Tag Archives: Ryoko Olson

Chooglin’ through September, logistics & whatnot

Chooglin’ On -– not on the Canadiana tracks this time, rather balancing logistical and creative life in a cottage in Japan

Are you there pals? It’s me, daveo.

So many actions yet forward momentum doesn’t feel forward.

I think its a matter of expectations and “how my brain is a little bit broken” / I purchased a book about brains and whether or not one’s might be broken (or specifically how it is not). Have yet to read.

Regardless, when making a laundry list of “things ticked off list” – this month was spectacular! Especially when gauged against my *cough* priorities for the year:

  1. Be a great hubbo and papa
  1. Take steps forward for health
  1. Sort out life admin stuff for the long haul

I.e. Intake to new speciality clinic at Okayama University Hospital plus a follow-up visit, seitai x2, a few walks, cleaning ancestors graves, surviving typhoon warnings (really hard for me), stepping up emergency preparedness, passports, taxes, applications, translations, certifications, notarizations, tickets punched, forms filled out, tolls paid.

Truthfully these “life admin” tasks often feel redundant at least and ridiculous at times (noting: there is a choice to fly under the radar though once you surface, you’d best be prepared to deal with the consensus reality) but very required and somehow I do have latent paperwork genetics(?) from both strands tailored for the task when the brain is firing. Problem is the brain doesn’t always fire. (Did you read that article from the Atlantic I’ve been bouncing around?)

I mean, loads of all of the above PLUS the “creative life” goodness which sometimes feels elusive happened, ergo: An online poetry reading with really fantastic collaborators; a poem in a poetry book which sits on my (one of my several) desk(s); 50+ posts in this very archive – including some detailed mixed-media diaries of healing ramble, stories of adventures, usual ephemera, artifacts, collections and more sort-ganizing in ongoing semantic nuance; solid handful of video storytimes with arts and crafts, stories and poems; many conversations, some of them quite lengthy, with friends – both foreign and domestic – by telephony.

This is even before we dig into Ryoko’s singing performance, various rehearsals, and loads of arboristing and landscape designing. She amazes me with her patience, creativity, strength and sweetness regularly. 

And more important than any of this is playtime with Ichiro almost every morning before school and wonderful hot bathtime every single night. We do puzzles, play music on ukulele, piano and drums, all the words tumble out of his mouth but the songs even moreso. And He looks through the scrapbooks of his art and always pulls a book out of his pile eager to explore the words both in English and Japanese. While on the logistical errand to the big gray city of Osaka, we went to a museum exhibit which was especially for him, for us too but for him, was some kind of amazing heaven of Okamoto Taro.

++ Almost all meals prepared at home, laundry is always caught up dishes almost always, house generally tidy despite an active toddler and two parents with many hobbies. 

So when to lay it all out, the score is rather high but at the same time, and very eager to do more big creative things. I know they wait patiently amidst stacks of furious notebooks, sheets of unfiltered papers, digital documents with various suffixes –and I know the time is coming as I think about these projects all the time in the long hot baths. Will you read them if I make them? The words in the books that is?

Now the weather will cool, I will get IVs on the weekly, drink magical traditional Chinese medicine potions, other “off label/experimental” medications, I will find my peace, and I will pluck the things as ripened.

I didn’t even mention the wild boar attack.

Let’s make a start! Tomorrow comes photographs and possible live Jazz in the streets.

We will travel by bus. the three of us together. October ahoy! 

Equinox at Ohaka, saying respectful hellos to the ancestors

The both of them are so adorable, me, I’m just glad to be here

Friday, Sept 23: Equinox day walk up to the ancestral graves for cleaning, incense and fresh flowers… as is tradition. We tended to several generations in Tsuchida, Okayama.

Note we are wearing our “family tie-dye tartan” made by brother Dan (wiped me out so back home to rest fckn #mecfs :()

Continue reading Equinox at Ohaka, saying respectful hellos to the ancestors

Musing: fires, volcanos, axe handles & cycle of children

This shelf, containing “danger on peaks” was itself dangerous and not aesthetically pleasing so now it is a garden planter box

March 13, 2022: I went to sleep last night – first night without a fire in the stove for some time – on tatami mats reading “Danger on Peaks”, dedicated to Carole, woke up as my Ryoko took little Ichiro to school, recalling Gary writing about being a 63-year-old stepdad taking a 10-year-old to school in the carpool, and thinking of myself at 10 years old on 95th Ave. in Surrey, getting ready for church the Sunday morning when Mt St Helens erupted, remembering the feeling of the unusual rumble (was not an 18 wheeler), and thinking of Gary coming down the mountain as a 13-year-old to learn that Japan was bombed and “nothing will grow there for 70 years“ and how Hiroshima is just down the road from me, indeed wonderful noodles, activists & parks.

