Tag Archives: tsuchida cottage

Post’d: Cottage DIY to Taisho vibes

Nothing in particular, just three awesome postcards, two DIY – Tsuchida cottage signpost and Don Mee restaurant sign in Victoria + one by noted Taisho-era artist Takahisa Yumeji from Okayama.

Somehow the Blue ties them all together

Sending regards, gratitude and best wishes to various humans.

Oh, and three more three more to say “thank you for coming by the cottage” and other appreciation for gentle advice & creative goodness.

Each postcard of course includes extensive backstory… So simple but somehow some meaningful, to me at least

Dropped into an unfamiliar postbox near the hospital. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be all right although I put one “international” into the “domestic” slot by mistake.

Good night & good year / Reiwa 6 Ahoy

So tired, heading to bath and bed.

Just thinking about you…

PS while the bath is running however, a few brief remarks about a year of reunions – both inbound and outbound – (seems like too much but it’s never enough), gratitude for quality healthcare after so many hospital visits, and hooray for a great “forest preschool” run by the YMCA for Ichiro.

more to say about next year and the theme of “calm” and other schemes and dreams but we’ll save that for another chitchat, shall we?

Grateful for you and your friendship, quite sincerely and seriously.

{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… Reiwa 6 ahoy!

gn & gy

Festive Omnibus Annotations (church, shrine, tea, gardens, fire, poems, snaps)

So many things to tell you but I’ll scribble in Postcards, 1 by 1 because each of you deserves custom-made inky artifacts, right?

And coffee in fancy cups, and crocheted pen/cil + quilted stamp bags, and fancy postboxes.

Don’t you?

Anyway, briefly (ha!), for starters – not capable of brevity):

* Hot springs visits with over-the-top performance in quirky confines {note: have a post from a previous visit to share one of these days…}

* Pork belly, woodstove yams Kabocha squash etc. dinner

* Gorgeous new blue herringbone cashmere scarf and my own fancy Hanko stamp (previous was a ¥500 vending machine version)

Continue reading Festive Omnibus Annotations (church, shrine, tea, gardens, fire, poems, snaps)

Depreston – on baritone Uke (with apologies to Courtney Barnett)

one of these days, i’ll get *un-buzzed*

In a *lovely garden* (in process) following a morning picnic (off camera) with darling wife and adorable son planting tulip bulbs, and distant echos of chainsaws and birds, i stumble through Courtney Barnett’s “Depreston” about rebuilding, real estate, coffee, and loss – with usual digressions and annotations along the way about rebuilding on a piece of ‘dirt field’ where a road ain’t going through, instead fences made of pallets to keep the wild boar out and bamboo leaning over.

Fondly from Tsuchida Cottage ‘back 400’ in Okayama, Japan.

*actual* Courtney Barnett: https://courtneybarnett.com.au/

more cb at dvo: https://daveostory.com/tag/courtney-barnett/

First woodstove fire of season (a single flick)

First wood stove fire of the season last night. That’s all glorious hardwood in there…

one flick and only one flick

I get very excited about this point since I come from the land of softwood where it takes dang near half a trunk full to get you through a weekend of camping.

(Being of Ayurvedic dosha), I’m very proud (yes Leo) of my ability to light this variety of slow and hot burning wood with only a single flick of a lighter.

Airflow is critical as are my freshly-made batch of egg carton/wood shaving/soy wax fire starters.

It’s a beautiful little cast-iron stove with a good sized cooktop which is great not just for a kettle but for a big pot of soup or sometimes even a cast-iron griddle.

Do you have a fireplace or woodstove? What do you like to burn in it? What are your favorite fire making style/techniques?

