Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ai Ai Gasa

I recently received a beautiful pair of hand-cast silver earrings from my son and his lady. They were purchased at a shop in Brooklyn called “Ai Ai Gasa,” whose name got me Googling. My intent was to see whether I might be able to purchase a similar gift for a friend, but alas (perhaps), “Ai Ai Gasa” is not an on-line merchant.

What I did learn, is that ai ai gasa is a Japanese phrase meaning “together with umbrella” – to share an umbrella. Ai means many things, depending on what characters follow or precede it. For example, “de ai” means a rendezvous; “hatashi ai,” a duel.

Are we not all ai ai gasa? When we de ai, let us not hatashi ai.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Birthday Number 61

Photograph: Self-portrait, May 31, 2006

My great-great-grandfather died at age sixty years, eleven months and twenty days. All but his earliest years were lived in Canada. Hearts in his line are loving but tend to burst unexpectedly: his son and his grandson both died of massive heart attacks at 59 and 66 years, respectively. That’s kind of a morbid thought upon waking early on my 61st. That in mind, I should walk on my treadmill today, but because it’s my birthday, I will not! I will take this day off.

I transcribe some 1834 Quaker minutes for the Canadian project. I think about what things in life remain dear to me over time. I drink that cup of “real” coffee I had given up yesterday.

If I were to add pictures to this entry, what would they be? Horses, certainly. Birds. (Too bad I didn’t get a photo of the two Great Crested Flycatchers gathering nesting material in the strawberry patch yesterday). My family, living and dead. Friends old and newer, human and animal (also living and dead). Music. Peace and quiet. The woods, the ponds, the meadow – and the woods, ponds and meadows of my childhood.

Things come to mind too: my “treasures” (sand-worn driftwood from our trip to northern California, the tiny wooden pliers carved by my grandfather, the Turkish plate from my oldest friend in the world, the canoe paddle from a camping trip when I was about 13). I remember a white dress with lavender piping my mother made for me when I was in the sixth grade (actually, I remember several dresses she made). I felt so good in it, which is amazing because I always favored “dungarees” over dresses. Photographs: the collection of framed ancestors, the ones of chums and of my sister poster-puttied to the side of my computer, the recently matted WizenedEye prints. And as much as I hate to admit it, my computer is the thing commanding the most interest at present.

If I were to do one of my slide shows about ME, what would be the sound track? Judy Collins’ rendition of “In My Life?” Good - and on my all-time hit parade - but perhaps not the perfect choice. I’d like to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing “Teach Your Children;” Bob Dylan could add “It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue;” Nancy Griffith might croon, “When ya can’t find a friend, you’ve still got the radio;” Ruth Ungar could belt out Hank Williams and I’d be all ears any day of the week; and Nellie McKay might liven things up with “Sorry” and “The Dog Song.” (‘Mustn’t forget my collection of lady lounge singers either... Jane Monheit’s incredible voice, Susan Werner’s clever rhymes, Nora Jones, Madeline Peyroux...) I love them all, but “Passionate Kisses” by Lucinda Williams is the choice I’d make today:

Is it too much to ask?
I want a comfortable bed that won't hurt my back
Food to fill me up
And warm clothes and all that stuff

Shouldn't I have this,

Shouldn't I have this?
Shouldn't I have all of this and
Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you

Is it too much to demand
I want a full house and a rock and roll band
Pens that won't run out of ink
And cool quiet and time to think


Do I want too much?
Am I going overboard to want that touch?
I shouted out to the night
Give me what I deserve, 'cause it's my right

Shouldn't I have this,
Shouldn't I have this?
Shouldn't I have all of this and
Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you.

Simple pleasures: my life is filled with them, quiet and calming. Yet under the surface I burst with a creative energy once released in singing, now in ink and photography. Much of my adult life has been lived as “Mom;” as carpenter, stone mason, gardener; as business woman, chief cook and bottle-washer. What a luxury now to relax in the joy of creating, of reflecting, and of tying up loose ends.

Thanks to all of you who give special meaning and joy to my life... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!