December 28, 2010

Uniquely Japanese New Year

Photo courtesy of Mainichi Daily

These are "shimekazari" -- traditional New Year's decorations made with sacred Shinto rope of rice straw and other ornaments -- in the shape of samurai topknots.

When we lived in Japan you could find versions of these mounted on the sides of buildings and on someone's front door. I will never forget seeing the side of the Meiji-ya Grocery Store building in Hiroo.  Hiroo is a neighborhood filled with embassies and western families.  The Meiji-ya had both western Christmas decorations mixed in with the Japanese. 

I love how uniquely Japanese these New Year's decorations are in their symbols.  Each section is specific in how it relates to the new year, prosperity, good health et al.

What is a little sad is that the skill and knowledge on how to make something like this, is fading within the country.

Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu
Otoshi o yoroshiku onegaishimasu



December 14, 2010

Giving Fearlessly: Cleo and the Song of the Sea

SWAGG is a free mobile app (download here) that lets you shop smarter using your mobile phone. Buy, send or swap SWAGG GIFTS and organize your old school plastic gift cards. For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) , up to $125,000.

Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG are sending a pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! Download the SWAGG app and then visit the Ultimate SWAGG Getaway Sweepstakes site to enter to win a trip for two to the Sundance Film Festival. Entry deadline is January 3, 2011, 11:59pm, PST.

Giving Fearlessly: Cleo and the Song of the Sea

We love taking our dog to the beach. On the edge of town, where the hang gliders soar off of wind swept cliffs, is a wonderful stretch of beach that allows off-leash play for dogs. Our big German Shepherd-Siberian Husky girl loves chasing shore birds and having loads of space to stretch her legs while running across the cool wet sand.

One afternoon, during a rare heat wave, the three of us were enjoying the quiet empty beach. The temperature was mild, which is rare because the cold Pacific Ocean temperatures ensure the need for even a light windbreaker on the sunniest of days. We walked for an hour in almost humid conditions. The warm mist and low tide encouraged my imagination to create a stranded pirate ship just past the breakers.

We didn't see anyone, only a few sand dollars and few birds but I did capture some unusual photos.  This photograph above highlights the special solitude of our beach walk that day and it is a beautiful reminder of the unique relationship between man and dog.

I've read that dogs make us human, and this photo of quiet companionship seems to support that theory. My husband didn't realize that I had captured this wonderful moment. He was enjoying the walk with our dog too much to pay that much attention to what images I was snapping my lens at. When we got home and I saw this amazing moment captured, I knew it would have to become a gift.

A few months later, after I turned this photo into a canvas, it was wrapped and under our Christmas tree.  To my husband's surprise and delight, it became one of the best gifts I've ever given him.  He has it hanging today near his desk as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live where we do and to have found such a wonderful rescue dog at the SPCA.

Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.

More info about Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)

SWAGG has partnered with non-profit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to SU2C up to $125,000. Awesome, right?! Visit the SU2C site for more info

December 11, 2010

Another side to San Francisco

Recycling that is often condemned but rarely seen in daylight
Here is one side of the green movement in San Francisco that you don't see very often, at least not in daylight.  Residential neighborhoods regularly get men and women walking the streets and plucking cans and bottles from public and private trash cans.  They carry their bags this way or if part of a larger crew, they will covertly meet up with a truck parked or idling further down the street.

December 8, 2010

Traveling with Dogs - Wordless Wednesday

Canine Cargo or Puppy Passenger?

December 3, 2010

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