Monthly Archives: September 2015

Thistle heaven



Aozasayama. An hour and 10 minutes up to the No-Name Pass, another 20 minutes up to the summit. A lot of mist.  Sometimes you just kind of melt into it, emptying your mind, and you keep up a pretty good pace.


But back down along the ridge, then over to the Jizo Pass, and down the mountain the other way, we slowed down considerably.


It always happens. Something grabs your eye. Your eye focuses. Then your eye starts searching out other things to focus on.

There are things to see and do, you realize, and you’ve got no good reason to hurry. You have time.


Time to stop and listen in to what these three guys have gotten together to talk about.


Time to wink at the pretty faces. Time to wait and see if they’ll wink back.


And you have to stop, don’t you, when a tree challenges you to a muscle-flexing contest?


Time to stop and feel the autumn.


Of course, time for a delicious lunch.


And time to chat with Mr. Jizo. Time to thank him for keeping an eye on the mountain—and those that walk it.


Time to watch this fellow, time to wonder who he is.


Time to enjoy the colors.


TIme to wonder what the chestnut’s all aglow about.


Almost back to the parking lot, we came across these curvy bells.


And the monshirocho (Cabbage White) certainly seemed to be taking their time with them. Maybe because they knew they had them all for themselves. The numbers were good.


And the monshirocho were made to get to the bottom of things with ease.


And then we came to the thistles. At first, they just looked like a patch of scraggly weeds.


Up closer, they were a bit more fascinating.


Especially to the bees.


Without the butterly’s nimble proboscis, they had little choice but to dive in. 

150923_aozasa_azami4_450Sometimes they had to flex their muscles.

Seemed to be a muscle-flexing sort of day.


I have to admit I prefered the bee’s approach to heaven to the butterfly’s.

And on the way home, I kept thinking what a glorious day it must have been to be a bee.



Singing spiders


What a thrill it was when that “Shizuoka Duo” I’m sometimes writing about called me up and asked me if I’d like to wander around with them a bit—and, in their words, “look at some things.”

While we were out and about, what I first noticed about them was that whenever we’d hop off our bicycles to take a look at grains of rice, or flowers, or Ryuso Mountain, or the sky, or whatever, well, that’s when they each seemed most able to tell the other what was on his or her mind.


Here’s the conversation they had—in front of these colorful guys—the one that zapped them into songwriting mode.

“You know, I think I’m always  trying to tell you a lot of stuff you can’t possibly understand.”


(It was almost as I weren’t even there. Or maybe, as if, I was just a natural part of the setting—as threatening as an ear of rice, one leaning over in a comfortable arc.)

“Yeah, and I appreciate it.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever much helped.”

“But you have. You listen. You always listen. You listen so . . . You listen so true.”

“That’s nice of you to say.”

“That’s nice of you to do.”


Then, every time, we stopped and looked at something—usually flowers—they just started singing. I’d never experienced anything like it. I was amazed. I don’t know how they did it. The words just popped out from their mouths—in lines of song. And by the third or fourth clump of flowers, they had a melody. Myself, I’ve got no ear at all, and no understanding of music, but soon they were repeating, “A Gbm A Gbm A Gbm G A” over and over–and strumming their thighs as if they were guitars—and they seemed to hear it just fine.


Some of their song lines only popped out once—at least as far as I remember—but some of them those guys sang over and over and over. I figured that was what would probably end up as the chorus of whatever it was they were creating.


It might have been my imagination, but they seemed especially smitten with the spider lilies—they stopped at every clump we came across—and their singing would become so energetic, I felt that they could hear the spider lilies singing, and were just singing along.

Well, it was an extraordinary day. Thank you, Shizuoka Duo! (That’s not their real name. They have no name, oddly enough. They just sing.)

Here’s the words I heard them sing repeatedly. The last two lines they sang over and over and over and over and over again. (I admit that I too, albeit very quietly, began singing along.)


You’ve got all those feelings / Trapped inside of you

Now they’ve got you reeling / You don’t know what to do

Me, I’m not so clever / I ain’t no magic man

But I will endeavor / To do the best I can.

If you want to be with me—I’ll be there for you.

If you’d like to share with meI will listen true.



My first WA meeting


Good evening. Umh, excuse me, I’m a little nervous. . . . Well, first of all, I’d like to thank you for encouraging me to attend this WA meeting. I’ve heard so much about the support you give one another, and I . . . I have been trying, trying very hard, to muster the courage to join you for a long time. And well, now, here I stand. So . . . well . . . let me just come out and say what it is I’ve come to say.

My name is Tsuyukusa—and . . . and I’m a weed.


Kita 3 cho-me — 4 (House-raising)

150824_6_600I wish I had a day-long, time-lapse video that I could show you. Without one, I don’t think I can really express what a marvelous performance our eleven-man carpenter team put on for us. I’ll do my best, though, with ordinary photographs.

They started up about 8 AM.


The first hashira go up.


Then a lot more hashira.


Then in goes the central pillar—the white-and-green wrapped guy. You’ll see him later (a few months later) in the living room. He’s round.


On to the second floor.


Looking good.


The slit is intentional. Prevents the wood from splitting later.



Four major pieces of timber slotting into the central pillar.

60-year-old bicep looking pretty good.


For a second, I had the feeling I was building an ark. . . . Maybe I am???


Imagining the mountain views to come.


Long-handled mallet. Pounding the hashira into place.


A bit bigger “tool” coming in handy, too.


This side of the house is just one story. Living room ceiling beams (to be left exposed, of course—to be stained with persimmon juice, of course) slant to the height of about a floor and a half.


Bang, bang, Terao’s wooden hammer.


And all before lunch! This space will eventually be a tatami-mat room.


And a big window will be here on the east side of the living room.


We knew the sun would come out—that it would be a bright sun shiny day.


I’m just sitting here . . .


. . . watching the wheels go round and round.


From the east.

150824_19_600 From the northwest. Banners advertise that I’ve used local lumber. 150824_sake_450About 5 PM. Time for a little gratitude–and sake. Good job, guys.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


We are stardust


We are stardust. We are golden. . . . Who would dare argue with that?

One reason I like flowers so much is that I can look into their hearts and see the stardust—and see how it energizes them.


Saturday was a good day for a bicycle ride. A good day for flowers. And I had a tune in my head. By this folk duo here in Shizuoka. About a sweet, sweet girl who likes to braid flowers into her hair. Part of it goes like this:

Her mother went on, “You’re an upright guy,

Swim team captain—never make your momma sigh

You make good grades, a future’s in your cards

On Saturdays, you mow the front yard.


So tell me are her politics now turning red

Does she wish all the capitalists soon to be dead.

Does she wanna marry some North Vietnamese?

Is she dangling from a hallucinogenic trapeze?”


Well, all I knew of her was what I saw

She watered her garden, loved it all.

At my bedroom window I stood and spied

When she hoed those rows—I thought I might die.


She was long and lean and mighty strong

Those cucumbers had her singing a song

At times like that I’d wanna ask her to dance,

But she was older, I knew I had no chance.

She weeded and sweated and smiled in the sun,

Kissed the growing melons when the day was done.

So why on earth would anybody care

If she chose to braid flowers into her hair?

Hey, what about me? Am I a star yet? 


My dear, dear child! You always have been!