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June 01, 2006

62. Andy

Andy is an earnest, direct young American who escaped the rut of English teaching to become a translator at one of Japan’s principle museums. He loves to describe details of the exhibits. He’ll escape the translation rut with an MBA.

June 02, 2006

63. Jon

In the public perspective, Jon leads a respectable life – good job, wife, kids. Privately he flaunts conventions and lives an intriguingly shameless, vital existence. I relish his company and appreciate his insight. My sketches are open books – he understands me.

June 03, 2006

64. Kiritake-san

Kiritake-san smiled at me as he demonstrated his bunraku puppet with practiced politeness. When the Pope called to request a performance in Rome, he declined. “It’s too much trouble to travel, but you could come here.” His Holiness may visit.

June 04, 2006

65. Louise

Louise entered my life as the wicked stepmother of my boyfriend, but we could be sisters closely matched in our temperaments and interests. So many happy, productive weekends spent cooking, spinning, fencing, and feeding the ‘nimals. Louise, please come visit.

June 05, 2006

66. Taxi Driver

He collected us, smiling, from the Bordeaux train station but blanched when he heard our poor French. Through pidgin we managed four days of excursions, morning pickups, rendezvous, restaurant recommendations, and grocery trips. He smiled again when we said adieu.

June 06, 2006

67. Sandra

A popular stage director, Sandra was the substitute mother we college thespians needed – maternal, wise, level-headed during our school and social crises. In other theaters after graduation, I discovered Sandra was just as confused and stressed as any of us.

June 07, 2006

68. Romayne

Grandmom My Mom’s tragic childhood taught her to embrace life and family. She celebrated order in little ways: building BLTs in proper sequence, keeping a tidy home, and coordinating her accessories. She indulged us with junky-dos, Apple Jacks and love.

June 08, 2006

69. Gil

Gil regaled the table with stories of his trip around Japan, tossing in accumulated knowledge and trivia with the ease of a practiced raconteur. His ability to recall details of interest is rivaled only by that of his nephew, Jim.

June 09, 2006

70. Goddess Mary

Godess Mary may have been called that for her looks - tall, slim, flowing blonde tresses - but on a holiday to Mexico, she ensured her place in the pantheon by being the only Spanish speaker among our seven travelers.

June 10, 2006

71. IRS Operator #2305706

She was efficient, professional, calm, and namelessly pleasant. “Can I ask why you haven’t you paid your taxes for so long?” I gave details. She erased the penalties and explained why. This woman knows her job and performs it capably.

June 11, 2006

72. Sandy

A second wife of many years, Sandy is independent, witty and sharp. She’s a keen observer and she loves her man; she protests only a little when her husband runs off with a brilliant story she was about to tell.

June 12, 2006

73. Jana

Jana’s extroverted, carefree, fun-loving nature contrasted completely with my quiet moodiness. Through university we cooked, shared secrets, laughed and cried together. I never embraced her “sex as sport” philosophy, and her last kindness to me was baking my wedding cake.

June 13, 2006

74. Elise

Delicately proportioned and gorgeously pale, Elise had enviable strength of mind, creativity and dark humour. Plus, her vintage thrift store outfits displayed funky chic style. At Telerama she answered the phones, sketched with Sharpies, and ordered fish and pepper pizza.

June 14, 2006

75. Larry

On my introduction to a new 4th grade, Larry, short, dark haired with a crooked smile and bad grades, told his friends he liked me. I scowled. He went on to wrestle in high school. I went on without boyfriends.

June 15, 2006

76. David

Rebel son of the town butcher, David grew his curly brown hair into a giant soft afro (no mean feat for a white boy) and played drums in a hard rock band. On weekday mornings he piloted our school bus.

June 16, 2006

77. Patrick

In a photograph, a teenaged me cradles my baby cousin. 18 years later I met the adult Patrick at a family reunion. He overflowed with ideas, inventions, aspirations and angst. He’d grown too big to hold, too prickly to hug.

June 17, 2006

78. Pinky

Miss Pekala tried to teach us literature but her presentation of the material was as dry as the peeling skin and flaking makeup on her aging face. Why did she insist on vivid lipstick to counterpoint her dyed black hair?

June 18, 2006

79. Taxi driver

He drove us to and from the Selangor factory near Kuala Lumpur. In Chinese fashion, he called me Auntie and wildly praised my filial piety when I answered a nosy question by revealing the pewter teapot I’d purchased for Mom.

June 19, 2006

80. Mike

Mike had a weekend job as a wedding minister, performing rites in English. On weekdays, he took photos of Tokyo that revealed the spirit of the place. He claimed he was an atheist, but I think divinity worked through him.

June 20, 2006

81. Greg

Greg surprises me from time to time with mail containing books and DVDs he thinks I’d like and wants to share. He’s a creative soul with a corporate job that leaves little time for creating. But he yearns. He yearns.

June 21, 2006

82. Taxi driver in Hunan

To our good luck , he was first in queue at the airport and willing to chauffer us around Hunan for three days. Armed with detailed knowledge of rural back roads and good cheer, he even swam in rivers with us.

June 22, 2006

83. Guy

Guy Collyer, the local realtor on Mt Washington, took our house under commission with a handshake as a contract. An old-fashioned businessman, his motto was “Be Good To Each Other.” Now his son runs the company but the motto’s unchanged.

June 23, 2006

84. Alice

Tod’s grandmother was nearly blind for a long while before anyone realized. In her home she moved with ease. At parties she picked a spot and stayed there. When she moved to a personal care home, she stumbled into furniture.

June 24, 2006

85. Karen

Karen started out programming VAXen and moved her way into team management, client relations and budget management for the department. She savoured “cloister days” with me & Monika in her office meeting project deadlines. All work, no phones, no interruptions.

June 25, 2006

86. Richard

Richard is the brilliant, self-centered prince of his realm. His parents defer to him; he always gets his way and he seems to utterly disregard others’ feelings and needs. His stormy moods reign and ruin, yet he is mysteriously likeable.

June 26, 2006

87. Rao

Poor Rao. He carries a little black cloud around with him. It pours down doom on his projects. He wants to do well and tries so hard, but often bungles despite his best efforts. And he’s such a nice guy.

June 27, 2006

88. Nakata

When I went to the lobby to pay the monthly water bill, Nataka-san spoke to me in English for the first time. "Can you tell me, what does ‘took a blow’ mean?” He was memorizing the lyrics to My Way.

June 28, 2006

89. Oyama-sensei

小山先生は厳しいでも優しい人です。The best teacher I’ve encountered, she never let my ignorance test her patience and gently challenged me to improve as best I could. My ability in Japanese is entirely due to her instruction.

June 29, 2006

90. Ashley

“Little brother” isn’t really my brother and isn’t little, either. He is sweet, attentive, and carries a fully-stocked man-bag. Need a nail file? Ashley’s got one. Tissues, too. He refills everyone’s drinks even when he’s not the host. Darling boy!

June 30, 2006

91. Ooroku-san

One of Hanako’s friends, graceful, lanky Ooroku was introduced as an ice skater, but he’s also a physics student at Todai. He’s decided to head toward his masters' rather than an Olympic medal. Very practical but a little bit sad.