Category Archives: Improving Campsite

DIY projects around Tsuchida Station, yard, home, garden, cottage upgrades, bird houses, sign posts, weather stations, and so on (note to self: backfill as possible)

Tidying up: kura, recycling and firestarters (and a few notes from around the house)

Speaking of organizing, made it out to barn, studio the other day, couldn’t find project wanted to work on (a “forged passports” turned collaborative secret diary) which initiated a bit of a tidy up for whatever is next / space is super versatile, and everythings on casters

When you have so many pills to sort, you buy the pills sorter in the hardware department not the pharmacy (and the other bins are filled with packets of traditional Chinese medicines)

I quite like organizing things, but in this case, kind of done with it / just a little exhausting and overwhelming / trying to stay on the program though

Up and about a little bit today in my carport workbench making fire starters (use in the wood stove, one light and you’re good to go)

Put one of these nuggets in with some kindling, nestled between split logs, add one spark & you got a nice fire.

“But Dave, where will you get the kindling?” asks no one in particular (regardless, a snapshot)

Here’s my little work area in the carport. Basically make signs, fire starters, and wash, jars, parts & pots. Oh, and bird houses (but is it really a birdhouse if a bird doesn’t live in it?)

Don’t know who if anyone needs to see this, but this is the easy smart way for bundling up a big stack of cardboard without having to do the whole “flip over make a mess” maneuver / start by making a big “4” on the ground with your string, and the rest just happens #Recycling

It’s really satisfying when you slip the rope through the “4” and give a little tug and the whole thing cinches & snugs together.

Anything I can do to make life 2% easier makes it 5% better / so many little tiny routines, being streamlined, nuanced and improved makes a huge difference

Item purchase just after the illness started when I thought it would last a few months… Never used but I still dream. Actually used it once to move a refrigerator.

While im stalling from dishes & laundry:

my darling entrepreneur wife with a somewhat rare business is at a city-sponsored event for business-owning-women. Even have child care on-site. For those outside of Japan, this is kind of unusual and a positive step, I guess. #proud


Q: “So Dave, how do you make all this cough content when you’re in bed all the time?”

A: “Dictation, C&P, sortganizing-fu, shortcuts, and practising since I was a little dude making ditto machine newsletters”

Something beeping
Any one of 53 different things
Somewhere at home

slackerhaiku (which means i gotta get up and wander around figuring what it is)

Stitch, Stitch: mending some demin jeans, sashiko-esque

Stitch, stitch, stitch (mending some Uniqlo jeans Dane loan/gave me when I showed up from India in rags for my Mom’s funeral in Utah).

PS Sashiko is a Japanese term for a style of mending, which is visible stitching using scraps of cloth so the reuse, reinvention and flaws (as it were) are evident and almost emphasized. As it goes, it’s the only way I know how to do sewing, so hooray!

Performed mending tasks on another pair of denim jeans with double torn out knees.

Used some iron on patch tape and then stitched up the edges with embroidery floss – not particularly “good” but vaguely charming and generally effective, which is the important part, right?

Ryoko’s Artisan Charcoal (her company is:

Preamble: Do you remember me telling you about Ryoko’s charcoal kiln? Anyhow, she built it herself, recently fired for the first time and here are the results.

Behold! Artisan charcoal (for tea ceremony, woodstoves, medicinal use etc.)

I know I gush about my amazing wife all the time / she continually truly amazes me with her projects both “professional and personal“. … So, this is me saying: here is her new incredible project, charcoal.

here is the kiln in action making the neighbourhood a wee bit smoky

Project started with clearing out a significant part of bamboo forest, like 20 m tall bamboo trees, then excavating part of a small hillside, followed by installing an oil drum in which she cut holes for loading and chimneys, then surrounding the drum with bricks, adding the two-stage chimney, building a roof (this part I helped a tiny bit #GoodBoy) and sealing it just before the rains came.

Then, loaded up with a variety of wood – mix of various hardwoods and bamboo – for her first firing. Lit a fire at a little entrance at the front, eventually catches inside and “roasts“ all the wood without burning.

