Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year, a rant, and Happy New Year Again

First off, Happy New Year!

Over the years my husband, son and I have developed two steadfast New Year's traditions: One is to visit our local temple at midnight on New Year's Eve to ring out all the sins of the past year (joya no kane).

Last year the head monk passed away. So sad. That man was the epitome of Zen. He had a great laugh, easy smile and I remember more than once a hormone-raging, very pregnant me drove up into the mountain to talk to him about my mother-in-law and her various psychological tortures. No matter what he was doing he'd sit and talk to me and make me feel better. I'll miss him. On the other hand, his super-hot son is now in charge.

Here is the bell tower lit from beneath by one of those fires-in-a-drum-can you often see on movies. They use bamboo so it's not only fragrant but extremely snappy, occasionally explode-y.

There was quite a line this year to ring the bell. Most normal people ring it once per family member. For some reason I haven't quite figured out, the three of us crouch down and all grab the rope and give one giant gong instead. I guess we're aiming for quality not quantity. Here is a picture I took where my husband is saying, "Aren't you going to help?" And my son is saying, "Mom, hurry up everyone is waiting!" The non-photographers in the family, everyone has them.

Afterwards, we drank hot sake (husband), and sweet amazake (J and I), threw our coins into the box, watched some taiko drumming and then headed home. In bed by two thirty. Up again at five thirty for our second family tradition.

Namely, the watching of the first sunrise of the New Year (hatsu hinode). Still sleepy and looking like crap we all loaded into the car and drove out to the beach. Just last year we discovered a great new place.

Look at all those zombiesque-looking creatures building bonfires to keep warm and marching around searching for warm brains. Mount Fuji, too.


Below is a shot of the sky just before the first sunrise. We're all getting excited about now.

And here it is! The first sunrise of 2009, all shiny and hopeful. And warm, too. Look at that.
Meanwhile, there are troops of dancing teams performing our town's special 'dance' and waving enormous flags nearby. There were TV crews and cameras and an announcer on the loud speaker directing us all in a mass 'Banzai!'

Everyone saluting the sun.

"Oh, sun so mighty and hot. Let us win the End-of-the-Year Lottery."

* A short rant *

Over the holidays I received some heavenly care packages/presents from family back home (Thank you!). My mom happened to include a bag of Christmasy-colored M & Ms. I'll admit I haven't lived in the States for nearly twenty years and I'm sure a lot has changed, but I have one thing to say, what the hell happened to quality control and the M & Ms factory!?

It's hard to tell from the picture but the colors aren't even the same! All three greens are in different shades.

When I was a kid M & Ms were all the same size, shape and color. M & Ms were magical. They melted in your mouth and not in your hand. Stuff like this makes me feel way old, makes me want to whine and moan and tell stories of back 'when I was a youngin'...' It also makes me want to call the corporate office and give them a piece of my mind. No, really. WTF?

Okay. I'm better now. The CEO at Mars may feel free to e-mail me. We can talk. Humph. Now, if this was some crappy candy like those Peeps or those pukey Valentine's Day hearts I wouldn't care so much. But M & Ms!

Back to New Year's stuff.

Finally, 2009 is the Year of the Cow. I took a bunch of pictures for my Christmas cards and New Year's postcards cards and these are a couple that didn't get chosen, but I liked them none the less and thought I'd post them here.

The dog and the child very obviously NOT looking at the camera and smiling as directed by mom.

And finally, J thinking this will be the shot to be used but not realizing the poor dog can't see.

And to end with a bit of stinging humor. When I showed my mother-in-law the pictures she said... (drum roll, please) ...."The dog looks like he's dressed as a goat." Gotta love her.


Anonymous said...

I want to give your dogie a HUG!! Your son is so funny.... that picture is just adorable.. Um.. Miss what the heck happened to the M's? hahaha My mom nearly shoved some Hershey's and I think my fear of trying a hydrogenated oil candy bar was FEAR, but I remember not long ago it was all natural ingredients, WHAT should be in candy.. well my mother reminded me my fear started when My Aunt bought them like 50% off (her style, a re-gifting type of aunt) and mother assured me they were probably Stale...

well I think she was right because although it was a bit sweet.. it was pretty darn delish.. I would complain to Mars in hopes for a year full of free candy!!

Kappa no He said...

Ha. Just my luck. Mars graciously offers me a year of free candy right after I made my New Year's resolution to loose weight. Oh...the irony of it all.

Pat said...

LOL!!! Your m-i-l sounds just like my mother!

Your traditions are wonderful. I would much prefer the temple/gong celebration to the church services here.

Don't know what could've happened to your M&Ms - mine are always perfect. :)

Happy New Year, Terrie. Let's have a fun and prosperous 2009!

Mary Witzl said...

We could trade mother-in-law stories, you know... I used to feel a little short-changed in the m-in-law department, then one day I got onto one of those sites where people ask for help with their in-laws. Dear God: there are some really awful ones out there! I almost called mine right up and gushed, I was so grateful.

Ah, I remember going to the temple on the first day of the year after braving the crowds, and the hatsu hinode (and hatsu everything else too, come to think of it). My kids miss the mochi so much, but I can't say I miss the amazake.

Kappa no He said...

Pat, thank you. I feel better. Maybe it was just a defective bag. I'm actually relieved to know that it was more than likely a freak occurance, 'cus I really like my Ms.

Mary, and thank you, too. Maybe I should go to one of those sites to get some perspective.

Ha. I do the same thing, everything we do this first week is 'hatsu'...hatsu buro, hatsu odekake, hatsu curry rice...

Woman in a Window said...

I love this for a myriad of reasons, your culture displayed through a modern day (experienced other cultures) eye, your wit, your timing, your festive cow and candy rant. You've a very special voice and I'm glad to hear it into this new year!

Happy New Year!

Tigermama said...

I thought you were going to post a picture of Super Hot Son but all I got was a bell tower....guess I`ll have to wait for that one, eh? :)

I like the first picture of your son and the dog. They both look like they are rolling their eyes at you. lol.

Happy New Year, wonky mnms and all!

Kappa no He said...

Erin, you are a doll. Thank you so much. Today's my day to make it to all my friends blogs. I'll be seeing you there.

TigerM, I actually DID take a picture of the super hot monk son and debated posting it. It's a tad blurry, didn't do him justice. And OMG, I think you're right about the rolling of the eyes. That was like the five-hundredth picture.

Hilary said...

Wonderful post, Terrie. I love the photos which depict your story so well. And your son and Cha.. so cute! As for those M&Ms, I've never seen any like them. I suspect your mother in law got to them first.

Ello said...

Oh the pictures are so sweet.

And yes I've gotten many defective m&ms in my life. I don't know what is up with them these days!

Kappa no He said...

Hilary, deformed or not those Ms have vanished. They were delicious. I really have no will power at all.

Ello, thank you and my highly scientific study as to whether defective M&Ms taste the same as good looking ones is conclusive. They do! Still I had to close my eyes on a couple of the really bad looking ones.

laughingwolf said...

terrie, belated new year blessings to you and yours... but the year of the OX begins 26 jan, as you know... so, late for one, early for the other ;) lol