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19th century Samurai

Yesterday was the Literati Book Club Season Premiere! The over arching theme is Around the World in Eight Months. The Literati will be “visiting” each of the “eight” continents (I have included Antarctica, to round out the season). We read Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka. Prior to the event, I used my new found knowledge in advertising (still quite the novice!!) and reached out to 20 different avenues from partnerships, online, print (including writing two articles for local magazines and a press release for the newspaper) and my specialty “the special invitations”. The word of mouth was tremendous…It was delivered by the Members, without any prodding from me! They knew more or less to expect a big show and I did my best to deliver!

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Actual Japanning technique . . . not what I am discussing here. Nor is this something of my grandparents’, though I wish it were!

My sweet mother assisted me with the eight hours of room prep. Yes, eight hours! It took us two hours just to hang the red “temple streamers” from the ceiling in the community room! I partially picked Cloud of Sparrows for my late paternal grandparents’ memorabilia. Mother and I lugged a small fraction of their collection from storage for the premiere. I know my Grandmother would have been absolutely delighted (although I can hear her giving me a stern warning “these are not toys” . . .) Family owned items made up over 95% of the decorations. Two faux cherry trees were brought in to flank the whiteboard. One was from my Cottage, another a Member actually bought for me at a yard sale just for the premiere! Three ladies brought in ivory figurines, porcelain, and a replica Geisha doll. Mother and I also erected the Postcard Station; a new feature where attendees can write their praise of the book, if they so wish, to the authors. At the end of the season, the author of our winning book will get our coveted Little Blue Ribbon, a letter of explanation, pictures and the postcards! Authors love that kind of feedback. I know so. I read their blogs.

We served rice and sushi with iced Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey (It was 117 degrees outside that day, I was not about to serve hot tea!) Best of all, I was dressed as a Geisha! My make-up turned out great! My hair was another issue all together. I practiced three times at home and the results were mixed. I was praying my tresses would work with me for showtime. No such luck! Three Members came into the ladies room and beat my hair into submission. They included braids which was actually a Chinese trademark of the time and decidedly un-Geisha, but at that point I could have cared less. I donned two layers of kimono with the over kimono being a yellow silk number donated by a new Literati participant (whom, by the way, told me to keep the outfit forever!)

https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51S7hy2Y3PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWe also had a presenter (okay, fine, it was my father, but that is the other reason I chose the book because of his hobbyist-ic zeal for Japan and the Samurai.) who discussed Japanese culture during the waning era of the Samurai and the nuance of the Geisha. More specifically he talked about swords. He brought 14 of his real, replica, faux, and training swords for a short demonstration. As a result we had almost 10 gentlemen present. A new record! Along with the record-breaking theme–we had a whopping 46 people in attendance. For a book club! That is amazingly wonderful! A large percentage were new attendees, some were English as a Second Language Students and two college students!

The newspaper reporter and photographer were also present. He interviewed my father for a very long time and took down impressions from new attendees. He even talked with our partners from the local Historical Society who will be having a “Traveling Exhibition” table at every meeting this season. They wish to tie in the book to the town or the state in some vein. It also draws people to their museum which is so wonderful and yet still not very well known. What the reporter missed was . . .  me! Next time, I shall pin him down. Surely. I am determined! I do not fret over my lack of mention, as Library and the Literati will be in the local newspaper! That in itself is so thrilling! I am no glory hound . . . (okay, maybe I am. A little bit. A little more than a little bit, but ‘not a lot’.)

Our discussion was interesting. It took people a little while to loosen up. My signature Round Question (the last question of the meeting, where we go AROUND to every person in the room to answer the same question. It is always a personal question, to let the members get to know each other better.) The Premiere’s question is in part related to a quote in the book where the Japanese state the purpose of civilization is duty and organization; unlike the weird Americans who believe the purpose of civilization is unabashed ‘self-centered’ happiness. The Premiere’s Round Question was “What makes you happy?” While “family” took most of the answers, a few said personal accomplishment. One lady said “God and Chocolate,” one man said “Food,” another lady said “the look of sheer joy in other people” and another man said “Gardening.” My favorite response was “Being vertical. Everyday I wake up and know that I am not horizontal underground, you know what I mean??” Personally, I replied to the question with “Family aside, I like dogs and hugs.” As a result, I got a lot of them at the end of the meeting. Hugs, I mean. Nobody gave me a dog. Sadly.

The attendees loved it! My parents and I were “detained” for over an hour afterwards from people complimenting us, asking further questions, wanting to know what is in store for next month. It was everything I could hope for!–Expect my hair. Never my hair.

At this point, Dear Reader, you must be dying to see the pictures, correct? Alas, they have not been downloaded yet as another staff member is in charge of the photography. So, keep your eyes peeled for the slide show on Mute Monday! I am also hoping I will be able to provide a link to the newspaper article for further reading.

See? And here you thought book clubs were just  bit boring with small talk and wine. Tsk. Tsk.

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