was feeling a tad
under the weather on Friday, so we thought it prudent to stay in
town. He retired early, but only after downing a dropperful
of Echinacea and Goldenseal tincture. Determined to wipe out the cold bug
, before it beat him to the punch, he downed the herbal
elixir straight up. Ick.
Saturday, he was
feeling much better. Still, we laid low, attending to light,
non-demanding work-related tasks -- rainy day stuff. DH spent most of his day scanning
slides into his computer for his power point lectures, while I
researched and wrote.
Yesterday, the skies
were grey and overcast. A dreary day with light showers. Feeling much
better, DH decided it was a great day for sushi.
He asked me out on a
date. I accepted. "Take me out for sushi,
and your wish is my command!"
We drove over to Diamond Bar,
about a half hour away by freeway, to lunch at the sushi bar, Sushi
Koyo, run by the father of DH's former student.
We should have checked the Net for the restaurant's hours. The
sign on the door said, "Go Church".
Translation: "We are closed on Sunday because we go to church."
Plan B was a Chinese
seafood restaurant, Diamond
Palace Seafood Restaurant, close by . DH's work buddy, Greg, had recently
taken him there for lunch, and he was impressed by the flavorful
food. Looking about, I saw that its clientele was
mostly Asian. A reliable, although not infallible,
sign for authenticity.
We ordered a
deep-fried squid dish cooked with seasoned salt and clams with black
bean sauce. $5.00 a dish on the lunch menu includes
attentive, efficient table service, fresh white table linen,
rice, bowls of soup, glasses of cold sweet tea, a pot
of hot tea, and orange slices for dessert. The
food was fabulously delicious, and we will be back.
DH wanted me to see the newly
an impressive facility where faculty and students can conduct research and display
senior projects to the public. There, we toured the spanking
new Farm Store with its excellent fresh produce selection, which
included finger bananas, Hawaiian papayas, and fresh coconut,
We bought dried
Calmyra light figs at $2.50/quarter pound and three (!) boxes
of Turtle Island's Southwestern Roasted Corn Chowder (see my
"Soup's On" entry for my raves).
Carlos Kakaki, a
student worker, was outside on the patio, watering the plants
Over lunch, DH had just told me about Carlos' windfall
opportunity. With two partners, Carlos had just bought a
33 acre Fallbrook farm with
a two acre lake, working avocado and citrus farm, rose
garden, and a house. For $1.5 million and owner-financed!
This opportunity is one
of the silver linings of the economic slow-down. As casualties of this new
war economy, his well-heeled partners are directing their
investments into food production, instead of luxury goods
production. He will be the farm's working
manager. As an agribusiness major with considerable
hands-on experience from the bottom up, he is more than trained,
more than prepared.
half Japanese, Carlos is among the most hardworking and self-motivated
of DH's students over 22 years of teaching. Refreshingly, he is polite,
eager to learn, and respectful. With a strong work ethic, he
is a gem of a student, clearly marked
for success as a graduate.
As DH related, when
he pulled into the nursery, the other day, with a load of
supplies, he was impressed that Carlos came forward to
help him unload, unasked. He is ki
ga tsuku. Literally, "to have "spirit, mind, soul, heart
" put onto you," meaning to be alert, attentive, and
helpful without prompting.
We are delighted
that this huge opportunity has arisen and is being seized
by this well-deserving young
man. Opportunity, in this case, is the exact intersection of
luck with preparation.
Carlos is destined
to do well, very well.
"Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be
scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be
summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is
Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."
was feeling back
in the pink, and we decided to extend our date by spending
the afternoon at The
Happiest Day on Earth, Disneyland. We had heard on the
Christmas had arrived there today. Since we are rarely in
town on weekends, we decided we'd beat the holiday crowds that
My eyes lingered on
the words on the plaque above the entrance tunnel:
“Here you leave today, and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and
It is one of my
Disneyland traditions, and, for me, the plaque and its words
mark the divide
between the everyday world and the magical world of
We walked through the
tunnel, emerging on
the other side to another time and place. Walking down Main Street is,
for me, very much like going home.
It is an idealized, spruced up version of my hometown, complete with false fronted buildings, sidewalks,
and front porches, reminiscent of how things once were.
Another time and place, because this time of year, all of Disneyland is sporting its annual holiday makeover. Everything is festive and
The traditional 60-foot Christmas tree in the
middle of Town Square is magnificent and real,
filling the air with generous whiffs
of fresh pine. Main Street is draped with garlands of shiny
ornaments and lights, and there must at least a 1000 wreaths in
the park, on every post, around every corner.
Wintry charm is
everywhere. There is
even a magically wondrous snowfall!
of Christmas at Disneyland
It's Christmas at Disneyland!
