Haibun: Making Udon

For Magaly’s Prose prompt at Poet’s United.


Haibun: Making Udon
“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is to keep moving” Paul Kornfield

On one of my trips to Japan, after I had walked out on my profession as chef, my faithful guide Nikko suggested we go to the suburb in which he lived, about a 15 train ride from downtown Tokyo. Amazingly, fields of green crops rested between the clustered houses – buckwheat, wheat, and soybeans. He wanted us to have lunch at a small restaurant where the owner handmade udon noodles in the old way. He knew I would want to see and taste.

The owner and his wife went to the restaurant everyday. Outside the restaurant was his family’s farm – several acres of buckwheat or soybeans at different seasons. A small patch of cucumbers, melons, squash, corn, tomatoes – were just being planted. The owner happily let me watch him mix udonko – udon flour – with sea salt and water in a huge bowl. Carefully he pulled together every scrap and shaped into a ball which he covered with plastic wrap and then placed the bowl on the floor. Putting on clean socks, he began to knead the dough with his feet. It is a tough dough and the body weight makes it easier to knead. This was done several times with resting between the kneading. Finally he rolled it out and cut into perfect strips and cooked me a bowl of noodles, vegetables, and miso.

Soon I was using my chopsticks to convey the fresh doughy noodles into my mouth, alternately raising the bowl and sipping the rich miso broth. He saw how much I enjoyed my meal. Nikko told me he said that if what he did made others happy, then he was happy. All the holes in my heart healed in that moment. I again remembered why I loved to cook – it made other people happy. I realized that was the reason for this journey – to regain hope, happiness, joy of sharing without restraint. A bowl of noodles changed my life. Yes, it truly did. I look at the world around me – then and now – I don’t have to stay negative and angry and crazy. I can feel pain at life, but I don’t have to let it obsess me. I make udon today, as I was taught those years ago. And when I feed the noodles or any food to people and they are happy, then I am happy.
small green buckwheat plants
under pale spring sky – watching
them grow my soul grows.

Peaceful Leonids

For Sherry’s Prompt at Real Toads, Wordy Saturday, places of healing.


Peaceful Leonids
Lying in the darkness in the cold night
Wrapped in my grandmother’s quilt,
I watch the Leonids weaving light in the black sky
singing their way to earth.
Peace coming up from the earth
And down from the sky.
I watch the meteors bursting into light
And I am healed.

leonids November 2018

Haibun: Summers Pass

For Poetic Bloomings – we write about lessons learned during a summer.

Summers Pass

We were tied together by summers. We met at a kendo and weapons demonstration. You in your black silk hakama – black on black dragons and your hair in a warrior’s knot and tucked into your obi, I saw you were carrying daisho – big/little – the katana and the wakizashi. My breath stopped in my chest. I was carrying in a duffle, the weapons of the man I was dating – well, third date at this time and to be honest, I had determined this would be the last date. Arrogant and loving to be cruel he wore his long blonde hair in a braid thinking somehow, it made him look like a Nordic badass. You gave a demonstration of the two swords and then began to spar with various partners. But at the end of the day, he rescued me from the badass and won the arms competition. We walked out together and the fairy tale began. Long hot summers together – a garden in the backyard of gravel, boulder, and koi pond and my half filled with veggies and old fashioned flowers. Summers of trips to Japan and sometimes in Europe. Long hot nights of love and hot days of your work in forensics and me licensing engineers. I don’t remember Christmases or Easters or Thanksgiving. I know we had them but it is only the summers I remember.

You taught me the use of the katana and your language. I taught you to fry chicken and make biscuits. East met South. But then you began to feel the call of your home. We talked and argued and argued and talked and the reality was – you had face to lose if you went home. I was not a trophy. I was short and wore glasses and my hair was long, black, and wavy. I was not tall and blonde. We knew you would be reduced to working in small 24 hour clinics. I was a liability. I loved you and I let you go. After you left, I only remember hot summers of being alone – practicing with my sword and meditating. And somehow, slowly healing. And one hot summer, I met a sweet blue eyed Southern man with kind hands and heart. He taught me again to open my heart and love. I still loved you and always will, but I learned to stand on my own again and to believe in myself. And the most important lesson of all, I learned that summer to love again, to open my heart and trust. I do not know the lessons you learned. But I know you never married. I know you dedicate your life to identifying the sad victims of the “Suicide Forest” and that in the Tsunami, you identified victims and returned them home.

summers pass In blurs –
love leaves but love returns and
hearts heal at long last

Wounded Warriors – Thank you – Faith of the Heart

I volunteer at our local Veteran’s Hospital.  It has been my privilege and honor to be of service to our service personnel who have been wounded in the line of duty.  It has been heartbreaking and heart lifting.   I can do so little and really, it is they who have helped me.

We all have our journeys and wounds – some wounds take longer to heal than other.  But I have learned from these courageous warriors, it is your attitude that is what is important – how you define your pain and suffering and healing rather than letting the wounds define you.  They encourage each other and when necessary, tell one another to get off their pity pot and start going forward.  Wow.

