Sunday Morning 1/16/2022: Just the Two of Us Again

Sunsets didn’t happen this past week . . . there were no clouds.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

YaYu headed back to Pennsylvania (and cold weather) on Friday, and the apartment feels very empty and so big without her. We loved having our girls here for a month, together or in different combinations, but once again it’s back to just Brett and me. YaYu’s departure was bittersweet for her; Kaua’i has been her home, even when we weren’t here, for the past seven years. Her time here got her to where she is now, but she has no idea when or if she will ever be able to return. She asked to go to the beach one last time on Thursday to swim in the ocean once more and the weather obliged and we returned to Salt Pond beach for a long, lovely afternoon. She was thankful to be able to eat all her favorite local foods when she was here, and had lots of quality time with Allie the cat during her stay. And, her flight gave her one last beautiful view back at the island as she departed, an emotional moment for her but a wonderful memory. She told us before she left that Kaua’i is the place where she always knows where she is and how to go somewhere and come home. We reminded her that even if she doesn’t make it back for 20 years she will still know where she is on the island and how to get to wherever she needs to be no matter what has changed – that’s what’s so special about Kaua’i.

We feel the same way about leaving Kaua’i, wondering if we’ll ever be able to come back, even for a visit, but feeling very grateful for all our time here. It has been a most wonderful period in our lives, with or without COVID. Brett and I admitted that if things were different we could happily stay, but because we can’t we’re looking forward to traveling once again. We hope to be able to get together the girls in an overseas location one of these days and we talked a bit about that when they were here. They all said they plan to come to visit Japan whenever we get there, and my fantasy is having our entire family together there one year for Christmas.

