Tag Archives: gifts

Diary: Feeling Grateful for *possibly-accidentally-well-timed* kind words

Feeling grateful for a few very possibly-accidentally-well-timed kind words which reminded me that my personal archeology and creative arts n crafts projects are well, notable endeavours to others beyond me.

Fck Stats, Make Connection #fsma
“5x fans can’t be wrong”

(original snap by R. Scales at a record fair at Croatian Cultural Centre i think… maybe 2008, maybe 2010, maybe not)

 

Kitchen: Dave’s Pickles (“branded” as gifts, not a side-hustle)

Kitchen: Pickles (“branded” as gifts, not a side-hustle)

Don’t call it a business, nor a side hustle, this is arts and crafts for gifts and kindness.

This batch from May 20, going out into the world.

Handmade/package/decorated… Everything up/recycled (except the vegetables).

Diary: Ichiro clothes hanging to dry

Ichiro set for sharp outfits for a bit. Sorting into “now” “soon” & “later” piles.

Thank you for all the wonderful gifts, having so much fun dressing him up (though I always want to wear matching outfits #WorkingOnIt)

Also working on special “thank you” cards for the folks who sent things along (as usual, i’ve over-complicated this idea but totally worth it, right?)

Address Reminder:
Ichiro Stanley Olson
937-1 Tsuchida, Naka-ku
Okayama-shi, Okayama-ken
703-8217 Japan

Handy: Postal Tips and details

 

Diary: Tie dyes for Ichiro + Deadhead treats from Brother/Uncle Dan

{Catching up with…} Leading up to Ichiro’s birth, another wonderful package arrived – this one from brother Dan (with postal assist by brother Bob) containing an assortment of handmade treats and other related goods.

Most noteworthy were a variety of tie-dye t-shirts including one for papa (hello!), mama and the forthcoming-at-the-time baby in our “family tartan“ which he also made for various brothers and nieces and nephews. Will make a splendid family photo one day. 

In the meantime, here’s two of us, and the tie-dyes on standby for little Ichi-Stan.

Also in the mix there’s a few gifts of soccer scarves for some friends Dan met during his last visit and, a variety of Grateful Dead socks for us and the notable Deadhead/goat farmer Mac.

Ichiro being extra special got an additional tie-dye which, paired with his various bibs and hats would be extra cool.

Thanks brother/in-law-uncle Dan for being so thoughtful and we’ll soon I’ll put on our tie-dyes for a photo with the young nephew.

Note: Dan learned his tie-dye trade, well perfected it anyway, from Lance who along with Leslie were proprietors of Aaron’s Tie-Dyes for many years. Dan and I were able to assist – in my case, purely as a “road trip logistical assistant”, and indeed, it was the tie-dye is that introduced me to Lance and his cohorts other then-new ISP (OlyWa.net) in a totally life-changing coincidence of asking for change for laundry machine.

 

 

Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Christmas isn’t really an “event” in Japan, more of a marketing campaign and a prelude to New Year’s Eve which is laden with tradition, nostalgia and routine. It’s kinda my speed as i am def turned off by rampant commercialism quasi-religious sabre-rattling which comes around. 

Regardless, with new family (and more family arriving in 2020) i wanted to wrangle a bit of festiveness – also acknowledging been a long while since i had vaguely “regular” christmas and while this was atypical, established some new routines, scratched an itch… after all, with the turmoil in my life the last years, there is admittedly some misgivings and rather tough emotions which come around during all this hoolpa. Most importantly, got to show love and respect for wife and in-laws. 

PS You can see a bit of building up for Christmas and read a riff between a friend and i about this holiday in Japan in: Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

What follows are a few poorly-photographed artifact of activities from Dec. 24 – 26 JST. Carry On!

First off, Dec. 24 (christmas eve) we made dinner of grilled mackeral, squash, pickled cucumbers and tsukemono carrots, greens, miso soup, tea, rice, lotus root, and whatnot. Yup, not off to a very traditional start – ha!

Christmas morn, we opened our stockings (pictured above) purchased from a 100yen store ($1), nothing but the best! and enjoyed toast with cream cheese and my kaki (persimmon) jam which i am always talking about, and nashi (pear). My sock had snacks, Ryoko’s had expired 35mm film and a necklace and snacks. 

Then we went to post office (one of my fave activities of course) and i wore a Santa cap (borrowed from Ryoko who wore at Mae Maes Christmas concert) to the amusement of the post office staff and the kids at the grocery store which was our next stop. Folks are stocking up for New Years time during which many stores are closed or scaled back hours and folks generally wanna hunker down. 

Then we picked up a pre-made feast from a great lil cafe called Sakura-mi we had ordered a while back when we went on a little lunch date. Here’s the café’s post box.

And i got to make a fire in the wood stove. So yeah, post office and fire making in the same day! Pleased. 

Took the grub home and set up at parent’s house (next door).

Continue reading Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Japan: Travel primer / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Travelling to and Around Okayama, Japan,” “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Japan Ramble Primer

Japan can be intimidating, even for seasoned travellers. You arrive to massive sticker shock, tiny octopi in soup, and 30 kinds of hot canned coffee (which all taste moreorless the same) in ubiquitous vending machines. 

Japan is a long country with 80% mountains – covering several climates, from frosty Hokkaido in the north, to tropical Kyushu giving adventurous folks much opportunity to head to the outer provinces for exploration of the heady scenery of this varied archipelago. With some planning, politeness and persistence, combined with a little zen, you can find big adventures.

Indeed, it is easy to get lost in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka – crowded with skyscrapers and twisted alleys, piled high with screaming neon clubs pumping techno, reggae or karaoke and shops piled with futuristic technological gadgets that won’t make it to North America for another decade – but, far away from the expensive hotels and talking toilets of the huge Pacific metropolis, you may find yourself soaking in alpine hot springs on a starry night, drinking sake with strangers crammed into a mountain hut after a backcountry dinner of rice, seaweed, miso and green tea.

Continue reading Japan: Travel primer / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

Japan: Travelling to and Around Okayama, Primer

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Primer: Travelling Japan / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography“, “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Getting to Okayama, Japan

Airport

Best to fly to Kansai (KIX) Osaka airport. This schmancy modern airport is located on a human-made island in the middle of the bay and includes 2 hotels, like 100+ restaurants, post office, an airplane viewing platform and importantly, a train station.

The hotels (the full-service Nikko Hotel & business-single-pod-style First Cabin) are super useful if you arrive exhausted from the long flight (usually about 14 hours from N.A. west coast). A short trip from the airport’s island by shuttle bus brings you to loads of other hotels. This airport village also has loads of shopping for buying treats on your way home.

Of course, the are other airports, specifically Tokyo (massive international hub Narita NRT or sometimes Haneda HND which is usually used for domestic flights) and the new Centrail/Chubu/Nagoya (NGO) airport. While you might save a few dollars on the flight, you’ll have a longer (more expensive) train journey to reach Okayama which is the destination for the shindig.

Fly direct to Okayama (OKJ) via the charmingly convenient and cute Momotaro Airport. If you fly to Haneda or Narita (Tokyo) mentioned above, you can transfer and fly right here.  Sometimes this requires an airport shuttle between Narita (mostly international) and Haneda (more domestic).  There is a bus service from Momotaro to downtown Okayama too.

Note: there is a huge service difference for the long-haul flights from North America. My personal experience is to fly an Asian-based airline, i.e.: Japan (ANA *fave, JAL), Korean (Korean or Asiana), Taiwan (EVA), HK (Cathay Pacific) or Singapore if coming from YVR, SFO, LAX, etc. If coming from other Asian destinations, well you are usually all good. I have experienced much less enjoyment from US-based airlines and China mainland airlines often have low prices but check the reviews and adjust against your comfort levels.

Consider tracking flight options/prices with Skyscanner with a price alert or same with Google Flights and try Hopper (app) to see when best time to “pull the trigger” on purchasing flight. Flying from Vancouver? Check out YVRdeals.

Continue reading Japan: Travelling to and Around Okayama, Primer

Giftbag Round-up / Dave + Ryoko 4-20 Kekkon-shiki

At weddings in Japan – unlike in “western” countries, guests usually bring cash in special envelopes as a gift rather than a household appliance or other oddment from a registry. The cash is often in 2 envelopes – one as a “gift” and other the cover their portion of party expenses. Regardless, the notes as fresh and crisp and in a special envelope with appropriate decorations and minimal written sentiments.

The guests are almost always sent on their way with a gift bag of treats with items which reflect the spouses personality (not always the case), or the region or season of the wedding. Anyhow, we took the gift bag part on with great enthusiasm and vigour as we wanted all the guests to take a piece of our heart reflected in hobbies, interests and whatnot.

As it goes, with all the work assembling the gift bags of disparate objects, we neglected to document the items dutifully. Fortunately our pal Robert Scales did a pretty decent job of capturing the assortment which included the following

  • Bizen Yakima saké cup – nearby Bizen one of 6 great centres of pottery of Japan, the cups were handmade by master potter Hosokawa-san and fired with no glaze for 2 weeks at 1000 degrees Celsius in a massive kiln
  • Note: cups were wrapped in newspaper and packed into hemp cloth drawstring bags

  • Matcha tea – from Kyoto, in a metal tin with bamboo accessories: whisk chasen and scoop chashaku
  • Gig Poster – the Taisho-era jazz/travel inspired art for the wedding made by Joanna Ambrosio of Ganamo Design (Vancouver/Mexico) and professionally printed (A4) by Fujii Printing
  • Sakura oil painting print – from Dave’s Gravelly Beach series, printed A4 by Fujii Printing, signed and number (150)
  • Commemorative postcards (2) – featuring paintings by Dave of Rural Caprine Farm’s noted gingko tree in full yellow splendour and haiku postbox (there is the actual postbox on site) of a poem about letters and peaches. Postcard backs designed with Olympia typewriter. Printed by moo.com
  • Thank you card – hand-lettered (Japanese and English) by Ryoko, accessorize with stamps from US and Vatican, printed by Fujii Printing
  • Incense – ceremonial from Bali
  • Ceningan Divers invitation – a special offer from our friends with a dive resort in Bali
  • Vendor thank you – round-up of all the vendors who assisted, contributed etc to the wedding, including URLs for thanks and reviews etc.
  • Gift bag – blue heavy corrugated paper bags with string handles from Usigaya decorated by hand with a special ink stamp (thanks parents) and gold/silver paint marker flag flourish (by Dave)
  • Finally, a special “typewriter card” paper clipped to each one to make unique and washi tape to close each bag.

All the materials were ordered, delivered etc and then moved to the goat farm’s kitchen table where dear helpful pals (under supervision of lawyer Lindsay and the Jen-eral) assembled and moved down to the goat farm so the area looked like a splendid festive morning. Then, each guest (mostly) received their bag with (hopefully) delight.

Note to self: there is a snap somewhere of the guide to assembling gift bags to add here.