Mindfulness and merde

Is it possible to develop the awareness of dog shit in your path, and also enjoy the good stuff around you in the same moment? I’m pretty good at avoiding stuff on the street or on grass, but on a leafy hiking path I will be practicing because somehow I managed to get both feet deep in the merde. As I was using a twig for purposes of remediation, I was fully able to appreciate the new, knobby Vibram tread on my Hanwags.

And then I reflected on the irony of appreciating something new AFTER an encounter with dog poo.

After this, I decided to see if the hive brain had yet come up with a better method than scraping, rinsing and scrubbing shoes to remove fecal material, and came upon this from Lifehacker:

  1. Stick your shoe in a plastic bag and toss it in the freezer for several hours.
  2. Come back later, grab a pencil, take the show outside, and use it to pick that frozen dog doo out of your shoe’s treads. Because the poop is less of a mushy substance and more like an ice cube, it won’t stick to the rubber. You’ll be able to get it out easily and go on with your day.
  3. If you want to really clean the shoe thoroughly, get yourself a toothbrush specifically for this occasion and brush the bottom of the shoe with soapy water. The tiny bristles well help remove any residue.
  4. When you’re done, spray the bottom of the show with a stream of water and let it dry. (The truly paranoid with non-leather shoes can toss them in the washing machine, too.

I may try this method out if it gets really cold and leave my shoes outside. Another question, who would be OK with putting a duke in their freezer, unless it was used for other non-food/beverage storage?

Ranier at Dusk

The elusive mountain and its setting have a Tokaido vibe going on.

On a formatting note, this was posted as a Featured Photo. I’ll be playing with settings to see what they do.

Is this thing still on?

A decade ago. That’s how long it feels like it’s been since I signed in, typed words into the title and body fields, uploaded pictures, and hit [Publish]. Nothing really took over the place of Higo Blog. Posting on Facebook just wasn’t the same, and actually started feeling like a fax of a xeroxed picture.

Every once in a while I take a look at old posts, enjoying them like the sweet, earthy smell of old, treasured, well-maintained books. It feels like I’ve picked up an especially significant book, one that I haven’t read in ages, that has benefited from a long, undisturbed rest. Much feels familiar, and I’ll be interested to see if it’s much the same as it used to be, or to note how it’s different.

One big setting that I changed a few years back was to disable comments. This was due to the overwhelming amount of spam comments that vied for attention. Spam seems no more in control now than it was when it first appeared, and continues to thrive despite being one of the few things that 99% of people can agree to hate. For now, I think I’ll leave comments off, though I used to really enjoy the discourse that they provided.

Side story: I was excitedly offered food at a party near Gilroy. The hostess exclaimed, “It’s really good sushi – try some. It has meat!”

It was Spam musubi. Which is always good. And it was culture shock. Which, in this case, was amusing. What does this have to do with the main narrative? Very little, but it’s about Spam.

And so with these rambling thoughts about what the blog was, and thinking about what I want it to be, I’ll let this post settle in. As a work in progress, as a relatively invisible stream of untargeted, non-fodderized social media. Sounds good to me.

Time to Fish

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to get on a boat, to challenge my sea legs and to test the tensile strength of the combination of rod + reel + spectra / mono / flouro lines + swivel + barbless hook on a (approximately) 20 pound king salmon. Though the bite wasn’t hot in Avila Beach last Friday, we manged to snag one using a black and white apex, down 60 feet (for some reason, not many people mooch this far south, preferring to troll instead). As there were few birds to indicate where the bait balls were hanging out, we had to rely on the location of other recreational boats and fish finder to put the lure in front of this:

adam.chinookKohei and I split the fish, and ended up with a decent amount of ruby red fillets and collars to grill up. We did a misoyaki prep for the collar, letting it sit for 3 days. For the fillets, we used salt, pepper, butter, oil, garlic and lemon juice and cooked them on cast iron for 5 minutes on high heat, then for 6 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees. I don’t think there’s much better than a cast iron skillet for evenly distributing heat, and for imparting a nice seared crust that is hard to beat.

