2011-12-05 - Midorikai Christmas Chakai

The Midorikai Christmas chakai!  It was so great to be able to attend as a guest :)  I have met this year's group several times at events and various gatherings, and it was really special to see the culmination of all of their hard work.  When I walked in I saw two of the girls and Hamana-sensei.  I signed my name and went in to find the rest of the ICI students.  I entered the machiai and saw Gary-sensei!  Hi Gary-sensei!  Also, Andrei, who was doing the explanation of the arrangements in the tokonoma of Houn and Kasho.  In Kasho there was a mobile that had been in Katie's family for many years, featuring Christmas symbols, as well as a menorah placed on a piece of woven fabric from Romania.  In the Houn tokonoma there was a Finnish hanging lantern with a home-made candle inside, as well as an antique book of winter-themed poetry together with a feather fountain pen.  It was a very simple, yet elegant display.  

Once we entered the seki in Shinka, the first thing I noticed was the scroll "Shacha"  (Thankfulness for Tea) and the flowers.  The hanaire was made of wood from the Maldives which was dark at the bottom but lighter at the top, and the flowers were tsubaki and a red leaf branch whose name escapes me.  The hiire was a pewter mug from Alcove, which I thought was charming.  At temaeza, I was struck by the color combination of the kiji marujoku tana with the red mizusashi and the gorgeous blue usuki.  The usuki was a small container from Poland.  The chashaku that was used was carved by Zabosai Iemoto and the name was "Toshin" (Candle Wick).  The moment I heard the name of that chashaku I had a flashback, because it was the same one that our group had used two years ago.  Temae was done by Katie, and Josh was the hanto and both did a lovely job!  The sweets were very interesting, based on a sweet from Sendai, in order to show support for the Tohoku region.  They came in three flavors and I had no problem eating all of them.  None whatsoever.  The tea was excellent, and I enjoyed seeing the bowls that the Midorikai students had made, although I wish that there had been more time to look at all of them and figure out who made which bowl!  

All in all it was a really wonderful experience.  When I think about my own Christmas chakai experience, and then think about the Christmas chakai that I attended this year...it is completely different.  This may seem obvious:  the people are different, the time is different, the dogu is different...but every individual and every group is truly able to leave their mark on every occasion and make it special.  This was a special day and I will remember it for the people who worked so hard to make it happen.  Thank you Midorikai!  

2011-12-10 - ICI Keiko

Keiko this week was preparation for the keiko chaji which will be held this weekend.  This week I was able to arrive early enough to go through preparation in the mizuya on time.  Actually, all this time I had been under the impression that class started at 9:00 and we were always late, which put me in a panic.  Kumada-sensei informed me that class started at 9:30 and suddenly I said "...Oh!"  I still have that habit from Midorikai of wanting to rush around, and am still working on being calm in the mizuya.  The time in the mizuya is still my favorite time of the day though.  The silence, that moment of peace when you are sitting alone in front of that space and thinking about what will be.  It was very cold in the morning, and while I was filling the mizusashi I couldn't feel my hands. For some reason, I didn't mind so much.  Actually, I had been looking forward to colder weather and was enjoying myself despite the cold.  

I got to do shozumi, and this week as well picked up sumi with my right hand using my left to assist.  Sometimes I meet people who are left-handed, but are able to do everything with their right hand so flawlessly that you would never know.  I am in awe of these people.  Right now, I am just trying my best to make the temae look effortless, despite how challenging it still is.  Despite the challenge, or maybe because of it, I love sumidemae.  I love placing the pieces in just the right spot, and feeling the heat from the ro.  Sumidemae is especially fun during ro season because of the shimeshibai.  I don't know what it is about shimeshibai...maybe it just brings back childhood memories of playing in a sandbox...I just love it.  Trying to get just the right angle to pour the hai to get the correct proportion in the right areas is a lot of fun to me.  Maybe I've been doing this too long.  The smell of neriko in the winter is also so appealing, more than anything I think I missed that last year.  

The kama used was an Ashiya-gama with a sho-chiku-bai design.  Tana was kokodana.  Haboki was black tsuru (crane) and kogo was take seiji (celedon in the shape of bamboo).  I keep forgetting to ask beforehand what the ko is...I need to find out where that info is before class.