Poured fresh French Press coffee, and picked up my robot and read Wang Ping’s remarkable recounting moments with the axe handle, with the boy-now-man (about my vintage) who the axe handle was created with, with the poet (who had been just up the road in Kyoto, probably pass through here at some point), together throwing hatchets into a stump, then into a barn (no food allowed to prevent pests, like my kura), pulling out Ezra Pound and Han Shan, pages falling open to the exact place, and marveling at the un-coincidence of it all. Such treasure.

It’s all about the cycles as Gary said to Lew. Or was that vice versa?

Also, Ichiro – a year and a half old – loves no toy more than the brush and scoop to clean the woodstove & darling Ryoko now has the skill to light the store with a single match with help from my special arts and crafts made from egg cartons, soy paraffin and sawdust learned from my mother, her ashes on the altar.

Hail the fire queens, axe carvers, and pantry mice!

Axe Handles
BY ©1983 GARY SNYDER

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
                               the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-—in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Museum & Musings: Lafcadio Hearn (Yakumo Koizumi)’s residence etc. / Matsue, Japan, 2018

In my first era in Japan, 1992-3 in Tottori, I vaguely heard about a “western” writer who had lived in nearby Shimane prefecture, had taken on Japanese name/identity and whatnot in a time that very few foreigners were coming into Japan and those who were diplomats, business people or missionaries and generally centred around Tokyo or other big cities.

I learned more about this character named left Lafcadio Hearn (Patrick Lafcadio Hearn / Πατρίκιος Λευκάδιος Χερν, later Koizumi Yakumo) and was completely intrigued. I couldn’t imagine how he chose this wonderful yet far-flung location, and the logistics of getting out there and getting settled.

Learning more about his life realized his fantastically interesting life with checkpoints in Greece, Ireland, the Caribbean, New Orleans, the American midwest west (with a then-shocking *mixed race* abandoned marriage), coming to Japan on assignment for a magazine, quitting the magazine and going rogue, later teaching at a university where his position was usurped by noted Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki.

So when I returned to Japan in 2018, top of my list (besides hanging out at Mac Kobayashi’s goat farm) was to go to his museum. As it goes, I arrived to treacherous weather, typhoons, rain storms, flooding, landslides follow by a heat wave – all of which made my illness a little bit rough but, along came a girl, the girl.

Ryoko met me in Matsue, (i’ll always remember her walking down the steps of the station with her floppy straw hat and me saying “how about a picnic?”) and indeed, we rolled by bus out to the two museums: one was his former house and the next-door was a museum which was not photo friendly.

But first, a picnic on the banks of the moat around the castle that he would have looked at every day, waving to the tourists going past in boats, taking snapshots of the statues, payphones, and post boxes before going into the house and museum (2 different places).

Lafcadio Hearn Former Residence: https://goo.gl/maps/NSDc1wHnShU3D1Pq5

Lafcadio’s own writing desk! This was a wonderful feeling

First off, the house was very pleasant to explore with his custom made writing desk which was surprisingly on tatami mats, and raised to accommodate his eyesight challenges. Around, the garden was well kept and in splendid bloom along with other pieces of his artwork, calligraphy and artefacts he collected and a friendly staff with a comment box.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan: https://goo.gl/maps/zu8MZtdP6uXDpMXW7

Continue reading Museum & Musings: Lafcadio Hearn (Yakumo Koizumi)’s residence etc. / Matsue, Japan, 2018

Diary: #daveo52 / happiness and time are infinite, right?

chicken, 4 ways

Most years, for my birthday I “give myself a present of making some creative project”… In past years there was the Frederick Varley three-part mixed media essay in Vancouver Observer, the “poets, punks and revolutions: Forgotten Vancouver stories” video from Northern Voice 2013 (with Andrew Lavigne), last year was the “Leo card“ bonanza plus a special video dispatch “Castle, foundations and pyjamas (from Saskatoon to Tsuchida)“, the year before was the “Regarding Personal Archeology #daveo50 (video introduction)” project tracking each year of my then-50 years, i also assembled and published my 1988 “Uncle Weed’s Red Rock Storybook” in 31 parts for another birthday creation. Previously was big raging parties for UncleWeed 40 Pig Roast and UncleWeed 42 (+ brother Danimal 39) “Music Festival” themed epic (round-up)… Anyway this year I had thought about doing a live poetry reading or maybe a chapbook, or finish the Kerouac in Kobe video.

