Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Music in the Mountains, Part 2007 ch. II

Day two of this year's summer training camp, and here I am behind the wheel once again.

I knew it would be this way when I decided to bring my BLUE RAV4 instead of riding the bus. They're keeping me busy this year. Sometimes I'm training the new 7th graders. Sometimes I'm helping with the money books and money issues. Sometimes I'm preparing music. Sometimes I'm helping keep order. And the rest of the time? I'm the official go-fer (gopher?).

The nearest shinkansen (bullet train) station is a forty-minute drive away, and I've already been there twice today. Moody's Blue Taxi Service aims to please, and at least it's a scenic drive there and back again. The BLUE isn't just my car, either; a long stretch of the road is lined with hydrangeas, and they're still in full bloom. There are whites, pinks, purples, and vivid blues there, standing out against the deep green leaves/needles and brown trunks of the surrounding forest. Our staff of guest clinicians will wax and wane over the next few days, so I know I'll be making that trip a lot more and enjoying every bit of it.

This afternoon Mr. Ogawa sent me out on a special mission. Going shopping for "maintenance equipment" (heh!) for the guest clinicians is one of my usual duties during summer training camps, but this was the first time for me to go solo. I was also given a most unusual shopping list. This time, for the first time ever, I had been sent out on a quest for vegetables.

Yes, you read that right.

You see, since a year or two ago, one of our regular guest clinicians has been pressing us to make our "maintenance equipment" (tee hee) healthier. I'm not complaining, since I'm all for it, but it certainly makes the shopping more complicated. Mr. Ogawa gave me some (rather confused) directions on how to get to a bargain produce stand he found last year, but I decided to be a real 21st-century man (low, Mesa/Boogie amp power chord) and do an area search with my navigation system. It located several produce stands, so I picked one that was relatively close and drove way out into the (beautiful) countryside to find it was out of business. I then followed Mr. Ogawa's directions, going many kilometers in the other direction, but that place turned out to be dark and shuttered, too. Not wanting to give up, I pressed on and came across two produce stands, the second much better than the first, and I wound up with quite an array of fruit and vegetables. In the process I also found a "real" supermarket, the first we'd come across in three years of training camps in the same place.

Which brings me to my current mission. It's after dark now, and I went back to that "real" supermarket together with two "O.B.s" (male alumni) to get the main stock of "maintenance equipment" (cough) for tonight. We got quite a selection, too: a few six-packs of "tall" beer cans, whiskey, and a great, big bottle of shochu (distilled potato or plum liquor) to supplement the case of wine we already have. Hopefully it will last through the night. These guest clinicians drink like fish. (Hey, they're musicians, after all!) We also got a whole bunch of snacks. Yes, there are many things the Japanese do very well, and one of them is otsumame (drinking snacks). Anyplace that sells liquor has quite a selection. We got a formidable array we were confident would suit any taste. I won't tell you how much it all cost. Such is one of the basic facts of summer training camp life. When the kids bed down for the night and are blissfully unaware (we hope), the clinician "maintenance" begins, and it often (read "invariably") lasts until the wee small hours.

Now we're heading back with the fruits of our efforts. It will be the main welcome party, as the largest group of clinicians arrived today. It should be interesting. As it turns out, the festivities begin early for us. As we load the BLUE RAV4 we suddenly hear booms and see flashes of color from further down the mountain, just out of sight.

"Wow," we think, "there are fireworks tonight!" Too bad we can't see them.

Then, after we get no more than half a kilometer down the road, a massive barrage of fireworks suddenly goes off in a nearby field, exploding directly ahead in full view! The entire display lasts less than a minute, and it's intense. The O.B.s and I are suitably impressed. Our party has started early. Now we can look forward to later in the night, when we'll have socializing, camaraderie, discussion, good spirits in the air, even better spirits in our glasses...oh, and LOTS of fresh vegetables!

Three more days to go.


  • It is indeed "go-fer" because you are continually having to "go for" this that and the other.

    Minstrel said: "The BLUE isn't just my car, either; a long stretch of the road is lined with hydrangeas, and they're still in full bloom."

    You mean, they're still in full blue-m.


    By Blogger Olivia, at 9:29 PM  

  • Hydrangeas pretty . . . and tasty!

    I like that they change color depending on the PH of the soil.Better living through chemistry.

    By Blogger Phillipa Scratch, at 6:06 AM  

  • It is of course important to be well "maintained" fact I have some er, rum, maintenance to take care of right now.

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 7:52 AM  

  • I like how you describe instrument maintenance. Do you cut plugs of vegetables and shove them down hole of the instrument, or do you squeeze out the juice and use it as a cleaner? I mean, mixer...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:17 AM  

  • Olivia
    (*heavy sigh*)
    You're definitely sounding back to normal, m'lady, and that's a very good thing.

    Phillipa Scratch
    Have you ever heard any of Jonathan Coulton's songs? If not, you should check out his site immediately. When Chuck played his mp3s of "Chiron Beta Prime" and "All We Want to Do (Is Eat Your Brains)", I immediately thought of you. People have made videos for them on YouTube, too.

    The Intrepid Adventurer

    Oh, well. I guess I shouldn't wine.

    Maximilian Strange
    I'm seriously beginning to wonder how much of my posts you actually read before you comment. I didn't say "instrument" maintenance, I said "guest clinician" maintenance. They're similar, I admit. Good instrument maintenance requires an assortment of tools, replacement parts, oils, polish, and alcohol. Guest clinician maintenance is mostly the same, only you don't need tools, parts, oils, or polish. Vegetables can be a good thing, though.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 6:43 PM  

  • Hm, yes, I have been working very, very hard on returning to normal. Am determined not to let it last for months like it did the last time...!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 9:33 PM  

  • maintenance equipment is VERY important. You're doing important work my good man.

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 3:34 AM  

  • Sorry, yes I knew you meant guest clinician maintenance. I was trying to be silly and obvisouly failed miserably.

    Still, would you prefer grapefruit or potato with your clarinet?

    sutom, if a futon is a bed, then a sutom must be a foot rest. Word verification games can be fun!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:16 AM  

  • Swinebread
    Thanks. I'd like to think so.

    Still, would you prefer grapefruit or potato with your clarinet?

    No, I'd prefer them with a claret (known in the U.S. as Cabernet Sauvignon).

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:40 PM  

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