Tag Archives: diary

Scenes of life: spiral staircase, library signs, basket of balls + pink door

While out and about on various expeditions, snap snap’d the usual days and the glimpses of regular life.

{With generally unrelated diary notes which happened to happen the same day}

Up early, by my standards, to see classic movie “the sound of music” at some community something something place.

First, a stop at a rusty strip of shops which houses an exquisite French style bakery: fluffy cakes, croissants, croque monsieur, brie / prosciutto sandos + uniforms. Swoon!

Made it as far as the intermission in the exceptional epic “sound of music” – Each time, notice the fantastic use of light and shadows, and pacing (+ of course stellar stoic Christopher Plummer as well as the effervescent Julie Andrews) – was kind of my speed, maybe a total of 8 people at the screening, the 3 of us were by far the youngest / I forgot my “pro tip” of always bringing my own slippers… but anyway, now ramen w/ evidence:

Then, nearby our not-so-secret-anymore Ramen place, went to check out the dinosaurs in the shopping arcade, spotting a few bits of *normal* along the way: a basket of balls, a pink door, a streetscape sign – all very pleasing in their normalness…

…and were fortunate to catch the “Okayama University woodwind orchestra” (or something like that) rocking through the final bit of their set. Especially enjoyed seeing the percussion section of course:


Was a Sunday of a three day weekend and coming out of the winter doldrums or whatever but a lot of people out and about, which meant that after my usual limit of 1.5 activities, we should’ve run for home but a library visit was on the agenda.

I tried to find a quiet corner to scribble postcards with limited success. Ichiro checked out a massive – both quantity and size (quite literally as included an oversize book with a spine approximately a meter which was packed in a giant padded satchel), and join me for scribbling postcards, including one to himself, another to a cousin, and of course he did much stamping.

I noticed that “technically” no photos are allowed in the library (of course, taking photos of patrons/humans is totally offside) and also “no self study without using library materials” which may have made my postcard writing an inappropriate act.

But, spotting books such as “start up 101 “”what is sound art?” and “end of life” required documentation – as did a lovely construction paper collage of a train station.

Usually, libraries are calm and chill but again, at no fault of the other patrons, a little bit too much going on for me. We did make a stop at the embedded coffee shop for a tasty beverage and refresh before…

Yet another stop on the way home to a shopping plaza to dump off some plastic recycling and purchase a few items, during which I hung out on a bench outside, mailed postcards, and spotted “cake box” – which I can only imagine is a service for ordering a cake which is placed in this box, then magically opened so you can pick up (obviously), a cake, and I’m sure it’s quite wonderful.


I would like to thank Taylor Swift & her conundrum of getting from Tokyo to Las Vegas for football by going backwards across the international dateline for helping my friends in the USA understand that yes, I live in tomorrow in Japan (also yesterday but that’s another story)

And, at the risk of being Cliff Claven, I like to explain to people that:

* The international dateline is not straight

* And yes, I have crossed the international dateline by ship

* But no, I have not passed the exact point of the international dateline and equator simultaneously #shellback

Finally, enjoyed a few “old-time style” phone calls with pals recently… It took me years to get over my phone phobia from a terrible job in Utah, 1987 but now find it quite pleasant to sit in my dark room with a beverage yapping away to someone, in this case, back in Utah. {Note: not using the phone pictured}

Nagasaki Ramble, Feb. 2020, part 1 (trains, trams, food & rumours of a…)

Unnecessary Preamble:

The trip was meant as a little adventure and to visit relatives and also get away from the house while a few construction tasks were happening (new bathtub! etc.) but…

roll on to Nagasaki

As it goes, this was the “last trip” – at the time the (now infamous) Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined – shrouded in mystery – in Yokohama, the city was a bit tense and confused, and indeed, a week later another cruise ship was quarantined in Nagasaki.

Since we were well along the pregnancy, we stayed safe and busy despite my – ugh –usual health challenges, and so very much enjoyed Nagasaki: riding trams, olden Dutch settlements, bomb memorials :(, friendly folks, quirky kissaten cafes unchanged for decades, plus hospital visits for a young relative, and an abacus tournament (really) – Some new friends, strange islands, impossible alleys, hills & plants.

