Friday, May 31, 2013


    The seminar on match-making. Easier said then done. The things that spoil the favorable outcome are: the egos, the lack of knowledge of oneself and one's true goals and the unrealistic expectations as well as a million other reasons that we can't or won't control. 
     In the Unification Movement, it’s a tradition to match people in marriage. For about 50 odd years Rev. Moon, the founder of that church, almost single-handedly matched the members of the movement and some other people. He passed that tradition to the parents of the second generation of our church. The problems are many. Its terrifying to, possibly, bring heartbreak to your child. 
     The children themselves are an enigma. Some of them have strong faith in the teachings of the church. Some are not sure, what they believe and want. Others drifted away from their parents' lifestyle and have different levels of commitment. 

E-mail for comments: 


      Today I'm at a seminar for the Matching Advisers. It is what it sounds like: a teaching opportunity for those who would like to help others find a good match.
   When my sister was 25, my mother became desperate to marry her. Even by standards of those times, the match-maker and the match-making process looked totally weird to us. My sister is 6  years older. When match-makers saw me, their eyes would light up, because it was, obviously easier to match a younger girl. No matter, how strange the process was, or the men that my pour sister had to meet, she finally was introduced to a nice fellow, who still loves and cares fro her, better then my own husband (although, we were also matched). That makes me think that facilitating the marriage introductions is a great way to help those that we care about. 

E-mail for comments:

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Hello, sorry to ask again, but the wonderful

actors and producers of a controversial series

Hush are in need of your help. They are trying 

to raise money for their series. Some company 

will give them $ 25,000 if they can raise the 

same amount. They are not asking much, $ 1-5, 

more if you can afford it. If you would like 

to support the cancer research (that's what 

the series are about) please be generous! 

If they don't reach the goal of $ 25,000 by 

June 13, they make none of the money and your 

credit card won't get charged.

Here is a link to Kickstarter campaign  

You can forward it to your friends everywhere 

and help that way too!

I know the actress, Joletta Hardman since she 

was a child. She has high hopes for this 

chance to become famous! Here is a link to see 

some of the series

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


     The perky Barby nurse said: "Here, put the end to your belly button" It took me a moment to find my belly button - it was located some inches below the place where it was twenty years ago. The nurse measured my girth by turning me and winding the tape around my middle. She recorded my weight and blood pressure, asked a few questions and left, promising that the doctor will be with me shortly. I told myself: "I lost 14 lbs! What a nice surprise!", but my conscience said: "You weigh 284 lbs. Your girth is 154 centimeters (it could've been inches) You are easier to jump over then to walk around. How could this happen?"
     It happened very fast and also not. I had to see it coming, from thirty years ago, when someone warned me against getting a second helping at dinner. I should've taken it seriously when my husband's only question at the close of the Lamaze class was: "When can she start a diet after having a baby?" Sure, he was a monumental jerk, who didn't give a damn about me, but I was also too wrapped up in my own fuzzy, selfish oblivion to hear the alarms which were going off all around me. First, I could only buy clothes at the large sizes' stores, then even some of them didn't carry my size. Then the health issues arose that gave my life a decidedly low, physical focus. The eating became a drug, almost the only fun I could have. The exercising was not a part of my mindset. Watching TV and eating - that was where my mind was. 
     How could this happen? I used to think about spiritual matters; I prayed, fasted, gave of myself for the world and my church work. Now it seems, and I think, I'M RIGHT, that I was completely sincere only at the very beginning of my life in the Unification Movement. Very soon I started to look for the ways to escape the monotony of hard work and spiritual discipline, even though those things made me feel really alive. I never had any doubt in my mind that I should continue doing the church work, but I also didn't have the will power or control over my own habits, to do things consistently. 
     Now I ask myself a question, may be I was not fully dedicated because all along I knew that it was all a hoax, that I and other church members were being driven to bring money and popularity to Rev. Moon just for the sake of Rev. Moon and his family? I'm still not certain that it was a hoax, though. What if I'm wrong? Thirty years of my life and everything I am right now: the wife, the mother; all my future efforts for the sake of MY family, like finding spouses for my children and raising the grandchildren, are intertwined with that Church. 
     But back to my girth. What am I keeping there? Am I protecting my own idleness? My idealism? My unsubstantiated dreams? Are they all in there? And if so, what am I going to do about it? From my experience, I know that nothing moves me to change my habits, even the threat of death. 
     There's another aspect to it all. I get really inspired, but peak quickly and then just feel that I want it to be over, so I can go watch TV. Am I that jaded? Is there something wrong with me? 

