If You Try to Sit, I’ll Tax Your Seat.

That time of year again. Tax returns in two countries.

I get a typically jolly letter from the Ginowan Town Hall letting me know that the time has come.

Click on the photo.

Off I go the Town Hall and locate the place where you do tax stuff to try and find someone who can help me. The place is a large tent or marquee erected for the purpose. A smiling chap welcomes me and gives me a number. Five minutes later it is called. I show the lady my tiny Japanese government pension payments.

“Only income?”


“No tax on pension, you pay no tax.”

That was it. Hooray, thanks Ginowan Town Hall folks!

Now to the USA. Some of you will remember that the person I love most is Elena who has helped me with filing my tax declaration for the last couple of years.


But to see her is to love her.

In previous years the process was done face to face but the idea of flying back to San Francisco just to do my taxes was terrifying. No worries says Elena, I can do it all remotely. She does. After a couple of days I get this email.

Life is wonderful!

In fact life is not wonderful. On Thursday I noticed that one of my top right molars was loose. By Friday morning it was very loose, super painful and the right side of my face is now grotesquely swollen. Off to the dentist where they examine, Xray and declare that my jaw bone is diseased. Extract! They give me antibiotics and painkillers and set an appointment for the extraction on Tuesday. This gives them time to practice. The whole deal with medication cost me 560 yen.

Toys at the dentist.
I always cuddle one when I am being,er, worked on.
Antibiotics on the left of image

Anyway, things are bad. The tooth is now very mobile and I would not be surprised if it came out on its own before Tuesday. Despite medication, it is very tender and it is difficult to eat anything solid. I am surprised how quickly all this happened. On Wednesday there were no symptoms and nothing happened to the tooth or jaw to provoke this condition. Maybe the rest of my teeth will spontaneously drop out. Scurvy?

Dangers of late night Amazon use.

I decide to make my Mother’s clootie dumpling.


I need a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda for the recipe. I go to Amazon Japan and buy a bag. I did not look carefully at the size of the bag I ordered. A couple of days later a huge 4.7 kilo bag arrived. Does anyone want some?

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So, after a good day on the boat things gets better when Tomomi san comes over to make an ikebana piece for me. She is a master. That does not sound right but she is a mistress sounds worse. Let’s say she is astoundingly good.

She only has one big leaf and some ferns. She rustles around my plates and things and comes up with an idea. She builds a structure in one of my Yachimun plates and starts bending leaves and ferns with great certainty and rapidity.

Only the beginning
Taking shape.
More ferns

It is a privilege to watch her work. She moves fast with great dexterity. If you or I did it, it would all fall apart, leaving a pile of leaves and ferns. She has an understanding of structure.

Different angle
A few leaves and ferns

The whole process took 15 minutes. Thank you Tomomi san. You are amazing.

Then we ate lamb chops and cauliflower.

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Life has been slow on Okinawa. However it appears that things are changing. The first thing I noticed was a group of city workers digging up the road just outside my apartment. I came back a few hours later to find tat they had installed what I take to be a new fire hydrant.

What a nice cover.

The new fire hydrant, together with outstanding weather, has motivated me to get on with boat jobs.

Things chez boat are bad. I mentioned that the engine was reluctant to start. The last time I tried she did not start at all and I ran the battery flat. This is disturbing as the mighty Yanmar used to start after a couple of turns. I also told you that Kiyuna san replaced an oil line before I left for San Francisco. There are 2 such lines and we hoped that only one was leaking. Not so, the bilges are again oily so the second one must be leaking. Oh well.

First thing to do is recharge the battery with help from Dr CHARGER

There are little balls that prevent the gaff throat from swinging away from the mast and also make it easier for the throat to slide up the mast when raising the mainsail. Anyway, I replaced the scruffy old ones with pretty colored ones.

Red for port.

I bought a tiller extension in Sausalito and carried it back with me. Too long to go in my case and ANA made up a cardboard box for it. It went in the hold and I picked it up in Haneda.

Japanese Customs, “What is in that box?”

Me, “A tiller extension.”

Japanese Customs, “What?”

This conversation was in mime. The subsequent explanation, also in mime, was one of my greatest achievements in a career in communications.

I flatten the top of the tiller with a rasp such that the attachment fitting will lie flat and snug.

I subsequently drench in teak oil to prevent rot.
It is a beautiful day. Look at the rudder of the boat next door to get an idea of the water clarity. There are brightly colored fish everywhere.
The tiller extension is called a Battlestick. This seems a bit much.
This will be so useful when I have to fiddle with halyards and stuff when sailing by myself
I also start to treat all the teak with er, teak oil. I have given up on varnish, the sun just blasts off 10 coats in a matter of months.

