Made by you and I

Idli and sambar: White-boy-does-Indian

I have wanted to write a post on idli and sambar since I started this blog. I tried to finish one before I left but I didn’t have a chance to organize the photos before I left. So I’ll leave you with a photo of my breakfast, which is just as satisfying as lunch or dinner and suggest that if you’d like to learn how to make this go to the Reasder and in the tags section put in Idli or Sanbar. There are many, many, talented cooks on WordPress. I’ll post my version when I get back from holiday. I think I’ll call it White-Boy-Does-Good-Indian-Food. :)idli and sambar

Chinatown

chinatown--5

I’m going on holiday from Friday.

I will get on the shinkansen Friday sometime before five and head south. I have no firm plan on where to go or what to do — and that’s the way I like to vacation. Who isn’t bound by schedules? It’s nice to take a month off an get on without one.

With the iPad hotel reservations are a snap. I’ve been traveling this way since I was in my early twenties and only three times have I ever not found accommodation: The first time in Cambodia, the second in Germany, the third in Aomori, Japan.

As of now my blog is now on auto pilot. I’ve scheduled 15 posts over the next few weeks and will try to chime in with photos from my iPhone or iPad.

I appreciate all of the support you’ve all given me this past half year. Your comments make me feel good, I enjoy the banter, and you’ve all helped me learn a new skill. Two, in fact. Forgive me as I’ve been getting progressively busier the past few days and have not had a chance to check your blogs, leave comments, or answer mine. I will. It might take me a couple of days, but I will.

For now, this is Chinatown, or rather a temple in Chinatown. We stumbled out of the restaurant after everything was closing. With all the bright lights and quiet the area had an etherial quality I tried to keep by leaving the highlights where they were. The last two are the same photo with the background shaded out. If one strikes you as better than the other, let me know. :)

For the gate I did something new: Triple exposure. I rather like it.

 

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Hing: A story ending in divorce

pigeon funny story

pigeon funny storyThis is a story about a spice widely used in the near East, a bird, and a divorce.

One day many summers ago I was sitting in the courtyard of my neighborhood department store. Frantically going nowhere was a pigeon. People were busying by, which should have made this bird fly the coop, but it stuck close to a tree round and round and round. Curious, I went up to it. It ran away — it couldn’t fly! I reached down to pick it up and saw that something had taken a bite of its behind and took the tail clean off.

Bird in hand I went back to work.

Pigeons are seen as on par with sewer rats here. My coming into the building with said rat in hand caused quite the flutter — but I kept my bird.

When my boss understood that I intended to nurse the pigeon back to health he let me have the rest of the day off. This is how the bird became Byrd, my pet pigeon.

Long story short she eventually got well and it was time to release her. Bye Byrd! But no, the very next morning at sunrise I heard a loud thump on my veranda and cooing. Bryd came back, and she landed on my washing machine.

My washing machine sat on the veranda in front of a large storage space where I kept odds and ends, like cleaning supplies. I put food and water there for her and every morning at sun up I’d hear the familiar crash and drift back to sleep — and then one day they were two. Byrd was shacking up on my veranda!

Well, it was about this time that, thanks to Hiro, I got into Indian cooking. Remember my telling you I purchased everything in that first Indian cook book he gave me at once? When that parcel arrived there was one particular odor that permitted from the box — it reeked. The mailman was even curious enough to stay while I opened the box to find the offender: Two bottles of Hing, aka asafoetida. 

Hing is a characteristic spice used throughout the Indian subcontinent. In small quantities it’s pleasant and chances are you’d recognize it, or at least associate it with Indian restaurants. Two bottles of it , however, is indescribable, so let me tell you what happened.

I had no idea how to handle the hing. Anywhere I put it in the apartment I could smell it. Plastic bags wouldn’t contain it. Freezing it only mellowed the punch. Hiding it in the most obscure parts of my cupboards was a taunt.

I put it on the veranda.

The next morning I heard that familiar thump — but there was no cooing. Moments later I heard wings beating a hasty retreat. The next morning the same thing happened. Then again. I had no where else to put the hing — I needed it! — so that hing came between me and Byrd who left with an empty nest and a bag of bird seed.

Postscript. It ends up you should keep your hing in a glass jar. The glass keeps that (now) wonderful aroma tamed and under lock.

 

The real Byrd. The photos were from my cell phone back then, so not the best quality. As you can see, she had no tail. I took care of her for about three months in house. I had to force feed her the first week. Then she got her will to live back. I really did enjoy her. She was quiet, docile, independent. Miss you, Byrd!

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Work

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The amazing thing about this series of pics is the ISO. I shot these in very low light under a train track on an overcast day. The ISO 256,000. I usually set my camera between ISO 100 – 400, to give you an idea just how high that is.

