Tag Archives: building

Riff: about Tsuchida Cottage construction + vids

A few notes originally written to a friend as a letter in Feb 2021 riffing about the “Tsuchida Cottage” (soon to be “Station”) construction project.

Sharing here for my own posterity and remembrance, along with this video of the “wall raising” day (which also included the roof which you can see in this amusing time lapse video).

^ Above: quick video of workers pounding the wall joints together, March 2021

Riff: Notes from Tsuchida Cottage (soon to be “Station” as  the house is long and narrow and feels like a train so this is new “working title”)

Our construction project has started, 2 diligent sturdy men who are much older than you and I (likely), doing incredibly efficient rapid hard work with vigour and precision.

We set up a tea/coffee/snack station inside the house and another one outside, we took gifts to the neighbours in advance of the noise. We insisted, they refused, we pleaded, back and forth… 

The workers, fuelled by french press, gladly did an extra job since they had their adorably sized front loader & moved a bunch of boulders to fill in a retaining wall/drainage ditch without any complaint. A huge help as doing it with a tripod, pulley and a hand wheel dolly means three rocks is a hard afternoon. We gave them extra cakes for this. (there is a time lapse of doing a session last year with my tiny mother in law and pregoo wife, not a sturdy crew). 

When the HVAC man came to discuss the heat pump units (it’s an old house in Japan so no central heating of course and no insulation and a few rooms have these individual heat pumps which are heaters and coolers…) Anyway, told him I want one in my old grain barn which baffled him. {Keep in mind, each of these planning appointments requires all the formalities and tea service with a special cups and the correct “special” snacks etc.} Note: This gentleman has a slightly-dyed red toupee – still trying to hold onto his youthful style.

So I took him out to the barn/studio, up the stairs into the secret lounge and his jaw just about dropped when he saw my Clash London calling poster, stacks of records, 100 pound record player with an iron exoskeleton, a couple of lounge chairs, (he did not grok the exceptional collection of beat literature but that’s coming in handy for a Kerouac exhibition later this year etc. He *then* understood why this is needed/ wanted. But he wanted to put the unit on the wall which outside is the *perfectly preserved unblemished yakisugi wall* (I’ve sent along a photo in the past) but I explained that “the ancestors have somehow passed this barn down to my caretaking and this is aesthetic blunder is unacceptable so we’re going to have to put it here in this corner where no one can see it.”

He told me i have an old Japanese heart and as such, we will attach it to a beam that is prob older than the City of Seattle (colonially speaking) which is joined to the other beams without use of nails and screws so well, it’s not perfect but I will have a humidity control and heat pump and an olden barn to protect a lifetime’s worth of *valuable* books, records and papers.

I then asked him if the heat pump unit comes in something other than white, it turns out they also come in “off-white”. We looked at the catalog of all the different models and it was like the scene and lost in translation with Bill and Scarlet are looking at the menu of all the different kinds of meat and to the untrained eye, they all look the same. The catalog was 30+ pages of air conditioners that looked exactly the same – “The features were different” I was assured. I asked “don’t they come in brown or black?” But alas… not. I also asked if there was one with “a remote control that had less than 35 buttons” on it like maybe five buttons(?) but no, there are so many features but I want an on/off and a temperature control because I am a simple man. But robots win again. 

Anyway, here we are, doing a construction project and it is *completely different* than your construction project where everything picked with intention and care and custom made into a lovely glorious architectural masterpiece. 

In our case, we are adding to the tradition of houses in the generations before, and digging out some old pieces (for example a couple of 1920 era sliding doors for the entranceway), finding a few things at secondhand stores (for example a stainless steel sink/counter which will be the wife’s plant potting station), sourced a potbelly cast-iron stove which brought oooohs & ahhhs from the Japanese architect, scored several furniture pieces including a ultra heavy grand table from secondhand stores and brought down the total price of the project from equivalent of maybe 130,000 to about 90,000 with various resourcefulness (using numbers somewhere between CAD and USD as i can’t get my head around the flucuations). 

Told him we didn’t require television cable outlets, various other knickknacks and accoutrements. The kitchen will be more spacious but simple, not a bunch of fancy cabinets and a three burner stove (an upgrade from our two burner which reminds me of living in my Volkswagen van). Oh and a 2 part sink which was a shocking idea to Japan and required sourcing. I explained i need the space for dishes and space for making pickles – then i seemed brilliant.

Dream is Ichiro will come home with his pals and our house will be the “hangout” – with this in mind, also adding a handwash station right by entrance in a stroke of brilliance and a side access door for muddy kids and their gear. 

Bonus: for enthusiasts, a “slow” version of the time lapse video of wall and roof raising

Memento: Experience Music Project (card & medallion), 2000

Memento: Experience Music Project (membership card and medallion)

Charter member medallion / memento with tile (from the roof?) of the then-new Experience Music Project (now Museum of Pop Culture, was also: Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM) and later EMP Museum) building in Seattle Center, along with “Acoustic Duo” charter member card (purchased with brother Dan).

