Monday, June 30, 2014


     Mr. P., offered me to be a guest writer on his blog called "The Attitude of Gratitude". What that means is, - I will write a post for it! Now, the only thing that I need to worry about is finding, what to say and how to say it! Hmm. Here is the first draft (it, actually, turned into a second draft, since I edited it).

     Do you know the difference between a pessimistic person and an optimistic one? A pessimist says: "Oh, it couldn't get any worse!" And an optimist says: "It could, of course it could!" 
     I recently began to think that, hope was one of the biggest enemies of mankind! How can I say that? Isn't the point of this blog to have a positive, optimistic attitude? 
    After neglecting my well being for the longest time, I finally began to take care of myself. I began to seek counselling, at my friends' urging attend Al Anon meetings and write a blog. I also enrolled in a Weight Management Program. It went great! My outlook on life improved, I started to lose weight at a spectacular rate. It was hard to stick to just protein shakes and bars, which comprised the first phase of the diet, but even when I slipped and cheated, I knew that, as they say in Al Anon, I should focus on my progress and not perfection! Unfortunately, because the whole diet was built on protein, I began to have gout attacks.
     If you ever had gout or know anyone who suffers from it, you'd know, how much pain I was in! The doctors at Kaiser Permanente weren't any help. As soon as one attack would finish, and I would start moving around the house again and hope for a better outcome, another attack would begin. It ended after three months of continuous pain and three courses of Prednisone, a cortisone medicine which years ago made me gain weight! I stopped the diet, the pain went away, as did a good chunk of my optimism.
     Hope was what made it all worse. I kept thinking: "Maybe, the next time I can follow the regimen better! Maybe, the next time gout won't return!" Time after time, I had to swallow my pessimism and doubt, and - time after time - my hopes were crushed. What's the use then of trying anything, if all that I've done, seemingly, only made my situation worse?!
     I almost gave up then. I began to purse my lips, as my Jewish mother used to do, and say to everything: "Ah, it will not turn out well! Better just keep your head down and try to survive your life!" I come from generations upon Jewish generations of pessimists, you see!
     The only thing that kept me afloat was this thought: "What about God? Don't I have any trust in His/Her Higher Power?"
     There is no magic cure. Most of the time, we hope for something that can never happen. There are so many things which we can not control! God can, and having a relationship with the Higher Power helps us to better understand It and the purpose for which we are created.
     And here is what I, finally, decided, - and it's up to you to believe it or not. We, the humans, have setbacks ninety percent of the time. It's, probably, foolish to still attempt anything, if it wasn't for hope, for the trust in the Higher Power than just ourselves. Just  think of it as our covenant with God, a condition on which the Higher Power will still bother with us. After all, everyone needs a little motivation!


     I got used to seeing Hanah sleeping on the couch when I come into the living room. Now she is not there
anymore. Last night we took her to the airport, and she, her teeth chattering from fright, boarded a plane to Las Vegas. She went there to participate in a seminar on stage design. 


Roberta got fed up with sitting at home all the time, and she insisted on accompanying us to the airport. She did her best to keep up, and sometimes even walked faster with her walker than I did! 
     Chickie met us at the door, when we got home. He jumped on the top of the couch and began to meow loudly, as if asking: "Where is she? Where is my human (Hanah)? You took her with you, and now she
disappeared again!" I just tried to comfort him as much as I could. The poor cat didn't leave Hanah's side when she was here, and now he looks very depressed, snuggling alone on the couch.

     We had a very uneventful week before that. Hanah ruled the household, making Sonny do her bidding, as usual. Here he is wearing a dress, helping her alter it. 

 He even made chocolate chip cookies for her with a secret ingredient: bacon! They are very delicious, but seriously undermine Hanah's and mine weight loss!    Hanah had to make a card for her Japanese grandparents, in thanks for the money-gift that the kids received. She painted a picture with a pine tree, the Toyoda crest, on the foreground. She then proceeded to paint a few cards,                                                             

 not sure, what was the best for Grandma and Grandpa, who didn't bother much with keeping in touch with their grandchildren in America. I said: "Just write, what's in your heart, like, "We love you!" But what Sonny replied was true: they don't know their Japanese grandparents, so, how could they love them?

Monday, June 23, 2014


And sleep they did!
Do you see this site: Big Bus Tours of San Francisco?