Hopefully the bite up in Monterey picks up, and I can go get some more sustainably caught wild Chinook salmon. Fish that you catch yourself is, by definition, the best you can get because it is so fresh that you can literally still eat it when it’s alive (if that’s your thing- I wouldn’t because I would want to put it out of its misery first, and salmon have parasites that easily take up residence in us unless properly prepared), you can release any non-targeted species quickly and give them a reasonable chance to survive, its fun (though expensive), you get a nice tan and get a little exercise to boot. The only problem is that it’s hard to eat store or restaurant bought fish after successfully catching and eating fresh fish.

There’s only one solution: I need to catch more fish, which means that I have to go fishing more. I guess that I’m willing to make that sacrifice, for health and ocean conservation!

Sharpie Art

 

 

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This past weekend I got a chance to bust out my markers on my dive float as Alex Norton (very talented artist and tuna whisperer) burned a boar’s skeleton into a wooden sheath that pairs with a bone handled hunting knife. I started with the outline of the suction cups on the arm and the eye. I decided to just depict five of the octopus’ arms, as I’ve noticed that you don’t frequently get a good view of all eight of them at one time. Or maybe it’s a newly discovered species of cephalopod–the magnificent pentapus!

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As you can see from the next shot, I decided to get rid of the siphon because of the orientation of the body. the panel between the zippers acts as a nice frame–an unintended result that I’m quite pleased with.IMG_0353At one point, I was going to have the octopus descending while holding an ab iron, but couldn’t get the proportions to work. Nevertheless, I’m happy with my progress thus far, and plan on adding more critters to fill up the negative spaces on the sides. Not bad for a humble sharpie on top of ballistic nylon, huh?

Big Sur River: After Rain


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On days when there is threat of rain, when you exhale steam, and when it hurts to get out from under the covers, it is often rewarding to push all reservations aside and to go play outside. On this particular day, I was rewarded for my efforts with almost complete solitude on my walk through the woods.

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Though the sky was gloomy for much of the day, and drizzle sifted down through the trees, the water was all sorts of beautiful shades ranging from pale blue to dark green. Colors that you might associate more with tropical beaches than a riparian surrounding.

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Shrooms are sprouting all over the place right now. I bet those who are knowledgeable (or people who think they are) about mushrooms are having some pretty epic feasts this season.

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I don’t know what etches these lines into the trees beneath the bark (beetles?). Reminds me of an episode of X-Files where bugs hidden in the trees are unleashed upon humans and eat them alive.

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It’s amazing how high on the shoreline the river deposited all of the crap that built up after the previous flush.

Also, the density of signage led me to half-expect Yosemite Sam to jump out from the trees and tell me to “back off” when I got close.

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I wonder how high the water level has reached on this bridge.

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The wet weather has given the moss everything that shampoo/conditioner commercials promise to give to your hair.

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This moss, too, looks X-File-esque.

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Up close, it looks like a Chia-pet, huh? On a side note, the iPhone 5 takes better macro shots than the stock 18-55mm D50 lens in many situations.

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Given enough time, water wins.

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I bet there’s some nice fish hiding in some of these spots along the river. Not all of them are easy to get to, and I hope it stays that way.

Hammer Time! Making Mochi

Once upon a time in Japan, the making of mochi was not performed by automated machines, but rather by people using large wooden mallets/hammers to pound rice in heavy-duty granite bowls. Pounding was performed to a rhythm, pulverizing the rice into delicious submission. Though mochi machines now exist, my family continues the old tradition with the start of each new year because pounding your food with huge wooden hammers is awesome. And besides, as any rice cake connoisseur worth his shoyu will attest, mochi tastes better with a bit of sweat and little wooden slivers in it.

DSC_8523The hammers are made of wood, and soaked beforehand, though if they make contact with the granite bowl, they will splinter. Breaking the handle is also easy to do, if it strikes the bowl. You can see the rice steaming in an old school wooden box in the background. Doneness is ascertained by smooshing a grain of rice between the fingers to check hardness.
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Pounding must be done in coordination with your partners, and usually the tempo is controlled by he who wields the shamoji.

