Category Archives: Kinfolk + Pals

articles, tributes, bits of poetry, obituaries and birthdays alike – put here when relating to my brothers, parents and other kin

Outing: bus to passport snaps, jazz & tea

The three of us, on the road by wonderful, air conditioned, Wi-Fi enabled, Uno bus service into Okayama city for passport snaps for Ichiro. His first time on the bus and he’s really into it, waved to the driver, of course, (yup, like his papa).

Evidence of the journey as he looks at the windows to endless possibilities

Lots of fun at the photo studio, serious face and a sailor suit for two passports, two countries, two sizes… Then and outfit change (jimbei & barefeet) for a bit of a commemorative studio photo / just like my Mom used to do for us boys.

After photo studio, caught street jazz / sort of informal part “Okayama Jazz Street weekend” (Including a tenor sax, followed a car and upright bass combo, the bass played by the chief of “Live House Bird” where we hosted our “foreigner welcome party” before the wedding.

Melodica, Tenor Sax, Bass combo afternoon in Omotecho shotengai

We’d never had a chance to thank him in real life – he was grateful for all the snapshots and awareness of our pals brewed up.

Stopped for tea at a place filled with older gents playing Shogi & Go + bought Ichiro a puzzle at one of those dusty forgotten stationery shop so I dig.

You can *barely tell* that we’re even related I’m sure

Oh, also bumped into several people we know, or wife knows… Starting to be a lot more action around the city, was also a sake festival and saw a gaggle of obvious foreigners, first time in a long long time, seem to be maybe a sports team?

[update: done-ish] All above unpictured for now, mebbe i’ll grab something from R‘s phone as my camera is broken but i did take the instax for 3 snaps.

Home now in the cool dark room with the little guy snoozing next to me.

Equinox at Ohaka, saying respectful hellos to the ancestors

The both of them are so adorable, me, I’m just glad to be here

Friday, Sept 23: Equinox day walk up to the ancestral graves for cleaning, incense and fresh flowers… as is tradition. We tended to several generations in Tsuchida, Okayama.

Note we are wearing our “family tie-dye tartan” made by brother Dan (wiped me out so back home to rest fckn #mecfs :()

Continue reading Equinox at Ohaka, saying respectful hellos to the ancestors

Ichiro in the summer (with cicadas & fish)

Snippets from the park a few weeks ago with my pal Ichiro.

This is what Japan sounds like in the summer with the cicadas in full voice. Dig the vintage vibes as a playground equipment, does it remind you of 1979?

PS yes, he’s rocking tiedye & trucker hat & Canada shorts like so cool right? #io

Since were here, here he is at a community center (Mama’s client where we were delivering an invoice) checking out the fish tank. Dude loves to check out the fish that’s for sure.

Diary: Ramblin’ Ted visits the shed (& farm)

My friend Ted came to visit – he lives in Kyoto but was doing some tour guide reconnaissance/spiels on Kyushu & our home with the waystation before heading Shikoku.

me at the giggling piglet studio and consulate, photo by Ted, minor crop and edit by me

Notably, he is my first multi-time visitor to the Giggling Piglet studio besides Mac Kobayashi. Also, we went to Mac’s Goat Farm for lunch, coffees etc.

Listening to Leonard Cohen in the thunderstorm, thankful for the relatives who built this mighty store house

Dude is keeping up an incredible pace in an exceptionally hot and humid summer.

I mean, it’s really perfect mixed media creation studio

Overall, we discussed many topics. Thanks to my sweet in-laws for setting up the comfy room for him complete with the family altar/shrine open for o-bon. It’s a very special time of the year here when our passed away relatives can come back to visit for a while.

the hi-fi system is sounding great after a couple of tweaks by the piano tuner & this snap is a great angle cause you don’t see my balding spot :)

Thank you for visiting Ted, I really enjoy time with you.

Memo: You might enjoy Ted’s snapshots of the experience in general (snaps are stashed on facespace but this is a note to add some more here down the line // Right now I’m at the doctors office, my battery – phone & human – is/are plummeting so, you know how it goes…)

[update: photos added, mostly unannotated]

These snapshots should have captions/annotations but at this point they don’t, but *they exist* thanks to Ted. At some point I’ll add a link to his “notes from the nog” blog.

