Kintsugi: Beautiful Repair

The legend goes like this: a Japanese shogun broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl, and sent it back to the same artisans who made it for repair. The bowl came back properly repaired with glue and metal staples. The shogun could not believe his eyes: ugly staples connecting delicate pieces of porcelain – surely that was not the right way to do it. In response Japanese artisans invented kintsugi: a technique of repairing broken pottery with special gold-containing laquer resin. Pieces repaired in that way became even more beautiful and valuable than when they were whole. After seeing a few repaired pieces in museums I have no doubdt that the story about wealthy Japanese breaking their favorite tea bowls on purpose just to have them repaired is true.

These two bowls were on display in a museum somewhere in Washington.

kintsugi-museum-1

kintsugi-museum-2

I recently purchased this Karatsu tea bowl. It was excavated from an old kiln and is estimated to be of the 1570-1620 vintage. It was repaired by a modern craftsman using a similar technique called doutsugi which uses a gold-copper alloy. It cost me about $180. Is it authentic? Probably – the dealer seems to be reasonably reputable. I’ll greatly enjoy drinking tea out of it.

This (as it’s often the case) made me think of my own craft. A huge part of my job is putting software Humpty Dumpties back together. Is any of my work this elegant? Of course not, but I can think of some examples. Apache – or “a patchy” comes to mind. It’s a beautiful piece of code glued together with other beautiful pieces of code. Then there’s Pressflow – a fork of Drupal that glued it back in many places where the original was cracking.

Super Dwarf Patio Banana Plant -Musa- SALE*

MUSA ACUMINATA SUPER DWARF CAVENDISH BANANA

Forget about huge banana plants that need a lot of room. This unique super dwarf allows for growing inside the home, on the porch, or close confines of a patio. Has a very symmetrical and compact appearance: 2′-4′ in height. Can produce tasty fruit inside or out. Has been used as ground cover around base of palms which provide strong vertical elements. Easy to grow in containers down to 8″ in diameter. Because of its size, our most versatile banana. Hardy in Zone 8 and higher.

Comments: This dwarf variety makes a great potted plant for any patio. It has an attractive mahogany colored trunk and will produce a small edible fruit even in a container. Light: Full Sun/Part Shade Bloom Season: All Year

Muji-Shmuji

Yesterday I went to see the new Muji store in SoHO. I’ve never seen so many hipsters and so many $800 baby strollers concentrated in such a small space outside of Williamsburg. Spent about half an hour in the store, but could not find anything to buy – there were some good and hard to find soy sauce pourers, but I already have a similar one.  The rest seemed to be well designed kipple. Also, the items only seem well priced to those who willingly buy the strollers I mentioned earlier. The selection was rather small – maybe the forthcoming flagship store will be better…

A Pineapple Grows In Brooklyn

There’s one piece of Americana that I do not like. Lawns. Suburban grass lawns. Keeping a good looking lawn is difficult and expensive. The amount of watering and cutting and fertilizing is mind boggling, considering that you are simply growing grass. Lawns do have a nice, neat appearance, but in my opinion they are way too sterile.

Of course, I am not alone in lawn-hating. Various hippies are also unhappy with vast water-hogging expenses of grass they can’t smoke. They propose various solutions, such as replacing grass with clover, wild flowers, etc. I actually very like one solution I’ve seen somewhere (can’t find the link) – they’ve replaced the lawn with a vegetable garden. It’s not as neat and sterile, but still green most of the year. And you get your own organic berries and vegetables.

Oh, and I got to mention this, my wife always liked this black grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus, I think) that grown across from the waterlily pond in Brooklyn Botanical. Now, that would make one nice gothy lawn.

In any case, my McMansion-owning friends can have their humongous lawns and tractor lawnmowers. Living in an apartment, all I can operate with is a windowsill.

Speaking about windowsills. I grew up in a very old apartment in Odessa, Ukraine. The windowsills there were huge – you could sleep on those things. Some of the newer houses in America don’t even have windowsills – they have picture frame moulding around them. The older, Art Deco era apartment where I live now has decently sized windowsills. They are big enough for a couple of cats to sleep on.

In any case, there’s a lot of super cool stuff you can grow on your windowsill. I, for one have a couple of real pineapple plants.

For the longest time I thought that pineapples grew on palm trees, like bananas and coconuts. Well, I just found out that bananas also don’t grow on palm trees and are technically herbs. Live and learn.

Anyway, pineapples grow low on the ground, kind of like corn. The first pineapple plant that I grew on my windowsill I got from Brooklyn Botanical Garden gift shop. It already had the small fruit and cost me about $30 bucks. That was years ago. It has proven to be amazingly resilient – I generally have a brown thumb, and frequently forgot to water it. It survived a cold New York winter, and finally I ended up eating the slightly bigger pineapple. It was small, but very pineapply.

The plant that you see in the picture is one of the two that I picked up from Ikea in Elizabeth, NJ. They set me back only 20 bucks, together. Thank you, Ingvar.

I bet there are other cool plants that I could grow. Various dwarf citrus plants – lemons, oranges, kumquats, etc. Coffee tree. Maybe even a dwarf banana. The trick, of course if finding plants that already have fruit on them (if you know a good supplier, please let me know) – growing something from a seed is a huge pain in the ass.

Tally Me Banana

My wife owns a copy of “The Art Book“. I do not remember which one of us noticed the following  brilliant example of art criticism:


Female torso, bananas, arcade that looks like two tunnels, train. Yep, that all adds up to exotic travel.

Even Swans Are Tough In NYC

posted a link to an article about a dog-eating catfish that died in the German city of Moenchengladbach. This kind of reminded me about a family of swans that used to live in a lake in Central Park. They became famous in 2000 for killing Donna Karan’s Jack Russell terrier that stupidly tried to swim to the couple’s nest. Now one of the swans was found dead and another one is missing. I think I might have a photo of the swans somewhere in my photo archive.

Untitled

Reading a book about Steinway history (my wife’s father works there).
Henry Steinway is writing a letter after immigrating to America :
“I cannot advise you to come here if you are able, by diligence and thrift, to make a living in Germany. People here have to work harder than abroad, and you get so used to better living that you finally think potato soup tasted better in Germany than the daily roast here.”
Hmmm, all too true.