Sunday, May 11, 2008

The home stretch

Less than 1 month to go. Hard to believe.

I will start this entry with some very sad news.
Ira's dear mother Sylvia passed away 2 weeks ago. We were hoping we would be able to see her upon our return to the US next month. But it wasn't meant to be.
She had entered hospice and was suffering terribly, and her time had come. Ira flew to Florida for her funeral, and this upcoming summer there will be another service that we will attend on the East coast for all other family and friends from the NYC area.
Ira has been so strong the past few months. He has really been suffering as well. It was amazing the loving attention he was able to give his mother over the past 6 months while being all the way on the other side of the earth. He really has done such a tremendous job in every area of his life during this crisis, I just know I would have crumbled.
So admirable.
My brother Steve, his wife Judy and son Karl were here, right in the middle of this and despite it being the lowest point of our stay here in Japan I think they had a good time. An interesting time. They had pretty much zero jet-lag due to some miracle pills (why did I never hear about these in my 20 something overseas flights?) Called "No jet-lag" I think.

Trick question: can you spot the foreigners on the train?
I can, but really, if they both just closed their eyes, slumped their heads & necks over like a contortionist and went to sleep, I think it'd be hard to distinguish them from a local. :-) . Oh wait. The suspenders (that I happen to really like) may give Stevie away. But so close to blending right in.
On our way to Kabuki-za theatre in Ginza, which never happened.
After all the fuss about getting out of the house early enough to be one of the 1st in line, catching trains, making transfers & fare adjustments etc, we get all the way to the theatre and its CLOSED that day.
A very usual and typical frustration here, even though you may take every precaution for that kind of thing to *not* happen! (explanation on Kabuki farther down).
So we cruised around fancy Ginza, which has some of the most expensive (if not thee most) real estate in the world--something like 9 million USD per square ft.
Stopped into the Sony building to see all the latest state-of-the-art cool electronic stuff, i.e, cameras, walkmen, video etc. A place where I think teenage boys might appreciate most. And for only $400 US, you can buy one of these.

I got a good long laugh and actually wanted to buy one for a few minutes.
Also took a stroll to the Imperial Palace/ grounds. It was very exciting to see a corner of the palace roof and partial window behind the foliage. :-) Sadly, there were no Imperial family
sightings. Apparently, they come out twice a year and wave to people from the balcony.

Here is Stevie, after finding out how much his lunch costs

is a traditional Japanese form of theatre, known for the elaborate make-up and stylized drama. The plays are about historical events, conflicts, and love relationships. Very slow moving, the actors (all men) speak in a very monotonous voice and in an old-fashioned form of Japanese that sometimes make it difficult for even the japanese to understand. I find it very interesting. Too slow moving for many though.

There are no cameras allowed in kabuki, (and they are watching you) but last week while visiting a museum in Tokyo there was a mock kabuki stage set up, fake figures and all, so here is an idea of what it looks like. I have to say, the costumes and lighting are exact! Now just throw in some funky japanese string instruments, a gong, and some odd, slow, incomprehensible whining, and you're there!
Really disappointed they missed it, I think it is such a unique activity. I am really gung-ho over kabuki-za. Emphasis on ho and za. I have been chanting it for the past hour.
Another new quote for me-- gung-HO on kabuki-ZA. That's how I feel today. A state of mind.


No I don't talk politics on this blog. It's strictly goofiness.  I am a few thousand miles behind on all most political issues anyway.  Is that wrong? I have found that my quote for 2008 is "lighten up". because when you are overseas with 4 kids and a husband that you don't see much, things can get pretty darn serious every dang day from time to time. So, I keep telling myself to lighten up, and have even found that my art work is starting to become (even more) wacky. I need to keep a smile on my face.

Moving on, I just received an email last night from my brother Kevin, who has arrived with his loaded bicycle in China.
So, there is a BLOGGING RESTRICTION in all of China and he cannot blog about his bike trip while there. Can you believe it? There are something like 10,000 technicians manning this, and it's illegal. So, he will be emailing me his posts while in China, and I will be posting them (once I figure it out in about a month) for him. (should I charge him, and how much?!)

My 50th post.


Blogger Capt. Donald Kilpela Sr. said...

Dear Ira and Katrina,

Speaking from experience, nothing prepares you for the loss of your parents. I still long to see and talk with them, even my dad who died over 30 years ago. Betty and I send our condolences to both of you and the children as well.

Last week I passed a milestone of sorts: I have now lived longer than my father. One of these days I will again start putting his and mom's diary on line and, it is hoped, thereby to shake loose many of the family memories of them and the "Lake." Even to this day I read our collective comments on Ben's website ( at "Sylvan Lake Memories..."

Again, bless you all and get home safe and sound.

Uncle Don

7:53 AM  
Blogger Julie D. said...

Katrina, I received information about your blog from a mutual connection that we have in common. I would like to email you personally to ask you some questions about Japan (our son will be living there from July to December 2008.) Would you please email me at Thank you! Julie

7:04 PM  

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