S is for snowstorm, o-sooji & sayonara 2014!

I wrote I’d do it someday.

Today, in the spirit of wrapping up 2014, seems a good time.

That’s the view from my new studio apartment (new = one month):

myview

And the same view today:

snow12.31.14

A powerful storm’s cutting a swath across parts of Arizona and Las Vegas. It’s our season’s first snow. Most people hear Arizona and think scorching desertinsane furnace heat … butt-ugly sprawling Phoenix infested by gangs and illegals and truly horrible dangerous people from Mexico and users sucking off America’s system.

Well, perhaps the last one isn’t first in the minds of folks who don’t know Arizona! Nonetheless, all true all the same. Southern Arizona is the primary scorcher. Heading north brings temperate to cold climates.  Flagstaff, for example, in the northern reaches gets serious snow and chill. Ski country. CROWDED ski country!

In expectation of the storm, I completed errands yesterday so I don’t have to drive anywhere. Here’s why:

driveway

Not my driveway rather a reasonable facsimile. Mine’s slightly steeper and involves one sharp precise turn — all the while backing out of a car cover! Thanks but no thanks. Much as I wanna hit the gym’s pool, I’ll pass. Today.

New Year’s Eve means one thing to me: o-sooji. The Great Cleaning.

On this day in Japan, folks are cleaning their homes from top to bottom — windows too! They’re sweeping their porches at their homes and businesses. Workers are cleaning out their desks — and being PAID for it! They’re polishing their cars and placing pine decorations on grilles. In days of yore, they paid off all debts so to enter the new year with a clean slate.japancardecorate

 

o-sooji1Not every single person in Japan of course but those who stay true to tradition are doing so.

As an Asian trapped in a Western body and with some 10+ years of Japan living under my belt — and skin — I adhere to their traditions at New Year’s Eve. As a so-called neat freak … OK, it’s true though I see absolutely nothing freakish o-sooji2about it! … my place is spotless or pretty damn close all the time. On occasion a few things like boxed files need tidying up, newspapers the recycling bin.

So if you saw my place, you’d laugh when I say I’m gonna do Japanese o-sooji! “Of what?!” you’d say! Yet o-sooji I shall! It’s about honoring and partaking of the tradition rather than actual need.

Once those 15 minutes are finished — haha — I’ll continue the glide into 2015. Not literally hopefully! I mean, there’s that awfully steep snowy driveway to negotiate if I head out to nearby Whiskey Row for pints at my favorite pubs, the Courthouse Square and trees wrapped in rainbow Christmas lights glowing brightly.

Midnight brings the Boot Drop: Prescott’s version of the Times Square shindig with a lit-up Western boot instead of enormous sphere.

With my winter wardrobe, including leather fur-lined snow boot stored in another state that I’m sorely missing now, I’m less than uber-excited about standing around in the white stuff and 19 degrees in “normal” garb for the midnight drop.

whiskeyrowbootdropOn the other hand, I do so want to be there, particularly this being my first New Year’s Eve as a Prescott resident. A year ago, I made the 2-1/2-hour drive from my town of residence, I wanted to be here Just. That. Much!

Now I live here! Yey!

So will play it by ear as the day unfolds and storm subsides. If I do opt for the boot drop will be sufficiently warmed-up and I don’t mean strictly clothing layering. 😉

Well, it’s 1:18 p.m. Still in my PJs. Time to brew another cuppa java, switch into my “work clothes” and get my o-sooji on.  Sayonara for now.

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Lovely sky & trees! Until it’s a puzzle.

It’d be a novel way to make money, that’s for sure!

Doing puzzles.

I love puzzles! Seriously, if I could get paid doing ’em, well, I’m sure I’d go punchy, cross-eyed and stir-crazy after eight hours of staring at ‘n’ puttin’ together the pieces day after day.

But I do love ’em!

Been a long time since I’ve been in a place and had the space for puzzles. Now that I just purchased a table — a thrift store workbench, actually, an interesting story, that — the space & place are arrived!

I was all excited for my first puzzle in a few years. Soon after finding none of any appeal at the Goodwill, I was told the most amazing thing by someone:

You can get ’em at the library!

Don’t even need a library card. Though of course I have one. Whenever I move (a lot!!), I arrange for a new library card way before the driver’s license!

A sign at the puzzles shelves reads: “Take One Leave One.” So I did. Had none to leave; no worries, I’ll return whatever I borrow.

