Monday, March 21, 2011

Life Before

Illustrations by Jean Primrose

Someday I'll tell you why I seem to be taking this Japanese situation so personally.  I guess it has to do with Mrs. Nakamura across the street with the koi pond when I was a baby, and my Auntie D. who put my first 2 Franc coin in my hand when I was a toddler and sent my sister and me the MOST BEAUTIFUL book of Japanese fairy tales.  And because of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, by Rumer Godden.  These people are just some of the "why" that I feel as I do about the people of Japan. 

Life does go on, and the normal parts of it are reassuring.  As much for those of us far removed from crisis, as for those who have been completely ripped out of normalcy with few hopes of returning to what was once everything to them.  Family, jobs, homes, pets, routines, certainties.

I'll post soon some of the very happy and normal-making things that we have been doing since the Japan quake and tsunami.  But meanwhile, maybe you'd like seeing what "normal" was before.........

From here, we got the specs to make a living room coffee table.  Mr. Paradis having found (for a full three years now!) other options available in the consumer-sphere NOT to his satisfaction.  And offensively expensive, so he says.  Me, I've always had problems with sharp corners, flimsy construction or skimpy dimensions.  

We modified Ana's instructions a bit.  We had planned to top it with a piece of limestone, so we strengthened the support at ends where the casters went in.

Otherwise, it was fairly carelessly cut HomeDepot redwood.  (We would not use again.)  Hardwood, new or recycled is a much better option.  I think Ana went with repurposed salvage lumber and more rustic vintage wheels.  She called also for screws that ended up splitting our wood.  That would either have been the fault of the softer redwood or, we just needed SMALLER SCREWS!

sans primer, raw state

And so.......hammers, power tools, paintbrushes and some no small amount of swearing later.  Ours still needed a little more glamour and since we grew impatient with finding just the right piece of scrap stone and accommodating fabricator to go with.....we just bought a stainless steel Ikea top - which I thought improved the useable surface area significantly and........... VOILA!

What do you think to it????????

Side view en "Contre Jour".  It's gleamy, no?

The books and platters soften the industrial kitchen-y look which I was a bit nervous about........I would love to put a soft piece of lace on it or cut rice paper.  For $300.00 all in, it was not exactly ye olde garage sale bargain, but it is competitive, it is attractive.  And it actually looks EXACTLY like my original inspiration picture which I will dig up and post another time.

Here's another little something that I finally accomplished.  The cacti had been sitting around the deck for awhile.  I hope our recent rains do not completely rot these babies out.

After I paint my house "Casa Azul" blue, maybe I'll fill it in a bit, having given the debutants a little time to spread their wings.

It's a big improvement on the local dogs using it for you-know-what and I'm totally loving my Andy Goldsworthy style hurricane fence.  (I had NO EXPECTATION that it would actually stay up!)

As my Dad say, when the going gets tough, the tough get fixing.....or something like that.  It does make you feel better about things.

Meanwhile yes, ONE U.S. PLANE that I know of has flown out to Sendai today, filled with water for tea, rice, noodles, miso soup, egg custard.........the newspapers are not reporting it, but you can find out about Operation Tomodachi ("Friends", in Japanese) out of Yokota Air Base (anyone know where Yokota is?)   HERE.  If you click on the links to the individual stories, you can also leave a comment at the end with your further suggestions, thanks, and encouragement.

Waterpumps are also being sent in a joint effort with the Royal Australian Air Force.  I feel so much better!



  1. thanks for the incredible posts on japan. yes, staying hopeful. xo.

  2. Thank you for giving us a peek of yesterday. I look forward to reading more.

    I love your new table! What a wonderful husband to build this for you. xo

  3. I too have been depressed beyond words since the start of all this. It is just the most devastating thing. I cannot get over the loss and destruction, and the thought of how long it will take to rebuild, and how much is lost forever.

  4. There is so much here to comment on... First, I understand how the symbols of a card or coins etc, can inspire a lifetime of interest and loyalty...yep.

    Second, the table is brilliant, along with pillows and rug that surrounds it. Love your textiles!

    Third, Andy Goldsworthy look out (the man's got competition) The "fence" is simply beautiful MP.

    Blue paint! Dazzle me girlfriend - can't wait... xo

  5. Wonderful and exciting post MP!
    Rumer Godden planted some seeds in my child's mind... I wish I could even remember the book which did it.... few writers seeped in like she did...
    and yes... I agree those early experiences can have untold waves of meaning through a long life.
    Mmm love to join you for tea and chat at your wonderful setting with fab coffee table... well done... very successful idea! 10 out of 10!!!
    And your garden too!

    The last part about the supply plane and the RAAF... WONDERFUL NEWS!!!
    More like that hey?
    S x

  6. Okay now I feel more shallow than ever considering the gravity of the hour and the post on Japan because all I can say is HElloooooo Gorgeous COFFEE TABLE. I heart you! Drool....

  7. what a turn out, this coffee table!
    hooray for the patience too...

  8. congratulations on your beautiful fence, table, cactus garden and journalistic scoop. and your great reports on helping japan. fantastic work all around. also thanks for your links to cool international artists. you have always got something interesting going on around here. arrigato gozaimasu.

  9. I like your personal touch and I'm going to try to find the R Godden book. I have an excuse with my little girl - though she's growing!!!
    Great fun to see your home projects, too. What adorable little plump cacti!