Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ojai Moments and Gratitude ... Even When Things (kind of) Suck

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which
you kneel to say your nightly prayer.
~Maya Angelou 

Photos from this post were taken over the last several months, over various weekends in Ojai.

When I loaded photos for this post, it was back in mid July, and I had decided to do a post on gratitude. (I was trying to stay on the Deepak Chopra 21 day Meditation!) Things were stressful at that time, and those are the times that, for me, it's most important to find gratitude in little blessings and people in your life. You know, whatever you can find in your life that doesn't go in the "this totally sucks" column. ;)

I was having tests done, and words like biopsy, cells, and pathology were a part of my everyday vocabulary much more that I'd like. 

Most of the time on this blog, I've written about things and places that inspire me, and that I hope will inspire you too. That can lead to a bit of Grass is always greener Facebook Syndrome. You know, where other peoples lives look utterly fabulous because we never see them when they wake up in the morning, or any of the things that keep them up at night! 

We often show what is the best in our lives, but alas, in the spirit of honesty and balance ... the Reader's Digest version is that in my absence I've had abdominal surgery for female stuff (mostly preventative, we can say now) and a subsequent trip to the E.R. Having said that, despite a few bumps in the road, things are getting better little by little and I'm off the Percocet, and most importantly I've had good lab results, from my surgery! All clear! Hurray! 

The more you are grateful for hat you have, 
the more you can live fully in the present.
~Dana Arcuri

I've been recovering in Ojai at my parents' place. Something to be very grateful for. 

In fact, during all the stress, before lab results came back, I had a very long list of blessings to be thankful for in my little gratitude app (yes, there is actually an app for that) on my iPhone ... the people in my life, antibiotics that can save you when you really need them, drugs (ditto- when you really need them,) my faith, lip balm, a good pillow, broth, a new robe, flowers, gifts of the heart, and being able to sit under a beautiful tree. All really good stuff!

And now? Good report from the pathologists. No more "A-typical" or otherwise scary cells. Phew! Gratitude.

below, the lovely shop Fig

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings,
turn routine jobs into joy
and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
~William Arthur Ward
below, Bart's Books

Fairy Godmother breakfast at my friend Lynn's

A walk with my sister in the Ojai Arbolada with Lucy her labradoodle ...

There is no prescription 
for finding moments of gratitude in every day;
there is simply the choice.
~Gillian Deacon

Rancho Matilija

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude,
a quiet joy.
~Ralph H. Blum

Meg's Ojai House

Mom and Dad's house

And their cactus garden ...

Real life isn't always going to be perfect or go our way,
but the recurring acknowledgment of what is working in our lives
can help us not only to survive 
but surmount our difficulties.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

My sister's Chickens

Loveliness at the Ranch House

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted-
a paved road or a washing machine?
If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation,
you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude,
a feeling that nurtures the soul.
~Rabbi Harold Kushner

Shrine in Upper Ojai

Upper Ojai ... Gratitude

Here's a lovely acoustic rendition of Bob Marley's Thank You Lord by Reggae a Semente

The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass,
it becomes a mysterious, awesome, 
indescribably magnificent world in itself.
~Henry Miller

Hope this finds you all enjoying a beautiful summer.
(And hopefully not a lot that sucks!)
Blessings and light


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Little Tokyo and the Japanese American Museum

Japanese American National Museum
Los Angeles

My friends Erin and McKenna, visiting the museum with me ...

Coming of the Immigrants, Part of the permanent exhibition ... 

Illusion and I Traveled over the ocean
Hunting money trees.

Wall of Suitcases and Trunks
by Hirokazu Kosaka

The importance of Hirokazu's work
Is that it recognizes that the most important things
Are sometimes the simplest.
The space between the heartbeats
And the suitcases that carries
More that people's belongings.

Suitcases, trunk, collection of the artist.
Re-created for "Common Ground," 1999

Come, merchants!
America is a veritable human paradise,
the number one mine in the world.
Gold, silver, and gems are scattered on her streets.
If you can figure out a way of picking them up,
You'll become rich instantly to the tune of ten million
and be able to enjoy ultimate human pleasures.
~Kitare, Nihonjin Guide


The exhibition of the Japanese interment camps ...

There were 10 internment camps, (10,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans) during WWII, after the bombing of Pear Harbor. It's a terrible part of our shared American History. This is a reessembled barrack, is from one of the camps.

Here's a tour of the museum with George Takei.

After our trip to the Japanese American National Museum, which started with the Hello Kitty exhibition, we headed across the street into the Japanese Village Plaza to have some lunch! We had sushi at Maruya, where I'd never eaten before. It was yummy and our waiter was awesome! 

McKenna having some miso!

After lunch? Mochi ice cream!!! Shortly after there were some serious Karaoke performers!

Mochi from Mikawaya. Aren't the colors beautiful!?

Mochi, if you've never had it, is ice cream on the inside and a thin sticky rice cake layer on the outside with a dusting of cornstarch so it's not super sticky when you are eating and when it's being formed. I think you can get it these days at Trader Joe's.

I had chocolate and green tea mochi!

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the Japenese American Cultural and Community Center was closed, along with this great little coffee place and Ukulele shop, called U-Space! 

I've been obsessing on learning to play the Uke lately. In part, I think, because I used to play the harp which a huge and hard to carry and takes forever to tune. On top of that, my great grandmother used to play for us!

Here's one of the instructors at U-Space, Jason Arimoto.