Details. Colors. Things happening. A scene with appeal.

My keywords for a puzzle.

Oh, and size. Size matters. My table isn’t all that large. A 550-piece puzzle exceeds my table’s limits. After crammin’ ’em side by side like sardines, I was layin’ ’em on the window sill off to the side! Pieces were dropping to the floor. Not ergonomically comfortable or relaxing “puzzling.”

 

A 500-piece puzzle is about right. It engages and challenges the brain for a good while but doesn’t commit ya for life.

A 300-piecer would be my minimum. One day, with the right table, I’d go up to 1,000. A girl can dream. 🙂

Since it’s the season and I do loooooove detail, I went with a lively Christmas scene. A 550-piecer. Which I completed in two days! With two work shifts thrown in there!

How’s that possible, you wonder?

You don’t sleep! haha

Seriously. As a nocturnal creature, being up ’til 3-ish is par for the course unless there’s reason to be up early. Once I start puzzling, though, I can’t stop! I think one more piece. Plug it in. Just one more piece. Then I’m gonna stop. Really.  Plug in another. Then another. 

Hours later, I’m lookin’ at the clock, wincing. It’s 5 in the morning.

Hence while puzzling, it behooves me to recite: Just walk away.

So with no further ado, the Christmas Time puzzle done in two days:

Xmaspuzzle

I quite like the scene but it was a bitch, uncomfortable ergonomics and window sill aside. How so?

See all that foliage? Foilage is tedious.

See the sky? Tedious.

Minute differences in shading especially in upper right corner made it a bear. Is this black? Royal blue? So subtle were the shading differences that I was like a scientist in a microbiology lab, under a bright light, peering into a microscope discerning different pathogenic forms of Escherichia coli.

Anyhow,  it was fun (though I wasn’t as charmed by it as other puzzles). It’s ready to go back to the library:

xmaspuzzlepile

 

And a new one begun. Maybe one with a little less microbiology lab, a little more buzzing pub!

That daily prompts duo: Dumb and Dumber

Wanted to. Really did. Write on today’s daily prompt.

Took a look in anticipation.  Hindsight. Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.

Uhhhhhh, no. My first post is no longer. On a blog site (Vox) that no longer exists. Bye-bye to that first post circa 2006 and loads more writing. Poof! Gone. Vanished into cyberspace, never to be seen or read by human eye again.

My first post on WordPress too is so long ago, on an entirely other blog, a relic amongst the blogosphere’s bones.  Whether I could even unearth it is dubious.

Truthfully, why would I want to? Why would I want to go back and rewrite my first post or any other? What’s the point? The purpose? What’s to be gained? Like a photograph, writing (for me) captures a moment. An experience. A feeling. A viewpoint. A sensation. A thought or 10. A contemplation or 20.

The words are on record. The moment recorded. I wouldn’t muck with a personal blog post any more than I’d change the coloring of a dog or the funny-shaped ears of a child. Such things are what they are and as they are. Let them be.

So a sucky prompt, in my book. 🙂

There’s hope still!

The WP daily prompts page offers another option for those prompts we may find uninspiring, silly or just stupid. It’s called “view a random prompt” button. I’ll take that spin of a wheel …

Sweet 16. When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?

Ugh. Who comes up with these?!

Like the “rewrite your first post” prompt, an act of resurrecting ancient past. None of us is who we were a year ago, five or 10 or 20 or 30 years ago or 41 in my case.

What I thought life would look like when I was a teen is telling on certain levels and irrelevant on others. I was 16! While my life experience by that age was …. hmmmm, what are the words …. far more extreme, traumatic, unloving, painful, cruel than most … it was the experience of a 16-year-old living at home! I hadn’t yet experienced an iota of what I’d come to experience years and decades later!

I’ve grown, changed, evolved, become wizened and wise. I’d hope that the School of Life would have that intended effect on everyone (though am well aware it doesn’t).

So I’m tossing out this prompt on the basis of stupidity. And banality.

The person who wrote and suggested it sounds desperate for a prompt. Probably thought it was cool. Would make people think. It doesn’t. Not me anyhow. It’s lame because it does not take into consideration the valid points cited above. Not a one.

It’s lame.

Goes to show that when ya take a spin of the wheel, ya never can tell whether you’ll hit a jackpot or lose your shirt. Perhaps the next spin of the wheel of prompts will be a win.