Of course didn’t realize it would be years until our next time out of Okayama prefecture // 2 years feels like 2 weeks or 20 years depending on the day.

Contemporaneous notes follow (there is also a fantastic analog scrapbook somewhere):

Feb 13, 2020: Nagasaki ramble officially underway at Okayama station at best lil coffee stand called Life & Coffee / ordered up a Bizen special cup

#protip there is a piece of Bizen ceramic put in the coffee which infuses with magic powers &/or imbues with extra tastiness

Feb 14: Nagasaki miscellanea diary (not to be confused with the Ryoko’s botanical diary)

Post box (obviously) at station

With a combination of low pressure weather systems, overstimulation of fast trains, and a bit too much activity of late, had a real rough flareup with my mostly-beloved but somewhat-battered body. It’s hard to explain all the pain but when it suddenly comes on, it’s quite scary.

Anyway, sweet wife tracked down some help for me this morning with acupuncture needles connected to electricity and some ice got the immediate pain calmed down.

Then, immediately following whilst on a little walk, we happened across a mysterious tiny café, ate some local dishes & met a new friend, the proprietor – or son of the family or something something. Regardless, he loves fishing and was cheerful and affable. Koba-san!

the famous champon noodles of the area

He knocked off the job and loaded us up in his car for a coastal drive to gaze the remnants of a coal factory mining island (noted in various films).

Plus the related museum displaying the challenges of life on an industrial enclave which was for a while a “fully functioning” city and the most densely populated place on earth.

While every day is a romantic interlude with my Darling wife, appropriately today we viewed the battleship island from “wedding“ rocks complete with a Torii gate, and much fun conversation.

Now a rest, then perhaps a walk to explore the Dutch outposts from long-ago days before the “black ships “ obliged Japan to open up.

Overall everything going well except for my crushing head / end of dispatch #valentinesday

I offer a few photos as evidence. Really the usual: postbox, trains, street cars, telephone, plus a few of the aforementioned items.



Trams & Trains video

A montage of trams and trains featuring music by Dan Mangan and Ryoko Olson… It turns out there are literally hundreds of similar videos on YouTube but I’m pretty sure this one is the very best of all of them :-)


Pajamas provided by the hotel, in this case, button-up long night shirt style. Really fantastic. I’m really trying not to steal these and further ruin my reputation in Japan (and for all other foreigners too). But if no one knows it was me…

Canals & Vibes

Canals, old customs houses, small alleys, mix of Western and Japanese style houses… All in the little area around our hotel. Dreamy // and keep in mind, none of this existed after August 1945

Food, for starters

Harbour Stroll

Due to the (at that time) recent announcement of a mysterious illness entering Japan aboard a cruise ship, the general populous immediately hunkered down – so, when we went on a harborfront stroll seeking splendid sashimi, we had the promenade and the restaurant basically to ourselves.

Ryoko’s Botanical Diary

Chinatown Stroll

While Nagasaki’s interest in history deserves several essays and a miniseries, in brief: as you likely know, for hundreds of years, Japan was basically closed off to international trade with a few exceptions, one being controlled trade with China (who often acted as a middle broker for Japanese wars with other countries) as well as first the Portuguese who were expelled by bringing their religion Against the wishes of the Daimyo (insert story about peasant quasi religious uprising here… Oh actually Melvyn Bragg on the intellectually stimulating “In Our Time” podcast covers The Shimabara Rebelion) so then the trading franchise was transferred to the Dutch who were sequestered on an island // which we will get to later…

So in the meantime, here are a few snapshots of Chinatown – which is Japan’s oldest Chinatown and somehow lent to the feeling of Nagasaki as a miniature San Francisco: a harbor, lots of hills, various cobbled, international vibe, great café culture, trams clattering along – but, as far as I could tell, a lack of Beat poetry and self-aggrandizing tech companies.

