Category Archives: the P-Dawg

Ancient Japanese Secret

In the days before smart phones or even pocket cameras, Japanese fishermen used to keep paper and ink on their boats so they could document trophy catches by making rubbings of them. After washing the ink off, they could eat the fish and prove that it had existed.

Eventually the practice evolved into an art form called gyotaku (gyo “fish” + taku “rubbing”) and the fish prints were embellished with other media, or made from molds instead of the actual fish.

As soon as I learned about gyotaku I was desperate to try it. The only problem was that I couldn’t quite bring myself to look at, let alone touch, a dead fish.

But my husband is an avid fisherman and lover of Japanese printmaking. He graciously offered to bring home a fish so we could make a fish rubbing together (romantic!). And by “together,” I mean that I supplied the paper and ink and watched with one eye open as the P-Dawg did the rubbing. The process we used is very simple:

  1. Pat the fish thoroughly dry with a rag or paper towel.
  2. Rub a thin layer of ink over it (the P-Dawg used his bare hands but you could also probably use a brush).
  3. Put a piece of paper over the inked fish and press it down around the fish so that the whole surface of the fish comes into contact with the paper.

I would advise you not to rub too vigorously because when the P-Dawg was making this gyotaku, a very small amount of fish guts leaked out and got stuck to the paper. I had to Photoshop them out.

For our first gyotaku, I think it turned out pretty well. Next time, perhaps a slightly thinner layer of ink would bring out some more detail.

the fish print_edited-1

(The P-Dawg wants you to know that his fish rubbing is not yet complete, as he plans to embellish it with a golden eyeball. He also wants you to know that he doesn’t consider this fish a “trophy” catch.)

Here’s what we used:

  • One small perch from LaDue Reservoir in Geauga, Ohio
  • Sumi ink
  • Japanese kozo paper (because it’s lightweight but very durable, so it molds easily to the fish

The Fish

the ink_edited-1

The Ink

inking the fish_edited-1

The Inking

gyotaku with guts

The Print (Unedited)

I didn’t get a good photo of the rubbing process, but basically you place a piece of paper over the fish and . . . rub it.

(This post was cross-posted on my other blog, here.)

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We of Little Faith

I was minding my own beeswax at the end of the pew before Mass started today when a little old lady came up to me and asked if I was in her Birthday Book yet. She had long white hair and bright pink lipstick and for a minute I thought maybe I’d gone down the rabbit hole.

“Your Birthday Book?” I blinked. “I don’t know what that is.”

“I pray for people on their birthdays” said the mysterious stranger. “What’s your name? I’ll put you on my list!”

Now, I’m usually a suspicious person by nature, but I signed myself right up. I mean, here was someone offering to pray for me free of charge, and I need all the prayers I can get.

I spelled out my full name and gave her my birth date, which she scrawled into a flowery little journal she’d whipped out of her purse. Then she asked for the P-Dawg’s info, which I of course provided, and then the kids.’

I thought that would be the end of it, but before I knew it she was asking me for my parents’ names and birthdays, and also my mother-in-law’s. Now I was starting to get a little uncomfortable, but it seemed uncharitable to deny the rest of my family the opportunity to be prayed for, as well. What was I supposed to say to her? No thank you, I would rather you didn’t pray for the rest of them.

After she was done writing down my entire clan’s personal information in her little notebook, the little old lady gave me a meaningful look, squeezed my hand, and trotted off. I got a distinct sense like maybe she also wanted to hug me, (and ask for more names), but I cut her off at the pass. It’s one thing to give a stranger all of your personal information plus your mother’s maiden name, but quite another to physically touch.

“What were you talking to that woman about?” asked the P-Dawg, who’d been sitting out of earshot.

“She prays for people on their birthdays,” I told him. “So I gave her our stats.”

A small vein in my husband’s right temple began to throb.

“Did you give her our real names?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“And our real birthdays?”

”                         ”

“What other information did you give her?” the P-Dawg sounded alarmed.

“Just our social security numbers and online banking information,” I told him (even though I had not!)

Suddenly it seemed like not such a great idea, what I had done. I mean, if this lady was really praying for people on their birthdays, why didn’t she carry a calendar and write the names in for each day instead?

“Let us pray,” said the priest, and I sent up a silent petition that the Birthday Lady wouldn’t steal my identity.

“Do you think she’s going to steal our identities?” I asked the P-Dawg.

“Probably,” he said.

I couldn’t concentrate during Mass at all because I kept scanning the pews for the Birthday Lady. But I couldn’t see her anywhere and so naturally assumed that she was already back in her lair, hacking into our bank accounts.

Thankfully my daughter, who is a spy in training, had not let her out of her sight. She was ten pews up to our right. There was still a chance to get our names out of The Book!

After Mass I asked the P-Dawg if he would mind approaching the Prayer Lady and asking her to remove our names from her list.


“Just say we reconsidered and we don’t want anyone praying for us.”

“I have a better idea,” the P-Dawg said.

