Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poe's Crow

I while ago I left a comment on Odock in which I quoted a story punchline that included the word "absinthe". Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere is curious to know the story behind the line. So....

Edgar Allen Poe had fallen asleep while writing at his desk around midnight and was awakened by a rapping at his door. He thought the blasted raven had returned, but when he opened the door he found instead a crow.

The crow was injured and as there was a blizzard howling, shivering with cold. He brought the bird in, tended to its injuries and placed it on his hearth to be warmed by the fire.

Days passed and Poe fed and cared for the bird which never showed any desire to leave. Indeed, it seemed to like to sit perched on the hearth and watch as Poe wrote at his desk.

Then one night, Poe was drinking absinthe - that green wormwood and herb liqueur that may have induced some of Poe's more bizarre flights of fancy. He went over to the hearth to pet the crow and absentmindedly left his glass there. The crow, thinking it was being offered to him, drank the absinthe. Immediately a change came over the bird. His feathers transformed into scales and his wings and feet into fins! His body became flat and he flopped onto the floor, his eyes slowly moving on his face until they both stared up from the same side of his head!

Poe was shocked with disbelief. He thought that his own drinking of absinthe had caused him to hallucinate the whole incident and threw the bottle into the fire. But then a smile came to his lips as he remembered that old aphorism...

"Absinthe makes the hearth-crow flounder."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We're Sailin' In The Rain

Just sailin´ in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
we're happy again...

Hinuma, Bluesette, Lido 14, sailing, Japan
raindrops on lake Hinuma, and a lone, blue, sailboat...Bluesette

We arrived at the harbor around 11 am and had Bluesette ready to go by 11:30. We decided to have "lunch before launch" so as to maximize our time on the water. Mama's Kitchen did not disappoint.

Kimie had pasta carbonara and I chose pasta with horenso (Japanese spinach) and sea food. Hers included slices of pork, mine (shown below) had a snappy tomato sauce with scallops, shrimp, and squid.

I didn't order desert, but at Mama's - "shoganai" (it can't be helped). Rare cheesecake, ice cream with caramel, melon, cherry, and blueberries.

While we were eating, a gentle rain began to fall. Kimie suggested waiting to see what the weather would do, I thought we should just go, rain or no, as we would be getting wet either way, and that's what we did. Mr. Hakuta showed us a cool website that shows rain and thunderstorm activity in our part of Japan. It evidently uses radar data to display rain and lightning. It's offered by TEPCO, the electric company for Tokyo and surrounds. If you care to take a look, the site is here:

All we could see for the area was light rain, so we launched. No other sailboats were on the lake.

Hinuma, Bluesette, Lido 14, sailing, Japan

The winds were light and from the west making for a relaxed, but not at all boring sail.

Hinuma, Bluesette, Lido 14, sailing, Japan
A water skier in front of the hotel we have stayed at with our friend Martin last fall - another, much wetter, rainy day sailing experience.

Some wind surfers were out for lessons. Their teacher was using a bull horn(!) from shore to instruct them. Annoying - we stayed away.

Hinuma, Bluesette, Lido 14, sailing, Japan

The rain was never heavy, though it kept us a little wet and meant periodic bailing by Kimie to keep the bottom of the cockpit from getting slippery. With the lake nearly to ourselves, we had a great time.

Hinuma, Bluesette, Lido 14, sailing, Japan

Hinuma harbor's owner, Hakuta-san, maneuvering Bluesette to her sendai (dolly).

The rain stopped as we reached the dock and didn't start again until after we had stowed the sails and washed the boat down and were just about to put Bluessette's cover on. Good timing.

...we're sailing and dancing in the rain....

Until next, sweet sailing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A 大安 (Taian) Day

大安 (Taian) is a "good luck" day marked on some Japanese calendars. There are five other types of days with various meanings - some good, some bad, some mixed. They are calculated using the Japan Linisolar calendar. Taian is the best of them and is supposed to be good for things like weddings or opening businesses. Today was one.

A nice six knot (seven mph) breeze from east-southeast made for great sailing on lake Hinuma today. The skies were a little hazy, but most of that burned off by afternoon, with the temperature hitting 29°C (84°F).

The crew relaxing on a downwind leg after a SoyJoy bar some orange juice - 'don't want her getting scurvy on these long voyages.

The captain was drinking something stronger - mugicha (barley tea).

Oddly enough, we didn't see a single mullet jump today. Perhaps the lake had more oxygen content? Also, there was only one other sailboat on the lake. So we practically had the place to ourselves. While coming in to dock, I did have to a little maneuvering to avoid the two PWCs (jet skiis) being used for licensing exams, but it went smoothly. As you can see, we both forgot our caps, but happily not the sunscreen.

