Monday, August 9, 2010

A Man on the Roof



It was incredible. Last Saturday, my daughter and her boyfriend visited me, and we were about to walk to a local fair.

"Do you like fresh figs?" I happened to say. "It's ripe now."

"Yes," he said and looked out to the backyard.

"I didn't know you have a fig tree, Mom."

"Yes, I do. I didn't plant it though. Birds did."

Then, we stepped over to the backyard, and one thing led to another. He was on the roof like a fiddler. I said I wish all the branches are off the roof. In less than thirty minutes, all the tree branches disappeared from the roof.






Thank you, Jeff.

21 comments:

Luciana said...

Well, Keiko, you got yourself a very kind son-in-law! Climbing on the roof qualifies very high :-)

keiko amano said...

Hi Lu,

Yes, it was incredible. He just did it, and I didn't give him any instruction. Unlike my son, I didn't worry, or need to make fuss. I'll be so happy if he become my son in law. He is easy to talk with and interested in many things.

Rebb said...

What a nice moment, Keiko. That was so sweet of him.

I especially like the first photo and how because of the sun, we only see his silhouette, the angles and the blue sky. If I let my imagination look closer, I see an envelope.

keiko amano said...

Rebb,

I'm glad you liked the photos. The first photo is my favorite.
All those scenes do not show how jungle my garden has been, but it is, and it used to be much worse. I didn't mean to avoid showing you the out-of-control greenery, but the reasons are as follows.

1. My daughter was cleaning up the ground very quickly while I was taking the photos. (I appreciate her effort very much. This is not a complaint, of course.)

2. One of the photo shows a bare fence in further background. I used to have a male and female kiwi vines there growing like crazy. Plus, I had two satsuma orange and a rose bush hidden under the kiwi. I don't know what happened to all those plants. They disappeared.

3. Since I came back, I did trim some of the bushes and plants.

But I have a few evidences to compete with your uncle. Stay tune.

ashok said...

That is a wonderful tree and you have a nice garden indeed and a wonderful prospective son-in-law.
Congratulations.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

Maybe, I'm in trouble because they weren't talking about marriage. I didn't ask though. Nowadays, young people do not marry. Have you noticed? In Japan, I see the same situation. Are the young people of your country the same?

The birth rate of Japan has been declining drastically compared to the time I was growing up. There must be many reasons, but one is caused by the deterioration of the environment. The chemicals used in farming have made the reproduction systems of young Japanese women and fish to shrink. I'm sure there are many more horrible effect, but it is so unpleasant that nobody I know talk about it even if I ask. This issue must be the top of your concern, too, for your country.

ashok said...

Keiko,

India is far too thickly populated and it would not be a bad idea for birth rates to decline here.In India we have a mix of very poor parts and rich ones. The birth rates are declining in the richer parts only. Recently though it seems the rate of increase is slowing down in the poorer parts but it is not into a decline yet. as well. In India we have a very large proportion of young persons as compared to the old unlike in developed countries.
Yes the younger educated persons appear to be in no hurry to marry and the number of persons who do not want to marry at all are declining. My daughters are like that too.

It is fine when they are young but I do worry about them when they are older. If they do not marry and do not have children they may be left without any close human company when they are old and when company and support is needed.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

About your concern on young people, I agree with you. But, perhaps, our view is becoming old fashioned. Many people today are single, and they don’t necessarily look less happy compared to married people. And because of the higher divorce rate, many married people must be unhappy.

In Japan, we have a phrase, “Narita divorces” for short lived marriages. It means that young couples marry and go to their honeymoon from the Narita Airport, but they end up in divorce upon return. I laughed about it the first time I heard that phrase, but Japanese are changing.

One of the changes is for children to learn English from elementary school. It used to be from junior high. We have a hot debate over this subject among experts. This is probably a unique problem for Japanese, I think: Japanese are not good at speaking English. And there are reasons for it.

If schools in Japan provide more English classes, then they have to cut the hours for the own native language. Learning Japanese literature and writing take many hours and many years of hard practice. So, if students learn more English, naturally our native language education will suffer. That’s a national dilemma.

