Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fiesta La Ballona--hot & walkable

We live within walking distance to a lot of different places, including this weekend's Fiesta La Ballona in Culver City, which has been going on since 1951, but we had never been to before. So, Maiya and I walked over in the heat, which according to FB friends was up to 114 around LA this weekend, but it was only in the mid-80s where we were, but still, the 20 minute walk there was hot and Maiya was pretty cranky.
Enjoying the Merry Go Round
(and singing Free to Be You and Me)
Maiya's first time on a Ferris Wheel (she loved it)
View of the Angeles Crest Fire smoke
View of all the carnival rides
View of the vendor and community booths
Maiya coming down the Giant Slide on her back
(we both went twice--the 3rd time she went all by herself)

We stayed several hours, walking around at the info/vendor/food booths, riding the carnival rides, listening to the 60s music on the dance stage, looking at but not playing any of the games (too expensive and then after all the begging and whining I just wasn't going to do it), watching a dance performance of "Glow Girls" and seeing the CC Historical Society exhibit, and more. There was actually a nice cool breeze under the trees watching 4-10 year old girls dancing and performing poetry and movement. We shared a slice of pizza and a lemonade, then later Maiya had a chocolate chip ice cream cone (first one I've ever bought her I think), and then on our way out we shared a strawberry gelato. The walk back home was a whine fest in itself.

Rides (ferris wheel/merry-go-round/slide) $18, food $10, balloon $3, admission free. My recollection might include whining, crankiness, sticky, expensive, painful spider bites, and a long, hot walk, but looking back at the pictures, really what we'll remember is that we had a great time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The BLUE Marble

Great Leap
The Blue Marble
a Green Piece

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heading out the door

Got things to do, people to see.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A. Keiko's Bday Brunch 8/9

We hosted brunch for Auntie Keiko's 71st bday a few weeks ago with my family. It was our 2nd breakfast in our house and our 2nd brunch for Keiko's bday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Obon: Senshin

Senshin's obon is among my favorites mostly because of all the people we know who go to Senshin. There is more emphasis on the spiritual and Buddhist traditions. They don't have festival games... and only a few food booths like chili rice n' hot dogs or snow cones, but odori dancing and taiko performances are highlights. Senshin is always early, used to be the 1st weekend of July, but every now and then it's the last Saturday in June, and if I'm not paying attention, am likely to miss it.

Ms. Susan from Nishi Center (BTW, we saw either Ms. Susan or Ms. Elaine at EVERY obon this year.)
Karen, Carrie, Ev, Tad and Friend
After the dancing, we go through the hondo/temple, and do oshoko (incense offering). Since Maiya goes to a Buddhist preschool, I find I am now watching her for the protocol, which she does before me. Then we walk up and out of the hondo. Someone passes us a lit candle, and we see the mesmerizing 1,000 or so oil candles lit one by one in memory of those who have passed before us. As you pass by, you light a candle and then pass the candle to the person behind you. It is a beautiful and solemn moment, one that makes you take a deep breath.

Then inside the Social Hall, where I have spent a lot of time, as Senshin is Great Leap's spiritual home and rehearsal space. We get in line for some free soba noodles and sit down to watching taiko performances with resident company and OG taiko group Kinnara Taiko. Ooh, and at the time of this blog posting it is 7:08 am, and as I typed the word taiko performances, Maiya stirred from her sleep and said, "taiko... taiko."

Venice Carnival Remembers its History

This isn't really an obon, but it seems like I didn't have my camera out at the Venice Obon, so here is the Venice Summer Festival held in mid-June--it is the kickoff and precursor to Obon season for us. Turns out that my dad is really into obon this year, and came out for West LA, Venice Festival and Nishi Obon. We went with Grandma Machi and Grandpa Walt. Surprise, surprise it's a snow cone. I swear this girl eats healthy all year long so she can go crazy wild with junky food at obon/carnivals. As usual, we ate, and played games. For some reason, we don't ever dance at this one. Well, it was in June, and we were just getting started.

I noticed they are doing a lot of oral history and documentation of Venice Japanese Community Center for its upcoming 90th anniversary. Tony and I had done some photo collection and interviews with people 11-12 years ago when we did the Aloha Mural project, just down the street from the VJCC. A lot of the people from the Center we see year after year at the food booths. Anyways, here's a picture of the Aloha Market Mural on Centinela, completed in 1998.

Too Late for Gardena Obon Pix?