Although we are moving along with all that needs to be done before the end of April, on some days it all seems to be too much or we’ll remember something that needs to happen and add it to a growing list of Things We Have To Do. I hope we can remember it all. Right now our efforts on focused on getting the items we want to store packaged and ready for shipment, and making sure we have all the provisions needed to get started (shave cream, curl cream, deodorant, etc.). Everything came together before and I’m mostly confident it will again but when I think of all that needs to get done it still puts a knot in my stomach some days.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Last Thing He Told Me on Tuesday – great book! – and am now reading The Girls in the Garden, also very good. I hope to finish it early next week so I can get going on the last book from the library.
  • Listening to: For some reasons there were loads of chickens going on about something outside when I woke up. Not right in our yard, but in one of the yards behind us. Thankfully that was over quickly and now it’s blissfully quiet. It’s a beautiful morning too – blue skies, light breezes, and not too cool. Brett’s sort of banging around in the kitchen though because he’s making pancakes for our breakfast!
  • Watching: Dexter: New Blood’s final episode last Sunday was a satisfying ending, and Cobra Kai’s last show for the season left us eager to see what comes next (we’ll be able to stream Netflix overseas). The plot/premise of You took a twist in it’s third season, and we’ll finish it either tomorrow or Tuesday. We watched the movie Encanto with YaYu on Monday (great music, story not as good), and then three nights of the documentary, The Beatles: Get Back. I’m so glad we had the chance to see it . . . so may memories for Brett and me, so much we didn’t know about their final months together. YaYu liked it but it took her a while to figure out who was who! However, when she visited us in England in 2019 she didn’t even know the Beatles were British, so I guess we’ve made some progress.
We will pick up another carry-on at the thrift store for the rest of YaYu’s things. She is not ready to part with any of her things. Both bags will contain many items from elementary school that she is not ready to let go of.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: 1) All of YaYu’s packages were mailed back to Pennsylvania – they’re scheduled to arrive the same day she does. The rest of her stuff will go into a couple of carry-on bags that we’ll check and carry with us when we go to her graduation. The cost of checking the bags is less than what it would cost to mail everything. 2) I packed six more boxes for storage and we are going through packing supplies like water. 3) I went through my sewing box and created a small travel kit with thread in six colors, needles, a small pair of scissors, 10 safety pins, a few buttons, and some snaps. The rest of my old kit will go to the thrift store. 4) Never my favorite thing, but I got my blood drawn on Friday for my annual cholesterol check – I’m always happy when that’s over. I should hear from the doctor next week and get a new prescription to carry along with us. 5) We did our Big Shop last Wednesday (a week early) as we seemed to have run out of everything at once, especially produce. Other than having to buy some more produce in a couple of weeks, Brett and I are good to go though until the end of the month. 6) I finally finished my last goal with Swagbucks, a $50 Amazon gift card which I’ll use to buy a few books for my Kindle. After over a year of heading to their website every evening, I am very glad to be done with it.
The storage box area is filling up – I try to work on it every day. Currently I’m waiting on two cartons of styrofoam peanuts to arrive so I can finish packing a few more things that are otherwise ready to go. Our goal is to have everything for storage ready to mail by the first of March, and then send everything at once. Each box is/will be numbered and the contents recorded so we will know they all arrive safely (or what possibly went missing or was damaged).
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) I’m getting my annual skin check done this week, the next-to-last health-related matter to take care of before we leave (I still have a dental cleaning and exam the last week of this month). 2) We were so happy to have our girls here and spend time with them, but are also glad to have the apartment to ourselves again, especially with all we have to get done in the next few months.
We had about as perfect a beach day as one can have at Salt Pond last Thursday.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We had another wonderful, long beach day last Sunday at Salt Pond beach park, and then again on Thursday, giving us four beach days in a ten-day period. That’s something that’s never happened before! 2) I had one sale on Etsy, again unexpected but always a good thing. I have so few hashioki left (somewhere around 50 now) that any sale these days is a reason to celebrate.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Brett had some expensive dental work done last Monday. We paid cash and saved $30. 2) I’m not sure whether I can call our Big Shop last week frugal or not. We spent more than usual but that was expected because we bought more non-food items than usual, some of it for packing (bubble wrap, tape, boxes) and other things we’ll need when we travel (vitamins, shaving cream, deodorant, etc.). I couldn’t get over how many things I walked past at Costco that I used to always buy, but are now too big for us to finish before we go. 3) I found three $1 pills buried in a pocket in my purse – I have no idea where they came from or how long they’d been there – and we turned in all the bottles and cans we’ve been collecting for ages and got $6.35 for those so $9.35 went into the change/$1 bill bag this week. 4) There were no leftovers and no food was thrown away.
  • Adding up what we sold: I sold five hashioki and $31.09 will be going into our travel account tomorrow. I am going to keep the Etsy store open until the end of February and then shut it down. WenYu had agreed to keep it open for me, but it will be easier all around to close it for good and put the remaining chopstick rests for sale at our yard sale.
  • Grateful for: Brett and I are both so very thankful for the wonderful time we had with our daughters in December and this month. We had all missed each other so much and had so much fun together. We are so proud of the accomplished young women all three have become, and can’t wait to see them again in May, at YaYu’s graduation.
  • Bonus question: What are your favorite and least favorite household chores? I enjoy doing the laundry, from the sorting all the way to folding things and putting them away. I always feel when I’m done as if I have truly accomplished something important even though I know that I’m going to be doing it all again in a few days. My least favorite chore is dusting, something else I know I am going to have to do again in a couple of days. Thankfully because our apartment is at the back of the our building and away from the road we get far less dust here than any place we have lived in the past (and for a small island in the middle of the ocean, Kaua’i generates an awful lot of dust). Anyway, I prefer just about any other chore there is to dusting.
Allie the cat waiting to see if The Girl will come out.

After we returned from the beach on Thursday, Allie the cat was waiting for YaYu in the driveway and they spent over an hour relaxing together one last time. Allie was positively despondent on Friday and yesterday though when she came by and there was no YaYu. She tolerates us (barely) but the two of them forged a genuine bond. We have always wondered who feeds Allie because she has always been fairly chonky for a street cat, but we learned this past week it’s our next door neighbors! They also give her a safe place to sleep when the weather’s bad which is why she has remained in such good health. We were all so happy to learn that she’s cared for but for being loved there was no one for her like YaYu.

And that’s a wrap for another week! Four months from today we will be on our way to France – our remaining time on Kaua’i is moving along very quickly. I hope everyone enjoyed an equally productive week, one filled with good things, and is looking forward to the once coming up!

Home Cooking: Namasu (Japanese Pickled Cucumber Salad)

This refreshing, easy, and healthy cucumber salad from Japan has become a big favorite with our family. It doesn’t take long to put together, and makes a great side salad, especially with Asian dishes. The cucumbers are also delicious on sandwiches.

