We should all be like this…

The Chatter Blog

I should be…home scrubbing basement walls.  The first couple of stages of remodel are done.  Now we’re getting our new floors next week.   Before that I am suppose to scrub the walls and paint them with Dry Lock paint.  I don’t even know what that is.  I’m just taking my brother’s word for it that I have to do it.  Not that I want my brothers to think they can tell me what to do.  They can’t.  They aren’t the boss of me.  So I should be doing this before our new floors get here.

But I’m not.

Since starting to work 10 hour days and having Wednesdays off I should use today to clean the house.  Because it is filthy.  If I had any desire to show you how filthy I would take pictures.  But I’m too  lazy busy.  I should be dusting, sweeping, scrubbing bathroom stuff.

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“5th Place? Pumpkin Head!”


The kindness continues to flow from Hiroshima.  As written in a prior short story, “An Atomic Spark from a 1937 Yearbook“, Ms. Kanetou was credited with locating the last copy of my dad’s 1937 high school yearbook.  It was amazing she found that copy as Dad’s cherished high school and the city itself was obliterated on August 6, 1945.

While Dad is suffering from dementia, he cheerfully recalled his high school track days in detail while looking through his yearbook…  He went so far as to say he won 1st and 2nd places at track and field events.  Needless to say, I was a bit leery given his status.

Well, dumbfounded is the best word in this case.  Ms. Kanetou – after learning of Dad’s recollections of his competitions – actually tracked down (yes, a pun) records of the track events from 1936.  Such kindness and devotion is just phenomenal. They are below; since I know you all can read Japanese, my Dad’s name is above the red arrows (金本).

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Hiroshima Track and Field results from 1936. (I did miss Dad placing 2nd in a 800 meter relay race.)
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Hiroshima Track and Field results from 1936.

Yes, he DID take 1st and 2nd places in the triple-jump, broad jump, 100 meter dash and the 800 meter relay! He did place lower in what I think are more regional competitions but its clear he was quite an athlete.

But when I showed him these reports, his comment was, “5th place?  Did I do that bad?  I don’t remember that.  Pumpkin head!”

金籐様、塚本様、二人のお蔭様で父はとてもハッピーでした。有難う御座いました。


Ahmmm… For those who prefer Park Avenue…like me.

From a Montana Front Porch

Punctuality is not my strong point. Memory is not my strong point either. That is why, two months after the fact, I am finally going to share with you my kids’ first branding experience. Hey, better late than never right?

On this ranch, they go about the business of ‘marking the cattle as their own’ a little differently than most. When you think branding you probably think fire, roping, and wrestling the little buggers to the ground. And for a small group of calves here, that’s how it goes. For the big bunch though, they have a much faster more efficient way of getting the job done. This ranch doesn’t have a huge crew working for them. It’s the two owners, father and son, and their two hired hands. That would be Jason.

They might hire another guy for a couple of days to help brand, but for the most part…

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Upside Down Apple Pie from Scratch


To help my friend’s mother celebrate her 90th birthday tomorrow, my little Brooke and I threw together a homemade Upside Down Apple Pie from scratch…  Darned if it doesn’t smell GOOOOD…  Not bad for an old mechanic and a young lady, eh?  Recipe courtesy of my good bud, Cathy Thomas (http://cathythomascooks.com/2012/06/28/july-4th-upside-down-treats-blueberries-plums-nectarines-and-apples/):

Now who knows how to keep little hands off the darn thing until tomorrow?

Chocolate Truffles by a Former Mechanic


My homemade chocolate truffles are popular with the gals.  Unfortunately, they’re pretty popular with some of my buds, too.  Oh well.

Following the well explained recipe in my cooking bible, Cook’s Illustrated, I made a batch to take to a couple of my friend’s 4th of July block parties.  Frank Sinatra would’ve been jealous with all the attention I got from the ladies.

The ganache is the secret.
Rolling the ganache into balls is the tough part.
My knife skills are non-existent. But being a former mechanic, I cheat. The “hammer when in doubt” approach always prevails.

Genes – A Decoder Key to the Past


Jeans are really made by Calvin Klein.  Tight.  Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re lucky), they follow your body lines.   A deviation from your body lines is not possible.

Oops.  Old age.  Genes is the topic.  Duh.  Genes follow your (family) lines.  Deviation is not possible.

There’s something about genetics that is pure fascination.  People will like you because of your genes.  People will hate you because of your genes.  Regardless, you got them from somebody from up the line.

There is an orchestration in genetics which is more difficult to discern as generations pass.  But genes don’t conk out.  Genes are the only unbroken thread that weaves back and forth through all those cemeteries – or urns in my family’s case.

My grandmother Ikuyo Shibayama (on my mother’s side) was born in 1903; her parents were of samurai heritage.  Believe me, my mother drilled that into my head.  Brainwashing was very effective.

Around 1911, it was fortunate my grandmother had a portrait taken of her taken in Kanagawa, Japan.  She was about eight or nine years old and is standing on the left.

Grandmother Ikuyo at about nine years of age, circa 1911, standing on left.

Just about 100 years later, I took this snap of my littlest daughter Brooke when she was a flower girl at my second cousin’s wedding in 2010.  Brooke was eight years old.  Born in 2003.  Exactly 100 years after my Grandmother.  Genetics?  What do you think?

My daughter Brooke at eight years of age; taken in 2010.

Perhaps Calvin Klein was around a hundred years ago.

Short Stories about World War II. One war. Two Countries. One Family