Notes: the scourge comes to cottage

Summary: Oh hi, it’s me. 3+ years of being super cautious because I have #MECFS and then Bam! completely laid out in to feverous hallucinations & pain. My family then went through it and are recovering but I realize the next few months are a total write off for me. Completely discouraged.

me and Tom Waiting at the goat farm

Sept 4 [the hopeful years]: Big week ahead so i really have to get into action to get the medicines sorted (cause I didn’t do yesterday), plus garbage and recycling ready…

Tomorrow is kiddo’s 1st day at new preschool so Im tagging along + we have out-of-town guests coming for garden visit & dinner

Sept 5: Desperately, stunningly sick. High fever, massive chills, everything feels like concrete / All the stress from the last few weeks came together last night about 3 AM. Covered with ice packs, and a bit scared.

I’m so sorry to my darling wife and son because today was a big day.

(I know I’m always talking about the illness #MECFS and / but a month of ganbaru through crappy situations have put me in a colossal crash with some still unknown virus.)

Light incense for me, I’m not ready to join Jimmy Buffett yet.

Sept. 6: Thank you for all the kindness, fever has broken, I’m completely exhausted, haven’t slept for days, kept a little bit of water and rice porridge down. Will spare you for the details. Was pretty scary.

Mostly just so grateful for your sweetness. We will survive, we will get by

Sept 7: A wee notch or two better today.

Still in bed, spun out & lightheaded / fresh sheets & pajamas. A little bit of food and trying to catch up hydration slowly.

Mentally and emotionally, extremely difficult stretch beyond the physical struggle.

So worn out. Grateful for you.

Note: {And though I just hid out while all the commotion was going on…} our “Tsuchida solar farm” is now fully operational. Battery charging quickly, there is an webapp to track usage, battery level, and amount of access selling back to grid.

The project was also another solid example of “coffee diplomacy” meaning the power of getting extra great work by ensuring carafes of ice coffee available for workers in a little carport lounge. {Plus many coffees months ago for the 3 companies giving sales pitches/bids.}

Sept 9: turns out not “just a severe #MECFS crash” causing distress these last 5 days, indeed the specter of the noteworthy public health conundrum came to plague our home for 1st time in 3+ years. Wife is now wrecked too. Tough situation :(

{Yes, many people say “oh it’s like a cold for a few days maybe” so hoorwy good for you but for immune compromised folks dealing with already massive viral load (hi it me) its dang catastrophic}

PS Ichiro testing negative but obviously inside the cottage with us so…

Ryoko and I are taking turns resting/hydrating while other keeps Ichi-Stan occupied.

{I had a great “dad moment” eating grilled cheese sandwiches and watching Star Wars Rebels with my kiddo yesterday as we ride through this “popular public health conundrum ™”}

“Fortunately” I have a load of experience being sick so… (this is me trying to see a silver lining in a cloudy sky) toughing it out and utilizing crisis tactics.

Completely wrecked me.

This is all a long way of saying “yes, we’ve gone 3+ years without this (yes, tested many times) been very careful & deliberate and now just grateful for sweet words and I’m just putting this out for the record, not seeking medical advice/opinions” tyvm

And noting that importantly right now is to keep the situation contained here in the cottage and not leap over the 1 m to in-laws house. While they are 5x vax’d and generally healthy, they are elderly & this ain’t fun. Ichiro showing no symptoms <3

Sept 10: And Cee19 hits kiddo 39.7° fever & we all exhausted & stumbling like zombies / tmrw hospital (im a week in &/but a special case so recovery is slow but my darlings are *far more important* than me) oh Ganesh, please removed some obstacles puleese

[have a pal (from Vancouver days but now lives in Australia) in Japan on business and with his lovely wife made a bonus vacay sidequest trip to #Okayama. Instead of getting a fond reunion, I’m sending map pins, tips and snapshots to give a virtual tour of my unfamous city :(]

Wife and I are taking turns resting and keeping energetic three year old occupied. He tested negative and is symptom-free despite both of us being deep in the well. Hope it stays this way but my goodness, what a drag / courage and tenacity is fading

Think we should’ve got Covid in Japan when Hello Kitty was personally delivering a care box of pocky and other treats to everyone infected. Now not sure if there’s somewhere we should call to report our situation for statistical gathering besides just telling the kid’s preschool.

