[lit-ideas] Re: Priorities

  • From: "John McCreery" <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 22:17:13 +0900

For daughter Kate, Ruth and me, this is being an oddly delightful
Christmas. Ruth and I are spending it with Kate in Kate's new house in,
oddly enough, Corpus Christi, Texas.

For Ruth and me, the house itself is a most peculiar experience, 2600
square feet, four bedrooms, three baths, located in a bit of recently
constructed, self-consciously up-scale American suburbia. The only way
to get to shopping, a restaurant, or Barnes and Nobles (the only
bookstore we've heard of so far) is to drive. The contrast with with
the 70 square meter apartment where Ruth and I live and Kate grew up,
located a 20-minute walk from Yokohama Station, in a neighborhood where
shopping options include the traditional shoping street butcher, veg
market and fishmonger, battling out with two new convenience store―and
dining options include an Italian wine and antipasto bar and Korean
barbecue, as well as Japanese noodle shops (and that's just the
neighborhood; if we walk down to the station, the options explode
exponentially―is extreme.

Still, we are glad to be here. It's far too much house for Kate to be in
by herself, waiting to start her new assignment as a Navy flight
instructor and waiting for son-in-law Pat, a Marine Corps fighterbomber
pilot, one of the fellows whose planes you see on the news just before
or after another piece of Fallujah goes up in smoke, to get home from
Iraq. Possibly March. Could be much longer. The house is a big,
too-empty place, filled only slightly by the two cats, Ugly and Edmund,
and Shelby, the eight-month old Great Dane.

My presents from Kate have been especially touching. Two defining
conflicts between us during her growing up were, first, my trying to get
her to read the C.S. Forrester Hornblower series (books I first read in
my teens) and, second,  my too-frequent offers to make banana pancakes
for breakfast. She still hasn't read the former and had frequently
rejected the latter. So I was touched this Christmas to receive a full
set of the Hornblower DVDs (really well done, in fact; as good a
translation of books to made-for-TV film as I have ever seen) and a
personally assembled pancake maker's kit, with a fancy cast iron French
griddle, a snazzy large-bladed spatula, a selection of exotic pancake
syrups, and a red apron embroidered with the words "Pancake Chef."

Serendipitously, one of Ruth's and my gifts to Kate was a set of four
prints, one for each of the four mythical beasts associated with the
cardinal points in traditional Chinese cosmology (E: Green Dragon, W:
White Tiger, S: Red Phoenix, N: Black Totoise-Snake). We bought them at
a gallery in Taipei in 1977, not quite a year after Kate was born.

Add the peculiar fact that the only previous time I was in Corpus
Christi, I was still an infant and my father a Navy enlisted man near
the end of WWII. Family legend has it that my first word was
"popcorn," picked up from popcorn vendors on the beach.

For us it's been a season of circles quietly closing and cycles
beginning anew.

Then came the news―the tsunami in Southeast Asia....

It's an odd mix of feelings this holiday season.

John McCreery

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd
"Creating Symbols is Our Business"
Tel 81-45-314-9324
Fax 81-45-316-4409
email mccreery@xxxxxxx
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