Quote for Today: David Brooks

We are called at certain moments to comfort people who are enduring some trauma. Many of us don’t know how to react in such situations, but others do. In the first place, they just show up. They provide a ministry of presence. Next, they don’t compare. The sensitive person understands that each person’s ordeal is unique and should not be compared to anyone else’s. Next, they do the practical things–making lunch, dusting the room, washing the towels. Finally, they don’t try to minimize what is going on. They don’t attempt to reassure with false, saccharine sentiments. They don’t say that the pain is all for the best. They don’t search for silver linings. They do what wise souls do in the presence of tragedy and trauma. They practice a passive activism. They don’t bustle about trying to solve something that cannot be solved. The sensitive person grants the sufferer the dignity of her own process. She lets the sufferer define the meaning of what is going on. She just sits simply through the nights of pain and darkness, being practical, human, simple, and direct.

David BrooksThe Road to Character

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Quote for Today: E.L. Konigsburg

© Dan Hughes with CCLicense

© Dan Hughes with CCLicense

The way I see it, the difference between farmers and suburbanites is the difference in the way we feel about dirt. To them, the earth is something to be respected and preserved, but dirt gets no respect. A farmer likes dirt. Suburbanites like to get rid of it. Dirt is the working layer of earth, and dealing with dirt is as much a part of farm life as dealing with manure. Neither is user-friendly but both are necessary.

―E.L. Konigsburg, The View from Saturday

Quote for Today: Shauna Niequist

Fish Magic, Paul Klee, 1925

Fish Magic, Paul Klee, 1925

I know that life is busy and hard and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don’t. Please don’t. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader because of the art that you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making your art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.

Shauna Niequist

Best wishes for a 2014 full of new things, including more synchronicity!

Time to Play With Your Food: The Art of Bento

©Raphaël Labbé with CCLicense

©Raphaël Labbé with CCLicense

What happens where creativity, status, and practicality meet? In this case, lunch! Bento encourages you to play with your food.

Bento is a homemade or takeout meal common in Japan. Traditionally packed into boxes, some of which are very elegant, basic bento consists of rice with fish or meat and vegetables. The bento has been around for centuries, much longer than the western lunch box, but recently parents and artists in Japan and around the globe have elevated the art of bento food preparation to new heights. Using the natural texture, color and structure of food, along with modern accessories and food coloring, people are making pictures.

Video via Harley Anderegg on YouTube.

Some Bento are called kyaraben or character bento. They often depict popular characters, such as these from Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor, Totoro. Amusing and cute as they are, I would be torn between eating and admiring them. What’s it like to take a bite of your favorite cartoon personality or celebrity figure?

© Héctor García with CCLicense

© Héctor García with CCLicense

© Mokiko - Bohnenhase with CCLicense

© Mokiko – Bohnenhase with CCLicense

Another form of Bento is the oekakiben or picture bento. These can be nature scenes like the one below:

© Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

Canada Geese © Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

closeup © Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

closeup © Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

or cityscapes like this one. You can devour Berlin!!

Berlin Skyline © Mokiko - Bohnenhouse with CCLicense

Berlin Skyline © Mokiko – Bohnenhase with CCLicense

Bento began in the 12th Century out of practicality. Rice was cooked, dried, and placed in a bag for later. Brown bag lunch, anyone? By the end of the 16th century it became fashionable to place foodstuffs into beautiful lacquered boxes to be used at tea parties. Travelers carried bento boxes made from bamboo on the road, and bento was served between acts at theatrical performances of Noh and Kabuki plays as well as on holidays. Bento is entwined with Japanese culture and symbolism.

The offering below is more than gorgeous, but at some point you are cutting into a pretty neck. Sadistic? No. Just don’t think about it. No one complains when we cut up Oscar the Grouch for a birthday party.

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Geisha © Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

During the 20th century the bento box fell into disfavor, especially in school, because it clearly revealed the status of the student and brought economic disparity into focus in the classroom. A child was judged by his peers for what was in the bento box, and would be envied or ridiculed accordingly. After World War II, with Japan’s economy in shambles, there were no longer the resources for such luxuries anyway. Children and teachers were provided simple and uniform school lunches by the public school. But who could resist something so beautiful for long?

© Megan with CCLicense

© Megan with CCLicense

In the 1980s, thanks to the microwave oven, the convenience store and ingenious marketing, bento made a comeback. It was seen as a clever way to get children interested in eating, and, sometimes, to encourage them to eat healthy food rather than processed goods. Many parents of Asian school children labor over these elaborate lunches, some of which take hours to prepare and mere minutes for a hungry child to devour. Once again bento is at the intersection of status, practicality, and creativity, and it is set to conquer the world.

Here’s some more pictures by some of the best bento artists on the web. Pi, anyone? Wait, something is wrong here…

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© Sheri Chen with CCLicense

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Goyza Girls © Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

© Megan with CCLicense

© Megan with CCLicense

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© Wendy Copley with CCLicense

© Vingt Deux with CCLicense

© vingt-deux with CCLicense

© Vingt Deux with CCLicense

© vingt-deux with CCLicense

© Megan with CCLicense© Megan with CCLicense

© Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

© Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

© Thomas Bertrand with CCLicense

© Thomas Bertrand with CCLicense

with CCLicense

Mock Lobster © Sakurako Kitsa with CCLicense

Iimuahii – Structure And Texture

Check out these fascinating avant garde outfits from Elena Slivnyak reblogged from my favorite fashion blog, The Citizens of Fashion. You might remember the outspoken Slivnyak from Project Runway. She has been quoted as saying that her experience there taught her to make her clothing “more sellable”. Synkroniciti is glad to find that she hasn’t taken that advice too far. The textures here are out of this world and these models look like computer generated science fiction characters. Somebody has to keep dreaming, folks!