The secret to making namasu is slicing the cucumber super thin – I aim for 1/8-inch slices. A mandoline slicer makes short work of this, but I use nothing more than a sharp knife and it doesn’t take long to get two cucumbers sliced and ready to marinate. Japanese or English cucumbers are best as the peel is edible, and a little peel left on enhances the green color of the pickles.

Some namasu recipes call for the cucumber slices to be salted before mixing with the dressing, but I’ve found I get a crisper salad when I don’t salt ahead of time. The salt draws out moisture from the cucumber and makes them limp, so without salting first there is more liquid at the end but crisper slices.

The amount of sugar called for almost seems too much, but it balances perfectly with the vinegar and ginger so that the dressing is neither too sweet or too sour.

NAMASU (Japanese Pickled Cucumber Salad)

  • 2 large Japanese or English cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 to 1 tsp salt
The dressing can be mixed right in the measuring cup

Mix together sugar, vinegar, and ginger and allow the sugar to dissolve completely.

Wash cucumbers and peel, letting a little peel remain. Slice the cucumbers approximately 1/8-inch thick. Place in a large bowl – a low, almost flat bowl works best.

Thinly slicing the cucumber is critical.

If salting ahead is preferred, sprinkle the salt over the cucumber slices and let sit for around 20 minutes to remove some of their water. Afterwards, rinse the cucumbers well and squeeze out as much moisture as possible before placing back in the bowl.

After marinating for an hour, the dressing will completely cover the cucumber slices.

Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and let sit at room temperature for at least one hour, although two hours is ideal. The dressing won’t initially cover all of the cucumbers slices, but as the salad sits the cucumbers will wilt and eventually all will be covered by the dressing. If the cucumbers were not salted ahead, add only about 1/4 tsp salt before serving.

Namasu can be served at room temperature or chilled. Remove the cucumbers from the dressing to serve.

Several things can be added to namasu to kick things up a bit, if desired. Some of the more popular additions are below and can be used individually or mixed and matched according to taste:

  • 1 1/2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dark sesame oil (our preference – it’s added to the dressing)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • thinly sliced onion
  • mung bean sprouts
  • thin strips of kamaboko (Japanese fish cake)
  • wakame seaweed, reconstituted in water, then drained

Could You Travel Full-Time?

Brett came to embracing the idea of full-time travel a bit later than I did, but living on the road and seeing the world was a long-time dream for me. We sort of stumbled into our decision to travel full time back in 2017 after we’d come up with a list of places we wanted to visit and were trying to prioritize them. At one point Brett mused aloud, “I wish we could see them all.” We looked at each other and I asked, “Could we possibly do that?” From there we started investigation, crunched numbers for a couple of weeks, figured out what we would have to do to make traveling full time a reality, came up with an initial itinerary, and the first Big Adventure was born.

For us, it was an ideal time in our lives to travel full time. We had already sold our home before coming to Hawaii and were renting. Our children were grown and independent for the most part: our son and family lived permanently in Japan, and our three daughters were in college and getting ready to start their careers. Other full-time travelers we met along the way were in similar circumstances; that is, not tied down with family obligations (either had no children or their children were grown and independent) or in a couple of cases, we met whole families that were traveling full time.

We initially decided to give the experience around a year and see if and how we liked it. We sharpened our itinerary, created a budget, put some of our things into storage and sold everything else, and set out in August of 2018 after getting YaYu settled at college. We began our journey in South America (Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay) then headed to Europe (Paris, Normandy, Strasbourg, Lucerne, Bordeaux, Florence, Rome, and Lisbon) before returning to the U.S. for Christmas with our daughters. Then it was off to India, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand followed by a three-month stay in Tokyo. We came back to the U.S. for the summer to provide YaYu with a location so she could work during her break, but she ended up going to Japan for the summer and we ended up playing tourist in our old home town of Portland. In late August of 2019 we flew to England and spent three wonderful months in the Cotswold village of Blockley, visiting the area as well as London and Edinburgh, then returned to Portland one last time for another Christmas with our daughters. We followed that stay with a short visit to Kaua’i and then headed on to Japan for what we thought was another long stay. COVID had other ideas though and in late March 2020 we returned to Kaua’i to wait things out and stay safe. After working through lots of other ideas the past two years we finally realized we wanted to return to full time travel, but a bit more slowly than before, and we will set out again in around four months on another Big Adventure, fully vaccinated and boosted, and armed with additional tools and knowledge that we hope will keep up safe.

