I Love McDonalds


So, I finally emerge from my bed of sickness on Monday morning. My flight leaves early Wednesday, so there is just time for a small Tacoma adventure. James and I head for the hills.



We play with all the 4 wheel drive options and the truck sparkles. Taco is short for Tacoma and Taco means Octopus in Japanese. This makes sense as she sticks to slopes and descents with her huge suckers.


Water is of course her natural habitat.

We ramble along obscure adventure tracks until there is a general feeling that we should head back towards human habitation.


James finds mushrooms.

It is in fact getting dark and the road starts climbing towards some high mountain ridges. It starts to snow heavily and an overall impression of, we are lost on the side of a high mountain in California in deep snow, settles in. Are we downhearted? No! By this time the Tacoma has established her credentials as the sort of truck we like by coolly pounding her way up the mountain.


We start to climb.

We get to the summit but now have to make our way back down a very steep and narrow track with vertiginous drop offs on the left. The snow, mud and pitch black add to the drama.

Anyway our admirable vehicle brings us safe and sound into Clear Lake, Meth Capital of Northern California.

I realize next morning that I have not my IPhone. Bags are searched, clothing searched, motel room searched, burger bar where we ate the night before is searched, but no phone. We head off with heavy hearts. About 40 miles towards the wetlands where the geese live, I remember that I have a Find my Phone app on my IPad. I need a wifi connection to energize the app. Sunshine falls onto the Golden Arches and the amazing free wifi that McDonalds provides, gives the answer. The phone is in the truck! I did not search diligently enough.  It is under a seat somehow. Phew, I am very relieved as I feel much guilt about losing OIST stuff. Thanks MacDonalds.

It is very gloomy and pouring with rain but we watch birds anyway.


Trump Goose


Robin Hood


Muslim hardliner or Ibis.


This is why they  are called Red Tailed Hawks

I am now back in Japan, in Haneda. Thanks boys for looking after me so well during my hour of need.

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Then Comes my Fit Again!

I wake up and immediately understand that the game plan has changed. I am sick again. I spend 3 days asleep and coughing in San Francisco.




Rather than riding over the purple sage in new truck, I only shuffle from bed to toilet. I eat nothing and drink water, which is extremely painful as someone has wire brushed my larynx. Ben and James look after me very well but I am unconscious most of the time.

Happy New Year to all.


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The very well defined objective of this trip was to drive down to Death Valley and spend some days in the Geologist’s Cabin.


No-one goes here except me


It is very nice there. You can pretend to be a gold miner and we had got together the appropriate costumes. The cabin looks over an empty space about the same size as Luxembourg.


Hunting Jack Rabbits

This space is infested with feral mules whose forebears were abandoned by miners. They now only eat meat and it is difficult to form a meaningful relationship with them.

To get to the cabin you need a seriously4wheel drive thing. No success contacting Topher and anyroadupwards his truck is unlikely to be insured,  registered or anything. https://quietripple.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/are-there-any-weapons-in-the-vehicle-guns-knives/

We look into renting something but this is not fruitful. Ben says, “Let’s buy a truck, I mean we are always going to need one.” Yay! Well done Ben.

We go to Craigslist, find the perfect truck in San Jose and buy it from a guy called Targ. It takes 25 minutes.


What a beautiful truck!


Targ throws in a camper shell that he bought for his dog

The reason that buying a truck becomes a sensible, well probably not sensible, but certainly feasible option is that parking on Fell is now reserved for residents, er like us. In the old days I would spend forever driving around trying to find a spot. Now you just  park in front of the house. It makes all the difference.

It is a beautiful truck. Adventure time. Happy, happy, joy, joy!


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Cassoulet is Christmas

Yay, James cooks an amazing cassoulet for Christmas dinner. It contains, pigs feet, a whole duck, chorizo, belly pork and the usual beans and stuff. It is a cold, brisk San Francisco night but we are snug in the Fell St house.


Very Cosy


Not for the fainthearted


We eat ferociously



Ben buys 4 bottles of red at prices ranging from $2.99 to $34.99. He covers the bottles and we have to er guess which is the most to the least expensive. We all get it totally wrong . It is humiliating and revealing. I said that the $2.99 bottle was the second best.


Wine is a mocker


Lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb

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Third Time Lucky


I always get to airports late. I usually get on the plane red faced and panting. Today’s flight leaves at 11:35. As it takes about a hour to get to Naha airport, I would normally leave my house at 10:00 ish. For some unknown reason I ask for the cab to come at 9:00. I think it was because my mental arithmetic is getting worse.

Anyway, my faithful buddy Kinjo San shows up at 9:00. He knows me well and we go through the ritual of passport? Ticket? Money? Everything daijuboo Neil sensei ? I say goodbye to my house, my car, my Scaffie, my truckette and my plumeria.

Off we go. I feel a little miffed asI will get to the airport far too early. Kinjo San puts on his shades as it is a beautiful, sunny morning. This prompts me to realize that I have forgotten my glasses, both light and dark. We are 15 minutes from the house so we turn around and go back to fetch them.

Off we go again. We are at Kitanakagusuku on the expressway when I realize that my Green Card is in my desk drawer. I do desperate calculation of chances of getting into U.S. without Green Card and realize I have no option. Gommenasai Kinjo San, Maeda onegaishimasu!

Kinjo San thinks this is the best fun and teases me cruelly all the way back to the house.


Kinjo san with Green Card


What larks! Thanks Kinjo san.

Off we go for the third time. There is little time but we make it and I get on the plane, red faced and panting.

What made me book the cab an hour early?  Should I read significance into this?


Close run thing

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Highly Skilled Professional

Yay! Apparently that is what I am. Japan now has a new category of work visa. I amazingly get one. I drop off my application to the wonderful Kadena immigration office on Tuesday and on Thursday they call to tell me my visa is ready. I love Japan – everything works here.



I have heard it said that this visa  simplifies application for resident status. This is my goal as it would allow me to grow old in Okinawa. Ok, I am already old but I intend to get somewhat older. Why stay in Okinawa in old age? Here are some arguments.


23 December


23 December


23 December


23 December. I think these are Little Stints. If so, they are right, dead, rare.

If I am going to stay here I need some kind of shelter. I drive North to talk to amazing architect Masak.


Something like this.





Sweet dreams are made of this.

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After the Storm

I do very little all weekend other than watch the ospreys that fish in front of the house.


These are wonderful birds


Have you ever seen a rainbow like this?


Grey Tailed Tattler. Why Tattler?

Nice to do very little.

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