Sonny purchased tickets online to go see San Fran on a double deck bus.
Next morning - nothing! No tickets or anything in my e-mail; the company, when I called them, didn't even have a record of a transaction!
     Some of us thought that it was for the best, since instead of waking up at, at least, nine o'clock in the morning, my very worthy descendants woke up at twelve, and it took all of my newly found detachment not to make a tragedy out of it.
jpeg (123×186)     We went to a movie! It was a sequel to an animated film, How to Train Your Dragon, and we enjoyed it very much. A couple of things were very touching, and I thought that, a point that the film made about the nature of a true leader was very helpful for young people to see.
     After the movie we went to a Vietnamese Restaurant. I would've taken the kids to eat Japanese food, but our guest from Japan did not want to do it! I was not hungry at all after eating a double scoop of ice-cream at the movies, so it didn't really matter to me, where we went.
Hanah had Pad Thai noodles and Thai Ice tea.
I ordered a vegetarian Vermicelli dish, which looked nice but was not very tasty.

Kids humored me and let me take their picture!

This is a signature Vietnamese dish: Pho Soup.

     It was a nice day. I am still working on not trying to control everything and catastrophizing any seeming misstep. Life is good: there is no need to spoil it by unnecessary whining!                                                                   


     I wonder, what do people, the members of the Unification Church who decided to ignore all the disturbing news about the Moon family and discrepancies between the church teachings and lives of it's leadership, - what those people are hoping for?
     I understand: it's very hard to abandon one's ideals that one cherished and defended for a third of the century. It's hard to sever ties with others, whom you might consider friends or, at least, like-minded community. In thirty or so years, one's brain starts auto-correcting one's thinking; and even if you try to change something in your outlook on the world and life, your brain wants to keep to the safe, familiar pathways. 
     It was very hard for me to do all those things. Just trying to stop saying: "True Parents, True Father, True Mother, True Children" about the Moon family - was a real chore. Well, soon after I understood that there is nothing true about Moon children, it became easier to figure out and follow through to other things, like - shouldn't having a Messiah for a father and mother help to avoid making mistakes? I grew up with a usual set of parents, fallen and error-prone as they were. After accepting the church principles, I managed to keep on the straight and narrow, at least avoiding the big sins like adultery, being addicted to drugs, stealing someone else's spouse, stealing church assets for my own gain... Most of the Unification Church members are the same: we can't say that we are saints, but we are not the monsters the Moon kids proved to be! 
     Still, people roll into the church for Sunday Services; they are now getting whipped into frenzy by the leadership, "following in True Father's (Rev. Moon's) footsteps, going on a pilgrimage of the Holy Grounds". Rev. Moon established central  places throughout America and the world to pray. They are, usually, at some beautiful spot on some hill or a mountain. Members have rallies and go visiting those places now, even traveling to other states to do so! 
     Never mind that Mrs. Moon, who is now a head of the church, many times declared that, "we'll be doing things differently now than before", meaning that, while her husband, the Messiah, was alive, the church practices were not up to par. Now that the membership is down and the revenue is down, they need to "inspire" us to higher devotion and better tithing!
DSC06853.JPG (741×494)
Roberta and Bishop A. Stallings, the preacher for the day.
     Last Sunday I had to bring Roberta and Reina to church, to one of such rallies. Roberta agrees with me about the church, but still wants to attend these gatherings. I guess, most of the people there were like her. It was one of the Breakfast Prayer Meetings, and who can resist a free breakfast? Non-UC Christian pastors and laity were there in force, one of them, Bishop George A. Stallings, yelling from the pulpit. Does it make any sense to yell about things like faith, hope, love, revival? Doesn't it just show that the speaker is trying to convince himself that he is right in following Moon's teachings and leading others to do so? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014


     As they say in Russia: "Дела идут, контора пишет..." OK, I'll translate: "It's business as usual!"
     Day after day, I wake up and start to worry of what to make Reina for breakfast (Roberta refuses to eat anything except my oatmeal, Sonny eats breakfast at lunch and Hanah is on a diet of my shakes and bars; so I just have to feed Reina, who comes from a different country and whose eating preferences are a mystery to me). 
jpeg (211×239)     We rarely have any appointments for Roberta. I think, she is getting antsy, just sitting in or on her bed, watching unending episodes of Family Feud or playing unending games of Solitaire on her KIndle. I might need to bring her to see some doctors, to add excitement to her life!
reverse-1279100119_yelling-cat.gif (276×206)
     That leaves me washing dishes and, time to time, yelling "S-o-o-o-n-n-y-y-y-y!" He helps a lot, but it takes much in the way  of my nerves and vocal exercises to get him moving. I didn't realize it, but I yell for him so loudly, that people around me are left reeling from a sonic boom! 
     It's pointless to call Hanah's name. She does not move, even under me poking and shaking her. I tried to tell her: "Hanah, I just need your opinion on something!" Then, after she judged that an
Can you see her under the pillows?
It's a reverse of Princess and a Pea
appropriate amount of time between my request and her response passed, I heard her careful "Wha-a-t?", - coming from under a blanket. 


