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Diary: New Year Dragons with foods, gardens, bevvies, and themes #calm

what follows is a post-dated diary of various activities in and around New Years day copied from various notebooks, memos, and small dispatches covering foods, outings to parks and graves, bevvies, postcards, dreams, schemes, and themes of calm and endeavours

Dec. 31: We ate soba (buckwheat noodles) as per tradition with parents on new years eve. Most folks watch TeeVee (many famous “wide ” variety shows, singing contests). They leave it off for my sensory overload benefit so i retired early – as i my way – so they could watch if desired.

So tired, heading to bath and bed. {all the tabs will not be closed, many emails unreplied, various messages and conversations left dangling, flip the page, carry-on}

So we go on… gn & gy

i made a video: Good night & good year / Reiwa 6 Ahoy

Jan. 1: GM, HNY – We ate mochi (glutinous rice paste) with other tasty items with parents in the morn as is tradition.

Then, off to Korakuen (one of the “three great traditional garden” of Japan, frequently visited by us).

Early start by my standards – we packed several thermoses and flasks of coffee and tea for the journey…

Off onto the Road: Of course, all manner of beverages are readily available from ubiquitous vending machines yet I prefer our house-made treats. Also, provided opportunity to break out a teabag which was included in the card sent by some friends from Canada.

So off we went, waiting at Tsuchida stop for our first bus ride of the new year…

As is our usual routine, we sit in the very back row (like the *bad kids*) because there are big windows and a little bit more room to stash our gear. Ichi-Stan, of course being a frequent traveler, utilizes the hooks for hanging up his rucksack and travelling cap {usually here I would note that the bus features complimentary high-quality wi-fi and power outlets but you know that by now}.

Note: the *usual* tradition is a shrine visit on New Year Day (bet ya there is a posted in this archive (or maybe still.in draft but… anyhow) this year though we took the with a chance to meet up with Ichi’s best pal and roll around the stellar garden – importantly including the first time in years in which the public could be present for the “flying of the cranes” so… off we went. Plus its a “free admission day!”

Flying of Cranes: The garden was packed but crowd well managed by diligently dudes wrangling pedestrians and keeping on the pathways with optimized view points for the flying of the cranes (a symbol of longevity).

The whole crane flying thing was quite amusing (the wranglers entice them to fly) and yeah cool but i couldn’t help but laugh at the crew of ojisans with their massive telephoto lens, standing on top of camera boxes (no fun for you kids!) and rapid firing like artillery weapon kinda killing the buzz but so it goes, hobbies and all that. {Of course, this is coming from the guy who’s over documenting everything including everything but a picture of the cranes.}

Continue reading Diary: New Year Dragons with foods, gardens, bevvies, and themes #calm

Diary: seitai, bento, buses & snaps

For starters: Usual routine, photo evidence, heading for treatment by bus (with my fare card) every fibre in my adorable body fumimg in pain

Me & my bus card

(Always sunny in Okayama) #cardigan

Today’s flowers in the doctor’s office entrance foyer.

A few of my creative endeavors from poetry book to postcards to umeboshi (plus Ryoko’s wreath) on display at the doctor’s office. There are more scattered around here.

Continue reading Diary: seitai, bento, buses & snaps

Diary: haircuts, collage, task lists & other unnecessary notes

Thumbs up for the “BC invasion” with fresh snips-ups on the heads of me & Ichi-Stan for this affable renegade Barber in a shop that’s quite literally falling apart and where it will always be 1973 with ashtrays in the barber chair arms. But “don’t touch that beard”.

Ichi-Stan got trimmed up to, sitting on his mama’s lap, like a champ, but he won’t stand still for a photo.

lost in Showa barber who is kinda my pal now after 3+ years

And the eye infection has cleared up… Definitely threw me for a loop & I really appreciate all the kind words over the last while about that conundrum

“I’m trying to get back to everyone yet many small tasks to tend to and it’s critical I shut down to start the trip on the “front foot” so I’m trying my best” and thank you thank you so much for remembering me”

lantern, firebell and post box – its a triple!

A bouquet of flowers (not the usual Japanese arranging) in the genkon of Tsuchida Cottage for anyone and everyone who needs a little spark.

{brought to our “pizza party” by a remarkable Japanese lady who lives in Turkey with her hubbo but he’s here for an extended stay with her son for safety reasons}.

PS I’m reminding myself that this trip ahead should be fun and it will unfold just the way it supposed to and I’m gonna stop planning now.

