When zen is knot

I generally wash the dishes, my wife cooks, as generally we prefer her cooking to mine.

We do not use a dishwasher— we have never used it, it just takes up space and probably if (or when) we sell the house we will have replace it just to sell it.

I think  the dishwasher was installed about 2004 when we did remodeling in the kitchen. We enjoy using hand made pottery for eating and I enjoy washing the pottery, by hand of course, that is one of the  benefits of using it.

Our dish drainer from last night, I personally enjoy Nihon Rokkoyo (日本六古窯), my own reference to the “Japanese folk kilns“ although  technically means the six  famous old kilns. Below you can see bizen, ki-seto,  shino,  mashiko, kyoyaki,  a couple small mass production cups, and a coffee mug by Gary Holt of Berkeley.  

I like to drink sake with my meal,  lower right is a  Bizen tokkuri, a container  used  between the larger original sake bottle and the individual guinomi to  serve sake at a table.


This is a bizen hidasuki  guinomi, a “one gulp” cup used for sake, its generally larger than an ochoko (also used for sake) —perhaps better put,  the ochoko is smaller than the guinomi which come in  a variety of different sizes where ochoko are generally about the  same size.

Bizen is thrown, dried, placed in the kiln with burning wood  which results in an  ash glaze. It holds liquid. To fire hidasuki  the pieces are wrapped in a twine like cord which burns  off and the darker color is left,  perhaps at one time different pieces were tied together for some functional reason when positioned in the kiln.


A bizen tokkuri, the darker area is gomma.  This one is just the right size for me with enough sake to last for meal. I found it one afternoon in a second hand store along Telegraph in Temescal— $2! It makes a sound of a running  brook —tok-tok-tok—when it pours.


My wife is from a small town near Seto and Mini, an area  known for a variety of pottery referred to as Seto-yaki or Mino-yaki, and in a larger context, seto-mono may be use to mean pottery in general or non kyo-yaki (kyoto style pottery).

Oribe is a  well known Seto-Mino style, named after famous tea master and samurai Oribe Furuta (1544-1615).  There are different styles of Oribe, but perhaps the most common will  be using  this light tan background, flowing green and brown brush  drawing. You can tell oribe whether done yesterday or 400 years ago, and yet most potters finds some way to express themselves.


A Seto-guro guinomi, for me its just the right size when I drink with my evening meal. Guro means black.  While firing ki-seto (yellow seto) they made some small pots  to be placed near the entrance and take-out at various times to measure the work of the firing,  I guess they thrust the pot in a container of water and seto-guro resulted.

Like when seeing a photo one thinks “What is is?” when drinking sake from a guinomi the mouth seeks to find the special place to drink.  Did the potter have in mind  a certain place to put the lips when sipping , or the fingers when picking it up?

Sometimes there is only one place to place the mouth,  other times there may be two or three,  some say to create  a great guinomi the potter needs to enjoy drinking sake.


Another Berkeley potter, Bill Creitz, ( 1938-2015),  when I get up in the morning this cup is for first coffee — or I have another one, same shape but different colors. Its tall,  thin and keeps the coffee warm for a longer time.


In the afternoon I use this cup by Gary Holt, its in the dish drainer image, lower right. At a sale at his pottery this was the one  I liked, only thing  he was using it for his coffee,  but OK,  he finished off the coffee, washed it out,  wrapped it up and I have enjoyed it  for many years.


Gary Holt and wife ( I believe her name is Jun) in his Berkeley pottery on a  bi-annual sale weekend.


When I bought the bizen tokkuri  at the Temescal  second hand store, I also bought this cup  for $1. At bed time   I mix about an ounce of “white two-buck chuck” ($2.99 now)  with about 3-4 ounces of clear diet soda to be placed  on the small chest near my bed, sometimes I wake at night and drink a little.


I googled myself/images, the  image  of the elderly woman walking and man sitting was made early one morning  in Albuquerque, down the street from a place which offered free breakfast for people.

Too early to be open,  people were lined up along the building  down the sidewalk  to the corner,  while others arriving later, were in random places overflowing along the corner streets, many unable to stand in one place were just walking around, trying to run out the minutes until breakfast.

She is (was, its 25 years ago) elderly, I  saw her, picked up the camera and shot as I wondered about my own mother who was fortunate she and my father in their last years did not have to figure out how to waste 30 minutes of their lives waiting for a free meal.


After my father’s passing, she had a stroke, suffered extensive memory damage and developed expressive aphasia. For over 3 years we never had a real verbal communication again.


She had a hip operation and needed 8 weeks of  physical therapy to relearn to walk.


Often after lunch we would sit in her room, in the sunlight, she might talk, while usually the individual  words made sense, the sentences did not.

She was very bright, had a extensive vocabulary  and did not suffer fools. Pre stroke she had a healthy ego, she understood that there were times to express her views and times not to, but the stroke took away  that self-control and in the living facility she had  no hesitation expressing  herself when others did not meet her standards.

Her extensive command of the english language generally meant that most people did not immediately get the insult. To ease matters a little many of the CNAs were immigrants for whom english was not a first language so generally they just behaved professionally,  but she could make some unkind, subtle and piercing  comments, even with a stroke and memory loss.

For a period she was angry because she decided that other residents of the memory care facility were actually employees, and would approach them, face to face  and unkindly accuse them of shirking their employment responsibilities, sometime “firing them,” all in sentences a bit confusing but still requiring  an extensive vocabulary.

One day I put the sign ,

IMPORTANT, Do not say unkind things to other people. You will hurt their feelings.


I found this image almost 40 years ago in a second handstore, Over the years it interested me so much that  I kept in a folder so it would not get damaged. You can date it by the style of  the ties.

Is a magnificent image, I do not have any idea who they are, where they are, but they are people together  with interesting faces and body gestures celebrating what seems to be a birthday party. So many interesting things to wonder when seeing this image,  The faces are all easily see, except for one person only showing a bit of the hair and shirt or blouse. Is that person hiding,or the photographer missed it?

Especially I like the face of the woman directly in the middle—she has an expression of  mother watching her child in a race focused on concern for the child’s feelings if the child were to to fail to  make it to the end.


But what is it? why bother?,  Is it  more important  to experience the feeling of the the shapes and colors, or figure out its a photograph of my crotch .


Almost everyday I walk  four miles along Alameda Creek,  I try to do it in an hour— it used to take 50 minutes ten years  ago or should it be 12 years ago—   but at 74 it seems to take longer every day. My only excuse is that over the past 12 years  I have met so many people that  on the levee that I often stop and chat.


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