Spoonful

This past week has been an unhappy one for me. You will remember the dinner last Saturday, beautiful art, beautiful people, beautiful food and drink.

As always misery and pain are never far away.

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white–then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.–

It is my great privilege to own a canteen of silver cutlery. Actually I do not like to use the verb own. I am the family member that has it at the moment. It is a family er thing.

It is one of my earliest memories. I climbed up to look inside.

The canteen is complete. There are 12 items of big stuff, knives, forks. fish knives, fish forks, cake knives, cake forks, and lots of items as what we rarely use, crumb scoop, fish serving knife, fish serving fork, nut crackers and on and on. It is complete. No item is missing after all these years.

Intact
So amazing

At the dinner, we use a lot of beautiful cutlery.

The next day when all is washed and counted, oh dear, I am one silver teaspoon short.

I am uneasy but not yet terribly worried as this has happened before. A fork goes missing but is found in the wrong drawer, a soup spoon, after a couple of days of absence, shows up amongst the daily usage knives and forks.

The silver teaspoon does not show. My anxiety rises. I search everywhere. Nothing.

I even recover the post party garbage bag from the garbage depot and go through it piece by piece. Nothing.

I am very unhappy. I am the person who destroyed the integrity of the family canteen.

There is now one piece missing. All these years, all those meals.

I am unworthy.

I have mentioned before the industrial build of my kitchen sink’s drainage system. It is one of the things that I particularly like about the apartment. The sink is not draining very well so I rummage around in the drainage basket.

I find the spoon.

Great moments in life.

I am restored.

I will not be remembered as the one who lost the teaspoon.

I feel so much better.

I go to look at Black faced Spoonbills, about 400 in the whole world. Their rarity corresponds with my silver teaspoon.

Where is the teaspoon?
I think I found it
It’s in the sink drain basket.

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Vaccination

I am, of course, very pro vax mainly because one of my very early memories is having my polio vaccination back in the 50’s. I think I was six yeas old. I still have the round scar on my left shoulder. I remember it not because of the injection but because afterward my Mother took me to a restaurant to have lunch. I think this was the first time I went to a restaurant. I was very excited and the food, probably reheated slices of mutton with potatoes and carrots followed by suet pudding, seemed decadent and sophisticated.

Henceforth, I have always enjoyed vaccination

Ginowan City sends me a message informing me that I can get a Flu vaccination almost free because I am so old. I cannot resist.

With help from a friend, an appointment is made at a clinic that is very close to my home.

Of course everyone is super friendly and helpful.

What is for lunch?
Such pain

I also discover that this clinic, so close to my apartment, has an English speaking doctor. Good news because if I ever do get sick, I can crawl to the clinic and explain my difficulty in the language of Shakespeare.

Another Typhoon appoaches.

It is only a Tropical Storm

I do not think it will be a big one. At the moment it is classified as a Tropical Storm. Nonetheless, I rig the cover and double all the mooring lines.

I am now expert at rigging the cover
She should be OK

On the apartment tour prior to amazing dinner last Saturday, Japanese contingent suggest I get a stool for my bathroom. Here, folks wash at night. They sit on a stool and shower and soap themselves down. They then plonk into a bathtub and relax. No washing. Then they go to bed.

I am ready

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Ivanhoe

This is the name of my favorite shop, clearly named after Sir Walter Scott’s famous novel. Well actually the Japanese pronounce and spell it Ivano but these sort of small alterations from English to Japanese are common.

Not auspicious from the outside but inside it is a cornucopia.

I suppose Ivano specializes in meat. You can get everything from pigeon to alligator if you so choose but I usually get no further than their amazing lamb chops. They stock everything that the exile craves for, double cream, saucisson, olives, chorizo, cheeses, pancetta, etc. etc. I do not have much money left but I fully intend to spend most of it here.

Harvest Moon

It is now October and after a couple of cooler days the temperature has gone back to the 30’s.

Hot

I organize a vernissage for Kikuta san’s amazing art. This has been very difficult. Getting all the people together at the same time is so difficult but finally the date is fixed. Even so two of the elect have to drop out at the last moment. Notwithstanding we have a colossal evening.

Huge

Most of the food comes from Ivano, except the fish, octopus and shrimp that comes from the water. The wines come from Hanada san’s extraordinary wine shop. The outstanding company comes from all over, well actually from Japan and the U.K.

Mexican coctel – shrimp, octopus, fish, tomato, onion, lots of avocado filled up wit clamato clam juice. It is served very cold.
The standard foie gras with lentilles au lardons.
Lamb chops and asparagus

It is a long delightful dinner that we finish off with grapes from Tomomi san and cakes from Hoppepan. After a lot of wine, we cleanse ourselves with tea made from the Getto plant, Alpinia zerumbet, by esteemed Izumi sensei.

We drink more nostalgic wines from the Jura.

Very good
La vie moderne
La vie moderne japonaise

Kikuta san’s works are totally vernissaged.

