In Japan, when you enter a store or a restaurant or a home, the hosts will call out "いらつしゃいませ!"(Ira'shaimase), which means something like "Welcome!" "Come on in!" Which is what I say to you, new and old friends, as I share random thoughts and creations to whomever is interested.

Monday, June 29, 2015


After taking trips and relying on friends to house us, feed us, drive us, I always like to send some kind of thank you card.  It used to be origami cards but now I am so enjoying thinking up and sending etegami card.  You can personalize them exactly for each friend.

friendship etegami

When we arrived in LA, a friend I had not seen in 40 years picked us up from the airport. We recently reunited on Facebook and I had discovered that she lived near the LA airport. I asked if she would pick us up and house us for the night and after an enthusiastic "yes!", I booked our flight to include a night at her house. We had an absolutely wonderful time with Miriam and her husband. Miriam is a 70s troll buff 
so I just had to paint two trolls for her thank you card.

thank you card etegami

The next day, we needed to get to Anaheim but also hoped to have a short visit with high school friend Grace. Couldn't believe it when Grace offered to drive us to Anaheim through typical LA traffic.  We stopped at Huntington Beach and had a lovely lunch. When I saw the photo of these lemurs, it made perfect sense for a thank you card!

shelter from the storm

A trip to MN also required an overnight stay and my friend Naomi graciously offered us to stay at her house.  Such a great time talking and laughing! I thought of all the times she has offered "shelter" and this photo captivated me.  Too cute!

elephant etegami

Yes, I have been reuniting with SO many high school friends that I went to school with in Japan. Thank you, Facebook.  My friend in New York was a childhood friend and I hadn't seen her in 40 years either.  I found this word on my Facebook feed and just loved it. Our friendship was a rediscovery for sure.

loon painting

mourning into dancing

The trip to MN was to visit an old pastor who had a stroke recently.  My friend Dawn and I went to kind of say our good-byes.  There were tears and there was joy.  I thought of the beautiful MN loon who sings such a mournful song at night.  When I went to paint it, I discovered how complexly beautiful it is.  We never did see one so I painted these for her so she will remember our beautiful but mournful trip.

giraffe etegami

A Mother's Day card for my mom.  She used to take care of me and now I take care of her. We are each other's treasures.

gorillas etegami

Lastly, and a bit crazy is my Father's Day card. My dad and I have a very contentious relationship which has gotten more difficult as he ages.  I just couldn't paint a lovey dovey card. My dad has always liked jokes and craziness so this was what I came up with.  Inside, it says "just kidding"....  Maybe.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A different kind of birthday card

outside the box

When it came time to make a birthday card for someone very special, someone who is creative and inventive, I kept thinking of the words "outside the box."  And since she is a "chick", this is what I came up with.  A chick born of a square egg.  Who has stepped out of that square egg and is now "outside of the box."  She loved it.  YEAH!!!


death of dog etegami

When a friend's dalmatian died, she was so sad.  I thought it might be nice to send an etegami to let her know I was thinking of her.  This friend is very spiritual in a non-religious sort of way. I imagined she might think of being reunited with her dog some day.  I thought my doggie turned out kind of cute but a bit awkward. 
 But I decided to send it anyway.   
 She really, really appreciated it 
which made me think that is not the last dog I will paint

death of dog etegami

And sure enough.  Another friend's German shepherd died. I watched a video online of her howling via Skype and pretty soon he was howling back.  It was a most amazing thing.  She was so very sad when he died. So, I painted this for her.  This one really painted itself.  I got some water into the black ink so it bled a little more than i was planning. I used a regular pen to get the outline of the eyes right and indeed, the eyes are my favorite part.
  Unfortunately, it just got returned in the mail today after 3 weeks (wrong address, I guess) so she has not really seen it yet.  I hope it will be meaningful to her.  Just looking at it makes me want to cry!!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Furry Chickens

frizzle chicken etegami
I have a dear friend in Colorado who has started raising chickens.  Not just ordinary chickens but unusual, interesting chickens that I've never even heard of.  Like the frizzle. 

According to Wikipedia:
 The Frizzle is a breed of chicken with characteristic curled or frizzled plumage.

Her sister said of this chicken : I should check my lavender  mop to make sure it's not a chicken.

That just cracked me up and i had to paint an etegami of it!    My friend tells me she laughed out loud in the grocery store when she saw it.  How fun to send laughter in the mail!!

This is Fritz (my model).  He lives in a chicken paradise.  His buddies have this new luxury abode (see below) and he is sure to have fancy lodging as well. Can't wait to see what they look like when they grow up (Japanese Bantaam chickens). I will surely be painting more chickens in the months to come!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Painting a Cat

moshi moshi etegami
Lynn Cooper somewhat challenged me to paint her cat Mochi. Here is my attempt.
 The Japanese "もちもちあのねこ” (mochi mochi anoneko) is a play on the way you
 answer a phone "もしもしあのね”(moshi moshi anone).
 The play on words is the cat's name Mochi (twice) and then "That Cat" (ano neko). 
But lest anyone think my first attempt was as good as that, it wasn't.

Here was my first attempt

Gentlemen cat etegami
A rather cartoony, smug looking cat.  But instead of throwing it away (I was tempted), I instead found a perfect quote for a smug cat.  Someone might enjoy it. I need to work on spacing my words.  That is an art in itself!