More sleeping beauties:


oreo-o2.gif (320×240)       I mentioned my problems with the kids to Mr. P. He taught me to use oreo cookies. Yes, you heard me: oreo cookies!
Do you all know, what an oreo cookie looks like? It consists of two thin cookies and vanilla cream layer in between them. So....
     You say, for example: "Hanah, I am really happy to have you back home! It's so good to spend time with you again! 
That's the first cookie. Then  instead of BUT, you say: AND!
     "and I would appreciate very much if you helped me with housework. You are not my child anymore (don't faint), you are my grown up daughter, and you should have some grown up
responsibilities while you are at home". 
     That was the vanilla cream layer of the oreo.
     You continue: "So, maybe after we take care of some chores, we can go to a cafe or do something fun, huh?" Another cookie finishes the tirade.
     That way, you sandwich a lesson between complements or offers of fun, and the object of your talk, finally, hears you and feels good about your relationship.
     What do you think? It should help, right? 
     I wanted to see, if the oreo cookie method works, but, unfortunately, before I left for an appointment with Mr. P. I told the kids that a church elder might come to our house, so they'd better clean up (it was a lie: the church elder was Roberta's acquaintance, and he just wanted to talk to her on the phone). I felt a little bad about my lie, but the result was spectacular! When I came back, the house was spotless (as much as MY house can be), and kids sat primly in the living room. They even took showers and brushed teeth! 
     t1Kf3du.gif (339×279)

Thursday, June 19, 2014


    images (324×155) I don't know, what's going on with me. I am fine in the morning, able to wash and clean and cook... In the afternoon, I become desperate and start feeling put-upon. That results in me not, actually, finishing some chores or errands and either buying food for dinner or refusing to make it and putting Taka in the position to order a take out.
     According to him, I am draining the family finances. He doesn't seem to be too concerned about the finances when he gets an urge to get a pie or some other treats. I only follow his example, thinking that now is not the time to scrimp and scrape...
     I also became aware of the fact that I didn't try to write anything of value these few months. I miss the itching in my soul, as I look for ideas and words to put them in. 
     I re-read Moriko and The Shelter. Did you read those stories? No one ever left me any comments about them, and a few people whose opinion I asked, didn't tell me anything that I could decisively interpret: either good or bad. I would appreciate any feedback from you, my readers!
     Hanah uses the bars and the shakes that are left from my Weight Management Program. She eats one normal meal a day, usually, dinner, but spends her days laying on the couch and staring into her IPod. 
     She worked on a Thank You card for her Japanese grandparents (they sent kids a good sum of money). It turned out to be a picture, about one foot by one foot, depicting a pine tree (the Toyoda family crest) in the foreground of a Japanese landscape. I thought that, it was even better that way.
After Hanah's dad looked at it and told her his opinion, she locked herself in the bathroom and didn't come out for a long time. I, following my new decision to speak with Taka honestly and not hide or accept his vague answers, asked him, what he thought of Hanah's picture. It took some time and nerves to get an answer out of him, because he is a master of leaving things unsaid and misunderstood. Finally, he squeezed it out, around a huge mouthful of food: "It's hard to get the point!" I pushed a little more, and he translated: "I thought, she was making a card. She needs to write a few sentences to thank the grandparents." 
1_123125_2135002_2180608_2203666_081107_fam_kidstn.gif.CROP.original-original.gif (252×412)emotional+bank.jpg (591×424)    Hanah put her picture aside and didn't touch it since then. I am unsure, how to change that situation. I told Hanah that I loved it and gave her some honest remarks in regards to the picture. Her and Sonny's relationship with their dad consists of listening to his long tirades and ranting, which do not include any assurance of his love and support. Just now, I told him that he needed to first build up his Emotional Bank Account with children, instead of emotion.gif (537×558)constantly barraging them with his ideas and complaints. I guess, my relationship with him is not strong enough to withstand me giving him advice: he walked off, slammed some door in the back of the house and now is talking at Sonny. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


