December 30, 2009

Xmas 2009

This was one of the chill-est Christmases ever.

We gave up on trying to feed 17 people using one oven this year. Stove has 4 burners. Spaghetti it was, and it was delicious.

We got a second large table for the dining room, and it was perfect. All elbows were welcome at the table.

The beach was warm and lovely until right about the time I took this photo.

We all stayed over and discussed family business. No knickers were twisted in the process. All children will write temporary wills within the next two weeks to make our mama happy.

And I have come to the conclusion that this cast iron tape dispenser is not the embodiment of my father. Yes, he owned it. But its serrations no longer cut, it doesn't have a spindle any longer (notice the festive Ikea peg substitute). It is entirely bogus and my mom has to get something else.

This however, is 100% dear. While looking through the freezer for alternatives to ice to keep beverages cold, Mom and Sis found all kinds of stock made by Pop in years past. 15 year old fish stock, anyone? All of the containers were labeled in his handwriting. I got to keep one. It's the simple things, like something that your loved one touched or wrote, that help keep them with you when they're gone.

Maybe Mom can keep the tape dispenser.

But I hope she doesn't :)

December 20, 2009

Taiwan Wrap Up

Friday was the day of my presentation: one hour plus a half hour Q & A.

There was no simultaneous translation. While the translator was translating, I kept myself interested by counting how many people were asleep or wearing face masks in the audience.
The presentation itself went smoothly, but toward the end of it the battery in the microphone went out and made weird noises. While waiting for a technician to help, I began to do a little dance to the rhythm of the dying microphone. Luckily, people laughed.

After the presentation, people rushed the stage with their flash drives extended, wanting to slurp my Keynote. I was wiped out and hungry.
That evening we ate one last time at the Restaurant 101. I didn't adequately describe the restaurant before, so I will now. It's directly on the street. The dining room is a paved area outside the kitchens. There is a roof, but there are no walls or windows. It's open to the street beside it, with plastic sheeting that can be rolled down as necessary. Diners sit on pink plastic stools at red enameled tables, waiting for yummy things to emerge from the kitchen. The ladies did their ordering magic and happiness began to appear at our table. First was an unripe papaya salad with goji berries. Completely delicious, with a dressing of rice vinegar, salt, and sweet & lo. Sugar just wouldn't have been the same.
This photo captures some of the other things we ate. We craved greens, and what we ordered looked like young laua'e fern. It was bitter, and served with garlic and some small pitted things. I thought they were olives (a stretch, I know) but on second thought they could be something like ginko. The fluffy concoction is something that I will call "Prawn Fantasy". Part of me doesn't want to know what was in it, but it seemed like battered prawn and banana served on a lettuce leaf with shredded wheat, apple and a chiffonade of nori. Wow. Not pictured: the salt-baked fish, which was yummy. We ordered an ungodly amount of food, but we ladies were able to tuck it away quite well.

I had one more trip to the silly bar with the boys and that's where I thought the trip would end.

The next day, however, I ended up working a few hours, going to an opening and then going to the airport.

So ends Taiwan

December 19, 2009

Taiwan, Day 5

Thursday I saw daylight during work hours. I took my box lunch and my host's mom's American cel phone outside and talked to mrguy for the first time that week. This was the view, and I had it to myself:

After work we had our adventure in Italian dining, Taiwan-style.

This meal came about because one of our tour group loves wine and cheese, will eat McDonalds and I believe that I've seen him eat a steak. He never eats the local cuisine. When he found an Italian restaurant, we went as a group.

What a night.

We bought wine at the 7-11 and then headed over. The restaurant seated us in their empty, weirdly decorated upstairs dining room. It was very cool. Chandeliers of many eras dotted the ceiling. A photo mural on one wall made all the pictures we took look as if we were eating among a crowd of people. The food took well over an hour to come out of the kitchen, but not all at the same time.

The wine was so bad we poured it down the drain.

It all sounds horrible, but we had a really great time.

After dinner we went to the night market. I bought a very tiny hat. Then we wandered around looking for a suitable bar in which to have a beverage. I got scowled at when I interrupted someone's karaoke, and then we finally found Mixer Cafe Day Bar. Decorated with thrift store finds, it was perfect.

If you're ever in Kaohsiung and want a cozy place to have a drink, I'd recommend it.

Taiwan, Day 4

This may have been the day that my factory-issued pedometer went missing. I was finally free. The amount of walking we were doing in the museum and after work made my numbers really high so it's a shame that I dropped out of the competition. However my Nintendo pedometer, which I was also carrying, continued to be very pleased with me.

At the museum we had lunch with the director and got to see pictures of our colleagues from the press conference on the front page of the paper.