After eight hours, cut off the oxygen (by then our whole compound smelled like barbecue), then after two or three days, opened it up & pulled all the charcoal out (hey, I helped with this part too!).
She also collected the magic charcoal water for some kind of still unknown to me medicinal use.

The part I love the most is all the various skills she used for one single project to gracefully produce what seems like a very simple product. From forestry to machinery to metal cutting to alchemy and so many points in between (and usually a cute hat).

And she goes about all these complicated projects with a cheerful smile + a combination of confidence and naivety / I will wake up be drinking coffee and look out the window and she’s rented a power shovel for the day or a running hydraulic wood splitter.

By the way, she also designs traditional Japanese gardens with a bit of a modern functional twist as well as doing tree trimming, plant installations, rock work… all of this is aside from her jazz singing, occasional piano live streams.

Her company is called Kinome.

Question: “can you use this charcoal for drawing”

The initial answer from the maker is “I don’t know, i think its different/ specific wood & process but let’s try”

(I think the artists charcoal is ground up finally after roasting and then pressed back together, maybe with a binding agent)

Typhoon Nanmadol annotations

Really apropos of nothing, just a few unedited notes i sent out via social channels during recent typhoon here in Japan. And a gentle reminder to self to step up “emergency preparedness kit”… I mean, easy got a C+/B- but A is the gane.

{Ichiro was curious about all the weather and commotion and reminded me of myself in 1972/3 in Lansing Michigan when a tornado was coming and we went down to the basement and ate macaroni and cheese… It’s kind of my earliest memory. I think there’s a poem about it somewhere in this archive.

Tuesday Afternoon:

Somehow it was a lovely day today! after such a hot humid summer, today was one of those days where neither heater/woodstove nor air conditioning was required. ++ I think I got more done today than the last month. Both “life admin“ stuff and pushed along a big creative project.

Tuesday Morning:

Hello friends, mighty Typhoon took a turn for the better (for us anyway) and curved towards Sea of Japan keeping us to the outside edge… Some strong wind and plenty rain but nothing heavy duty.

{Still a little bit blustery out there but definitely not catastrophic}

Thanks for checking in on us, certainly provided an opportunity to “step up“ our emergency preparedness routines and gear.

One thing certain in Japan: there’s always another natural disaster on its way… cue “ring of fire”

Monday afternoon:

Just a friendly hello to folks around Japan, Puerto Rico, as well as other places experiencing extreme weather events… I see you Pakistan. I have nothing clever to say and won’t bother you with safety platitudes or quasi-religious bromides, just saying “hello i see you” #peace

Sunday afternoon:

Wind picking up here in Okayama, just went out the kura barn to batten down (this is our “retreat” if things get rough, have campstove and lantern etc there – Let’s hope it’s not) #typhoon #cantrememberhowtospellthenametwhichoundslikeaprescriptiondrug

Shut down the barn, make sure have the camp stove and lantern and batteries on standby, wife took down the bamboo shades outside. This morning was bright and sunny and now the pressure has dropped it’s gray and windy / good thing I was such a great Cub Scout ++ thanks for thinking about us



While I’m here (in a cool dark room with an aching head #typhoon) Just a friendly hello to anyone else in Japan who’s head feels like it’s being squished with air pressure changes from incoming #typhoon.

Goes without saying but “stay safe“ and hope it blows over. Also, I don’t know typhoon’s name or number, we’re not on personal terms as yet.


We’ve now entered the “my head is squishing due to typhoon air pressure changes“ season in Japan. No big deal, realize there are much bigger problems in the world, like a lot but… Change starts at home and change at home starts in one’s head, right? #mecfs I just want to sleep.

Art: Michal, Ichiro, Noriko paintings on display at Tsuchida Cottage

what a corner! / #swoon

Ichiro art hanging between 2 masters / Michal Korman (L) & Noriko Miyake (R) at Tsuchida Cottage.

Captured before moving this Ichiro art assortment to a scrapbook.

Plan: Kura, 1st floor “concept” (family hang-out arts and crafts music clubhouse)

While the second floor of my kura barn is well documented as a mixed media arts and craft studio, this first floor is getting rearranged to be more of a well, family style mixed media arts and craft hang out with musical instruments, record player, more books, records and CDs, as well as emergency/camping supplies, storage of tea ceremony equipment, extra supplies for pickling/fermenting, and other seasonal storage.

its a perfect plan, right?

