Shigure

Shigure
Kiddlyn’s Shigure of Foxeholly

March 31,2020 – March 12, 2021

I wonder what you
See with your odd-colored eyes
A world of secrets

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My little Shigure crossed the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon. He had become listless this week, and I rushed him to the vet, who found him dehydrated and running a high fever. We were treating him with antibiotics, but from the blood work, she suspected his illness might be viral. He died before the test came back, so we’re not certain yet. (The other cats are fine, btw.) I have been up the past couple of nights, giving him food and water via syringe, but he never rallied. It has been a heartbreaking loss.

Shigure was the center of #OperationCat, a short-haired black smoke and white Japanese Bobtail. I didn’t know about his odd eyes until later. They gave him a very quizzical look, like he was up to something. Actually, he was just a sweet-natured boy. He was a clever kitten, very strategic in his playing. His favorite toys were the feather toy, Evil Mouse kicktoy, and the sparkle ball. He loved his mother, Smoky, and was usually by her side. He got along well with his playmate, Tsurayuki, and could occasionally be seen chasing aunt Ryoko around.

This has been a great shock. Before this, the youngest pet I’ve had who died was Mirrim, at 9 years old, of cancer. My dear little boy, I will miss him so!

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A Couple of Poems

令和三年三月十一日
A truth eternal
Waiting is like the ocean
Waves of endless grey
The wind-blown sand in my eyes
The taste of salt on my tongue

And Now We Wait #poetry365

令和三年三月十日
The battered branches
Shaking at the sharp wind’s un-
Wanted caresses
Sighing, moaning, whispering
Echoing my heart’s unease

Breath #poetry365

RIP Bootsie

Bootsie Szabo
2009-2021

A shadow running
There, up on the garden gate
Quick! Or you’ll miss him!

My mother found Bootsie the Cat dead this afternoon, in the back patio room where he spent many an evening. The power was out and the cold was just too much for him. Years ago, Mom and Dad found him starving in the backyard, this tiny black kitten with white boots. They didn’t mean to have another pet, but Bootsie insisted and became very much a part of the household. My father was especially close to him. Bootsie was a bold, charming fellow with a winning personality and a mind of his own. He ruled the yard during the days (unless it was rainy), usually spending the nights in the patio room, although he gradually worked his way onto the couch, dashing away when Dad would wake up in the middle of the night. He was loved, and will be missed.

(My mother and brother both live in San Antonio, Texas. Power is still out at her house, so Mother is taking shelter with my brother and his family. The power is on at his house, but they are under a boil order for the water. Please keep them and all those suffering in Texas in your prayers. Now I’m going back to Lent with a heavy heart.)

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Some Tanka

令和三年一月二日
In the quiet of
Freshly fallen snow so bright
Tears come to my eyes
My cheeks flushing in the cold
I cannot take back my words

#poetry365 What Is Said

令和三年正月
Snow is best enjoyed
Indoors under heavy quilts
With a pile of cats
Let the winter’s fury fly
So long as it stays outside

#poetry365 Privilege

令和二年十二月三十一日
A certain magic
At the turning of the year
Despite everything
Try to look past the darkness
Surely spring will come again

#poetry365 O-Shogatsu お正月

令和二年十二月三十日
Such desolation
The wind rattles tunelessly
Through empty branches
An emaciated drunk
Lurches weakly out the door

#poetry365 Good Riddance

Shodo 書道 versus Shuji 習字

Here is a link to a recent demonstration from the virtual 2020 Greater Kansas City Japanese Festival. In this video from 2018, Aikido master KINOSHITA Ryoichi-sensei demonstrates writing a kanji character while being restrained by some of his assistants. The character Agatsu 吾勝 means “victory over oneself” and is part of a larger Yojijukugo (four kanji proverb) that states 正勝吾勝 masakatsu agatsu, “True Victory is Victory over Oneself”. He is using sosho (cursive) script in this example.

The point Kinoshita-sensei is trying to convey here is regarding the transfer of energy from the body to the paper. One reason many martial artists chose to study shodo is because while the medium is completely different, the basic tenets can be applied to either art form. It is interesting in that, towards the end, Kinoshita-sensei differentiates between shodo and shuji. Shodo is a practice, shuji is calligraphy. Shodo is the action, shuji the result.

Watch carefully as Kinoshita-sensei brushes his kanji. He makes a point in the beginning about not using muscle, because force will just tear the paper. Note the position of his hand, and how when he brushes, his entire center moves: not just the hand, not just the arm, but his body.

