Winter Citrus
by Sarah Moor 

My grandma used to tell me about winter in Missouri; Snow on snow on a mile-long road called Fair Dealing.

Alvin and Sylvia made the most of what they had: creative solutions and cold rivers finding ways through winding Ozark ice.

Curled up at grandma’s house under a ceiling flecked with gold glitter that always seemed infinite to me; vaulted heavens to forever,

she’d tell me about what Christmas was like when she was my age, her sisters and brothers opening their stockings on Christmas morning.

At the toe of that red sock, the promise of fruit so enticing and exciting:exotic citrus in a world of white.

My four year old mind found it funny that something so commonplace to me could be considered so special; didn’t understand what want or circumstances could hold back.


Twenty-five years later, here i am, walking through California neighborhoods in winter,  most likely the direct result of  grandpa’s desire, when my mom was little, to find what Jack called the end of the continent.

A rambling grid of houses and yards, scattered with random, prolific winter citrus.

By the fence I find a freshly fallen orange, still in the process of deciding how deep it’s hue will be.

Grandma and I parted ways in my first Missouri snow in the place where her parents and their parents are resting now.

I imagine her warm face on Christmas morning, and how slowly a child can eat an orange,

How every moment can be when it’s inherent bite and sweetness, even the memory of it is treasured. 

I’ll wait for my orange to ripen.
December 8, 2010 

I recently had a chance to go to Maruzen Bookshop in downtown with some other artists after we checked out a recent exhibition at the Miyagi Museum of Art. I’ll fill you in on that trip later. I’m very limited in my Japanese language comprehension right now, especially anything past Hiragana, Katakana, and maybe some Kanji recognition.  One of my friends was nice enough to direct me to the color theory books in the art section. Of course, I looked around to see if there were any western titles I recognized like Interaction of Color by Albers, but we couldn’t find it. Instead, there were quite a few books by Japanese authors on color theory in art, design, culture, etc. Apparently, there are a lot of resources out there on the subject; however, there is the language barrier which often feels like preparation for a deep space mission when I attempt to work it out. Life as a resident alien; it is what it is.

I did, however, find this fantastic tool for ¥780 ($6.35).


 Here are the specs:

配色カード 199a の構成内容、監修一般財団法人日本色彩研究所

(New Color Scheme Card 199a Organizer, created under the general supervision of The Japan Color Research Institute).

Has 24 vivid tone hues (色相), deep, dark, pale, light, bright, soft, dull, light grayish, dark grayish each 12 hues 10 tones (の10トーソ:各12色相)

(Achromatic color): 17 stages (無彩色 : 17 段階), Pink: 10 colors (色), Brown: 7 colors (色), off Neutral: 15 colors (色), Flesh (肌色): 6 colors (色).

Made by Nippon Iro-ken business Co., Ltd. (日本色研事業株式会社).

Published: Tokyo Kojimachi © Japan Iro-ken 1998 (東京麹町 © 日本色研 1998)

This card set is from Lot No. 01407. The disclaimer states,

“Please understand that Lot No. colored paper will change because of the printing of color might be different.” (おことわり 印刷 による 色紙 の ため Lot No . が 変わる と 色 が 異なる場合 が あり ます ので ご 了承 ください 。)

For those of you who have worked with color aid paper, this is a very inexpensive tool that can be used similarly. I’m going to keep exploring and learning more about what different artists use here in Japan in their studio practice. I’ll keep you posted as to what I discover.

 A carefully calculated design move, the red cup is the product of a company whose merchandise has become an ubiquitous aspect of western consumer culture. I can’t count how many times, as a millennial American, I have heard someone mention with nostalgic fondness the Starbucks “red cups” at any given time of year. In fact, the very thought of a double tall, nonfat with whip peppermint mocha brings a sad twinkle to my eye as I type this in Japan. I can order a coveted sakura latte in the week in early spring that they offer it here, but they do not carry peppermint syrup at Japanese Starbucks. Sigh.The truth is, I currently live in a country where Christmas is not commonly considered a religious holiday; it is more closely associated with romance, which can be a very stressful and expensive affair. Then there are the incredible illuminations (Jozeni-dori, I’m looking at you), expensive Christmas cakes, Santa-San 🎅🏻 and premium Kentucky Fried Chicken. I honestly cannot understand any outrage generated in America by the reductionist design choices of a secular company with no religious affiliation. I plan to celebrate Christmas this year like I normally do; culture might change, signs and signifiers can be reduced or exaggerated in a million different ways, but there is something very beautiful about simplicity. I’ll still celebrate Christ born in a manger, His perfect life and death on a cross in our stead, and His glorious victory. Red cups or not, this Christmas will be another majestic wonder. I’m excited to have the honor of celebrating another Christmas with my Japanese Church. Wherever you are, enjoy the beauty of the season. 

