Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nikkei in Cuba

Tony & I were part of the first Japanese American delegation to Cuba with Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR) back in 2001. We visited Havana, the Isla de la Juventud and other places. Two other groups followed in the years after we went. A report back panel was organized last September to share their experiences. I was on the NCRR panel with Kathy and Sandy. Discover Nikkei filmed the event, and put it on their website. There are videos and photos of the event.

Here's the video clip of my portion of the presentation, where I talk mostly about the creative ways that the Cubans responded to the special period after the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed with organic farming, holistic medicine, environmental reserves, and more. My part starts about 5 minutes into the 10 minute clip.

It was nice to pull out the old photo albums and writings of our trip to Cuba so many years ago.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Manjuu Party - Belated Bday Photos

Well, Maiya's 4th birthday (and my 4 year birthing day anniversary) came and went this year. Her birthday came at a pretty stressful time in February, we actually ran 15 errands that day, because Tony's dad was in the nursing home and doing very badly, and we visited him twice (it was 3 weeks before he passed away), and we were busy working on fixing up the old house for our new tenants (moving in 2 weeks later) and buying things for the new house (which we had been moving into over the previous 3 weekends). And since we just got a new card reader (the old one is missing since the move), I thought I'd finally share the pictures from her birthday celebration.
So, we had a little manjuu party for Maiya at her preschool. They were not encouraging cake or other homemade goodies, so we decided to order manjuu from Fugetsudo on First Street in Little Tokyo. We ordered 50 Korey's Chocolate manjuu, which were actually the best, most freshest ones I've ever eaten (they were made earlier that day), and then since I didn't know if everyone could have chocolate, we got 4 packs of rainbow mochi, which many of the kids actually preferred. I think it was a pretty unique celebration, even for a Buddhist preschool, where the majority of the children are either Japanese, Japanese American, or Hapa.
Singing "Happy Birthday to You"Blowing out the "4" candleEnjoying the presence of Mommy & Daddy at the party4 years, and one day old

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Breakfast

We made our first breakfast in our new house on Saturday for Fran & Don before they went back home to Idaho. I just unpacked the last box for the kitchen this morning. Well, there's about 4-5 more boxes of china cabinet stuff and some of the Japanese dishes, but that's going to have to stay in the garage for awhile. Tonight, Tony made dinner for the first time in the house, and me & Maiya made beet/carrot/orange/apple juice in the juicer with the stuff I got from the Farmer's Market on Tuesday.

And in blogging news, Tony found a cord to upload photos from the camera to the computer. But he didn't upload the 1200 photos in the queue.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Normal ~ jeNNi's daY oFf

Things are starting to get back to normal. If normal can be defined. Yesterday was two weeks since Tony's dad passed away, and we have been in the new house for almost 2 months now. We have made a lot of progress on the house in the last 2 weeks, and finally unpacked about 90% of the kitchen over the last week. Today on my day off, I woke up before the sun and got up on the computer before Maiya woke up. Watched 1/2 hour of the morning news, which I haven't done in months. In our new house, you have to go into the living room to turn on the tv, it's not just passing through from the kitchen out the door anymore.

Took Maiya for her 4 year old doctor's appointment. It should not take 30 minutes (no exaggeration) to find parking. I went up and down the parking structure 3 times and went over to the hospital and after more than 5 minutes, I was still on the main level. We were 20 minutes late, then had to wait over an hour. Maiya did real well with her first vision and hearing tests--I was a proud mama, she read all the letters on the eye chart, and raised her hand when she heard the beeps. Since I delayed and unbundled several immunizations when Maiya was a baby, today we had to catch up on a few. To get the MMR unbundled you have to go to another office and it was closed, so we didn't do them today. Poor thing, she wasn't nervous, but she did cry after the shots.

Afterwards, we went to the library and checked out 8 books. Had to circle that parking lot twice as well. By then, I was tired, so instead of running 2 more errands, we went home and I made grilled cheese sandwiches and tangerines for lunch. I am feeling sad about increasing my work hours to full time after next week. I've really appreciated having a day off each week to take care of stuff and have special time with Maiya. But there's a mortgage, actually two, these days. After lunch, I cleaned up the dishes, and Maiya and I read books and hung out on the couch. I fell asleep for a few minutes before Tony got home. We played hide & seek, and then Tony took Maiya on a bike ride to the park while I went to return some things at Bed Bath & Beyond and went to checkout the neighborhood grocery store.

