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)

Diary: apropos of nothing (sleeping masks, hockey, mosquito net, laundry)

Really nothing to the usual days except for the brilliance of usual days, appros of really nothing, i annotate for amusement. Carry on in a disinter-mediated manner:

new kamidana house shrine for ancestors – made in Tottori from a slab of gingko wood

Okayama memo: The thing I really like most about is its very “usualness” {aside from being famous for the Momotaro peach boy story and being a “place you pass through to get to other places”} is also almost always sunny but not today (this Cascadian doesn’t mind the rain though).

My 1st era in Japan in the early 90s, was in Tottori (remote w/ kei-truck), later hiding out near Miasa, Nagano. When came back few years ago, found Okayama was just right / Not a hectic sensory overload city but has big hospital, Immigration etc.

Yes, we “lean heavily” into Momotaro folktale here and the image of a peach is scattered all over from statues to utility pole covers and gosh, peaches with a boy coming out of them can look really funny! And apparently it’s the sunniest prefecture in Japan. 

By post: Three pack of organic oatmeal arrived. {always mean to scribble down “tasting notes“ with all the different kinds but never do and never remember which ones were “great“ but all are, you know, good enough} ~ Eat each morning with variety of nuts, berries and sometimes yogurt.

Today by post: hori hori garden tool (this one is artisan made, previously ordered for wife and mother-in-law from off-the-shelf made-in-Japan company) / this one needs sharpened up and it didn’t come with a case/holster :( feels good in the hand though.

Day in the life:

  • ate salad with smoked salmon for lunch
  • loaded our new tiny dishwasher
  • sent a telegram, really
  • attempting to remove chewing gum from a pocket of a favorite shirt with ice packs #pending

now a rest before finishing laundry

Next day: One oatmeal, three coffees, two baskets of laundry, two hockey games… Now switching to loungewear and some tax paperwork. Then maybe repair a wicker stool after lunch.

Update: some arcane tax documents prepared, stamped, notarized, faxed, ready to mail in Duplicate etc. Indian curry and smoked salmon/avocado/lettuce salad lunch with darling. Next (going to try) to put a new seat on this wicker stool with hemp cloth and upholstery thumbtacks.

It’s not a masterpiece but it’s decent. Sturdy Polish hemp cloth, rugged long tacks & see how it goes. Hooray for hexagons!

Continue reading Diary: apropos of nothing (sleeping masks, hockey, mosquito net, laundry)

Ryoko’s Charcoal Kiln, annotations

Charcoal Kiln drum – improving the campsite

Ryoko has a notion to make charcoal using a 200 litre (50 g) drum as a kiln. She’ll cut in a chimney & stuff it with hardwood and/or bamboo and use charcoal for tea ceremony, grilling & whatnot.

Ryoko’s charcoal making kiln project continues – includes ridable machines and metal work and bricks. I made her an iced chai. #Helping

Also: last week, she was singing on a live stream, this week she’s running a power shovel, she also performed tea ceremony and a dozen other specialty skills #AmazedDaily – and all of it is done like “it’s no big deal, I just figured out how to do this and think it will be interesting“ 

Question: Make charcoal? Why and is this for you or she has been hired?

Charcoal = yes

Why? = for experimenting in sustainability and general arts and crafts (i.e. use chopped down bamboo in a sensible manner + use the finished charcoal for tea ceremony brazier, barbecues and woodstove)So, no not for me specifically, nor for a client. Just “to do it”

PS This morning she transplanted a tree after moving a bunch of dirt at the end of day yesterday for her tea garden in the front of the house, she was up on the ladder pruning branches but I missed the chance to take a picture so you’ll just have to believe me

Diary: “i much prefer the mundane” – campsite tasks and musings

Continuing to document the mundane / usual days >> like another “waiting for a bus (when i shoulda adjusted my flower) to go to seitai medical treatment”.

Really though, just an excuse to say “thanks for all the kindness of late” – its nice to be your friend + poetry, convos & snaps.

By the way, these are the glasses that were broken several weeks ago and now magically repaired… Serving me well since 1994 (on and off)

Bits and pieces or recent days included with minor annotations in captions and so on:

First: No tenants in the first birdhouse, though lots of birdies around, but made another one anyhow. Its like a housing development here (with no strata fees).

i might just put action figures in the houses instead – I make bird houses (even though no birds seem want to live in them). But I get to make them regardless. This has zero cost and minimal skill and maximum satisfaction. No conventions or preconceived notions of outcomes

unrelated: after building another birdhouse, i submitted 3 poems to one place and 2 to another, ergo:

* Barbed Wire Scars (approx 37 lines)
* Alchemists Confer with Hypnotists (approx 32 lines)
* Nowhere to Call (approx 21 lines)
* How Shall We Fill This Vessel
* Aye Carpathia

Ichiro Bench project: More scraps into action to make a workbench for Ichiro who digs playing with his tools & pounding nails. Ichiro loves playing with brooms, rakes, shovels and these kinds of things so… will drill some big holes in the right side of the bench to stash in his own tools
Continue reading Diary: “i much prefer the mundane” – campsite tasks and musings

DIY: Hemp curtain , part 2 (with tatami cloth)

Going to try to make the hemp curtain for the back door this afternoon. What do you think for the top curtain loops: the green or the peach?

