Ume chutney

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With so many plums on hand, I've gotten creative. There's only so much jam you can make and give away when everyone else is also making it. It's sort of like "zucchini season" in Pennsylvania when everyone is overwhelmed with their harvest.

This is an adaptation of a British chutney recipe from Saveur. I localised it to use ingredients we can get here in Japan.

Ume chutney
makes about 4 cups

1.3 kg ume
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (tubinado/cane)
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup raisins
1 onion sliced thin
2 large cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1-2" fresh ginger, mined
1 Tbsp black mustard seed
1 tsp peppercorns
6 whole dried chilis
1 Tbsp salt

Wash the ume and discard any with holes that show the fauna have been nibbling. Count the ume (optional but you'll be grateful for this later) Boil the ume until the skins break and the fruit is a little soft - this shaves hours off the total cooking time. Drain the water and set aside.

In a large pan, bring the vinegar and two sugars to a simmer. When the sugar is dissolved, add everything except the plums. Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the plums.

Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring to avoid sticking.

When the pits are obviously detatched from the fruit, fish them out with tongs or however you feel like doing it. When your pit count equals the ume count, from when you washed them, you can be confident you got them all.

Put the pits in a strainer and smush the pulp back into the pot. Continue to simmer until the chuntey is a camelised brown and a soft channel forms when you run a spoon through the mixture.

Transfer to sterilised jars, nad process them in a water bath in the standard canning procedure. Sealed jars should last a year unrefridgerated. Unsealed jars, about a month in the fridge.

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Ume-zing spiced plum jam

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All the ume trees in our yard are producing plums like mad this year. We made ume-shu and with the remainder of the first harvest I cooked up this jam. It's really good. I'll be making some more because we're harvesting plums every other day now.

Ume-zing spiced plum jam
makes about 2 cups

1 kg ume
500 g sugar
1.5 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace

  1. Wash the ume and discard any with holes where bugs and birds have nibbled
  2. Boil ume in a large pot until the skins split. Drain.
  3. Add sugar and spices
  4. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and pits are mostly separated from the flesh
  5. Remove from heat and strain the pits and skins out
  6. Bring the jam to about 100C, just boiling (it will set at 102C)
  7. Transfer to sterile jars.

Consume with a month or so, or process the jars in the traditional canning method.

Tink's many jobs

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Months ago in Bangalore, my friend and colleague, Karthik, asked me about what sorts of jobs I've had. I started recounting them. it was a fun exercise in memory and I recalled all sorts of work adventures. I was sure I didn't remember everything so after our conversation, I made a list. It started out sort of chronological, but it isn't really in any order by the end. Anyway, there are fifty eight things I've been paid to do since I started working at 15.

  1. Babysitter

  2. Lifeguard

  3. Aerobics instructor

  4. Camp program assistant

  5. Tutor

  6. Video rental clerk

  7. Bartender

  8. Photocopier

  9. Retail sales

  10. Teacher

  11. Secretary

  12. Desktop publisher/designer

  13. Corporate marketing/events

  14. Stage manager

  15. Telerama school director

  16. Prep cook

  17. Academic computing trainer

  18. Academic IT manager

  19. Feature writer

  20. Interviewer (journalist)

  21. Academic courseware developer

  22. Webmaster

  23. Year 2000 test center manager

  24. Entrepreneur

  25. Scriptwriter

  26. Camera operator

  27. Boom operator

  28. Gaffer

  29. Continuity girl

  30. Video editor

  31. Logo designer

  32. Graphic designer/illustrator

  33. Model

  34. Narrator/voice actor

  35. Ghost writer

  36. Jewellery maker

  37. Translator

  38. Fixer (video production)

  39. Brand designer

  40. CMS programmer

  41. Technical writer

  42. Test subject (cosmetics)

  43. Hoop performer

  44. Hoop dance teacher

  45. Wedding planner

  46. Costumer

  47. Yoga instructor

  48. Circus performer

  49. Choreographer

  50. Circus teacher

  51. Ringmaster

  52. Circus prop maker

  53. E-book writer

  54. Business manager

  55. Art teacher

  56. Meditation teacher

  57. HasGeek director

  58. Musical performer

No wonder I don't know what to do next. Maybe it's time to review and repeat some of the best ones.

Memory Support, an art project

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"Memory Support is a tribute to the forgotten stories of family and the remembered stories of friends. When the structure is full and and the cloth faded, I will burn it to send the memories to the sky, then bury the ashes to enrich the earth."

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This has been quite a year of making, reliving, questioning, and forgetting memories. From the brain fog of pre-menopause to my mother's dementia to the loss of several friends - I've been mired in memories.