There are several days of sanding and oiling in front of me. This will be a joy if the weather stays good.

Let’s hope the recharged battery bullies the engine back into life. I doubt it. Who are you gonna call?

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I Have Not Done Anything

The only thing I have done really is to move my eel byobu from one room to another.

They looked great where they were before but they blocked light from the window behind them, making my dining room/kitchen gloomy.

There is a big window behind them.

I moved them to the tatami room where they look fantastic too.

Rather a poor photo
Another at different time of day.

I spend nearly all my time in the tatami room so I get to soak up eel spirit more than before. Something about the tatami mats and the byobus make sense.

I went to the doctor for check up. I have lost 9 kilos since I left Okinawa in December last year. I have been on a ferocious no carbs diet and strangely I always lose weight when I go to the USA.

I drive North to have lunch with a dear friend. Very windy and cold for Okinawa but blue, blue.

Cape Maeda
Sky with sea
Nice place to have lunch
Lunch in Grateful Dead mask.

That is about it.

Oh yes, I filled out all the forms to reserve my berth in the marina for next year.

Oh yes, I went to a great dinner where we all danced for about 2 hours. First time I have danced, excepting Strip the Willow, for a decade.

Oh yes, I got a new microwave.

The previous one, er, stopped working.

Oh yes, went to dinner and drinks with former colleagues. We left at 8:00. All restaurants and izakayas have to close at 8:00.

Not much adventure.

From my bed exactly a year ago
By the way, Okinawa loves shortbread.
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Okinawa in a state of emergency. This means stay at home as much as possible and this is what I do. I go to the boat on the bike but I do not really get stuck into anything. I fiddle around but have not started any of the big jobs, re-treating all the woodwork, cleaning out the engine compartment, scraping weed from her bottom and that sort of thing. I lack energy, drive.

I think this is a result of spending a month without talking to anyone. I have just sat around. I would by no means classify this as depression but there is certainly a cumulative lethargy. Melancholia.

Once my quarantine period is completed, I finally go for lunch with another human being! We go to a fantastic sushi place walking distance from the apartment.It is a mixture of super hi-tech and quality food. Fish is flown in from Tokyo and Hokkaido every morning. I have the best time, I talk to someone.

I speak to someone who answers back.

The weather has been perfect, bright, cool, sunny, blue skied.

Cherry blossom, sakura, as you know, has great importance here. Now is the time and now is the hour. There is blossom everywhere.

Near the apartment
Scruffy street, beautiful tree.
Same tree

So I hope to regain vigour with the arrival of spring. I see the first signs. I learn that it will rain massively tomorrow so rush down to put the cover on the boat.

Fear no evil. Notice another new hotel going up in the background

I notice a new sign at the marina.

Probably Covid related

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I Bashed My Nose

Not much going on. Probably the most interesting event was the hatch of a cockpit locker falling on the bridge of my nose, as I fumbled around in said locker. It carved out a pretty good chunk of flesh. It bled like crazy. I take this as an indication that my heart is healthy.

Notice Elastoplast on nose. I think I will have a scar which I am told is sexy. Hardly appropriate at my age.

Did I tell you that I got a new phone? It is an iPhone 12 mini. I am in love.

The camera is astounding. I have a big camera and lots of lenses but I will have to up my game if I am going to compete with this telephone.

I shop for fish
Once we can have parties again I will buy these.
I don’t like eating parrot fish. They are too beautiful. These ones look very sad. Mind you, they are dead.

Photographing flowers, especially those with long stamens is notoriously difficult. Something is always out of focus. The iPhone does not care.

Show me your stamens

Suddenly the cherry trees burst into blossom. It is Spring. Hurrah!

Yay iPhone
You just press the screen.

So I suppose photography has entered a new era. The cameras of old are well, er, old.

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Not Over Yet

I am back in Okinawa but I am assured that due to a new state of emergency I should spend 2 weeks in isolation. This means don’t leave the apartment unless absolutely necessary.

Necessary is a car and after a long walk I find a rental place and leave with a Tanto. 650ccs of meanness.


She has many cute features. She unlocks herself automatically if you approach with the key in your pocket. If the key is in the car then you only have to turn an ignition switch to start her. One of the back door slides open although I do not know for what purpose. I do not think she consumes any gas. All cars should be like this.

I check the boat and she is fine.

Such a good cover

She is a bit grubby but that is OK as I can spend a few days on cleaning.

I start the engine.

I had the throttle lever fully open which explains her
reluctance to start
Hey Okinawa, 25 degrees in January. On the boat

I have a lot of tuning up jobs to do.

