From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier

From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan" by Andy Couturier

Pages 264-265

“Sooo..” I begin to ask him, a bit apprehensive, not wanting to be insulting, “Gufu-san, why write all this stuff down?”

Unperturbed, he replies simply, “To make a record. If you don’t record things, you start to lose your sense of the place. It’s also interesting when you talk to other people, or when I want to look up something later. But it’s mostly just to make a record, even if I don’t use the information.”

“Yes, but how do you decide which things to write down?”

“Whatever is possible to write down, I write. How much the bus cost. How much the movie was, or how much the hotel was.”

“But why?” I ask.

“I didn’t have any purpose in doing it.”

No purpose? Perhaps I’ve been too attached to all my own actions being done for a reason. Utilitarianism is so deep in my culture I don’t even notice it. Listening to Gufu it occurs to me that it may not be so good to be always reaching ahead in time. Sitting here with my friend in a farmhouse in the mountains of Japan, I find my way of seeing the world start to deepen and change. All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory. By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next. I think of so many travelers (myself included) zipping from one location to the next, taking photos of scenery or a building. Have I been missing the beautiful in the obvious?

Gufu is showing me--not that he’s trying to show me anything--that the whole world can come alive with these tiny details, ephemera, you might call them. But not just a generalized “world,” but a specific world, an India of a particular time, and, as it happens, an India that is disappearing every day.

Friday, May 27, 2022

This and That- Friday May 27, 2022

 I got up early today.  Checking now on dad; he asks for cranberry juice. I don't have it. I tell him we only have apple juice. He will get cranberry juice the  next time we shop.  He goes on about the cranberry juice but I only have leftover cranberry juice at home and one container of apple juice as a back up.  I don't want to make a special trip today.  It's funny how persistent dad is about his specific diet. He never even had the cranberry juice before I got it for his infections.  Well enough of this grumpy talk.

Helva is at the Freedom Ford place. The bill is very big. But I don't want to die and we will depend on Helva for transportation for the next 8 years at least. 

I have almost done the laundry. It took a awhile. The floors were mopped casually. I am making BLTs for lunch.  The watermelon is cut up and is dessert. I cut up half the watermelon yesterday and now the other half is done. It's useful to eat watermelon as it's low in calories I think. In any case, I am now buying fruit in small amounts as they cost a lot and we sometimes waste the fruit. 

I was supposed to return the library books yesterday but it didn't get done. Grumpiness is not associated with productivity with me. 

Thankfully right now taxes are done or at least I hope they are done without further work. I haven't found out if I did the taxes right. Sometimes I mess up. But so far no information on the status of my work. Older boy has taken over his tax work so that's a relief. 

Older boy is going to Europe soon. I feel nervous about him going but there is nothing I can do to protect him from life.  So I have to suck it up.

This is his first trip abroad. I still remember him as a small baby and I can't believe my small baby is now a man.

I miss my mum. I miss Sue.  I miss so many dead people like my Aunty Daya in England. I miss them and I think about them here so maybe they are not really gone if I can remember them in my heart and in my writing.  You are only dead when you aren't loved.

Sometimes I get tired of looking after dad and Rebecca. It is a burden. Then I know I have to remove myself for a bit from care taking.  I have outsourced most of the work already. It's just that dad and Rebecca don't come without responsibilities such as estate management.  I am not able to outsource the estate management and in addition, I have to work on this stuff over years.  It is stuff that hangs over me like dark clouds.  Yesterday hubby and I went for a walk. This helped me with the grumpiness.

I expect Helva will be done about 1 pm. I will get a Uber lift from Freedom Ford. The Uber thing is new to me. I feel sorry for the mostly POC who do this job to add to their income. I feel sorry for a lot of people.

I am very fortunate to have time to do the work required for the family. I just wish I didn't feel this is all such a PITA.  I wish my parents had got rid of all the junk in their  house instead of leaving it for me to dump. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

@JulieYAli · 1h @AHS_media In any case, every month dad has to pay for portering both ways now. I got a bill this month that is eye popping. I am worried about these bills. If private continuing care costs increase because homecare costs are limited what will this mean for my dad and others?

