Sunday, September 27, 2020

Autumn's Golden Light

An autumn rose with lots of new cane growth! 

In Japan, the season are as tidily ordered as one might expect. The equinox has just passed, and with it the Higan-e ceremony. Twice a year, at the equinoxes, Buddhist Temples hold special memorial services attended by as many people as can, or this year, are allowed, attend. It's possible to request a service whether or not you can attend.

Buddhists, generally, like memorial services, and can offer them anytime, outside of the big, official ones. Besides Higan-e, there is O-Bon, the summer service when the deceased, and everybody else, come home for a vacation, memorial services and a party. Nobody is bothered by the fact that, what with reincarnation and all, the deceased might no longer be deceased, and might have any number of places to go from their various lifetimes. As human knowledge of physics increases, the rather casual attitude of Buddhism towards the various aspects of time are discovered to be congruent with objective, though slightly confusing, reality. 

Memorial services benefit the honorees, transferring merit from Buddhist practice to them. They benefit those offering them, as they are making a positive cause in doing so. Objectively, they provide connection to those who have gone before, maintaining and strengthening relationships over generations, and giving a feeling of continuity through time. Those currently incarnate can only see a part of the whole, being limited to the space and time in which they live, but Buddhist practice gives a glimpse of the Big Picture, reassuring in the midst of saha (material) world chaos.

With Higan-e and the official onset on autumn, it starts to feel like fall. Mornings become crisp, days become shorter. It might rain; sometimes a typhoon blows by. I have turned on my electric fire a couple of times, in its purely decorative mode.

Look at all of those peppers! More are coming. The tomatoes and cucumbers are trying for a last gasp, but we'll have to see. 

Three blooms together, as the rose grows exuberantly. Can you see them?

The leaves show signs of turning. Gardens begin to wind down, and the light takes on that golden hue that only appears in the fall. I suppose there is an explanation for this having to do with atmospheric refraction and the like, but I don't care enough about that to look it up. I simply notice its radiance and enjoy it. 

Now that I have obtained my household help services, and they have been approved (a couple of weeks after they started) I have been freed as of Saturday to resume Tai Chi and to walk for pleasure and exercise. I can loosen the Giant Brace several times a day to stretch. It feels joyous. I look forward to going out today simply to enjoy basking in the golden light.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

They don't teach this in school...

Being injured is time-consuming. Not only do I hurt and have pills that make me a little loopy, I am trying to figure out how to cope with the gigantic "corset" brace that resembles a very weird one-piece bathing suit that fits between layers of clothes. It's supposed to keep my torso immobile so the bones can heal. This process will take 6 months, after which there will be physical therapy. I will need to rebuild muscle mass and strength. 

Since I can't bend, lean or twist, there's a lot I can't do. Everything I can do is also very tiring, which I am given to understand is usual and normal. So even though I can walk, and do, and go places, it's far more difficult than usual and I honestly try not to. Now that it's cooler, I might get out more, but I do have a book to write.

So I have been seeing orthopedic doctors, "corset" brace makers, buying things like clothes that fit over the "corset", a new bed and a "Magic Hand" reacher-grabber, to make life possible at all and was referred to "kaigo." Mind, I've been doing all this almost all in Japanese.

It always amazes me how my experience of Japan differs from so many other people's. They write about beautiful parks, vistas, mountains, shores and gardens, splendid Temples, historic shrines, fun tourist attractions, restaurant menus and trendy fashion. Me, I write about the train system's Lost and Found and now about "kaigo."

They do not teach this in school.  While this is excellent for my Japanese knowledge, I really hope I never have to use the words for "spinal fracture" again.

Kaigo is the Japanese national system for long-term care insurance. Everybody joins, everybody pays premiums based on income. It covers everything from residential care for the catastrophically disabled to minor assistance for the temporarily disabled, like me. There's a small co-pay, presumably so people will think before using it. And they are kind, cheerful and really want to help!

I found it by accident. There are things I just can't do. I can sweep the middle of the floors, but I can't clean anything under or behind or lower than waist level. I can wash dishes and clean counters and dust, but I can't reach my pots and pans or food storage, nor can I clean the cupboard doors or the lower half of the refrigerator. I can clean the top parts of the bathroom, but I can't clean the tub or the floor.  I can drop things into the washer, but I can't fish anything large out of it, nor take it next door to the dryer. I can fish little stuff out with the Magic Hand and hang it outside, but not the big stuff. My clothes are badly stretched out of shape by the brace, and I hope the dryer will correct that. I can drop some things into my Granny (shopping) Cart, with the help of the nice cashiers, but I can't get some of them out. Hauling everything home is...interesting. 

There are housekeeping services in Tokyo, of course, and I looked some up. They have "plans" and "programs" that don't actually cover the rather strange list of services I need, and are also expensive. But...way it goes, or so I thought.

Still, I asked the orthopedic doctor if she knew of a service I could hire that would maybe be a little more flexible, for the short term. She sent me to Kaigo. A few weeks later, I am set up with a helpful Shopping Assistant. This is great! I hadn't realized how hard it has been until it was much less hard. I meet with my Official Laundry and Cleaning Helper for the first time today. 

I have a friend who is starting a new business, and thus has some extra time and can use spare cash, who has been enormously helpful in getting some larger things done that I won't be able to do for the foreseeable future, and also helped me through the waiting period. He's also going be my savior doing outside work that Kaigo doesn't cover as the garden winds down into winter. I feel very protected. As does happen in my life, it could be so much worse.

Speaking of the garden, since the temperatures have gone down, my garden has taken on a second wind. I will get more tomatoes and cucumbers. It's a disappointing haul, overall, but my garden this year has been filed under "entertainment". The peppers are taking off, I have managed (thank you, Magic Hand) to get some Shiso leaves drying, and my rose is suddenly growing like mad. 

See the cucumber? There are two, and maybe more to come!

The new little tomatoes are growing!

I can see two peppers here. One is turning color. There are many more. 

This one's on a different plant and is almost ready to harvest!

And here's a ladybug, just because!