We ducked into the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor for a late dessert. Sharing a Gibson Girl sundae for $4.99 -- 2
scoops of FANTASIA
ice cream in a waffle cone, hot fudge, chopped peanuts, whipped cream and cherry on top
-- was very messy, but oh, so decadently delicious!
of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor
green glass elephant named Penny
We hadn't visited Sleeping Beauty's
castle since 1993, and crossed the drawbridge, entering
Fantasyland through the castle.
The It's a Small World attraction is enchantingly decked in its
Christmas finery. In Toon Town with its cartoony Christmas
decor, I felt like I was in the middle of surrealistic dream with eyes wide open.
On the way out of
Fantasyland, we veered toward the right to enjoy sweet moments at the
Snow White Grotto with its Singing
Wishing Well , which is, hands down, the most romantic spot in Disneyland,
complete with soft music, seclusion, and swans.
Mickey's photos of the Snow White
I paused to enjoy my
favorite sculpture in the park: Walt
Disney & Mickey Mouse , the famous partners, in the
middle of the hub.
through Frontierland, decorated in rustic Christmas, and boarded the grand paddlewheeler, Mark Twain (photo).
The upper deck is the best place to enjoy this attraction.
The ambience of the tiny topside room is relaxingly quiet.
It was empty. With a light breeze coming
through the doorway, protected from direct sunlight, and the
gentle lilting motion of the ride, the 8-chaired room
is the perfect place to catch a few ZZZs,
and DH dozed off in a captain's chair in no time at all.
Meanwhile, from the open
deck, just outside, I
watched the nostalgic Wild West sights of Frontierland lazily pass by,
enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun on my face .
of Christmas in Frontierland
We disembarked and headed for the Haunted House, "where two holidays, Halloween and Christmas, collide" -- as
Unfamiliar with Jack
Skellington and not into ghosts and goblins, I
was not expecting to have my socks knocked off. The creative imagineers have been hard at work, and
my socks flew off. The holiday detailing throughout the attraction-- even to down to the bedding plants of gold-orange and black pansies at the
entry -- was something to behold.
Our last time in the mansion was in 1975, and The Haunted
House, 200, was an entirely new experience for us. Surprising
ourselves, we thoroughly enjoyed it!
Place's photos of the Haunted
House Mansion Holiday
on The Haunted Mansion
Talking about Disney
landscaping: the hundreds of candy cane red and white cyclamens
and brilliant poinsettias burst with color. They are gorgeous!
We backtracked to
New Orleans Square and picked up a bag of warm fritters with an
apple-cream sauce and steaming cups of coffee at the Mint Julep
bar and headed up the stairs above The Pirates of the Caribbean to
our most favorite spot in the park: the little-known, open-air central courtyard of the Disney
The spaces occupied by the gallery were originally
built as Walt Disney's (second)
private apartment. It is a special place in the
park, away from the madding crowds. A peaceful oasis.
info on the Disney Gallery from the Hidden Mickey's site
Unfortunately, Mr. Disney passed on before he was able to enjoy his new
accommodations. Opened to the public as an art gallery, we get to enjoy it for him.
And I like to think with him.
His was a mighty
spirit, and you can feel it everywhere in the park, but especially
here, where Mr. Disney had hoped to enjoy private, quiet moments in the midst of
his action-packed creation.
In the courtyard, the sounds of the wall fountain with water burbling from the
mouth of a brass dolphin are calming; the plants are lush and healthy; and the air temperatures are perfect, as Mr. Disney had heating and
cooling vents built along the perimeter.
enjoyed the peace
of the courtyard, while I browsed the
Herbert Ryman lithographs in a gallery that was meant to be a formal
dining room. I lingered on the corner balcony with
the wrought ironwork bearing the famous Walt
Disney's initials and his brother Roy's, enjoying the panoramic
view of theRivers of America.
The evening dessert buffet
with the perfect view of Fantasmic is held here -- for a
hefty price. $43. We have not done it.
I'm thinking, "I'd rather spend $43 on sushi..."
of Disney Gallery
We stopped by the Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland
to pick up a refillable Sorcerer Mickey water bottle, large enough
and perfect for home and work. It is
right along side me as I write this.
Water tastes so much better out of Mickey's wand.
Soo had mentioned to
be sure to stop by the jewelry store, and we did.
There, the cast member asked about the kukui
lei that encircles my woven vintner's hat, and I had an
opportunity to share my homeland's jewelry with him. He
seemed sincerely interested, not just being a polite cast member.
