Regrouping: Well yeah, I’m wiped out from all the last while but was able to spread so much love to family and friends which is truly an honour. I’m not good at the “pacing” so much – When I get my mind on something, I burn through the adrenaline and related neuro-chemicals to do it.
Anyhow blah blah blah, I made *a lot* of Internets and documentation, wrote some intentions for the year ahead, started some new traditions, closed some books, open some others, practiced much generativity.
Still in pajamas and robe but going to try to get up, filter some persimmon vinegar, put the miso into smaller containers (yes I made persimmon vinegar and yourself both from scratch!), maybe trim down the Santa Claus beard…
Stretch goal is un-trim the Christmas tree.
Just a note to say I am thankful for all of your comments, participation in my life, cards and letters, late night dispatches and affection in general.
Sending extra kindness to those who are feeling the blues, struggling with health conundrums, &/or loss of various kinds.
Postal Notes: PS Great cards yesterday – Like really fantastic, great details and I love love love a good family year recap newsletter. Thank you so much! ++ one “late but well intentioned” batch out today. Both foreign and domestic.
Ferments: Bottling up housemade vinegar (Persimmon, Ume and Ginger) and Miso (in peanut butter jars) at Tsuchida Cottage. So much macrobiotic goodness!
Rather satisfying project bottling homemade vinegar (Persimmon, Ume & ginger) Of course, well documented, ergo:
Basically, halved persimmons – leave skin on, stack in a vessel, add some “living” vinegar, rocks on top, cheese cloth and wait 1-2 months. Keep an eye to make sure mold doesn’t develop, eventually “decant” the liquid into another vessel, cheese cloth back on, wait a while more, eventually filter it. Strain into clean vessels, add labels. Nice to have some vinegar “mother” to start but skins have natural bacteria.
Sign post (finally, slowly): Next/current project is making a sign post to point to familiar and/or loved places. Will go on this cut tree – mounted in concrete base (also has a weather station on top).
Using scrap wood left over from our construction project and just doing “cheap and cheerful“ quality level.
Sparks include: Got Woody’s Revolutions printed and on stand-by
+ Schemes and Dreams for Year of the Tiger – Reiwa 4 / 2022 +
No surprise whatsoever, Dave, surrounded by scrapbooks, well-designed books, unfolded laundry, impressive selection of washi tape and a vessel of homemade miso – and feeling a little tired – looks ahead to 2022 with schemes and dreams including:
compiling/creating a book called “a circumnavigation, of sorts” with freeverse poetry, snippets of diaries, scraps of letters, forgotten lists and possible scribbles;
(the usual of) taking care of health and being a great husband and papa;
making more scrapbooks and collages;
maybe even some paintings of post boxes, payphones and portals.
Plus tidying up digital odds and ends, stepping up some skills and figuring out how to space out and rest and relax (per Doctors’ orders).
Ichiro makes an appearance as Dave also sends a special *hello* to those who are dealing with some health challenges including uncle in Michigan, a young postcard maker in Sri Lanka, and Larry sensei, and possibly you.
Finally, after reviewing a litany of scrapbooks of plans, poems, correspondence and other oddities from years past, offers encouragement to share your intentions for the year ahead and reflections on years past in whatever medium you fancy.
This re-cap *should* be a few days ago, but some things get squished between others and sometimes time for documentation to take a break. That said, a quick recap of a busy few days around Christmas time.
Note: Christmas is *sorta* a thing in Japan as a starting point for New Years (which is the big deal). Some people evidently order chicken from a chain resto, others exchange gift, there are Santa decorations around, not much of the religiousness and folktales. Anyhow, this is technically my 3rd straight here at Tsuchida Cottage. The first was pre-Ichiro and i ordered in food and stoked out M and F in law and wife with prezos and established some traditions of sorts with a tiny tree and a roaring fire.
Last year 2020 we had a strange errand to do in a nearby town (concerning an abandoned crumbling house, a missing uncle and other conundrums) coincidentally on Dec. 25. Me, wife and Ichi all got terribly ill :( and with the passing of F-i-L’s mother, the tradition dictated a sedate New Years as well. So this year, i wanted to set new traditions, and holy smokes we did (and of course i took on too much) and show my thanks to in-laws and buddy Mac and his lovely GF. We also invited some friendly ladies to join our festive board.