☕️❤️God bless you. 


  Study, Mixed media on Arches cold press, 10x14cm.


Study, Mixed media on Arches cold press, 15x20cm.

Creating work in a small space can be challenging. I’m currently exploring what this constraint can teach me about using what I have effectively. Also, I’m using mediums that are safe for use in a living space (ie: no oil painting in one’s studio apartment!) 

Currently making tiny works with the goal of exhibiting in a small show in Sendai in a few months. 

WIP, Watch this space.


Sendai is windy tonight. I’ve heard about the Yamase winds that blow through Hokkaido and the Tohoku region in May through June, but this feels different. Not like Japan; more like Arizona, like my grandparent’s backyard in the desert at night. When everyone else went to bed, I went outside to look at the stars and forget school, relationships, myself. I could just think about how big the universe is and wonder about the God who made it. This weather is like permission to cry.

My dad sent me an email tonight to let me know that Grandpa died late last night. He’d been in the late stages of Alzheimers for probably ten years. Fit, strong willed, intelligent, funny. He could sing so beautifully and had a knack for remembering poetry. He liked watching musicals with my grandma, writing letters to his friends, and talking about the history of America. He researched the Civil War extensively and enjoyed touring battlefields on the East Coast. He was a Christian, had strong convictions, and really loved America. He grew up in Redondo Beach, CA. in a huge family of brothers. A conscientious objector, he served as a Merchant Mariner during the Korean War, where he saw a lot of terrible things that he didn’t share until later, when his mind lost the filter that hides that kind of sadness.

He lived with us when Grandma was sick and recovering. She had become very ill during their summer vacation, and somehow he drove her from the place they were camping a few hundred miles away to my Uncle’s doorstep where she collapsed; he was losing his memory at that point, so it’s not possible that he did that without divine intervention. We realized how far gone he was when he stayed with us; often he’d leave at 4:30 am when I was getting ready to go open Starbucks. He’d head out with his luggage to go hitchhiking to a nonexistant Marine base. Each time I sat down to breakfast with him in the early hours of the morning, I knew he would be Bob, but which one? He was so many ages over the course of a day.

The lucid times were scarce, but somehow, he knew I was an ally. Maybe some sister, or friend, or daughter, but he would let me in and share things with me; confide in me. One time, he was walking down the hall in my parent’s house and he looked so sad. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me, “I am having trouble remembering anything. I feel so confused all of the time. I don’t know what to do.” He looked so sad, like he felt like it was his fault that all this was happening. In all of that craziness: the hitchhiking, the weird, misplaced items, the fights, the complete absence of normalcy in our house since he’d moved in, my heart was completely wrecked in that moment with compassion for him. I grabbed his hand and said, “It’s okay to forget. You are okay. You can forget.”

I had no idea how he was going to react, but his eyes welled up with tears, and he smiled so big, and gave me a big hug. “Thank you. Thank you, I needed to hear that.” It was like he needed to give himself the permission. I think about how prevalent mental health problems are in the elderly, especially in America, and how hard it is for families to provide care and to be advocates for them. Grandma recovered from her illness long enough to be able to spend almost four more years with him, and her constant grounding kept Grandpa in some semblance of reality for as long as she was living. After she passed, he needed full time care that we could not provide in our home. My parents worked very hard to find a good care facility to meet his needs and when they did, they checked in on him nearly every week to visit him, check on his health, and make sure he was doing well, for years, right up to the very end.

I believe it is a true test of one’s character when one is faced with a situation that requires giving of oneself in that manner: when a loved one can no longer “fulfill their role” in the way that they once did in your life. Observing my parents care for Grandpa and be loving advocates for him really showed me the love of Christ at work in their lives; the fact that this challenging and painful time actually strenghtened their love for each other in their marriage has really been a blessing to me. Thank you for loving well, Mom & Dad.

Grandpa, I am in Japan right now. I’m sure you never would have anticipated that. I am glad that you are free, in eternity, at the feet of Jesus, and reunited with so many loved ones long since lost. I look forward to the day that I will see you restored and be fully restored myself, in glory. I will always love you.