And just used Uber eats for the first time in Japan just to get a few things delivered from the konbini store since in-laws next door have managed to bring us some powdered soup and some kind of eggplant goop. I think they’ve turned into aliens

Sept 11: 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

Bonus MECFS Research confaB:

Oh and a C19 chart:

And unnecessary addendum:

Visit from the wild boar trapper, annotations

Slightly dis-intermediated updates about the “wild boar guy” visit

Aug 2: The wild boar trapping specialist is coming tomorrow at 9 AM.

Based on his conversation so far with my wifu by telephone, he is a dude of many skills and quite chatty.

Of course, there is a labyrinth of laws & regs associated and various precautions and myriad outcomes.

And for the record: I love pigs in general; no I’m not going to do this myself; they are nocturnal stealth bombers; produce 2-3 litters a year; can swim kilometers in open sea; and wreak havoc through neighborhoods & islands.

Aug 3: The multidisciplinary wild boar etc trapper has come and gone after much enjoyable conversation. He really gave me my own pitch about turning the cottage into a “coffee shop/music experience” place. Premium pricing for ambience and enjoyment.

Arrived exactly at 9 (not usual 15 minutes early to appointment to show how diligent they are), I served coffee and peaches. He is hilarious, immediately notice the Bill Reid blanket on the couch and asked “is that Tlingit?”

We discussed different varieties of bear in BC, stories of black bears in Lynn Valley tearing into garbage and leaving a big poop in my yard to greet me as I rushed out to catch the morning bus. He is licensed to capture all manner of game wildlife in Japan and, importantly has a stash of deer meat to hook me up with, he can’t sell it but can “trade it” for delicious cups of coffee. He’s very excited about my wife’s charcoal kiln and my MacGyver’d grill and woodstove. We also laughed about the directness/indirectness of foreigners/Japanese folks.

Though we can’t regular rampaging visits from wild boar, and the pathway where they come through the bamboo forest down onto the land in spite of a significant drop off is clear, turns out a trap isn’t a good idea for our area for various reasons.

Regardless, he took great delight in demonstrating his purpose, built/homemade spring loaded leg traps. The trap springs a hearty wire around the leg when a certain obscured trigger is well, triggered rather than the “jaw-hold” style traps, which are so violent. He also told us about the process which comes afterwards, but I’m gonna save that for maybe another conversation or not at all. However, I will say, he takes great care in doing all of this as elegantly, and dareisay, humanely as possible.

The conversation turned more technical about the kinds of fences wife needs to build on her new piece of land (in brief: substantial) and the mechanics of his trapping route. They’ve now headed into bamboo forest to recon. Of course I want to go with them but I’m just not able.

Anyhow, it seems our land isn’t prime ground / situation for trapping so advised some fencing strategies.

Best is: i kinda made a new friend who I invited to stop by for coffee (when I’m not at the hospital etc) this objective of forming new relationships with folks who can just pop by to hang out is on my list of ways to build community and get out of my mental funk.

So much to discuss about this topic… We’re only at the beginning of journey // yet the traps are not fit for our forest

If I had any enthusiasm about TV as a medium I would say “this guy needs a TV show”… He was nonstop interestingness and so many ideas, projects and big thinkings / quirky and charismatic as well.


I’m looking forward to your visit in some mysterious future day to add to the collection of interesting folks / your choice of beverages is standing by


Boar (and deer) meat delivered and prepared – such goodness!

Diary: i need quiet (grousing for no reason but so tired) #vent

I’m quite desperate for some long period of extreme quiet.