Heart Sutra for memory of a lost one

Friendly “thank you” to all the kind folks sending me good vibes last couple of weeks with eye infection, marathon of hospital check-ins, and general antsiness & anxiety about turning the BC trip with my darlings into a *Napoleonic campaign* – finally starting to reach baseline.

{it’s really important to me that friends in Vancouver & Victoria who have stuck with me know how much I appreciate them // and want to give each proper respect and time… so reminding myself I am doing my best & must remember my limitations and priorities}

Of course, still many tasks to do to have the house prepared for us being gone as well as preparing us to be gone but most importantly, must remember to rest so I start the trip on the “front foot” so to speak. #MECFS crash mode must be avoided for the benefit of me and my beloved companions. 10 years in, I’m still figuring this out.

oh look, 3 checkmarks!

I submitted a new creation of postal art collage called “Aerogramme from Pokhara” to this exhibit in Boise Idaho featuring a first day cover from Aug 1 1975 (brother Dan’s 2nd birthday) + much ephemera.

Got it mailed in time (shock!) and even cut into some very unique items and typed a fictional (or is it) letter / will let you know when/if appears in exhibit and then lives in Univ of Idaho’s special collections. maybe
my friend HJC can see it

Call to Artists: Paper + Post – #Kolaj Magazine

Maybe I’m ruining the surprise but really excited to share these sharp commemorative cards by MOO with folks we meet at our upcoming trip

{in the meantime, now you know our postal address so you can send us a postcard} thanks to Cory A, Okamoto Taro and NHK ad yes that’s a Dymo labeler}

PS Vancouver is kind of “frozen in Amber” in 2011 or so for me / feels like last week and definitely not 12 years ago. I started a poem about this but was quite too much to bear all the memories still somehow. Present Moment and all.

LHO at 10515 154th St, Guildford, circa 1979

Healing/ Diary: coffees, iv, pizza, liner notes, friends & flowers ~ expanding envelope

Just a date/time stamp post to remind myself to update my medical diary: went for IV (by bus) 3:30 PM yesterday 2/22/R5

{Also I might need to trim my mustache slightly}

Before the medical appointment, we did a few things around the house, mostly pulling the suitcases out from the barn and errand them out… this is the first floor of the barn is looking these days… Have also started a “emergency preparedness kit“ as well as having the secondary stereo set up and records here.

Realized a couple of beautiful wool sweaters were a little worse for wear as well so washed and hung to dry to survey the damage.

At some point along the way, Ichi dug up some turmeric from the garden.

While getting the iv, listened to @TBeanpod “Valentine’s“ episode… {I guess I’m a bit behind but I always enjoy glimpses into his life and parental wisdom about molding growing kiddos. Thanks for the goodness}

Feb. 21 Typed the “liner notes” (so to speak) for 2 mixed CDs + 1 mix cassette tape… made like last November or December but got stalled out by a rough couple of months. All ready for the post office now, decorated and everything!

Includes a mix of my spoken word poetry/ambient field recording audio collage creations, a few spoken-songs i crafted from loops and samples, songs by musician friends with my words & their music, some spoken word i did on a heavy (Bad Wougar) album, and other DIY recordings.

And yes tracklists are really typed (albeit poorly) on an Olivetti Lettera 34 (like 32 but ¥ key) #Typewriter

Every CD/Cassette is different (because i like to make things difficult) and the liner notes are all original as well.

One time, i made a video of typing these for no particular reason… well I guess it’s because i like the sound and might keep someone company on a lonely day.

Example video: Typing Liner Notes in the Kura (with Joe Strummer vinyl)

I am always tired & like to sit on benches #mecfs

2/20 Stopped at a lovely coffee shop after visit to orthotic foot guy and before a visit to a park for picnic.

They even had a tip jar on the counter which I had never seen in Japan before… But it was deliberately filled up to the top so was really they’re just for aesthetic purposes and ambience rather than expecting a tip :-)

Took coffee & sandos to a park and saw a great little “hangout hut“ made from repurposed sake (or maybe miso?) barrel idunno at the best kids playground park I’ve ever visited in Japan… {Like it’s not even close as most playgrounds are a rusty chin up bar, a broken swing and a non-slippery slide}

I did take a couple other snaps of my darlings but for now, here’s a barrel with some holes in the side and a roof…

And I want it in my backyard

2/19 this morning, the two darlings were up early making a drive in the K truck to a bakery for a variety of fresh bread which we enjoyed with hot cocoa for him and coffee for us.

