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'Hyakunin Issho'
Newsletter for fans of David Bull's printmaking activities
Issue #72 - Summer 2008
Contents of this Issue:

This newsletter is nominally supposed to be about my printmaking work and related matters, but now and then something comes up that is important enough to push David off the front page. As you can see, this is one such issue!

Over the past few years my two daughters have been vying to see who can present me with the biggest news items. Elder daughter Himi has been 'winning' that contest hands down recently, what with getting married, and then producing two children in quick succession!

But Fumi hasn't been sitting still; she has been quietly working away in the background, and one day this spring, stepped forward in cap and gown to claim her reward - a degree from the school of business administration at the University of British Columbia.

Finally, we have somebody in the family with some real business knowledge! (But I wonder if I'll be able to afford her consulting fees!)

Family News

Now that we've covered the biggest bit of 'family news' back on the front page, let's pick up the rest of the pieces ...

Because of the timing of Fumi's graduation ceremony, our annual family get-together was very early this year. In mid-May I flew over to Vancouver from Tokyo, while brother Simon came the other way from his home in Germany.

Aside from the excitement of the graduation, focus of our attention was of course new grandson Andrei. I don't have any photos of me holding him, because neither of his great-grandparents would let go!

Andrei's arrival followed his brother Alex's by only 18 months, so Himi really has her hands full with those two. The next few years are going to be very busy for her, but she seems to have plenty of energy for the job. She and I spent a day in the park together with the two little guys, and it made me feel quite some regret to be living so far away, and thus unable to do that more often ...

Uncle Simon provided a big treat for the family by showing up with a Wii - the wonderful new computer game system. He said that he had bought it so that grandad and grandma would be able to get more exercise from now on, but honestly speaking, he never gave them a chance to get near it. He himself must have lost a half-dozen pounds 'playing tennis' in their living room during the visit.

Simon's contributions weren't all electronic though - he really had his 'uncle' thinking cap on this year, and also brought along a kit for making giant bubbles out in the back yard. As you can see, this too was a big hit!

As for the rest of our time together, it was the usual mix of playing on the beach, taking walks, exploring Vancouver restaurants, and just sitting around chatting.

Now that we're all back home, we're maintaining good contact by using our computer video-telephone systems. Each time I turn on my computer, I eagerly check the 'buddy list' to see who's available at the moment. Given how well scattered around the planet's time-zones we are, no matter what time of day it is, there's nearly always somebody online!

And soon ... it'll be time to start planning the next visit ...

Studio Diary

The photo on the right appeared in this Hyakunin Issho newsletter four years ago, back in the summer of 2004. At that time I wrote, "This coming winter should be much more comfortable for me; finally, after living in Tokyo for 18 years, I will have at least one room where I can sit without shivering!"

What a joke! Although the insulation in the four walls and subfloor were thus finished, I hadn't realized that the next step - insulating the ceiling - would still be underway four years later. And with only 5 of the 6 areas done, the room has still been bitterly cold every day of every winter since then. Why has it taken so long to move forward?

Well, part of the problem has of course been the difficulty of 'stealing' time from the printmaking work, but honestly speaking, I don't think that's really the answer. The real reason has more to do with my silly 'perfectionism'. I really want to do a good job on this room, as I will be working here for many years to come, but I just haven't able to settle on the 'best' way to proceed. I considered this method and that method; looked at these materials and those materials, and in the end, just kept postponing it.

Finally though, in the 'free' week that I had available between finishing one print and leaving for the trip to Canada, I realized that my indecision was no longer justifiable, and finally managed to push myself into action. Putting aside the question of whether or not it was the 'best' choice, I settled on an insulation system, bought some supplies, and got to work. I wasn't able to finish the entire job within that week before the trip, but 'broke the back' of the job, and the rest should now be easy. As long as I can maintain my 'get at it!' mood, it looks like I might actually have a warm room to work in during this coming winter

One thing that had been holding me back was the difficulty of drilling up over my head into the concrete ceiling to anchor the framing members for the insulation, but one of my neighbours - a man who works in the construction trades - taught me about a very strong concrete bonding agent that makes it possible to use glue for that job.

So there's where things stand at the moment - the framing members are all strongly glued into position, one test piece of insulation is in place, and all that's left to do is to tack the rest of them up, cover it all with a tight vapour barrier, and then put some finishing material on top.