But then I remembered the most important things for this year are being an “good husband and papa” and the most important thing in life is having time/connections with the people that you care about. (plus recalled that mid-August when folks are rocking the last of summer is a lousy time to put something out on the internet, regardless of my fck stats make art ethos). So/and:

waking up, 1 year in the new.old.new house/cottage

Also, I just can’t seem to “bounce up” recently… I mean between the illness (MECFS) and the heat and a couple of energy-vampire significant “personal life administration” projects that i’m not quite comfortable talking about yet, i’m spending a significant amount of time in bed (not shocking for my illness and no, no advice requested), i did close to nothing as far as a creative project aside from posting a few odds and ends while killing time in the doctors office.

Indeed,i went to seitai treatment – it being a “holiday“ (i guess) as the last day of O-bon, a lot of people waiting ahead of me so i shared some dispatches (about Auroville and the end of my driving “career“), reading a new ‘zine as well as Nick Bantock‘s “Sabine’s notebook“ – which I now own two original creations – and then lay down on the fainting couch underneath a framed print of my art (yes I will say this every time).

Sei tai drs waiting room with zine and epistolary lit

After an intense treatment (it really spins me out), Ryoko picked me up, gave me a sandwich and took me home to bed… PS going to the doctor, i did a funny thing (i think) by wearing the same outfit the doctor always does to see if he will notice: Khaki pants, brown belt, off-white short-sleeve collared shirt. No comment but i was amused.

The previous few days, we prepared food in stages including slow roasting a pork belly, marinating and roasting three kinds of chicken thighs (banana pepper mustard, barbecue, and jerk) and then oiled-down and powder jerk rub on a chicken, marinating resting overnight. Mother-in-law made salads, I always have pickles on standby, so we just stashed the chicken in the oven – on the special rack with a tall can of Spring Valley – for an hour and whazzam, dinner.

Of course my pal Mac the goat farmer came over with a large flagon of fancy Koti beer and two lovely gifts, a great new record and cool new T-shirt. Thanks Pal.

we tried to call Cmdr Bob but no go

My lovely in-laws also gifted me a couple of new T-shirts. I also told them how grateful I am for how we built a relationship more and more this year as it’s a one year anniversary also of us moving back into the new/old/new cottage.

quick with the photo and eat the gelato!

For dessert, Ryoko with help from Ichiro, really, made Matcha Gelato as my request and it was fantastic! We pulled out Mom‘s fancy China and she wrote “happy birthday Dave” in chocolate sauce which Ichiro quickly attacked.

And, while throwing Ichiro around, he noticed the missing pack of Anpanman “fireworks“ (sparklers and simple things) we had put on top of the fridge and forgotten about so we promptly went outside where there was a little bit of rain (hooray!) and had some fire fun.

So in amongst jerk chicken and hanabi sparklers… so ends another circuit for me and so ends another o-bon so our ancestors can go back to their heavenly confines and me to bath. good night wonders, fondly, dvo
Continue reading Diary: #daveo52 / happiness and time are infinite, right?

Item: Ryoko’s new kei truck (with dump back)

Ryoko pick up her new rig

A few moths back (March 2022) Ryoko traded in her long-running trusty Suzuki kei-truck (kei-trucks/van/cars are a class of vehicles with 660 cc or less motors and a carefully determined physical footprint).

take a ride in the old truck to pick up the new truck, try the dump feature and drive back

She ordered it from a catalogue some months before – the first time strangely enough either of us have bought a “brand new vehicle” –assisted again by the kindly Claudia Car office who have helped her with previous purchases.

He came to our house with the catalogue and paperwork and we even exchanged a stack of cash at the kitchen table like some clandestine transaction.

Continue reading Item: Ryoko’s new kei truck (with dump back)

Aside: Yesterday kinda felt like summer…

Kinda felt like summer yesterday (been a rough start for me despite the very very summer heat – ugh such blues and pain but…).

Rundown: went to seitai (hardly summery or unusual but still important), then ate at our fave ramen place (at the counter! with Ichiro!), then drove mountain and coast roads to Setouchi, picked up beach-side takoyakai, quick play on hot slide (at pizza place mentioned), onwards to Ayumi-san’s “resort apartment”, soaked 11th floor onsen (talked with friendly folks, identified a few inland-sea islands (you can see Shikoku from here, as well as Mejima, Shodoshima, and passed ferry dock of Inujima), changed into yukata (summer kimono), ate the takoyaki plus yakisoba and big green salad, up to rooftop to watch fireworks (Ichi in his stylin Jimbei outfit saying “sugoi!” “oki!” to all assembled + Ryoko and Ayumi in kimomo as were others, drank 1 can beer), back to apartment for watermelon & gelato while traffic calmed down (big crowded parking lot) , looked at Ayumi’s maps and ephemera from Vancouver and Victoria trip 2005 (sigh), then late night home with tired lil boy and mom so papa talking to keep her on course (got home unloaded and wife went to late night carport to repair her fancy sandals for tea).