     One thing is certain: I need help. 

E-mail for comments:



images (259×194)

     It's always hard to understand, what people from another culture are really thinking. The Americans, mostly say what's on their mind. The Japanese don't. The time we spent with Taka's family turned to resemble the United Nations' assemblies: Taka's parents would say something in Japanese, he'd translate it into English, I - into Russian. Then the order would be reversed, with my parents speaking in Russian, I translating it into English and Taka - into Japanese.
            images (275×183)
                                        images (296×170)
It seemed like we got along fine together. His family took us on a trip to a spa in the snowy mountains. The way there, on the roads covered with snow and ice, was an adventure in itself! images (275×183)
     The spa was, actually, a rustic retreat, images (241×209)with thick, wooden walls, baths and lovely softly glowing wooden furniture everywhere. We, again, had a Japanese style room with futons that we put away in the morning. The spa was built on the natural hot springs, and we went to the baths with children. I don't think I've ever felt so taken care of! 
                                          images (275×183)
     At night, we all went to Taka's parents' room for dinner. His brother's and sister's families also came to the spa with us. When we got in the room, we found a bunch of kids wrestling in the area where the futons were folded and put away. Sonny's cousin, whole two months older than him, took him by the hand and brought him into the melee, where she proceeded to soundly defeat him! It was such a cute picture: a laughing little girl sitting on Sonny's chest and  proudly waiving at us!
                    images (254×199)
     My mother made a grand entrance. Earlier in the evening, she was worrying, what to wear. Fortunately, the spa provided simple kimonos for all. They were too small for us, but she put one of them backwards and one - on top - the right way, so that she was all covered. She looked gracious and felt it too, because her smile on a picture from that gathering is sure and relaxed. It was the best photo that we could find for her grave when she passed away.
                                                         images (107×80)
     After the spa we all (except Taka's brother's family) went to Tokyo.  My in-laws did everything to show their hospitality. They bought us presents after presents, took us to restaurants and spoiled their grandchildren. We were overwhelmed by their generosity.
    That's why it's so hard to write the rest of the story. In a few years after we came back to the U.S., little by little, it became apparent that they wanted nothing to do with us! At first I thought that it was me, that I, somehow, offended their sensibilities with my behavior. Then I thought that a reason for Taka's parents not communicating or responding to us anymore was that his sister, whom he brought to the Unification Church, had a baby with Down Syndrome,                                                               images (284×178)   and the grandparents blamed Taka for going against their religion and invoking the wrath of the ancestors. I still don'r know, what's true. For many, many years, there were no phone calls or greeting cards or presents for children from Japan, although we always sent our own holiday greetings there.
     A year ago we heard that Taka's father had cancer. We worried and prayed for him. Then, perhaps because he felt better or because he felt that it was time to make peace with his oldest son, my father-in-law told us that he wants to visit us in the summer. Amid my anxiety about welcoming him and my mother-in-law, I am tremendously relieved that they decided to become closer to us. Thank you, Heavenly  Father!


