Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another Year, Another Bon Festival. Or Was It...?

Another year, another Bon Festival.
Or was it...? 
  Yesterday, as usual, we started out by tending the family graves.  My job, as always, was getting the incense ready for everybody, and just when I finished lighting the last bunch (for myself), my lighter (a jet type and a veteran of five Bon Festivals) literally exploded, though luckily there was no fireball...and I had a backup.
  After coming home from that, the next item on the agenda was the traditional ritual of building a little fire to guide the spirits of our deceased family members home.  Eagle Scout though I am, I could not get the damned thing to ignite (what with the still rain-dampened ground, humidity-dampened paper and kindling, and cardboard apparently designed to smolder rather than burn), and I had both my son and my FIL try to take over.  I fought them off rabidly and eventually got the damned thing burning.  I hope the dead relatives enjoy their %$& visit...
  After that, my wife and I went around to pay our respects to families on our list (i.e. who my FIL knows) who had someone pass away within the past year, a task we always split with my FIL.  That meant navigating our way around those often insanely narrow country roads trying to find homes we didn't know together with many dozens of (mostly elderly and often obnoxious) other people all trying to do the same thing.  One fringe benefit was that it got my wife and I away from everyone else, so we were able to enjoy a brief afternoon date.
  Today we visited relatives to pay our respects.  We rather coldly hurried in and out again, avoiding the obligatory tea and conversation, so we could go back, have a quick lunch, and...
  ...clean FIL's house so it would look a bit less like a bombed-out ruin in the event of visitors.  He insisted no one would come and griped the whole time.  We ignored him and made his place a bit more presentable.  I was just finishing up vacuuming when the first guest showed up...
  After that, I went outside to work a bit at cleaning up MIL's rather neglected, little garden.  FIL had taken a grass cutter (weed eater?) to it, but it was still a mess of weed stubble, so I attacked it with a vengeance just as the rain started.  Seasoned Oregonian that I am, I refused to let precipitation stop me (while FIL kept insisting I pack it up and go back inside).  So it started pouring down...HARD.  Seasoned Oregonian that I am, I felt frustrated as hell for letting precipitation stop me...but not until I had at least worked to a reasonable stopping place.  I was pretty soaked and muddy when I finally went in.  Not surprisingly, within twenty minutes the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking through the clouds.
  Tomorrow my son is going to Tokyo to meet with his percussion clinician and buy his own set of tympani mallets at the Japan Percussion Center.  (At least it will cost a lot less than my clarinets and tenor sax cost MY parents.)  My wife and I are going on a much-needed extended date together.  My bank account can just wail and gnash its teeth.
Happy Bon, everyone!


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