This was also the day I was introduced to soup dumplings. After work the ladies went to the dim sum restaurant in the hotel. I'm not a big dim sum fan because pork isn't my favorite. That said, the consistency and execution of the idea of soup dumplings I liked tremendously. A little about soup dumplings here.

As you can see, we laid waste to their offerings:

Surprisingly, the restaurant also knew its way around a dessert. They made a white chocolate and black sesame pudding that was really tasty, and an herb jelly that I just had to try.

It was refreshing?

Taiwan, Day 3

By day three jet lag had fully set in. I woke up at 5am and watched a vintage kung fu movie.

The breakfast buffet continued to provide novelty with delicious pancakes that were served with rose flavored honey.

Happy work continued at the museum.

Our colleagues did a press conference in the morning. They did us proud and some of us felt a little teary-eyed watching.

After work we went to Cijin Island, which I've learned is actually a peninsula. The cab ride to the ferry took us through some cool looking scruffy areas on the way to the waterfront. It was one of those experiences in which you wished your eyes were cameras.

The ferries are amazing. Most of the traffic going to the island was on scooters. Few pedestrians rode. No smoking is allowed on the Spirit of Kaohsiung, or any of the other ferries. Not a problem.

However if you want to partake of betelnut, just look for these multicolored signs.

The city's oldest temple is there. Hundreds of paper lanterns illuminate its courtyard and the effect was mesmerizing. The rest of our group took photos, and I sat on a bench and blissed out.

More amazing feats of food ordering took place when we found a seafood restaurant open. My colleagues selected our dinner from the friends on ice out in the cases on the sidewalk. We had lobsters and scallops and fried rice and bitter leafy greens and Taiwan Beer. We did not have the two items on the menu that made me laugh out loud while reading it: Areola Babylon, which sounded completely made up but is actually a type of whelk, and Halitosis somethingorother. You know by the sound of it that *that* can't be good.

I was inspired by my love of Anthony Bourdain to sample the eyeball of the whole fish we ordered. I was probably emboldened by the previous night's pig intestines, also. I ate it in segments: first the vitreous humor, then the colored bits, then the weird white thing which had the consistency of laundry detergent clumps. I ended up spitting that out. It was o.k. Not life-changing. Just texturally challenging, and definitely easier to get down than pig intestines.

After dinner we walked on the beach and saw a home-grown fireworks display, and then made our way back to the ferry.

Taiwan, Day 2

Monday began our work with the forklift museum. It was fabulous, but I’m not going to describe it other than to say that I would like to come back to Kaohsiung and work with the forklift conservator again. We were well matched.

Instead I’ll describe breakfast. Although the advance press on the breakfast buffet was that it wasn't that tasty, I liked it a lot. Each day was an adventure. On Monday I had plum drink with osmanthus, which tasted like lightly smoked prunes. For the rest of the meal I concentrated on Japanese treats: candied tofu, emperor’s vegetable, inari and burdock.

The little pink bottled friend is Yakult probiotic yogurt. No English on the bottle but I happened to recognize it. They sponsor a baseball team in Japan. Maybe I'll follow them this year (inasmuch as this is possible). I drank the yogurt every day of our stay.

After work the boys and I ate at the bar on the corner: spicy edamame, caramel corn and deep fried pork intestines. The pork intestines were something worth trying once, but never again. The outsides were crispy and tough, but once my molars broke through the crispy shell, the texture of the pliable insides made me scramble not to blow my cool. Thank god it was Monday (Carlsberg night) and the Carlsberg girl, in green apron, came to hawk her wares and give me something to wash this all down with.


So ends Day 2.

Taiwan Day, 1: Dinner

The reason we managed to do so many things on the first day was that we arrived incredibly early and that we had boundless energy from being cooped up in an airplane for half a day.

In my previous post I didn't even mention visiting Green Workshop the amazing critter store that had all manner of Hercules beetles and hedgehogs and some snakes and fluffy chicks that are to be *someone's* dinner. I see that it is Taiwan's first live insect store. Congratulations.

Our first dinner in Kaohsiung was amazing. The lot of us (10?) went to the restaurant next door to the hotel. If you're ever hungry in Kaohsiung, visit 100 street restaurant, next door to Lee's Hotel on Wu Fu 2nd Rd. The forklift tour ladies did an amazing job of ordering what was around us, and it just kept coming. I forgot to take pictures until it looked like this.

This was right about the time that a French expat had settled in for a stay at our table and professed to hate Englishmen, which was a bit of a problem for some of us.

The others of us turned in soon after.

