On the event of anything in Japan, kind folks send wonderful orchid displays. These hang around until the blooms fall off and then they are junked. This has appeared too cruel to me. It makes me think of Black Beauty.  I have, over the last couple of years, rescued such bin-destined orchids, and taken them back to my hidden garden. There, they have a choice. Should I stay or should I go? A lot get over the disdain of their youth and come back to flower.


Once I was lost


But now I am found


Was blind but now I see.

Golden Week, the ultimate demonstration of Japanese civilization, is upcoming. I look in the fridge but alas there is no lamb.

I immediately order a half lamb carcass from: Baticrom Online Store

The lamb is delivered at 8:00 pm to my house. Those of you who do not live in Japan, please understand that your lives could be better.


Happiness and joy

Oh my! I have a fridge full of lamb, a frisky sailing boat and 10 days holiday. Has Earth anything to show more fair?

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Old Order Changeth

It is Saturday morning, so I go down to the Octopus Shop to get my prescription filled. It is my favorite place.

To my dismay I find that all has changed. A big new building has been underway next to the revered Octopus Shop, which I imagined to be a new harbor office or something but no, it is a new Octopus Shop.


I want grime.

The old place was cramped, with bits of fish all over the place.  In an adjacent sleaze pit, a fish market was held each Thursday and Saturday morning. During my first years I was the only non Okinawan to frequent. Lately there have been lots of er Chinese people  there. It must be in a Chinese travel guide. Chinese people have many attributes but restraint, courtesy and sotto voce expression are not always among them.

Now, there is a gleaming new building with stainless steel surfaces. Now, the fish market takes place in pristine courtyard in front of said building.


They even have TV crews.


Like every other fish shop

This not good. What is more they have no octopus.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gold Star

The school to which I went from the age of 5 to 13 displayed each hapless infant’s performance on huge boards.  My shame was visible to all. The ultimate tribute was a gold star. I never got one, until today.

I go to the Chatan kinda DMV  place to renew my driving license. It is early in the morning as I have a very busy day and hope to get the driving license stuff expedited before lunchtime. Notwithstanding,  before I leave I check the Plumeria and am rewarded.


First blooms of what I hope will be a sensational year.

Getting your license renewed is totally Japanese, no-one speaks a word of English.

I go to Station 1 and check in with driving license, my status is blue by the way, my residence permit and am rewarded with forms.


Yes Sir

I go to Station 2 where they check my eyesight. With necessary receipt I proceed to Station 3 to pay. The place is ultra crowded, by the way, with lines for each station.


I have totally paid

Station 4 and 5 I have really no idea what was happening, but I passed.

Station 6 was photo time and the best fun. The staff are very considerate and gentle.

” Neil san head up. Down onegaishimasu. Left choto.”

I then go to Station 6  and I pass I know not what.

After this Odyssey, I get to the place of devotion, a huge room full of fellow travellers, where we watch a movie of a driving instructor laying down the good stuff to a pupil.

After a lengthy pause, a sensei arrives and harangues us for 30 minutes about the fragility of human life. His talk is illustrated by loads of movies of car crashes.

Next,  2 cops stride in and ask those with numbers between 201450 and 201461 to form a line. Yeehaa! I am number 201459! We form a line; trembling, I am handed my new driving license and it is Gold! Achieving a Gold star in Japan makes up for so many failures in my youth.


Golden boy.

I rush back to OIST to entertain the Slovak Minister of Education, Science and stuff. This is the best fun as he is a very good and funny guy. He also has huge feet.


Upon a peak in Darien. Check his feet.

In preparation for the adventures of Summer, I have bought water shoes on EBay from China.  They are sent to my house in Maeda.

This is what makes living in Japan so pleasant. The card  that the postman leaves to demonstrate that delivery did not work has a telephone number for English speakers.

” We apologizes Sir, that your package was delivered at the wrong time. At what time would you like us to take it to you?

” Oh, I don’t know, bring it at 7:00 pm tomorrow, please.”

At 7:00 pm on Friday night, my man hands overs the goods.  Life is so easy in Japan.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rainy Season

Okinawa has a season called the Rainy Season because it rains a lot. It more or less comes after the Tax season. So, we really have 5 seasons here: Winter, Tax, Rainy, Summer,  Autumn.