Cascadian Consulate has a fancy pool for select visitors

Today back in bed, wife at tea ceremony, Ichi next door with Jiji & Baba.

Took some rooftop snaps with Olympus camera, included are 2 snaps of Ichiro on a hot slide and one of our majestic pool but covered up.

Ichiro meets Ichiro sensei + airplanes and fireworks in Noto

(Then i noted): He comes home today. I used to wanna be a rockstar or a pro hockey player and always out on the road/tour but now, four days away from him and it feels like he’s leveled up again and I don’t wanna miss a single day, ever. #io in Noto {photos by Ryoko, edits me}

always ready for adventure!

A few notes from Ichiro’s first plane trip with Mama to visit Hongo Ichiro sensei on Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. Train was no really possible so went from Okayama’s (adorable) Momotaro airport (OKJ) to Haneda then on to Noto with a group taxi to town.

Stayed with sensei at his converted fish processing plant turned house/workshop and then at a minshuku guesthouse with some friends.

What follows a few a few notes while my darling were away and a couple photos Ryoko sent from the “end of the world”.

ichiro on the go!

So it began: Ichiro loaded up his backpack with a favorite book, stuffed penguin, travel cup, snacks, handkerchief and an Insta photo of the two of us.

We’d dropped a friend off at Momtaro before and since, Ichiro is intrigued and excited about airplanes and he/we wave and say “hikoki bai bai” whenever one is overhead.

tie dayes in “family tartan” made by brother/uncle Dan

So… dropped off a Momotaro airport with parents and had an extra lunch before breezing through the mellow regional airport. Their ANA service was “first of a new route” or something so they received a commemorative souvenir.

i explained the importance and benefits of being kind and friendly to the staff, in this case from best airline ANA
Continue reading Ichiro meets Ichiro sensei + airplanes and fireworks in Noto

Family at Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto

Your Olson pals at Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto (wiki / map / inside kyoto) on a trip in April 2022.

Your Olson pals at Ginkaku-ji 

Blurb: Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺, lit. “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”), officially named Jishō-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the constructions that represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period.

Idea: I might start making this year’s festive holiday cards just because there is a great photo (taken by a stranger on an iPhone 5) *except i look a little bit chubby, Ichiro just woke up, Ryoko is perfect.

Diary: apropos of nothing (sleeping masks, hockey, mosquito net, laundry)

Really nothing to the usual days except for the brilliance of usual days, appros of really nothing, i annotate for amusement. Carry on in a disinter-mediated manner:

new kamidana house shrine for ancestors – made in Tottori from a slab of gingko wood

Okayama memo: The thing I really like most about is its very “usualness” {aside from being famous for the Momotaro peach boy story and being a “place you pass through to get to other places”} is also almost always sunny but not today (this Cascadian doesn’t mind the rain though).

My 1st era in Japan in the early 90s, was in Tottori (remote w/ kei-truck), later hiding out near Miasa, Nagano. When came back few years ago, found Okayama was just right / Not a hectic sensory overload city but has big hospital, Immigration etc.

Yes, we “lean heavily” into Momotaro folktale here and the image of a peach is scattered all over from statues to utility pole covers and gosh, peaches with a boy coming out of them can look really funny! And apparently it’s the sunniest prefecture in Japan. 

By post: Three pack of organic oatmeal arrived. {always mean to scribble down “tasting notes“ with all the different kinds but never do and never remember which ones were “great“ but all are, you know, good enough} ~ Eat each morning with variety of nuts, berries and sometimes yogurt.

Today by post: hori hori garden tool (this one is artisan made, previously ordered for wife and mother-in-law from off-the-shelf made-in-Japan company) / this one needs sharpened up and it didn’t come with a case/holster :( feels good in the hand though.

Day in the life:

  • ate salad with smoked salmon for lunch
  • loaded our new tiny dishwasher
  • sent a telegram, really
  • attempting to remove chewing gum from a pocket of a favorite shirt with ice packs #pending

now a rest before finishing laundry

Next day: One oatmeal, three coffees, two baskets of laundry, two hockey games… Now switching to loungewear and some tax paperwork. Then maybe repair a wicker stool after lunch.

Update: some arcane tax documents prepared, stamped, notarized, faxed, ready to mail in Duplicate etc. Indian curry and smoked salmon/avocado/lettuce salad lunch with darling. Next (going to try) to put a new seat on this wicker stool with hemp cloth and upholstery thumbtacks.

It’s not a masterpiece but it’s decent. Sturdy Polish hemp cloth, rugged long tacks & see how it goes. Hooray for hexagons!

Continue reading Diary: apropos of nothing (sleeping masks, hockey, mosquito net, laundry)