Wonderful Account of a former Disneyland Cast Member's Experiences
Invigorated and suffused
with holiday part, we left the park to walk the long promenade through
Downtown Disney to the Paradise Pier Hotel for sushi at
the Yamabuki Restaurant.
was making sure that
his gal was going to have her sushi fix. The restaurant opens at
5:30, and we bided our time with window shopping at the hotel store and
watching the first innings of the World Series in the lounge area.
We found the perfect
Winnie the Pooh and His Pals photo album for
Jenn's third son, Kevin.
White & the Seven Dwarves is out and touted as a
masterpiece DVD, and this may well be the first DVD that we
own ($24 at the store, $19 at Amazon, ? at Costco). The
reviews at Amazon are positively glowing!
I think I will buy this
for the office. I think all the kids, including the adult kids,
will enjoy it.
I live for sushi.
DH lives for sushi. We all live for sushi. Do you?
Yamabuki is touted as an award-winning, classical Japanese restaurant with a full sushi bar. We decided to give
the sushi bar a try.
The decor is simple and beautiful, with strongly contrasting reds and black and lots of pine wood.
"Less is more" came to mind.
The black lacquer chairs
each have a Mickey carved in their backs with a simple, uncluttered outline. Very
A picture's worth a thousand words:
of the interior of Yamabuki Restaurant
of the Yamabuki name
[Yamabuki is pronounced yah mah boo kee, and means "mountain rose"]
The sushi bar is a
good place to make quick friends. We met a lovely woman named Evelyn from Cincinnati, Ohio, who was
on a business trip, dining alone. An
environmental engineer, she was working a booth at a conference.
I could see that she had not been taught how to dip her sushi in her soy sauce.
Her sushi kept falling apart into sloppy messes. I taught her to dip it, fish down, and she was delighted to learn
something so simple, but not obvious.
Sushi is the original finger food. She was using a pair of chopsticks, bound together at one end with a rubber band,
intended to help the novice "keep it all together". I could see that she was struggling
to pick up her sushi with them, so I
let her it is very ok to use one's
Novices think they HAVE to use chopsticks at a sushi bar. Wrong.
Etiquette-wise, using fingers or
chopsticks to eat sushi is proper. I told her, if she'd like, I'd teach her how to use chopsticks. She was
interested. It's all
technique and she mastered the skill in mere minutes.
How to Use Chopsticks
We thoroughly enjoyed the congenial itamae (sushi chefs) at Yamabuki; they are traditionally trained and masters of their
sushi-making art and craft. Sei is from Okinawa; he's practically part of the furniture, having been at the
restaurant since the mid 1980s. He's been in America for 21 years and still knows very little English. His
sushi-making colleague, Richard Sato from Kumamoto, knows more English, and we learned that he knows our favorite sushi chef
in the mountains, Abe-san, who owns our favorite Sushi Ichiban.
The waitress, Toshie, was beautiful in her kimono and obi, and very warm and friendly.
We savored delectable sushi, artistically and proficiently made, made with squid, clam,
toro, scallops from northern Japan (Hokkaido), natto roll, sake, and octopus sushi, washed down with
two tall bottles of Sapporo beer. The seafood was fresh and delicious; the sushi rice, perfectly
Yamabuki is sushi heaven. Totally seduced by the
sublime tastes of sushi, we give it five stars.
We'll be back!
We made our
way back up Downtown Disney to catch the tram to the parking
garage, enjoying the lights, sights and happy faces.
Downtown Disney is a very happening place.
We were walking through the
World of Disney store, when we heard this VERY LOUD crash of breaking glass. A little girl had
accidentally bumped a ceramic mug off an overstocked shelf. Mortified, she'd
burst into loud sobs and tears, falling into
her mother's arms.
I tried to comfort the girl, telling her that she didn't do it on purpose, and not to feel bad. Accidents
happen. I hope it helped. I hate to think that her Disney experience would forever be tainted by this trauma.
I informed the cast
hurried by that it was an accident, something that could have happened to
anyone. My husband
whispered, "Disney can absorb the cost of that mug." He's right.
After a dream
afternoon at The Merriest Place on Earth and a lovely dinner at Yamabuki,
we drove to The Happiest Place on Earth -- home, sweet home.
I was rewarded for my two good deeds for the
day, as we got home just in time to watch the 7th game of the World Series
in its 9th inning. The
score was tied, 2-2. And then the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied and beat the NY
I'm not a big baseball fan, but
I was grateful to be watching this greatest game ever between two of the greatest teams
ever. It went right down to the wire. Loved it.
Also, Eric McCormack won an Emmy for his role on Will & Grace.
What a magical day!
"Life is a Gift."
P.S. If you would
like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to
this journal entry, you may do it here.
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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