Archive for October, 2010

Chado: The way of tea in Oregon

October 29th, 2010
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Portland in the fall is gorgeous. This is my first visit to Portland - Oregon, actually - and I love it. PDX, as the locals refer to it, is a wonderful mix of eccentric and artsy, homespun yet trendy. It's a great place for foodies.

Tim McRobert and me

Tim McRobert and me

I'm here to shoot a documentary on Japanese tea ceremony with my friend and former coworker Tim McRobert, now living in Portland. The documentary, "Chado: The way of tea in Oregon," has been offered to Portland PBS.

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We shot the on camera scenes in the Portland Japanese Garden, five and a half acres of pure tranquility in the west hills of the city. It's been called one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

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There are five gardens, and we shot inside the Strolling Pond Garden. In feudal Japan, strolling gardens were recreational sites for the wealthy and attached to estates of aristocrats. This week, it was the scene for our half hour show. I'm not sure when the show will be complete, but I'll update you. Tim hopes to get it done this year.

Funny story: the garden in the early morning is crawling with photographers, both amateur and professional. I didn't realize this at first, having woken up early and still being a little jet lagged. There was a man with a still camera on a tripod, setting up right near us. I assumed he was with Tim's crew.

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I started taking photos of the scene while Tim and his assistant were setting up. I got this man in the shot. He turned and took it in stride, smiling at me. I continued snapping photos with the man in them. He introduced himself as Bob. I started asking him what role he plays in this shoot. He said he had no idea what I was talking about!

When we broke for lunch, we were able to meet with a mutual friend from Hawaii, Butch, living and working at Nike. Tim doesn't know Portland that well, so we got very, very lost. A 15 minute drive took an hour. I will never forget the comedy of errors that was us stopping for directions, looking at the iPhone map, and calling Butch five times for attempts at directions.

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This has been a nice chance to see old friends while also getting to work on a really cool project!

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Laundry day

October 27th, 2010
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Claus and I share the laundry chores, though he's been doing more of it since I went back to work full-time. We seem to end up doing a load every other day. We definitely do a load after he/we come home from jujitsu practice. On those nights, we'll put the gi in the washer, and fill up the rest of the washer with whatever dirty clothes there are, just to make a full load.

I have not been going to jujitsu. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I've been so tired from the steep learning curve, I'm done at the end of the day. I have been going to sleep at 8-ish. Jujitsu isn't over till 9. I'm fast asleep when he gets home.

It seems that his white jujitsu pants have become streaked with a lot of pink lately. It's probably because he throws Olivia's clothes in the washer with his gi, and she likes to wear a lot of pink, and something is bleeding. I am guilty of making that error myself in the past, so I can't criticize him. The pink usually fades after a few washes and if it doesn't, he bleaches the pants. It's not an issue.

I know you're supposed to separate the lights and darks, but we don't. We just have a lot of durable clothing that usually doesn't create a problem. I realize I could get my housewife card revoked for that, but oh well.

I finally made it back to the dojo last week. Claus was wearing his gi and it currently has a pink streak by the bowtie, and a pink blotch on the back. We didn't think anyone else was noticing or caring, since it's 80% men in the class. And then there was Denise. She immediately pointed it out and said, "He always comes to class with something pink on his pants."

I was surprised and amused. "You notice that?" I asked.

"He's famous for that. He always has pink on his pants," she chuckled.

I guess we better start sorting our colors.

BLACK PANTS

When I was a housewife, I did most of the laundry. There are a few items I can machine wash cold, but line dry. Claus would never keep track of that. I'm supposed to throw my items in a special Diane-only basket if they need special care. I forgot.

I threw my black pants and one blouse into the family clothing basket. Claus did the wash. I noticed it just as he was about to throw it all in the dryer.

"Wait, can you hang up that shirt and black pants to air dry?" I asked.

After he did, I noticed a second pair of pants. "Oh, those pants too," I added.

He did. Then I saw a third pair. "What's that black thing? Can you lift it up? I might want that line dried too," I said.

Now he was getting tired of this. After he hung up the third pair of paints, he grabbed the basket and put it right up against the dryer opening and started shoveling the wet clothing in quickly, so I couldn't see what else might be in there to line dry.

"Is there anything else in there of mine?" I quizzed.

"Nope, nope. We're good. It's all done," he said while ushering me into the house.

I'm happy to say that there was nothing else in the basket, so nothing shrunk in the dryer.

How do you handle laundry at your house? What's the worst article of clothing you've had shrink in the dryer or bleed in the wash?

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Sleepy twins

October 25th, 2010
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As Olivia matures, there are more and more things about her that I recognize as something she inherited from me or Claus. Somtimes it's a funny facial expression, sometimes it's what I believe is a character trait. (Stubborn could be something she got from Claus, or from just being three.) Lately, I have noticed how she hates getting up in the morning, and I am absolutely certain she gets that from me.

In the morning, we all rise at 6 a.m. because we all have to leave by 7 for work and school. Claus gets up first. He always does. He has no problem getting up in the morning to go exercise at 5 a.m. I don't understand it. Furthermore, he only needs six or seven hours of sleep. I envy that.