     Our plans for Father's Day: Hanah will make a card for Taka, Sonny will bake a cake.
     It took me a few days of pushing and prodding to get Hanah to start working on the card. Last night, I lost all patience and
decided to go buy one. Another reason was to take Mr. P.'s advice and get out of the situation where people don't treat me right.
     I got dressed, grabbed my purse and the keys, but then Roberta announced that she was having belly cramps. That put a stop to my hopes of making a dramatic exit! We don't have any Maalox or Pepto-Bismol, so I wracked my brain for some ways to soothe cramps. Eureka! Taka recently brought  from the garden some Lemon Balm and Peppermint. I dried it, but had no idea, how to use those herbs. They are good for stomach problems! I told Roberta that I didn't know, if they are good for cramps, but she was happy to try.
     I put herbs in a large cup and poured hot water on them. In a few minutes I could see that the tea began to steep! I gave it ten more minutes, and at the end there was rich, dark liquid in the cup! Hallelujah! 
     I sat by Roberta, as she gingerly sipped her tea. Patience, Dina! In the mean time, I saw that Hanah began to move around, searching in her things for some paper, paints and colored pencils. She majores in art, and has those supplies with her on visits home. I asked nonchalantly: "So, should I go buy a card for Daddy?" She mumbled back: "If you do, I will be very disappointed..." I took it for a sign that she, actually, wants to make the card, but was just checking if we were serious about asking her! 
jpeg (147×186)     I might have an exaggerated opinion of Hanah's art abilities, but imagine, if you will, Van Gogh's relatives asking him to make a card, and badgering him about it: "Hey, Vince, it doesn't look like you are doing anything. Why can't you slop some paint on the paper for your old man?!"
     That's my problem, you see: for every attempt at parenting I second guess myself a million times. May be, because of that the kids don't take me seriously?
     Roberta soon felt better under my ministrations and even decided to come with me to the Chinese store to buy some miso paste. We drove there, and she sat in the car, while I shopped. 
     On the way back I realized that it was already after seven, and dinner wasn't even started. I knew, what Taka would say about it, but there was no other choice: I called Sonny and asked him to order some pizza or Chinese delivery. 
     We supped casually on pizzas, munched on the blueberries and raspberries from the garden and finished our meal with watermelon and Green Tea Mochi that I brought from the Chinese store. Nice, huh?
     Hanah is on the diet. She uses the shakes and bars that I have left over from my Weight Management Program and eats one normal meal a day. She stayed true to her undertaking and didn't eat any pizza. I had to cut up and broil some cauliflower for her and added  a few pieces of nice string cheese. 
     Sonny emerged from his room at one in the morning, asking Hanah to help him make cake for Father's Day. After kicking some ideas around, I declared: "Let's just buy cake!" - and the kids felt relieved. 
     Unfortunately, Park brought to us two pounds of strawberries, and Hanah already purchased a pound of blackberries for the cake. So, today, after the church, Sonny decided to make some fruit topping to put on top of the cake. 
     I am relating these things to you, but you have to understand something else ... 
     1. Sonny slept non-stop today. He slept until the last minute (and later) before we left for church. He slept at the church, slumped on a bench next to me. When he came home, with all the plans to make the kompot and give Taka his card and present (I got him  fancy sun-screen that came with a big mango - a gift from a grateful Mary Kay saleslady), Sonny went to sleep! 
     2. I can't stop this whole last week! I yelled at my sister - my only close relative and a person who loves me; I keep nagging at kids and would not be patient. 
     Sonny went to sleep, Hanah had to work on some theater designs. Taka, Roberta and Reina needed to have lunch; and that's besides the intended Father's Day celebration, for which I was gearing for two days! I made soup for Taka and Reina and told them to eat rice with seaweed, as well as leftover pizza. That left Roberta. I made her a soup too, but she told me that she was not hungry. 
     "S-o-o-o-n-n-y-y-y! You need to make that kompot! H-a-a-a-ah-a-n-a-ah! You need to help me clean and set the table!!!"
     All my yelling, cajoling and accusing were in vein! No one wanted to do anything that I said! Taka called Hanah to the garden to help him saw a tree in chunks, and she readily went there, but all my requests were ignored.
     I gave up and went to sleep. Yes, I, actually, got into bed, closed my eyes and tried to forget everything. It didn't happen!
     Taka woke me up to call me to help eat the berries. Apparently, all I needed to do was to step out of the kitchen for him to get into the role of a person providing nourishment! I refused to cooperate and stayed in bed.
     Then Hanah knocked on the door, saying: "Let's just do the celebration, since we are all getting together to eat berries! People keep invading the only place I have for myself: the living room! I can't even work!" 
The remains of the Blueberry Custard pie,
with the berry topping made  by Sonny.
On the background you can see a pot
with miso soup and a big yellow bawl of berries.
     I understood Hanah's frustration. She put up with a lot, letting Reina stay in her room and sleeping and - everything - on the couch. I got up and made my way to the festivities.
     Before Taka knew that we had a couple of things to give him, he declared that this was a good time for a family movie. Hanah moved in, though, and presented her card and our gift to him. 
She made it look like a man's shirt front with a tie



and inside we all signed the card. I love the button
in the right corner, don't you?

     We had some pie with kompot, ate berries and watched a movie. It turned out fine in the end. All I had to do was let go of an idea that I could control everyone and everything!

     There, - the end.