     This time the minister showed up. He always showed a lot of attention to my father at the church. I could be standing right next to him and not get a simple "hello". Perhaps, he hoped that dad will leave him an inheritance! Like I said, this time he was there. Taka and Sonny also came. We decided to pray. Taka didn't make any attempt to comfort me or even just take my hand. I pulled Sonny to myself and held on to his arm. To make the long story short, after a while we decided to stop the resuscitation. My dad's organs were failing, and it took a lot out of him to keep fighting for each breath. The tubes were pulled out, the morphine was administered, and now we had to wait for him to quietly slip away. Taka went home, because nothing should interfere with his routine. The minister stayed for a little while and then left too. In a couple of hours I drove Sonny home and came back. I spent four hours sitting by my dad's bed, talking and singing to him, and praying too. Taka came to exchange the cars: I had his at the hospital. He didn't stay at all.  
     It’s a wonder that so many people don't believe in the existence of a spirit. They should just watch someone die, and there won't be any doubt. A few seconds before, it was my father. As he passed away, what remained, looked like a shell, nothing more.  
     I walked the hospital corridors, carrying and dropping dad's things. On the way home I almost had an accident, because I was crying while driving. At home, at least, Sonny came and hugged me. Taka came from behind as I sat on the couch and plopped me on the head a couple of times. If he was in front of me, I would've .. No, I wouldn't. 
     It continued like that. At night, he must've heard me cry. He never turned to me or showed any warmth.  
     I no longer kid myself that our problems come from cultural differences. A stranger from another planet would've behaved better. After almost twenty five years together, I realize that what connects us is some theoretical belief in the common good, without any real affection. 

Email for comments:


     What distinguishes a real, true family of love and mutual support from all others? Many of us talk a good game. We can talk until we are blue in the face, but inside we must know, if what we have with our significant close ones is real or - pretend. I asked that question myself countless times over the last twenty five years. Mind you, most of the time I just hid: from my own inadequacies, from uncomfortable truths about whether I really trust this way of life that I chose for myself or not. I also avoided dealing with Taka, allowing myself to believe that our and his problems stem from the differences in our cultures and upbringing.  
     Last year was brutal. My father lived with us for two years.He was eighty nine years old and told us that all he needs to do is to live eleven more years. Despite many problems with his health, he still hung on and was sharp as a. .a.. what's sharp? I'm just checking if you are paying attention! He was O.K.! I was taking it for granted that he was O.K. One morning I came to check on him and found him on the floor. Once again, he lost balance and fell. I made him comfortable and called the paramedics, because I couldn't get him up by myself. They decided to bring him to the ER. It happened a few times before, I wasn't really worried. After checking him in, I went to pick up Sonny from school. When I came back to the ER, a few hours after dad was admitted, the doctors there just realized that he had a bleeding in his brain. I can't imagine, why they didn't check for it earlier, he was brought in after the fall! He started to have symptoms of an intra-cranial edema: grimacing. His arm kept raising up to his face, in the same position. They took him for a surgery. I sat in the lobby from two in the afternoon 'til ten, praying, crying and singing the spiritual songs, sometimes just telling dad to BREATHE. My minister, whom I called, later told the congregation at Sunday Service that he came to the hospital, didn't find me, but had a very meaningful give and take with some other family in the lobby. I'm all for the meaningful conversations, but, this time, I think, I meritted some personal attention from my church! I was, probably, a few seats away from him, singing and crying, so he must've heard me!  
     When I called Taka, he told me, as if he was making an appointment, that he'll be at the hospital at ten pm, even though he came home around eight. I've learned not to expect any support from him, so it almost didn't bother me then, that he left me alone at such a time. Plus, the surgeon came to talk to me at about the same time as when Taka and Sonny showed up. He said that the operation was successful, although they almost lost dad because of the ventilation problems. Imagine that: after having countless unexplained breathing and coughing problems his whole life, the doctors finally discovered that he had an S-shaped esophagus when he was 89! So, I was happy that dad was O.K., and didn't hold it against anybody that they weren't there for me. My father was out of the woods; he came out of the unconscious state a few times, talked to me and flirted with the nurses, but invariably went back to sleep. Sometimes, I would talk to him, ask questions, and he'd respond really, really softly, or squeeze my hand, so I knew that he was just resting. The surgeon told me the same thing: he'll come out of the sleep when his body heals. Then I noticed that he responded less and that he began to make the same grimaces as when he had a bleed in his brain. I told the nurse and asked the doctor to check him again. They assured me that there was no danger. There was talk of what to do with him after he leaves that place. They made me feel like there was a real possibility that he'll be alright. 
     On Sunday, I was driving to the hospital when I got a phone call from a nurse in the ICU. My dad had a pneumonia, he was struggling to stay alive. The scene in the ICU was terrible. Dad had an oxygen mask on, but he just wasn't getting any air. With every breath his body would gather up in a torturous attempt to suck some air in. He was not responding to me at all.