More to come

Considering this diary only catches the first barely 2 days of the trip and there’s so much more to share, I invite you back for:

  • Visit to Dejima
  • Abacus tournament
  • Grilled meats
  • Old public bath
  • Quirky coffee shops
  • Atomic bomb museum
  • Experiencing four seasons of weather in three days
  • Of course more trains, post boxes, payphones and so on, probably anyway

Way Home (more trains)

And just so I don’t forget: here are two snaps from the way home on the now decommissioned Kamome train – briefly addressed above at the time but now replaced with a super high speed “new trunk line” a.k.a. Shinkansen a.k.a. bullet train.

I love these “at – grade” class trains as they are wider, have beautiful touches like parquet floors, lounge cars and viewing areas // which you can see in the photo along with the usual photo of my boots, yes these cheap and cheerful chukkas which took me into the Himalayas, along with my stolen suitcase of treasures which earned its stickers.

So we go on.

Downtown + West End Vancouver and Stanley Park / #BCInvasion flashback, part 2

Moving north across the Fraser river to downtown/West End, Vancouver, settling into a kitchenette hotel for several days, enjoying tea ceremonies, hotel picnics, coffee times and pleasant times with friends, plus our initial foray into Stanley Park.

#BCInvasion, part 2 / Downtown Vancouver & Stanley Park

Part 2 of this mixed-media montage series includes:

* Construction site across the street from “1234 hotel”

* Friendly Maple Leaf deli reunion and picnic stash

* Crow attacks and rainstorms on 4/20 at Stanley Park

* Excursion to Kafka coffee shop for pal hang-out, hugs & tasty snacks

* Several waves of tea ceremonies at hotel with generational bowls & significant rattle

* Special thanks to book and record “mule” from OlyWa + waffles

* Rooftop tea at coliseum-inspired library ceremony with books

* Parallel-life experience with a fella with a vintage Volkswagen bus, selling Japanese inspired stickers and patches by Vancouver Art Gallery

* Coffee catch-up with punk rawk radio/photog/cat enthusiast

* Staring down dramatic demons at St Paul’s (and marking how far I’ve come)

* Scenes of life, building, trees, gardens and sidewalks strolling and observing

* Plus hotel picnics, Cherry Garcia ice cream, Whitewood Cider, bits of dispatches, flashes of hockey games with hidden messages, silk robe lobby lounging, Mae Maes on teevee

Special greetings to all who tracked us down – including, in this wave:

* Roland (by bicycle, by bicycle)
* Lance from OlyWa (with books & vinyl)
* Wayne (in midst of a move)
* James (with real talk)
* Monique (let’s enjoy tea!)
* Danielle and beautiful daughter
* Mark, community wrangler
* Chris, sundancer & deadhead
* Eric Flexyourhead (rawk, etc)
* Kemp (popping in here and there)

thanks for alllll your planning / logistical help and friendship Monique


“Blood’s Too Rich” by Luke Doucet (Whitehorse, Veal, White Falcon etc) https://sixshooterrecords.com/artists/luke-doucet/

“Change of Scene” by The Matinée https://thematineemusic.com + new album: https://the-matinee.bandcamp.com/album/change-of-scene

Continue reading Downtown + West End Vancouver and Stanley Park / #BCInvasion flashback, part 2

OKJ to YVR + South Fraser / #BCInvasion flashback, part 1

Starting from our adorable local “Momotaro” airport in Okayama Japan, me (Dave) and my darlings Ryoko and Ichiro head to my former hometown of Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada aboard ANA (we’re shareholders but no big deal :)).

come on along with part 1 of our #BCInvasion

Part 1 mixed-media montage includes:

* first night in Richmond hotel with giant coffees and croissants

* off to “south of Fraser” for family times in Langley

* spontaneous barbecue with pals in Cloverdale and other variety of foods, more food and setting up a Japanese food corner

* making special packets of commemorative postcards with nieces and nephews

* White Rock beach for fish and chips and sunset

* Amtrak Cascades train chooglin’ through

* Surrey Eagles playoff hockey game with Zamboni

* mission to Mission for sight of Kamel Gill’s last stand with his brother Charlie (in which many mysteries are revealed)

* more food, presents, relaxing times with Grammy & brother/cousins/etc.

* plants, trees, nurseries, landscaping equipment, & spaces to run around

* stop for donairs while heading onto next “checkpoint” which is downtown Vancouver/West End for Stanley Park etc.

