Travels with Penelope

Travel, Food, Wine, Spirituality and Everything Else

December 1, 2013 Flight to Tokyo

The sky is very blue. From my seat over the wing I witness an undulating river of clouds holding court over the coastal ranges, the ranges vividly craggy and desolate until a moment ago when we climbed above a layer of cumulus cotton balls that blocked our view of the land below. We are heading up to San Francisco before turning west to head east to Tokyo. The plane is quiet mainly full of Japanese nationals returning home. Many of them are wearing facemasks, probably a good idea. Germs travel through the air conditioning on a plane. I once caught Legionnaire’s Disease on a flight from the Virgin Islands to San Francisco. Hospitalized after the flight, I had a major near death experience when I went into anaphylactic shock over a reaction to an antibiotic.  Benadryl saved my life!




As my partner knaws on a carry-on leftover chicken bone I am reminded of our wonderful Thanksgiving. Scott and Megumi took over the kitchen, my first break in forty years. Scott’s entre of choice was Thomas Keller’s and Julia Child’s favorite: roast chicken. He has perfected Keller’s recipe. As he took on the delicate task of preparing the TDay dinner I lollygagged, luxuriated and meditated on my many blessings. I even had time for a walking meditation along Aliso Creek, the part that runs through Laguna Woods. Full with reeds, thrushes and mallards, it is one of my favorite village sites for quiet contemplation. With so many barbaric situation points around the globe and much of the world’s population living in abject poverty, feeling a little like a guilty bystander, I had much for which to be grateful.

The flight attendant, ice cream cartons in hand just flew past my seat. No ice cream for you she decided, or bypassed me because I had ordered a vegan meal. Thank goodness! It turned out to be Italian-Japanese fusion with raw peppers, cukes and lettuce repeated in each dish along with rigatoni and soba noodles. No wonder the Japanese are so thin. I’m happy.

Instead of my usual stack of five or so books I intend to read along the trip, I packed a kindle downloaded with a book that has intrigued me for some time: Unbounded Wholeness: Dzogchen, Bon and the language of the non-conceptual by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Anne Kleine. Unbounded wholeness? Set side by side the two words illustrate the language of the “non-conceptual”. I have been repeating them over and over as in the ancient Christian meditation technology in which the meditator takes a word reflects on and repeats it over and over like a mantra. With only an hour into the eleven-hour flight to Tokyo, I have tons of time to repeat my new mantra.

We were a half hour or so late in taking off making our connection in Tokyo to the flight to Hanoi a bit precarious.  Hm…nothing would make me happier than having to lay over in Tokyo for a day.

My partner is snoozing, not snoring, just snoozing.

A few nights ago I had an absorbing dream.

In the late afternoon I headed for the local Amtrak Station. As I walked from my home I pulled a skiff loaded with my luggage on a dolly. At the station there was a pre-entry, entry room boarded off by a chain link fence. I walked into it, boat in tow. The security officer told me I could store my boat right there in the entry, but that I must raise it on to a little platform beside the walkway into the main entrance. I placed some objects in the boat for storage, hoisted it up on the platform and covered it with a large piece of canvas. I was nervous about leaving my boat in such a public place while I went on my month-long trip. I decided to attach a note asking people to pay no attention to the boat. I found some white sheets of copy paper in the corner of the room, but every time I tried to write, they turned to plastic and would not take my pen. Then I decided to look for scotch tape to attach my note. I knew that if I found tape, I would also find paper that would work. Finding tape and paper took quite awhile and I wondered if I would miss my train. Finally, I proceeded through the main entry out to the tracks and began to look for my train. I knew that if I had missed it, I was not supposed to be on it.

I woke up while looking for the train. Full of thoughts about the dream I spent the day packing for this trip.

The sweet flight attendants circle the plane hourly handing out sandwiches, breads and sweets. No end to food on JAL.


  1. annemari mukherjee

    December 2, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I enjoyed reading your blog . Looking forward to hearing more.

  2. I always enjoy travel log. Keep up the good work and say hello to your partner.

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