Last night it rained like crazy. I blame my parents. I was brought up to believe that sleeping in a room without an open window is a cardinal sin. I do not have windows in my bedroom but floor to ceiling glass doors. These I keep wide open to encourage air circulation and the ingress of snakes, centipedes and spiders.

I wake this morning to find my tatami mat floating around the bedroom floor with me on it. Is it Ok to close the window if rain is pouring into my bedroom, Mummy?



More rain than in the preceding month.

I also stumbled across my first IPhone. It is an original from 2007 and appears to still work. It feels more comfortable in the hand than the one I have now.


Well, you know.

So, maybe the Rainy Season has started.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If You Take a Walk, I’ll Tax Your Feet

Actually, I do not mind paying tax er that much. I do pay a lot as I have to contribute to the both Japanese and U.S. coffers. However I absolutely hate getting together all the documentation that is needed to file taxes in both countries. Now of course is the season of taxes, calling it Spring is wrong, it should be called Tax, as in Winter, Tax, Summer, Autumn. Anyway, like a visit to the Dentist, it will eventually fade into the past.


Let’s look at a butterfly instead of finding tax documents.

The university thunders on at a great rate.


Peter asks Abe for lots of money.


Let’s look at butterflies instead.

I get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir and notice that someone has cut down the undergrowth that has been getting closer and closer to my front door.


Not good for butterflies.


The Road to the Isles. 




We start the next phase of expansion.


Does he care?


Brilliant Emerald bug scratches its ear. She is worried about science funding.

Anyway, the Scaffie is ready. Tomorrow I launch.


North Korea bound.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I have lots of socks. Socks are cheap in the U.S.  I cannot resist buying them. The anxiety comes when, post washing machine, I have to pair them off. I only buy black socks. I do not know why. I blame my parents.


When did you last see you Father

Anyway, the last lot that I bought have a thin yellow line across the toe.

IMG_2819 (1).jpg

Chrome yellow

This line allows me to identify partner socks. I feel great shame going to work with mismatched socks so this simple line of yellow has done a great deal for my general wellbeing.

So, it is April in Okinawa. So much is happening .


See what I mean

DSC_2652 (1).jpg

This Oriental Turtle Dove is cooing hence distended neck


Iron hard trees suddenly spurt flower


No leaves or buds but straight into crazy flower stage


Can you do this?


Terrible photo of amazing Azalea display


Picture of a cow I painted in California


This a flowering stem of one of my Plumeria. Great joy.


Contentment is wealth

IMG_2815 (1).jpg

New rode


I like your yellow striped socks


Never enough varnish


Stuff from beach.

The sap is rising.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quelle Gaffe!

I realize that I have an entirely free Tuesday afternoon and because of my vast professional experience I immediately take it off.

I want to take my sail to a local sailmaker to find out if he can make me a new one. My sail has suffered much from intense UV exposure and I am worried that it will rip. As I unlace the sail from the yard or gaff, which is the length of wood at the top of the sail, I notice that the yard is strangely bent.


Spot the Gaff (Yard)

I try to persuade it into a straightish posture whereupon it breaks in two pieces.


I think I must have stood on it at some point.

Oh dear, I now have a completely different and unexpected problem. I have to manufacture a new yard. No worries, I take the truckette down to the woodyard of eternal delight that I have recently written about. My brother is moving massive tree trunks around on a forklift but comes to help. I show him the broken yard and he gets it. We have a Japanese conversation. “Do you want mahogany?”  “Hmm, says I in mime, I think mahogany might be too heavy.” ” Yeah, you are probably right. Let’s try cedar.”  “Cool”  I mime by clasping my arms to my sides and shivering.


4 metres of 4×4 cedar.  4 is my lucky number.


Has Earth anything to show more fair?

When I get home I look carefully at the busted yard and realize that I can probably make a fairly convincing repair. Like a fractured leg the two end of the bones slot back together fairly well. If I can immobilize the leg and strap it up it might grow back together.


Wood glue

I then apply a pretty good round lashing.


Thank you Mr Pritchard

I then drench the lashing in yacht varnish – not sure why.


I then cover the whole fracture site in a black leather plaster.

I am quite hopeful that this will do the job as I think there is rarely great strain on the yard. That said, I am determined to make a new one just in case. I mean I have a beautiful 4x4x4 length of Okinawan cedar to molest. Who could resist?


I unleash my my beloved Japanese plane.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments