons that got me started in my field was Kelly Goto."

Avery exclaimed, "Hey, that's my Aunt Kelly!"

Kelly, similar to Kay's philosophy, is generous with her energy.

Growing up, my Mom constantly used a negative form of this phrase from her Japanese heritage, "Bachi ga taru." It was shortened to, "BACHI!" In other words: KARMA. But the word Bachi is used like a little swat on the rear end or a verbal reminder not to be involved in the naughty thing that is happening.

I prefer POSITIVE THINKING, but maybe this Covid-19 is one of the universal answers to life and what humanity has reaped?? !!

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RUTH & SUTT STORY PART 2

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During my visit to get more information for the 50th Anniversary Talk, Ruth went on, “You just do what you gotta do.”

Ruth was never shy about her cuisine as she explained, “You should try new things and try to improve.” A family favorite was her Pistacio Pudding.

Ruth’s brother, Henry Watanabe recalled, “We never ate anything decent until Ruth started to cook for us. Mom just went out to the fields and worked.”

According to Fannie Farmer, “A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”

Back to Ruth’s words about Sutt. “You don’t really know a person until you live with them. I do my thing and he does his. Problem is the he don’t do his thing right.”

I asked Suttt, “Is it alright if I tell everyone that a lot of what you have around here and how good it looks is because Ruth bitches at you so much?”

Sutt laughed, “Sure! It starts first thing in the morning when I come through that door.”

Ruth Added, “Be sure to emphasize the BITCH. If I don’t do it, nothing gets done.”

One day Nephew Andy Goto and wife Beryl met Uncle Sutt looking lost at the Southcenter shopping mall. Sutt said, “I have to get out of the house sometimes.”

Ruth emphasized, “My father was an old military man. Boy! We had to clean up before he came home to our house in O’Brien, from his office in downtown Seattle, Sundays at noon. He was real strict. I’m the one who took after him. ‘A place for everything and everything in it’s place.’ ‘If you’re going to do it, do it right.’”

The girls, including the cousins from California who visited Renton many summers, attributed good handwriting to their mom and remembered, “You know, push - pull - round & round.”

I asked Uncle Sutt, “Isn’t there something you specially like about Auntie Ruth?”

He responded, “Well…she used to have a sense of humor.”

They were like the Japanese saying “Nomi no fufu yo.” - like a flea couple - woman is larger than male. Or was this a marriage of OCHAZUKE (hot tea over left-over rice) AND SUSHI? We loved both!

At the reunion I said, “I give a lot of credit to Ruth and Sutt for this family reunion. They’re the ones who keep us all in touch.” I directed the comment to Ruth, “You have to admit, Ruth, that if it weren’t for Sutt you wouldn’t drive around and visit everyone?”

Ruth reluctantly answered, “Well, that’s the only thing he does good!”

I ended, “As most of you know the real anniversary isn’t until November. What do you think??? Will this marriage last 50 years?”

“Actually”, Ruth answered, “It doesn’t seem that long. He’s good for me and I’m good for him.”

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Uncle Sutt & Auntie Ruth's 50th Anniversary

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OMOIDE = Memories JCCCW Wri... OMOIDE = Memories
JCCCW Writing Group contribution
Ruth called me that spring of 1991 and said, “Our 50th anniversary is this year. It’s not until the fall, but we want to celebrate during the Nakanishi family reunion this summer. I don’t want a bunch of statistics. You’re one who knows the real me. I want you to give the talk.”

Later, I chatted with daughter, Connie, and she said, “I started to write out some things and all I can get is a hallmark card. I don’t want that.”

I called other friends and relatives for stories. A French writer, Colette, puts it this way: “You do foolish things but you do them with enthusiasm!”

Most of my memories were of sitting around the big kitchen table watching Ruth do her handicrafts, like the rug that got the grand prize at the Puyallup State Fair - Uncle Sutt sitting behind me watching television. Ruth always had something to show off saying, “Dee come here, I’ve got to show you….” I then followed Ruth to the living room to see her Christmas decoration projects for the grandchildren or the latest find for her paper weight collection.

This one Friday, shortly before the event, I drove to their house in Renton (Uncle Sutt had it built in 1936) to learn more about their story. I asked Ruth if she had a crush on Sutt? She answered, “Them days, we didn’t have any of the hanky panky stuff. Sutt asked me to go to a movie after the Hiroshima Club Valley picnic in the summer of 1940.”

I asked Sutt why he asked Ruth? He said, “There wasn’t anyone else there that was interesting.” They made it sound like the beginning of army duty.

Here’s how I think it really happened. Ruth and her sister Bessie were cute, smartly dressed and energetic young ladies from a slightly more affluent family. Their father owned a successful produce business. The girls often walked to the edges of the baseball field and giggled about the cute guys on the successful White River Valley baseball team. There was a tall handsome catcher on the team. He was clean-up hitter and even recruited to play on the white semi-pro team as a substitute a time or two. That was Uncle Sutt.

Ruth, in her early 20s, had been a Valley Japanese festival princess. This day, Ruth and one of her friends managed to amble around to where the guys were kicking dirt and talking about last night’s poker game and Sunday’s baseball game.

Sutt was 26-years-old. Bachan (grandma) mentioned marriage a few times. Sutt didn’t want one of those arranged things like his older sister’s. He had a couple quarters in his pocket, gas in his Black Buick and a pretty girl beside him would feel pretty good.

Ruth says, “It was a cowboy movie. He don’t have no class.” Sutt, I understand didn’t even have any money for a hamburger afterwards.

A year later, Sutt went to a jeweler friend’s shop in Renton and bought a $700 diamond. They honeymooned in Los Angeles, visiting Sutt’s brothers Mush and Kazumi. They came home through Vale, Oregon, where Masako Nesan (older sister) lived. They barely made it back home to Renton as the WWII started.

Auntie Mits later commented, “Can you imagine a new bride coming home to 2 brothers, 4 sisters, and a Mother-in-law?




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