December 18, 2009

South Pole

I interrupt the Taiwan trip to discuss a fashion issue I have just discovered:

Apparently middle-aged white ladies do not wear South Pole.

The story starts, as things sometimes do, with the free pile at work. It was on the free pile that I found what looked like an enormous letterman sweater. Score!

I soon learned that it said South Pole, and that that was a brand of clothing. It is no surprise that brand names are unfamiliar to me. Anyway, the response to the sweater based (I assumed) on its enormity, what I pair it with and how hard I rock it, has been enthusiastic and mirthful. People love me in this sweater.

This morning I learned something additional: I am not the demographic for this brand. At the coffee station at work a guy looked at me quizzically and said "Are you even allowed to wear that?" This hipped me to the fact that there was something unusual about the pairing of me and my garment.

I looked it up, and it is true that none of the models look like me.

Now I like my sweater even better.

A South Pole History

December 12, 2009

Taiwan, Day 1

We got there early in the morning and hit the ground running. Off to the hotel, where we were the only customers ordering off the menu at the buffet. Five club sandwiches took close to an hour.

We had a lot of time to look at this:

We walked around for a while, went to the museum, went to the hotel where I watched the last hour of the November sumo basho, we walked around some more, and then met for dinner.

Taiwan, the flight

The forklift exhibition is in Kaohsiung, its second venue in Taiwan. I went for the install.

I'm just like a little kid. The airplane ride is one of my favorite parts. You can do your own thing for hours, and someone feeds you every once in a while. If you fall asleep, it's no big deal.

For this reason, the blankie sets the tone. This was going to be a good flight:

The food, too. EVA's cuisine does not hold a candle to ANA, but it was nice and they cut their butternut squash into flowers:

Breakfast included little fried tofu boats with shrimp paste. The main star was congee, which I'd never had before. It was a lovely porridge of various grains, with condiments to mix into it. I preferred to eat most of them separately. This was also my introduction to pork floss. It has the texture of cheap red doll's hair. It tastes like slightly sweetened jerky. It is an ingredient in much of the food in Taiwan, including sushi.

As we got to Kaohsiung, one more plane flight later, I could not stop taking photos:

If you enlarge this photo you will see the thing that is really intriguing: a mix of light industrial and a temple right in the middle of it. I could not get enough of the juxtaposition of it.

Let the day begin.

Rocking the 'slag

Last night marked the reunion of most of the ladies of Three Letters. We've taken a sabbatical for the past few months while The Canadian, the mitochondria of the band, was in Paris. And last night, when holiday rock shows sprouted up all over the factory we got together, appreciated and rocked.

First was Hammerslag Jazz Workshop, a cross-departmental band. A bandmate's husband played drums, and that was awesome.

Then some of us went off to see the technicians' band, featuring our bass player on vocals. They rocked hard. We came to represent. Women stood up front and rocked, and behind them rows of men stood there expressionless. They're technicians. Underneath the complete lack of emotion I'm sure they were having a very very good time.

We moved over to another building to catch the set by the idea guys. They were rocking the songs of the 70's and sounded amazing but their crowd was DULL. No offense, people, but it's o.k. to dance. So we did, and were joined by my wubbie. And shee jimmy and cobbu-san and we brought the party.

What's funny about all of us is that as a group we're far more impressed by the common man doing uncommon things than by the uncommon man doing uncommon things. A famous rock guitarist came and sat in with the band and played on some of his hits. People cheered more and were more excited by regular members of the bands' solos because they were less expected.

Finally the tool and die group played and brought down the house with a horn section and awesome vocals. One member of the band said that when they have gigs and the ladies of Three Letters are not there they aren't as good. So sweet.

Somewhere during the technicans' band I made my step count. The daily total was sixteen thousand, which would have been about thirty two thousand had I still had my 'slag pedometer. But I lost it in Taiwan.


December 7, 2009

Pink and Black

I looked down on my suitcase as I was packing and decided that I must really like pink and black.


Thanksgiving was lovely and small. Cold and flu season took its toll on attendance and it was an intimate group of four. Dinner was very tasty and there went off without more than a hiccup. Sadly, I took no pictures. I present you instead with a photo of the Thanksgiving platter.

It came from the Saint Vincent de Paul in the Old Place. It simply called out to me one day and I bought it to put on the wall. Brought it home to show MiddleGuySis and she said "I thought you'd like it, so I left it there for you". A sign of true sibling love is when one sister leaves something in a thrift store for the other sister to find.

It was a sisterless Thanksgiving, but one filled with love and a turkey platter.

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

People are yelling stuffing recipes to their loved ones via cel phone at Staples and the geese are wearing their Pilgrim outfits.

Must be Thanksgiving-ish.

