Welcome to the month of November! It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner and 2012 has entered its 11th month! I think Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays. It is a wonderful gathering of family and friends for no other reason than just to gratefully be together and eat a delicious turkey meal!
As we ended this past summer, our family celebrated a very special birthday. Our dad turned 90 years old on September 1st. Dad still lives on the farm in Fowler where we were raised. Although he sold most of the land around his house, he is still surrounded by acres and acres of vines that he lovingly tended for over 5 decades. I know that he has days when he is not feeling his best, but he never complains...and, for the most part, he remains healthy and he enjoys living independently.
When our family first started to talk about celebrating his 90th birthday, we were aware that Dad did not want an 80th birthday party or an 88th birthday party. When we suggested a 90th birthday party with family and friends he again adamantly refused. He again told us that he just does not like these things. After many phone calls to my sister and brother, we came up with a plan to spend the weekend together in Monterey. The hard part would be to convince Dad.
Knowing that Dad loves nature programs on TV, we pushed the idea that the highlight of this trip was to to to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Dad somewhat reluctantly agreed to go. So at the end of August, we gathered to spend the weekend in Monterey. As the weekend drew near, Dad actually became very excited about the trip. Although Dad walks just fine, we decided at the very last minute to take a wheelchair with us. We thought that it might come in handy since we were going to be walking to restaurants and especially through the large aquarium. We were not sure if he would like it, but he loved it!
The weather was perfect, the meals were delicious, and we had fun just hanging out with each other. I was the lucky one to share a room with my niece. It was a wonderful time of bonding, laughing, and enjoying each other's company.
What I found most amazing was how grateful Dad was just to have everyone together. He told us a number of times that this may be his last trip and he was happy to have everyone there. He was grateful to have family all around him. He was happy and content just to see everyone getting along so well. Even after we returned home, Dad continued to thank us for that memorable weekend.
In Buddhism, we are taught that nothing lasts forever. But how often do we really think about it? We may think about it on Sundays when our ministers or Dharma school teachers talk about the reality of impermanence, but to live grateful for each day, rain or shine, comes only with deep awareness of what is truly of value in life. And when we appreciate each day for what it is, then every day becomes a wonderful day.
I know my family continues to be grateful for this special weekend with Dad and I know we will always treasure this special memory of his 90th birthday. Whether it is a special weekend or a seemingly “ordinary” day, with Dharma eyes open, we embrace and appreciate each special day, just as it is.
Until next time....
Placer Buddhist Church’s 48th Annual Oriental Food Bazaar has come and gone and along with it highlights and shortcomings. As always the volunteers came through setting up the facilities, food preparation, cooking, and clean-up. It was awesome having families and friends from Sacramento, Central Valley, Bay Area, Central Coast and Nevada coming to help our church put on this annual event. The weather was great and the BBQ teriyaki chicken, sushi and chow mein were at their best (living up to their billing). This year, somen salad was added to the menu (by Placer Taiko members and families). For entertainment, the Kimono Fashion Show was spectacular with vibrant colors and beautiful models. It’s regretful that the whole crowd under the tent couldn’t see the display of kimonos worn by children, teens, mothers and grandmothers. Preliminary results show that gross receipts for the two-day event were $93,000 with net income at $36,000. A big Thank You to all of you who helped at our food bazaar! However, you may have noticed when you flushed the toilet or the urinal during the bazaar that at times, very little water flowed through them. The lack of water was due to the constant use of kitchen facilities and additional toilets/urinals. We will be fixing this shortfall by installing a larger water meter at our driveway entrance which should double the water volume going to our church.
As a result of Placer Buddhist Church declaring that “Our teriyaki chicken, sushi and chow mein are No. 1,” the gauntlet has been thrown at our feet for a food challenge among the Northern California temples. There is even a large trophy at stake. A chili cook-off got the pot stirring during which PBC chefs placed third. Ultimately, it will be the teriyaki chicken which will be judged and sold to sangha members as a possible fund raiser to send Placer Taiko members to Japan next summer.
If you haven’t been to a service at our temple in the last month you may want to set aside a Sunday morning to come and hear our visiting ministers from Sacramento Betsuin and other temples give their Dharma talks. Arrive early for some refreshments, mingle with other Sangha members, sit in the Hondo, relax, clear your mind of outside thoughts and absorb the message being presented. The November 4th service will be truly special with Rev. Patti Oshita and Sensei Kelvin Mark presiding in honoring Eshinni and Kakushinni, wife and daughter of Shinran Shonin, founder of Jodo Shinshu. Adding spice to the service will be the Sacramento Betsuin Choir accompanied on the piano by Myra Okasaki, daughter of Miwako Yamashiro, performing some beautiful numbers that will melt you heart and water your eyes. So come out and enjoy!
Prior to the start of any service have you paid any attention to the ringing of the Kansho or “Calling” Bell? We have two bells that are used to announce the start of a service, one hanging near the front entrance of the temple and one in the back, outside the minister’s entrance. Ringing of the Kansho also reminds the minister that he/she will be entering the Naijin, or altar area. If you have listened to the ringing you may have noticed a pattern to it: 7 distinct blows; quick repeated blows starting softly then louder and with greater separation then reversing its pattern (ladder effect); 5 distinct blows followed by the ladder effect; and finally, 3 distinct blows. There is a circular symbol on the bell where the minister strikes it with a wooden mallet while wearing “head phones” to protect one’s hearing. You may ask, “Why the pattern of 7, 5 then 3 strikes of the bell?” One can say that it is the Japanese’s affinity for odd numbers: planting 5 maple trees; having 3 large flower vases in the Naijin; and using 3 incense burners. I’m sure you have used odd numbers rather than even while planning a project.
Recently while I was cleaning the area around our Koi pond, I counted 53 fishes swimming around and around. Many of the smaller ones were spawned last winter but have grown quickly. 6 larger adult ones were added very recently when Steve Muraki brought them to our pond instead of releasing them in a stream. Very soon we should be getting another batch of small fries, possibly doubling the number of fishes (it’s OK as long as the total number is odd) and taking up more space in the pond. What shall we do with them? Maybe have a real fish in the barrel game at the next food bazaar where winners can take home a baby koi.
On November 10th the Placer Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, PBC and United Methodist Church in Loomis will be hosting a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring Japanese American soldiers who fought in World War II and who came from Placer County. There will be over 80 recipients of the medal, many of them widows or next of kin of deceased veterans. 35 recipients attending the ceremony will represent veterans who were members of PBC. The ceremony will be held at 10:00 AM at the Del Oro High School Auditorium, 3301 Taylor Road in Loomis. The public is welcome.
Combination Dharma School, monthly memorial service and Eshinni/Kakushinni Memorial Service at 10 AM with Rev. Patti Oshita and Sensei Kelvin Mark from Sacramento. Sacramento Choir will also perform at this service.
Regular Dharma School service at 10 AM with Senseis Grace Hatano and Kelvin Mark followed by age-appropriate classes.
Shinran's Memorial Service at 10 AM with Rev. Yukiko Motoyoshi from Stockton.
No Dharma School due to Thanksgiving holiday weekend.