Anyway, right now, Japanese schools are adding more English classes. So, we’ll lose the high skill in our native language eventually. This is my worry. This means Japanese will be nenashigusa, plants without roots, in own country.

For this issue, Indians dealt quite differently because of the history and multiple native languages.

Rebb said...

Keiko and Ashok, I’ve always had mixed feelings about marriage, as an institution and it has never been attractive to me. However, a spiritual marriage in life—married in mind without a legal document—that works for me and that is how we viewed our relationship. On the other hand, I can see the benefits for marriage by law, however for some reason, as is suggested in your comments, many seem to end in divorce. There could be many reasons for that, one being that the couples did not have enough time to truly get to know one another and each other’s subtleties that only surface once much time is spent in close quarters. I also see, as Ashok pointed out, that there are benefits for one having company in old age and that could also include extended family. I think in our fast changing world, people enter into marriage too quickly.

Keiko, It would be such a shame if the young Japanese lost their skill in their native language. They would indeed be as your Japanese saying says, plants without roots. That really saddens me and I hope it doesn’t happen.

keiko amano said...

Rebb,

It’s great to hear from a young person like you about relationships. My children don’t talk about it. Neither did I growing up with my parents. It’s a very private issue. To my parents’ generation, getting married was like going to school. A must. It used to be simple.

As I started to write this comment, I happened to see toward the end of a television program, “Life Part 2.” Four or five journalists, writers, and other specialists were discussing about aging and aloneness. Instead of shutting off, I watched it. They said that loneliness creates health problems. It promotes poor blood circulation and high blood pressure. That must be true. But we can’t work on this problem easily like eating five almonds and walnuts or taking an hour walk a day. Building good relationships seem hardest, but I feel good relationships are the easiest relationships. That is a conflict.

About language, it isn’t easy to master even own native language. Don’t you agree? It takes much effort and years of practice to be able to write a decent paragraph to make a difference. But many experts in planning future Japanese education are dreaming. They think bilingual education is good and easy for students if they start early in life. Speaking, yes. But not thinking and writing. We don’t need more people who are just talking and talking without thinking. For the people who cannot think and write well in own language, we cannot expect them to do better in the second language.

ashok said...

Keiko, Rebb

You have raised very important issues about marriages for human society. It is an institution that has been mantained historically as much by choice as by social and religious force.

As social forces weaken, due to respect for individual liberty and the traditional religious forces weaken as is bound to with individual thinking the institution of marriage is bound to weaken as indeed it is already happening. The extended family concepts too have weakened drastically in the new mobile world.
This raises questions for the upbringing of children who need more than one person for their care and also the problem of loneliness and close human support especially important for the very young and the aged. Human societies will discover new ways perhaps in future to overcome these difficulties as well.

Sometimes I think that some humans may move toward commune living where compatible and like minded people come together to pool their resources and set up a commune or society on a farm or in an urban area and share tasks according to their abilities as well as have their independant living areas within the commune. Fully satifactory systems of commune living have not evolved yet but they would address some of the problems caused by the breakdown of marriage, extended families etc.

ashok said...

Keiko, my experience and indeed yours is that humans can be quite proficient in two languages as far as speaking is concerned especially if the training starts early. But as you rightly said writing tends to be good in just one language. In India people choose the language or it is chosen for them by circumstances for writing. There are only rare exceptions whenpersons can write well in two languages. However as far as speaking goes there are many that can speak two or even more languages and even think in two languages at different times of the day.

Perhaps such persons lose some of their local roots but those are replaced by global ones that have a place in the new global world where barriers to communication have virtually disappeared.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

About commune living, I saw a Japanese television program on share-house a few times. I thought it pretty good idea for the people who can stand noises and not much privacy. A number of people like ten or so live together and share a kitchen. They rotate cooking chores, but they eat dinner together. On the program, everyone looks happy, and they all talk good thing about it, but in reality, I don’t know. I need socialization, but I also need quietness to write and think.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

About multiple languages, I’m very curious about the situation in India and your view of bilingual education and so on. Looking at the Indian history, do you think India suffered less literary activity in native languages because of emphasis on English?