It’s rare to see monks out to collect alms. I leaned into the shade of a building and watched the people busy by him for several minutes. Everyone has their work. No one has much time for each other. It’s less obvious in my neighborhood, but I’m pretty much the same. Isn’t it funny how Buddhism essentially says slow down and look at what’s in front of you?

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The texture of life

Gyouen Park-200-19

Friday Godzilla opened here in Japan. I went to see the IMAX version yesterday — I loved it. The storytelling and visual effects were superlative. The visual details in the boss fight were stunning. The view of Fuji caused a loud laugh in the theater and protagonists backstory was unnecessarily drawn out, but as a whole it was a lot of fun to watch.

I’ve been working on these to understand black and white, which brings out the hidden details in the leaves. Tell me what you think. More importantly, tell me what you think of Godzilla. :)

(note: The first and last are the same image, only cropped. Any opinions on which works better?)

 

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Caniformia captures — sexy beast

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Does Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” come to mind for you, too?  And look at those nails, freshly manicured with coat of Come Hither black. Oh, you sexy beast! ueno zoo-7 ueno zoo-8

Avian captures

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Continuing my walk through the zoo, I did enjoy the aviaries. There were several. The pens containing the predatory birds were, unfortunately, confining. Whereas those fowl who could live together peacefully were kept in vast aviaries. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

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Advice from fellow bloggers, please

I’m 90% done with my blog re-do. I need to adjust the tags and add featured photos and I’m done, though I might add a page of my personal favorite posts. At the top of the right sidebar are two pics. Click either and you go to a page which lists all of my posts with clickable links (further broken down by subject on that page) and a page of just my photographic posts. (When I start writing recipes again I’ll add a third clickable box for just recipes.)

Questions:

1) In sorting through old posts I found a lot of one off topics, often vents at something or questions. They have no relation to the overall theme of my blog. Would you delete them, or keep them as part of your blogs history and progression? (This post is an example of the kind of post I’m talking about.)

2) Older posts I’m not happy with and would like to redo, should I delete them and rewrite as I like, or edit those posts as they are? These are mostly posts from which I first made the blog. Now that I have a better grasp at blogging, I know they need a re-do.

 

3) How detailed do you all go on tags? When I first started I had ten or twenty tags. I’ve tried to keep just three or four. Do any of you have any wisdom to pass along for tagging your posts?

 

Thank you all!

Simian capture

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On my first date with Hiro he took me to the Osaka Zoo. He had no money, so the zoo was an inexpensive entertainment. Having not been to a zoo since I was in grade school, I was moderately interested — but I never would have gone on my own.

Yesterday I decided to go to the Ueno Zoo to take photos. It’s the first time since that date that I’ve been.

Going with Hiro we focused on each other. Going with a camera I focused on the animals. Generally speaking, most of the animals didn’t seem happy to me, which is the mood I sought to capture with the simians. Can you imagine being kept in a cage or a pen your entire life? Many free-people live a bounded life. None of this has to be: Animals can be kept in a nature enclosure; people can get out of their own enclosures.

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Lotus

from the darkness

Shinjuku is, to many, the city center of Tokyo, is nearly 100% concrete and pavement save for this large national park which used to be part of the imperial household.

 

from the darkness

 

 

Stages of life, or family

 

 

On divinity

Canon behind buddha golden enhanced 2

Walking through Asakusa Temple yesterday evening I happened upon an area cut off by shrubbery. A monk was earnestly talking to two drunkards about overindulgence within earshot. Around them various groups of young men, lounging in a awning overhung with wisteria, were in silhouette. Here within site of her children is a statue dedicated to motherhood. Behind her are two large Buddha (the one to the left pictured below).

One creates life. The other reminds us how to live it.

The statues are adorned with bibs and robes. One reason, I am told, is to honor a child passed away.   asakusa mother reduxxCanon behind buddha golden enhanced 2Canon behind buddha golden enhancedasakusa mother expanded view

Warmth and passion

akarenga park love

Let’s not speak of love, but of warmth and passion; of a crowded city and the young looking for private space to be together. The nights are humid and hot. Pocket parks. The water. And here and there pairs.

I was in the Sakuragicho area yesterday evening with camera and tripod to take those long exposures I enjoy. You can’t see it with the unaided eye, but in the distance the red haze from Tokyo ricochets through the clouds casting a heated backdrop for these young couples. Looking back towards Sakuragicho there were, here and there, benches. And in the cool florescent light warmth.

(There  is minimal editing in these photos. The long exposure has shown me that so much of the world we live in really is painterly, but we’re perhaps too digitized to see it. True, the camera has time to take in and hold more light. However, the next time your out in the evening stop and study the light reflected off the world around you. With the right mindset you’ll see the world painted by light.)

Click the photo for the larger image.

 

the crossroads, akrenga header

 

the crossroads, akrenga cropped

 

akarenga park

 

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The magic hour

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