Category Archives: Dispatches

personal updates, thoughts, anecdotes, letters, and other missives – written for myself and sometimes for others

Mom: 3 Years Gone – “Tour de Ashes”

Hi Mom,

Well today is 3 years gone and wow, so much has happened since the worst phone call ever in Auroville.

I won’t get into all the details but do want to catch you up on all the geo-locations (and other memorials) your ashes are distributed… for the time being at least.

Overall, you’ll be happy to know we’ve added a few more stamps to your figurative passport and there are many places scattered around the world where you are especially remembered. 

We’ll start the world tour with the most obvious and familiar locations in Utah: 

First, the Celebration of Life Monument in SLC right by the (fabulous) library. This wall took some doing to make it all happen but worth the work and looks great.      

Your entire full name with all the middle names is engraved on the wall and allll spelled perfectly! 

Continue reading Mom: 3 Years Gone – “Tour de Ashes”

Diary: Autumn Miscellany / coffee, ramen, sandwiches, Godzilla, peach tree, ikebana…

“rubber chicken” NOT added to ramen

While dispatches and re-caps of various outings and events exist elsewhere in this archive, life is so wonderful right now i don’t want to miss a thing or fail to appreciate the glorious mundane details of just existing.

As such, what follows are bits and pieces which don’t fit elsewhere,  a round-up of miscellany and odds and ends and mild annotations.

Starting with the pleasantness of stopping for a coffee and receiving a free lil sandwich plate (and seeing Ryoko’s adorableness :)). 

The internets instructs food photos be posted with frequency.

Thanks Shiro-Kuma (white bear) cafe.

Continue reading Diary: Autumn Miscellany / coffee, ramen, sandwiches, Godzilla, peach tree, ikebana…

Riff: Art makes the future / respect audience

Might Get Lonely so Get Comfortable Whilst you Wait

Make for yourself first – if you don’t “feel it” don’t waste your time, or others attention.

Channel a mix of joy and anguish and mix with honesty.

Don’t cheat yourself or any potential audience.

Don’t pander and don’t “give em what they want” – this process might get lonely, you will see other “enjoy” the buzz of immediate attention but this is a sugar-rush which likely doesn’t last long.

Instead, prepare yourself for the long haul of making creations which will inspire the generation behind you. There are wee doppelgänger of you growing up, struggling with identity and understanding – maybe in school or maybe in retirement – you seek (unwittingly perhaps) exactly what you are capable of creating.

Visualize them if you desire an audience and then share your work, standing behind your creation with integrity, and let the audience breathe life and meaning into your offerings.

Your rewards will come in mysterious way, not unlike the mysterious red envelopes of Chinese New Year tradition.

Diary: Setouchi Out n About / community arts festival with Mae Maes

 I tagged along with Ryoko and her Mae Maes band for a gig in Setouchi at a community centre. There was an autumn arts festival of some kind with musical performances, a few food stands and an exhibit of crafts, arts and tea ceremony. Such pleasant slice of life, just being part of the local scene.

Mae Maes played a short-ish set but a song i hadn’t heard before, Ryoko laid out some good stage banter and the room was small and more acoustically pleasing than the big convention hall the day before. 

The band (usually a 4 piece) had 2 guests, frequent supporters/collaborators Yano-san (who is a noted player, arranger, teacher and has released a few albums) on an acostic-electric bass ukulele – great sound! + Mitsuko-san on congas and percussion, she rode with us and is such a charming elegant lady. 

Continue reading Diary: Setouchi Out n About / community arts festival with Mae Maes

Diary: Kurashiki / handmade market with Mae Maes + pet show

Mae Maes: Kazuko, Hatsumi, Ryoko, Rie

Ryoko’s band Mae Maes had a performance lined up at a handmade goods market fair at a convention centre type place between Okayama and Kurashiki so i tagged along. It was a big hall with rows and rows of booths, a special exhibit of sequin-ed up outfits used by a famous figure skater, a food court and a variety of entertainment with a sorta Hawaiian theme.

Plus a young lady called Suzu-chan with huge stage presence, solid banter and performance confidence.

I strolled around checked some stuff – not the super arts-crafty-crafts i would usually expect but great to see small-scale entrepreneurship in action.

Dug the fabric crafts – especially this Kaki (persimmon) tree in country scene which seems to be representative of my life these days – such pleasantness!