I took Helva to the Freedom Ford place. Spent ages trying to figure out their billing.Got a Uber and yapped with the Uber driver. Then got home to find out more money is required for Helva in addition to the costs that I am confused about from this morning. Now Helva is to be at the Freedom Ford place until tomorrow as they order parts today. Now I am without a car except for dad's truck that I don't like to drive. 

I am doing the rest of the laundry. It is everywhere in the main room. I don't know how I got so much material to wash. I will soon donate some of these materials.

I haven't yet got to my dad's place. But I did make the pasta sauce for supper so this is one productive thing.

I am yapping with AHS about the portering bill which is escalating. I go on social media to ask for help.  

I am not sure what we can do about these increasing costs. 

My dad is in private continuing care and the costs are increasing. I wrote to about these costs today. I don't know how seniors are expected to pay for downloaded costs. It's a shame we don't have a gov. that funds homecare properly. My poor dad.
Julie Ali
Replying to
When we first got him to the placement homecare paid for his portering down to his meals. He is blind and can't do it by himself. Then for some reason they yanked the portering service by Bayshore. I don't know if it is because there is a specific amount for seniors
In any case, every month dad has to pay for portering both ways now. I got a bill this month that is eye popping. I am worried about these bills. If private continuing care costs increase because homecare costs are limited what will this mean for my dad and others?
Who do we go to when we can't get sufficient homecare for my dad? Do we go to the place? Now that is fired who do citizens yap to about costs for their parents in the private continuing care system?
I am asking you to find out what I can do to increase the home care support for my dad who is blind and is in the private continuing care system in Riverbend. Before homecare paid for portering. Now it is downloaded to him. It's a lot of money.
Usually I write to when I have problems in the continuing care system but now that you have fired her I don't know who to ask for help. I wrote to a manager today. Can you help my dad with portering costs please?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

and then become

 the rain makes a route
to arrive
in the garden
where the peonies survive
the solitude of growth
is accompanied by
the lightning storm
and the burnt sky

that is now clean
 you see the way
there are moments
 in every day

where you fragment
but this need not end
in the lost path
follow the bend

in the path     and hope
for strength to come
for you to mature
and then become

what Sue was
in her short blur
don't be cowardly
instead be her

Simon & Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence (Audio)

and really that is all we are meant to do

 I pulled all the clothes off the line outside as there were ominous rumblings. Now the sofa is full of clothes. I leave the mess there. It's best not to fret about housework even though the floors need a wash badly.  It will get done. It will all get done. But not now. The grumpy day is over and I have had a nap to recover my equanimity. There is hope that tomorrow will be productive. Of course  I am already committed to taking water for Rebecca's BIPAP machine early in the morning and then taking Helva to the Ford place at Freedom Ford for her wheel alignment and the coolant flush which it appears we never did. Cars are just like kids and cost  a ton of cash.  

I will be glad if it rains as the peonies we transplanted were looking dehydrated so the water will help. In fact all the potted plants need wetting and I didn't get around to watering today. I didn't get around to doing much today other than taking Rebecca to her eye appointment and that was it. 


I didn't get to see dad and it was better I didn't go as I was grumpy. A grumpy visit isn't good.

Oh good the water is coming down now. There is a lot of water so this means the plants may survive the summer. In any case, we have transplanted the seedlings so it's survival of the fittest now.

The watermelon didn't get cut. I will do it later. Will have to buy some more groceries tomorrow. I wasn't organized today. Some days are like this. 



when you arrive here
don't expect that you will
somehow finish all you mean to do
in fact have no expectations at all
just expect problems
your life may be full of woe
or you may simply not know
what you are doing
which appears to be
my story in these sorry times
but let me focus now
your mother lived to a good old age
and although she suffered
surely it wasn't all bad?
as for Sue she went early
and her life was sad
but she lived and left behind stories
Rebecca is sick and losing ground
but she has you as her advocate
and well   somehow you manage 
as for your dad he also has a hard time
but he has persevered
and really that is all we are meant to do
so don't quit       and stop whining about your life
these are the challenges of nearly everybody

Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood-Summer Wine


I make a door in this poem

 I make a door in this poem
I can to this           because the imagination 
is a way into the interior

I make the door       and I walk through
and here is the place where I am
competent and capable

I made this place just for myself
when I feel most inadequate and useless
I make a door      to another self     who can do

the work that is required
I tell myself the estate work isn't forever
but is in itself time limited