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Baby Foot

Okinawa has been very good for my feet. They used to be horrible now they are beautiful. A lot of sea, sand and sandals gets rid of stench and decay engendered by socks and tight shoes. But ‘et in arcadia ego’ my beautiful feet also build up hard skin, I think from walking around barefoot. I mentioned this to a friend. She immediately urges me to try Baby Foot.

The assistant in the pharmacy first took me to shelves of baby food.

In the box there are two bootees full of slime. You cut off the tops and slide in your feet. You then watch ancient episodes of University Challenge for an hour. Having showered off the slime, I am a bit disappointed. The feet are pinkish and tingling but nothing startling has happened.

Gently cooking

However a few days later dead skin starts peeling off. It is wonderful as you can provoke a little starting tab and with care pull off big sheets of skin. I have never done this before. A new experience is always exciting at my advanced age. Snake like I have shed several layers of skin. Highly recommended.

My major misery over the last months has been the floppiness of my side shrouds. These are steel cables that act as guy ropes for the mast. On the Norfolk Gypsy the shrouds are attached to the boat by very attractive lashings.

Side shroud lashing.

Attractive maybe but I have been unable to get these lashings taught enough to induce sufficient tension on the shrouds. I cringe as Japanese sailors board the boat, instinctively grabbing the side shroud to steady the movement. I watch their eyes widen and the expression of shock and confusion, which no matter how hard they try, cannot be disguised. I am deeply ashamed of my sloppy rigging.

I install turnbuckles, not traditional but you know.

Nice taught shrouds.

Covid lockdown has made me super unfit. I sit around eating and drinking like a hog, on the other hand I have watched so many episodes of University Challenge that my general knowledge has certainly improved.

Old men have gray beards, their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams.

I tell you my hams are super weak.

Age has its advantages. Ginowan City sends me a Silver Card, strong juju object that gives me all kinds of privileges.

Very powerful

One, is free entrance to Ginowan City Gymnastics. Find it on the map.

https://www.google.com/maps/@26.2829737,127.7459866,1905m/data=!3m1!1e3

The building has a big gymnasium well equipped with weights, machines and stuff to make you big and strong. It had been closed because of Miley Cyrus but is now back in operation.

Swelling hams.

So this is great; I have a free gym minutes from the apartment. Every time I approach a machine, the guy comes rushing up and with no condescension, explains how I can adjust it to suit my massive bulk. He speaks no English but it does not matter. We like each other. Everyone wears masks. There are towels and alcohol spray on each piece of equipment.

Special flip flops for the toilet.
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Byobu

I first met Kikuta Ichiro san in 2013 when I helped organize an exhibition of his work at the university. Watch the video.

https://www.oist.jp/news-center/videos/ichiro-kikuta-yambaru-byobu-exhibition-painting-forest-full-life

Since then I have burned with a terrible yearning to own one of his byobu. I finally got round to buying two byobus that make up the piece “Giant Mottled Eels.”

It is very big
Kikuta san and I spend all Saturday afternoon working out the best way to set up the screens
You can’t see but there is a complex web of very thin wire guy ropes that hold the screen stable.
The end of my main room is now part of Yanbaru.
Detail
Detail. If you click on the photo you will be able to see the gold leaf. Pink color comes from crushed sea shells
That prawn hasn’t got long. The eels live in the rivers of Yanbaru and grow to 2.5 meters in length.

Amazing art, which will last hundreds of years. Buy his work: http://kikutaichiro.com/?page_id=125

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Goat’s Head Soup

Sea snake soup is an ancient and much revered Okinawan dish. Arisa kindly books a table at the most prestigious sea snake restaurant in Okinawa. Very few places, I am told 5, serve sea snake. Prestigious by reputation rather than aspect. It is a tiny place lurking down a back alley, underneath a motorway flyover.

Prestigious

It only serves meals on Friday and Saturday evenings. It normally takes months to get a reservation. The place is run by a very old lady who has the knowledge, her daughter who is gaining the knowledge and her husband who is a very muscular American guy. Strange brew.

On Wednesday it becomes clear that Arisa will not be able to attend the Friday night meal. She phones to rebook. The old lady very courteously explains that it will not be possible as she has already started to cook our meal!

Suzuki san and I go and have the best evening.

A meal you don’t meet everyday

The sea snake is chewy and gamey and unusual. The soup is delicious as are the other dishes. The snakes are snatched untimely from the sea by nuns on Kudaka Jima. They are smoked and then deboned laboriously. The old lady then cooks them for 3 days in different soup broths, er dashi. Yum.

We have the best time and the family are adorable.

So sweet

I also get a new car. I now rent a K car for 3000 yen a month. I do not want to buy a car. No worries about maintenance, insurance, shaken etc. The rental company phones, through Naoko, to announce that my car needs to be serviced and they will bring me a new one.

600 cubic centimeters of raw power.
Vroom vroom!
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All Quiet

Not much going on in these drowsy Covid days. We are still in a state of semi emergency, meaning don’t go out unless necessary, masks , distancing etc. I have been for a couple of lunches and one very fine dinner but life is quiet. A series of small technical hitches have discouraged boating. All these months of reduced activity have ingrained an overall lethargy.

There have been some high spots.

