June 2011 Archives


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A few weeks back, a friend connected me to his agent for a specific hoop-related project (which hasn't come together yet) and now the agency has been contacting me about other jobs.

I've been in Tokyo for 13 years and have never once been to a modeling audition or even considered myself modelling material. But it does take all kinds, so why not? I agreed to do an audition, just because I could.

I met the agent and another women who was auditioning at the train station and we walked in the sweltering heat about 20 minutes to the venue. I noticed a strong reticence to do anything without the agent present  - including entering the building or following the client's instructions. Models were spoken to directly, but they all turned to their agent for permission to act on the information. It was odd.

Our agent, however, had to go get the next group of people, so he left us to fend for ourselves and told us we were free to leave when we were finished. Fine with me.

A few minutes passed in the waiting area. More people came in. Most of them knew each other, though they were from different agencies. I guess the Tokyo gaijin modeling population isn't that big. While I was there, there were two middle aged Russian ladies, a leggy blond teen in a huge hat, a tiny red dress and very high heels, and a trio of brown skinned men.

I was called upstairs into the audition room, where six client staff waited for me. I posed for the camera and jumped on cue, twice. I laughed because it was fun. The clients laughed. There was lots of "very good, very good" as they showed me the last still on the monitor. I was about to exit when someone asked me about my hoop (I was planning to practice in the park after the audition). So I unfurled it, spun it up, jumped through and enjoyed myself for about 20 seconds. On an agency harddrive somewhere, there are a few dorky photos of me hooping, I suspect.

I hold no expectations about getting this job, which would be a national ad campaign, but it was a fun new experience. I am glad that I did it, just because I could.

Windy Day Bubbles


Today is hot and gusty, perfect for enjoying the beauty and fun of soap bubbles. I stuck a huge wand into the breeze and this is what happened. Visualizations of the wind, irregular streams buffeted into single bubbles and carried high into the sky.

Solstice Sketching

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This morning was sunny for the first time in what feels like a month. And today is the solstice. What a precious gift of a day.

I celebrated by going to the park to hoop (and skip rope and juggle). I intended to be gentle to my recovering shoulder, but I'm not sure how one hoops gently. I splashed out with the first spin and hooped with great abandon and joy. It felt wonderful to be dancing and moving. After two hours, my shoulder was throbbing and I couldn't ignore it any longer. I came home and nursed it with some ice and medicine.


I sat on the sofa and drew this sketch of the living room while my anti-inflammatory drugs took effect. Now my shoulder doesn't hurt so much and I am trying very hard to resist the temptation to go out to play again in this longest of sunny days. I know I need to give myself time to heal, but I feel like a thwarted toddler. Want more outside now!

Happy midsummer.


Yoga may have the appearance of a gentle sport, but don't be fooled. I managed to massively overstretch my rotator cuff in a vicious Thread the Needle last month and keep reinjuring it doing Chaturanga.

So, having bollocksed it up again yesterday morning, I decided to seek medical attention at my favorite sports clinic where the charming old doctors spend more time unearthing their English than they do diagnosing me. It seems to work like this: sensei mispronounces my name, ask me where I am from and how long I've been here; I smile and chitchat politely and tell them what hurts, how I did it, and what I think the injury probably is. Next, they nod and say "Yes, yes. What would you like me to do for you?" and then I prescribe my own course of therapy. X-ray, painkillers...they deal it out just the way I want. So you can see why this is my clinic of choice.


Today I got a bonus surprise along with my Loxonin. Electroshock physiotherapy!

It was fun and it seems to have helped some. The technician cupped two vacuum things onto my shoulder and turned the knob until I said "Oh!" then left me for ten minutes. The sensation was sort of buzzy and twitchy depending where on the sweep the frequency was. I watched my arm jerk around a little and moved my shoulder around to see if there was any effect. It didn't hurt and it was less intense than going hip deep in the electric bath in the local sento.

This is the Ito ES=520 machine that I was hooked up to. My course of treatment is on the right - someone behind a curtain was also connected and getting a more serious 49 volt jolt as you can see on the left. She also got a rubbing of metholated cream at the end and I didn't.  However, I did get an invitation to return at any time for more treatment if the pain continues. Which I will, if it does.

P.S. The cost for the consult, 5 days' worth of NSAID in two forms (pills and tape) and the electrotherapy was 1,550 yen (about $19). 1,000 yen less than my yoga class.

Chili-roasted Mushrooms (plus bonus recipe)

I made this as part of a tapas spread but it would be a lovely side dish or a rich and flavourful topping for salad, grilled vegetables or steaks. For the chili oil, I used a Japanese rayu with roasted garlic and chilli flakes in it that infused the oil with unbeatable flavour, but if you don't have rayu in your pantry any chili oil will work or make your own by heating oil with a variety of dried chillis and garlic then allowing it to cool. The "wild" mushrooms I used are all typical Japanese ones:maitake, shimeji and buttons; any mix you like will work.

Chili-Roasted Mushrooms
serves 4 as tapas

700 g "wild" mushrooms, sliced/separated into bite-size bits
2 T red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2-3 T olive oil
2-3 T chili oil

Toss the mushrooms, onion & garlic and olive oil. Spread the mushrooms ina thin layer on a baking pan and roast for about 10 minutes at 180C. Turn/stir the mushrooms and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. At this point they will be releasing their juices and starting to shrink in volume. Toss with chili oil and roast another 5 minutes. Remove from oven; serve warm or at room temperature.

Spiced Almonds
serves 4 as tapas

200 g almonds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 T olive oil

Mix together the spices. Heat the olive oil in a fry pan, add the almonds and stir to coat in oil. When you can smell the almonds, turn off the heat and coat with the spice mixture. Allow to cool.

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