Anyhow, was several days of prep during which i was *struggling* and then Dec. 23rd was Mae Mae’s rehearsal at our home which was a great chance to use our unique floorplan to full effect with the whole band fitting in easily and i even sat in on drums!
Then Dec. 24th was a big one… i’ll let myself take over for re-cap.
Enter in blue, Exit in red #StealthMode #Santa
Just back from my naturalistic Santa Claus performance at the nursery school.
I’m so custom made for this. And at 5 foot 9 with a 32 inch waist, I am a “big guy” 🙂 I told the kids I eat lots of vegetables to keep trim (after i joked that I only eat reindeer)
Each of the students got their own bit of special attention with eye contact, a few kind words, and a present. lots of kids wanted to touch my uniform or my beard as well.
Of course many photos were taken but because of the kids in them, can’t really share them. Soaked in all the dopamine goodness I could.
A few kids cried, our little guy looked at me with a look of bewilderment, all the kids got a special Santa convo and a present & my 2+ months of beard growth allowed me to be truly authentic and bring some joy – indeed, I am truly a method actor :-).
The kids asked some questions but fortunately I had clever answers.
Yes, I will have this gig as long as I want it. #NeighborhoodSanta
Meanwhile back at home
Then on Christmas eve, we wrapped and laid out gifts for Ichiro (after a day of prepping food). He was noticing all the changes in the house with trees and lights and different foods and was wide eyed at it all – and doing the cutest hand gestures to emulate the blinking flicking lights.
Christmas morning, in-laws came over and over hot bevvies with opened gifts. Ergo:
Ryoko and I received matching pyjamas! So warm and cozy and cute. Thrilled.
M-i-L received a puzzle of 4 generations of her (Fujii) family visiting the matriarch at an elder’s home with Aunt, Cousin from Nagasaki, cousin’s 2 little girls, wife and Ichiro in the middle of all the ladies. (recap of outing). We also made a puzzle for great granny, aunt and cousin.
F-i-L received an Adidas track suit made for lounging around (chilly) Japanese houses. We loves to hang at the computer and follow Shogi (a sort of complicated chess) matches and this will comfy and handy for forays outside to check weather and laundry etc.
Ichiro was loaded up but most importantly with a drum set (yeah it seems like i got it for me but really…)
So much fun to set it up and now we have my sorta kit (floor top, high hat, snare) and his in the front room along with piano, baritone ukulele, electric keyboard, and basket of percussion.
Then back to the kitchen… for a final manoeuvres. Kitchen is not my wheelhouse but timely advice from brother Anders and buddy Lance alleviated the anxiety and fortunately magic wife had helped prep most of the stuff the day before (including gravy and eggnog!) and we laid out stuffing (made with homemade chicken stock, mushrooms, baguette, celery, carrot, onion etc), a turkey (which turned out perfect somehow), brussel sprouts (acquisition thereof chronicled elsewhere) with bacon from R’s alma mater, broc/cauli mix, a variety of bevvies, etc.
Snapshots of food follow – self-explanatory (for time being at least):
Buddy Mac came with wine and a pork belly (see above) from his freezer where i shipped the turkey, sausages, and ham. We cooked it on site for the almost-final course.
Ryoko had tracked down some fancy charcuterie too. It all turned out great with pleasing conversation and interestingness as most of the foods were “first time” for attendees.
Oh we used some of my Mom’s “fancy china” and had ordered silverware and cloth napkins for proper table service for 8-1/2 diners (^ see above gallery if curious).
The woodstove was cranking the whole time as was Charlie Brown Christmas music followed by a variety of Joni Mitchell, Cowboy Junkies and Iron and Wine.
Mac and Manami stayed over next door and had breakie (pork belly scramble) and fancy egg nog coffees next morning. Then i collapsed :) Fortunately most the dishes were done night before by elves while i was in bath with Ichi.
Was all so great which is why i am remembering it all here. Pardon brevity, good night.
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!
Well I’m pretty wiped out from the last bunch of days but glad I was able to step up for the family and friends for a good time despite a few setbacks with my health and too many projects.
Switching holidays from Christmas to New Year’s here at Tsuchida Cottage
(Don’t eat this orange, there’s plenty more inside)
Family outing to the post office because that’s how we are.
Still can’t decide which one is cuter. Guess it’s a tie. I’m completely smitten daily.
3 styles of nengajyo / new year post cards in the last batches (for this year).
About 300 total between international/domestic family & friends plus wife’s business and associates.
All handmade/stamped with affection. Grateful for an oddly fantastic year.
It’s the year of the tiger after all. Not sure the significance but I used the stamps liberally nevertheless. meow
For final holiday maneuver, must break down the last of this turkey.
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? Let’s try (Half in a big cooking pot and half in the slow cooker… Anticipating six hours)
We made Miso last May 4th and stashed in a ceramic vessel found when tidying up tool shed.
Holy smokes! Miso turned out great! No mold problem, not overly salty, great texture and mellow yet bright flavor profiles. Just took a little small sample but will try in larger quantities over New Year’s. I feel like I really earned a Japan merit scout badge today.
Noting I’ll end up with about 216 posts at my mixed media creative life archive (you are here) this year (not including ones that were backfilled/backdated). Not bad for a Gen X slacker/new pappa – especially considering everything else that went on this year.
Hoping to review/recap my 2021 Intentions + Annotations soon (typed last year with coffee) – already have a few notes scribbled for 2022 (mostly less paperwork and big projects, more just creating)
This last year had the curious nursery school project, the hugely satisfying house reno project, and the (unsatisfying) emigrant tax project (including a complicated dominos of transactions). Plus did lots of work on my health situation (i deal with #MECFS).
Plus loads of mailouts, supporting friends and charities, but did take on at least 1 too many projects.
Should i give myself “grades” on the previous list? i.e. ukulele playing B+ Japanese writing C- pickling/fermenting A- postcard store C+ great pappa/hubbo A+ 🙂 etc ??
Minor expedition ~ libraries feel like home to me… When I first arrived in my new home city, this was a frequent sequestration but it’s been well over a year, so i felt a bit dizzy from all the possibilities (plus I just finished some medical treatment which spins me out).
Anyhow, I didn’t bring anything home – got kind of too much on the go right now – but Ryoko filled up a satchel including topics around horticulture, charcoal making, vinegar, bamboo, various food things and plant things, the usual.
We also had a small snack at the embedded café – They have a really nice curved couch however it was occupied.
PS Noticed a bag for sale saying “you are absolutely necessary“ which, obviously you are.
Backtracking: Sept 30 was hospital check-in day so that means I put on the fancy shoes and take a snap to share… The van Gogh starry night socks aren’t necessarily the best color match but I think the pen ties it all together. Thoughts?
And yes, did get an egg salad sandwich variety pack from the embedded 7-Eleven while we waited.
Just another payphone I didn’t make a call from. I don’t have the cards nor do I know any phone numbers – however, I do appreciate that these devices exist and are well-maintained, clean and magnificent. The industrial design on them is so fantastic. It’s a sort of “peak Japan“ mixing digital and analog, materials & lines.
This photo sparked some reminiscence from other Japan residents in times past when payphones were critical utility, i.e.:
GL says, “Yeah handy too use as a guitar tuner back in the 1900’s. The dial tone is a F . Not the most convenient reference tone but it works to get you tuned up with the rest of the world 🎸”
MB says, “An international Japanese pay phone! The Rolls Royce version compared to their lesser green domestic call only cousins. These grey phones and their locations were coveted and noted when I was a student in Japan though I couldn’t afford to phone card pay for many calls back to Canada where a short call would cost me 1000 yen.”
JW says, “Yeah, I still remember in the early 90s when I first visited here, an international call could cost as much as 500 yen per minute. Later callback services became popular where you would ring a foreign trigger number and hang up (no charge) and the service would call you back and you’d dial the real number you wanted to call, without paying NTT for the privilege, at a much lower rate. Then I could call Los Angeles cheaper than a domestic call from Kanto to Kansai.”
I offer, “Plus having to trudge through the snow to a pay phone at some strange hour to try to contact a friend in another time zoneNow such luxury to blab on endlessly in pyjamas, from home, no cost (with video) seems 25 years changed a centuries worth.”
++ In general (I’ve been meaning to do a video spiel about this) Japan is so different than what I showed up 25 years ago on the mushroom farm and hitchhiked around, I mean, of course places change but there’s a few foundational things that are very different (as well as the massively impactful overarching demographic and economic trends).