* finally, arriving at hotel with the sight of a construction site across the street to Ichiro’s amusement

Next chapter: exploring Vancouver downtown scenes and lots of meet up with friends – and variety of weather – in Stanley Park and spontaneous tea ceremony at hotel 

Continue reading OKJ to YVR + South Fraser / #BCInvasion flashback, part 1

Three books: various kinda & important for various reasons

Three important book, of various kinds and origins.

1) Taisho/early Showa era commercial art about which I am quite fascinated – plus, the cover reminds me of my wife // this era of Japan before militarism took over and there was for a brief golden time with a burgeoning international mindset, a “jazz age” of sorts, s3xual opennesses and class conventions dissolving. Curious to peruse the book further

2) “Confidential” one of the many journals, scrapbooks, scribble books, diaries etc. I filled up this year with words of course, but also items, dried flowers, artifacts and memos… Reminding myself that I didn’t “publish” a lot beyond my own channels, yet I created a lot of material, it’s just confidential for now // ps seen behind is the Shawn Parkinson designed print issue of Narwhal from Vancouver

3) 70 from my dear sensei Larry Harper who introduced a 17-year-old high school dropout at the community college that creative writing is a noble endeavor and life pursuit. This is his book “70” with appropriately, 70 different components including short plays, poems (long and short), stories of various lengths, and lists – it’s very punk rock as there is no ISBN, UPC barcode, not available on that major international book reseller. And yes, there’s shades of me in here, including a blurb, a riff and an inscription

Diary: “just keep breathing” and beat the blahs… disintermediated blurbs + snaps

Nov. 1: Oh, I just remembered I have to change all the calendars / well my day is suddenly packed.

Meanwhile, my darling wife is outside running a woodchipper – filling up bins made from pallets – processing all the branches etc she collects at her job sites, making into chips which will then go over cardboard then goat poop compost to reclaim land into garden #keitruck

Time for oxygen mask and watch the rest of this hockey game I have on pause.

Continue reading Diary: “just keep breathing” and beat the blahs… disintermediated blurbs + snaps

“seemingly indifferent musings of mundanities of One’s Own Life…”

Reminder (if needed):

Scribbled with a feather quill at Dejima / do you know the place of which I speak? (Yes, that’s the shadow of the pocket robot taking a snapshot, I’m not a professional)

“Somehow, the seemingly indifferent musings of mundanities of One’s Own Life are where the best, most honest writing comes from… Just need to “not throw it away” and let it ferment for a period of time, sometimes… Indeed most times”

[Follow on anecdote] Lousy photo of letter is from settlement museum on Dejima / a small human-made island in Nagasaki which was exclusive foreign trading post for 100s of years / first by Portuguese, then by Dutch.

I wrote with a quill and ink as a fictional “letter home”.

Healing: annotations from a feverish fog

Hi pals, Really backsliding from the recent C19 situation.

pocket fulla tools, none seem to work but hey, keeping handy

As you likely know, with #MECFS, my body deals with a massive post-viral infection load and thus an overworked immune system for 10+ years. As such, having a really hard time bouncing back. Just had to say aloud.

Me – being chronically creative/optimistic + always full of dreams, schemes and projects want to do – am again to point where have to “cross everything off the list”. I absolutely hate this as want to be making books, records, vids, revolutions. I am managing some postcards (sanity exercise).

{I know shared this before but}, my post-viral illness (lousy name: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) & what is colloquially called “long C0vid” have become awkward epidemic cousins:

More awareness and funding recently but results & protocols? nah

The Atlantic: Long COVID Has Forced a Reckoning for One of Medicine’s Most Neglected Diseases

Only a couple dozen doctors specialize in chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Now their knowledge could be crucial to treating millions more patients.

By Ed Yong

Also note: “ME/CFS involves a panoply of debilitating symptoms that affect many organ systems and that get worse with exertion.” sheessh

Further, blood flow to frontal cortex of my brain is reduced & immune system is fighting “everything all at once” without knowing what to fight (if that makes sense) manifesting in “brain fog” which, beyond confusion can lead to depression, especially coupled with sleeplessness :(

For a year, treated at a Okayama University hospital infectious disease program which began as a Long C19 specialty clinic and basically became a MECFS specialty unit. Taking a different approach then Drs in US/Canada or the Ayurveda treatments in India, Nepal, Lanka.