Continue reading Diary: Kurashiki / handmade market with Mae Maes + pet show

Diary: Maniwa Out n About / hot springs hotel, bowling, agri-garden and lonely stations

Coffee stand, cute and tiny (clad with olden board) at the Agri-garden market area in town of Maniwa

Ryoko was teaching a tree-trimming workshop at a community centre for seniors in the logging town of Maniwa so I rode the bus to meet up. We stayed at a hotel for a couple of nights, went bowling plus i took some strolls to contemplate the change nature of rural Japan while Ryoko was working, oh and we found a quirky coffee shop/art gallery.

Let’s address each of these check points separately:

Bowling and Hotel (pleasantly lost in Showa)

First the hotel, the Maniwa Riverside was the sort of “once grand but now rather shabby” hotel i kinda dig.

Laden with memories a la Grand Budapest hotel. They were making a good effort though the rooms were unfancy and the carpets not changed since sometime in the Showa time. Importantly, there is an onsen hotspring bath with was the main reason. Nice outdoor bath too. No secret i love love love soaking in hot water. 

The hotel included breakfast which was a bit odd but the onigiri (rice balls) were hand prepared. Also hard boiled eggs with salt, pickles (yum) and a few various pastries and miso soup.

Continue reading Diary: Maniwa Out n About / hot springs hotel, bowling, agri-garden and lonely stations

Memento: Mickey Mouse rolls in Starlite Limo, Orem Utah, ca. 1987

Mickey Mouse rolls in Starlite Limo, Orem Utah, ca. 1987

Note: this limousine service was our family business and we rolled with various luminaries (Mr. T!, Johnny Whittaker, various Osmonds), ne’er do wells, kids going to prom, and occasionally an airport run. Plus much hijinks, much much as Bob and I often used this Cadillac as a daily driver to high school and hiking trips. 

Diary: Okayama Out n About / castle, samurai, lunch etc

The “back stairs” the Okayama castle aka the “crow castle” due to its black cladding

On Remembrance Day, Nov. 11 2019, as there are no memorial cenotaphs in my home area of Okayama, i set out on a wander to find a calm place to reflect about war and whatnot. 

Along the way, i documented a few slices of every day life, plus visited Okayama castle which was destroyed in WW2 by bombs and rebuilt in 1960-s. I ate lunch, dressed up in a cool outfit, wandered from the top to the bottom of the castle, checked out outbuildings and foundations… then walked to the library to find it closed so rode the bus home. 

Okayama castle approach on a lovely autumn day

These images were captured along the way, with minor annotations added from time to time.

Continue reading Diary: Okayama Out n About / castle, samurai, lunch etc

Japanese culture (bookbinding and literature) course via Keio University

Japanese Culture Through Rare Books

Explore the important roles that books have played in the cultural history of Japan.

 

I’ve started an interesting (and free) course from notable Keio University called “Japanese Culture Through Rare Books” in which i shall learn about bookbinding styles and their influence on Japanese literature.

Perfect for me right? (After all, you’ve likely seen my Japanese-influenced scrapjournals after all (maybe you’ve received one…).

Even better if you join in the class too – about 3 hrs a week for 3 weeks, like no big deal and… if you pay some Yen at the end, you get a certificate or something or other.

Official Blurb follow: 

Why join the course?

A book is a tool for preserving words and images. Through books, an abundance of information, including the knowledge and experiences of the people of the past, has been handed down to the present. But books are more than records of words and images. Their form, appearance, and even the scripts and styles used tell us about the fashions and technologies of the times that produced them. By studying old books, we can learn a great deal about the geographical areas in which they were made, the historical background, and the individuals and groups involved in their making.

While displaying remarkable similarities with books produced in other areas of the Sinitic cultural sphere, Japanese books also possess some unique features, starting with their sheer diversity of form and appearance. Using a wealth of multimedia content, we will take a journey through the wonderful world of traditional Japanese books.

 

Diary: Kitchen, Nepali daal, and kaki jam

Made a big batch of (vaguely) Nepali lentil dal.

Ergo: Two colours of lentils, plus some garbanzos just because, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, ground pepper, Himalayan salt etc

Note: Spices from Indonesia. Knife from Japan. Jar from Russia. Human from elsewhere.

In other news, also made Persimmon jam, not sure how well it will turn out but dang, we have a lot of Kaki to use – what an interesting fruit!

Continue reading Diary: Kitchen, Nepali daal, and kaki jam