Roses are Red…

The olde nursery rhyme, Roses are red, etc. is probably one of the first rhymes that American children memorize. It’s a charmer for a young child, easy to recite, and to manipulate the last two lines for their own needs be that loving or cutting.
rosese nasty

I remember loving Valentine’s Day from the early days of elementary school. Each teacher I had would lavishly decorate a box that would hold all the valentines our classmates brought to school for their friends. They would be distributed at one time on V Day. All the kids waited anxiously,( the less popular ones probably more anxious than the self assured), hoping to have a substantial accumulation of envelopes piled on their desks to confirm he/she was not an outcast. Unfortunately, these were the yoyo(you’re on your own!) days. There were no mandates that a student should bring or make a card for each classmate.  The distribution of cards was inevitably unequal, and actually an unnamed popularity contest.  I remember the distribution being occasionally excruciating as I waited for a card that failed to materialize. Oh, the heartbreak!

THE powerful and mysterious VALENTINE BOX would appear several days before V Day. They were mostly crepe paper works of art that any young  child would think is gorgeous. I remember studying their construction each time I walked past the teacher’s desk, hoping hoping hoping that my name would be on a reasonable number of envelopes.

caany hearts

Some cards from friends included some small candies which would be an added bonus. Let’s face it, the chalky pastel heart sayings never tasted good, but they were fun to look at and I managed to eat them even if they didn’t taste very good.

I think by the time we got to middle school the Valentine Distribution was over. At least I have no memories of such events. Just as well, because I know it would have been painful for me. Those years were awful as far as I was concerned. I didn’t know who my friends were from day to day.
valentine

I used to enjoy going antiquing in New England with my Mom. I quickly began to collect vintage Victorian Valentines. I think they’re beautiful to this day.
victoriaan valentine

The truth is I like to decorate things. Vday makes it easy. When one of my granddaughters passed through her first VDay I saw it as a perfect opportunity to dress her up. See digital card below.
nat valentines day

Vinegar Valentines could be found in the Victorian era if needed.
vinegar-valentines-lemon_valentine

Fast Forward to having my own family. I tried to do it up for my kids when they were young. My mother would always send large boxes of candy for each child, along with other Valentine -themed miscellany. My Dad had a grocery store, so I imagined that she had fun with a grocery cart at the candy counter piling up the junk. My kids were invariably thrilled. I kept the Valentine tradition going, probably longer than I needed to!

My parents gave me Valentine cards as long as they lived. My father often bought me a heart shaped box of Whitmans’s candy. That was a Big Deal, because he hated to shop, even though I knew he’d probably gone next door to the drugstore to buy the heart!   I’d kept those boxes as treasures and the chocolate scented paper cups and liners that contained the candy too. The lavish heart boxes resembled coffins as far as I was concerned, but they somehow managed to still look glamorous.

I continued the tradition of giving each of daughter a card each year, long after they were grown.

One year, after experiencing a drought of cards from my children, I let it be known that my feelings were hurt. The daughter I shared my sadness with, looked at me with alarm and curiosity. “Why should I give you a card?”she wanted to know. “After all, I am not your boyfriend.”

Now I still will get a card for my younger grandkids, but the older ones? They’re on their own! (TOTO)They never inquired why I stopped sending them cards.  Sadly, I don’t seem to be on their lists either, assuming they have one! But it’s understood we love each other, I hope!

A Contemporary Valentine:

Dear Donald Trump,
Roses are red,
Like, so red.
So red, you won’t even believe that they’re real roses.
Trust me, I know roses.
And these roses are red.

See You Later

It can be heaven for some or bordering on hell for others.  I learned how to shop at my mother’s knee. I know what I like and easily make decisions about items, their value and appropriateness for me.  No internal struggles.  “When in doubt, count it out,”I learned from Mom as well!  It’s never led me wrong.

By the way, please touch the towels. The colors are never better, the weave never softer, anywhere!

You can always fill the need to restore vitality in the restaurants in department stores

Shopping is seemingly ingrained in the Japanese pursuit of leisure.  You see young couples, teens , new mothers, and befuddled tourists all enjoying the pursuit. Each depato houses several restaurants so in case hunger strikes, that can be  easily satisfied without leaving the building.

show stoppers!

