Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Good Head On My Shoulders

Head of cabbage anyway - gift from the couple who work the land across the street from us  (behind me in the picture).

My main garden plot.  I made three 1 meter wide rows with two narrow paths between them so I can reach everything without walking on the beds.  Far right bed has a low tunnel with broccoli, then potatoes at the far end and carrots and radishes at the near end.   In the middle bed is chingensai (bok choy), spinach, zucchini (where the towers are), and corn.   On the left is a 2nd kind of potato and four varieties of lettuce.  A potted eggplant is in the corner.   Beyond the garden on the right is our mikan (tangerine) tree, and 5 small blueberry bushes, 3 of which are loaded this year. 
Containers hold mixed small leafy greens, peas - starting to climb the net that is there for them, three colors of bell peppers, and some basil.   The peas should also provide a little shade for the window.   Not shown are other containers with tomatoes, strawberries,  our cumquat tree, purple basil, parsley, and other herbs and K's humongous rosemary bush.

Momo TWD (the wonder dog) resting in the shade of our pomegranate tree.  She is the reason for the little fence at one end of the garden - she used to like to lay in the soft, freshly tilled earth (can't say as I blame her) and would get her tether caught up on garden stakes and lettuces and have to call out for help.  

There are more chingensai, spinach and corn in sprouting trays to plant later so we don't get all of them at once.   I also have seeds for kale (the super food) and beets to plant in a month or so for fall/winter harvest.

So much to grow, so little room.  That's why I concentrate on what we like and what is most expensive or difficult to find in the stores as well as what has the best nutritive value. 

Until next, sweet sailing.

Note: links are provided throughout this post so that you can see the latest science on the amazing health benefits of eating these foods and a plant based diet in general.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Memorial Day's roots are unclear, but one thing is certain to me - it is the most regrettable and unnecessary holiday ever.  Not that we shouldn't honor those who have died fighting in wars, but one would hope that by remembering them we would learn not to have any more wars.  That would be the greatest honor we could offer in their memory. 

A Girl Scout (my granddaughter Bailey) placing leis in the Veterans Cemetery on Maui, Hawaii.  I remember her mom and aunt as children making leis for Memorial Day.

"The force which makes for war does not derive its strength from the interested motives of evil men; it derives its strength from the disinterested motives of good men."  
 ~ Nobel Peace Laureate Sir Norman Angell 
 Until next, sweet - and peaceful - sailing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No Time To Wallow In The Mire

So long Ray Manzarek.  Fair winds and following seas.

Keyboard player and founding member of The Doors, Ray has died after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74.  He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Dorothy Fujikawa, their son Pablo, and three grandchildren, Noah, Apollo and Camille.

Back in the day, when I was at university, we would listen to the radio and hope they would play the long version of "Light My Fire", so that we could hear his awesome keyboard solo.  

He outlived Jim Morrison by some 42 years, so his life went far beyond being The Doors keyboard artist obviously, and included solo works and being a key part of the bands Nite City and Manzarek–Krieger.

There are a lot of tributes up on YouTube now and I encourage you to go spend the time to check them out and grab the history while you can.  

Great words to remember him by:

"The only thing that ultimately matters is to eat an ice-cream cone, play a slide trombone, plant a small tree, good God, now you're free." ~ Ray Manzarek

Amen, Ray.  Namuamidabutsu.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

470's and Snipes - Tokyo Style

Once upon a time, Pandabonium sailed a Snipe - in Marina del Rey and Santa Barbara Harbor.  Mostly solo (with a 50 lb lead weight for a little ballast) but sometimes with a companion.  It was a nice boat that was built by Schock.   There was some discussion at the time about the fiberglass Snipes, like mine, being slower than their wood counterparts due to the flexibility of the glass hull, but it mattered not to me as I never raced.  (Never have understood the racing mindset, quite frankly.  I think sport competition in general is a vestige of early human evolution.  When you sail, just sail.  Have fun.) 

