Sunday, September 28, 2008


it's a grey monday, and the air smells like toasted marshmallows and campfire. the temperature dropped twenty degrees this weekend, and the mornings are stirred with chill. the air is drying up in the woodsmoke. i smiled to myself as i took the rubbish up to the bin this morning because i love fall even though it freezes into winter. at least i have my clear windows now!
the walls of my house are patrolled endlessly by tiny jumping spiders. last year i would have put them outside, but this year i don't care anymore. they are one of the least offensive arachnids i've encountered: too small to look horrible, they don't spin webs, and they do a funny little flex with their facial feelers which makes them look like tiny boxers preparing to scrap. i leave them alone to catch the other bugs. me and the spiders. i've been soo lucky this year and have only seen one (one!) mukade, and i'm hoping to keep it that way as long as possible.
saturday was a brilliant, sunny, chilly day--my favorite kind. i got up early and danced around the house in the sun. it was the kind of morning you want to do the crossword over coffee with your darling, full of fresh air and light. i like that "darling" is a word that has become synonymous with "boyfriend" in japan. friday i was asked, "darling imasuka?" i couldn't help smiling, but the answer was still, no, i don't have a darling. that's the same boy, who instead of saying, "joke! joke!" like most of my kids when they say something untrue, blurted out, "it's fiction!"
this year i have been really working on the ankle i injured several years ago in a skateboarding wreck. i want the mobility and strength back, so i've been running and stretching, running and stretching. i'm amazed what a difference it's made. it still aches, but i don't get foot cramps when i point my toes and faux-ballet around the room. i've been doing that a lot lately.
the barbecue/onsen party was interesting. after 45 hellish minutes in the back of a van on a narrow, twisy road that would make any sane person green, i emerged on shaky legs and stood forlornly in the forest. was it really worth it? mr. sugar turned to me and smiled in the faint light, "hi lauren."
the group was intimate by normal party standards, just nine people. we stood around some rustic picnic tables, and everyone rustled into action. i didn't know what to help with, so when someone brought a bench, i sat. soon there was fire and food. i was on the corner by mr. sugar. i marveled at his quiet conversation, that he seemed content to talk to me about pancakes. he was quietly, gently attentive. another beer, more vegetables, even noticing when i had bits of corn cob and pepper stems in my bowl and offering a place to discard them. i understand him less as time goes on, but i loved those sweet moments.
finally, just before the girls headed off to the onsen, kuma-san looked up with a rascally smile and told me there was a "konyoku," a bath where men and women could bathe together, and he pointed right at me and mr. sugar! in the midst of the translation, i didn't really have time to respond, and after a pause, mr. sugar spoke up in what i supposed at the time was a proxy response for me, "no thank you!" later, though, i wondered if that was really for himself, which made me a tiny bit sad.

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