Letter: Palomar, schools, c0rona, Dirty Windshields, and baby Stanley

Sometime along the way (late 2019?), Grant Lawrence, BC broadcaster and writer (and Tin Tin fan), had some question for me about the erstwhile pandemic which was here in Japan before *everywhere else* plus lots was going on in our little world, while his extraordinary wife Jill Barber was preparing for a virtual show at the legendary Palomar where my Uncle Lorne was once the maitre’d and the memory inspired this letter. I am stashing here as a diary of sorts as it catches a lot of the spirit of the time as i share some thoughts about his book Dirty Windshields and other topics. Might make sense to you, either way, carry on.

Grant and I with a crappy camera at CBC open house, prob 2006

Hello Grant, Enjoyed all the updates… Been a wild summer on this side of the Pacific for us ~ which recalls your initial questions to me back in early February when the schools in Japan were just shutting down and you were curious about how people would handle this… Or how far we’ve come!

We now have a wonderful little dude with the middle name of “Stanley“ born just before the NHL came back (not quite enough good luck with that name but still…), followed by a very unique Buddhist funeral circumstance, then a Typhoon, my 50th birthday (which included a personal archaeology project when my entire life archive a ride from various storage lockers to 150 year old grain barn now art studio/music lounge) and just recently, an oddly awesome exhibit of my poems and paintings at a goat farm, plus my singer wife (& pandemic rock who has also stick-handled through reams of paper work getting me and the official in Japan and a little dude official in Canada) returns to the stage at a cavernous convention center with her bossanova blues the same weekend as your wife hits (my great uncle’s old haunt) of the Palomar / we’re planning on “being there“.

Also, Dirty Windshield should be longer, not shorter… I mean I really enjoyed all of your books but this one was like reading about my own parallel life, ergo: we were in the same places in similar situation is just different years and circumstances. From punk rock tour vans in Germany to getting robbed in Washington DC to underground explosions in Olympia (where touring bands crashed at my house dubbed “hockey lounge“), bewildered in Japanese labyrinths, VW vans with lightspeed snowstorms & de-icing lighters… and many points in between. 

Of course, I was Whalley trekking in by bus to York theater & making zines while you were in West Van doing the same stuff with Nards – just in different suburbs and, back in those days crossing a river *and* an inlet might as well be crossing the English channel.

Anyhow, thanks for the update – I love living here but I’ve been very much in the “Japan bubble” since all of this began so it’s nice to hear familiar riffs / let’s get you and the family over to Okayama for top-shelf beer at the goat farm, &/or a goat milk lattes! No these goats are not on the roof and they don’t do yoga.

And yes, we have trains, lots of trains which sparks a whole other idea…

dvo

Dave (with specs obv) and Dan and Bob along with Uncle Lorne who sorta inspired this riff

Item: Ryoko’s new kei truck (with dump back)

Ryoko pick up her new rig

A few moths back (March 2022) Ryoko traded in her long-running trusty Suzuki kei-truck (kei-trucks/van/cars are a class of vehicles with 660 cc or less motors and a carefully determined physical footprint).

take a ride in the old truck to pick up the new truck, try the dump feature and drive back

She ordered it from a catalogue some months before – the first time strangely enough either of us have bought a “brand new vehicle” –assisted again by the kindly Claudia Car office who have helped her with previous purchases.

He came to our house with the catalogue and paperwork and we even exchanged a stack of cash at the kitchen table like some clandestine transaction.

Continue reading Item: Ryoko’s new kei truck (with dump back)

Ichiro Round-up: its all just so normal now… #io

So we go on so we go on, the little guy keeps growing… and while it used to be a regular routine to make an “Ichiro card” to document milestones and extra cuteness, now he’s completely engrained into our exceptional regular days of usual life.

trippy times with space farmer Uncle Mac

Months whisk by and sometimes I’m not sure exactly when these were but, that’s not really the point is it? The point is, I am a very lucky Papa (and these snaps are very mildly annotated with more, much more at #io tag).

Usually just take 1 snap but this time several all-at-once with my growing-up-happy-charming lil pal

While tidying up the archive (this collection started Oct 2021) and noticing he is “everywhere now” completing our little trio (or quartet with grandma and grandpa along), however, sometimes enough snaps and artifacts appear to create a *round-up* beyond the usual outings, events and circumstances. And you know i love a round-up, pardon duplicates if appear.

tie dye, aloha bib and floppy hat, yup, my dude
this was at a trip to a hot spring bath and a nice tatami room with garden view after
Continue reading Ichiro Round-up: its all just so normal now… #io

Memo: why i do the archiving, scrapbooking etc

In reply to a tender correspondent:

Thanks for the sweet note. Sometimes I wonder what I do all the archiving for but a lot of the reason is because when the illness started ( #MECFS) In 2013, my “brain broke” and I sort of had to relearn how to do everything from writing into painting whatever so found that making scrapbooks, postcards and later “sort-ganizing” helped rebuild the neural pathways.

