It’s a Sunday afternoon, the frigid weather has see-sawed back to crazy warm and turned all our snow to sloppy slush today… But, not to worry… I’m all warm, dry, and cozy at home. And… lucky me… with no distractions… I got all my management duties and paperwork completely finished for the upcoming week, and that means I’ve the whole evening off from work! Carolyn has been gone all day with some of her friends from the college on a quick impulsive shopping excursion to the city, so it’s just lil’ ol’ me and Ting-ting here at the apartment right now. With some precious “me time” for a change, I thought I’d kick back… let my thoughts drift a bit… and catch all my Gentle Visitors up on the life of your Favorite Catgirl Princess once more. Yep… that’s right. It’s Diary Time! 😀
Valentines Day 2015 has officially come and gone, and although it’s a special day for me and my sweetie, we really didn’t get much of a chance to do anything particularly crazy or romantic this time out. Mostly because my Restaurant threw a big romantic themed dinner special that evening and with some last-minute quirks complicating things there, yours truly had to spend most of that whole day running the show to make certain it all ran nice and smooth. That’s OK… the recent Holidays and my birthday had both of us pretty darn over-doing stuff lately and with our Wedding Anniversary coming up, I’m reasonably there will be plenty of special romantic fun to make up for it. ❤ Eeeeeehhhh!!! ❤ It’s really been a whole year! Errrr…. almost… Get a grip, Miyuki… not yet… still three months to go…
Sorry… but every time I think about it and how close it’s getting to be one whole year as “happily married ladies” for us, catchy bubblegum pop music starts playing… the “frothy pink happy” just starts bubbling out of me… festive confetti starts blowing out of my ears… and I get so silly ass excited I think I’ll explode. (Ummm? Have I ever mentioned just how intensely emotional a lil’ doofus this wee lady can be? 😉 )
Anyways… there will be plenty of time for that later. (And yes… I’ll be impatiently counting the days…. 😉 )
So what else has been going on of late? Well. I did actually manage to meet Darrell, the nice young Grad student who did the custom work on my new hiking and bushcraft knife. Lucky me, I ran into him while dropping by the college to surprise Carolyn with a yummy luncheon one afternoon a week or so ago. He’s pretty much exactly as I pictured him, a big tall lanky guy with a tanned, weathered face covered with a ginger beard… just like one of the “outdoorsy” guys I watch on the TV survival shows we like. He was in the department when I dropped by with my goodies and Carolyn immediately took the chance to introduce us. He was a very friendly young guy but seemed a bit surprised to meet lil’ ol’ me. Seems he’d had a very different idea in mind for what I’d be like. Apparently from the stories Carolyn had been telling him, my sweetie had him convinced I was this amazing woodland explorer and he kinda thought I was going to turn out to be some sort of tall svelte asian Amazon, all windbeaten and tanned and a cross between “Crocodile Dundee” and “Sheena of the Jungle” with more than a jigger of “Indiana Jones” thrown in the mix for flavor. She’s been telling him all about our last camping trip together and just what an “outdoorswoman” I was. Tiny, petite, girly lil’ Miyuki and her yummy lunchbox of homemade curried spring rolls was probably quite the surprise I imagine… We all laughed about it, but secretly I was really touched by just how much in awe of my woodland skills Carolyn is. According to Darrell the fact that I could actually make primitive fire by bow drill has my sweetheart fully convinced that I could probably survive in the wilderness with nothing more than my knife and the contents of my hiking satchel forever. Woooo! How I wish… but it’s still sweet to think Carolyn really thinks that. ❤
We traded stories and talked for quite a while… probably longer than I should have, but he turned out to be a pretty nice guy and once he realized I knew quite a bit about knifemaking and the like we really hit it off. He and his girlfriend hike a lot, and so there’s a good chance we’ll be able to hook up with them this Summer for a few day trips together to the mountains for some “outdoorsy” time. Yay! It’ll be nice to share some quality time with another couple socially for a change. That’s the one thing Carolyn and I rarely get to do.
“But.. But… What does all this have to do with African safaris, Neko?” Shhhh… shhhh… I’m getting to that… told you I was letting my mind wander and my thoughts ramble this afternoon…It’s just how this lil’ Catgirl rolls…. 😉
So… One of the things we discussed was our hiking gear. Like most things I’m into, I’m an obsessive lil’ dweeb when it comes to my outdoorsy stuff. We had to compare our daypacks. It’s a “Bushcrafting” thing… 😉 Every real hiker has their own notions as to what comprises the optimal gear you’d need for an unexpected stay in the wilderness. You get the folks that prefer a rucksack like Darrell… The ones like this wee lady, who like to carry it all in a canvas satchel with a shoulder strap. The really hard-core fanatics with more web gear than a Marine combat soldier… (Ha!! Minimalists like me secretly laugh at those overladen fools… Hehehe!!)
