October 31, 2006


It's a quiet day in suburbia. Mr Guy celebrated his first day of freedom from his job by having surgery. Now we're home, his costume is "Guy Who Had Surgery," and I'm doing his evil bidding in between feeding candy to the goblins.

I had hoped to post jack-o-lantern pictures, but today our gourds remain unpierced. We had big plans to make a pumpkin effigy of our youngest grand niece who makes an excellent kooky grin while clutching her high chair tray, but it didn't work out.

While Mr Guy was sleeping, I made stock and apple guava turnovers and beets, and when I couldn't gather the strength to cut into the pumpkin myself, I stuck it in a plastic bag and threw it off the back porch to crack it open. It worked (after a few false starts and one escape down the driveway). It's now pumpkin soup.

I have now experienced a first: a little trick-or-treater who was on the cel phone the entire time she's at my door opening her bag and saying thank you. Couldn't have been more than ten years old...

October 29, 2006

The Menu

It's about all I can do to not write about the old place. The Sunday paper's magazine section had an article about the poor punk waif who escaped the old place to find fame, fortune, and a fake British accent. And I can spend the rest of my life describing our 7 1/2 years in the old place to an astonished audience, so there's plenty of time there. I'm moving on to food.

Today, we went to an open house of a designer-built gorgeous place with a view. Then we scaled back our shopping plans after realizing that nobody is open on Sunday around here. But the Japanese market and the Japanese dollar store and the regular old American grocery store were open, so pumpkins and dashi and mirin and umeshu and gobo and the National Enquirer were all procured. Thus our dinner. After owning my Japanese cookbook for 20 years, I cooked from it:

  • Tiny plum tomatoes in a rice wine shiso vinaigrette
  • Kinpira Gobo (braised burdock root and carrots)
  • Homemade miso soup
  • Baby turnips and their leaves
  • Kabocha Nimono (simmered squash)

Boy was that tasty. Next year, I'm growing shiso. In Koriyama I was served maki containing squash, maguro and shiso. I still dream of the flavor.

October 24, 2006

Xavier Cugat

What I really want to do is talk about the weather...how right now it can be as balmy as Koriyama during the day but shrouded in fog in the morning, and the gorgeous weird sunsets lately that look like a pink cigar attack on the hills behind us. And the pineapple guavas that are ripe all at the same time and require eating. But instead I bring you Xavier Cugat.

Xavier Cugat was a Cuban bandleader far older than his hot flamenco guitar playing wife, Charo. I knew him from the TV talk shows of my youth as the old guy married to Charo. Charo's website doesn't even say that they were ever married, for whatever that's worth!

Among his many talents, XC seems to have been a visual artist. Or to have signed some paintings. Or to have sold some art that had his name on it. Or something.

This weekend I saw a painting by Xavier Cugat at an auction site and it cracked me up so I thought I'd buy it but I want to know more (painting 1).

Then I looked on the Web and saw basically the same painting with a story about how the owner's parents bought it in Mexico at a XC concert (painting 2).

Then I saw the same painting without the liver containers (painting 3).

At three and counting, the thrill is gone. Now I don't really want to own an alleged Xavier Cugat painting as much as I want to count how many instances of this painting I can find.

October 20, 2006

Could it be?

Tomorrow I can bake a chicken, work in the garden and listen to NPR. That’s a little slice of heaven right there.

Last night we went to see the Pride of Hoboken at the local largish venue. In attendance: old people.

The last time we went to this place, we saw Spoon. We did what the other kids did, and plopped ourselves down on the dance floor to hold our spot while we waited for the opening act to begin. When we all stood, I realized that we were a dozen inches and two dozen years bigger than everyone around us, mostly students from the state college. And Spoon rocked hard but didn’t move me, bless their hearts.

Speaking of dumb, can anyone explain why old people feel the need to puff boo at concerts? It's intrusive to those of us who don't, it doesn’t make them cool, and it doesn’t improve their dancing and the guy next to me smelled like he mistakenly lit a fire in an old tuna can. The people of the past called this "ditch weed." Great, dude. Sure, you’re going to score with Girl Drummer.

October 16, 2006


While in Japan, I required the services of a noodle coach.

Our hosts kindly neglected to mention my pigly unkempt way with noodles, but my everyday dining companion pretty much gave me a complex about my technique. It turns out that I was often leaving a man down, letting the final noodle of every bite flap around unattended, the last drip of sauce ready to take off like a kid diving into the lake from a tire swing. There's more to this noodle eating than meets the eye.

At the airport, a last burst of coaching improved my posture and my noodle way improved, benefiting from solid coaching from the noodle coach.

October 14, 2006

Count Goosula

Time for the changing of the goose guard.


I have returned to the Guy Home. There is a chill in the air, Mr Guy has been puttering, the cats have been planting their fat carcasses on me, and there are possums walking on the cabana.

Back at the old place, our little house got so hot in the fall that I had to study outside. One night, after studying by candlelight for several hours, I realized I was surrounded by a family of possums, quietly creeping through the trumpet vine on the fence. They ate my only squash, those bums, but I've always had a soft spot for them and their drunken lumbering gait.

One night I opened the back door and frightened a possum, who fell out of the tree and landed at my feet. We both screamed and I closed the door.

October 8, 2006


Forklifts used to keep me local, but now I get around on occasion with the traveling forklift history exhibition.

At 1:30 AM local time, I couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the T.V. Saw a young fellow on the tube and thought “Hey! That looks like Jake Shimabukuro!” quickly followed by “You’re in Tokyo. LOTS of people look like Jake Shimabukuro.” But in fact I had lucked into an entire show about the history of the ukulele, with a tour of the Kamaka factory and interviews with Jake and his family.

To a person traveling in Japan with a ukulele, it was a good sign.

[posted 10/8. Spelling corrected 10/11. And 10/14 ;)]

October 5, 2006

Mrs Guy's Homework

Today we had a team offsite of the educational wing of the forklift company. We rapped, we presented, we asked questions, we drew pictures, we admired each other's work. Winding up our day was an assignment to go out in the world early and report back about what we did. Usually Mr Guy is the executive producer of The Observatory, but today Fearless Leader is.

I left the factory and my adventure was this: I rushed across town to the taco vendor to buy yen. But I missed the open hours, so they sent me to a different taqueria, where the foreign currency window stays open late. I was in line behind a (bike messenger?) (street musician?) (entrepreneur with the lightest overall coating of fine dirt?). He was trying to convert old money that had come to him in various ways. Some he found on the ground, some were given to him by someone who said "this is the equivalent of breakfast."

We in the room all agreed that these were handsome bills, but nobody knew what they were.

When the guy who handles the tough questions came out to identify the money, we learned that it was the "old currency" for Greece, Slovenia and Macao. None of it was legal tender, so the guy was plum out of luck. They were going to leave it at that.

Unable to stop myself from helping this guy, I asked the bank guys if the coin dealer still works across the street. Selling this former money as stuff seemed like the guy’s only hope for getting a breakfast worth of dollars out of defunct Slovenian cash. He left with no money, but a pocketful of advice from all of us about how to navigate the whims of the cranky pants coin dealer.

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