Savory Endings: The Okinawan Special

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Benimo, beans and boiled peanut atop shaved ice.

The other weekend, after eating lunch at the Aeon food court, Russell and I were in search of something sweet.  As I’ve written about before, sweets–be they donuts, ice cream, or cream puffs–are easily found throughout Okinawa.  In search of a local treat, Russell made his way to DragonSweets, a shaved ice concession.  He returned with the Okinawan Special and two small spoons.

What is it?  A mound of delicately shaved ice (think light and airy, not hard and heavy) topped with cubes of Okinawa’s famous purple potato (benimo), boiled peanuts and red beans, accompanied by a side of rice flour balls and a scoop of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon.  As if that weren’t enough, the sweet liquid flavorings included a brown cola-like syrup, a bright purple benimo syrup, and a clear-ish sugar cane syrup.

[S] enjoyed the benimo.  And Russell and I enjoyed the ice cream and the one-time culinary experience.

Clarity Amid Chaos

I like order.  Certainly, I’m not the only one.  As my friend repeatedly says to her children, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”  I appreciate organizational skills and tidiness.  Perhaps more importantly, I detest chaos and clutter.  While our home isn’t the cleanest house on the block, it may just be the tidiest.  Um.  Er.  Hmmm.  Uh.  At least it used to be.

Ever since I returned to work, my mind, home and computer desktop have been cluttered.  Work files sit atop our dining room table, [S]’s blocks and books are scattered throughout our home, and my laptop desktop is littered with adoption training homework, draft legal memoranda, family photos and prior tax filings.  The mere act of writing about the disorder makes my head hurt.  Ah, yes, that reminds me:  my mind is not faring any better.  Once upon a time, I focused on one thing at a time.  Then, it was work.  Yes, it was challenging, draining, and trying at times, but I enjoyed it.  Today, I seem incapable of finishing one list, like what we need from the grocery store, before starting another, like what documents we need for our taxes or . . . .

Yes, of course.  I am well aware that my situation is not unique.  Plenty of women, including many good friends, are mothers of multiple children and work part- or full-time.  They multi-task, multi-think, and multi-juggle, all the time.  Yes, I have chosen to return to the practice of law on my own accord.  And, yes, I volunteer my time.  But those facts are irrelevant to the matter at hand.

The issue facing me is how do I concentrate on one thing at a time, allowing me to efficiently and effectively accomplish the task at hand, whatever it may be. I used to have one to-do list.  Then I started using multiple lists written on Post-It notes stuck to the appropriate file folder.  But then things became complicated.  The list on our adoption file became two lists:  one list of things to do for our adoption agency (e.g., one year of past tax filings) and one list for our home study agency (e.g., the first two pages of tax filings for the previous three years).  I need a physical signed off by my health care provider.  It’s a check the box form–as simple as it gets.  It worked out well as I had to make an appointment for a persistent rash on my neck (yes, lovely).  But then I received an e-mail instructing me to go to the lab for blood work (fasting, of course) and to immunization for a PPD.  All together, an errand that should take 30 minutes becomes a thing because I can’t bring [S] with me.

High-functioning or not, I’m a firm believer the devil is in the details.  While being attuned to details suits me well, I don’t want to miss life’s big picture.  This afternoon, after three hours of working mostly uninterrupted, I turned off my computer.  I sat on the floor with [S] amid a colorful rainbow of dry erase markers, blocks, and plastic coins.  I gave her my full attention.  And spent the rest of the afternoon immersed in books, dancing, forts and snacks.  When evening came, [S] and I began putting toys away and proceeded to vacuum and tidy up before dinner.  Ah.  There was order once again.

No, our house isn’t in perfect order.  And, no, I don’t know how long this block-scheduling method will work.  But for one glorious afternoon, I felt productive, tuned-in, peaceful and calm.

#TGIF

Travel Advisory: Check those Passports

If you have a United States passport expiring any time in 2016, the State Department has a message for you: Renew it now.

The department anticipates a surge in passport demand throughout this year, and officials hope to avoid a crush that could leave some Americans fuming in frustration with no passport in hand on the day they planned to travel outside the country.