Scrapbook: in process, a pleasant way to pass the time, sitting in bed, with scissors, tape, glue and ephemera

When I went to India to the Ayurveda clinic, I can still remember the day the brain started sparking again and then I tried starting to write and paint. Was a little clumsy so I filed everything under “old man punk rock“ :) and made some drawings of the neighborhood and unforgiving oil pastels which quickly attracted a throng of fellas around me who I snapped with a Lomo camera (note: evidenced somewhere here in this archive).

I spend a lot of time in bed still so it’s kind of like playing a video game or puzzle or something for me… finding the right context for all the miscellanea. Imagining about containers in the bath and filling them with stories in all sorts of mediums, both in and out of my fog.

As for the handmade scrapbooks, comes from our mutual love of notebooks etc. – which I don’t keep near as orderly as you do – but now they’ve all sort of come full circle back to me, I’m enjoying transcribing the scribbles, putting checkmarks on the pages that are finished, and organizing on a semi-climate-controlled shelf. All shapes and sizes and formats, eras, all intertwined. Mostly (vaguely at least) inventoried.

Making whole buncha scrapbooks

My own handmade scrap journals are so much fun to make as it gives me that mixed media/interdisciplinary thrill of playing with tools and sharp objects and paper and the finished result is something that very few people understand the endless possibilities.

A page from Nagano to see the wizard

Anyhow, thanks for your kind words, honestly it’s been a really tough summer so far for me, I just can’t seem to bounce up so it’s nice to just be “seen”.

Pages from a journal for no particular trip or reason, just feeling with things that cheered me up

One of these days, I’ll hook you up with a scrap journal of your own if you would like. I know you’re very partial to your own specifications so I might go a little bit off script if that’s all right.

Collection: Scrapbooks, Journals and Notebooks (view 2)

Do you keep travel ephemera and other clippings, oddities, coasters, matchbox, ticket stubs etc.? What do you do with them all?

Scrapbook: assembly / stack of books (binding detail)

[i’ll about pasting of reply]

Ichiro meets Ichiro sensei + airplanes and fireworks in Noto

(Then i noted): He comes home today. I used to wanna be a rockstar or a pro hockey player and always out on the road/tour but now, four days away from him and it feels like he’s leveled up again and I don’t wanna miss a single day, ever. #io in Noto {photos by Ryoko, edits me}

always ready for adventure!

A few notes from Ichiro’s first plane trip with Mama to visit Hongo Ichiro sensei on Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. Train was no really possible so went from Okayama’s (adorable) Momotaro airport (OKJ) to Haneda then on to Noto with a group taxi to town.

Stayed with sensei at his converted fish processing plant turned house/workshop and then at a minshuku guesthouse with some friends.

What follows a few a few notes while my darling were away and a couple photos Ryoko sent from the “end of the world”.

ichiro on the go!

So it began: Ichiro loaded up his backpack with a favorite book, stuffed penguin, travel cup, snacks, handkerchief and an Insta photo of the two of us.

We’d dropped a friend off at Momtaro before and since, Ichiro is intrigued and excited about airplanes and he/we wave and say “hikoki bai bai” whenever one is overhead.

tie dayes in “family tartan” made by brother/uncle Dan

So… dropped off a Momotaro airport with parents and had an extra lunch before breezing through the mellow regional airport. Their ANA service was “first of a new route” or something so they received a commemorative souvenir.

i explained the importance and benefits of being kind and friendly to the staff, in this case from best airline ANA
Continue reading Ichiro meets Ichiro sensei + airplanes and fireworks in Noto

(Another) scrapbook for #io / this time: school days

You are no doubt not surprised that adorable son Ichiro’s life is widely documented in a series of analog scrapbooks…

One for the days leading up to his birth, another for early days at home, another for cards and letters received, and so on.

And here’s another one made on a pleasant Sunday with his mom and the dude himself with all the arts and crafts he’s brought home from school as well as some “semi pro” photos taken at his great preschool.

Many/most of the arts and crafts are made with paint/ink and his hand prints/foot prints and turned into some other kind of character, often with a seasonal theme.

Within the photos are many with his classmates (so we won’t share here), as well as a *very special visit* from Santa Claus sporting a very fetching and somehow familiar beard.

Of course, was just recently his second birthday so meaning to share some more artifacts from that time… Did I already do that? I can’t really remember.

Anyway, here’s a scrapbook and here’s the dude for now.