And, the treatment protocols gave me a real boost (including weekly cocktail injections and traditional Chinese medicines amongst other specific “sniper medications”) which got me going enough to do the #BCInvasion for which I am incredibly grateful.

However, the onset of this “bonus infection” in early hours of Sept 3rd have tumbled me back down the hill staring at the beginning of the game board. Didn’t *seem like* C19 as not problem with throat or respiratory systems but terrible fever, incredible pain & dehydration.

I’m mostly saying this for the record and my diary and memory after another sleepless night. Also, as a note to some wonderful folks who say “it’s just like a cold or flu” but alas, my situation is *much more* complicated. I didn’t ask for any of this & used to be invincible (well here and there, i have dealt with a consortium of medical conundrums, mostly around my guts which is *unsurprisingly* on point #gutbrainaxis.

And, following the erstwhile “community” around my illness, seeing so many people dealing with #LongCovid turning into #MECFS and fear I’m kind of taking the opposite route with this *newfangled virus* adding to my already dangerous coterie of mysterious infections. #pwME

For now, my darlings get up and about – last night I suggested a few small tasks / activities we could do together but the reality is: I’m here in bed, can’t watch anything, so listen to guided meditations for hours + brainwave stimulations, sometimes audiobooks & pods.

I’m just at my breaking point so thank you for noticing me. There’s never a great time for something like this *but* just got new routine down for picking up IchiStan from his new forest preschool riding the bus > old time trolley tram together as wife goes into busy season :(

for this guy, all the time

Again, I’m not sure why am saying this besides floating out to the universe that “yes, I am scared but somehow I will survive”. I don’t expect sympathy, empathy, advice or anything… Just needed someone to talk to. {I have asked hospital for a referral to a psychiatrist}

just looking for a spark

And in my feverish waking dreams comes forth every lousy situation & bad memory of my life. Yikes! So: If I’ve ever said a cross word to you, not showed up to support you, displayed my insecurities in an obnoxious manner, acted a jerk, misled in anyway etc.

Please forgive me. I am doing my best / better every day.

i wanna be your pal

PS So 3-1/2 years into C19 and the medical response is either of: a) take some ibuprofen, hydrate and rest; or b) go to the ER if it gets really bad; or c) some dubious medication that may or may not be reliable / available.

Is there something missing? Pardon me, just frustrated

Diary: emerging, again (maybe) hermitude / so tired

tired, skinny – waiting for bus,

Evidence for the curiosity seekers: I’m still here, alive…

Left the house for the first time in 10+ days (previous was a big hospital day) somehow amidst my hermitute, after 3+years got “the thing” laid me out badly with feverish hallucinations, debilitating pain, confusion, tears and sleeplessness {Sidebar: keep in mind that with my illness #MECFS I carry a massive viral load and a big legged immune system which has been constantly fighting this for 10+ years and also, the symptoms evidenced without the usual “scratchy throat, lack of smell and respiratory issues” so was a bit of a bewildering situation and very very much not good, not at all} … and then of course, the darling duo joined in on the fun… They are starting to bounce back because they’re invincible but tough seeing my normally intrepid wife battling through and are excitable cheerful boy we just started a new preschool program burning up with a 40° fever.

I am several kilograms accidentally trimmed up as really hard to keep food down and no appetite and so rolling like a zombie – bewildered, bothered, befuddled and just worn out of it all.

August got really weird with some unexplained and unexpected catastrophes, remarkable wife rolled with it all because she’s brilliant and a rainbow. Ichiro enjoys our spontaneous evacuations for a few locations as it meant trips to dinosaurs, beaches and pools.

I played along with my ukulele and tried not to be too grumpy as my precious batteries drained into oblivion… and made a few friends along the way.

Anyway, this is my usual picture of “waiting for a bus, wearing a hat and a mask trying to keep it together but losing my equilibrium & sanity inside” add it to your nft collection

PS our house is now set up for solar power including battery and selling back to the grid. Hooray for semi self sufficiency!