Anybody taking bets on when the next installment of this saga will appear?

Book News

On the previous page I described my endless procrastination with the studio construction; luckily for me when it comes to actual 'work', I'm able to 'keep at it'! Here we are with two brand new books coming off the press this summer!

There is one in each language - English and Japanese. The English book is Volume 5 in my ongoing 'A Story A Week' collection: the 26 episodes written during the first half of this year.

The Japanese volume - Exotic Shinjuku - is a collection of essays written 'at random' over the past ten years or so, and which originally appeared here in this 'Hyakunin Issho' newsletter.

The books are 900 yen each, and are available through order forms on my websites, or by writing to me.

Himi's Business

With two very young little boys around the house, there seems to be no way for daughter Himi to be able to get out to work to help support her family, as seems necessary these days, but she has come up with a solution to this 'dilemma' - she has opened an internet 'shop' featuring handmade items of her own design!

Recycling fabrics from discarded kimono and obi, she is making purses, bags, and other items. Working mostly during those times when her two boys are asleep, she has created a very attractive line of items, and has started to develop a clientele for these asian-influenced accessories.

Please visit her shop and have a look at some of the items!

Sadako's Corner

'Things Come Around'

Living long will bring many interesting experiences. Seeing for oneself the changes in the world, of course the development of one's own family, and the alteration in one's own sense of values, world view, and view of life in general is very interesting.

One of my hobbies is gardening - that sounds good - but reality is a bit different. I have a relatively large yard (by Japanese standards) and tried to change my point of view, in order not to be constantly feeling that such things as weeding are burdens.

I decided to 'play' in my yard and although I enlisted the assistance of a professional gardener for such jobs as moving a few trees and building some flower beds, most of the manual work has been done by myself. I sometimes came across buried foundations of the old house that was here long ago, and I could never have come this far without the help of my heavy mattock!

David assisted with laying pathways made from railroad ties and the brick patios. For the first time in my life I had the experience of driving a truck, when we brought those supplies from the do-it-yourself shop. A rain barrel that Dave rigged up to the roof drainage system covers nearly all of the water requirements all year round. As readers can well imagine though, his 'weak point' is that he resists doing less than perfect work, but at least the things he builds are built properly!

When this all started, I had fun collecting all sorts of plants, and trying to work out how best to fit them into the garden. But as time went by, I lost interest in those plants which seemed unhappy and fragile, and found myself more attracted to the healthy or native plants. And then, my interest moved more towards vegetables - food for the stomach rather than the eye!

I need space for these - and the target for the sacrifice was the lawn that soaked up most of sunlight in my yard. But there was a problem that made me reluctant to do that. David. No sooner does he arrive in the garden then he tosses away his sandals and begins prancing around the lawn. "Japanese grass is pretty wiry ...," he has said to me, but he's still happy playing on the 'green' space. No sooner had I mentioned my plan than his face fell ...

But since then, I have been encouraged in my plan by such factors as repeated food scandals, and the ever increasing costs brought about by rising oil prices. So I have come to the conclusion that it is time to disregard the opinions of 'that child' and get to work! But a funny thing happened. A memory came into my mind while I was soaked in sweat and pushing the turf cutter with my foot deep into the soil. A memory of my mother, when she was just about the age I am now, doing exactly the same thing: cutting away lawn to make space for vegetables.

"Oh, no mom! Why on earth have you destroyed the beautiful green and created this muddy field!"


'Health' News ...

The snapshot on the left was taken during the Gallery Talk at the previous exhibition. Although Dave certainly has too much hair in his eyes, it's a bit doubtful that he is carrying 'too much' of anything else.

But when he visited a local clinic a couple of weeks ago, following the suggestion of the city office urging everybody to have regular health checkups, he got a bit of a shock. The nurse measured his waist, and then informed him that - at 86 centimetres - he is considered to be in the 'overweight' group.

What's this about? Here's a quote from information on the new government policy: "If the citizen measures more than the national guidelines (85 cm (33 1/2 inches) for males, and 90 cm (35 1/2 inches) for females), he or she is subjected to strict dietary guidance and, if that doesn't produce the desired cutback, is forced to endure required diet and nutritional re-education."

Here's a closeup of his waist during that same Gallery Talk! It's obvious that like many people nowadays, he needs to punch a new hole in his belt.

'Dietary guidance?' Eat, eat, eat!