 I make a door in this poem
I free myself from the problems of others
and I tell myself    here is the place

where you are free of demands
and incessant cries for attention
here you are free of them

With Our Trouble · Gabrielle Papillon

I can do this hellish work

 I write a poem
so that I can keep going
I tell myself
you can do the work of estate administration
I tell myself 
I am brave and capable
and when the poem is completed
I feel this is productive
of course I still have 
the work to finish      but at least
I have cheerleaders
in the poems that tell me
I can do this hellish work
and that there is something satisfying 
in cleaning up a mess
that was the responsibility of my parents
but of course they had no sense
and simply added to the mess
it's what they always did
they didn't fix what was broken
but added to the work
that I have to do   and  they even made it more complicated as well
I am getting tired of being
the fixer upper of messes
I want my life back again
and I don't want dependants
my entire life 
I have looked after them
and now I think it's time for me
to live a life that is free of them
or at least as free
as it can possibly be

George Ezra - Budapest (Official Video)

while I whirl about in space

 and my son tells me
life isn't supposed to be this hard
and I paused to think about this
perhaps I don't need to do everything
but instead do a few things well

I watch my son growing
and I wonder to myself
where did the baby vanish to?
and how did this man arrive?
you know as you hurry through life
you lose things
you lose time where  you could
just be      and don't forget you also lose
the time to be with him    this is to say
that life isn't supposed to be this hard
and instead could be what I wish it to be
which might mean that I could stop filling the hours
and instead  not rush about
as if I had important work to do
when in reality it's not that important
at least not as important
as my son who is growing up
while I whirl about in space
this is the time for me to simply stop
and think about the place where I wish to be  

there are jobs that I don't want to do
and surely there are people I don't want to be with 
and there are duties that should be done
if I ever want to be finished with the estate
but for now I stop whirling and sit to write poetry

The Waifs - Bridal Train

This and That-- Wednesday May 25, 2022

 I got up early. Had 2 toast with cheese.  Coffee. Now going to Rebecca to take her for her eye injection with Avastin at Dr. Ehmann's office. 

Will drop off Helva for wheel alignment and other jobs after hubby gets off work.

Right now the sun is beaming.  I am waiting a bit before I go. Laundry is stiff corpses on the line outside. More laundry inside house. Hopefully will see dad today as I was too tired after doing the house emptying and donations yesterday to go see him.  

I took stuff to Find and to Rebecca's continuing care place.  It is all going to be used by other people. 

I have the pork chops and leftover sausage to use for supper today.  Have got beef defrosting for tomorrow. Trying to use up pantry stocks as well. 

Today will be less busy than yesterday I think. I will take Rebecca to the big M for her treat.  She has other appointments coming up.  I will put her pull ups in Helva now. 

Dropped off pullups. Got Rebecca through eye appointment.  Went to big M. Talked to LPN on phone about the persistent cough I had noticed.  Will have to take distilled water x 6 tomorrow. Too tired today. 

Won't be going to dad. Very tired today. Noted that dad's bills are increasing now. It's troubling. But again I am stuck.

I have to admit I can't take care of him or Rebecca while I am emptying out his house which I won't be able to do today. Tomorrow Helva is in the shop at Freedom Ford so might use the truck to take stuff out of house tomorrow. I don't know. Will see how energetic I am.

I have done several loads of laundry but I am now seriously tired. I have still to go through the books at my dad's house. I have given the first winnowings away but now will have to get serious about the rest. 

I am not a super fast estate cleaner upper.  I will just do it as energy permits. 

We got the pork chops cooked on the BBQ with the leftover sausage. I made a salad. It was good. We had  a short nap. It was helpful.

Now I feel awake enough to do the work that I need to do.

Monday, May 23, 2022

you simply pause

 I went to visit dad as he was not able to start his TV. He had shut off the cable somehow. I put the other remote away from him. I took some blackberries for him as the blueberries weren't available. I got his sweater home to wash. 

I am now washing the sweater. I read Patrick Rothfuss's book "The Slow Regard of Silent Things. It's an odd one. But I like odd. Its so much nicer to read odd than ordinary. 

I will read his other books because he is odd. Some of them are on CDs so I will have to find a CD player. Maybe I can play his stories while I empty dad's house. It will be company on the long road to empty.