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best… I desperately need a rest

Yesterday, an outing to our fave beach, “quite empty for a Sunday,” I thought until a reggae soundsystem crew showed up with 5 awnings, multiple barbecues, flats of beer and significant speakers… I mean, party on but… Then some wannabe tough city kids showed up on the other side of us wearing those air cooled vests and spraying on mosquito repellent, sunscreen, chain-smoking mild sevens and then turned on a boom box with some crap music and then started arguing amongst themselves / nbd

Floated in saltywater, played ukulele, practiced meditation to ignore all the surrounding sounds. Across street is a great quirky café so I ate Oden and ice coffee and laughed / rolled wyes with the owner about the “Rastas” using their toilets but not buying any food or drink ~

This is all going on while we vacated house for our second round of fumigation for some persistent pest problems that I won’t go into detail except it includes so much vacuuming and laundry and decamping to a hotel before and last night, parent’s house~

I did my usual “triple stack” futon but the dear in-laws stay up till 11 and then back up at 7 remarking with shock and awe at *every single thing* on the loud television. Yes I’m a sensitive soul… Kind of a conflict to the elegant tatami room where I attempted to sleep~

Solar Power Digression

This morning back across to our house to get things opened up in time for the solar panel installation crew to finally show up (contracts were signed/stamped in February but been an assortment of delays due to various permitting/authorizations

1) Truck fulla solar panels (made in Japan)

2) Roofs where solar panels will go (not on blue roof or frontside of tile roof, but will go on the grey roof and the 2nd floor roof if that makes sense – the house has ideal East/West exposure (which makes for a hot house but guess good for this project)

3) Another awsum #keitruck in action laden with gear

So above me – while I am folding yet another basket of laundry waiting to go to Seitai treatment – the crew are up above my head drilling, stomping and attaching bits. Bless dear hearts working in this heat (2 days installation for panels then should light up around Sept 7)~

{when I’ve talked about the solar panel project when we signed contract back in February after meeting with four different suppliers, getting various different options amongst multiple visits (each with tea/coffee/polite, chitchat)…. We ended up with Made in Japan solar panels, with 25 year warranty, sufficient to power our house (the cottage), the parents house, and the two outbuildings – plus a battery system (with 15 year warranty) sufficient to power the house in the event of outages (and hey, it’s Japan, there’s always a natural disaster) plus, sell power back to the grid however that works.

I don’t recall how many kilowatts and all the technical specifications because there was so many numbers so many options and it all happened so long ago but eventually, I’ll give you that information if I can figure it out. Very important to us was the quality of the installation as the cottage isn’t particularly well built and the panels are going on a few different roof types, including the ceramic tiles on the backside of the naya tool shed.

Note: In some jurisdictions in Japan, there are grants, eco-loans, other subsidy programs, but in our case, no-go, so we paid cash with the aim of being self-sufficient, minimizing, carbon footprint, and planning long-term. With thanks to the “missing uncle and his empty dilapidated house” situation.

So I’m grousing for no reason except that my head is so inflamed from the air pressure and the stupid illness #MECFS and we’ve been in this crazy cycle for the last few weeks while also getting out of the house weigh more than usual by my standards~

Good news is, we’ve hit up the van Gogh exhibit, some chaotic interactive dinosaur thing, an odd traveling aquarium installation, two hot springs, a hotel with swimming pool and communal bath, three visits to the beach, a festival at a church, etc Plus, my favorite thing of going to quirky café/coffee shops.

Friday is a visit to the University hospital for another big day of iv & meds. I’m so grateful for medical care, solar panels, in-laws yet I’m so exhausted and dealing with absurd level of pain


Amongst my foggy half sleep, keep thinking about a few people who recently passed away far too early and somehow realizing I can draw a string between their 3 seemingly disparate lives. These are not the “famous people” rather those with whom I had a tenuous connection~

So yesterday at the beach, while thinking about how to respond in some meaningful way to the emotions, I wrote a song with 4 solid linking verses, a clumsy bridge and a chorus which needs another chord.

Huge Barefoot Hamilton

Maybe I’ll work on it /notebooks are filled with scribbles to transcribe xo