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Yiv a Bit o Jeelie on Yir Semmit.

Semmit is Scots for vest or undershirt as some people say. In one of these the Clootie Dumpling was traditionally cooked.

When I was a boy, my Auntie Janet would cook dumpling and we all loved it. It was not a dessert but a main meal.When unwrapped from the semmit, it would steam gloriously. A good dumpling was always coated with a thin skin of pure white fat.

What joy to get a wonderful Xmas present from my sister Rosy. It is a recipe for dumpling written by my Mother, which somehow Rosy had printed onto a tea towel. It is now on my bedroom wall.

My Mother’s handwriting is beautiful and for me instantly recognizable. How many letters when I was at boarding school.

Lump in the throat. Click on the image.

The recipe is not traditional. Microwaves were unimaginable in 1960’s Scotland. A dumpling was steamed for 4 hours in a semmit.

The Broons of Glebe Street.

Anyway this is an introduction to the fact that I finally made it back to Okinawa. My God, what a trip.

A new state of emergency was announced the day after I got here, basically stay at home.

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As some of you may remember, Jesus was crucified, dead and buried, but on the third day he rose again.

The same thing happened to my MAC Classic a few years ago.


I recently put my iPhone through a 90 minute washing machine cycle and killed it.

3 days later I hear it ringing from my bag! It was a bit scary. Miracles usually are.

Resurrected phone. However you can see that the screen is cloudy. I will probably have to get a new one.

Is God trying to tell me something ?

The beginning of self isolation was quite fun. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I explored the neighborhood and reveled in the newness of of it all. I cooked extravagant meals and drank fine wine.

The last few days have been awful. For 2 weeks, I have not spoken to anyone face to face, excepting shop assistants, limited exchange of views, and the young man who rescued me when I locked myself out. I have thoroughly stomped around streets around me. Apart from Asakusa, they have not yielded much of interest. There are various little parks, but to be fair, it is the middle of winter and they are drab. I am so bored, cabined, cribbed, confined.

Spot billed duck on a scruffy pond. They have a yellow spot on the extremity of their bills. You will have to take my word for it.

I get up late, I can’t be bothered to shave, I go to the Combini to buy food.

The positive side of this dullness is that I have learned to appreciate the wonderfullness of Japanese Combini. It has taken 10 years.

I had a colleague at OIST who could not drive. This is not uncommon as it is a pain to get a driving license in Japan and if you live in a big city you do not need one anyway. I asked where she got her food from. “The Combini, of course.” I regret to say that she fell in my estimation as I imagined this very senior person lived on pot noodles and onigiri.

Wrong! My stay in isolation has revealed that these places offer a fantastic range of fresh meals, soups and especially salads.

So good!
They now have English explanations
These places are not your usual European corner shop. This would look cool on any restaurant’s menu. It also tastes 5 star.

So, all things being even, I return to Okinawa tomorrow. It has been a long trip back from San Francisco.

I do have a good view from my bed.
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This is a Repeat

As I spend my days locked down in Tokyo, I am only allowed two outdoor activities. The first is shopping, which means I eat and drink too much. The second is recreational walks, which means I spend a couple of hours dallying around the streets in some proximity to the apartment.

I have not spoken to a human face to face for 10 days, apart from shop assistants, limited exchange of views, and the young man who let me back into my apartment.

My excursions nearly always take me in the direction of Asakusa, a wonderful place. Not only does it have beautiful temples but more interestingly for me, lots of shops that devote themselves to only one product; a knife shop, a hat shop, a brush shop, a belt shot, a kimono shop, a fan shop, a sandal shop etc, etc. In this Amazon age it is a pleasure to bumble around such places.

The brushes feature goat, raccoon, horse, boar, and loads of other animal bristles.I believe they eschew synthetics.

The only drawback to a visit to Asakusa, er, no longer exists. Previously the place was packed, really packed, with tourists thrusting video cameras into everyone’s faces and being generally loud. Japan has allowed zero tourists into the country since March last year. This means I am the only one thrusting a video camera into people’s faces. I get to see Asakusa with few visitors. All of them are Japanese. It is a very different experience. Lucky me.

Look a tourist!

So clean, so calm, so quiet, so happy, in the middle of the world’s most populous city.

Covid restrictions
On a recreational walk or maybe going shopping. Notice the shopping bag.

Here is another movie that is very similar to the one I posted a few days ago. I remind dear readers that this blog is a personal diary to allow me to recall what I did with my life. I make no excuses for repetition.

Cannot resist this. Why would Asahi spend millions on this thing? I suppose because I am posting it 30 years after it was installed. No logo, no marketing.
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