Giving Thanks, in general
First, though, on Wednesday, I got to meet the infamous Mimi. She's from Osaka, but Jeff met her on a business trip to Hawaii. And hasn't shut up about her since. So I was glad I finally got to meet her when she came up to our bit of Japan for a wedding. Mimi's story is interesting. She was a Poly-Sci major in the States, which I thought was odd, as she is Japanese and would be living in Japan, so why learn all about American politics? She had an answer ready for that: she chose the major because her sister had the same degree, and still had all her papers. Anyway, Mimi did the salarywoman thing for years, until one day, while killing time before meeting someone for dinner, she had her first manicure. When it was time for dinner, she ignored her meal because she was too busy staring at her nails. Looking at her now-beautiful nails gave her such a happy feeling that she wanted to make other people that happy. She decided to quit the corporate rat-race and become a nailist (apparently that's a word, though my spellcheck doesn't like it. It also doesn't like the word "spellcheck") .
We went, with Macky, to a very fancy-looking restaurant in the Ginza called My Humble House. Dumbest name ever, but they had wonderful decor. Very 1940s nightclub. Our corner booth bore a very close resemblance to Jeff's favorite spinny green velvety chair. The food I think was meant to be reasonably-priced but "thoughtfully-crafted," but I was honestly unimpressed. It was good enough, I giess, but I am spoiled by the likes of Wild Ginger and Palisades and Marco's in Seattle. After, we went to some place Macky wanted to check out that had terrible wannabe hip-hop/trance DJs. One drink, then the rest opf the night was spent at our favorite spot in Rappongi (indeed the only good place in Rappongi), Mistral Blue. Old train car, not horrible (most of the time) music. Fun night out.
The next day was Thanksgiving. I don't remember what I did. I think I slept a lot.
On Friday, which is Labor Day in Japan and a day off for many, we had our Thanksgiving. This works for me, because since we're a day ahead, we had it on the right day, Stateswise. The base actually did a wonderful job cooking our gigantic turkey, and it was a hit with all our Japanese friends. The mashed potatoes also went over well, and Shingo was in raptures over the bread pudding (OK, so it's not traditionally American, but whatever). I did discover that you can't make American sweet potatoes (no, I'm not talking about the canned bright-orange things covered with mini marshmallows, gross) with Japanese sweet potatoes. The texture is too dry. Everything else was great, tho. I especially liked the conversation with OSam about why we always eat turkey. Jeff explained that it was part of the big, friendly meal that the Pilgrims and Indians had together, with an under-the-breath "before they starting killing each other." It was translated for him, just about the meal, and OSam replied "so basically, it was a big meal right before they started killing each other." Yeah.
Anyway, I had fun being inventive in getting rid of all the turkey over this past week. I did all the traditional stuff, like turkey sandwiches and turkey soup, but I also had fun doing some Japanese stuff with it, like turkey onigiri, turkey udon, and turkey curry, which was the yummiest.
Saturday, we drive down to Shimoda in Izu (that makes 3 times?) for Martine's super-secret kidnapping 40th birthday surprise party weekend. A bunch of her friends came down, as well as her brother and his family from Australia Tho I guess they came up, but it depends on which way your map is oriented). There were two boys, Fraser and Darcy, who are 9 and 11, with whom M&D got on famously from the get-go. The two Australian boys towered over the two American midgets despite the closeness in age, and they are more rough-and-tumble than our boys, but M&D took it in stride (surprisingly) and had a wonderful time.
There was a swell BBQ put on by Kenny at Paradise Cafe, and most of the party staggered off to bed early (many of them had done their heavy partying the night before), leaving me, Jeff, Kevin, and Martine drinking around the fire. Some Japanese girls wandered by, and Jeff naturally invited them to join us. At some point we discovered the hot tub in back was actually hot. I believe there are pictures, for which I will pay handsomely, Martine. Just kidding.
The next day contained a quick visit to the beach to watch the kids cavort under an almost painfully-blue sky. I got the opportunity to wander a bit and catch some stunningly gorgeous color combinations between that sky and the changing leaves. I hope your computer monitor shows this better than mine does.
What followed was quite possibly the best car trip our little family has ever experienced. The kids were utter angels for the whole 4 or 5 or 6 hour trip, just quietly playing their DS's or watching movies. No fighting. At all. It was eerie. I don't know what came over them, whether they were just happily exhausted from playing with the Cotton boys or what, but it was a joy. Especially since the trp took a lot longer than it should've, due to returning holiday traffic.
We had gotten started later than intended, but this turned out to be a very happy accident when we saw this:
Naturally, we had to stop and take a gazillion pictures (interestingly, my spellcheck has no problem with the word "gazillion"). I've never seen colors like that. And with Fujisan in there! As if that weren't enough, back in the car moments later, we saw a gorgeous harvest moon rising on the other side.
A double-blessing, impeccably timed. See lots more pictures of pretty colors and funny faces here.
So, in summary, I am thankful for good food, good friends, good family, blue skies, occasionally quiet children, breathtaking sunsets, and all those little moments of wonder.