Saturday, December 25, 2010

No Place Like Mama's For The Holidays


Christmas Day in Japan, we headed up to the lake to check on Bluesette and bring her a present. Weather was fine, if cool, with just scattered cumulus. The yacht harbor was closed as far as boat launching went, but the office was open. The owners' three year old grandson was playing with his new Thomas The Tank Engine pull toy (while wearing his Thomas and Friends T-shirt). We had brought some candies for him and his older sister which made him less shy than usual. The lake was cold and windy, with only a couple of windsurfers on the north shore braving the elements.

It had been many weeks since our last visit and a lot of weather had passed so we knew Bluesette probably needed some clean up. While temperatures in Kashima have gotten close to 5C (40F) some nights, at lake Hinuma, it had been frosty cold. Some of the micromesh rags we had left there had gotten wet and were frozen this morning. Bluesette did have a bit of water in the cockpit and once again the mainsail had fallen off the seat and into the water.

After cleaning up, I tied the mainsail to the jib cleat so it would stay high and dry, and then we installed our "gift" to Bluesette - a plastic tarp to cover the cockpit under the "Sunbrella" canvas cover, so that even if (when) the cover leaks, the water will run down the plastic beneath it and off the boat. Hopefully that will solve the problem for the duration of the winter.

Then it was time to pay a visit to Mama's Kitchen. It was so nice to be back in our familiar haunt. A beautiful white Christmas Cactus in bloom adorned the window bay (see top pic). Traditional Japanese songs played on the stereo - as opposed to the usual pop music, probably because "Papa" was there today. Mama had thoughtfully placed lap blankets on the chairs for customers who felt a chill, though the place felt warm as toast to me.


I braved the spicy red pepper and fish roe sauce for angel hair pasta with mushrooms and scallops. Oishikatta desu. (It was delicious.)


Kimie's lunch centered on "buri" (Japanese amberjack fish).


Mine included dessert which we shared - a nice raisin cake with strawberry, orange slices and a wedge of persimmon.

On the way home we stopped at a farmer's market and picked up some local eggs (from a truly free range farm where the chickens get feed but also eat veggies and bugs while out of doors). The eggs were collected this morning at 10 am! As treats for ourselves and Kimie's parents, we got strawberries and sugared ginger slices. I really enjoy our farmers' markets, which offer fresh, local produce and feature bios and photos of the people growing the food you buy. Yes, it costs more, but as the old Dutch saying goes, "cheap is foolish" - especially when it comes to things you eat!


Until next, sweet sailing.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Traditional Japanese Pasta Christmas Dinner


Well, it's our tradition anyway.


Each year we have Christmas dinner at one of our favorite restaurants - "Wordsworth" which is named after the poet. We used to lunch there fairly often before we started sailing and eating at Mama's.

Wordsworth is an Italian style seafood and pasta restaurant. For a few days at Christmas time, they offer special set meals for dinner - reservations only.

Kimie drank Perrie water with ume juice and an ume fruit in the glass (ume is Japanese plum, which is more like an apricot if you ask me, and is primarily used for making ume liqueur).

The meal began with Bagna Calda, a hot dip composed of hot olive oil, garlic and anchovy, along with raw vegetables to be dipped into it. Then came uncured ham with tomato and mozzarella cheese. Kimie had foie gras while I enjoyed stuffed horned turban shell. After that there was a prawn salad, and before the main course, a frothy cup of soybean soup.

For the main course, Kimie had pasta with squid. I chose pasta in cream sauce with spinach and oysters topped with salmon roe.

Dessert - a wine glass with chestnut puree on coconut ice cream, and a long straw-like cookie. Finally, biscotti and gateau au chocolat with coffee or tea.

Another excellent experience at Wordsworth. I wonder what they will dream up for next year? Daffodils?

If you are still hungry for food pictures, you can read about our 2008 Christmas dinner, which featured different dishes, on Pacific Islander blog: Le Delizie Gastronomici Della Festa

Until next, happy holidays, joyous dining, and sweet sailing.

Monday, December 20, 2010


A wish for you all in two parts.

The opening ceremony of the 1998 World Olympics, Nagano, Japan. Beethoven Ode to Joy with Seiji Ozawa conducting the.... well, the whole world!

O Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary.
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Pacem in Terrace

It's not too late. If you want it.

Best wishes to all on this Winter Solstice and throughout the New Year
with love, from
Kimie and Pandabonium

*Seiji Ozawa, my all time favorite conductor, after a year's hiatus fighting esophageal cancer, raised his baton once again in Carnegie Hall on December 16th.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Final Countdown


The weather has not been cooperative for sailing this fall. It's too cold for our tastes now, so looks like October 24th was the last sail of the year.

Tourists were out trying their hand at fishing

The day was overcast but not too cool. Winds were light, which gave Kimie the courage to take the tiller again. That gave me the opportunity to try on the crew shoes and reacquaint myself with handling the jib and the whisker pole. Kimie did a good job and I think we both came away with more appreciation for each others efforts.


There were a lot of water fowl on the lake, but we were too slow to get close enough for a good pic of them, though Kimie managed to catch a Grey Heron on one of the docks. Somehow this pic brings to mind O Docker's post about "poop decks".


When we broke for lunch I suggested a break from Mama's, so we went to the Hinuma Hotel next door where we've stayed and lunched before.


Kimie had tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and I had tempura. It was tasty, but somehow not as good as Mama's and of course, the help there doesn't know us. It was a good thing to do anyway if only to help us appreciate Mama's Kitchen all the more.



After lunch we sailed sweet Bluesette until the wind just didn't have enough to give and the day grew late for getting home to walk our dog Momo (peach).


Thank you Bluesette for the joy you bring us. You are the product of the thoughts of many minds and the actions of many hands, as are we all. We look forward to Spring and to awakening you once again to help us experience the wonders of wind and sail and water.


Until next, sweet sailing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cockpit Voice Recorder

Not the airliner variety. Rather, I'm referring to the camera I mounted on the transom of Bluesette. Originally, I was going to edit this recording and substitute music for the natural sound. I've decided to leave it "as-is" so you can hear, if you have a good ear, what went on.

The clip is just the last part of our day on the water on October 17th - see the earlier post "Seahoppers vs Laser". As we approached the dock, there was some discussion as to how far to raise the centerboard so as to obtain some benefit from it, but without risking striking the bottom. As I explain to Kimie, before leaving the dock I always let the centerboard touch bottom and measure (with my hand) how much of the centerboard uphaul line is left so we know where to set it on the way back.

Visually, in spite of heading into the sun, there are some nice frames (in addition to Kimie's smiles) as Yamaha Grasshoppers dock and go up their ramp. I take over the jib, while Kimie gets out the grappling hook to catch the line on the dock.

Mostly it's a pretty quiet 6 3/4 minutes (aside from gurgling water), so if you're looking for action, you may be disappointed. Might be of most interest to you non-sailors out there. Anyway, another nice day on the lake.

Until next, Sweet Sailing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blues and Boats

Newport Jazz Festival 1958

Sonny Stitt - "Blues"

Sonny Stitt, tenor sax; Sal Salvidor, guitar; Gildo Mahones, piano; Martin Rivera, bass; Louis Hayes, drums

*Salute to crew member Martin for this clip.