Year: 2002

The waters of the…

The waters of the onsen are about 50 degrees celsius. It is not possible to bathe with the monkeys, though about 300-400 meters downstream from the onsen for monkeys there is a rotemburo for humans (there are quite a few rotemburo in the Yamanouchi-machi area).

This rotemburo is part of the Korakukan Ryokan (tel: 0269-33-4376) which is an old but excellent wooden ryokan with steep narrow staircases and creaking floorboards.

Groovin’ on a sunny…

Groovin’ on a sunny afternoon.

This segment, they call it ‘dinner hour’, the previous segment being ‘afternoon’ and the last segment being ‘prime-time’, was wonderfully lively and a dance-hall delight. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Pete Fountain Rocked and then the two Latin entries – Arturo Sandoval’s group and next a Cuban band named Maraca Kicked. Maraca seemed to play the same song for 20 minutes but the sometimes three, sometimes four guys in front looked Stunning and danced like the salsa-fa-cation of Angels.

Key West from the…

Key West from the top of the tallest building, the most popular sunset viewing position. It was a roofgarden kind of place with an electronic one-man-band singing for our entertainment.

Here is the wonderful…

Here is the wonderful story of the candlesticks from Les:

‘My (and Phyllis’s) mutual Aunt Ida told me that the candlesticks had belonged to her grandmother. Because Aunt Ida was born in 1888, that would put them at least into the late 18th century. Phyllis and I know that our grandmother, Sarah Weiner, brought them from Pavlograd, Ukraine to LA in 1906.

They were used for Phyllis’s father Paul’s Bar Mitzvah in 1908, and that of my father, Noe, in 1911. They were also used by our Aunt Ida for my Bar Mitzvah in 1962.’

I’m adding a bit. I heard these candlesticks were the only possession Grandmother Sarah brought from her ancestral home in the Ukraine and they have been handed down to the women in the family ever since.

This is Les, David, Arthur and Phyllis.

I have traveled to…

I have traveled to many exotic places in my years and Lourdes is at least as exotic as any.

Pilgrims flood here to be healed. The air was literally electrified with desperate and passionate faith alongside the crassest of commercialism.

I lived for a day in an Ingmar Bergman movie.

Getting to Jigokudani is…

Getting to Jigokudani is relatively difficult, as the environment is harsh with heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), the elevation is around 850 meters (about 2790 feet), and the only way in along the narrow 2 kilometer long footpath through the forest. Public transport in these parts is a bit sporadic, your only real option being the bus company servicing the snow resorts of Shiga Kogen and Yudanaka Onsen. The bus timetable is pretty sparse, so if you are going to visit you would need to allocate the better part of a day, and ensure that you have the times of the descending buses written down so that you do not need to wait for too long at the bus stop (the weather up in these parts can change quickly for the worse).

The monkeys in this valley are Japanese macaques (one of the 22 species of monkeys in the genus Macaca), part of a group of primates whose habitat stretches from Japan through to northern Africa (only humans – genus Homo – are more widespread). This species is found on Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu having crossed from Asia via land bridges.

Maxine Cooks. I…

Maxine Cooks. I love to eat Maxine’s food and where Ever Maxine is she has brought lip-smacking good food. Someday I’ll squeeze it out of her – how DO you make those baked beans?

In the closing acts Wynton Marsalis and the gang he was playing with this time were really engaging. Etta James sang well I thought but didn’t seem to go to the bother of getting the crowd as much into it as prior years.

And then we spent…

And then we spent a beautiful afternoon at the Japanese Garden in Balboa Park. It’s a lovely place with many elegant water features complements of the water reclaimation plant.

Candles must be able…

Candles must be able to provide some deep spiritual satisfaction in people as their use seems so universally ceremonial.

The rap here is that you say a prayer and light a candle and as long as the candle burns your prayer is repeated, carried by the flame and smoke to God and if one prayer is good to get God’s attention, hey, more prayers are better. So why not buy as big a candle as you can afford?

You can get tickets…

You can get tickets to sit up here for 15 bucks – groups buy several extra seats so they can spread out and connect with some serious party. Being Californians and all, half of everyone, in a mad desire to Beat The Traffic, were packing up and heading out while the last guy, Marcus Miller, played his set.

Original walls at San…

Original walls at San Juan Capistrano.

I love this outing – pick up the train at Union Station, clickity-clack along the scenic California coast, get off at Capistrano and enjoy walking around the totally delightful town, get cul-tra-fied at the mission, eat, drink and be merry and train it back without a moment’s aggravation.

Don’t miss it! Take anyone who hasn’t done it and you can be a champ.

The view out our…

The view out our door. Our door was really just a big window you had to squeeze out of to get to those, what the management calls ‘stairs’ to squeeze your way down.

The Cathedral at Lourdes….

The Cathedral at Lourdes.

In the haze of the lower right corner is the sacred healing spring and beside it are spigots where pilgrims wash their hands and fill containers (conveniently sold in the literally hundreds of souvenir shops that line the streets of Lourdes) to take water home to their loved ones.