November 22, 2009

My New Digital Friend

The fitness challenge and the birthday came together in a funny way.

I am now carrying two pedometers.

It started out when Ms Scandiwaiian was over for rehearsal and happened to be carrying a pedometer. Hers registered several hundred fewer steps than mine. She was cheesed.
For my birthday she bought me a Nintendo DS Lite and the same walking program she uses, and now I am totally hooked up.

As she and I learned playing "Hot Flashes" at Treasure Island, people will do a lot to see funny animation. At TI it costs a penny a play for "Hot Flashes". In DS Lite's "Walk With Me" you're paying by walking.
I think I'm buying. Of course it's almost 10:30 and I'm still in bed, but I will be walking soon. And getting on that exercise bike soon, I hope. Today I want to no longer be a night time deer (yesterday I was inactive and then had a spurt of Lisa Rinna-inspired exercise in the evening). Today I want to be more like mrguy, a day time horse (consistent movement during the day).

My mii looks exactly like me.

Bidet 2009

This was an especially fine birthday. No trip to Japan or trip to New York, but lots of love :)

I spent the workday working on my presentation for Taiwan.

My colleagues had champagne and Cheez-its at our weekly meeting.

Messages from all of my sibs awaited me at home. And a lovely message from that nice boy.

We went to Pilates, had dinner at our local Japanese restaurant and watched sumo.

Mrguy got me many treats: a beautiful dictionary, yummy Japanese sweets (shiso jelly is amazing) and Tokyo Vice.

On Thursday, Ms Scandiwaiian and I went out for a movie (go see this documentary if you get the chance. it's completely charming).

Wrapping up the birthday week, Big Sis and I got together after my singing lesson yesterday and had lunch and took the most beautiful drive. Records were purchased. I have no idea what languages they're in, but the first one I tried was awesome.

The birthday celebrations segued perfectly into a birthday party last night, and another one today. It turns out that I have two bandmates and another friend who all celebrate birthdays the same week.

Happy birthday, people!

Fitness Challenge, Week Three

This was week three of the fitness challenge. I am still likely the least fit person doing it. Unless I'm working at our offsite facility my step count is somewhere in the three to seven thousands.

Thank goodness for the non-stepping extra point challenges.

Last week's challenge was to eat no sweets. Double the daily points if you go all week. Usually this would be easy, but I went to see my mom, and my sister made a pie. This wasn't food I would be refusing, but love. I took the dive on points.

This week the points are for other, non-walking exercise. I get four thousand extra points for Pilates, and Lisa Rinna helped my step count and my extra point tally. By the way, the "hip hop" in any of her dance moves is achieved via leaning forward, "pumping" and "thinking 'hip hop'". Unexpectedly earnest, that Lisa Rinna.

Today's challenge involves getting an exercise bike into mrguy's Prius. I am acquiring it for $50 from a guy at work.

Perfect for the winter months, I think.

November 15, 2009

Turnips Are As Good As Anything

Anything you bury them in, that is.

Readers of mrsguy will know that I don't particularly care for the turnips. And yet 'tis the season, and our veggie box is overflowing with cruciferous vegetables. We'd put off eating them for so long, that we had Japanese turnips and regular turnips and watermelon daikon (not a neep but a crucifer) coming out our ears.

Mrguy usually gets rid of the turnips by hiding them in fried rice, which magically makes them tasty. It must be the proportion of rice and chicken to other vegetables that helps. The Scots have a similar game plan, called neeps and tatties, wherein turnips which taste bad are hidden in potatoes which taste good. Neeps and tatties is a great thing to bury your haggis in, and that was the same meal but another story.

Today I decided to take the lead on solutions to the turnip problem. Since I made some stock yesterday, my thoughts turned to soup. I started caramelizing onions and browning the turnips a bit. Then I added a little sage and thought about it. Turnip soup was going to taste like turnips. It'd be like The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, when the teensy bit of frosting gets all over everything. It would no longer be a few root vegetables but an enormous pot of turnip flavor.

Plan b was inspired by the season and my seasoning. There was a box of Stove Top Stuffing lurking in the cupboard that Mom brought over once when she wasn't sure that she and I could make a credible stuffing without Pop. Before I knew it I had made a stuffing casserole with the julienned turnips, stock and stuffing. It is currently browning in the oven.

Turnip hiding is good practice for Thanksgiving, when the McGuyver gene needs to be dominant.

Myrtle K. Hilo

Google told me before I finished inputting my search term yesterday: Myrtle K. Hilo. Autofill wanted to add the word obituary. She passed away on October 3rd.