“What are you going to do, take her down in the parking lot?”

“No, I’m going to trail her and get a picture of her license plate,” he explained to me. “But first, we’re going to have to split up.”

The children and I camped out in the car awaiting our fate and my husband hovered around the Birthday Lady while she chatted with people after church.

“Where’s Daddy?” asked my son after about ten minutes.

“Oh, he probably just ran into someone he knows,” I lied, even though I was starting to fret. What was the P-Dawg doing with the Prayer Lady? Had he been successful in confiscating our page? Had she pulled a switchblade on him? Had they come to blows?”

Finally my brave husband came back.

“Well?” I prodded. “How did it go down? Did you get our names removed from The Book?”

“No,” said the P-Dawg.  “She stayed after talking to a bunch of people who seemed to know and trust her, and then she went to the hall for coffee and donuts.”

“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you ask if you could see her Prayer Book, then rip our page out?”

“Because I could get arrested for that.”

We continued to discuss the situation on the car ride home and the P-Dawg reluctantly conceded that the Prayer Lady had probably been legit. I want to believe there are still people in the world who just want to pray for me and everyone I know for the heck of it. And I think it’s a shame that my husband we automatically second guess someone who offers. In fact, I should have asked for her name and info. That way I would at least know how to look her up.

So what do you think? Is the Birthday Lady going to pray for me, or rob me blind instead?

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You Can’t Force a Man Into a Turtleneck Sweater

Back when the P-Dawg and I started dating, I would go to the mall on a Saturday afternoon (because I had absolutely nothing better to do) and buy him sweaters. The black turtleneck sweater was the very pinnacle of my fashion aspirations for the P-Dawg, but I was not totally inflexible, and sometimes I would also buy him a gray or green turtleneck sweater. The sweaters would go directly from my shopping bag to the P-Dawg’s closet, never to be seen again.

A day came when the turtlenecks became so numerous that they threatened to take over the P-Dawg’s apartment. On this day he said to me, “Rima. I can’t stand turtleneck sweaters.”

We got married, anyway. And every year at Christmas I would buy the P-Dawg a new sweater, but not a turtleneck. The P-Dawg, because he is a wonderful husband, would wear his new sweater on Christmas Day. One day it finally dawned on me that the love of my life was not a Sweater Guy. And neither, unfortunately, was he a Black Shoes with Silver Buckles Guy.

He was a flannel and hoodies guy, and I loved him.

The P-Dawg took a much deserved day off work yesterday and we spent it together. We went on a nice long hike, then out for sushi. Afterwards, we had an hour to kill before picking the kids up from school, so my husband ran into the hunting and fishing supply store for a couple of items. I stayed in the car because I would rather poke myself in the eye with burning embers than go inside Gander Mountain.

The P-Dawg seized this opportunity and ran with it. He bought himself a new wardrobe made up almost entirely of nylon and brown flannel. I can just see him now, running up and down the aisles with his cart, gleefully tossing plaid shirts and pants with velcro closures inside of it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from twelve years of marriage, it’s that you can’t force a man into a turtleneck sweater.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and well wishes for Soo. She is still very sick, and can use all the good vibes she can get.

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I Should Have Bought a Lottery Ticket

During the few minutes when I worked as an auto insurance claims adjustor, my mentor, Jimmy, mentioned that most accidents happen close to home. Tall, thin and, balding, Jimmy was a company man through and through. His father was a hugely successful policy salesman, and it was Jimmy’s fervent hope that one day, if he played his cards right, he’d follow in the old man’s shoes.

As far as I could tell, Jimmy didn’t do much work. He spent a lot of time leaning back in his office chair and exploring his gum line with a toothpick. Once, during one of our “training sessions,” he excused himself to use the facilities and didn’t come back for an hour and thirty minutes.

“You’d be surprised how many accidents happen in the driveway,” Jimmy instructed me. “Most of the time, it’s the wife backs into the husband,” he drawled, and I took offense.

Not the whole fence, though, because I’d borne witness to this type of situation on a few occasions myself. In fact, just days before accepting the wretched insurance claims position, I’d ripped off the front of my grandfather’s garage while backing out of it. Even though I didn’t much like Jimmy, I never forgot what he said. I vowed never to be the wife who hit her husband’s car in the driveway, and I made good on this promise for over fifteen years.

It happened this afternoon. I was backing out of the garage on a perfectly straight trajectory when the P-Dawg’s car appeared out of nowhere and hit my car’s rear end. Apparently, it had been lying in wait for me all night. The damage was minimal and the P-Dawg was very gracious about it. He’s busted his car up a few times already, so we called it even and I went on my merry way to pick up milk and bread.

That’s where the second car accident happened. I was halfway out of my parking spot at Drug Mart when some dude backed out of his spot and our bumpers kissed. I mean, what are the odds of that happening? I should have bought a lottery ticket.

I can’t stop thinking about the deeper meaning in all of it. The universe is trying to tell me something. But what is it?

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