where the writers are
Jealousy is Alphabet Scones

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? 

K-ko

 

Comments
6 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Hi Keiko

For me, being brought up by Japanese parents, but for me to have a very British mind-set, many elements of your blog are things that I found surprising when I lived in Japan on my own as a teenager. I always used to find the need for new things and the apparent disregard for old things to be mind boggling, sometimes very upsetting, and ofetn ust confusing for me, particularly as I was witnessing these attitudes from a culture that seems so set in their ways in certain types of old traditions that go back many centuries. Fascinating. Your comment about purification made a lot of sense to this for me. Thank you.

Divorce is an interesting subject too. In the UK, as a child, I was in a room with several friends and was surprised to find that only one of us in the whole room came from a family which still had both parents at home. This is extreme compared to Japan. I was brought up to believe that divorce is the worst thing possible in a family by my mother. Even though I was taught this, I did not believe it, since I always knew it would be one of the best things that could happen in my own family, and it was when it finally happened in my late teens (while I was out of the country). Still, when I went to Japan, I found that this attitude towards divorce was very strong, so I was very surprised to read your comments that your friends were getting divorced. It must have been very hard for them.

Comment Bubble Tip

Ryoma, Thank you.   I hope

Ryoma,

Thank you.   I hope to write more about the purification concept in Japanese psyche.  I think you have it, too.   It isn't easy to look into own self and our race, but I'm extremely interested in this subject.  I hope I can use my own stories to tell that element.   It's like habit, and foreigners could say moral, but moral is something directed to people.  The purification concept I call is coming out of us without ever forced by anyone.   No moral teaching but most Japanese from ancient time worked hard.  I think we look at ants, for instance, and want to go back and clean and work.  

Comment Bubble Tip

Wow, your friends are quite

Wow, your friends are quite busy, K-ko. Hope it all works out in the end for everyone. Divorce can be hard but sometimes necessary for some.

And I adore old houses. You've got all that living and breathing and character. I guess they wouldn't like me much in Japan! :)

Comment Bubble Tip

Dorraine, Yes, we keep us

Dorraine,

Yes, we keep us busy. Smile. But please don't be frighten by it. A good thing comes out of being not pretty is that we don't need to visit psychologists. We save money. Besides, we don't have enough psychologists and psychiatrists in Japan.

About old houses, the situation in Japan is again different. Really old authentic Japanese houses are hard to find and very expensive to maintain because materials and craftmen are rare. Many Japanese dream of living in an American house. My cousin's son made a visit to my house in the U.S. long ago. My house is just an average three-bedroom track home, but my mother said that he told her I was living in a fine well-built house. Besides, nobody I know in Yokohama has a large yard like American homes!

Comment Bubble Tip

Really interesting Keiko-I

Really interesting Keiko-I love the way the story flows. Triangle shapes are perfectly acceptable for scones, I've done them that way, although my triangles are always irregular! Circles are easier but they are always the same and so, the uniformity tends to be quite boring.

Comment Bubble Tip

Thank you, Mares. I hope to

Thank you, Mares. I hope to be good at making scones as well as writing edible stories. You're my mentor. I meant triangle as jealousy but it didn't come out that way. I need to be more dramatic like you.