You maybe caught the first iteration of hemp curtain project for the “old genkon” – this time to cover a rarely-used back door which gets a little bit drafty – still wanted to make sure to look nice with all the paintings I have around there. also had some of this same hemp fabric in black which would’ve been a little bit gloomy for that corner.

(this embroidered cloth is made to be the edges of tatami mats – purchased a highway rest area in the “local made products” section for 300¥ each)

Ok step by step, here we go (notes as captions)

Continue reading DIY: Hemp curtain , part 2 (with tatami cloth)

DIY: (Vacant) Birdhouse improvements / welcome sign & thatch

Nobody’s moved into the birdhouse yet so I followed some ideas/advice and made a bigger hole, added a welcome sign, and then thatched the roof just for aesthetics.

Might add some seeds and nuts after I rehang it to really entice someone to move it to move in (I thought about putting up a real estate sign with a headshot of the agent, scheduling an open house, and waiting for offers to roll in 20% over asking price… but then I remembered I wasn’t in Vancouver anymore :))

[update] added seeds on frontporch & changed hanging location

DIY: 2 trees, 2 flowers, 4 bins

Continuing to “improve the campsite”, ergo:

Two small peach trees, both gifts from Okayama city – the first for getting married, the second for welcoming Ichiro – growing well at Tsuchida Cottage.

Just think, we could get another tree just for having another baby #Idea (get a choice of 6 tree varieties).

Two pots of flowers, planted, sprouting, hanging in baskets on the small bamboo fence in front of the barn studio.

Moved 2 compost bins from the backyard to join the 2 others in the side yard, plus put some of the almost-finished-ish compost under a decommissioned truck tarp.

Note the flagstone rocks previously moved & stacked on a palette.

It’s all quite magnificent. {I’d hope to do more with garden this year but having a really hard time getting energy to do anything but folding laundry. Maybe I’ll try to put new strings on my ukulele (and keep collecting stories like Frederick).}

Iced Coffee & Pies (for bamboo crew)

3pm ice coffee & cakes for bamboo cutting crew from “DaveO Kissaten”

Note metal straws & honey on the cubes + new French Press is nice cause higher capacity than previous broken unit & a lovely shade of green to go with the green/blue/natural wood vibes of Tsuchida Cottage.

Re: bamboo “crew”…

My darling wife is doing a project at our house to set back the bamboo forest behind our house a couple of meters requiring chopping down a whole bunch of 20m-ish bamboo trees.

She’s enlisted her Dad & another arborist to help. They’ve been at it for the last couple of days with chainsaws, wood chipper and today a front digger machine (very cute).

With my illness, I’m just not rated for such work so I’m helping out with “catering service“.

(The hope is to put in a charcoal kiln me and eventually pizza oven, bar-b-q etc. with the reclaimed space… and make access a little bit easier for possibly even a small tea house within the bamboo forest)

DIY: Birdhouse (vacancy, no application needed)

Made a birdhouse from some scraps of wood, noting birds don’t care about “perfection“ (and fun to make while they’re tweeting all around around me.)

Added on a little bit of an “front porch“ so the little birdies can hang out and enjoy the view and have an easy landing spot.

Note: scraps from poncho stashed inside for nesting – decades ago we would watch the Good the Bad and the Ugly in my VW bus in Orem high school parking lot with Bob Olson & Cory DeMille et al

Continue reading DIY: Birdhouse (vacancy, no application needed)

Signpost: new planks for Atemi Kougen, Misasa onsen, Dubai, Olympia x2…

New signs on the pole…

Olympia x2 – 1 of which spent 9 years, 1 of which spent 1 day
Atema Kougen, Niigata – where Ryoko worked one summer in University and we visited on honeymoon

{I had to deviate *somewhat* from my usual obsessiveness about the compass directions due to aesthetic and space concerns}.

Dubai (for Cedra)
Misasa onsen – made me fall in love with Japan and then Ryoko

I’m noticing that some of them aren’t *really straight* but well, it’s all an exercise and releasing my perfectionist tendencies.

Khabarovsk – where Ryoko did arborist education exchange with Hongo Sensei

Of course stories behind each place but well I have laundry to fold and dishes to wash. So will hit you up another time with that but if you can’t wait, feel free to ask. Of course tools, methodology and other annotations about how this project came to be are elsewhere in this archive.

Kura, 1st floor plan (improving the campsite)

tuning up first floor of Kura, here’s the plan:

will be multi-purpose arts and crafts (washi, kintsugi, shodo etc) and music making hangout space – stays relatively cool in summer. plus also storage for Ryoko’s tea ceremony items, emergency/picnic/travel supplies and my fantastically massive and impeccably organized file cabinet – took out the files, put it up on casters/pallet and put back files+ repaired floor and wall. spare dishes and kitchen accessories also now have a home, some oversized reference books and odds-ends records will go here too. have further evidence if curious