Other falsetto singers had nicknames befitting the prettiness of their tone. Linda Dela Cruz was "Hawaii's Canary". Lena Machado, was "Hawai`i's Songbird". Myrtle K. Hilo, however, was known as "The Singing Cab Driver". Although gifted with a vocal range that was similar to that of her feathered sisters, Myrtle's husky tone set her apart. For lack of a better word, she sounded authentic. On her first two records, that raspy tone and bold falsetto was complemented by loose arrangements that featured a steel guitarist whose reverb-laden tone had clearly made a detour in Tahiti and a loud and lounge-y pianist. Find those records if you can, close your eyes and imagine yourself at a nightclub in late 1960's Honolulu.

When she wasn't working the nightclubs or working as a DJ, or appearing on Hawaii Five-0 (and sometimes even when she was), she drove her cab. What a treat it must have been to listen to the kanikapila at Charley's Taxi Stand in those days.

A 2002 article about Myrtle K. Hilo is here.

Her obituary is here.

Listen to her music at

See her in these three episodes of Hawaii Five-0:

Season 2: Run, Johnny, Run (Napua Mala. This episode also features a young Christopher Walken)
Season 4: Air Cargo: Dial for Murder (Kim Wong)
Season 6: Secret Witness (Old Woman -- funny that she played that role 35 years before she died!)

November 7, 2009


Tiny but mighty and I went to Minneapolis the following week for a long weekend to see middleguysis and mrmiddleguysis. I learned two things:

Smelt fries aren't as good as they sound
Go with an open mind when someone says you're going to have the experience of a lifetime. Sometimes it's true.

Smelt were just a blip in the radar on our visit, though they came up twice: once in an installation in a group exhibition that middleguysis was part of. Lots of tiny shiny dried smelts all glommed together and seemingly squirting out of a squished aerosol can. When they appeared on the menu at the Red Stag half an hour after we saw sis' show, how could I help myself?

We've had the smelt fries and now you don't have to.

The open mind part happened when a meat-centric friend of sis and bro said he'd come to our vegetarian dinner party but we had to indulge him by going afterward to a small concert by Prince at Paisley Park. It would be the experience of a lifetime.


I'm not really a Prince fan, but it's never been a question that he's an AMAZING talent. Turns out that Tiny is a long time Prince fan. Long time. She was very interested, as were almost all of the people who were coming over for dinner. Now that I think of it, the vegetarians didn't come with.

Anyway, it all seemed preposterous. It was announced in the newspaper that morning. You had to show up at 7pm and buy tickets at Paisley Park. The show would start at 11.

Against the odds, that's pretty much what happened. Our carnivorous music fan friend stuffed his pockets with cash, hoping to get us all tickets. One per customer, unfortunately, so after dinner we piled in the car, and made our way to a transit station in Chanhassan, half an hour away. There was no promise that we'd get in, but in the end it was smooth sailing. We walked in and Prince was playing. He never plays on time, so this was a bonus, too.

He played for almost three hours. There were maybe a thousand people in his club. Larry Graham from Sly and the Family Stone was there and they played many Sly Stone songs. Morris Day was there, and they played Time songs, and Chic and Play That Funky Music White Boy, and almost all of Prince's hits. He engaged with the audience and played like crazy and sang beautifully. None of his songs had been pitched down for a guy who is now older than he was when he wrote them.

I was so impressed. I danced as much as I could while surrounded by large Scandinavian statues. Garrison Kiellor should have prepared me for this, but Minnesotans are not an outwardly enthusiastic lot. The show wrapped up around 3am.

We fell asleep around 4am and didn't get up very early.

Everybody who knows me knows this story by now. I've just written it here because there is little important that hasn't been recorded here in the last three years. It would be remiss to omit something like seeing Prince.

The Sake Lees Snipe Hunt

Somewhere there in October I had become curious about sake lees. Mrguy had come home from the liquor store with Hitachino Nest beer. The Classic Pale Ale is absolutely delicious. It's aged in sake casks.

Somehow this information was lost in translation, and I thought that it was bittered with sake lees.

A few weeks after drinking this beer, grandmammoo guy and I were driving on the overpass into town. I pointed to the sake factory and asked "Have you ever been there? We should go some time". Mom's response was "It's only 3:15". I interpreted this as: "I'm 81 years old. Let's do it now".

So off we went.

We saw the small museum with beautiful sake implements. Much of it was from a Hawaiian sake brewery that this sake company had purchased in the 1980's. I particularly loved the kitsune, a bucket with one narrow end, like the head of a fox.

After our sake tasting, I asked about sake lees. It turns out that they do sell it, its proper name is kasu and there are all kinds of things that a person can do with it.

Who knew? I didn't buy any kasu then, but I sense a purchase and culinary adventure in my future.

