Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.415

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My home where I spent my childhood had a front yard that was larger than the house itself. My grandfather was absorbed in growing chrysanthemums in the yard and there were over 600 chrysanthemum pots. Our yard was literally packed with his chrysanthemums. He even built a vinyl hothouse in the yard to take care of them in the wintertime. Chrysanthemums were all over the place and they had pretty much disrupted the family members’ lives including mine. Whenever a typhoon approached, my grandfather would order my father to bring his chrysanthemums into the house and the garage. Whenever a display takes place, my father would load and carry the chrysanthemums for my grandfather into an amusement park or a botanical garden by his truck. When I wanted to have a dog, my grandfather didn’t allow me because it would ravage his chrysanthemums. I resisted and said it was unfair that he could keep so many chrysanthemums while I couldn’t keep one dog. He told me it was totally fair because this was his house, not mine. My father felt pity for me and made a playing space on the rooftop of the garage when we rebuilt the house. My sister and I got our small yard, but my grandfather’s chrysanthemum pots had gradually crept up and soon the rooftop was also occupied with them. I was playing by the row of chrysanthemum pots in the yard one day, and carelessly broke a sprig. I was terrified, as it meant a death penalty for me. I couldn’t even imagine how furious my grandfather would get. I was no George Washington and hid away the broken sprig. Although I spent dreadful hours, my grandfather, to my surprise, wasn’t so angry with me when he found it. He could have ranted and raved considering his devotion to the chrysanthemums. I still wonder why he could have forgiven me…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.414

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Besides growing chrysanthemums in the front yard of our house as a hobby, my grandfather had been a chair of a local chrysanthemum association for a long time. He organized exhibitions and displays, and gave lectures. He enjoyed his post immensely, as he was quite an egotist. One day, two officials of the association came up to our house. They looked grave and were apparently bringing some bad news. They asked my grandfather to step down as the chair. The reasons were his old age and his too long tenure. That infuriated my grandfather. He yelled at them and refused strongly. Two officials begged on their knees bowing so deeply that their foreheads touched the floor, which showed how much they wanted him to resign. It was the time when the National Athletic Meet was being held in my hometown soon and that was going to be the biggest display of chrysanthemums for the association. The crown prince was to come and it would be the greatest honor to my grandfather to have the prince look at his organized decorations. It was out of the question to him to step down with the event he had longed for coming. After a long argument, he reluctantly consented on condition he stepped down after the meet. They also reluctantly accepted his condition and left. He repeatedly said, “They had some nerve!” because he couldn’t believe someone dared ask for his resignation. He took charge of chrysanthemum decorations at the meet as his last work as a chair. Until he died, a framed photograph of the crown prince at the meet had hung on the wall of his room…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.413

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My grandfather liked a party so much. He threw it almost every week at home when I lived with him in my hometown. As he had held the chair of a local senior citizen society and a local chrysanthemum association after he retired, those parties weren’t so small with about 20 old people gathering each time. They weren’t official parties but his home parties solely for his own fun. He made my grandmother order catering and serve sake and beer, all with our family’s money. It was a big nuisance to other members of our family, but no one complained to him who was a dictator in the family. I used to feel disgusted when I came home from school and saw revelries in my home. One good thing about it was there was an occasional absentee or two if I was lucky. In that case, my grandmother would let me have a surplus dish and I got an unexpected feast. Sometimes though, an absentee turned out to be just a latecomer and my feast had to be aborted after only one bite. At one party, a man who was quite old drank too much and became unconscious in a chair. My grandfather called an ambulance and the man died at the hospital. Although my grandparents insisted he didn’t die in our house and died a natural death, a big stain of his urine on the chair didn’t come off. The chair had been my grandmother’s favorite chair that she used when she did some sewing, but she never sat in it again. Also, my grandfather’s home parties were over. He never had a party for his clubs at home again. We retrieved quiet days to our house in a weird way. But I missed the delicious excess dish once in a while…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.412

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Nearly one year has passed since I moved from a suburb of Tokyo to this small town in the mountains. Similar season reminds me of those hectic days in the previous year. Having spent a whole year in a new town, I like it here after all. What’s so special above all is varied beauty of nature, and comfort from songs of birds and brooks. I’ve realized nature is a luxury. Another thing I like about here is that this is a region where an earthquake seldom occurs. Although it is 14 months since the massive earthquake hit northern Japan, the Tokyo area has still had frequent small earthquakes. It’s also reported that the probability of a big one there within a few years is high. I would be crushed with stress if I still lived around Tokyo. Everything was new in my first year here and I had had exciting days with wonders. But I suspect that it will become boring from the second year on, as things may just repeat year after year. It would be terrible if it affected my brain and made it too dull to write music. Having a stress-free life is a blessing, but what if it has already begun to make me slow-witted…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.411

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I was a junior high student when my oldest cousin visited our house with her friends and stayed for three days. My hometown Kyoto is a popular destination for sightseeing in Japan, so she and her friends used our house instead of booking a hotel. My mother prepared the room, laid futons for them and cooked meals as a host. By the beginning of the second day, though, her vigor had been worn out. The three young girls were talking and laughing loudly deep into the night in the room next to my parents’. On the evening of the second day, I was shocked to find my cousin hanging around my room without my knowledge. Although we’ve known each other since we were small kids, she offended me by invading my privacy. I told my mother on her and tried to make myself calm down in the living room. A few minutes later, my cousin came in and noticed an unfavorable atmosphere. She asked my mother what happened to me as I was turning away from her and ignoring her. My mother is usually a flatterer and there is always a difference between her words and actual intentions. But for this once, she told my cousin that she should have respected my privacy. I was surprised to get an unexpected supporter. In the middle of that night, I was headed to the bathroom and stumbled over a heavy cardboard box that was left in the dark hallway. I asked my mother about it in the morning with a sore foot and learned that was her trap for my cousin and her friends. My mother had put the box to make them trip over it. It was her revenge for the annoying days they had brought and I realized how angry with them she had been. Her scheme never works and that one was no exception. It was her own daughter who fell into her trap…

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