July 30, 2013
July 28, 2013
July 25, 2013
Sudden thunder storms today that brought heavy rain (or fierce rain, as the news described it), slight flooding. A later storm prevented Sam from riding his bicycle home until after nine. I had katorisenko, the anti-mosquito incense, burning because they were out there, active, buzzing around. I saw them. Sam came home just in time to watch the news coverage about the Pope visiting Brazil. A large incense burner was being swung around in a cathedral. He said, “Oh, it’s katorikusenko” — Catholic incense. Heh. Good one.
July 24, 2013
This morning I was up just before six, sat in the living room staring at the amber light on the coffee shop sign down the street. It came on at 6:03, a little late. A revolving flashing light, like an emergency: COFFEE AND CAKE! It’s comforting having an old-fashioned coffee shop in the neighborhood where you can order something and sit for as long as you like, an alternative living room.
I buy bottled coffee for iced coffee every summer for Sam. He likes it sweet and sometimes needs a little container of sugar syrup even with the presweetened kind. The package of sugar syrup containers is very small, only enough for about a week and a half of iced coffees. No wonder I’m always at the supermarket. Always running out of something or other. The reason for such small sizes of everything, I often hear, is that Japanese kitchens are small, no room for storage. Well then, maybe it would be a good idea to have apartments designed by people other than men who don’t cook and have only three pairs of shoes and a few suits. The rest of us have stuff and need places to put it.
I’ve started buying the unsweetened coffee for myself. I don’t do the whole routine of getting a frozen glass and filling it with ice like I do for Sam, I simply swig from the bottle until it looses its coldness and back it goes into the refrigerator. I finish my last bottle of coffee as the bell from the elementary school rings, starting the school day. The coffee is lukewarm, like saliva, and probably mostly backwash by now. I’ll have to go to the market for more coffee later, and this morning I used the last sugar syrup. I look through the newspaper flyers and start a list on the back of one with a blank side. The cicadas are busy, it’s getting hotter and more humid. The amber coffee light flashes.
Donald W. George, The Way of Coffee:
“To enjoy this simple rite, you need first to install yourself in a comfortable coffee shop … . When your iced coffee is placed before you, study it for a while: the dark, rich liquid glistens with ice cubes whose curves and cracks hold and reflect and refract the liquid. Notice the thin silver streaks and peaks in the ice cubes, and the beads of water on the outside of the glass — a cooling sight on a hot day. Then take up the tiny silver pitcher of sugar syrup that has been set just beside the glass and pour it into the part of the glass that is nearest to you. The syrupy stream courses through the coffee like a tiny waterfall, then quickly disperses and dissolves, like the dream of a rain shower on a summer afternoon. After that, pick up the tiny white pitcher of cream that was placed just beyond the silver pitcher and pour it into the middle of the glass. Watch it disperse into countless cream-colored swish and whirls and streams, which hang suspended in the middle of the coffee like a frozen breeze. Notice how the cream is pure white in some parts and a thin brownish hue in others. Notice also that a little trace stays on the surface, spiraling down into the middle of the glass. … Finally, after appreciating this effect to y0ur satisfaction, stir the coffee vigorously with your straw — the ice cubes clinking like wind chimes in a seaside breeze — until the coffee is a uniform sand-colored hue. Then sip the coffee through the straw, tasting the coolness and complex mix of bitter coffer and sweet sugar and cream.”
July 20, 2013
July 19, 2013
July 17, 2013
July 16, 2013
July 15, 2013
After a three-day weekend of barbecuing and beer guzzling, my bloated white belly looks just like this. Soon after we arrived in Sam’s hometown, hot and tired of that blinding sun, a storm rolled over the mountains bringing cool heavy rain and exciting thunder and lightning. Sam had taken his mother to visit some relatives and I was able to open all the doors and windows and enjoy the storm (everything must be shut tight at the first hint of rain, this is a mother-in-law rule, even though I have now seen that even during the heaviest downpour the roof and gravity did their jobs and the rain fell on the ground and didn’t come inside at all, so there). The dog next door was all alone and scared, howling and crying, panting so hard I was concerned. It’s a whiny spoiled dog that I usually tease, but this was pitiful. I called to him from the kitchen window and told him it was okay, mommy and daddy would be home soon. He came as far over as his leash allowed and watched me for the duration of the storm as I comforted him and prepared for the barbecue feast to come. Later, after the storm passed and Sam and his mother came home and the coals were lit and beers opened, it was suspiciously silent next door. Peering through the hedge I saw the dog fast asleep, didn’t even twitch when I tried to tease him.
July 13, 2013
The two neighbor daughters reading on their roof. It rained a little later and they retreated to the no-doubt hot rooms below. I don’t think they have air conditioning either. As our apartment is on the top floor, apparently all the hot air from below comes up here and the sun beats down and heats it up even more. Everything I touch is hot, especially the walls. It’s not so bad outside.
A building is being torn down across the street where the small truck is parked. It’s noisy because the building is made of hard material, steel or something. An abandoned store and the house behind it not too far away were torn down a couple of weeks ago. It was my favorite on this street and I always meant to take a picture. An old coffee shop with an oval window with shelves to display the plastic samples, elaborate bunches of tall weeds, the house completely covered in ivy. Probably built in the early sixties. I sometimes walk past a barber shop from the same era with faded letters on the window and a barely visible large Mickey Mouse. The other day I noticed the window was finally being repainted. With exactly the same vintage Mickey.