The Word For Love

Hearing of Dick Bruna's death last week made me sad. Miffy has made her mark in our family life. We often watch animated episodes in Japanese and our little boy likes to try and sing along to the addictive ditty at the opening. It is through this that he learned the word "daisuki", which means love. 

Thank you for Miffy and all your stories, characters and illustrations, Mr. Bruna.
23.08.1927 - 16.02.2016
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| Installation | Passage/s

Walking through Do Ho Suh's delicate chromatic passageway, I am drawn to its translucence. The white walls of the gallery, daylight punctured with spotlights, all dilate the hues as I make my way through. I am moved by the devotion to detail revealed in the polyester and wire corridor. Every other step is a pause to consume what my eyes taste. 

In another room. Ghostly formations that suggest a fragility akin to desiccated onion skin, are static in bright white light. The palpitating light frequency makes my eyes quiver. And it is beautiful.

You can see Do Ho Suh's Passage/s at the Victoria Miro Gallery till the 18th March 2017

Victoria Miro Gallery.
New Wharf Road,
London N1 7RW
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| Table Top | My Winter Essentials

Sorry for the silence friends. I've been battling the flu, whilst battling teething pains with our little one, whilst chasing away them winter-induced blues that make me want to hide till the sun grows a little warmer and shines a little longer. 

Till then, here are a few things that I consider to be essential lately.

|  The beanie | 
Staying warm is a priority and everyone knows that you loose loadsa heat from your head which is why I love my beanies at this time of year. Norse Projects' Top Beanie is made using lambswool from UK and knitted in Portugal.

| The socks |
Because I hate it when my feet feel cold, I always have cosy socks to see me through chilly times. This pair are from one of our favourite shops in Tokyo. If you are heading to Tokyo and find yourself in Daikanyama - don't leave without popping in!

| The hand soap | 
I wash my hands a hundred times a day - at least. I mix mum life with making and everything in between so I get properly OCD about clean hands. Many hand soaps are too harsh but Meraki do some nice gentle ones that aren't so potently fragranced that they make my kid sneeze!

| O-nigiri calendar | 
So I can count down to Spring away from a screen. I bought this in Kamakura. The shop that I found it in was soooooo cute!

| The lip balm |
My mum in law uses this, Hiro uses this, it's a proper family staple.

| The boiled sweets |
I couldn't have survived my recent bout of laryngitis without these throat soothing sweets. Two flavours that I am partial too, Japanese salted plum and acerola.

| The Cactus |
Plants up the sense of wellbeing in a home. It is true. This particular cactus came from PRICK.

| The gold tin |
This is a tin of Hada Labo's Gokujyun Premium Oil Jelly and I cannot be without it in winter. I bought it in Japan after reading Nicole's blog post about it: http://thebeautymaniacintokyo.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/hada-labo-gokujyun-premium-oil-jelly.html

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| Abandoned | Till Rot Brings It Down

With eyes enlarged and hearts inflated we stepped into the grounds of this abandoned mansion. Broken and empty, windows dilated in despair. A silent lion molders in the thicket. A naked woman petrified, eyes forever fixed to the heavens. Scars on the front door from an angry axe, and the air seethed..... 

1972, Finland. Three young boys decided to camp in these grounds. The owner, who's family had held this land for generations, was stringent about trespass. That tragic night, he confronted the boys with a loaded pistol and shot all three of them dead. He was convicted for the triple murder and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. The confirmed details are vague and I cannot find enough information in English about this horrible case. However, for one reason or another, the convicted owner was released  early. A year later, he pointed a gun at himself and took his own life. 

From what I understand, the property and the land still belongs to the same family, though no one wants to make it their home nor invest in restoring it. It is listed and cannot be demolished. The mansion, is a timber construction and doesn't have the opulence nor extravagance of what many associate with mansions, and is instead, quiet and humble with Nordic elegance. Its fate is to remain in solemn silence until the rot  or a bolt of lightening brings it down.

It's not often that we have permission to stroll within the grounds of an abandoned property. Not because we have a fetish for trespassing, but more because it is often difficult to work out just who we should be asking permission from.  But on this occasion, and through my uncle's connections, we found ourselves with permission to wander. Given the history and the emotion attached to this place, even with permission, it was not a comfortable place to be.

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Polepole Means Slow

"Polepole" means slow in Swahili. 
Polepole is how I've started 2017. S l o w l y.

We welcomed in the New Year in Japan, muffled in the balmy warmth of family life. No mad parties. No hangovers. Just beautiful food, smiles and sincere appreciation. 

Every New Year must begin with a promise, and this year I've promised myself to go slow. I spent so much of 2016 feeling various shades of weary. Not something I want to repeat this year. I realised that I was habitually chasing ridiculous to-do lists that were completely un-doable. Unachievable, because I was trying to do everything that I used to do before my son was born as well as everything I had to do now that he is here. Unachievable, unhealthy and, if I am brutally honest with me....unnecessary too. 

So this year, I am grasping on lessons from my roots. In a hazy daydream the other day, I saw my mother again. 

She was in the front garden winnowing some dried beans. Lifting the woven sisal tray with a jerk that made the beans leap into the air. High, high, high they would go before the breeze would rush between them taking the dust and remnants of their husks with them. In those moments she looked like she was doing magic. Commanding the breeze and the beans. When she was done, she would walk, hips swaying,  this way and that as she passed by me. I follow her with my gaze and my eyes rest on the faded proverb printed on the back of her skirts. They say to me ; "haraka haraka, haina baraka". "Hurry, hurry, has no blessings".

So, I am going polepole. Polepole like a tortoise, or a chameleon or a caterpillar. Polepole mama, that is me...Mama Polepole.

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| Thoughts | Wild Child

I overheard a mother describe the mud splattered leaves that her toddler was gleefully tottering through only moments before as 'dirty'.

He promptly fell into the pile of leaves and the mum, faster than lightning, picked him up, whipped out a tissue and begun to wipe off the mud from her little one's knees.

A little crestfallen, I looked down at my little boy, his trousers and hands smeared in mud, leaves stuck to his shoes.

I feel sad when I hear city dwelling mums describe a bit of mud as 'dirty' to their kids. Mud is earth, Earth is life. It feels to me that on some level, urban kids are being disconnecting from nature.

I grew up a wild child, amid unending wilderness in Kenya. Hiro grew up a wild child, on the lush edges of Tokyo. Both our parents encouraged us to explore independently, to be brave, responsible, aware and curious - all the things that being wild, naturally entails.

Life and the world has changed so much since we are little. Fear has encroached on parents and we worry about everything and see danger at every turn. So, I refuse to worry about mud and rotting leaves. In fact - I wish there was more of it around where we live so our son could run wild in it.  

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