 James Irvine Japanese Garden
Tuesday-Friday 10-5

Erin and McKenna ...

These photos were taken from above, looking down into the garden, because unfortunately it was closed. Something to return to!

Culture binds us,
gives us meaning
and provides us with foundation ...
it surrounds, entangles and supports our daily life, 
a matter of learning "what it is we have to know: 
to belong within a family and community. 
~ David Mas Masumoto

We ended up walking over to The Last Bookstore. It was a little farther than I thought but they were happy to have gotten to see it!  

An artwork that was being shown in the gallery area upstairs ...

States United (2010)
Gregory Beauchamp
Oil on Canvas 

his easy site here

Leaving downtown ... The Disney Hall

and The Broad museum below, which opens in September of 2015!


I'm off to the art store! Hope you enjoyed this little visit downtown to Little Tokyo!

Blessings and light!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Inspiration! Hello Kitty! And the Japanese American Museum

Growing old is mandatory;
growing up is optional.
~Chili Davis

Don't you just love Hello Kitty? Well, even if you don't, I think you'll enjoy this post. (Especially the super cute Hello Kitty art created by the kids at my work!)

Hello Kitty Sits on a Sunflower
Pastel on Paper, 2014

by sweet Violet :)

Sunlit Road with Teddy and Kitty
Pencil on paper, 2015

by Maya

Floating Kitty in a Field of Green
Mixed Media, 2015

by Sasha

Hello Kitty Angel on Cloud, 2013
Animation cell, acrylic paint, plastic, sharpie, and pastel

by Vera

Hello Kitty Rides a Great Read Shark, 2014
Watercolor and Pastel

by Delilah 

Also by Delilah ... 
Hello Kitty by the Sea, 2015
watercolor and ink on paper

Kitty in Blue, 2014
Sculpey clay, acrylic paint

by Kya

Kitty and her Fishbowl, 2013
Pastel and charcoal pencil

by Jaffe

Hello Kitty (ハローキティ Harōkiti?)[3] (full name Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト Kiti Howaito?) made by the Sanrio company, (Japan) came to the U.S. in 1976.

I was probably 7 1/2 and thought she was the cutest thing ever. I remember I had a cute pink Hello Kitty sewing kit, pencils, and tiny red plastic address book that snapped shut. Adorable.

Of course, in the years since, her image has been on everything from vacuum cleaners to gas cans, and more.

Last fall a Hello Kitty exhibition opened at the Japanese American Museum, in Los Angeles.

I kept trying to get over and see the exhibition, then time flew by and I was afraid I was going to miss it. Fortunately, just in time, my friend Erin came up from San Diego with her daughter for the weekend and the Hello Kitty stars aligned! We made it!


With your admission ticket they gave you Hello Kitty ears, with a bow. The best part of that, was seeing loads of grown men walking around with these little ears and bows on! (Whether they were with a child or not!) I was planning to sneak some photos of the guys, but I got too distracted by all the cuteness, and forgot!

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?
~Satchel Paige

Below, Hello Kitty braces! Toilet paper?

I think this was a bedazzled handbag ...

Hello Kitty men's suit by Liberty of London! (2014)

And, why not?

The model for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

There were big murals in the exhibition, as you can see below, along with a Hello Kitty surf board. In the same area there were roller skates and a skateboard.

Hello Kitty as the rock band Kiss.

I would love this sake set!

Everyone is the age of their heart.
~Guatemalan Proverb

Too cute to eat bento boxes!

Another wall mural ...

Each year of Hello Kitty's life represented. I love the preppy 1980 Kitty! Below, Erin and I with our graduation year, 1987. Love the punk rock plaid under it.

The key to successful aging 
is to pay as little attention to it
as possible.
~Judith Regan

Apparently, Hello Kitty is 5 apples tall. And, in case you are interested, she was born in the suburbs of London on November 1st. (So, I guess that makes her a Scorpio!) Not sure why the Japanese company picked London, but there you have it.

"She is portrayed as a bright and kind-hearted girl, very close to her twin sister Mimmy. She is good at baking cookies and loves Mama's homemade apple pie. She likes to collect cute things and her favorite subjects in school are English, music, and art." - source Wikipedia

After seeing all the cute Hello Kitty stuff, from over the years, we went into the area of the exhibition with art inspired by Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty in Bloom, Mixed Media

Inner Kitty, 2014
Gouache on paper

The Gaze of Kitty, 2014
Acrylic, Acrylic Gouache, Tarpaulin
Kazuki Takamatsu

Super Space Titan Kitty
Colin Christian
(love Makena's expression!)

Instruction, 2014
oil on panel
Kevin Earl Taylor

Scott Scheidly
Hello Lincoln, 2014
Acrylic Painting on Masonite

Hello Kitty ensembles made for Project Runway.

Hello Kitty dress (2009) worn by Lady Gaga and worth more than anything else in the show. (A guard told us some of the rare collectables on the dress were worth a lot of money.) Plush dress styled by GK Reid and originally shot by Markus + Indrani.

Marilyn style dress worn by Paris Hilton in 2009.

Bedazzled Bustier show costume worn by Katy Perry, designed by The Blonds.

Bows on the floor ... those are my spectators. 


What a fun day! We checked out more at the Japanese American Museum before roaming around and having lunch in Little Toyko! I will have to do another post with more of that day. We covered a lot of territory!

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
~Mark Twain, 
Following the Equator

Please click on the artists' names above to get to their websites!

Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Independence Day!
Happy July!

Blessings and light!