About Me

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California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It gets colder everyday now. At night we use heavy blankets and an electric carpet undeneath our futons. It gets more difficult to air out the futons in the winter, with the rain and cloudy, cold weather. The futons, light mattresses, are very easy to clean. After removing the bedding to be washed, they are taken outside and pounded on for a few minutes to get rid of dust and mites, and then left in the sun for a few hours to air out. It feels so good to sleep in a clean futon! I will never forget what it looks like underneath a traditional western mattress when I've moved them after months...

In the winter, it also becomes more difficult to wash clothes, because we, like most people in Japan, do not have a clothes dryer, instead hang them up in the sun. It is much better for the clothes, and saves on electricity, but is not a very good technique in the winter.

Hmm... I guess while I'm at it, I'll mention some things I like about my Japanese home. This is not a conclusive list; there are a lot of differences, some I like, some I don't like.

The toilet. When you flush, the clean water comes out of a spout on the top as the tank empties, so you can wash your hands after flushing. As you wash, it runs into the tank. I have a bar of soap on the corner, and a clean towel there.

The hot water heater. You push a button on a controller, and the water heater turns on. It takes seconds to get hot water anywhere in the house, and you can select the temperature from the controller. On top of that, it uses kerosene which is really cheap.

Tatami and hard wood floors only. This is pretty standard in Japan. If people want carpets, they buy a carpet to lay down. The tatami is used in the bedroom. It is a grass mat. It stays cool in the summer, just cool in the winter, and is very easy to clean. Liquids don't easily permeate it, and suface dust is easily vaccuumed. Hard wood floors can be found all over the states, but it seems that usually they are so expensive, although I did see some bamboo HdWd floors that are much cheaper, on exhibit at the Green Festival in San Francisco some years ago.

Thinking of houses and the way they are built reminds me of all the houses that I've lived in over the years. They were all great. I can't think of one that I didn't like at all. They all had their own special layout, and the places fit into their surroundings as though they were trees that had grown their, in some odd way. And best of all, they all inspired some experience or another to look back on. Where have you lived? What did you like about that place?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goodbye....

Well... my grandma passed away last week. She was suffering a lot, she had a nother stroke, and couldn't take in nutrients, so she quickly faded away. There are a lot of people who will miss her. I am going to bake a pumkin pie and think of her, thank her, while I bake it. She was a WONDERFUL cook. She would make huge feasts, and the whole family would come and enjoy Christmas and Thanksgiving at her and Grandpa's house. Their house smelled so good... like roses, and when it didn't smell like roses, it smelled like good food cooking. She made huge, yummy breakfasts. She and the family had a successful family business, a rose garden where they sold roses to the whole world. My grandpa and grandma loved to travel, too. One time, I was about 8, and my mother used to lead me on guided meditations, after which I would meditate by myself for about 45 minutes. That time, I was meditating, and I guess I suddenly told my mother, ' Grandma and Grandpa are on the airplane and they are coming back from Europe.'I had no way of knowing this, but that evening we got a call from Grandma, and she said that they had just arrived from Europe. Another of their travel memories is when they came to Japan. They came a few times, I think. They liked it very much. They went to visit Hiroshima, and when they came back, they gave me a souvenir. It was a book of bonsai. It was one of the things that brought me to this country in the first place.
Thank you Grandma and Grandpa, for many wonderful memories and including me in your lives. I hope that you are both happy and together. Rest in peace. With love, Sofia.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Festival of Art and Music





I somehow pulled through not being able to talk on Friday to singing onstage on Saturday.
Last week and the previous, I had a horrible cold, but I had put a lot of effort into translating the school song and memorizing it so that I could sing it in the Music and Art Festival on Saturday. I went to the doctor on Friday, he gave me medicine and the miracle of modern science laid its blessed hands upon my destiny. On Saturday I could talk!
I had also been working on a huge painting of my grandma and I, and for about a week, had not been able to paint her face. It eluded me. How to paint her face?? With what technique? What lighting? 15 minutes before leaving the house, I worked on her face, and was able to finish it.

My students were waiting at the event. We were to sing the Phonics ABC song that I composed and recorded for their lessons. Then I would sing the school song, and then I would do live painting to a song that Shinpei produced for me the night before, and to another song.

It was the fifth and sixth graders waiting there. They were so cute and excited. We went onstage and they sang. I felt bad because when they were done, they asked me what to do, and I didn't clearly know, so I suggested that they get off stage so the show could continue. I didn't tell them to bow, so I felt bad. I am wondering how I can apologize to them...

Anyway, the show moved on to me singing the school song. I had painted a painting for the song, since I didn't think I could sing it. The painting portrayed the elements of the song.

Finally, the last song came on. I was ready, Japanese paintbrush in hand, to do the watercolor. It was a nice live-paint session. This is the 3rd time that I have done live-painting, and it was really relaxing. I really love the song that Shinpei made. He used a voice sample of mine to make it. The second song was one that I recorded ad-lib in Kurume with a guy named Masato. He palyed the guitar and I sang, and we recorded it. I really love that song. It was so nice to paint to those pieces, and I got a lot of positive comments about the painting and about how it made people feel at peace. I was also told it had a healing effect. I am so glad that things worked out.

The rest of the festival lasted until 12 midnight. There were all sorts of musical performers. Rock bands, folk guitar, classical guitar with vocals, karaoke with no words cover songs, and more. There was a duo from another town who will have a play in a month. There was a guy from Takanabe who played the Jamisen, an okinawan instrument, and the flute. And finally, there was a Kagura performance. It was very beautiful.

Cheers to everyone and thank you Ogawa-san for putting together a great event!