Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mostly Mud Balls

1. Happy Mother's Day!

My last six Mother's Days have been spent shin deep in muck with a shovel in my hand. We have something called kawa souji (river cleaning) that happens three times a year. Invariably one of those lucky days is Mother's Day. It only last an hour or so but begins at eight AM, rain or shine. The up side? Everyone recieves a free can of tea when the work is finished.

Today it was rainy.

2. I went and did it again--ordered (and borrowed) a heap of books that I want to read all at once. I'm trying to break that habit (of reading twenty books at once). Right now I'm half way through Duma Key but which one to read next?

3. It's kinda common knowledge that the Japanese are quite adept at taking something and making it smaller, better. Here is an example that will blow your mind!

I used to make mud pies when I was a kid. Each 'pie' took about six seconds to whip up and decorate. Give me a free summer day and I could make dozens all lined up and down the sidewalk. I was the neighborhood's master mud pie chef. I think it was the dandelion petals I used for decoration that gained me the honor.

Japansese children make something called doro dango, mud balls. Or hikaru doro dango, shiny mud balls. And they look like this:

I'm not kidding. Some look like this:

They are just mud and water. And a whole lot of shining. Of course, different muds yeild different colors. And the kids are like little scientists when they start talking about where to go to harvest the best dirt and what properties is possesses.

Yay. I found an article in English.

When J was in third grade we went to a mud ball seminar. No, really. There were heaps of kids (and parents) and for five bucks we got two different types of clay and then spent the rest of the day polishing. And polishing. And polishing. There were four teachers and they would check our progress and offer tips. At the end of the day we all got a grade on our doro dangos and were told to go home and keep polishing for a few more weeks. I think J still has his, one was a lovely amber color, the other an olive green.

Here is a great site on how to make mud balls. It's in Japanese but the pictures pretty much show you how it's done. Or go to this page and scroll all the way down to the bottom to see some amazing hikaru doro dango.

I humbly retire my mud pie chef's hat.

And 4. If you have a thousand bucks lying around...

I'm going to try and post twice a week. Wednesdays and Sundays. That is my goal.