I have never liked to get up earlier than 8 a.m., and I have always needed about nine or ten hours of sleep. In times of stress, I have needed eleven hours. This isn't a complaint at all, but due to the mental taxation of a new job and a new working culture, my brain is completely spent at the end of every day. There is never a time at work that I can go on auto-pilot because it's all so new to me. I have been going to sleep at 8:30 p.m. (give or take a half hour) since I started this job seven weeks ago.

Well, both Olivia and I have been reluctant risers. So yes, even though we have been getting a lot of sleep, we still like more. In the morning, Claus wakes up and takes a shower. By virtue of his making noise and turning on the bathroom light, it's meant to be a gentle wake up. Of course, I never respond. I lie there in half-sleep and wait until he comes out, and turns on the overhead light. Then he walks into Olivia's room and does the same.

We still don't wake up. I didn't realize this, but according to an exasperated husband, we both flip over on our stomachs and cover our eyes. So he dries off and puts on his work clothes, and then comes to bug us again. He takes the covers off and kisses us good morning. Sometimes we still keep lying there. He walks back and forth between Olivia's room and the master bedroom, in a futile effort to get his girls out of bed.

This morning, he sighed and shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes at me. I started laughing. I got up and walked into Olivia's room and got into bed with her. I cuddled her. It at first annoyed her to be woken up, but after a flurry of kisses, she started laughing. "Mommy, we're sleepy heads together, yeah?" she giggled.

Claus walked into the room looking for us. When he saw Olivia and me lying down together, he shook his head. "Come on, you guys," he half-laughed.

I know. We're impossible.

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Nancy Kwan at HIFF

October 22nd, 2010
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The 30th Annual Hawaii International Film Festival presented and spotlighted one of Asia's most recognizable actresses of all time, Nancy Kwan, with its "Maverick Award." Her newest film, a documentary called TO WHO IT MAY CONCERN: KA SHEN'S JOURNEY, directed by Brian Jamieson screened on Saturday, October 16th at 6:30 p.m. The special event was presented by Dr. Lawrence K.W. Tseu.

Nancy Kwan

Nancy Kwan

Dr. Lawrence Tseu

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Kwan at the Opening Night Reception at the hotel I work at. I have actually met her once before at a taping of the Andy Bumatai show in 2008.
A day or so later, I took my parents to sample the food at Orchids, and Ms. Kwan was also dining there with a large contingent. My mom approached her to say hello and remind her of a very old connection.
"When I was a dancer in a show in Las Vegas at the New Frontier Hotel, I met another dancer, Delores Dicen. Delores had previously worked with Nancy Kwan in a different show. When our troupe relocated to England in December, Delores mentioned it to Nancy, who invited Delores to call her brother and introduce herself," reminisced my mother.
"Delores called Nancy's brother, KK, and he picked us up after the show at the Stork Club in Piccadilly Circus and took us over to his grandparent's house in Bath. We stayed over the Christmas holiday. Nancy's uncle was visiting from Hong Kong, and the six of us had a nice time."
Mom says this was right after The World of Suzie Wong had come out (in 1960) and Kwan had become a major star. Was she star-struck at the thought of staying at such a big celebrity's house? "Not really. These were just the people I worked with. But I was really proud that someone of Chinese ancestry was so successful in America. There were so few Asian performers at the time that anyone in the business in any capacity knew each other."

It doesn't surprise me to hear my mom say that Asians at that time were relegated to accepting only the minor or lowly parts. Mom also interacted with Frances Nyugen ("She came to see her friends at our rehearsal in LA, and she helped me adjust my costume zipper"), and worked at Forbidden City with Jack Soo (as emcee of the show, he would tease my mom that "I have to hurry because Vi and Ethel have to take the bus home"), Pat Morita, and Robert Ito ("He would help me warm up for my dance routine"). That's how my mother knows Jimmy Borges - stage name at the time, Jimmy Jay. Jimmy sang at Forbidden City.

Things have changed since my mom's dancing days, and as she reflects on the situation today, she says she's happy with how far Asians have come in American mainstream entertainment media. My mom generally isn't a star-struck type, but even at her age, she still has a little actor crush. "I sure wish I could meet Jet-Li," she says. "He's so handsome."

For a different take on HIFF's opening night reception, please go to my personal blog. I've started posting completely different blogs there. You may want to check it out on occasion for that purpose.

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Laughter yoga

October 20th, 2010
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Here's one to really LOL about: laughter yoga. It's a new kind of therapy that promises to have people feeling good by just laughing out loud, for a long time. I have heard about it before in passing conversation, but when I read about it in Time magazine recently, it got me thinking about the topic all over.

The article links laughter yoga to mind-body therapy, saying that if we go through the motions of having fun, it'll eventually become real. One person interviewed says she was able to give up medications for depression after eight months of laughing. Impressive, though I am not rushing out to join one of the few laughter yoga clubs in this state.

I do believe laughter is great medicine. I love to be around people who make me laugh: among those, my husband and my best friends. I like to find humor in mundane situations, because life is too short to be serious constantly. Gotta have fun.

Along a similar note, I noticed years ago that if I'm in a bad mood but I force myself to smile, my mood eventually will lighten. That's probably the same concept of mind-body therapy. Or as the Time article says, "Fake it till you make it."

Do you notice a link between acting positive and eventually thinking positive? Have you tried laughter yoga? Would you?

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