To make scones, I have to add buttermilk to sifted flour. Like jealousy, it sticks to my fingers. But if I want to cut scones in alphabet shapes, I will probably suffer more than cutting in a traditional shape. I tried a gourd and a fan shapes before, but they didn't turn out right. So alphabet shapes are probably much more difficult to cut. That's this story.
E-ko is one of my high-school-days friends. She met her husband when she was a freshman in junior high school. He played a trumpet and wanted to practice with the sound of piano. She played piano. They've been together like scones and jam ever since.
I used to be close to Y-ko in Junior high. But in high school, I became close to Q-ko because of the Beatles. S-ko and E-ko were close in high school, but later, E-ko became close to Y-ko. I worked one year after graduating and went to the U.S. to study a little. In my junior year in Los Angeles, I came back to Japan for a vacation, and E-ko, Y-ko, Q-ko and I all met at the restaurant of S-ko's husband. They all married while I was away.
S-ko and her husband met during the freshman year in high school. They've been together ever since also. I eventually married a foreign student. S-ko gave births to two boys, and I also had a boy and a girl about the same time as S-ko. So when I returned to Japan once a year, I often saw S-ko as well as Q-ko. We became close. Besides, her new house was built on her husband's inherited land which was close to my Yokohama home.
Y-ko met her husband through E-ko's husband. He was also a graduate of our high school. I didn't know why they didn't venture out to the world, but I was a minority in thinking that way. They both married in the same year right after I left Japan in 1970. So E-ko and Y-ko became inseparable. They lived close by, too, and they were both childless. This was when the idea of cutting scones in alphabets came to me over sudden. I should say it was an inspiration descended by Mary Wilkinson's blogs. Can it be done without getting sticky?
Going back to Y-ko divorce, she began meeting Q-ko who was also going through her divorce. I was in the U.S., but I had deep sympathy to Y-ko and Q-ko. I was in touch with them through a few letters. E-ko seemed unaware of Y-ko's and Q-ko's troubles. She seemed to oppose their divorce because divorce was bad. To me, Y-ko's and Q-ko's troubles seemed out of their control. I thought earlier they acted on it, their situation would be better. I was still married.
One November, I returned to Japan, E-ko invited me to her new home for lunch. She said she hadn't seen Y-ko anymore, and her new home was a used house. She repeated saying that during lunch.
"Y-ko and Q-ko became close because of their divorce," E-ko said.
"That's good," I said.
"That's not good. They are licking each other's wounds."
I thought the only people who can help each other are the people with similar problems. Y-ko and Q-ko wouldn't talk about their troubles to E-ko, and E-ko probably felt left out.
One November, I returned to Japan again and called the same friends. I called E-ko, too, but she didn't join us. S-ko told me that E-ko talked ill about her to M-ko. S-ko was steaming hot as a scone out of oven. She said,
"E-ko follows her husband everywhere. She doesn't leave him alone."
"Gee, I envy her," I said. "I don't mind travelling to Singapore and ..."
"The husband," S-ko said, "will get suffocated with such wife, I'm sure."
"But she told me he wants her to travel with him," I said.
Somehow, the subject of used houses came up as a topic of our discussions. I said to S-ko,
"In the U.S., there is nothing wrong with buying an old house. Have you seen E-ko's house? "
"No," S-ko said.
"Her house is perfectly good used house. You should go see it. In the U.S., we renovate, and the houses last more than 20 years. Japanese standard is crazy."
Things in Japan have been changing now, but not long ago, I thought Japanese's standard of owning home was unreasonable. I think the biggest reason for this is our purification concept that is deep in our psyche. That's our feeling and the base of many of our decisions. We don't analyze it, but it's there.
Three years ago, E-ko looked very happy telling me about her new condominium being built. She already paid cash for it. Wow. Japanese practices always amazed me. Three years passed, and I had the following conversation with S-ko.
"Have you seen E-ko's new condominium?" I said. "It's been three years."
"Yes," S-ko said, "they moved in already. I went to see it while you were gone."
"Wow, she hasn't invited me," I said. "How was it?"
"It was an excellent condo," S-ko said.
"Could you see the harbor from the window?" I said.
"No. E-ko said she didn't want to see the harbor. They chose the unit facing away from it."
"What?! What's the point of buying a condo at the harbor if you can't see it?"
I was a bit surprised. I wondered why E-ko invited S-ko but not me. This required me to think long and hard. Come to think of it, I've told E-ko the above statement before. I probably added three exclamations to it. I just forgot about it because I just couldn't imagine why anyone wanted to buy a high rise condo overlooking the harbor and not wanting to see the harbor. That's like wanting scones without fig jam. So I thought about it more.
Then I decided that cutting scones into alphabets seems senseless. For sure, they tend to stick together and fingers, too. Come to think of it, I was insensitive about the harbor view. That was none of my business. According to my purification-concept feeling, the traditional shape is good enough for scones. Is the traditional shape triangle?