I was thinking about Japan and my worry, but if Indians didn’t lose much in your native-language literary activity after a long British rule, then maybe, I don’t need to worry so much. I’m unsure. This is a big subject. Japanese is one language, not like multiple Indian languages. And the official and daily language are nothing but Japanese. In law, business, literature, and everything are conducted in Japanese in Japan.

About local and global roots, this is very interesting subject. What are really roots? That’s a question.

ashok said...

Keiko,

Certainly if Indians had not gone in for learning English the local languages would have developed more. For over two hundred years India was ruled by the British and official work was carried out in English, hence that became the preffered language of the Indians.

India has benifited from English because it provide easy access to world literature and technology and now computers. Also because of many languages in India it helped people to communicate with each other.

As regarding commune living it will definitely not be a good idea if it does not permit solitude and privacy. Humans need both socailisation and privacy and any good model of commune living must permit both. It can be something like both a smaller private kitchen and a larger common one so that one need only share dinner and can have one's own private breakfast and lunch and even a private dinner on occassions. and a smaller private garden (say as a back yard to the private suite) and a larger common one in front.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

Yes, I understand the history of India and the languages. The history cannot be reversed. But, what’s really behind “English as the preferred language?” Do you speak and write English better than your own native language? A while ago, I found a used book on the Indian literature. It was serendipity. The book introduced about eight Indian authors of different native languages including Urdu. I thought about it. In any way I look at it, I cannot imagine those accomplished authors prefer English over their own native language. Do you agree?

One of my Chinese friends used to reply to my questions on China: China is too huge, and too many people. That’s understandable. So about Chinese language, I thought Chinese still speak so many different dialects, and Mandarin is still like an elite language for the masses. But my Chinese language teacher said, “Today, everywhere you go in China, you can communicate in Mandarin.” I was impressed. I was so delighted that I was wrong about the Chinese language. If we really want to, we can change it in a matter of 100 or 200 years. But if we decide to destroy it, we can also do it easily in a short period. Destroying is easy. In Japanese history, we had a few such close moments, and I think we are facing it again currently.

What’s so valuable, I think, is in our languages. If I translate Japanese texts or my Japanese thinking into English, I don’t explain every time that my original thinking does not include “I,” or “lie” means untrue only and without any negative element, or ego is regarded as negative only, or “no” was actually “yes” but I interpreted it to “no” for your convenience, and so on. What we inherited in the way we behave, think, and do are all in our languages.

ashok said...

Keiko,

I speak Hindi better than English but I write better in English. I read English better too. It is because the usage has been that way.

There are many persons in India who translate from their native language to English in mind while speaking English and then the meaning is not full conveyed. I think that happens when a person learns the second language at an older age. However if a child is introduced to both languages from an early age the translation does not take place and one is able to speak in both languages as the occassion demands, as I do.

It is true that some of the native culture is lost with loss of language but I feel that loss is compensated for by a gain from the other culture and in the case of English, the gain of a global culture and understanding.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

About the loss and its compensation, is your view similar to your parents’ and most people’s around you? To me, loss of the language is not acceptable when we are not forced to do. To love and care of own language is the same as loving Mother Earth.

Yes, it’s good to understand a global culture, but the global culture is the one we create. We have to give to the global world as well as receive from it, and people of other culture must also give and receive. To me, to give is to take time and learn one strange language like Japanese. I’m surprised at myself writing this. Maybe I’m Americanized. But I’m saying this to benefit others. I don’t know about Hindi, but I know non-Japanese will greatly benefit by learning the Japanese language and a few traditional arts because they are very different. The experience will reset their perception of life. The people who master the Japanese language and a few traditional arts will know the totally different world without travelling to a galaxy. What do you think? I realized that our translation and interpretation are not good enough because we tend to satisfy the listeners in a way they want to hear. Otherwise, they get frustrated, and it seems we are not doing the best job. I thought about this when you tried to explain “I.” Learning a language like Hindi or Japanese or Chinese or Korean is difficult for English speakers or other European language speakers. But I’d like to see increase in number of people who try to learn one of those very different languages. All the European languages are like brother and sisters, so learning all those languages combined do not send learners to a galaxy, so to speak.

