April 26, 2010

The Flame Tree Arts Festival

Every late April, Saipan hosts the Flame Tree Arts Festival, a three day event.  Every year we go.  Local artists (as well as Micronesian artists) and vendors show off their paintings, hand crafted jewelry, arts and crafts, and wares.  Local and neighbor island performers show off their talents through dance, music, and song.  It's a fantastic event for families and it's a great way to interact with the culture and artisans of our community.

This year we came across an artist that does "gyotaku", a Japanese style of art where they take an actual fish and do a rubbing of it.  It's an old Japanese art form where Japanese fishermen would use this method to document their catch.  The fish were all caught here around Saipan.  This art form blew us away.

(see the fish in the sign, that's a gyotaku of an onaga)

(my daughter in front of a gyotaku of a tarakitu)

(gyotaku of a mahi mahi)

(gyotaku of flying fish)

Also this year, we decided to get some hand crafted jewelry made from the shell of the aliling (a trochus), which are found on the reefs of Saipan and the Marianas.  There were some beautiful pieces being sold.

(the jewelry were made from these shells of the aliling...
these are my aunt's aliling shells that she has as decoration in her garden in Rota.)

If you're wanting to see more pictures of the 2010 Flame Tree Arts Festival, check out this blog from a fellow blogger from Saipan... Laughter, Love, and the Zen of Midlife.

Ah, The Flame Tree Arts Festival... another reason I Luv Saipan!
(I love you Mom)

April 22, 2010

'Tis the season of Green Mangoes

Mango season is upon us here on Saipan.  It's still early so the mangos are not ripe, but they're pretty big and you can see them dangling all over Saipan.

But just because the mangoes are green doesn't mean we can't eat them.  A popular thing to do with the green mangoes is to pickle them.  Locally, it's called mango koko.  I like having the mango koko with a little bit of red pepper.  This is so yummy!

Also on the topic of fruit, a couple of years ago we had some pineapple that was grown on the island of Rota (where my mom was born).  It was huge, sweet, and yummy.  Anyway, a friend had mentioned that you could just take off the crown of the pineapple, stick it in a pot, and it'll grow.  So we did just that.  It grew in the pot, and grew, and grew.  It was a nice ornamental plant, and we didn't think it will bear fruit, but lo and behold, we have a pineapple growing out of a pot.  Crazy!  And it took 2 years!  We can't wait to eat it and then plant the crown once again.

Also, growing in our yard is a calamansi tree in a pot.  We grew this from a seed a couple of years ago as well.  It stands at about 6 feet and it blossomed this year and is now bearing some fruit.  If you don't know calamansi, it's a tart citrus fruit that's a little larger than a cherry, and it's great for sauces.

Gotta love Saipan.  You just stick a seed in some dirt, the sun and rain will do the rest, and before you know it you've got your own supply of tropical fruit.

Yep I Luv Saipan!

(I love you Mom)

April 18, 2010

I love you Mom

Four years ago I talked it over with my wife to move our family from San Diego to Saipan.  At that time, my mom had another stroke (the first happened in 2000), and on top of that, she was diabetic and receiving dialysis treatments three times a week.  To put it frankly, my mom was in poor health, and what concerned me aside from her degrading health, was that she had not even met my daughters.  That thought was tugging at my heart.  If she were to leave us, she would not have had the chance to know my kids.

So with my wonderful wife's blessing, we moved our family to Saipan.

Spending the last four years here on Saipan has been wonderful for me, for my wife, and kids, and most especially for my mom.  We were able to move my mom in to live with us and to help care for her.  My mom got to know my daughters, my wife, and most recently, my son, who was born here on Saipan.  Likewise, my family got to know my mom.  We've made some wonderful memories together and I am happy about that.

I write about this because my mom passed away.  It's been a month now since she's left her earthly body and my heart still grieves.  I knew the day would come for her to leave us, as her health continued to decline, but it's never something that you could prepare for as the emotions and tears force their way to the surface.

Despite my grief, at least I know my mom is no longer suffering, and that she got the chance to know my family and my family got the chance to know her, and that she left each of us memories of her that we can keep in our hearts.  And with those memories, combined with our love for her, my mom will continue to live on in our lives.

Hu guaiya hao mama.

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