Sunday, May 31, 2009


Tabor of One Day at a Time reports a delightful gourmet discovery in her part of the US!

Friday, May 29, 2009


Another of the many and unexpectedly great funs of having grandies is the letters they now and then send like young bursts of life as they learn to write and want to communicate to us all the important events in the rush of their daily lives.

We just got a bright envelope full of little pages in all colors, shapes and sizes from Mitsuki, who appears to be quite the epistolarian: pages from little cartoony notebooks, kitty postits, pages with ice cream cone stickers stuck on them, bits of paper with drawings on them of grownups, kids, trees and animals, all scribed all over with kiddy thoughts meticulously wrangled out of a language's newlearned lettering... It's fun, intriguing and ultimately endearing to puzzle out the scripted elements of a cute new life learning about the world, the past, the future and all that stuff, just like you yourself did. And are doing, as you read.

One of Mitsuki's miniletters says she is well and asks are we also, the end, she seems to think that all her grandparents live together and intermingle all the time, she hasn't got that figured out yet like older sister Kaya has, without ever asking anybody about the facts of it all-- give Mitsuki and sister Miasa another year or two. It's astonishing each time you realize anew all the things kidlets have to learn - and do learn, without even trying - it all just falls into place in their heads and hearts, and they write about it now and then.

And in the inner sanctum of the cartoonly colored envelope bearing a cluster of interesting drawn-on stamps surrounding the genuine but uninteresting stamp, there is a treasurously small packet of paper wrapped and folded and wrapped some more that clearly contains something special and says on it Bob & Echo, and after unwrapping and unfolding and unwrapping all the layers that tiny hands love to take the time to place upon their treasures to keep them safe, there at the heart are four tiny glass beads of different colors: two for me and two for Echo.

This weekend I'll make a two-bead string necklace and wear it. Nothing like a bit of love around your neck.

Thursday, May 28, 2009



In the evening getting the kids to the table for supper I noticed that Haru the cat was inside the house playing with something over in the corner behind the trunk, I picked him up with my right hand, having a dishrag or a paper or something in my left, and sort of held the squirming beast in place with my left forearm as I headed to open the door to put him outside so we could eat in peace but the cat was playful, and grabbed my arm quite painfully with his claws, and I went OW! OW! OW! and pulled the arm away from him and held him out at a distance with the other hand, when I felt that he must have extremely long arms because though in my right hand he was still clawing my left forearm, and then I looked and saw that it hadn't been the cat, it was a large hissing beetle the cat had been playing with, that had fastened itself to the cat's hair in the righteous fury it was now taking out on my completely innocent forearm, and I was going OW! OW! OW! but had both hands full and couldn't put the cat down or it would run upstairs and hide unreachably under the bed or worse, and so I couldn't get at the beetle, who was hissing pissed off pinching for all it was worth the tender skin of my as I say innocent forearm and I was going OW! OW! OW! and Keech was going WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? and so I started swatting at the beetle with the cat I happened to have conveniently at hand, swinging the cat in wider and wider arcs (note for cat swingers: it's hard to get pinpoint accuracy and solid impact from a cat; if you hold them by the scruff they tend to flop around when you swing them less than top speed at anything as small as even a large beetle, so you lose control on the first few swings, whereas swinging them by the legs or tail creates too great an arc so forget about accuracy; and if one is swinging a cat with any sense of urgency, one should ideally have a short stiff cat and a large target), trying for the very first time in my life to hit a beetle with a cat's head, though this fact was unobserved by me at the time, as I was still going OW! OW! OW! as the beetle went HISS! HISS! HISS! and Keech went WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? and the cat went YOW! YOW! YOW! what is this guy trying to do with me till finally I got the vectors together and swung the cat (thank god we have a living room big enough to swing one in) so that his head hit the beetle and knocked it off my forearm, altogether a very suitable YOWling HISSing OW-ing WHAT-ing bug adventure of another kind. The bite was not venomous, just a pinch, and so to dinner, cat and beetle not invited.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Heading downmountain for the train to work this morning I encountered a boisterous band of monkeys in the tunnel, with a familiar look on their faces. They were heading up toward my place. I say this because, although there are mountains and forests abounding in these parts, in which these rightfully arboreal denizens should be disporting themselves to maximum satisfaction, I suspected that my garden was playing a bigger role in their plans than quotidian mountains and boring forests.

As a monkey of some repute I have experienced and understand the magnetism of the illicit. Mountains cannot be illicit; they were there first. Forests were a close second. Neither has that titillating tingle. Having myself at certain times in the past been pretty close to the state of mind manifested in those monkeys, especially when I was in a fraternity, I could tell by their excitement where they were headed. They were headed for a good time. Not to where they belong in the true state of things, i.e., the bountiful wild fruit trees and vines that dot the mountainous landscape, nor to the tall trees whose crowns are even now burgeoning with nuts and whatnot, but to the Brady plum tree with no one around, to the newly abandoned Brady onions that await like pearly sirens, to the freshly alone baby carrots, to the individually incipient turnips, all calling with a music that has no equivalent in the merely conventional wild. They were heading for the simian equivalent of Las Vegas.