Rebb said...

Keiko, Interesting that your children don’t talk about it. I have always had a fascination with relationships and how they work, how to make them better—what I could do to help that along. This began at a young age from observing my own small family and hearing stories; and later of observing people in union, my own relationships, etc. Yes, my grandparents also saw marriage as one of those things you just do. However, my uncle recently reminded me that they almost contemplated divorce. They didn’t follow thorough with it, but it was quite a shock that my grandmother even considered it because of being such a devout Catholic. But my grandfather was not faithful and she just put her love into her children, my mother and two uncles and accepted it. I have actually seen many young couples that are married around here, just by looking around, and they have babies. And of course there are the couples that have gotten divorced. It becomes complicated because so much goes into it, especially self-awareness on each person’s part.

I’ve heard that loneliness can definitely cause health problems. I must admit, I’ve never been good at building many good relationships in face to face situations. I think it was because of my naturally introverted nature and not feeling a true connection with many. I have always felt more at home with people much older than myself. I don’t have a group of friends my own age, but I do have a few singular ones—I like more one on one friendships at deeper levels with the right people. I have had groups of friends, but it never felt right and later interests/values shifted and I just let them fizzle away--gladly. I like being among a group at times, but not lose myself in it. I have usually relied on my significant other relationships and then socialized every now and then with a few close friends independent of each other. Ironically, I am very friendly and can be outgoing at times (especially in work settings once I’ve acclimated), but rare is it to find a kindred spirit. It is obviously easier in writing to get to know someone and those who enjoy writing, have values more in line with mine. In real time settings though, I like to be the observer and I can be quiet. I flourish in my one-to-one real time relationships. Relationships are so complicated and here I’m only scratching the surface of what they mean to me. It takes a lot of courage to finally be able to say this, but I know that one day if I were to find a mate, I think I would be a good partner. However, I feel in my bones that I may not find one in this life and that is perfectly fine. Putting my intentions out as I did in my “What is Love” blog, days after, it almost felt like a type of closure and acceptance that my love will be the elements and if I do find a partner, I’m afraid that I would want it to be platonic and that is unrealistic. Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing happy couples and I smile upon them whenever I see them. I feel good inside, calm, happy—and that no one can take away.

I agree that it isn’t easy to master even our own native language. There was a time when English was a struggle for me. I feel that mastering it is a lifelong process. I’ll be trying to master it until I pass to the other realm.

“What we inherited in the way we behave, think, and do are all in our languages.” That is so very true, Keiko.

And I can certainly attest to how thankful I am to even have flipped through Japanese language books to try and understand because my curiosity was lifted reading your blogs and knowing you—I felt that it was possible. One day, I may try to take a Japanese language class. But, yes, it has transported me and has added to my love of trying to taste different cultures and ways of interacting with the world. I thank you for that many times over. I love it!

keiko amano said...

Rebb,

My children probably discuss about their relationships to each other and friends. I never discuss that with my parents, so I understand them. I trust their judgment.

I think I’m extroverted, but as years go by, I contact my old friends less and less. But I’m making new friends without much effort. I enjoy talking with young people as well as older people. In the U.S., everyone is different from me, so I’m interested in just about anyone, and when I go back to Japan, because I was away for so long, I enjoy getting to know new people. I think taking classes is a good way to meet people because we have similar interest.

I think in a way we are all introvert. But, for an introvert to be extrovert, all it needs is practice. My mother was introvert who changed 180 degree to extrovert. And she used to envy me saying I was naturally extrovert. So, I thought I didn’t need to put any effort in that department in my life, but as I get older, I realized that I do need to work on it. I guess somehow, I became very lazy. My mother was successfully extrovert because she worked on the relationships constantly.

I’m glad that my blog added to your love of trying to taste different culture. I also appreciate that I’ve been able to express myself without worrying too much because of you. I’ll keep writing even if you were the only person on earth who read my blog. I need at least one. Hee hee.

Rebb said...

Thanks for sharing, Keiko. The good news is, as you’ve shown, we can and do always change. I am on my way to becoming more extrovert—not quite 180 degrees yet :)

Your funny. Keep smiling.