Here is my very important plan detailing the intentions and schematics.

UPDATE: coming along well! i’ll share a snap but the stereo is mostly working, the messes are tidied (except for the big pile of extra heaters to consider jettisoning), and shelves filling up with items. More to go but hey, we’re on the way.

UPDATE: panorama of hangout

hooray for big panorama! what do you see?

Kura barn / storehouse turned studio, consulate and lounge (round-up/catch-all)

Summer 2021: Glorious Kura barn 125+ yrs old got a century retrofit with heat-pump/cooler, electric upgrade with breaker box & a safety railing

For documentary purposes, these snaps show the unscathed (mostly) exterior (note how a/c does not breach the perfect east facing yakisugi wall)

Along the side is a stash of storage flower pots, crocks & roof tiles + bricks (maybe to make a bar-b-q or pizza oven in future).

See below for lousy video clip included to show the summer sort-ganize project.

Continue reading Kura barn / storehouse turned studio, consulate and lounge (round-up/catch-all)

Items: 4 paintings (by BC artists) at Tsuchida Cottage

Tidying up the artifacts, as such, here is a subset of paintings at Tsuchida Cottage and/or Giggling Piglet Studio and Consulate or, in one case, a painting which is still in Vancouver. Joins other paintings by Noriko Miyake, Michal Korman, Vincent Gornall and others.

1 painting by John Ferrie, still on “wrong” side of Pacific

Diary: Luxury life with scattershot actions amidst (in)consequential events

So, to no one in particular, “please don’t mind if the posts seem a little scattershot, maybe not finely-tuned, polished and definitely random”… After all this is about fck stats make art make for the future and let the present peek over your shoulder

#daveo50 turns into #daveo52 maybe “finish” by #daveo63

As it goes, left over from my #Daveo50 “personal archaeology project” as well as other sundry diaries, dossiers and whatnot, I have 380 or so posts in my WordPress “draft” folder / Plus switched from “classic“ to “Gutenberg“ which adds a step. So sort of trying to clear the deck. I’m not telling you this for any reason than to give myself an excuse to say that “not every post needs to be a complete mixed media dossier and maybe just rock them out – just make sure they follow your category naming/tagging conventions” / Reminder: Metadata is important for finding.

I really enjoy the process – especially assembling the items and then hitting “public” and floating them out into the world without any expectation – the part I don’t like is sitting and looking at a screen for more than an hour at a time. So many different topics, era & riffs.

So, instead of finishing “important” things already in the “pending folder” what follows are very basic things, photos included for no particular purpose except for my improbable, albeit somewhat inconsequential, documentation of the “usual days“.

Today, so far, recap:

Drink coffee, talked to a friend I haven’t for 3 years, hung out with Ichiro (before he & mama went to tea ceremony), took binders + stuff to kura, organized some scrapbook items, unboxed some new 7” & 10” records, ordered a 45 RPM adapter, usual dishes and laundry.

Amongst the new records is Mudhoney’s “this gift” Subpop split single (with Mr Epp on reverse) + other 7”s by White Stripes, Sebadoh, Shins more + Live 10” by Jesus and Mary Chain including one of my all-time favorite songs “head on“.

PS Still not thrilled with new phono preamp, but also not very technical hi-fi clever, need a smarter friend.

Continue reading Diary: Luxury life with scattershot actions amidst (in)consequential events

Kitchen: anaerobic ferments, various (mostly in peanut butter jars)

Anaerobic ferments, various (mostly in peanut butter jars)

While I’m here: wife came home from a work project (planting some saplings) with a couple cardboard boxes from a big haul at a great grocery store to stock up our new freezer :) including big batch of cucumbers & cherry tomatoes for me to ferment. (Most of our groceries are delivered by co-op).

Most are put in peanut butter jars for my prodigious habit from iherb, also bottled some cauliflower, some kind of dried turmeric, a few carrots etc. I add in a laurel leaf or three to keep things crispy, a few black peppercorns along with the salt and spring water. Stash in below-floor sort of root cellar place.