Officials are expecting a flood of renewals of 10-year passports issued in 2006 and 2007. The latter was the year when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect, for the first time requiring passports for Americans returning by air from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. As millions of citizens scrambled to apply for their first passports, backlogs swelled and many were stranded.

“We were overwhelmed then, and we are not going to be overwhelmed again,” said Michele Bond, the assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, who oversees passports. She has been on a campaign to cajole Americans into renewing early.

Passport Expiring Soon? Renew It Now, State Dept. Says, The New York Times (Jan. 26, 2016).

1918: A Very Good Year.

I am not a numbers person.  But I’m old enough to know the years of significance in my life.   1942.  1944.  1969.  1973.  2014.  And 1918.  Ninety-eight years ago today, my maternal Grandfather was born.  His presence in my life has been, and continues to be, meaningful and significant in more ways than he knows.  His worldwide adventures fueled my wanderlust.  His business acumen reminded me that silence is golden more often than not.  And his love of his wife and children demonstrated deep and unwavering commitment.  When last I spoke with my Grandfather, he mentioned how fortunate he was to be enjoying life.  All I could think about was how fortunate we are to have him in our lives.

Happy birthday, Grandpa.  May this year be filled with good cheer, good friends, and good health.

A Reason to Dust

Last week [S] propelled herself backwards from a standing position, unexpectedly–and unfortunately–hitting the bridge of my nose with the back of her head.  Upon impact, I heard a distressing sound that came close to the word “crunch.”  Oddly, my nose didn’t hurt.  Rather, a cooling sensation immediately spread above and below my eyes.  The next day, while expressing delight by flapping outstretched arms, [S] hit the end of my nose upward with her palm.  Suffice it to say the contact was grimace worthy.

Having a facial injury, no matter how slight it may appear, makes it difficult to do much without feeling uncomfortable.  Indeed, I quickly learned that bending over and leaning forward were not optimal positions.  I also learned that the nose, eyes, head and jaw work together.  (Yes, my teeth hurt.)  And I learned that sneezing and rubbing one’s nose, as I frequently do, aren’t recommended.

Ah, but I digress.  The real concern was the extent to which my face would swell and bruise.  The day prior to my first nose-injury, we had learned that the woman performing our adoption home study would be arriving in Japan at the weekend.  Fortunately, my face remained bruise-free and the swelling subsided before before our face-to-face.

The good news is that the physical portion of the home study has been completed.  The better news is that we are nearing completion of the attendant 47-page-long questionnaire.  And oddly, the best news, at least for my nose, was that I finally had a reason to dust.

#OnwardandUpward

A Glimmer of Hope

I’ve made my feelings known about the current field of presidential candidates on both sides.  Upon seeing this article, I checked to make sure I wasn’t being punk’d by The Onion.  If he decides to run, not only will I have a candidate to support, but I will sleep better.  Much, much better.

* * *

Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House Run, The New York Times (Jan. 23, 2016).

Snowpocalypse 2016

Having lived in warm weather climates for years, I dream of snow.  Like most things that one longs for, I think of only the good–pristine white flakes covering the ground, a crackling fire in the great room, and silence filled streets. The realities of the dirty, slushy mess of the following days, the snow- and ice-incompetent drivers, and the bitter cold, are things I prefer to ignore.

To our friends and family on the east coast, we are thinking of you and wishing you well.  May your electricity remain uninterrupted; may your pantry be well-stocked; and, may you live next to an enterprising teenager who loves to shovel snow.  Stay safe.  And stay warm.

If

This week has been full of the unexpected.  As a result of rolling with the punches and going with the flow, there has been little, if any, time to write anything worth reading.  While I have missed the exercise and art of writing, this week reminded me of a poem I grew up reading.  A typed copy of Rudyard Kipling’s If was kept in a picture frame on my brother’s dresser.  On that version, the third to last word had been crossed out in pen by my Father, who hand wrote the word “success” in its place and inserted a period.

A success indeed.

* * *

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!