I think the next 20 years as my little guy grows up here are really going to be incredible to watch and be part of.
Really not very consequential or interesting regardless…
Several “life administration“ tasks on the list today including: a USA ballot (WA state); call to IRS (can’t I just fax them?); same-ish with CRA (will do that by postal letter I think); plus putting a variety of different nuts and seeds in peanut butter jars. Yes, my peanut butter consumption really pays off with extra jars. Think I will do that job first.
Update: US ballot done, and various nuts/seeds/etc. put into jars (Next to the tiny dried fish)
Also sortganized my supplements for the next fortnight.
Not quite up for tax forms at the moment so going to fold some laundry and meditate on it.
Saturday: My sweet wife Ryoko started day at a funeral for a dear fellow who always supported her band & community and then, changed outfits and hopped the train to Fukuoka for a big test to level up her tree doctor credentials.
Back at Tsuchida station, we watched final bout of Nagoya sumo basho (yowza!) & i made caprese salad with garden tomatoes (& bonus avocado).
Out and about! On an errand (picking up a second hand roll-top writing bureau desk) in the Kei truck with the absolutely incredible and adorable Ryoko Olson at the wheel rolling the country backroads to the (minor provincial capital, mostly forgotten) city of lovely goldilocks Okayama – yes, we even have canned coffees in the cupholder and a.m. radio (which you can’t really hear over the 650cc engine but whatever) – got to say it’s a *pretty romantic* date
matchy matchy / curling sweater and hockey jacket, handmade hats, snappy scarves
Update: this is what we picked up, look at this gorgeous desk with the rolltop and everything￼
Today went “over the wall“ for some seitai treatment / stiiiiilllll trying to bust outta this ME/CFS crashmode.
Good news is: my head and heart are so happy and filled with wonder every day. And I’m managing a few little creative dispatches through the fog. Thanks to each of you for chiming in, so very noticed.
PS I wish all medical offices were this level of aesthetic loveliness as well as phenomenal hi-fi system and exceptional records
Whilst out, noticed a cute house café nestled in amongst some concrete buildings with an orange bicycle in front. I found that if you stay focused on the goal, I miss all the good stuff which get filed as “distractions”… It turns out the things like hobbies and digressions are the best parts of life.
Anyhow, stopped in for some “safety Ramen” at really the best place > one owner operator and everything is just “perfect” – the seats, the size, the decorations, the music, everything tidy and just well thought out and of course the Ramen is top level. (Brian Ceci can attest ;)).
Ichiro was as always his jolly self. He also had some injections today and got to say hello to the doctor that helped bring him into the world. She’s (Moe-sensei) a really wonderful lady and she was so happy to see him growing up so happy, healthy and strong.
Recap: Haven’t left the house for sometime so three stops today, quite significant.
Next activity: on the 18th I will be “socially distant Santa Claus” for a few kids at a local community center. Yes I will be using natural beard. And we ordered appropriate costume, the “luxury/deluxe” version but I would describe it more just as “adequate but with some extra gold bits (and a little cape!)”. Ryoko Olson will assist me in a super cute red velvet dress, likely with the little dude on her back. I may take a clipboard to take notes about the children’s requests before I tell them “no, none of this is possible, here is an orange :-)”.
Back home, warming up – it’s sunny but chilly and even a few flakes of snow (!), folded laundry, made tea, a few dishes to wash, have something to write about Vincent van Gogh, and some Hokusai postcards. Oh and i hope to sleep, really – I mean I can dream, right?
Drinking a Turmeric / Reishi mushroom concoction in a stolen mug with a velour tracksuit, Dave rambles aboutmisplaced “tribute to Mom” memorandum log and love of receiving cards and letters which are stashed lovingly in handmade scrapbooks and shared with family.
Plus quick hits about festive cards (and evidential delays), poems, time traveller photos, letterhead, stationery and Ryoko’s Kinome office.
With Ichiro strapped on whilst outdoors, Dave and some dodgy camera work walk around the yard and gardens of our home in Okayama, Japan. Stops include: picnic area(s), Ryoko’s tool shed, location of upcoming house addition, various wood piles, bamboo grove, Mother’s vegetable garden, the kura grain barn turned art studio and (of course) a persimmon tree.
Appearances by father Takeshi, Ryoko of course, and the neighbour lady stops by to see the cutest baby.