Diary: Coffee with views plus Ramen and painting preview

In today’s (really March 7th but hey…) edition of “tasty coffee in scenic places with Daveo” I bring you this glorious handcrafted bevvie experience & view of the Seto-nai-kai (Inland sea) from an olive garden (no, not that one, an actual one) in Setouchi, Okayama, ergo:

grinder with a view

elegant workstation

served with affection

Continue reading Diary: Coffee with views plus Ramen and painting preview

Diary: Kissaten cafés, sharp knife, drs observations and daily views

streetcar/ tram/ trolley (your choice) in Okayama

Amidst the “specialness” of life – which included of late:

  • trip to Nagasaki and all the glorious trains, building and museums  (well documented elsewhere)
  • Mae Maes spring concert in Tamano (artifacts to follow)
  • baby coming! (and related prep)
  • 10 years anniversary of Vancouver Olympics (which was such a big deal for me and i meant to do “something” to commemorate, but ya know, this feeling was overridden with ambivalence (but do have some notes and copy/pastes i’ll get to before 11th anniversary)

– is the “regular out n abouts” of life. These moments are treasure and, as memory fades, are quickly lost to the “exciting bits” never the less, i capture and archive for me, for others like me, for the little one, for the future, for the process. You know this already so behold, more of the usual: trams, coffees, meals, and various items spotted in the wild. 

Ergo, just things, observed / scenes of life in Okayama, en route to “seitai” treatment session:

* fine bicycle (wagyu burgers in bg) at sunny intersection 

* non-chronological aside but related / wagyu burger (with Ted) / as an additional aside, compared to 25+ years ago when I was first year, so much more international food available, to go along with the obviously fantastic Japanese native food… Would having pizzas, mighty burgers, lots of India/Nepal food, there are Mexican food places but i don’t wanna be disappointed – Anyway we do not lack for fantastic food even in our small city

* angled manshon apartment bldg, striking against the sky (this is parking lot for seitai sensei)

* ikebana and scroll at sensei’s office Continue reading Diary: Kissaten cafés, sharp knife, drs observations and daily views

Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Note: Some of this riff originally appeared in “real time” via FB social channel to the amusement of many (everyone loves a comically large bootle of hooch!) – shared here for posterity in edited form with several other topics included.

++ Confession ++

pardon me, but does this come in a large?

Well, i am at risk of irreparably damaging my reputation as a good resident of Okayama as it seems some library books are overdue.

I know! Terrible. Shameful breach of trust.

As such, i will finish this coffee (delicious by the way) and hop on the luxurious Uno Bus (seriously wi-fi, power outlets, clean, comfy, pay-per-stop) to restore my status as a decent human.

I’ve really let myself go off the rails – i’ll try to improve.

fondly, dave

PS i will not blame this on this comically huge bottle of saké – seriously, 18 litres and came in a wooden crate. Just when you think Japanese people are all diligent and serious, they pull out this! i mean the logistics of shipping, lifting, holding, pouring alone are baffling

Checkpoint busstop (yes my life does look like a Studio Ghibli movie)

Did i mention the bus has great wi-fi, power outlets, seatback headrest covers, and pay-per-stop system? Uno Bus is truly great.

Also before leaving washed dishes, folded laundry, started rice, composted food scraps, fed rabbit, aerated kobo starter, refilled kerosene heater… and didn’t forget library books(!)

Ryoko’s out of town for 2 nights teaching a tree trimming workshop & stayed in a trad guest house with wooden bath. So cool. And she’s truly incredible (and doing great with pregnancy!)

Continue reading Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Diary: Days go by – filled (mostly) with coffee, food and and sundry tasks

You could be forgiven for thinking that my life involves entirely eating delicious food and drinking fantastic coffee as you are somewhat correct… however, there is slightly more going on as i am  into the routine of “regular life” and doing things which I file under “life administration”. As such, some tasks (as much as I delight in the mundanity of everyday activity) doesn’t get documentation.

Not that these things are not interesting – but because in the diligence and action itself, there’s interestingness – but photographs aren’t always timely nor appropriate and in themselves, there’s not often a story to be told. Within this thought is why I enthusiastically and rather comprehensively documented everyday life when first arriving in a new place… As in: when you stay in a place for a while, the uniqueness of every day life fades and it’s easy to think that “I’ll do this another time” or “I’ll wait for something special” or “why bother?”

With this in mind, over the last few months of settling in my new home and life, I’ve remembered to fill up this “new white sheet of paper” with all the spectacular regularness of simple errands, neighbourhood observations, pleasant routines and out n’ abouts. Continue reading Diary: Days go by – filled (mostly) with coffee, food and and sundry tasks

Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.

A coffee break at “Tartan something or other” (not actual name) in downtown Okayama

So it goes, the festive season passes yet calendar stays busy with the usual sorts of things. Yesterday included returning books to splendid library, a few letters (Switzerland and Indonesia) to the post office, a stop for the best ramen, and a visit to a chiropractor and then a super good little (i mean little) coffee shop – like just perfect right? 

In amongst, we repaired/re-did a wall in Tsuchida Cottage, attended a parenting class(!), went to opera variety show, hit up Hatsumi-san’s piano recital, moved some brick around outside, printed more flyers for Mae Maes gig, talked to a guy about replaced some drafty windows, recycled plastic items, booked a trip to Nagasaki… 

Here is a variety of snippets collected along the way, with minor annotations as possible. 

we ordered umeboshi by the kilo – i love these pickled plums and nope to make them myself one of these days soon but in the meantime, order up in bulk! salty, sour goodness
one morning i awoke to Ryoko singing snippets of so many songs – realized she was tidying up all her sheet music/scores etc.
tidied up the Kamidama a little bit with fresh items to bring good fortune and happiness more and more

Continue reading Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.