Tag Archives: photography

Bloganuary: The Final!

How do you feel when you look at the stars?

I live in Tokyo. I don’t see many celebrities. When I lived in Hollywood, however…

This challenge has finally ended. I really enjoyed the beginning but some prompts? Still, I’m glad I did it because I met some really nice people, finding blogs, and the people attached to those blogs, that wouldn’t have come onto my radar otherwise.

Bloganuary was a chance for me to learn how to use WordPress to build up my YouTube Channel, which is food based. The next posts you see from me will be about food and cooking — and I do hope to meet you all again. ☺️

Miso Butter Pasta — with hand made pasta.

Here is a still with a link to my latest video: Miso Butter Pasta, which is an American dish, not Japanese — and it’s really good. My next post will be on this. In the meantime, please click on the photo or link to take a look at the video.

Have a great February, everyone!

Tell me in the comments one thing you liked about taking part in Bloganuary. 🙂

Bloganuary: Dissecting Me

What is your favorite part about yourself?

This question is kinda easy but I’m not sure how to phrase it succinctly. What I like about best about me is that I have a firm sense of self: I know what is right and wrong for me and I will not bend. This can and does cause friction with other people, but I will not say the Emperor is nicely dressed when he’s naked — you can read into that what you like. I also don’t shy away from questions. My feeling is that if someone is bold enough to ask the question, I can answer it.

There’s a lot about me that I like. 😎😁 I could go on…

To balance this out, my least favorite thing about myself is my ability to procrastinate. Man, if I don’t want to do something, unless I’m really firm with myself, I will find a way to put it off. Case in point, I have to go to the tax office tomorrow and I have to return something to Amazon. One will make me poorer the other is just troublesome. I’ve managed to put both off til the last minute.

What’s your favorite part of your favorite movie/tv show?

Bloganurary: Dreams

Write about a dream you remember.

(whew) I’m beginning to feel the tug and pull of too many projects — but just a few more days of Bloganuary. I can not give up!

Dreams. When I read the prompts a dream that I had half a year ago came to mind. I don’t have nightmares. My dreams all seem to be wish fulfilments, but this one was surreal:

I was in the middle of an American suburb high in hills that overlooked the an urban center at night — lights everywhere, it was night at it was very beautiful. Godzilla was after me. Not the whole body, just the head. And not one, but like six. So in my dream I could see myself from an overhead position running down a cul-de-sac and there were these six giant, glowing pink Godzilla head going down the street in unison blowing up houses with their breath.

That’s it. The dream wasn’t short. It felt like it went on for hours.

The Buddha in repose. This is an old film photo from Kumamoto. The temple I took this in was destroyed several years ago in a earthquake.

I remember waking up in the morning with the dream in mind and I just turned it ’round and ’round in my head trying to puzzle out a meaning (which is why I remember it so clearly).

My best guess is my subconscious is telling me that my life in Japan is supplanting my former life in the US.

Here’s a question I’d like to know: In my dreams I seem to visit the same places over many years. I don’t know if this is usual or not, but in the dream world I can visit dreamscapes I visited weeks or months before, and these are not repeating dreams but dreams where I have long-lived relationships with the characters in these dreams spaces. There’s a sense of seeing an old friend after a long absence sometimes.

Does this ever happen to any of you?

Bloganuary: Photos

What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

I take too many photos for there to be just one. Unfortunately, the computer with the hard drive with my main library is busted, so I don’t have access to my good stuff. Plus, I still have boxes of photo negatives and slides that I haven’t had digitized.

Living in Japan there is no shortage of opportunity — so much neat stuff — but the photos I like best are just the simple details. There’s a lot there if you just look and think.

The important things are our relationships, the promises we make, and the self-control we cultivate to keep both.
Asakusa Park in Spring.

Bloganuary: Cause?

What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

When Dante passed under the famous inscription, before the first circle and before the ferry, he passed through an outer lying circle of those unwanted by either Heaven or Hell: The Uncommitted, the souls and angels who chose no side.

Living in Japan, you rarely see homelessness. The few I’ve seen were either alcoholic or mentally ill. Poverty exists but almost always in the context of having a smart phone in pocket. And I can and should not apply anuy -isms to a culture that is not mine. This all said, there is no cause to fight for and so no passionate cause for me to write about.

I do listen to podcasts — I love politics! — and when I’m mid run or mid set what I hear discussed (created to cause outrage) can stir up in me muh passions, but not really. It’s just a moment. A moment untethered to a cause…

Speaking of Dante, this is Virgil and he in the 9th Circle of Hell — not my photo of the engraving by Gustave Dore

Might I become one of Dante’s souls forever chasing after a banner in the afterlife? As Heaven and Hell are within — and I feel no guilt — I suspect not.