Their anticipation was obviously heightened at spotting the Brady guy himself, heading downhill at speed on that wheeled thing, for whatever boneheaded human reason he might want to get on that other thing on rails and leave Las Vegas way behind, all unattended.

The thought that they'd never understand human behavior didn't seem to bother them much.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I was making lunch and had just trimmed the greens off the first of the radishes I'd harvested, when the radish rolled off of the cutting board and then underneath it, as though trying to get away and hide. Then the next radish did exactly the same thing!

So I said: Hey little radishes, you runnin' away from me? You don't have to run away from me, I'm the one who grew you, I'm the one who bought the seeds, I'm the one who planted them in the ground and watered and weeded them so you could grow into round red radishes. Then when you were ready I pulled you from the ground into the light and now we're gonna become each other! You're gonna become me and I'm gonna become you!

You'll have eyes and be able to walk and talk and I'll have roots in the earth and green leaves reaching to the skies! So just calm down, radishes, 'cause we have a distance to go together on our way to the big garden of everything.

After that, the rest of the radishes just smiled those round red radish smiles that radishes smile and lunch was great. Now I have new radish roots in earth and sky, and the radishes are enjoying writing about "radishes." They really seem to like the word.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


But not only the skies... "the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s former director invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to lawmakers' questions about possible mismanagement under the Bush administration."

They're everywhere in your now and future earnings...

US Debt Clock

Morgan Stanley to Boost Executive Salaries as Bonuses Decline

No reason we should all suffer...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Funny things happen on the way through maturity. An interesting range of new feelings awaits.

Plum greed, for example. I'm not a greedy person, by nature; I have no wish to accumulate large amounts of money or property, which, beyond bare necessities, are to life as an anvil is to a canoe. So greed is a new feeling for me. Especially as it involves plums.

Our plum tree, planted as a tiny sapling out in front of the deck shortly after we moved in 14 years ago, has never been much of a success at its job description. It is lush and green, happy as a baby in the spring breezes and enjoys full health by every measure, except that it has never been much into fruit. The few recent years in which it did bear enough plums to merit the name, their number depended apparently on insectage, weather and bird/monkey depredations.

The year it bore the most plums, a gang of monkeys got them in just a few moments, as intrepidly reported at the very scene in these base chronicles. It was just more of the same, plumwise. So as it has turned out, a close look at my detailed account books shows me that thus far I have in fact personally plucked and devoured an average of 0.9 plums per year. But it's always a good 0.9, the way exceedingly rare things are.

In the normal course of spring things, a couple days ago I went out on the deck to check the tree for this year's handful of incipient fruit and was staggered to find that the tree had fat green plums hanging all over it, about the size of large olives. Glances here and there at various arboreal characteristics confirmed to my doubting mind that this was, in fact, the same tree as last year. The gods were not playing that particular trick. I reckoned that in a few weeks, when these plums reach their peak of full savory juicy ripeness, I would have several pecks (been a long time since I used that measure) of dreamy purple plums.

And suddenly I wanted those plums. I didn't want the monkeys or the birds to have them. I wanted all the plums I could get. They were my plums. Washing over me, coursing through my body, was the strange and powerful but toxic sensation of plum greed. As I observed those bushelfuls of green orbs, in my mind picturing the fully ripened fruits bearing a rich patina, like that seen on ancient gold and silver, I joined the King Midas crowd with my sudden craving to possess more than I could possibly consume. Even now, as I observe the still green ones growing there among the green leaves like broadening coins, I can begin to taste the perfumed sweetness of soft, ripe, tartskinned freshly picked plums. It's been so long...

But after a spell of calm thought in the shade, it came as no real surprise that abruptly large quantities of plums - in distant hopes of which I myself planted the tree, and for which I have been figuratively tapping my feet for 14 years - can have strange effects upon a plum-bereft expat from a distant country where the summers of a formative life were dense with the sweetest of plums.

Under certain fruitarian circumstances, greed is a perfectly natural reaction.

Yo, Midas.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Everybody loves Doraemon (who not long ago was even a Japanese Ambassador) and here are six reasons why...

The 3D Printer...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Yesterday afternoon as I was coming outside into the garden, over the top of the firewood stack I saw a monkey leap from the ground to the big oak by the garden. He had apparently been casing the onionfest when he heard me come out, but hadn't seen me. At the moment he just clung to the side of the oak right where he'd landed, seemed in no hurry at all. This was not your usual monkey. Normally, a solo thieving monkey that suddenly spots me will take off like a simian out of hell, but this monkey just hung there on the side of the tree until I made myself fully visible, when he slowly climbed to the first branch and just sat there.

I was surprised by his awkwardness in getting up the tree - an odd thing to say about a monkey - he had none of the motive grace of the typical thieving monkey, who flows up any tree like water flows down a mountain; this beast, in contrast, waddled inexpertly upward like he was a bit overweight, then sat there watching me like I was on tv. Was this the world's first simian couch potato?