Several years ago, a new saga in the Star Trek mythology came on TV – Enterprise – the pre-history of the original Star Trek most of us know.  I was immediately captivated by it and not just because the luscious Scott Bakula (a long time favorite) was the star of the show.  The theme music, when first I heard it in the opening credits, brought tears flowing down my cheeks.  Faith of the Heart….the words said it all to me about my journey, pain, hard times, renewal, faith, healing.  A few Sundays ago, it was my time to do the special music for church service.  After much thought of so many other songs, I chose this.  I chose it because it is a true song. It says much about my journey of faith as well as my journey of life.

One day on one of the wards, one of the guys was having a hard time with his physical and emotional healing.  He had lost both legs below the knee and one arm at the shoulder.  He had been working so hard and today, he was so tired of it all.  I was sitting, helping a young man with his lunch when one of the other men, began singing this song.  In just a moment, it was taken up by the others.  Obviously, this song rang true to them all.  I sat there awed and humbled by these men – they were wounded for us and now, they were at their most vulnerable and yet, also at their strongest.  The young man was encouraged and began to sing along.  Afterwards, they all applauded and cheered and continued on with their healing process.  No whining, no blame, no holding back –

The video with the words is below.  As you continue your journey in life, remember these words, remember these heroes, remember: it is your choice how you heal or don’t. It is your choice how you move forward or stay stuck.  They were wounded for us, but they were healed for themselves and those they love.

Thank you again to all our service members, wounded, healed, whole, deployed, at home, retired…God bless and keep you every one.

HIS Eye is on the Bluebird, the Osprey, Me, You, and……

Every day, I drive over a long bridge which spans a wide and beautiful river.  Along the river banks, special structures for eagles and osprey have been erected.  I can’t see the activity in those very well unless I pull over and pull out binoculars. 

Some of the trees, right at driving level, contain nests of various birds.  Sprouting out over the trees are several cell phone towers.  Ospreys have elected to use these for their nests.  I can see these very well as I drive past.  It was with much interest, in the early spring, I observed nesting couples and then later, amazingly enough nestlings.  It was amazing because they were so close, you could see Mr. and Mrs. Osprey feeding their babies or swooping down to the river to catch fish and then fly over and drop into the nest.  The nestlings could be observed fighting each other for food and generally, being competitive siblings. 

Mid-summer, we had a day of shear winds, tornado activity, golf ball sized hail, torrential rain.  All over the city, trees were down crushing cars and houses.  Power was out all over the city.  For a change, we didn’t lose our power.  We had trees down in the yard but nothing crushed.  The big thing to me was the crushing of one of my bluebird houses.   After the storm, I frantically pushed branches away and found that Mr. and Mrs. Slim, who have been building nests and raising families for seven years, while dazed and confused, were safe.  Mrs. Slim was huddled under a group of branches with the two nestlings and Mr. Slim was under another group of branches.  I cried with relief and gently took one after the other, to place in an unoccupid bluebird house.  They were cushioned on a hollowed out bed of pine needles, lint, and moss I had hastily arranged for them. A couple of hours later, I observed Mr. Slim putting food in the birdhouse entry for Mrs. Slim and the kids. 

The next day, on the way to work, thinking of my how my little friends had had their original home destroyed and how close they came to being crushed, I was fearful of going over the bridge and not seeing osprey nests.  I just knew the nests would be obliterated.  The west end of town was hit much harder than the south side of town. 

I should know better than to worry, but as I am a control freak, I just have to take back some stuff and worry about it.  Yes, I know God can take care of things much better, but I just have to poke my little pug nose into things, grab things with my too small paws, and take control by worrying. 

As I crossed the bridge, I looked up.  And grinned.  The osprey nest was in not only good condition, but the family was going about its feeding and eating rituals.  I saw Pop swoop towards the river and Mom with her wings over the kids and getting them preened for breakfast.  They were safe.  Of course.  I had prayed the night before because they were in such a tenuous position.  But then again, they were in the hands of God and you can’t be safer than that. 

I remembered back to when I was diagnosed with cancer several years ago.  I am in my fourth year of being cancer free.  Not only did my PA (physician’s assistant) find the cancer, he had the knowledge and wisdom to send me to the oncologist that the local doctors send their wives too.  Not only did I have an amazing oncologist, when he went into the area to remove the cancerous growths and lymph nodes, the Greatest Physician had already been there and removed the worst and largest parts of the cancer.  My oncologist was amazed that what had been seen on scans, biopsies and other reports, was totally different from he found when he went inside me.  When I came out of surgery, my husband gave me the report.  I was not surprised.  Joyful, yes.  Surprised no.  A couple of months earlier, I had taught a Sunday school lesson on acceptance and trust.  The lesson was in Jeremiah 29.  The people of Jerusalem were captive and in exile but God promised them, that in His perfect time, he would deliver them and take them back to their homes.  If they sought Him, He would find them.  He had plans for them that would be to their good. 

I felt that I was in exile, captured by a disease and by fear.  However, I remembered the lesson that God would deliver me…no matter how it turned out, I would be fine.  I opened my heart to Him and sought Him.  He came just for me to keep me from harm, He never left my side.  Just as He watches over the bluebirds, osprey, me…… and you! 

Jeremiah 29:10-14 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plan to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me, come, and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

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