Nov 21 Best 10

1. Kids and mom out again early; I enjoy one of those “big breakfasts.”

2. Mom calls from California. When she calls on an unscheduled day, my heart always skips a beat, expecting bad news of some sort. Today’s big tragedy? She wants to know how to fill out the California Drivers license renewal that came in the mail. Easy enough! Great to hear mom in a good mood.

3. Kazu called I CAN to cancel his meeting today, but added that the reason was because of a JOB INTERVIEW. His voice sounds good. This is movement we have been working towards for literally years, now.

4. Getting the courage to go next door to Oshima’s Car Dealership. Having the same owner as my former boss, they are also yearly donators to I CAN. However, the last time I asked for “dues,” the woman in charge of the books had a stern face, not too willing to help out this time. When I got up enough courage to go BACK, again, and re-ask, she smiled, said she had forgotten, and then gracefully put some cash in my outstreched paws.

5. Helping Keitaro on his…UC Berkeley application. Now this boy is a go-getter. Upon refusing to go to high school, he immediately passed his equivalency exam, then took a year to study in Australia, and now wants to go to college in America. Does he have the record to go to Cal? Not sure, but I’m happy to polish his “personal statement” and help him go through the learning experience of making an application

6. Abe and I on the charitable donation hunt. The most unfriendly, downright gloomy place we visited was the psychological hospital/counselling center. I thought we would have some common ground there, but after two meetings I give up. My god, even the receptionist looks like an Adams Family escapee. Do people go to such places expecting to feel better? Talk about weird, down energy… On the other hand, our visit to the retirement home was met by a bright, sincere, eager to listen young woman (I might even say “perky”) This is part of Oshima’s empire, so of course the reception was a bit warmner, but we had a nice cup of coffee, making plans to set up volunteerism at the home with the I CAN girls members…

7. Picking up the finished miso that we made back in April. Finally it has fermented enough to be “done.” The ride up to the kitchen to get it was hairy: lightning, thunder, blinding hailstorms. The Strattons, 4 of us in the car with Emiko at the wheel, oooohed at each lightning flash, aaahhhed at each thunder clap. And Yuto was proud to pick up the miso that “he” made.

8. Emily made a “tofu milk hotchpotch” tonight for dinner. Basically, hotchpotch is the dictionary translation for “nabe” (naw-bey) in which all sorts of vegetables and meats are simmered together in a big broth. In Japan, most families but a little gas stove on the eating table and a big earthen pot simmers in the center of the table. You take the raw vegetables and meats that you want with your chopsticks and add them to the brew, taking them out when you want. Very communal and fun. With Eli (and Yuto, too, running around for that matter) we have yet to try the gas stove on the table version. Emiko makes it in the kitchen and brings it out. Boy, it tasted good. Who would have thunk it: Tofu milk?

9. The weird, “up” energy of Yuto and Eli this night before bath, literally running, singing and dancing through the house. Naked.

10. Emiko catches me for a few minutes: “I’ve been thinking about how you can help get more business for I CAN.” Her ideas are excellent, even inspiring. And more than the substance of her ideas, in fact, was that she had been thinking of how to help me, and communicated it. Highlight of the day.

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