He just sat there quietly, in no hurry, pushing some leaves aside the better to enjoy this interesting program, making no other move even when I bent to pick up a rock. Even when I hefted the rock. Even when I reared back to throw the rock (by this time a normal monkey would be well on the move, if not already beyond range) . Even when I threw the rock, he just watched. This must be 3D! When the rock struck the bark near him, though: that's when he'd take off. The rock struck the bark near him, he waddled off to a branch on the other side of the tree and continued watching through the leaves this fascinating natural adventure program in 3D. I half expected him to whip out a bag of potato chips.

So I got another egg-sized rock. Normally I make my antimonkey throws somewhat gingerly, because of a game shoulder from back in my pitching days, but all these past months of heavy labor have gotten me into better shape than I realized; I reared back and whanged a rockety fastball at that monkey: it went right down the old pipe, and out from among the leaves came what I felt was a simian "Ooof!", though I'd never heard a simian "Ooof!" before. I must have hit him in the belly. Anyway we were both surprised. He swung unhurriedly to the roof of a neighboring building - this program was not going as expected - then dropped down into the bamboo and blundered off, probably wondering why everything happened to him.

As I stood there I realized that the protothieve's fur had been longer and darker than that of the usual beady-eyed brigand, and he'd moved slower, like a chubby monkey. But there aren't any chubby monkeys. Also, the way he'd climbed that tree, and just sat there and watched... Plus I didn't recall seeing a typical thieving red face or a typical thieving red ass. Had this been a different species of monkey? No, there's only one species in Japan. Was this a zoo escapee? Had I maybe just dinged a child of Bigfoot?

In any case I hadn't meant to hit whatever it was with the rock, I'd never hit anything before, other than superior batters, and I felt bad as Littlefoot plunged away-- so I shouted after him "Sorry, dude-- didn't mean to hit you with that rock, I just meant to scare you away from my garden-- nothing personal, you understand."

Which is true as far as it goes, but also it might be good to stay on the better side of Bigfoot.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


When I walk outdoors these bright mornings after last week's heavy spring rains, everything is having a great time. In the garden, the tomato plants have that confident bounce they acquire as they're about to flower; the chard is putting its rainbows even higher up into the air, the arugula is opening a whole row of soft green arms like a Busby Berkeley routine, the baby sunflowers are peeking out from between their hands, the radishes are showing off their new red shoes, the onions and garlic are flashing those long smiles, the beans are busy filling all those pods, the green clouds of potato leaves are doing their work underground as the marigolds and nasturtiums send up daytime fireworks; the morning glories, what more is there to say.

It's one big party out there; soon the rice will be joining in, and the wild beyond is no exception: look at that wisteria at the top of the forest over there-- and smell that jasmine? Only a couple weeks ago it was the scent of jinchoge-- the party incense goes from one sacred fragrance to another; the bird, bug and frog songs, the wind and water music go on day and night, and so goes the wondrous banquet that grows us all.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


With the past couple days of rain, vegelife is really pushing up, now that it has the hydraulics.

During a rainlull yesterday I was out by the garden checking on things, observing the changes, when I heard a rat-a-tata-racket up in the big oak; I turned that way and froze in place; soon a pygmy woodpecker, one of the locals - stippled a silver and black that marks him as a deep familiar of oak trees (and renders him nearly invisible thereon) - swooped from the big oak down onto one of my stacks of shiitake logs, which are also of oak.

It surprised me, since the shiitake logs had been cut at least two years ago-- what could they hold of interest to his beakship? He hung from the end of one log, suspending himself expertly from two sticklegs, and thoroughly checked out all around and under and on the various logs, then set to cursory work on the log end. But there was nothing there of interest to a woodpecker that I could see, and he wasn't really pecking full out. After a while he hopped to the top of another log, tilted his head to listen, put his head down and ratatatted for a few seconds, then stood victoriously erect, holding at the end of his beak a long fat white grub, held by by the middle!

It was bigger than he could eat comfortably down low in the open like that, so he flew back to the heights of the big oak to dine. I went over to the logs he had been on, and found that on the end of the first log, he had been pecking at a certain lichen-like fungus that grew there. He had eaten it all off! And on the other log, where he had gotten the fat grub, there was only a small hole, about half the diameter of a pencil, which he had so fine-gauged as to enable him to grasp the grub precisely at the middle and pull it out!

What a master.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Monday, May 04, 2009


Up on the mountain at this time of year, out of the fading whites and widening duns of postwinter, here and there of a sudden to the eye sweep broad swathes of purple along the banks of pale greening trees, as though god were Van Gogh, and with his broad stiff brush dipped in thick pigment is laying down strokes of deep purple, lavender and pale blue tints, blended in just that wild wisteria way, to capture beauty unfailing on this fresh canvas, catch the hungry eye with that touch just there - and there - to contrast and elaborate the world of this day in just that way...

Now and then we passersby pause to study those splashes of beauty, seeking the heart of the mastery, but we cannot find it, for it is hidden in the eye...