Sorrysorrysorry this made me…

Sorrysorrysorry this made me laugh so I’m not telling who it is and guys, I promisepromisepromise to take an entirely sensible picture next time.

We did have a great day though, a yummy picnic, the match between the ever-so Malibu polo team against the ever-even-more-so Palasades polo team, lounging around on lounge chairs, a scenic hike, a live action really fabulous Shakespeare experience, an after party party. How is it possible to have so much fun in one day? Easy with the L*p.. family.

Off to the Everglades…

Off to the Everglades National Park. The everglades are mostly this razor sharp very long grass growing in marsh land occasionally interupted by mangrove islands.

Every day, twice a…

Every day, twice a day, morning and evening thousands (!) of people line up for a procession around the gardens and through the huge complex ending in the area in front of the Cathedral. Loud speakers Everywhere blare organ music and songs in language after language.

The church organizes nuns and nurses for all who wish to come to Lourdes no matter what the condition of the patient. Everywhere I saw people in wheelchairs, on crutches, with oxygen and hospital drips, being attended by these volunteers.

France in general does not encourage a terribly multi-cultural environment but in Lourdes I saw people from every continent and of every shade and shape who all had such a similar reverential expression that I couldn’t help but appreciate our common face.

Jordan will be three…

Jordan will be three years old in April. Country Girl or City Girl? I love the contrast in these pictures.

When I arrived at the old homestead she was pure country but within minutes she had got herself up in this beautiful dress, ready for the ball.

See the reflections. …

See the reflections. The buildings at the Japanese Gardens are interesting too and you can get a mini-tour of the water reclaimation facility and then you can finally answer the question ‘hey, what is that smell?’.

Darryl and Angela sent…

Darryl and Angela sent flowers! for my birthday. Wow!. Then we had a lovely walk to a cool restaurant where we ate a tasty meal, had a pleasurable walk back, and then ate delicious pastry.

I mentioned my age, ‘hard ten’, and Darryl asked in a slightly apprehensive yet un-quavering voice ‘ahhh are we on to the age themes game?… like G-r-a-n-d-m-a…?’. Maybe.

Another view on this…

Another view on this walk. The park was very well done especially the way they organized walks through what seemed entirely hostile ground.

Johanna and Carl marveling…

Johanna and Carl marveling at L&E’s wedding album. We were all so Young then but then we thought we were already Old. So old in fact that the bride and groom thought it was appropriate that they both wear gray suits for their wedding. Oh yeah.

I loved this town…

I loved this town of Foix. It’s a government town, like a state capital I think, with a very well preserved medieval center and plenty of good jobs.

You swing through a place for a night because it’s convenient, not expecting much and then bam, a highlight. Maybe it’s as simple as that of the 20 people I had dealings with, every single one of them was pleasant. I also think it is possible that a place itself can have good vibes and that makes the people pleasant. Or maybe I was feeling pleasant.

For whatever reason, Foix is a pleasant place to visit and a great kickoff point for Cave Man Country (Tarascon sur Ariege).

1 of 4…

1 of 4

This is what happens when you try and get four personalities into one shot especially when one of them is a rambunctious puppy, one of them is a two year old who has had it up to here, and two of them are just hoping for the best.

I always choose the picture most flattering to me. Sounds normal.

I must comment about…

I must comment about dogs in France.

Say for example you are an aged woman and have tragically lost all those near and dear except for your one beloved grandchild who represents everything in the world that is good and beautiful and you want the world to know your joy and you speak to this child in cooing tones and in the restaurant you give her the best seat and save the tastiest bits from the roast for her delight.

That is how French people treat their dogs.

Having been messing around…

Having been messing around with the black and white setting on my camera and having forgotten to change back to color – I now have this opportunity to Colorize! A feature in PhotoShop I had yet to explore! Is there no end!

Saturday, besides on my Actual birthday (see flowers above), the kids treated me to Another birthday dinner. We walked, ate Chinese food, saw Undercover Brother and laughed A Lot, walked, ate Deli desserts and I had a generally all around Beautiful day. Like these Beautiful kids.

The story of The…

The story of The Wine:

On the occasion of his son’s birth Les immediately bought wine futures from among his favorite makers and then saved the wine for the purpose of drinking it at his son’s Bar Mitzvah. I have followed this story for years and felt really privileged to be able to participate in such a happy and long awaited occasion. The wines are:

1989 Chateau Pichon Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac Grand Cru

and

1989 Chateau La Lagune, Haut-Medoc Grand Cru

Sandy at the beach….

Sandy at the beach.

We drove up the coast, paid for parking at a place I forget the name of… it was a trying-to-be-private beach but if you paid for parking you could use the facilities. This made the area quiet and a bit hoity toity, just like we like.

The wildlife, especially the…

The wildlife, especially the birds were so so so cool. I think it was totally worth it to take that 100 mile out of the way detour to see this part of the park.

Standing on a viewing…

Standing on a viewing platform at the Grotte De Niaux. The above picture is looking into the valley, very characteristic of the Pyrenees and this picture is looking into the cave where 13,000 year old paintings are protected, totally intact.