When I got home, Maiya was over playing with the 3 and 4 year old sisters who live next door, so I walked over to the Farmer's Market and bought some fruits and veggies and cobbler and peanuts, and walked home, total of 30 minutes of walking. Afterwards, we had hot dogs and strawberries for dinner. Maiya fell asleep at the table, so I put her in the bed and straightened up, hopped on the computer until American Idol came on. Fell asleep during AI, but did enjoy a few of the performances.

So that's my day. Maiya woke up crying and with a fever, damn shots, and so we fell asleep watching TV. And now, it's midnight and it's time for bed. Yawn.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Larry Osumi: A Brief History

Written by Tony and read by daughter-in-law Nina, with grandchildren Danika and Chris at Larry's Memorial Service on 3/5/09
Grandpa Larry was born 64 years ago on December 29, 1944 in Mount Clemons, Michigan. His parents, Yoshio (Terry) and Chie spent the previous two years behind barbed wire in Arizona at one of America’s concentration camps.

After three years in Michigan, the family of five, including older brother Megumi Dick and younger brother, Bill, moved to Chicago for 6 months. In 1949 they returned to Los Angeles. For a year they all lived in a one-room garage near Sawtelle Blvd. With savings from a gardening route and a loan from a tanomoshi (a Japanese community rotating credit group) they moved into their family home in West LA.

Growing up, Grandpa Larry went to Brockton Elementary, Webster Jr. High and graduated from University High School. Growing up in WLA he played baseball for Crescent Bay Optimists, went camping with the Boy Scouts and delivered the Rafu Shimpo newspaper on his bicycle. Like many of his generation, he went to dances, cruised Van Nuys Blvd, ate hamburgers at Bob’s Big Boys, tacos at Ketchi’s Stand, and swayed to the romance of Johnny Mathis.

Later he pumped gas and checked your oil at the Shell gas station on Federal Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd. It’s here he earned enough money to buy a new 1965 burgundy Ford Mustang for just under $2900. Ahead of his time, he used a parachute as a car cover. It was also at the Shell station that Grandpa Larry was introduced to Fran, a nice Jewish girl from Venice who he married in 1966 and had two children, Tony and Chris.

Now a family man, Grandpa Larry attended LA Trade Tech College and earned a certificate as an Electronics Technician. Working in the industry for almost 40 years, he spent the majority of his years at three companies: Electro in Saugus, EAC Electronics in El Monte and Chino and most recently, with Medtronics doing quality control and testing.

Grandpa Larry was gifted in the garage. For years he did his own car repairs. Whether rebuilding his flathead Ford in high school, changing clutches, brakes, or bearings, he never met a Pep Boys he didn’t like. For a time, he even knew which Pick-A-Part had the best taco trucks.

Grandpa Larry was also handy around the house. In 1984 he moved to Crestline, which is in the San Bernardino Mountains, below Arrowhead. He was always upgrading his baseboards, bull-nosing the hallways, building retaining walls and forever vacuuming. He was always vacuuming. It was like his rug was his canvas and his Hoover upright was his brush. For some reason, the man loved to vacuum.

Grandpa Larry had three main passions: 1) Going out to eat with family. 2) Going out to eat with friends. And 3) going on road trips to visit relatives, so he could eat again.

Beyond food, he enjoyed fishing the High Sierras, especially Convict Lake and his boyhood haunt, Green Creek. A typical trip included Grandpa Larry, Bill and Tony camping for two days and spending the third night in Carson City eating pie and prime rib at the Ormsby House. Video poker was his game and with a cup full of nickels he was always chasing that elusive Royal Flush.

2008 was a rough year for Grandpa Larry. Complications with diabetes led to kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He lost weight, stopped driving and moved to a walker and finally a wheelchair. In January 2009, he fractured his hip and declined further. On Monday, February 23rd he passed away from cardiac arrest. All along there were phone calls and visits from friends and family. Thank you.