Then we organized his “next round” of clothes as he’s growing out of current stuff. Much tidying!

They headed off to tea ceremony, I watched a bit of a hockey game while eating a Bento, scanned a few tax documents, put away some cleaning supplies and then into dark bedroom with head spinning a bit so uploaded some videos and transcribed some poetry notebooks in the dark.

2/18 darling wife’s band came for rehearsal at the house, there are now 3 kids and 1 more on the way amongst the members! #NextGeneration I made 3 kinds of tea and served on various China + set-up/took a promo snapshot for their upcoming show. I should note that while the band was rehearsing, I snuck out to the kura barn to set up the drum set you may be caught in a previous post. Came back in at the one hour mark to do the tea service and then stealthed away to fiddle.

Later we made pizza & he’s got the skills down solid now – spins the sauce with a spoon, adds toppings like a pro(ish).

So glad we have a full sized oven but still want to make a brick/clay pizza oven in the backyard… eventually. Will be so handy for birthday parties and get togethers.

Redundant notes about the illness

I’m getting closer… Eventually I can be VanGogh’s Postman

After a really rough January, slowly expanding my energy envelope little bit by little bit… Trying to get a little bit more stable for the upcoming “BC invasion” (details coming) plus several groups of guests coming to visit in March.

Recap: (as you prob know) I go to Okayama university hospital once a month for a trifecta of treatments (plus there’s always some kind of admin stuff to tend to) then weekly to a local clinic for additional IV cocktail, plus seitai treatments 2 to 3 times a month, although currently the doctor is ill.

++ take various medications, supplements, vitamins, and traditional Chinese medicine concoctions at checkpoints 4x each day. Some of the medications are “off label” usage (not specifically designed for #MECFS) as well as some other new unique “experimental” approaches [neurotrophin] and “ketas” (generally an asthma medication which increases blood flow to the brain… #NotScientificExplanation) neither of the above are “FDA approved” afaik

A note about “ketas” for #MECFS curiosity seekers (from me-pedia)
“Drugs such as ibudilast (brand names Ketas or Pinatos or in Japan), an anti-inflammatory drug used for over 20 years in Japan, mostly for asthma and post-stroke dizziness.[7]… Ibudilast can be combined with opioids to reduce chronic nerve pain.[7] Ibudilast is also a phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor, and crosses the blood-brain barrier and suppresses glial cell activation.”

#MEpedia “Vagus nerve infection hypothesis”

Have also started a “new version” of a somewhat controversial #mecfs medication which i won’t mention yet.

Also use variety of vitamins and supplements… was using a lot more supplements but not seeing significant impact and becomes rather financially difficult to be honest and a lot of work to source at all.

I have also investigated low-dose naltrexone but that’s a no go in Japan.

Thinking of a friend

Drying tree blossom petals while thinking about a friend ?

Flowers with thoughts of a friend

Thinking about a friend… #sigh

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).}

Diary: notes from the slow lane (curling, quiche, errands, taxes & flowers for Mom)

This disinter-mediated and somewhat timeshifting rundown of miscellaneous annotations and notes from the last week may not make sense entirely but put here for the historical record as you know, this is a “entire life site“.

Oh hi, just waiting with my boots on

Certainly not comprehensive, vaguely chronological, tense shifts and aggressions as usual. Summary includes: hospital, allergies, easel, coat rack, quiche and curling (and a payphone just to prove it’s actually me) + mention of funeral (heavy) & taxes.

Rally up for hospital time

Feb 21 off the hospital for blood, CT (re: inflamed spleen?) and usual check-in with neurologist. [Update: I am here at the hospital now assembling these notes in case you were curious. Carry-on.]

[Update: spleen doing alright / better is seems – information was probably really heated to a cute situation. Cholesterol is high, yes yes yes I know, working on that… Reduce big fish/meat/milk, more chicken, small fish, keep eating lots of salads, veg, olive oil, reduce nuts… All rather bewildering but on my quest to live well over 100 years old, all relative and relatively important]

Feb 20 So recently, amongst my other health challenges, I’ve been breaking out with strange allergic reaction but my arborist wife has figured out that is allergic/reactionary to eucalyptus wood. We have a stash in the firewood and even a puff of the dust causes me to turn red. Weird.

(As you mebbe know) been “deep in the well” with a really rough patch with my usual & not-usual illness… It’s really mentally wearing me down. Hard to do much of anything when I’m crashed & my scant functional time is spent trying to be supportive useful dude around the house.