Email for comments:

Monday, May 27, 2013


images (290×174)

images (209×139)
At the banquet that followed, Taka, LeraGrisha and I came out and sang a song to the guests.   
                           japanese_dinner_course_a.jpg (640×425)
                                                                                  images (224×167)
                                 images (348×145)    Then there was more drumming, now as an entertainment. 
jpeg (269×188)

     Taka prepared a statement of our family's purpose, as a guide for the Toyoda clan to better understand God and His truth, or something like that: it was in Japanese, I don't remember the details. We were standing in the middle of the room, with Taka reading the statement, when my children, and, especially, Hanah, who didn't like loud noises in general, began to weep and tug on me, like some beggars in Cairo.
                                  images (266×189)

     They did not stop, when Taka told me to go to each person at the table, pour them some sake and ask to sign the document. I was, literally, dragging both my kids on my legs, still trying to smile an nod to the family members. The run on my black stocking was so noticeable, you could probably see it from space! Between the drumming and the screaming, my head hurt something fierce. 
                                images (185×272)
     I took the kids out of the room, and they switched the noise off, immediately. A young Buddhist monk got Hanah a doggie from a machine with a claw, and that magically restored her good spirits. I still see that doggie, when I go to Hanah's room. She is not there, but I keep an  echo of her smile on the day when she got it, in my heart.
                                                                              images (198×254)

Copyright protected



jpeg (333×151)

The clan slowly gathered to Nagano. We had time to go, see the sites and visit the grandmother's place of burial. 
It was a small grave with a memorial stone right on the muddy, woody hill over the freeway. 
images (197×256)      Taka, Sonny and I went to pray there. I slipped on the mud and fell. I held Sonny's hand in one of my own. The other arm had two surgeries after a bad elbow break. I couldn't lean on it and didn't want to let Sonny go, because the freeway was very close. Taka just looked at me flopping on the mud by the grave, holding on to Sonny, and didn't make any move to help me or take Sonny's hand from me. I felt something snap in my mind. Perhaps, it was the grandmother, scolding him. "What kind of a husband are you? Don't you feel like you need to help me or protect your son?" He didn't answer, just propped me up a little. You'd think, that should've taught him something, but - no.
                                                                           images (195×258)  
The ceremony was a grand affair, with the Buddhist priests chanting and beating the drums and the rest of us trying to behave and pray, but more often then not, slipping into the crowd ogling. 
images (225×225)     Before I went to Japan, I had a dress made, specially, for this occasion. It was light weight, with busy flower pattern. A lady neighbor made it for me, swearing that it was the best dress she's ever sewn. I'm sorry for the people who wore other dresses by her! My dress began to fall apart on me, in the middle of the rite. It was a good thing that the ceremony took place at the house where we stayed, and I could run and change! I shudder to think, what would've happened if we were someplace else. This kind of stuff only happens to me, especially, when I'm trying to put my best foot forward. Why even try?!                                                                                                       images (261×193) 

Copyright protected

E-mail for comments:

Sunday, May 26, 2013



jpeg (259×194)

Japan will not easily forget us (although, it might try). We took trains to Nagano. It was fun, all six of us, traipsing through the aisles: three women of heroic proportions, two babies and three men who looked like they didn't know, what hit them.
                       Bathing-Machine.jpg (170×186)
That's not us, but there is no way to show us! 
My dad was especially interesting to watch, because he didn't know much English or (at all) Japanese. He just let us drag him along. He induced mini heart attacks all around before every train switch, because he  would Invariably disappear into the bathroom or stop to  light a cigarette . At one point, at a stop, we had to run like crazy to the other side of the platform, to catch the next train. He was charged with bringing Sonny on a stroller. As soon as our train stopped, all of us started running, except dad and Sonny. Dad got off, leisurely thumped his pockets for a cigarette box and prepared to light up. If I didn't look back, we'd have left them there.  
                                                                          images (180×232)

Copyright protected