And then my next attempt involved more bleed but instead totally bled out!!

mysterious cat etegami

But the result was a very mysterious looking cat.
  The words got all bled out and unreadable so I used a technique I learned 
from Debbie Davidson's blog, just cut out what is still good and make a collage
.  And finding the perfect words to attach to it , voila!
  This one is now on it's way to Italy to a cat fancier.

The last kitty I painted is totally different.  My friend moved into a new apartment and got a new kitty as well.  This beautiful saying fit both scenarios and I do hope she enjoyed her welcoming card.
cat coming home etegami

Run for the Roses

American Pharoah etegami

I don't watch sports much.  I love the Olympics but that's about it.  If you ask me, on Super Bowl Sunday, I might not even know which teams were playing.  But I have been drawn into this Triple Crown thing.. I think because it involves these beautiful horses.  And I watch the owners and trainers brushing them and giving them treats. And I watched this beautiful horse run as fast as he possibly could with hardly a nudge from his owner. I think he wanted to run and he wanted to win the race.

So today, having never attempted to even draw a horse ever before, I decided to etegami paint American Pharoah.  ALL of the other jockeys concurred, the best horse won the race.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Etegami for activism

I have been deeply involved in fighting for the rights of many of my classmates from ASIJ.  They were victimized, sodomized and some even raped while at my high school by a supposedly esteemed teacher Jack Moyer.  He was renowned for marine biology discoveries and programs set up to teach marine biology on Miyake Island.  It was revealed little by little that he had been molesting girls for years and the administration knew it and did nothing. The Japan Times released an article in May of 2013, detailing his "alleged" crimes.  ASIJ responded saying they would start an independent investigation and then.. deafening silence.  With the anniversary of the article approaching in 2014, I spear-headed a Call to Action, asking alumni to flood the ASIJ board of directors with heartfelt emails.  This was the etegami I posted at that time.

united etegami

It did force the board to finally speak.  But what they said was egregious and hurtful.  It blamed the stall in "negotiations" on the women had been harmed saying that they were demanding unattainable financial demands.   We know this was not true.  This prompted many of the Survivors to come forward and be publicly known.  They bravely showed their own honesty and transparency.
  But still...nothing.

I was interviewed by the Japan Times

Galileo etegami

There seems to be a feeling that "hey, we didn't do this.  The guy that did it is dead. The administration that covered it up is mostly gone.  Let's move on". (Jack Moyer committed suicide in 2004 after writing a detailed confession).  I was thinking of the Catholic church and how it was not their fault that the church condemned Galileo and yet... 500 years lately, they apologized for the wrong.  A more current example is Wal Mart apologizing to Tracey Morgan for an accident involving one of their truck drivers. This has Tracey singing Wal Mart's praises. 
 An apology. We're sorry. How hard is that???

ostrich etegami

So someone said,"how long are they going to keep their heads hidden in the sand?"
If you want to read the whole story of this saga, pleas go to http://www.asij1968.com/asij_stuff_jmt.aspx

UPDATE: Just a few days after I posted the ostrich, word came that  the newly elected ASIJ board had finally issued an apology for the cover-up. Thirty years of cover up. Finally.
Once again, I can be proud to be an ASIJ graduate

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Children's Day

koinobori etegami

 May 5 is Children's Day in Japan. 子供の日. It is traditional to fly koinobori, big carp wind socks, on a flagpole outside one's house.  The top blue represents dad, second red represents mom and then the smaller ones following are the children, also in blues/greens for sons and red/orange/pinks for daughters.  I was thinking that if we were flying koi for my family, my brother would be missing. He died of AIDS at the height of the epidemic in the 1990s. I still miss him and I imagine his spirit flying where his koi should be.  I tried it two different ways. I think I like the one on top better, where he has broken loose but is not totally gone.

koinobori etegami

Valentine etegami

Oh how the days fly by!  Since I last wrote, I have painted a couple of dozen etegami and am loving it.  Every day I see such wonderful and amazing things and thoughts fill my mind. Like this little anole that sits outside of our breakfast area window. Or sits right on the sill of said window.  He does two things. First and foremost he catches and eats lots of mosquitoes for which we are quite grateful. Secondly, he puffs up his bright red dewlap (throat fan) to attract a female, I assume. It is quite something to see.  As if he is saying "pick me, pick me". Someone who saw this thought I was making a play on Grey's Anatomy where Meredith says to Derek "Pick me, choose me, love me." Oh well. Doesn't matter now because Derek is dead. Sigh

my guitar gently weeps etegami

When the father of one of my son's best friend and rock n'roll band mate died, I had to think long and hard on how to portray that in a picture.  The dad was apparently an incredible guitar player and did surely pass that talent on to his son.  This is a quote from the Beatle's George Harrison and seemed to express beautifully what a musician might be feeling: that every part of him, including his guitar, is gently weeping. The tears are also the same shape as a pick.

lotus etegami

A friend is experiencing a very difficult time with traumatic brain injury.  It gets better, it gets worse.  At this point, the progression is mostly in deterioration. I hope she finds hope in the idea that each morning we are born again.  Each day we can hope anew for a better day and improvement.  Apparently, the lotus flower closes up each night and opens again each morning.  Lovely symbolism.