(The Featured Image is of the moat at the Imperial Palace. Millions of Japanese followed the Imperial cause into war. A cautionary tale for what to be passionate about.)

Have you read Dante’s great work? Thoughts on it — or this prompt? Leave them in the comments.

Bloganuary: Life Lessons

What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?

Saturday just ended. Yesterday, I got up at 5am to work on a video for YouTube; had to go to work; talked my friend out of a bad mood; and just finished shooting and laying in the video track for that YouTube video. It’s just past midnight and I’m here at WordPress because I said I would participate in ‘Bloganuary’ for a month. Life Lesson:

Keep your word.

When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. When you make a promise, you honor it. When you have an obligation, you fulfil it. And neither whine nor grimace about it.

Curry Pan. I’m still learning how to take decent food pics, but this is really delicious.

Doing what you believe is right can be hard when you feel like you’re going it alone. Regarding your life lesson, what is it and are you able to abide by it?

Bloganuary: Ideal Days

What does your ideal day look like?

(This is an improvement to yesterdays discussion on emojis, don’t ya think?)

One of my earliest memories as a (very) small child is of color: the vivid green of grass that stretches uninterruptedly over low hills and that particular blue of a summer sky on a not too hot summer’s day. I have in mind an image but of no particular place — real, imagined, or on TV I do not know, maybe it’s the stillness and ease in that image that I’m responding to. As an adult, I’ve seen these colors oh so very rarely. My ideal day would be to stay in that place. I’ve done so only twice in recent memory:

The corner of where I live on day one of the first lockdown. Mind you, I live two minutes from a major train station. This is peak time.

The first was during siesta in Seville, Spain. It was midsummer and the thermometers read 48℃ /118℉. The shops were all closed. There were no cars on the road. And I was on a rental bike riding ’round the city. I brought a packed a lunch, stopped at a pocket park and sat under the shade of an olive tree on a long wooden bench and I saw those colors. Thinking on that day now, it’s really an inner feeling that the outside world seems to share, something like a synchronicity more than the colors.

The opposite side of where I live.

The other time was shortly after the first lockdown was announced in Japan. It was March, I believe. I had decided to to take up jogging and on the first day of the lockdown started my run early, maybe about seven and everything was still. Not a single person. Not a single car on the road. Perfect stillness with a crisp blue sky and new green from leaves just starting to bud. The was bliss (all the photos on this page are from my iPhone on that morning).

This is the jogging path near my home. It should be filled with people, this is Tokyo after all!

Reflecting on what I’ve written, my ideal day is a day without people and all the noise of modern life while in the city with all it’s architecture and convenience. I do not get the same feeling hiking, even on the best day.

The other side of the station, again, peak time.

What was the world around you like after the first lockdown? Did you enjoy anything about it? Let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Boldly Go!

What does it mean to live boldly?

This question is meaningless. There is no such thing as ‘living boldly’. The idea that one can is coded into the algorithms that drive Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: It presupposes that a series of composed and curated snapshots is real life. It is not. And so this question is meaningless.

If you want to live a good-life, then find the qualities that you want to be defined by and strive towards being that person.

Change your perspective — look UP.

Do you agree or disagree with me — you’re safe, I only bite on weekends — let me know in the comments.

Bloganuary: Gratitude

What are you grateful for today?

I use the OmniFocus planner on my computer and iPhone and everyday, without fail, I am reminded to do the following three things:

Gratitude is important to me. I grew up with nothing and now I might shoot around Tokyo with 20,000USD’s worth of equipment in my backpack and an iPhone in my pocket. Plus I live in the safest, cleanest place in the (so called) developed world — as a guest, a fact I’m very aware of, and grateful for.

Not too far from where I live, the Dior building on Aoyama Street.

Today is Adults Day in Japan, a national holiday, so I had the day off. The weather was a veritable balmy 8 degrees (C) today, but I chose to stay in to work on my YouTube channel and reddit’s Photoclass 2020.

Because of the Christmas/New Year holidays, I needed to stay away from my channel to stay centered in the real world with my family and friends, yet when I went back this morning, I had hundreds of messages from my subscribes asking where I was and wishing me a good year.

Thumbnail from my latest video, Tofu Teriyaki.

My apartment is clean, my mind is quiet, and though I’m avoiding doing yoga (which I really need to do because I’m tight) I have had a wonderfully peaceful day. I was even able to listen to my new favorite artist, Fuji Kaze, while I worked.

I am very lucky and I know it. I make it point to wake up and think of all the reasons I have to be thankful, then I run over all the problems that might arise so I am prepared, then I think on people to inspire me — and then I get up. So I am very grateful that today’s topic was very easy for me. 😄

Going through the gates is good for luck.