Here's a video of some serious sailing of Snipes and 470's by students of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.  They obviously didn't get my Buddhist memo, but nonetheless appear to be having fun.  

Considering the world they will face upon graduation, I hope they have all the fun they can, while they can.

Until next,  sweet sailing.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Modern Shanty

Music aboard ship has long history.  Commander Chris Hadfield of Canada has taken it to new level however,  with the first music video made in space by playing guitar and singing David Bowie's "Space Oddity" aboard the International Space Station.  

He returns to earth today along with US Astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Friday, May 10, 2013


WD Schock let me know that Sweet Bluesette blog has been linked in a Scuttlebut Sailing News article by Fin Beven called "EVOLUTION: Not very good for the sport".    He linked to my post about the Dinkitten sailboat my family had in the 1950s which was my introduction to sailing.   Apparently, he sailed one too. 

The article is short and to the point - things aren't what they used to be in the world of dinghy sailing, and that isn't a good thing.  I agree with what he says and recommend the article to my readers.  Let me know what you think.

Here's a picture of Fin Beven (right) on the Cal 40 Radient in the Molokai Channel heading to Diamond Head and the finish line of the  2005 Transpac race. 

The posts I wrote about the Dinkitten are here:  Kitten and here: Dinkitten - Meow!

 Until next, sweet sailing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Children's Day Sail

Sunday was Children's Day in Japan and once again the weather cooperated for us.

Koinobori (carp streamers) were being flown at many homes and at the yacht harbor in honor of the holiday.

Y-san was sailing too.  Here he is launching his Com-Pac.

I brought snacks including mikan (tangerine) to prevent scurvy on our long voyage and keep the crew satisfied enough to stay out a bit  longer. 

As you can see in the above picture, winds were almost calm when we first launched, but we spotted some ripples and sailed toward them, finally finding some wind.  The striped mullet were plentiful and doing a lot of jumping which you can see in the video clip.  They also roll on their side and swim right at the surface. 

Some scientists speculate that they engage in these behaviors to capture a gulp of air which they can store in their pharyngobranchial organ (the back of their throat) so that they can dive to the bottom where they feed and where there is not much oxygen in the water.  They jump more when the water's oxygen content is low, so this may be a reasonable explanation.  

At one point I remarked that I hoped we wouldn't have any fish jump into the boat this time.  It was not to be and a large striped mullet landed at my feet.   In this video it happens at about 3:02 in the clip, but it is off camera.   You can hear K's laughter and the fish flopping around on the deck until she scoops it up in her hands and sends it back into the lake.    I then mopped up the deck with a cloth until we no longer smelled like a fishing boat.  (No offense to my fishermen friends intended.)   Enlarged view highly recommended.

The wind continued to pick up until it got to be more than we wanted to handle.  We have both lost some weight in the last year (40 lbs for me) and we are well below the normal crew weight for a Lido 14, making hiking out even more work.  Perhaps we should get some ballast!  Anyway, when it gets a bit over 10 knots (11.5 mph) we both get tired and K gets splashed by the chop, so we pack it in. 

When it got to about 11 knots I stopped taking video and headed for the dock.  This a busy time as we must raise the centerboard "sukoshi" - enough to keep from hitting bottom at the dock depending on how much water is in the lake I (test this before we shove off to see exactly how much room we have).  Depending on how much this is, it makes sailing in a strong breeze even more difficult as without full centerboard we drift downwind more and heel over more easily.  K must handle the gaff so that she can grab the line of the dock when I make the approach and pull us to it so she can jump off and tie us up before we are blown away from  it.   I don't recall any of these difficulties in Southern California, since I always sailed in a protected harbor (Santa Barbara, Marina Del Rey, Mission Bay) and the wind is seldom more than about 4 or 5 knots.  

At Mama's Kitchen I had pasta in a spicy tomato sauce with mushrooms and zucchini.  K had pasta in cream sauce with mushrooms and tuna and something else, of which I am sure she will remind me.  ;)

Steaming pasta

For dessert, it was fruit for me and cake for K.  Well deserved reward for her exceptional crewing.