It seems a simple concept, but in practice it can be quite challenging. Shodo not only takes focus, but precision and what I can only describe as “flow”. While it is highly unlikely in real life that burly men will somehow try to prevent you from brushing a character, the idea that Kinoshita-sensei is trying to convey here is that your energy needs to transfer to the writing, through your breath, through your body movement, through the proper alignment of the brush.

The Virtual 2020 Greater Kansas City Japanese Festival has a number of interesting videos regarding Japanese culture. You can find their page here. As the Festival is usually held as a fundraiser, if you enjoy the videos, please consider making a small donation so that they can continue their work in bringing Japanese culture to the Kansas City Area:

Virtual Festival Home

Facebook Vacation

Decided for the sake of my sanity to take a Facebook Vacation. Unfortunately, I did sign up to help judge a calligraphy contest before that, so I am having to check in from time to time to answer questions from the entrants. I did take the app off my phone so I can only check in via my desktop, to keep me from doomscrolling. I wasn’t even going to post about it but because someone was trying to get ahold of me (someone else ended up PMing me), I decided to make a quick public post to let people know.

It’s been weird. I keep reaching for the phone and then remembering that the app is gone. But OTOH, it freed up a lot of time and I’ve been much more productive. Ever since watching that film, The Social Dilemma on Netflix, I decided that I really needed to take control of my internet usage time. I gave it a lot of thought and realized that while Facebook was a convenient means to connect with family and friends, the way the platform works is not really allowing me to see the content I want to see. Instead, I’m bombarded by ads and political content. I’m seeing posts from people I barely know and missing posts from those closest to me. And I know several of the people I “friended” are not reading my posts, especially when they express shock at my father’s demise which was almost a year ago and about which I have posted several times.

So, yeah, I’m going to see how long I can do this. It’s an insidious addiction.

Japanese Bobtail Invasion or What I have Been Doing During the Quarantine

I’ve told a few people about this, but otherwise I have just been making vague hints about #OperationCat. All the work we’ve been doing clearing out our back bedroom (my office) and putting in new flooring and closet doors has been part of #operationcat.

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At long last, on July 4th, my husband and I brought home the newest members of our family, all Japanese Bobtail cats.

The adult cat, a tortoieshell smoke long-haired JBT, is named Smoky Quartz. She’s 8 years old and an award-winning retired show cat, with a really unique coat, absolutely gorgeous.

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The black smoke and white kitten is her son, Shigure. He is odd-eyed, one eye blue and one green, short-haired JBT. He is 13 weeks old. He’s very sweet and likes to cuddle.

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The red tabby kitten is named Momiji. He is from another litter and is 9 weeks old. He’s still quite little and I haven’t figured out his personality just yet. He does like to follow big-bro Shigure around and steal whatever toy he’s playing with.

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They do seem to be getting along now.

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Some of ya’ll might remember Nabiki, my black and white Japanese Bobtail that died a few years ago at age 17. This was Nabiki:

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Since that time, I have dreamed of having another JBT cat. It was happy circumstance that we were able to bring home three. I am very grateful to Linda Donaldson of Kiddlyn Kattery and Athena Christine Diehm of KuramaKatz for helping this dream happen!

We do still have Ryoko and we’ll be working on introducing her to the newcomers. She can be a brat, so it’ll have to be a gradual process. And we still have work to do in kitten-proofing downstairs, so the project continues. We haven’t had a kitten for a long time (12 years!) That was our black cat Tsuki, who died last year at age 11 of cancer. Ryoko was an adult when we took her in. Here’s a picture of her so she doesn’t feel left out:

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#OperationCat and helping my mom sort out Dad’s estate has been taking up most of my time lately and probably will continue to do so for awhile. But the gang is all here now!

SCA At Home

I did actually “SCA” a bit this weekend. My husband was working from home downstairs so I decided to drag my music stand up to the bedroom and practice my recorders (both the soprano and tenor). I was going through a book of dance music (which we don’t play much of in Margaurite’s group because she finds it boring). I found a piece that, while simple, still challenged me on my weak areas: playing in the upper register (particularly high G and above) and runs involving B-flat. So that song gave me a good chance to work on both of those issues without just running scales or something. It was fun and kinda took me away from all the awfulness of the world.

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My favorite hobbies seem to have that in common: usually solitary and involving practice or solving minute problems. Whether I’m trying to brush out a kanji character, master a pen stroke, memorize vocabulary, figure out a song, or refurbish a doll, I get so involved with the process that the world falls away. That right there is my happiness. Can’t do that all the time, though. Life is too demanding.