Anyways… one of my favorite bits of gear has been with me for a long… long… time. It’s my bush hat. Not just any bush hat mind you… an authentic wide-brimmed floppy French Foreign Legion Khaki bush hat from the granddaddy of safari outfitters, “Banana Republic”. Not the current “Banana Republic” owned by “The Gap”…. heavens no. No, no, no!!! I mean the original “Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Co.” Back when all the stores had an army jeep in the lobby and every bit of the clothing pretty much all looked like the wardrobe of the movie “Mogambo”. Ohhh… and it pretty much only came in some earth tone shade of khaki, brown, off white, or army green. With leather trim, real buttons… and absolutely no velrco… Sigh…. Now THAT was a clothing store.
Remember Gentle Visitors, this wee lady grew up in California and it was a childhood of Saturday morning Tarzan movies, Sheena serials, and old safari films on TV that were pretty much the thing that originally had this girl convinced she wanted to grow up and become an “intrepid jungle explorer”. (Well… OK… second career choice…. only after I realized that my first choice… “Queen of the Jungle” required me to be raised from birth by deadly predatory animals and I’d already missed the boat on that…)
Their catalog was an amazing journey to far away lands… filled with exotic tropical clothing and safari gear and one day a copy found its way into our mailbox. One look and this little girl was hooked. They actually had pith helmets!! Just like in the movies! I soooooo wanted one!! But… dreams of trekking through steamy jungles wearing my every so stylish yet ever so practical tropical pith helmet were just not to be. It was just too darn goofy for my mom. Not to mention a pretty darn pricey and specialized item for any little girl in 1981 or thereabouts. (Yeah…. and don’t even get me started about how there was no way I was ever going to get a machete at that age…. “But Mom!!! What if pygmies attack? Or… or… cannibals or maybe headhunters?” At least she never said I’d put my eye out with it…)
However, I did end up with a bush jacket that Summer… Not a real one mind you. It was a khaki Marine dress shirt with big pockets that hung on me like a bush jacket, courtesy of a trip to an Army surplus store with my Dad one Saturday afternoon. Worn with some khaki Boy Scout shorts, I was probably the only 9-year-old Japanese girl running around my neck of California at the time in such a get up. I think Dad was secretly amused to buy them for wild crazy lil’ me… Mom probably figured it was a “phase”, something I’d grow out of. Ha!!! Little did you know Mom…. 😉
My obsession with playing “dress up” did fade for a while… until I discovered “cosplay” in High School. By then I was doing lots of other things too, and an interest in camping and hiking was one of them. “Banana Republic” was still around… but they weren’t the same. Just kind of another version of “The Gap” meets “Old Navy” by then. Still… once in a while some of that old gear would pop up and so it was one day in my senior year of High School when I was in a second-hand clothing store sourcing some Halloween costuming items. There it was….. Not the pith helmet, unfortunately, but instead… on the head of this somewhat tacky mannequin was a khaki bush hat. All rumpled and goofy with its slouchy wide sunbrim and dangly chinstrap. I recognized it immediately!! It was an honest-to-goodness original French Army Bush Hat… and the label proudly proclaimed it as a real Banana Republic piece. It was in almost perfect condition and even a size small… just the perfect fit! 😮
It was fate… and this lady is a big believer in fate. For 3 dollars how could I pass it up? It became my favorite hiking hat… lovingly cared for and washed carefully year after year, worn only for my special trips to the woods, where grown-up me could still wander around and remember just how much little me always wanted to go exploring in the deepest jungles of darkest Africa all those years before. I’ve had it now for over 20 years. Ok…ok… Maybe it’s more than a little worn… and I’ve patched it and sewn it again and again, but I still have it. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll really get the chance to wear it in a real jungle…. in the sweltering heat and humidity, surrounded by a world all lovely and green and filled with strange smells and the sounds of birds and monkeys in the trees. Hey… It could happen.
Talking with Darrell and proudly telling him about my favorite “Bush Hat”brought all those memories back. Memories are goofy things…. You never really forget any of them… not the really important ones, and they have a way of stealing back into your thoughts once awakened. So for the last week or so, whenever my mind wanders, I’ve dreamed of Africa…. Not the “real” Africa, of course. The Africa of little Miyuki’s movie memories where the land is green and lush, teaming with wildlife, and where there are still places on the map blank except for the ominous Latin label “Terra Incognita”. In that Africa, there’s still a place for an “intrepid jungle explorer” with endless things to discover and wild adventures to be had.
Yep. That’s pretty silly I know. But… I’ve always had a pretty lively imagination and a continuing sense of childlike whimsy. Just part of the whole package. 😉
It has inspired me to want to get out more often. Into the woods I mean. Somewhere along the line, “life” got to be less and less about that and more and more about work and home and all the things mundane and boring. Little Miyuki was never boring…. so why should grown up Miyuki let herself be distracted by the everyday and stop having fun? Especially now that I’ve got that special somebody who wants nothing more than to spend time playing with me every chance she can get? Nope. Can’t let that happen. After all… I still have my trusty “Bush Hat”… 😉