October Wrap Up

I felt guilty ignoring October and it's already November so I will do a few wrap up posts.

Rocktober was fabulous. I had two ukulele workshops in just over a week. The first was with Derick Sebastian, who came and gave a private concert at the forklift factory and then gave a workshop to about six of us. The Ambassador of Uke and mrguy bonded over Alden shoes. Poor mrguy. His lady doesn't care if she's wearing ripped up "chucks".

The following week, mrguy and four strangers and I had a private workshop with Keoki Kahumoku. Also fabulous. I have lots to learn.

At the end of the month, our library at work had a grand reopening. The Ambassador and I jammed a bit to provide background music. It was super. He taught me Opihi Man.

Gotta practice.

November 4, 2009

You Had Me At "Cha Cha Hey Hey"

I have what you no longer have.

I have the power of Lisa Rinna.

You see, we have a fitness challenge in the department. We have factory-issued pedometers, and we're counting up those steps. The goal is to get ourselves up to 10,000 steps per day by the end of the six weeks. We get extra points for doing the weekly challenges. There will be some tasty prize for the winner.

It's all rather funny. It's frustrating when the pedometers sometimes reset themselves and you lose your points. On the lighter side, you get points where none should be gotten, like in the restroom and the car. It all evens out.

My personal goal is not to dishonor the team by being in last place.

How will I do this? I will spend quality time with Lisa Rinna. Her hip hop ballroom workout, to be precise.

On the free pile today at work.

The power of the free pile.

November 3, 2009

Thank You, Free Pile

One of my favorite haunts when I was an undergraduate was the government documents room. I never went in, I just rummaged through the discarded and duplicate documents cart. If you do not already know this, gov docs are awesome, varied and interesting. I picked up whatever struck my fancy and read it or wrapped packages with it, sent it to friends or made decoupage with it.

The free pile at the forklift factory is now giving my original free stuff haunt a run for its money. You never know what will be there. I've picked up several dozen nice hangers for the closet, a 3XL sweater from South Pole that makes everybody crack up when I wear it, and now this:

8 yards of vintage Marimekko fabric in fall colors, that I will wash, hem and use to clothe my Thanksgiving table.

Thank you, free people.

October 29, 2009

So Desu Ne

Part of the joy of watching hours and hours of sumo tournaments on TV Japan is hearing the sportscasters speak about sumo in Japanese. In general, we don't know that many words other than sumo and food nouns. For that reason, while we're watching sumo we tend to notice the most frequently used expressions. The top three on the sumo telecasts are hai (yes), ano (um) and so desu ne (it is, isn't it?).

Mrguy fell in love with so desu ne, which has many meanings and is used with such passion at times.

To hear the many colors of so desu ne, visit this site:

Why I Love My Mother

"I'll see you whenever I open the door and you're there."

-- Grand Mammoo Guy, at the end of our conversation just now.

October 10, 2009

A Murder of Crows

Over the last few hours two crows have been claiming their territory via a series of caws. Twenty minutes ago they were joined by a flock, a murder of crows, who all jabbered simultaneously and flew close to the house.

I love crows, and it wasn't always that way.

When I lived in New Hampshire for a brief time, there was a giant pine tree outside my bedroom window and another outside the bathroom window. Both were infested with crows. The din of these crow communities began early in the morning, and I worked nights. I hated crows with a passion. My heart felt light and happy when I saw one dead in the middle of our street. One for us!!

I don't know when the crow love began to overtake the hate. Maybe back at the old place, when I first heard them make the sound of castanets with their tongues. I just don't know why, but I think they're beautiful and funny.

On the way to work in the morning I pass the slimy green runoff from a neighbor's morning watering. Almost every morning, two crows march around in it like drunken sailors, weaving from side to side. It's part of the morning ritual of happiness.

Makes me wish today were a work day.

October 8, 2009

Yes, It's Fall Now

I'm wearing an aloha shirt and I'm chilly.

This is one of those awesome weeks. An amazing ukulele soloist came to the factory to share his artistry and knowledge with the uke players at the factory. I hope to put his knowledge into action.

My biceps hurt from hauling Golden Forklift statues across the street today, which is mildly humorous.
I gave a tour to a group of forklift fans today and made them really happy. I'm going to the Twin Cities in two weeks to see middleguysis.

And it's quiet in the home.

Mrguy is clacking away on the other side of the room and potatoes are roasting in the oven.

September 27, 2009

Is it Fall Yet?

It's technically fall, but it's the end of the summer here and the grass in the foothills is that bleached grey that comes either right before the rains or right before a fire.