Our routine may seem, well, routine, but it is something we relish.  Especially as our 2011 season was shortened by an earthquake and nuclear disaster and last year's by my medical follies.    It's great to be able to go sailing whenever weather and personal schedules permit. We are sailing with an attitude of gratitude.

Until next,  sweet sailing. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Use Your Heart

"Use your heart to love someone. And if your heart is big enough, use your heart to love everyone."  - Stevie Wonder

This being our fifth year of sailing Bluesette on Lake Hinuma, I revisit the video from our first blog post in 2008 which featured music by Stevie Wonder and Toots Theilemans.

'Seems every year that goes by, the sentiments expressed above in Stevie's quote and in the song become more relevant, more poignant.   Spread love - far and wide; don't despair; love is around the corner.

Don't let the signal get lost in the noise.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Happy Greenery Day

In Japan, May 4 is Greenery Day; a time to commune with nature and appreciate that we are not masters of nature, but part of it.

For our part, we went grocery shopping and worked in the yard and garden. I planted more seeds and seedlings. Our yard is very small, but we're growing a lot of different veggies: potatoes (2 kinds), broccoli, carrots, various lettuces, peas, tomatoes (two varieties), corn, chingensai (bok choy), peas, zucchini (right now priced at about US$2 each in the store!), spinach, radishes, and herbs (rosemary and four kinds of basil). Nothing like organic veggies fresh from the garden. We've got five blueberry bushes now - wish we had space for more. I buy frozen ones from Canada for off-season eating. Coaxing some strawberry plants too. So many things to grow, so little room!

This area is also a designated Wildlife Protection Area and each year that I've lived here, the variety seems to have increased. Bird calls often awaken me at first light - like 4:00 at this time of year.    My favorite is the Uguisu or Japanese bush warbler - a tiny green bird about the size of a sparrow that has a variety of songs and a very beautiful high volume voice. And then there are the squawks of male pheasants, hammering of woodpeckers, cooing of doves, and let's not forget the high pitched chatter of meadow larks as the hover 100 feet in the air.

At ground level we have grasses, flowers, trees, frogs, snakes like the friendly aodaisho (rat snake) and the poisonous yamakagashi (grass snake), the occasional tanuki (raccoon dog - a wild species of canine native to Japan), and atachi (weasels). We are lucky to live in such a place. At the lake there are more life forms to see in the form of fish and aquatic birds.

Greenery Day brings thoughts of plants, but all life is interconnected, so it is really about every living thing. Of course, it is all much more accessible to us when we leave the artificial cocoon of the automobile and venture forth on foot or by bicycle.

Wherever you live, and regardless of holidays, get out and interface with nature whenever you can. Sailing is a great way to do that. We plan to interface with wind and water tomorrow. Every day should be a day of appreciating our precious mother earth.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

She Could Hypnotize The Ocean

My eldest daughter learned hula early in her life as she was born in Hawaii (still lives there).  She even performed a hula at her wedding reception.  Her own two girls also dance the hula, though the younger one is into ballet now.

It might surprise some of my readers to learn that hula is very popular in Japan and in fact over US$ 80 million is spent on hula in Japan each year.  There are over 100 halaus (schools) in Japan, and even one just a couple of kilometers from our house - way out here in the "boonies".

A great song from back in the 70s is "Hula Lady".  Here it is blended in a medley with "Honolulu I am Coming Back Again" being played by Kawili Na Kaleponi.  As I recall, it was the Cazimero Brothers who performed those songs back in 1973 along with Peter Moon.  They called themselves "The Sunday Manoa".  Manoa means vast and deep and there is a valley on Oahu called Manoa where the University of Hawaii is located.  

Anyway, I really like this performance:

And here are a couple of dancers performing Hula Lady for you to the 1973 version by "The "Sunday Manoa":

A hui hou (until we meet again), sweet sailing.