By the time we got to Mama's Kitchen for lunch it was after 2pm so the lunch specials were no longer available. Kimie had pasta with oil and mushrooms and ordered a desert, I chose pasta with tomato and crab sauce (below).

The salad bar was closed, but Mama came out with a nice salad for each of us.

Kimie's desert was amazing. A strawberry roll cake with strawberries and cherries and a drizzle of chocolate, plus a glass of gelatin and fruit with ginger ale on top. I hadn't ordered desert, but was given one of the gelatin/fruit/ginger ale thingies anyway. Nice treat on a summery day.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Be The Boat

It was a beautiful day out on lake Hinuma today - a few wispy cirrus clouds to make the clear skies interesting, temperature in the low 20's C (mid 70's F), wind from the east (perpendicular to the dock) at a nice 3 m/s (6 knots or about 7 mph). That amount of wind is enough to make it interesting without overpowering Bluesette or creating too much chop. It was also easy on my sore shoulder, yet gave me some exercise for it. Simply couldn't ask for better.

Adding to our good mood was the readout from Kimie's Honda Insight's computer. On the trip to the lake (about 39 km or 24 miles), without even trying, she had averaged 29.4 kilometers per liter ~ that's 69 mpg! (We paid about $5.34/gallon last fill up, so efficiency really matters in Japan.)

Only a couple of other sailboats were out - a SeaHopper (similar to a Laser) and a Flying Junior or two manned by high school students. Before we launched, a small bus load of guys showed up, maybe fifteen of them, and started unloading sit-on-top kayaks from a truck. While we sailed, they paddled across the lake, had lunch at a park on the northern shore, and returned. Nice outing for them, and we enjoyed seeing them. I used to kayak/snorkel every week when I lived on Maui. Kimie and I have enjoyed kayaking on Maui and in Fiji together.

Ready to run down the kayakers - not! We gave them a wide berth.

While out on the water we had a sort of "mission" to perform. To paraphrase The Blues Brothers, "we were on a mission from Buddha".

I had bought some shijimi (small local fresh water clams) last week, which we had enjoyed in soup. They are served in the shells in the soup, so one is left with a bunch of shells. What to do with them? Kimie checked our burnables/non-burnables/re-cycle chart (which nearly every family in Japan has posted on the kitchen wall) and pointed out that shells were non-burnable so would end up in a land fill. That didn't sit well with me (after all, there isn't a whole lot of space available for landfills on the Japan archipelago) and I thought of using them as mulch in the yard, except that we didn't have enough shells to cover much of anything. Kimie made a joke about future archaeologists digging them up in a thousand years and surmising our lifestyle from them. Then I thought, "what would mother nature do?" Of course. They would end up back in the lake. So we took the shijimi shells along with us in a bag and Kimie returned them to the lake bottom for natural recycling - minus the bag naturally. Sort of a "burial at lake".

The new sails offer excellent visibility through the large windows, such as this view of a Flying Junior (center) best seen if you click on the pic.

I was happy to have the windvane back on the top of the mast. It had been removed to make room for the teardrop mast float we had for a while. But now, we have the inflatable floats that straddle the mainsail, so the top of the mast is available for the windvane again. The inflatable floats posed their own problem today, however, in that unless one is pointed into the wind when raising the main (and thus floats), the float will be to one side or the other of the mast and get jammed between the mast and shrouds. It only to took me three tries at raising the main to figure it out. :o

In this pic, you can see how the floats might get caught between the mast and shrouds on the way up if the boat wasn't facing into the wind.

The north shore with our homemade whisker pole holding out the jib on a downwind leg.

We might have stayed out a long time, but the crew got hungry and became restless, so I cut the voyage short. (When the crew is also one's spouse, one must make tough decisions.) A delicious lunch at Mama's Kitchen quickly restored order. We also ordered pizza to go from Mama's so neither of us would have to cook dinner. The pizza was great - shrimp, octopus, squid, and mushrooms.

On the way back in, we took each other's picture. Our timing was off both times and resulted in eyes closed portraits. It reminded me of the movie "Caddy Shack" (1980) and the scene wherein Chevy Chase plays a perfect chip shot over a water hazard while blind folded, saying "be the ball". He later (mis)quotes Basho as saying that "a flute with no holes is not a flute, and a doughnut with no hole is a Danish", and putts several balls into the hole one after another..."nanananananana, tutututututu, nununununu".... Too funny.

Be the jib...."nanananananana"

Be the boat...."tutututututu nununununu"

Update: I forgot to mention that the haze (striped mullet) were jumping and one about 30 cm (1 foot) long leapt across our foredeck and hit the jib with a bang. Perhaps it was thinking "be the sail".

Until next, sweet sailing.