They only allow 10 people at a time to enter and you must be with a tour. Each participant has a flashlight and that is the only light for the whole three hour walk. As I scrambled along trying bravely not to hold up the group by breaking my leg, the guide pointed out the basics of cave tours – stalactites, stalagmites, deep water pools, etc. until, long into the cave and without warning she raised her flashlight for our first glimpse of a cave painting. It really was breathtaking.

The group then played flashlight-follow-the-leader on many paintings in different rooms all with what I am sure are the most fascinating stories. I got most of what I learned from the brochure as the tour was conducted entirely in French.

2 of 4…

2 of 4

We’ve hauled ourselves just about straight up this hill that borders their property behind the house. You can see far into the Santa Clarita valley

Everywhere on the several acres of property are gigantic, glorious California Live Oak fully protected by statute. Boban reports that the neighbors are in fact Live Oak Nazis who sit out at night with binoculars waiting to call the cops on any infraction. Keeping the trees will add to the challenge of building out the property but will add to the glory of the finished project too. They are quite spectacular.

There’s something in this…

There’s something in this PhotoShop trick that I just find irresistible. My expectation (and hope actually) is that I’ll tire of it soon enough. One of the (also irresistible) dinosaurs on the Promenade.

On the way to…

On the way to Shira’s graduation party I became distracted by the La Jolla Glideport. I could feel it just watching – Lift Off!

Friday night – at…

Friday night – at El Coyote for Roger’s Happy Birthday dinner. Of course Fred was late. Guest how late Fred was? Almost one hour late. ‘Oh, you know me, always late, ha ha ha.’

Another too dark shot….

Another too dark shot. It was a learning experience. I was struggling the whole time with various error messages and the camera hanging up for no reason I could discern only to discover after it was all over that the meter was set wrong…

We Love technology but she can be a frightful mistress.

This is an auberge,…

This is an auberge, like a B&B except Mom and Pop often run the best restaurant in town – like the place in St Alvere for example. I didn’t stay here but the look is typical of the area. I went in and said may I have lunch please. The only question they asked was red or white? and then food and wine appeared and I was happy.

These guys had just…

These guys had just leapt off a cliff. You’d think the testosterone level would be pumpin’ but actually it is so quiet all you can hear is wind and it is such a solo effort it feels quite peaceful. Too bad about my compulsion for effects…

At this point I…

At this point I could have gone to Andorra. It is a country after all.

And it was, literally, down the road a piece but everyone I talked to had the same comment. Going to Andorra is like driving in an hours long traffic jam so you can get to the mall for a frantic sale of second-rate goods.

I gave it a pass and went on to the college town of Gerona in Spain for my first two night stay.

3 of 4…

3 of 4

The potential of the property and the amount of work it will take to achieve that potential, well it makes my mind reel. We talked a lot about a master plan and just seeing the route on paper is like having a map when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

There were separate jumping…

There were separate jumping off cliffs for hang-gliders and cliffs for the remote control planes. These guys were another story. They eagerly answered my questions and were utterly Fanatical about their planes.

This is a line-up for a race and despite the quiet there was plenty Plenty of ego invested in these bits of wood and plastic.

The whole Glideport is reserved for wind powered devices only, no combustion allowed. The planes were remote controlled though so there must be some concession to the concept of a totally wind powered operation.

Now here is a…

Now here is a story facinating to all who knew her. Jan Dubois, returned. More to follow.

Kneeling: Carole, Emilia, Bonny. Standing: Richard, Desda, Bob, Jan, me, Bob, Ben.

Along the waterfront in…

Along the waterfront in Gerona. I liked this town in every respect.

The historic sections of all these medieval towns are, rather obviously, unmanageable by car. You park and walk. Even the best hotels usually cannot provide parking.

I won’t tell another how-I-got-a-great-hotel story but in the end, there I was as the streets darkened, schlepping my bags from a parking garage from what felt like the suburbs back into town. And I started getting a strange and uncomfortable feeling. What’s going on here? Ragged and disheveled youth were lounging in door ways while I sensed ominous sounds around every corner.

How unpleasant I thought, so I must be wrong, and took a more careful look. Oh yeah, what was I thinking. Students. Just a bunch of college kids hanging out to avoid studying. All of a sudden I could see clearly that this was a happin’ little college town and I felt completely at home.

Burt and Charlene having…

Burt and Charlene having a picnic at The Will Geer Theatre. This place, up in Topanga, is so totally cool. As well as the picnic grounds, they offers great theater throughout the summer in a fabulous open arena. The players are mostly amature with a few Hollywood names thrown in because why not. The production and direction is first rate.

We have all been recommending it wildly.

He’s drying his wings…

He’s drying his wings because when these birds dive down to catch fish, their wings get too wet and heavy to fly. An interesting fact courtesy of the National Park Service.

From street vendors here…

From street vendors here I had my best meal in Spain.

I got a soft fresh roll from the bakery man and then two slices of yummy sharp cheese from the cheese man and a couple of fresh figs from the fruit man. I jammed the cheese and figs into the roll and waited until the hot roll softened the sharp cheese and the fig juice soaked into the bread and then I ate it.

It cost less than a cup of Starbucks and was as satisfying as a grand meal.

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