Meanwhile, to finish on a positive fun note, I’ll pull a card for the day from the Mermaids & Dolphins deck:

Pay AttentionPay Attention

“Notice repetitious signs and your inner guidance as this can yield valuable information.”

Hmmmmm, intriguing!

 

As above, so below. And so the noisy couple goes.

You could say a fellow blogger {ahem} prompted me to do it. Dip my toes back into the Daily Prompt pool.

I write wherever my focus and attention take me. And with so much happening in my life {when is that not the case it seems} that requires therapeutic writing, creative / off-the-cuff writing, of which daily prompts are a part, has been relegated to the back seat. Understandably.

Don’t misunderstand. I could certainly turn anything into a creative piece! Take my noisy neighbors above. Please!

Talk about fodder for a tale of imagination! Imagination has no boundaries! I could write a thousand stories on the obnoxious and self-absorbed and disrespecting Clomp & Clack Couple above and once those were done a thousand more!

I could write, saaaaay ….

1. Ms. Clack wins the lottery. Or at the least a sizable jackpot. She decides now’s the time to see the world and take that cruise to the Bahamas she’s long wanted. They move out, terminating their lease early and thus penalized. Doesn’t matter, she’s loaded now. They’re gone, off to see the world! They vacate the apartment. Peace is restored. Win-win.

2. Mr. Clomp’s sister in Madison, Wisconsin falls ill. Family obligations require his presence. He doesn’t wanna go but does. Ms. Clack tags along.

Mr. Clomp goes to a bar in Madison to drown his woes. There, comfortably tipsy, he encounters a woman from Vietnam. Slender, petite, smooth radiant skin. Her tight floral silken Vietnamese dress only heightens her allure!

He falls hard for her. For a night. Perhaps it’s the beer goggles speaking. Perhaps it’s fate. He doesn’t know. Things get steamy. In bed he convinces himself it’s love. Or at the very least a mind-blowing lust to be consumed again and again and again.

Things get complicated. Ms. Clack learns about the tawdry encounter.

They return to their apartment. Talk ’til midnight or the cows come home. Whichever occurs sooner. Decide to move back to Madison, Wisconsin, for family support and couple’s counseling. They vacate the apartment. Peace is restored. Win-win.

3. Ms. Clack severely twists an ankle. Mr. Clomp’s told her once if he’s told her a thousand times that she needn’t wear those high heels, she’s beautiful and sexy in loafers or barefoot. But she’s never listened to him on that point. She’s a girl and she does girly things.

The doctor wraps her swollen purple ankle in a cast. Tells her to take it easy and stay off the ankle for at least a month.

She doesn’t listen. She’s taking out the trash, two crutches tucked into her armpits and heavy trash bags in each hand. She missteps. Takes another fall. Shatters part of a collarbone.

Doctor’s ticked off. “I told you to stay off it,” he admonishes. Her inner bitch shrugs it off. Mr. Clomp’s pissed too though. “You never listen to what any man tells you. This always happens. I need my space. I need to think. I’m gonna stay in a motel for a while.” He packs his bags.

Ms. Clomp can’t stand being alone. She’s NEVER done it and has no intention of starting now!

She joins him at his motel. Everything’s sexy and cool for a week. Then Mr. Clomp’s feeling way too crowded. Packs his bags a second time, saying: “I really need to think things through.” Heads off to Iowa to stay with his brother a while. “Alone,” he tells Ms. Clack.

She’s pouty, spoiled, pissed off and bummed. Convinces herself that she’s none of those things but the most loving partner he could ever have and screw him for not appreciating her. She lets him go. He takes off like a caged dolphin released back into the wild sea. They vacate their apartment. Peace is restored. Win-win.

See, a million ways to write characters in a story and out of your life!

As for the Daily Prompt, when I began this post, inspired in great part by livingonchi’s daily contributions, I’d intended to participate. Answer to the prompt: Clichés become clichés for a reason. Tell us about the last time a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush for you.

Somehow turns out I didn’t “need” it after all! That writing about the fucking obnoxious noisy disrespectful Clomp & Clack Couple above was more fun. This time.

Though if forced to build from that prompt, I’d say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Perhaps more.

A bird glides in the air. Free. Silent. Graceful. Perches perhaps on a finger then takes off again to live peacefully, unencumbered.

All that two noisy neighbors do is ruin it for everyone else.