I had BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and pie that hubby thoughtfully got for me. I have a good husband.

I haven't done much today but I did read a lot. It was sort of a pause day.  
and when you expect to be frayed
you simply pause
you do nothing too ambitious
and you wait
the frayed ends mend themselves
and the heart itself is repaired
the garden teaches you
what is old is replaced
its a fact of life
that we aren't to grieve
but simply continue
one way or another   we do it
mending yourself
is all about understanding
we aren't machinery
that we are indeed friable
 and so knowing this 
we do what we can to heal
we strip away the excess
and retain the essential
we understand that 
things don't define us
nor do they add to our lives
but instead bury us
and reading that
stuff is just stuff
I can peel away the things
that I carry

Hallelujah - Kirchliche Trauung - Live gesungen von JULIETTE / #triolux

I don't know the way

 in the storeroom of passion
by the door where we place
the warnings of trouble
and the myths of our race

I followed tradition
until it no longer felt
reasonable to do so
and then I raised a small welt
I put down the scar
and gouged the faint line
I remembered the story
and it's sharp decline
but what does this mean?
I can't really say
a poem is brittle 
and has it's own way
in the storeroom of passion
are the lines that collect 
I inspect them all daily
 and decide which ones to reject
the ones that I use
might gather the rest
and be nucleus around which
the poem is dressed
I don't know the way
but it's better to see
only after making
the poetic tree 

and is instead

 and as I think about the future
I wonder where the goals went to
I see the light against the window
delivering a pithy sentence 
of impermanence
and I watch my father wither
as the days crumble into night
and the silver tarnishes
all things become disposable in the end 

oh you who understand grief
explain to me this business
of day after day            waiting to empty
explain how years after a day with Sue
I can still remember her face
and the body on the hospital bed
tell me how to forget
I can't stay on the island of grief
without withering as well 
or is this meant to be recursive cycle?
I can't understand
aren't we supposed to be hardening 
into nothingness?
or is grief a permanent sentence
where you are jailed for not being perfect?
I tell you these things 
so you might be different 
here is the bright day where I have woken up
to coffee and books     my mind is untangled 
after sleeping
and I see the future isn't as big as I imagined
and is instead      full of losses that I never dreamed of
and now I sit in the writing room anticipating
a pared down future that might be all about    less and less

The Waifs - Bridal Train

Sunday, May 22, 2022

This and That --Sunday May 22, 2022

 I started the day with toast and coffee. Then I took down the poor laundry. The laundry has been waiting for rescue for 2 weeks. The clothes were annoyed. They rumbled discontentedly as I put them in the hamper. I took younger boy's clothes to him and stuffed them in the luggage bag. He is going back to Calgary this weekend. 

I also left the rest of the clothes in the hamper waiting for the bugs to defrost and zoom around. 

Once the bugs are detached from the clothes I will put them away.

I wrote poems while I waited for bugs to detach. 

It is sunny out. We will go and remove potted plants from their nursery and rehouse them soon. It's best to take time to do this as we are both old and our bodies are hurting from yesterday's work in the garden. 

Life is like a wheel pressing down on you. Bodies begin to protest like the clothes left on the line for 2 weeks. I begin to wonder when the end will come. Will I die in a car accident? Will it be in a hospital bed like Sue? What will the end be like? 

I put these thoughts before me and accept temporary.  Then I look at some poems I had written before I got so old. They were OK. But nothing special.  I look back on a goals list I made as a twenty three old and it's surprising but I have met some of my goals 

I will take some of my old poems and rehouse them in little chap books that I will make for myself. It's good to have new goals.  It's good to be happy with how little I have accomplished. It's good to have survived while Sue died early and painfully.  A good death was not had by her or by mum. A good death may not be possible for most of us. Let me accept this and still continue.

Outside the sun is hosing down the garden with bright white rivers of light.

