i remember bruce

2020-09-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Today is the 7th anniversary of the death of my friend Bruce Lowerre (see my blog entry dated 2014-02-09 stored in the 2014 folder).

To honor Bruce (who played piano for us) I started taking music lessons for the first time in my life.

Although my progress has been slower than my worst estimate, I surprise myself by becoming able to play passages that were impossible several months before.

I garner hope in the words of a violin teacher, who wrote in
an article: "A person who does not possess musical talent can play the musical instrument of their choice if they possess the following attributes: dedication ... passion ... determination".

From time to time, I send recordings of my playing to Bruce's sister so that she might find solace in knowing that somebody mourns together. She is an accomplished musician, who played french horn in the navy.

This year, I hope to send her a recording of "
I remember Clifford", which, to me, is "I remember Bruce".

grilled tuna cheek

2020-09-26 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We grilled a pair of tuna kama, or cheeks -- that is, the 2 sides of a tuna head, from behind the eye and mouth to the leading edge of the gills.

The pieces are fairly large, about 30 centimeters across. The tuna probably weighed 50 kilograms.

Terrific bargain at only 500 yen per piece! In areas where fresh fish is plentiful and mundane (such as fishing villages, where sashimi comes with every meal while buttered toast is a delicacy), fish is cheap. Where we live, the opposite holds.

We add no flavoring. Grill at oven humidity 50 %, oven temperature 210 C, heat until core temperature reaches 65 C.

The meat shrinks and pulls itself off of bone and cartilage. Noriko likes the crispy parts (like well-done bacon that breaks and crumbles instead of bending or folding). I like the moist soft parts. Eating together we could not finish in a single meal. Tuna salad tomorrow!

windy trumpet

2020-09-25 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- We found another public beach parking spot off of route 134 at Hiratsuka Southern Beach.

We visited twice over the last 3 days. It has been raining and blowing (a typhoon is passing through) but surfers (the black specks in the water) were unfazed.

When the rain stopped, I practiced blowing my horn, but the wind blew stronger, and I needed to lean against a fence with the wind to my back to hold the trumpet steady.

The beach parking lot is open from 0430 to 1600. Parking is free, although apparently pricey during summer swimming season. We bought boxed lunches at a supermarket we found nearby.

We plan to go again. The view is as nice as highway rest areas along the Oregon coast. This spot is rumored to have grand vistas of Mount Fuji on clear days. Plus it's free, and a 6-kilometer 12-minute drive from Noriko's parents' house.

ceiling lamp

2020-09-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced our stairwell ceiling light fixture with an old Japanese-style light that I had kept in storage for some time.

I pasted synthetic rice paper (plastic that looks like Japanese hand-made paper) on the bottom side of the wooden frame to hide the lamps and circuitry. The paper must be removed if I ever need to replace the bulbs.

The paper is not quite as taut as I wanted but pulling too hard might break it.

I placed plywood over the stairs so that I can reach the electrical outlet on the ceiling.

I have never seen these outlets in the USA. In Japan they are common. You push and twist the connector in the receptacle, which provides electrical power and supports the weight of the fixture.

Noriko approves.

sister gifts

2020-09-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister brought us lots of fresh veggies!

We begin with fresh ears of corn!

Steamed, no flavor added, superb!


2020-09-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We experimented steaming a whole smallish kabocha.

We usually cut
kabocha (Japanese pumpkin, colored green not orange, with unusually tough skin that can break knives) before steaming or baking. I am scared of cutting myself if I slip while cutting the tough skin. So tonight we steamed the kabocha whole.

We knew that steaming would soften the kabocha. What we wanted to determine was how messy it would be to remove the fibers and seeds. This step is easy when the kabocha is uncooked.

Turns out that the cooked fibers and seeds can be swiftly removed with a spoon or chopsticks. From now on we will probably steam kabocha whole for safety and convenience!

roast pork

2020-09-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We are becoming better at roasting and delivering pork for our families.

First we steam through, oven humidity at 100 %, oven temperature at core temperature + 60 C, heat until core temperature reaches 60 C.

Then we crisp the skin and heat through, oven humidity at 50 %, oven temperature at 190 C, heat until core temperature reaches 72 C, let stand while meat continues to cook.

Meat shrinks (compare the gap with the picture of uncooked meat above). Sizable enough to feed a family for a dinner or two.

Wrap and deliver.

We eat some too.

fresh delights

2020-09-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We decadently opened fresh jars and tins purchased at Costco.

Peanut butter has been in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Nutella impostor costs half of the real thing, but more importantly, less viscous, and easier to scoop and spread.

Tastes pedestrian, like Yorkshire tea, just the way I like it.

trumpet at the beach

2020-09-18 ODAWARA, JAPAN -- We found a public yet obscure (probably intentionally unpublicized) beach access road that splits off the Sakawa on-ramp of the Seisho Expressway.

The beach is marked on the map but nothing tells you how to reach it. We found it by exploring side streets off of route 1.

A narrow paved road leads to (for Japan) a fairly large gravel parking lot, adjacent to the beach where you can rest, walk, fish, or sunbathe.

A warm humid stiff breeze from the west. I estimate temperature 28 dewpoint 27 wind 240 at 15 gusting to 25.

We had been stuck in traffic until several minutes ago. We welcomed the open space.

Noriko worked in the car while I practiced trumpet for the 2nd time today.

japanese garden

2020-09-17 MAKUHARI, JAPAN -- We strolled through the Mihamaen Japanese garden, located near the Makuhari Messe convention center.

What a delightful place!

Artificial nature within an artificial metropolis.

Ponds, miniature seashores, grassy fields, miniature mountains.

We walked around the pond, fed by a miniature river.

Fall is on its way.

Flower clock nearby.