Is it too late for more Summer 09 Obon pictures? I think I've missed a few... here's Gardena, which I hear runs about 800 people a day. We carpooled with Lily on the way there. We knew it was going to be crowded, when we parked blocks several blocks east of Normandie. Food lines were long, but fairly fast. We ate... played games, danced, saw friends, the usual. I do like Gardena's obon. And since obon is really to honor the ancestors, I couldn't help but remember that we brought Tony's dad last year. He was pretty sick, but he did enjoy his last obon, and one of Maiya's cherished memories is sharing a snow cone with Grandpa Larry.
Waiting in the car for Auntie Lily
Maiya: I love playing games!
Jenni: More plastic crap to clutter our house.
Maiya loving the jumpy bounce house
Hanging out with Auntie Lily & Uncle Kent
Yes that's a dango. And no, it doesn't help you grow.

Ok, that's it for this year for now. I might post the Senshin obon and Venice carnival photos.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Steppin' Up

Here's me & Maiya going up the 283 or so steep steps to the top of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, one of the new state parks that just opened a few months ago, but thanks to the state budget fiasco, the visitor center is only open on weekends.

Maiya & I went for the first time on Monday night, and the steps kicked my butt (the girl didn't even have to huff and puff like her old mama), but on Thursday, it wasn't as bad. After the gym had a power outage, we dashed over to the overlook to do a nature hike/workout--going up you take the steps, going down we took the walking trail. The second time, Maiya fell on the first set of steps and scraped her hand, so she wasn't a very happy camper (read: cranky whiny clingly bossy). But she did insist that we continue to the top. Anyways, this picture was taken by Mike Murase, who we bumped into on our way up. Maiya fell asleep in the car on the one mile drive home.

Need to go earlier, and take my camera on a nice day. We could hear the downtown Culver City Thursday Night Concert from up there, and we could see the trees above our street from up there, as well as a view of downtown LA, West LA, Century City. On a clear day, we'll be able to see Pasadena, the San Bernardino mountains, and the ocean, all from the same place.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kuidas at the Lake

This summer we have gone up to Grandpa Larry's house in the San Bernardino Mountains just about every weekend for at least a day. We have been working on cleaning out the house first with the idea of renting it out as a year round rental, and more recently, we've been enjoying it and pondering the financial possibility of keeping it as a vacation rental. After a few months of work, we finally got the living room looking pretty presentable.
The last Sunday in July, Sao and the Kuida Boyz came up for the day and we spent it at the lake, just 1/2 a mile from Larry's house. These are people you want to have a picnic on the lake with. They brought teriyaki hot dogs, ham & cheese sandwiches, peanut butter jelly sandwiches, umeboshi nigiri, brown rice nigiri, brownies, and lots of other snacks and goodies that I can't think of at this post-midnight moment.Maiya and Kyle creating a lake on a lake, part of Sao & Kyle's pyramids, oasis, and that lion, I forget the name. Sao help me out here.We rented a paddleboard, at $2 for the half hour, you can't beat that. The kids had a great time on them. Mostly we just swam in the lake all day.
Nice family photo of a nice summer day at the lake.
Spaghetti and salad for dinner. We finally got the kitchen table cleared off, this is probably the first meal at this table in years.
Who wants to come join us? We plan to go up on Sunday. A few weekends left before the beach at the lake closes after Labor Day. We'd love to see you up there. It's an hour and a half from our place if ya want to catch a ride.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


After 4 times as an Eel, Maiya has now advanced to the Ray level at swim class at the Y, and is really learning how to swim! She can now swim on her back the length of the pool with a little spotting from the teacher, can kick across the length of the pool with a kickboard, and can swim about 10 feet on her own. She is also learning how to turn her head to breathe and how to move her arms. Fun stuff.

Friday, August 07, 2009

WLA Obonalicious

WLA Taiko members range from kids to 70-somethings
Sao... Darin's how's the udon?
Eating shave ice with Grandpa Walt & Uncle Bill
Might be my favorite picture of the summerTrying to take a picture with grandma and grandpa
Hey Kevin.. let's see your face!
Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle
Clap clap... clap

We had a great time at the WLA Obon. Uncle Bill joined us and we arrived just in time for the big dinner crowds. My parents and brother Darin's family and their friends also were there. Food was great and the long lines went pretty fast, but it was just so crowded. Tony & I ate Feast from the East salads, while Maiya had her usual hot dog & shave ice. The shave ice is one of the better ones. Uncle Bill enjoyed the teriyaki chicken. Maiya (and I) probably waited 20 minutes in line for the bouncer. Tony was busy chatting with various friends he hadn't seen in awhile, so there's no pictures of him or me.

Uncle Bill and Tony walked back to Uncle Bill's house, and Maiya and I stayed to dance. The bummer is that by the time we dance, Maiya is usually a little cranky and annoying, but the great thing is that she and I did a lot of dancing this year and we are actually starting to learn the dances! It is fun to be with her and watch her watching others and catching on to the moves, at the same time I am learning. It's fun doing Tampopo, Auntie Nobuko's song. My favorite one is the one with the "sparkle, sparkle, sparkle." Still, some of the dances are too hard and we take a little break.