There is a surge of green.  I wonder if we ever had summer. I will go make another cup of coffee. I will cheer up.

will help grief pass

 I am sure  the summer with it's slippers
will step lightly over the grass
and that the words I sew here
over the wound   will help grief pass

I am sure that time is money
and that time is also space
to learn how to be     and to observe the events
that like the clouds in the sky     seem to race

I am sure that thinking hard
is useful practice for the day
when I lie in a hospital bed
and wait for me to go away

I am sure that writing itself
is insight   and grace for the past
I wait for the future that is coming
and I hope the gains will last 

perhaps grief is now a luxury

 if you see me writing 
these poems
you might think these are ways
to escape from pain

you might think that why not instead
take down the laundry on the line
or  note that     the silver moon
that had hooked itself

on the night bed last night    is  now missing?
perhaps grief is now a luxury
that is only enjoyed
by those who have a name

I ignore everyone and I write
out the story of my sister
how she was brave and uncomplaining
how I miss her calm presence

how I wish I had been kinder
while she suffered for years
I don't know what happened to me
but I have become hard with the events

that have happened to my family
every time I write a poem
tears flow          and I think
surely life isn't supposed to be like this?

surely there is a better way
to be temporary?
I haven't found the way out yet
of the maze of grief and regret

but each poem extracts the pain
that is bottled inside of me 
I trust one day I can pick up a piece
of Sue           in her home and pack it away

without crying       I hope for this one day
that I might be detached from the things
she left behind as evidence
of her bright and shining spirit that endures 

and now I don't believe / in a cure for cancer

 I left you behind
because I knew
we were all temporary
and grief won't return you to me
but today I found 
your brown bandana 
and I wore it about my head
as if it were something you left behind
to remind me to live my life

but the bandana isn't you
and I had to stop crying
because life isn't about the dying
but the living
here is a May day
where you are far away
in the dirt where you now live
and I can't speak to you
but I send you this message

I haven't forgotten you
or our mother 
death has silenced you 
but I am still here speaking your name
I make a poem 
to crystallize your life
your art is all about your home
and the things you collected remind me
that I have too many stories

you died fighting for your life
I wish you could have survived
metastatic breast cancer
but this wasn't possible
and now I don't believe 
in a cure for cancer
those fairy tales won't be believed     ever again
     any longer by me because
I have seen your body in the hospital bed
 I haven't forgotten you   I say your name in this poem  Sue

The Waifs - Bridal Train

Saturday, May 21, 2022

you might say

 and I took
the time    to garden
and enjoy my time
with the sun slipping 
off the noose of the clouds
to beam about the world
you might say 
that I was unproductive
and then I yapped on social media
as if I knew anything

and the day wears out 
it's tires to rest a while
the solitude of silence
is here again
the sons grow up
and I get older
you understand the future
is all about attrition
but today was different

I forgot the work ahead
and the care-taking duties
I simply dug in the garden
I spread the compost about the land
I watched the peonies push up their fists
and the grass itself ripped off her brown face
to become green again
you must understand
that these are miracles     that are very ordinary 

I took the time today
to feel my life
I left the care-taking job to my brother
I spent the day with my husband
and son
I saw the sun beat her golden wings
and take off in the blue sky
I saw the dead poppies rise again

The Waifs - Bridal Train

Friday, May 20, 2022

you mustn't think of the losses

 It is best to continually write poems paring and paring the apple of thought to succinct core.  It's useful to learn obedience to scarcity of language and to eat the core of language, seeds and all. 

Inside you a tree will grow and spread out branches while outside you language forests are cut down day after day and piles of lumber created. In the end you may get enough wood to build a house of thought. Or not.

In any case, writing simply and beautifully takes development of the axe and the axe wielder.  It takes time. You have to become. You can't simply write beautifully. You have to spend time writing about what matters to you which may be the issues you deal with in your life. In thinking about these issues you may come to some understanding of yourself and how you deal with problems.  Ultimately out of this sort of engagement you may learn to communicate sparsely.  Or not.

If you write forests of words and wander about in these forests lost and confused as I do sometimes it's useful to stop getting lost and simply find a map to follow.  I use other poets as my maps. I read their poems.  I imitate their voices which are not my voices. But imitation is productive still because you are trying out different costumes in the parade of poetry.

in the garden
the allium are bustling about
growing up
as are the iris

you mustn't think of the losses
the peonies that aren't rising up red fists
or the silver laces of the poppies   pink and white
that are torn and discarded

there are losses everywhere
no reason to think of this as dispiriting
you simply pick up the shovel
compost the losses and begin again

Sue's garden waits for me to rescue it
in tidy pots she has hopefully left a legacy of love
I will dig up the pots    I will plant her inheritance
my dead garden will be Sue's garden of life