Thus a free bird in the hand is worth two neighbors in the bush. The Australian bush. Far far away from disturbing any other living soul.

etheric note to 3D neighbors

I’d write it if I could.

Correction. Deliver it. Slide it under their door perhaps. Or deposit it in the mailbox.

Delivering it, however, would be wrong. Inappropriate. It’s not the right course of action.

However! I can still write it! Yey to writing and my two hands and brain that make it possible! Here goes.

Thank you so so much for being away at the holiday! It’s because you were away that all around enjoyed peace and silence for the first time in a month since you moved in.  Your absence truly made Christmas serene and restful. Thank you again.

Christmas: kind … future: forging.

The paint’s barely dry on Christmas and thoughts are already turning toward New Year’s.

My first Christmas in Prescott, the town I love and increasingly call home in the state I too love and already call home. Arizona.

Three words: joyful. connected. blessed.

A fourth word for good measure: peaceful. The noisy upstairs neighbors are away. The result: the first peace that the apartment and I have known in a month of being here. Can’t describe how WONDERFUL the quietude and their absence are! Part of me wishes they’d never come back, though of course that’s not realistic. I can breathe again. Silence is golden. Truly.

Whatever I did and wherever I was, it was going to be a good Christmas by virtue of being in Prescott. It was made WONDERFUL by good company. Good food. Good conversation. In my new place with a view so wonderful and worth sharing. It’s the first Christmas with another(s) over at my place in a guesstimated 21 years! I’ve come through some intensely dark dark dark times.

This year the tide turned. I witnessed it with my own eyes! A glorious joyful Christmas! Would not change a thing.

As the holiday gives way to New Year’s, I can’t but contemplate desires, wishes and goals for 2015. What’s in my heart for the new year? I don’t make resolutions per se. I do however think it important and worthwhile to reflect on such matters as the door of one year closes and the next opens.

I’m already there. Not in 2015 — obviously not! There in way of awareness of heart’s messages and spiritual compass. We’re still in 2014 so mum’s the word as far as a blog post. 🙂

Speaking of mums and nurturing and intuition and other motherly words (if one’s blessed with a good mother, that is), I’ve long enjoyed the tarot card drawings over at longeyesamurai’s blog.

With nurturing a theme in 2015 — that much I will tell! — I’m inspired in part by my longtime blogging buddy (all the way from the days of Vox yore!) to draw a card for the day from my longtime and currently favorite deck, Magical Mermaids and Dolphins (by Doreen Virtue).

{shuffle shuffle}

The day’s message is:

Break Free

Break Free 

“Try different ventures and experiences as a way to grow and learn.”

Uh-huh. Spot on

a man & his dog, a burger, mixer & Goodwill stranger: linked.

Move over, monster in Walmart*! There’s motherly kindness in this world too.

*see post prior

A story to be shared. If it uplifts your spirit in this stressful holiday season or instills or renews faith in the power of paying it forward, all the more meaningful.

A couple weeks ago while pulling into Walmart, I pass an indigent man and his dog sitting in the adjoining In-and-Out Burger lot. I buy a double-double burger and fries and include in the bag a bottle of beer from a pack I’d just happened to have purchased at Trader Joe’s.

Walk up to the man, offer the meal with instructions to please share with his dog and use of my bottle opener if needed (it wasn’t).

About a week later, I’m at the Goodwill. COMPLETELY overstressed by holiday crowds and most of all the grind of noisy upstairs neighbors and constantly bad home situations.

I’m in line with a portable mixer (particularly for seasonal baking). Lady in front of me has a load in her cart. Stress is eating me up, my impatience is full tilt, my irritability sky high so while waiting I put head in hands and recite the serenity prayer in my mind time and time again.

When I look up, the clerk’s handing me the bagged mixer and the woman in line’s saying “it’s all paid for.”

“What? No,” I say “I’ll pay for it.”

“All paid for,” she says, smiling. I thank her profusely and depart, her blonde hair and smiling face the last things I see.

This town is unlike any other place for me! This kinda stuff happens so naturally here. A meal and beer for a man and his dog is returned as an act of kindness from a Goodwill shopper.

Paying it forward. Small random acts of kindness rise like leavened bread, multiply and are returned at times and in ways you could never see coming.

Every time I use that mixer, I’m going to remember the experience, think of her and be in gratitude for the gift that keeps on giving.