On my birthday I received more bad health news about friends. This year, and in particular this month, has been filled with such sad news. It seems like a cancer epidemic. There are so many people now in my prayers and hopes and wishes it is overwhelming. Also on my birthday, I learned that the previous night, the 53-year-old sister of a dear friend, who I met in Japan over 30 years ago, was struck by a car and killed.
Miriam and David (my sister and brother-in-law), who had planned to spend my birthday here with us, had cancelled the day before because of the ice storm. On my birthday, I received all that tragic news and was in no mood for any kind of celebration. In the late morning, M & D called to say they'd changed their minds and were coming after all. We had to run around trying to straighten up the place so there was no time to continue my mourning. They were planning to stay overnight and there really is no place to sleep except on air mattresses in different rooms on different floors. The day before they'd celebrated their 40th anniversary so that just didn't seem right (although marginally better thanToshi's and my wedding night which had been spent in twin beds in an expensive Japanese hotel in NYC). A good friend came to the rescue. She recently started using part of her home as a B & B. We were in luck. She had no guests that night so Miriam and David were able to stay in a lovely suite in her house in the woods with the added pleasure of meeting Carmen and Shawn. For breakfast they enjoyed homemade pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup.
Today, Ricky and I baked a banana bread (which Ricky loves) from my mother's recipe. It's out of the oven and looking and smelling pretty scrumptious. I just typed up the recipe with some added notes for a beginning baker (i.e. have ingredients at room temperature) and sent it off to Ricky so that he'll always have it. I was planning to scan all my recipes for his favorite foods eventually, but some really need to be edited so this was the first. I almost left out the eggs and sugar when I retyped it! Some of my recipes, from when I first married and moved to Japan in 1974, were handwritten inside letters from my mother - my Hungarian grandparents' stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage and pickled cucumbers, etc.
I wish you all a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year. And don't forget about Encounter with Japan: An Adventure in Love. It's just waiting to add some beauty and inspiration to everyone's lives.
Very best wishes and happy reading in 2014 from Susan, Toshi and Ricky Saitoh