Post a link to you blog page so I can visit to see what you’re grateful for. You can also just tell me here. Also, do you have any ‘morning rituals’? What are they? Tell me in the comments.

The Onion Sandwich — Caramelized Onions

(recipe follows)onion sandwich_055

People who comment or send me mail tell me I can improve my blog by talking more about my life. From their advice I have been adding bits and bytes. A part of my life story I never speak about is poverty: I grew up poor. After my parents divorced my mother and I were so poor we couldn’t afford a vacuum. My mother borrowed one every couple of months from her half-brother’s wife. (To clean the carpet we used the back side of tape.)onion sandwich_058

We were poorer than most because my mother was unable to work — why is another story — and so we depended on welfare, food stamps, and kindness.

onion sandwich_054

Sometime in the 80’s the government started cutting the welfare and food stamp programs. I was used to not having much. Our furniture came from hand me downs, our TV a tiny, portable black and white. I only ever had a couple of pairs of pants and a few shirts. This was the baseline for my day to day — but I didn’t know how good I had been living until those cuts came into effect. One example should make my meaning clear.onion sandwich_053

I came home from school one day to my mother eating an onion sandwich: Two slices of day old bread, a slice of raw onion, French’s mustard. We had nothing else. I recall she smiled, said it was delicious and wished she had know — which sounded plausible through her souther drawl, but the sadness in her eyes gave up the lie.
onion sandwich_052

I broke out of what I hear called a The Cycle of Poverty. I am aware that a lot of my choices are a reaction to having been poor. I have 37 pairs of shoes because I grew up having just one, poorly fit and used to the last — but I don’t waste money and never borrow.
onion sandwich_051

Although I rarely talk about it, I own up to where I came from. I know from experience that you can chose how to remember what’s passed. To a degree you can reshape a memory — or honor it to let it go. So I took the pungent onion and made it sweet; I crafted my own mustard to make it mine; I bought the very best bread and made an Onion Sandwich.

(note: this is also used in Savory Pie)

Caramelized Onions

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

onion sandwich_045

 

tier one (you must use)

  • At least 2 pounds of brown onions sliced thin (I fill my 12 liter/quart stock pot which reduce to about 2 cups)
  • Up to 2 tablespoons of butter (you really don’t much, the water in the onions will prevent them from sticking for most of the cooking)

tier three (optional)

  • Up to 1 tablespoon sugar (near the very end to help caramelize the onions or further sweeten them, taste before adding sugar)
  • Up to 1/4 cup strong beef stock near the very end of cooking (to loosen the brown bits at the end of cooking)
  • Up to 1/4 cup water (to loosen the brown bits at the end of cooking)

Method: Put your butter or oil in a large pot. Peel your onions, remove the root end and cut in half lengthwise and slice thin. Add them to the pot with the butter. When you’ve finished all your onions put the pot on the stove and turn it on medium to melt the butter. Don’t stir the pot until it’s heated up, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the pot and make a decision:

If you’re going to be in the kitchen and want the dish to finish quickly turn the heat up to high and stir every five minutes or so. They’ll finish in about an hour, depending on the volume. If you want to relax, turn the heat to low and come back and stir the pot ever 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on the volume and heat, this method will take a minimum of three hours. 

Your onions will go through three distinct phases:

  1. Individual slices slowly becoming a mush with a lot of liquid, almost like a soup. This phase is the longest and requires the least amount of attention.
  2. They will start sticking to the pot. Here you have stir more often, but there’s still a lot of liquid. At this point you’ll notice the start of a color change from translucent to light brown.
  3.  Finally they will brown during which you need to constantly move the onions in the the pot, scraping the brown bits off as much as you can. Those brown bits are flavor.

The temptation is to remove the onions when they start to stick. Don’t. Reduce the heat if you wan to but bring them to a dark brown. When they are near dark brown, this is where you would add sugar. When you can no longer scrap the bits off the bottom and sides of the pan then they are done. Remove them from the pan. You can also remove all but a tablespoon or two and add either 1/4 cup of water or strong beef stock to loosen the remaining brown bits of flavor at the bottom of the pan. I keep these separate from the caramelized onions to flavor other dishes.

You can see an example of caramelizing vegetables here.

onion sandwich_060

caramelized onions
3 kilos (8 pounds) reduced to about 2 cups caramelized onions. Notice the brown bits, at this point I can no longer scrape them off, so the onions are finished. At this point I add water or broth to get those bits of flavor stuck all over the pan — don’t waste all that flavor!

 

homemade mustard with canned green tomatoes and broccoli in custard in a pastry shell
homemade mustard with canned green tomatoes served with my onion sandwich