And yes, I keep sending out postcards and other little treats so I’m doing something right, right?

Diary: shaking it out, tidying up bamboo and looking ahead to YMCA school

Meanwhile, back at the cottage after returning home from Seaside for a bonanza of vacuuming, shake out, linen changes and yes, more laundry and finally a bath…

Camping pals connected by majic intertubes

This morning, after a phone call with a birthday friend in the LaSalle mountains, headed out to help my darlings with the typhoon/wild boar clean-up.

some trees down and an unstable slope (belonging to a neighbors land who is incommunicado) and bonus is yet another wild boar attack on the compost. Try to make it easy “Buffet style” for them but still, the jerks trashed the place

Specifically, cutting down a bunch of bamboo fallen down from a neighbor’s unstable & unintended slope. “Why don’t they take care of this land?” I asked “they are old and given up and ask/told us to…{do whatever?}”. [problem is, the trees are on a slope that, if you left unattended or aggressively cleared, would be a possible mudslide problem into our area, including my beloved kura barn, and, as such maintaining the root structures of the bamboo is important to stabilize the slope]

A downed tree does add a nice frame into the front of the kura studio / note the lovely fern and now 2 post boxes as well as some fresh rock-scaping work

Anyhow, found the pathway the wild boar are following down to rampage the garden and compost, broke down the busted bin, shovelled up the debris, stacked up the felled bamboo and then another torrential rain storm like Bam!

Since I’m already soaking wet, figured might as well take down the platform used for the adorable inflatable pool oasis, hauled em back, stack em up, moving the bricks and blocks stack up ~ quickly drenched and muddy, realized had opened the inside house windows for fresh air / fck

Made a mess getting in and out of the house, more old towels deployed… back outside in the deluge realizing the grass ain’t gonna get cut today and it’s gonna be a drag once get time to do it coz like a jungle around here!

All the rain gutters drain into rain barrels which then get used to water the garden but ain’t gonna be needed for a while, and got a remember to empty out the various rain barrels or else it’s gonna be another mosquito bonanza.

So, moved some stuff around in the carport (cleaned up the cast-iron griddle from the spontaneous barbecue during the first part of the clean up several days / eons ago) and put a few coat of varnish on some more handmade “finger pointer” signs for a bit of dopamine.

Inside, muddy clothes surrendered, fresh up and start back to the laundry folding assembly line (problem with mold, mildew and mites means everything needs washed and then probably needs washed again) / but, a bit of Tintin watching with Ichiro and then Motown dancing fun time.

Inside, muddy clothes surrendered, fresh up and start back to the laundry folding assembly line (problem with mold, mildew and mites means everything needs washed and then probably needs washed again) / but, a bit of Tintin watching with Ichiro and then Motown dancing fun time.

Dinner, he fell asleep in mamas lab, the two of us watched a solitary episode of Marvelous Mrs Maisel / savoring 1 episode at a time… then hey, another basket of laundry is ready! Folded w/ Leonard Cohen live, and then reviewed the new YMCA preschool extensive briefing documents. Starts Sept 3x/week.

It’s great preschool program as they get the kids outside & active in nature, not just some supervised play time in a fenced in gravel lot like so many of the schools we visited. {Yes, we visited at least half a dozen preschools as though he’s going off to college} the downside: It’s quite a distance from so, for the pick up, will ride bus from end of the line at our house, to downtown Uno bus terminal & transfer to old school tram/trolley line and ride to the end of the line, bundle up my sweet little dude and reverse course.

I’m a little nervous as some days – as anyone who follows along knows by now – are really tough for me with the #MECFS, but I’ll only do this a couple days a week but really important during wife’s busy arborist season (October, November, December are full on).

So, will do what I can to be the best papa possible + I’m so proud of my darling wife’s business (10 year anniversary next year!) & I’ll tell the YMCA preschool I’ll be Santa Claus as an excuse to start growing my beard back :-) I do what I can, so we go on.

K bathtime xo gn

Bonus: random snap of Ichiro on drums

I dream that he has a band, and I can be the old dude in the back right in the Merch table (albeit poorly)