Sunday, October 31, 2010

Catch of the Day

A typhoon swept through Ibaraki on October 9th and 10th making for a sail-less weekend. Happily, Monday was a national holiday - Health and Sports Day - and the weather was fine. The air was crystal clear with unlimited visibility. However, when we arrived at lake Hinuma, the air was calm.

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Not wanting to repeat our recent experience of drifting around the lake, we elected to get Bluesette ready to sail and have an early lunch while waiting for a breeze. The first order of business was to bail out the large pond of water that had collected in the boat and raise the sails for them to dry out (we no longer keep them in the bottom of the boat). Often, if the weather is fine, the sun heats up the nearby ocean water and creates some nice localized wind by early afternoon, so we were hopeful.

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At Mama's we found the daughter in charge again with her sister helping out. Her sister's daughter was there too - a fifth grader who sat quietly at a table doing homework.

We had, would you believe, chicken. Nicely seared, lean chunks. It came with garlic rice, tofu with bonito shavings and shoyu on top, pickled veggies, and miso soup. Salad bar too, of course, and "mini-Mama" (as Don Snabalus called her in an earlier comment) surprised us with a dessert of panna cotta.

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Meanwhile, the sun had done its job and though the wind was not strong, there was enough for a pleasant sail. The haze (striped mullet) were jumping and Kimie spent several minutes with the camera trying to catch them on video with no luck. After one long session of this, she gave up and put down the camera only to have fish start jumping close by all around the boat as if on cue.

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The storm had washed a lot of trash into the lake and so we made a game of going after the bottles and other odd bits. We collected quite a "catch". This picture doesn't quite show all it. It really p's me off that some people are so careless with rubbish. On the lake, however, it is only after a storm that it is noticeable. We picked up mostly beverage containers of various materials, but also a small ball, a big chunk of styrofoam, aerisol cans of pesticide and air conditioner cleaning solvent. After this picture I also caught an empty glass bottle which had contained Avon skin cream. At least the few things we scooped up will be recycled or disposed of properly.

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Catch of the Day

After washing down Bluesette, Kimie called me over to the standpipe by the faucet. Peering down I saw this little fellow:

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I filled the pipe with water to get him/her to come out. It glared at me. I suppose it was hiding in there waiting for dinner to drop in and I spoiled the plan. Sorry froggy. It's not that easy being brown.

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Just another beautiful day at Hinuma.

Until next, sweet sailing.




Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Book of Tea

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In mid-September we took a break from "everything". Kimie got Friday off from work and drove us up to the northernmost city of Ibaraki Prefecture - Kitaibaraki City (literally "north Ibaraki" - doh!). Along the way we took a detour into the mountains to see a lovely thatched roof temple, Jorenji, built in 858.



Our destination was Izura - a cliffside resort area which was home to famed artist Okakura Tenshin (February 14, 1862 – September 2, 1913) who, aside from writing The Book of Tea and other English language volumes, ran an art school and was at one time head of the Asian arts section of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The area was also home to Ujo Noguchi (1882-1945) who wrote children's poems and song lyrics, many of which are still popular in Japan today.

We have visited Izura twice before, but only on day trips - once by car, once by train - and so had never spent the night before. We stayed at the cliffside resort of Izura Kanko Hotel, close to Tenshin's home and art school, though the latter is no longer there, and walking distance to the Tenshin Memorial Art Museum.



Our suite was on a corner and had views of the cliffs and Tenshin's hexagonal meditation room "Rokkokudo" on the point below his home, as well as straight out to sea to the East and the rising sun which we awoke to witness each morning. (Yawn- it was like O'dark:30 but very much worth the effort.)



The occasion was my 60th Birthday and I could think of nothing more appropriate than to spend it by the sea, with the sound of ocean waves soothing my angst of increasing age. It worked. I felt invigorated by the sights, sounds, and smells of the seaside, which combined to gently take the edge off of the "3 score" milestone, as did a soak in the limestone bath of the spa.

This area has most of Ibaraki Prefecture's fishing ports, so seafood was the order of the day, and the hotel did not disappoint. (I had lost 3 pounds in the previous ten days, and was afraid to look at a scale after the trip.)



I was happily surprised to see, among the myriad fishing boats, a number of sailing yachts in the waters off Izura, parading past the window at breakfast and returning in the afternoon. There is even a small wooden sailboat on display near Tenshin's house - one that he built himself for fishing.



On Saturday, we drove into the mountains again to the end of a road where there is an ancient Shinto Shrine. Set by a mountain stream amidst 600 and 700 year old cedars and pines, Hanazono Shrine is quite stunning for its size - like a jewel in the forest.



There is much more to tell, but I will leave that for a later post on Pacific Islander.

For now, I will close with this thought; it's a quote from The Book of Tea (1906) by Okakura Tenshin:

"Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others."

He meant it on an international level, specifically how Western countries viewed Asia at the time, but it applies to personal life as well, and seems to me to be a concept worthy of our reflection.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Watching Paint Dry?

I hope not. OK, so this video compilation is a bit long, especially for you young whipper snappers out there who have the attention span of a lighting bolt, but I wanted to make the length match the Mambo to which it is set.

We did bury the rail a few times, got buzzed by jet skis and had some nice wing and wing time with a view of Mt. Tsukuba while dodging bamboo poles (well, actually, I hit the first one).

Last Saturday was the first opportunity to sail after our trip up north (next post) because a typhoon blew all week dumping lots of rain. When it left, the sky was crystal clear (CAVU - ceiling and visibility unlimited) and the air was moving at a nice 10 knot clip - enough to really move Bluesette without creating heavy chop on the lake.

The music (Mambo Barbara) features a great trombone solo (of course). Enjoy.

I'm glad I chose the Lido 14. If I had selected a one man boat, I'd be sailing alone and having to do all the clean up by myself. Arrr, swab that centerboard trunk, matey!

And of course, there was Mama's Kitchen afterwards.

Ham for the crew


Clams for the skipper


Desert for us both.


Mama was out, so her daughter was running the whole show and we got to meet her older sister who was there as well (eligible bachelors take note). They had a bumper crop of red sweet peppers (paprika), so we ended up taking home a bag full. I like using that in my vegetarian chili recipe in lieu of green ones for added color.

Until next, sweet sailing.