The weather is gorgeous, and I can't wait for it to cede to the coolness and more saturated colors of fall. Why?

Yesterday we went to the city in an attempt to have mrguy's birthday, observed. Thwarted at every turn, I say.

We wanted to go the the modernism show to ogle furniture, but couldn't find a parking place within a quarter mile of the water. "You *people* and your happiness and your frolicking and your bicycles," said mrguy in his best old man voice. And as we left that neighborhood and tried others, it seemed as if the whole town was warm, bright and packed to the gills. Who took my city and turned it into Rio?

We finally took refuge in an izakaya, just as it was opening. Some rice balls, fried peppers, chicken hearts and beer set us right. Eventually mrguy craved the nest. Instead of the nice Japanese restaurant we'd picked out, we went home, ordered a pizza and watched Flight of the Conchords.

We'll come back on a gloomy day, when we can have the place to ourselves.

September 20, 2009

Sumo Mascots

It's week two of the autumn sumo basho. In order for me to be able to view it, we splurged and ordered TV Japan.

First, TV Japan is awesome. We've watched a soap opera about mochi and a show that seemed to be all in pantomime and about manga, starring the Japanese "Mac Guy" in the Apple commercials. One night we watched an in-depth interview with a dj from WFMU. And a talk show that had a catsup tasting.

All this and sumo. Two hours of it, every day, broadcast in the wee hours. We record it. I'm a few days behind in my viewing.

What I watched last night was terrific (I think it was day five of the basho). We got to see an in-depth interview with one of the Mongolian wrestlers and watch him ride his Mongolian horse that looks like Cousin It. Chiyonofuji did color commentary that evening, and this was also the night that they debuted the new sumo mascot.

Ouch. I could have done without that part.

I am of the opinion that sumo does not need a mascot. The little friend, above, is the best looking of the bunch, but they've created a stuffed version of him that looks like the angriest, naked-est Muppet. It's not even cute. Mascots are supposed to be cute.

If this is the best idea you have for revitalizing the sport, people, what's next? 

Dot racing?

September 17, 2009

The Miracle of Potatoes

A few months ago I was digging in the compost and found a beautiful Yukon Gold potato. I'd tried to compost it because it had turned too green to eat. When I saw him again he was a lovely yellow potato with a long stem and lots of green leaves.

The resident potato expert at work told me that if I replanted the potato and buried the entire stem, I would get many more potatoes. I was rewarded with this harvest:

I am certain that there were more potatoes. The squirrels have been busy in my potato pot. The soil was disturbed and I found a peanut.

There were three small green potatoes in the bunch. I am returning them to the ground to see if I can get another harvest.

September 16, 2009

Oh Kanye

Why'd you have to do it?

Soul Food

Today we checked out a new vegan soul food restaurant.

It's got nothing on the zen restaurant, but the bbq tofu and the fried okra are outta this world.

The more I eat other vegan food, the more I think about taking cooking lessons at the zen restaurant.


September 12, 2009

Getting Older

The oldest person in the world died this week. Gertrude Baines was 115 and ate bacon, fried chicken and ice cream. Complained a lot about her bacon not being crisp enough. Loved God.

A few years ago we went to the estate sale of one of the last veterans of WWI. He was the oldest man in the state. The wack-job running the sale wrote "Oldest Man" on everything that was tagged. An old Philco television sitting in the entryway bore a tag that said "Oldest Man Television $50".

Taped to the Oldest Man refrigerator was a hand printed set of instructions for how to cook his Eggo waffle and sausage, which were the only things he ate in the last few years of his life. Oldest Man was really interesting before he got to be so old (we did a little research), but I guess his longevity became his most outstanding (and final) achievement.

If I make it to some unreasonable age, I hope that someone chuckles when I complain about my bacon.

September 6, 2009

Seen in the City of Pride and Purpose

Our local Japanese restaurant has moved some of its sumo prints to make way for an exhibition of this quilt, made by the owner's wife. Seeing it made me feel as if I were 14 years old, in the best way.

I love the love behind this.

September 3, 2009

mrs is for a lady or guy

The title is in honor of one of the visitors to mrsguy, but it's apropos because this post includes mrguy south, who I met for dinner last week in Studio City:

He took me to Daichan, which had an unusual menu and terrific atmosphere. It was like eating in a Japanese thrift store. Our waitress had pink hair and talked with a low husky voice that made me wonder if she smoked in her sleep as well as in the daytime.

After dinner we went to Fosters Freeze. Boy was it grubby, but the ice cream hit the spot. What is it about being out of town that makes you not care that a place where you're eating is filthy? Is it the same thing that kicks in when you get in a cab and don't buckle up?

Oh. Maybe that's just me.