Feeling overwhelmed and buried in “things on the list that didn’t happen in the last six weeks“ and turns out we’re bound for a a funeral tomorrow and then I’m back to the hospital on Monday.…

Sure, starting to improve the last couple days though & so eager to do some creative projects, I got excited yesterday putting up a coat rack for the wife’s work clothes. Must remind myself that patience and time are my allies. Importantly: I will point out that wife did all the important parts for putting up said coat rack, I basically handed her drivers, screws & level + offered words of encouragement and support, but still, a bit of dopamine.

However (and) yesterday moved my new/secondhand majestic Rembrandt easel up to the studio lounge and my adorable protégé gave it its first testing. These two make my heart leap and spin every day <3 (They went to tea ceremony).

Portrait of an artist as a Young Man (also note various art and hats)

So curling is over, allergic reaction subsiding, table moved and tatami mats replaced (finally, since Christmas) so I’m gonna take a rest for a while before going to a funeral at 16:30 and then big hospital tomorrow. Nothing but good times. It’s a glamorous life.

Also we finally moved the extra table which has been in the kitchen/dining room since Christmas back into the storehouse barn (where it will soon serve as a multipurpose table for making paper, repairing ceramics with gold (kintsugi), other arts & crafts) and put the tatami mats back in place. Ichiro was very happy about this as he likes to hang out and play here and it feels like we turned a metaphorical page.

Note to a pal regarding yuzu jam, “Think of you often as I put your jam which came in a tahini jar, along with tahini, on sourdough rye crackers as my *little pick me up“ snack.*

Curling: Fantastic final match between Scotland and Japan. Scotland just didn’t make any mistakes at all and ended up with some big ends. My Aberdeener Granny must be smiling. Im very happy for both teams. PS remembering the last Scottish team to win gold in #SLC2002 with brother Dan.

Im really enjoying watching Japan women’s team with their bright smiles and great communication.

I tried curling once back in Canada where it’s national obsession & it’s fantastically difficult at first. Rocks slide so fast and everything is so slippery! But beer afterwards…

Feb 18 Game on! 21:05 JST 2/18 Japan v Swiss women’s curling semi-final olympics. Japan had lost to the assassin like Swiss in the final game of the round robin but came back with a clinical match to advance to the gold medal game. Switzerland, despite their great tournament record, fell in extra ends against Sweden.

Feb 17 it’s Mom‘s birthday, I miss her so much, wife brought flowers and we sang to her with her picture on the table. Made her “Arabian spaghetti“ which I’m not sure is really a thing but it always works for us… basically: spaghetti with minced beef and possible onions and garlic, atop the spaghetti along with yogurt, optional pinenuts, parsley/green onions. Refreshing, easy *and* we are making our own yogurt at the house which Ichiro loves.

During the day however, the two of us went out to do some errands in the city, I’ve been really months since we’ve done that.

Grillmori’s “new location” is small, fabulously well designed with elegant minimalist simplicity featuring great attention to detail. Lunch has choice of three quiche, comes with soup and salad. Simple Zen.

Specifically included:

  • optometrist visit still trying to get glasses dialed in;
  • iPhone repair shop to put a new battery/screen into an iPhone 5 to make another camera to use around the studio;
  • lunch at one of our secret cafés for quiche/soup/salad and coffee and strawberries and cream (pictured ^^;
  • various tasks around the big shiny loud fancy fragrant department store Tenmaya >> drop some jewelry off to repair and look at some new fancy pots and pans (didn’t find exactly what we wanted).
  • afew things at a little kiosk from one of those guys who does shoe repair, key making, videotape transfer, hanko stamp making etc. (doesn’t sell pocket knives however, just feels like he should)

While in one of the corridors which seems relatively unused and filled with benches (rare) with no one sitting on them, spotted a nice payphone just there on the skyway, waiting to be used.

Will be around a month for a couple necklaces to be repaired but also remembered Ryoko’s stories of visits with her grandma buying special tea cups. Oh we bought some fresh hand towels (we’ve been putting away all the rags and towels which are 100% cotton or similar for our paper making project this summer.)

Oh also seitai treatment (great but hard to explain), definitely the busiest day for me since before Christmas.