Overwhelmed by some sad news of a friend's tragic demise, I went outside to tidy the garden. I ended up building a structure of felled bamboo. It just seemed right and opened a flood of detailed memories about friends and family. I was compelled to write some of these recollections on ribbons of cloth and tie these burst of color to the poles. Over the next few days, the collection grew and some friends joined me in adding their memories to the piece.

Today, I am opening the project to the world. I invite you to add your memories to Memory Support. You're welcome to stop by in person and rummage in my bag for cloth and a pen. If you aren't nearby, you can participate via post.

  1. Write a memory on a strip of cloth or a ribbon at least 20cm/8in long. Any cloth is good and any memory you want to share is fine. You can create as many as you wish.

  2. Tie your memory to the structure, or send it to me and I will tie it on for you.

Mail your memories to:

Kristen McQuillin
Hiratsuka 1577-2
Kamogawa, Chiba 296-0232
JAPAN

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25 Words

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Be careful what you wish for. First Italy, Vietnam, and China with Rob then triangulations among Kamogawa, Bangalore, and Ephrata. Always home and always homeless.

And all the 25 Word entries I've written since 2001:

2016
Half century joys: circus successes; drawing again; driver's license; warm neighbors; loving husband. Sorrows: multiverse branched and Zoupi vanished; my heart broke; mould ruined everything.

2015
A new era began with Japanese eijuuken and freedom to do anything! We quit Tokyo for rural Chiba. Now we have time, space, and ease.

2014
Our 25th anniversary. Eyes opened in Ireland and India to a new life together. More adventures, independence, inventiveness, alliances. Yes, yes! The ayes have it.

2013
Running away to the circus confused me. Spent ten months wondering "What next?" Tried resting, contests, midwifery - not my things. Travel, teaching, performance? Yes. Circus.

2012
Hooping took me up to Tohoku, down to Niijima, and around the world on tour. Ukulele, yoga, improv, songwriting, skating, visiting, & fundraising filled the gaps.

2011
Mother Earth trembled and futures fell apart. Uncertainty ruled us for months but in the end I'm still in Japan, married, hooping, and feeling happy.

2010
Lived my hoop dreams, wheeee! Connected, created, collaborated, choreographed, costumed, capered, camped, coordinated, but then crashed hard. Ouch. Healed and found my truth. Full circle.

2009
Rose petals in blue sky and the scent of muddy elephants conducted me to presence. An intense upwelling of joy revealed the universe inside me.

2008
I made dresses, meals, 100 necklaces, friends. Grew food. Witnessed a birth! I am greying, wrinkling and fading, but I started hooping, so who cares?

2007
Food ruled 2007: went almost vegan, developed recipes, and lost 10 kilos. Also sewed Morsbags, made political statements with robots, and explored Tokyo real estate.

2006
Forty was a pleasure/pain year - a roiling emotional sea. Heartbreaking anguish half drowned me but also un-dammed a flood of patterns, photography and creativity.

2005
This year, a lesson in
How to bear pain and loss.
Travel doesn't cure heartache;
Friends ease the agony.
Healing and peace flow like water.

2004
Did more, finished less.
Strengthened friendships and traveled.
Constructed 18 videos, knitted scarves,
Shared my pencils and my love.
Still seeking realisation of my principles.

2003
Hello Tokyo finally done
Neon Chopstix now begun.
'Twas mostly work but also fun.
Hosted friends from far away.
Another visa for three years' stay.

2002
Celebrating four years in Japan, I exercised my right brain and my poetic voice. I filmed then procrastinated. I waited for the axe to fall.

2001
Spent seven weeks on holiday in Maui, China, mainland US. Wrote lots, taught many, earned little. Saw the inside of my head. Didn't do enough.

Be 2018

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My guiding theme for 2018 will be Be.

It wasn't my first choice. I had a different word in mind this autumn and I thought it was just right, but I didn't write it down and I forgot it. Mustn't have been as compelling as I imagined.

Yesterday, I started over by browsing through the Qs in the thesarus. I chose Q because it has a pretty shape, but so many of its words are negative. Quux was tempting; it means foobar or whatever, which fits my inability to choose and I like that it has two us in a row. But I passed on quux because it also means "yuck" and also because I should try to choose a word that offers more guidance than "whatever." 

OK, fine. Based on activities of 2017, what word might guide me to a better 2018? Secure, keep, and settle came to mind quickly but they seem too passive, too stodgy. Something more active, then. I looked at a bunch of words like change and plan and they made me feel tired. So nothing too active. 

What about an emotion? Love is good, right? Peace? They didn't resonate. Neither did joy or happiness. These words are too one dimensional.