Blessedly I'm not sharing my work with you. However while I was working I took this picture by mistake. I call it "Accidental Awesomeness".

The next day my colleague and I went to the park. I'm not quite sure where I was when I took this picture but I can tell you that I was probably very happy.

I can't believe that that was only last week.

August 22, 2009

Today's Discovery

Today's discovery is matzo brei.

Mrguy and I needed to recharge after going to a few estate sales and decided to have breakfast at the deli.

I'd always been curious about matzo brei, so I decided to order it. I had no idea that it would be so delicious. The matzo was different in every bite: sometimes a little crunchy, sometimes creamy, sometimes toasty. The onion was sauteed until sweet and mushy. The applesauce and sour cream were definitely the subsidiary partners in this concoction, but nice to have on the side.

Should I make it at home now, or do I need to do more research at the deli?

Is this a Food Blog?

No, but the content is mainly driven by what's in my notebook and my camera, and the one thing I consistently photograph is food.

In non food news, a few weeks ago Mrguy transformed the dining room into a recording booth so that he could record Wubbie and I doing a version of Walking On Sunshine for a co-worker who was having a birthday.

This week we took a co-worker out for her last hippie meal on the west coast. It may be the finest one I have had at the Zen restaurant. The purple sauce is made of beets and shiitake mushrooms.

The outright healthfulness of that meal was offset the following day, when I had the fabulous fish below, half a cheese plate, and a cheese plate as dessert (to go).

The fish was really yummy, and I applaud anybody who is willing to invest the time it takes to prepare fava beans. Hats off to you, chef.

After lunch I had a massage and an herbal wrap and came home sooo relaxed. Karmically this was necessary, because I came home to a mini-disaster of cat barf that the ants had swarmed on. Did I mention that this unholy concoction was found in our bed?

I just laughed and cleaned it up.

Now *that's* relaxed.

August 6, 2009

Aloha Festival 2009

What a lovely Aloha Festival. Our slot was early, so it was cold. In the photo below you can just make out the teri smoke rising in the background. That sight, seen from the stage, is one of my favorite moments of the festival (as you can see from last year).

The performance went surprisingly well, but as usual I couldn't feel my fingertips.

After we took pictures, mrguy, mr finn, ms scandiwaiian and I high-tailed it over to the food booths and ate two bags of malasadas (breakfast) and then some teriyaki marlin (lunch). I just realized there was no mac salad!

Lunch was followed by shopping, an hour or so of kanikapila with people from different ukulele classes and a hot clear drive home.

How can you start out the day with numb fingers and end it with a sunburn?

July 28, 2009

Chicken-flavored Prozac

The cat-lovers' email list at work is usually like a sleepy, two stoplight town. Not much happens.

Within the last few weeks, however, it's really picked up. First, our factory cat had kittens, and then someone brought up the subject of declawing and a very long discussion ensued. As you can imagine, people are pretty passionate about this topic.

Yesterday someone mentioned that as an alternative to declawing, her vet has prescribed chicken-flavored Prozac for her cat. I like the spirit of this approach. And People...there is CHICKEN-FLAVORED PROZAC. What a wonderful world.

Reminds me of the best cat in the world. When she got older and required heart medicine, we had to go to the compounding pharmacy, and they would make us chicken and herb flavored medicine in a cod liver base. Very stinky.

My favorite part of the process involved visiting the pharmacy. I never got tired of reading the article that they proudly displayed at the counter, about how they'd been commissioned to create elephant suppositories. I link to it here because it gives me so much pleasure to share it.

Do you think they make Cheez-it flavored Prozac? I'll take it orally, thanks.

July 26, 2009

A Lovely Day

This weekend has been tremendous.

Yesterday I had a singing lesson, which tested out the acoustics in the dining room. Then I lounged around.

I made a pilgrimage to Ranch 98 (not its name). It's like Ranch 99 but smaller, and shopping there is like visiting many Asian and South Asian countries simultaneously, except for the half aisle of chicharrons, which seems a little incongruous. Anyway, for the international supermarket music alone I'd go there. Yesterday, apropos of nothing, they played a song by Francoise Hardy. I'm sure that even in the 1960's in France you didn't hear Francoise Hardy at the supermarket. Fabulous!

I came home and got to work. Baked a chicken, made winter squash risotto with edamame, and then made a pie.

It started with these:
Then I vamped. I chopped up nectarines, white peaches and plums, then I tossed in some plum jam from ms scandiwaiian, a touch of chayawanprash, some rose hip jam and a little poi to thicken. Learned a little late in the program that all of my pie pans are still in the garage.

But darn if that didn't turn out tasty.
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