Feb 16 Grumpy. Starting day on hold with Canada Revenue Agency for :50 min so far. Occasional messages saying “getting towards end of our business day so we might just not answer”. Presents existentialist conundrum. Are you there? Is anybody? Am i? {music plays on}

Ugh so disheartening! Ive tried to be a cub scout on all my emigrant / non-resident / cpp-d file & keep getting conflicting info & now a bill which just arrived with already $221.61 added on. No good deed goes…

I managed a coffee fresh up & p33 while on hold / thats an anxious maneuver. I did sharpen my pencil & jauntily) tucked over ear with pink eye mask. Such serious!

Pencil ready (but wasnt needed)

Yeah beleaguered and disheartening / im trying to be above board and dont get any sorta support :( 1:19 on hold – got up early to do this and have other tasks looming > giving up. Told expected hold time :10-15 at beginning.

I’m really trying my best, I send them letters, faxes and all of it and getting a statement with already interest tacked on is a bit of a kick in the groin but we carry-on, we carry on.

Switched tasks to the slightly more satisfying washing dishes and folding laundry. Decided I will communicate with CRA exclusively by fax moving forward.

Diary: New Years Eve – food & flowers / Eye of the Tiger ahoy!

Last hours before arbitrary mile post/time zones and calendar flipping – and while I’m not at my best I always have big schemes to make lists of intentions. I’ve made them before and yeah, I’ve made them again.

If all goes to plan I’ll sneak away while the wife and mother-in-law are cooking and flower arranging and make a recap video in the barn while listening to records. Plans? Ha ha :-)

But first, a few pre-snap shops and annotations, mostly of my wife in action and other sundry foods and flowers, starting with Ikebana in the genkon.

Made by magical wife (just before making turkey ramen) now tamagoyaki assembly in process… keep reading…

Here is an in-process snap (with a little boy who is a little bit grumpy because he wasn’t getting all of the attention :)) aside: Tea ceremony, music, flower arranging, it’s all possible for him. My brothers tease me that he’ll only be in the video games :(

The painting in the background really works out well too (by Michal Korman)

Somehow in between it all, we went to pick up a huge batch of tempura and of course she had a gift package ready for the proprietor / I just try to stay up with her.

For final holiday maneuver, must break down the last of this turkey to make broth.

I don’t really know what I’m doing but… guess take off the meaty bits by hand and then simmer the carcass for stock? With the leftover celery etc.? Strain it & bottle/bag it?

Behold, turkey ramen with garden veg & pork belly at Tsuchida Cottage. I made the stock/broth, the wife did everything else.

Oh, when I ordered the turkey, sausages, pork belly, there was also a 2 kg ham of some kind so while we were at it, cloves, rosemary and Pineneedles and into the oven it goes.

Good night you lovely folks. Hoping for a pleasant wind down of an interesting year. Year/Eye of the Tiger ahoy!

Grandson Ichiro at Ohaka grave with Fujita Family

8 month old Ichiro Stanley Thorvald Olson visiting his great-grandpa Ichiro’s ohaka grave on the 48th anniversary of his passing. Great-grandmother Tomiko joined him last summer. It’s all about the cycles.

4 generations of Fujitas, more or less art Grandfather Ichiro and now Grandmother Tomiko’s ohaka (grave) short walk from our home in Tsuchida, Okayama. We cleaned the ohaka, lit incense, fresh flowers, clap clap, bow, bow etc.

Momma brought flowers from home (daffodils and irises I think) note: construction beginning behind

Diary: More Rocks, also Herbs + Bocce Dreams (with time lapse fun)

As noted recently, we put in a fresh garden plot in the front yard area of our house in Tsuchida, Okayama, Japan. As part of the project is moving a buncha boulders to make room for planting a smattering of fruit trees.

The boulders are moved by a steel tripod, chains and a pulley system and as such, assuming one is careful and strategic, *fairly* non-heavy work aside from pushing the cart with the boulder to the location to dump it off. 

Time-lapse of a rock moving session:

The relocated rocks are used to build up a retaining wall of sorts to support a drainage ditch… When offloading from the cart to the ditch, we added leftover bales – really bales – of bubblewrap from the shipping of my archives to protect a hard plastic pipe in the ditch. Quite fun rolling the rocks into position! 

Then using a few more to put a ring around a big plum tree to make a picnic park area. 

We’ve done a few sessions now of hauling the rocks and while the pile is reducing, still can’t see the ground sufficiently to put in the trees, so we carry on / there are enough rocks that we’ll sorta extend a little wall. Continue reading Diary: More Rocks, also Herbs + Bocce Dreams (with time lapse fun)