I buy a new bag of rice!
Hokkaido Saba
Delicious cucumber soup a la Tim

I buy a new actually old, but new to me, lens, it is a Nikkor 180mm f2.8. These are famous lenses.

https://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/180f28.htm

I love it because it is manual focus and you set speed and aperture yourself. I find modern cameras and lenses rather dull as they do everything for you. I go to the stinking Triangle Pond to learn how to use it.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Triangle+Pond/@26.1733262,127.6548555,1128m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x465dddfa94de705c!8m2!3d26.1720552!4d127.6563361

Black faced Spoonbills a long way away
Moorhen
Immature Moorhen
Common Sandpiper
Black winged stilt with bad hairdo
The lens

I have not yet mastered it. It is a strange focal length 180mm not really a long distance lens for birds and stuff.

When I finally remove the cockpit cover after all the typhoon excitement I find all the innards of the motor ignition switch scattered around the cockpit seat.

A mystery

I have no idea how this could have happened. Maybe I kicked it when installing the cockpit cover but I doubt it as the switch is well recessed. Maybe while I slept, my enemy came and sowed tares among the ignition system. Anyway it is a drag as I need the motor! Kiyuna san of course reassures me.

Use any key!

I will have to find a more permanent solution but at least I can now take the boat out.

A friend gives me a beautiful bunch of grapes from her hometown in Kyushu. They were exquisitely wrapped and all round wonderful. The Japanese really appreciate fruit! The variety of grape is “My Heart”, although it would be wrong to interpret the name as a motive for the gift!

Delicious and beautiful!

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2 Weeks in Narita.

I am afraid that this post is once again principally about my boat cover. I know you are sick of photos of reddish canvas but it is what it is.

Anyway, something else to start with. Japan has not allowed non nationals to enter into the country. However the ruling was changed as of September 1st, permanent residents can come back into Japan. Hooray!

I plan an adventure in the mountains of Montana during which I can take on my alter ego of bear. A few weeks of something else and then back to Okinawa. I am very excited about shaking off dull sloth.

I go to the Immigration Office in Kadena to try to understand the necessary paperwork. After some iterations, my plans are dashed. Returning to Japan, I would have to spend 2 weeks of self-isolation in a hotel at Narita airport. Can’t think of anything worse so I hang up my Grizzly costume and settle back to life in Okinawa.

Great excitement about the next typhoon, Haishen. It is a big one and I anticipate that the boat cover will again be blown off despite my best efforts.

Not so, the typhoon goes North of us and we have high winds and lots of rain but it is not the screaming madness of a big boy typhoon.

I wake up and rush down to see if the boat is OK.

Yay!
All good.

I am gathering data on what the cover can withstand and how I can strengthen the set up. I wonder what happens in Norfolk, where she comes from? Well, I suppose they do not have many typhoons there.

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It Is What It Is

I have noticed the title expression cropping up frequently lately. I wonder where it came from.

Still licking our wounds post Typhoon Maysak, Typhoon Haishen is on its way to further test our resolve.

I rig the cover differently. First I put a line around the mast to the end of the boom such that the boom cannot droop. Same thing as a boom crutch really but I hope more resilient.

This is fun.

To stop the boom moving from side to side and putting strain on the system, I put a line around the boom to the aft cleats.

I tighten it later.

The wind will be coming from the Northwest, that is to say directly over the bows. I dread it will creep under the space between the cover and the cabin roof, blowing off the whole caboodle.

Maybe I should tape that edge down. Worth a try.

I am convinced that there is a set up that will permit the cover to resist the worst. It may take some time to find it.

The adversary

Wonderful full moon.

Hand held at 6:00 this morning. Calm before the storm etc.
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Oh Dear

Typhoon Maysak was pretty bad, well actually is pretty bad, as she is still blowing away as I write. However the worst is over.

The storm started with a lot of rain on Monday afternoon but the real ferocity came during the night. I was asleep.

I get down to the marina at about 07:00. What has happened to the boat? Watch the movie.

Could have been worse.

Everything is closed except for the praiseworthy Lawsons, which is right in front of my apartment. Lawsons is a chain of 24 hour got everything you need shops so typical of Japan. They are usually known as Konbini. Nice to know I can stock up on stuff if I run out. Like beer.

Situation as I write.

Some background information.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/typhoon-maysak-japan-warns-major-disaster-okinawa-region-200831110351058.html?fbclid=IwAR0e9UjNU51D61P9cCnxvxSHxeggM6Syx-wtE09RYmXx5PwJOFOnND_dulI

Here is an update on the state of the boat at 4:30.

I am surprised to see the cover is still on and not even full of water, even though it was hastily and loosely attached this morning. It has been blowing hard all day and non stop rain.

There is a guest appearance from Pat at the end of the first video. He is a Swiss professional sailor who lives on his boat in the marina. He makes his living by delivering yachts from Japan to USA single handed! He is usually pretty blasé about tough weather. Even he admitted that there had been some really bad gusts last night. This makes me feel better for my poor cover. She clearly struggled against terrible odds before finally giving way.

What fun!

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