My pulse rate quickens when I walk into a sophisticated Japanese depato (department store). Welcome to fantasy land for anyone who likes to shop. This world exists to coddle, support and take away barriers that might make it difficult to separate you from your money.  The best in the business create displays guaranteed to make you stop, gaze and consider.

 

Salespeople here have learned how to hover discretely; there to help when needed, but almost never intrusive.  That’s a skill not see in the West too often.

I can be expected to make a pilgrimage to a favorite depato soon after arriving in Japan.  It just comes with the territory.  I must see what the treasures of the day await in the Exhibition Hall.  Often,  I discover a wonderful ceramic artist. I seek out special displays of Japanese made objects, often finding the artisans themselves at work in the store.

charming and clever window display.

Here, form=function and materials shine. Seasonal displays are always varied,fun and engaging. I must browse through the basement food floor, hungry or not, just to gaze at the art of the possible. Presentation of food is always taken to a new level of beautiful (if unnecessary) packaging and gastronomic allure.

Time and cares have a way of disappearing on these outings.  It’s escapism at its finest for those of us who appreciate such things.  For American spouses, not so much.

Depato shopping for me is usually best for me as a solitary pursuit, prefaced by an airy and indeterminate “See you later!”

The Wonderful World of Eye Candy

I can easily be distracted by visual displays of color and pattern.  I relate to infants watching a mobile; their eyes are bright with excitement and their chubby little legs  kick with glee.  If I were a bird, I’d be right after the mate with the most colorful and hypnotic plumage.

So I guess I was ready made for Japan.  On my first visit there I was immediately attracted to…..almost everything.  So much eye candy (for lack of a better description).  I was fascinated by it all.  Pity anyone who was with me.  They were required to move VERY s l o w l y, so as to savor and attempt to consume it all as I pointed out each thing that caught my eye, foolishly hoping my companion would get the same jolt I did. I clearly did not  trust their own abilities.

eye can·dy
/ī ˈkandē/

noun

INFORMAL
visual images that are superficially attractive and entertaining but intellectually undemanding.
“the film’s success rested on a promotional campaign showcasing its relentless eye candy”
California super bloom 2019
In our culture, the term eye candy seems mostly used to define a buxom, brainless young woman.  For me, it  means something visual that I can take pleasure from.
Think of the current superbloom of wildflowers in California. Possibly,  a once in a lifetime treat. If this isn’t eye candy, what is??  Add to these floral enticements the staggering beauty and gasp- inducing wonder of a mature Japanese cherry tree in blossom, probably made more magical by its ephemeral nature. Certainly more bittersweet.
Japanese cherry blossom in Kyoto, Maruyama Park, night illumination.  This tree brought me to tears the first time I saw it.

 

Japanese munchkins, vintage photo. irresistible.  They’ve cornered the cuteness market.

 

Hot weather matcha sundae. Irresistible layers of flavors and textures and coolness. ( I eat it all.)

 

contemporary patterns in Japanese umbrellas. Raised to an art form. Rainy season wonders.

 

more sakura

 

Seasonal Japanese postcards. Glorious.

 

matcha latté

 

Sakura in Rokkokuji Temple. A neighborhood wonder.

 

New chocolate shop in my neighborhood. Note seasonal designs. Help yourself.

 

Japanese ceramic vessels. Be still my heart.

The diversity, power and beauty of Japanese ceramics and its long tradition make this art form one to be savored.

spring ikebana arrangement

 

someone loves frogs. Display in coffee shop.

 

Autumn in Sanzen-in garden.

 

seen in arcade. The power in numbers!

 

Child’s drawing in Miyajima.

 

 

 

sake container
Tower of fresh peas
Clouds!!!
In the course of writing this blog, I realize that most of what I consider eye candy in the West, is found  in nature.  In Japan, it can be man-made and intentional as well as natural.  The Japanese seem to have an innate artistic sensibility that  can raise my heartbeat. What is the magic formula that allows this ability?
I have thousands of photos of things that inspire me when I’m in Japan.  I’ve shared just a small slice of them to give you a sense of my encounters!  I imagine on an Eye Candy Sensitivity Chart, I might be off the chart.  Don’t know. What is clear is that these visual delights bring me great pleasure.
Sometimes, I wonder how many more years I’ll be able to make this trek.  Unknowable.  But, for now, I’m gearing up for another round, leaving this world on May 1!

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