Somehow that led me to Be: fundamental and basic to everything. Lifecoaches smugly offer it as single word advice. Be shows up in loopy script on inspirational posters. We overuse it terribly in our daily writing. Have you ever tried to avoid writing "be"? I managed it in this paragraph, but it required many rewrites.

Perhaps Be will help guide me through changes in 2018. Whatever.

Here are my guiding words and themes for previous years:
2010, connect: http://www.mediatinker.com/blog/archives/010736.html

The themes still seem to lag behind by two years.Though my theme for 2017 was Open, according to the lag I was likely to experience Explore instead. I certainly did explore a lot of things this year, though there were elements of Open as well. These theme words are vague like horoscopes; they can be interpreted in many ways. So let's see if 2018 focuses on Realise. I feel like it might, as I can see some decisions coming my way and I must realise answers to them.

Windy Day

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A dust devil spinning itself three stories into the sky above the grocery store.
A hundred seagulls facing into the wind as they bobbed on the choppy water.
Dozens more gulls swishing in the wild winds over the harbour.
A mountain of full-grown trees being brushed by the wind like a Kansas wheat field.
A man holding a slice of tin roof to keep it off the power lines.

It was that kind of windy today. 

Happy 2017

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25 Words

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Half century joys: circus successes; drawing again; driver's license; warm neighbors; loving husband. Sorrows: multiverse branched and Zoupi vanished; my heart broke; mould ruined everything.


And all the 25 Word entries I've written since 2001:

2015

A new era began with Japanese eijuuken and freedom to do anything! We quit Tokyo for rural Chiba. Now we have time, space, and ease.


2014

Our 25th anniversary. Eyes opened in Ireland and India to a new life together. More adventures, independence, inventiveness, alliances. Yes, yes! The ayes have it.


2013

Running away to the circus confused me. Spent ten months wondering "What next?" Tried resting, contests, midwifery - not my things. Travel, teaching, performance? Yes. Circus.


2012

Hooping took me up to Tohoku, down to Niijima, and around the world on tour. Ukulele, yoga, improv, songwriting, skating, visiting, & fundraising filled the gaps.


2011

Mother Earth trembled and futures fell apart. Uncertainty ruled us for months but in the end I'm still in Japan, married, hooping, and feeling happy.


2010

Lived my hoop dreams, wheeee! Connected, created, collaborated, choreographed, costumed, capered, camped, coordinated, but then crashed hard. Ouch. Healed and found my truth. Full circle.


2009

Rose petals in blue sky and the scent of muddy elephants conducted me to presence. An intense upwelling of joy revealed the universe inside me.


2008

I made dresses, meals, 100 necklaces, friends. Grew food. Witnessed a birth! I am greying, wrinkling and fading, but I started hooping, so who cares?


2007

Food ruled 2007: went almost vegan, developed recipes, and lost 10 kilos. Also sewed Morsbags, made political statements with robots, and explored Tokyo real estate.


2006

Forty was a pleasure/pain year - a roiling emotional sea. Heartbreaking anguish half drowned me but also un-dammed a flood of patterns, photography and creativity.


2005

This year, a lesson in

How to bear pain and loss.

Travel doesn't cure heartache;

Friends ease the agony.

Healing and peace flow like water.


2004

Did more, finished less.

Strengthened friendships and traveled.

Constructed 18 videos, knitted scarves,

Shared my pencils and my love.

Still seeking realisation of my principles.


2003

Hello Tokyo finally done

Neon Chopstix now begun.

'Twas mostly work but also fun.

Hosted friends from far away.

Another visa for three years' stay.


2002

Celebrating four years in Japan, I exercised my right brain and my poetic voice. I filmed then procrastinated. I waited for the axe to fall.


2001

Spent seven weeks on holiday in Maui, China, mainland US. Wrote lots, taught many, earned little. Saw the inside of my head. Didn't do enough.

Open 2017

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My guiding theme for 2017 will be Open.

Some years, choosing the theme word for the year involves a lot of thesaurus consulting, debating and mind-changing. But this year it came to me in a flash and I haven't considered anything else. Open is just right: honest, undecided, unobstructed, obvious, objective. I may find myself beginning something new, or exposing something hidden. 

Here are my guiding words and themes for previous years:
2010, connect: http://www.mediatinker.com/blog/archives/010736.html

Last year, I noticed a two year lag in the words and it seems to have held true again. Though my theme for 2016 was "realise," I feel that 2014's "develop" was more appropriate. So I suspect 2017 will be all about "explore" and with our new driver's licenses, Tod & I already have plans to do that.

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