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In olden days, the maidens of rural Japanese households were expected to take up arms against any enemies who threatened the village while the men were away. It is said that blood ingrained into the mochi hammer helps to impart a desirable quality found only in the highest grade of rice cake.

 

 

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She missed the bowl completely shortly after this was taken.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a chance for fathers to show their sons how manly they are. Loud grunts and smacks = good parenting.

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I have no idea how my aunt was able to swing the hammer so hard while laughing. For some reason, I find this terrifying.

 

 

 

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My dad putting the smack down.

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Yumi and Kohei making the big wad of rice cake into smaller cakes.

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This is the son’s chance to play whack-a-mole with the father’s thumbs!

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Maybe we should give the little ones quarter sledge-sized mallets, but until that time a tandem session will have to do.

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Here’s Wes, about to bring down the wrath.

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These brothers efficiently assault the mochi. As Sean bludgeons away at it, Susumu taunts the rice cake. Susumu’s other job in this process is to reach in the bowl and position the bolus of smashed rice in such a way that it is exposed to maximum blunt force impact from the hammer. As the cadence of the blows can reach a fevered pitch, I am amazed that his hands remain unblemished, and the mochi white.

And as the last of rice is dispatched of, we all head in and pig out on amazing food and share in good company. Happy 2013, everybody!

Hokusai Waves and Almond Scented Arthropods

Today, I was one of the few people out, enjoying the ocean and the woods, and for that matter, driving on Highway 1 South. Stepping out of the car, I had an overwhelming urge to walk towards the ocean, and this is what I saw:

Side note: Please excuse the finger blocking the top of the photo – I was trying to keep the lens clean. Also, I’m pretty impressed with the camera on the iPhone 5. You be the judge–all of the photos in this post are from the same camera

I had never seen waves that looked distinctly like Hokusai’s famous depiction, that you see everywhere it seems, but today the waves were breaking exactly that way (though I didn’t manage to capture one in a photo). Tall, high cresting beasts surged in relentlessly, pounding anything in their way. Small waves would from on the face of a swell, and other wavelets would sideswipe, race to swallow or otherwise join with their kin, followed by the gaping maw of the mother wave that would inevitably chomp down upon the cavernous trough below.

I don’t think anyone would have stood much of a chance if they fell in the water today. I imagine even the fish had a hard time staying safe. The seaweed in the water exploded into the air, large pieces catapulted high in the sky and molecules of sulfurous rotting algae permeated the crazy wind-whipped sea spray.

On the hike up to the waterfall at Garrapata State Park, I found an alternate trail up a creek that joins up with the main trail and spent most of the afternoon exploring game trails. There are few things more satisfying than hiking on wet, springy foliage and humus, balancing on fallen trees that cross over water and going just a little further to see what’s on the other side (of the hill, bend, thicket, etc).

This was not the first time I have seen a banana slug, but this one was rather large. Here’s a close-up:

The mushrooms were out in force today as well:

The most interesting critter I came across today was a strange looking millipede. This is the first time I’ve run across this particular creature, and I’m really glad that it was on my terms (as opposed to suddenly feeling prickly legs unexpectedly on my skin):

As I read about this particular invertebrate, I’m bummed that I didn’t know that I should have smelled it. The yellow-spotted millipede (Harpaphe haydeniana) apparently smells like almonds (maybe that’s why it’s called the almond scented millipede), due to its ability to secrete hydrogen cyanide when threatened (perhaps that’s where it’s other name, cyanide millipede, comes from). The life lesson here is as follows: If the Kool Aid, or millipede, smells of almonds, it is best not to consume. One more picture of our flamboyant, poisonous friend:

I have to admit, I’m really enjoying this chaotic weather, and I hope that it results in some snow so that I can hit the slopes. Hopefully I’ll be able to post about an epic snowboarding trip this year!