Brett and I fell in love with full-time travel because we enjoyed not only the experience and adventure of it, but also the minimalism required, and after 40 years of raising children we loved having the time and freedom to explore and see places we had only previously been able to dream about. Many travelers we met, like us, didn’t start with an idea of indefinite full-time travel, but also grew to love it, especially the ability to travel at a pace that worked for them. COVID certainly turned things upside down, limited the places an American can go, and changed travel forever. However, we’ve found it’s still possible to create a travel itinerary, domestic or international, and make it happen. Many “travel bugs” are already back on the road once again.

There are as many ways to travel full time as there are people, and no way is the best. Some people (like us) stay in Airbnb rentals, but other housesit, house swap, or travel in an RV. Some take advantage of couch surfing or staying with friends, while others stay in hotels full time or even live on a cruise ship! We’re going to be traveling slow(er) this go around, staying in Airbnbs again for at least two months in each place to give us more time to get to know an area. Our goal is not to see everything and every place in the world, but to have a deeper experience and greater knowledge of the places we do visit.

If you’ve ever dreamed of or just thought about traveling full time, Brett and I came up with a few things to consider:

  • Can you give up having a permanent home? This is where most stop when it comes to traveling full time. It’s definitely a major step to consider, let alone take. However, living on the road does not mean having to sell or permanently give up your home. Many travelers rent their homes while they travel, or return home for short stays in between longer jaunts. Some full-time travelers do house swaps. Some find after a while that they want to relocate overseas, and some discover that they no longer need or want to keep their home at all, and plan for a later, smaller purchase when the travel stops. Lodging choices around the world run the gamut from sleeping on someone’s sofas all the way to luxury apartments and homes, with everything in between, and how you choose to live on the road is completely up to you and your budget. We’ve stayed in some pretty wonderful places for not a lot of money.
  • Do you have a way to support yourself when you travel? Food, lodging, transportation, as well as possible sightseeing and so forth all still need to be covered during travel. Some have to be paid in advance, like deposits for lodgings or airline tickets. Some full-time travelers save as much as possible ahead of starting out and then stop and work for a while as needed or stop traveling when the funds run out. Some take advantage of travel hacking to save on travel expenses. Others, like us, have a reliable, steady income that we supplement with savings, and some full time travelers work remotely as they travel.
  • Are you in good health? No one needs to be in perfect health to travel full time, but you should be able to do things like move a (potentially heavy) suitcase around, climb stairs now and then, walk a bit, and so forth. If you take medication you need to plan for how to keep prescriptions refilled, and be willing to visit a doctor or dentist, if necessary, in another country. Health insurance for travel is a non-negotiable necessity and should always be included in any planning or budget creation.
  • Are you able to stick to a budget? This is absolutely critical. Living full time on the road means figuring out ahead of time how much you can afford to spend for things like lodging, food, transportation, miscellaneous costs, etc. and then sticking to that budget just as you would if you were not traveling. Some things – mortgage payments, utilities, car insurance, and such – may go away, but others, like getting from one place to another, pop up. It’s important to know your daily spending limits, set up a spreadsheet or maintain a daily journal, and be willing to track expenses for everything, every day. We eventually figured out that an envelope method worked well for us at each destination, but there are loads of ways to make sure you’re not overspending.
  • Can you save, save, save ahead of time? Unless you have unlimited funds, it helps to figure out ways to boost your savings before setting out and then possibly use those funds to help the adjustment into a full-time travel budget. Savings can come from many directions, including selling your things, even possibly your home. We learned that having savings we could rely on ahead of time went a long way when it came to getting our footing as we began our travels.
  • Are you flexible? While some planning for travel is necessary, are you able to change quickly if necessary? Travel planning means putting a foundation in place, creating an itinerary, and setting goals but it doesn’t mean scheduling every moment you’re on the road or knowing everything you’re going to do ahead of time. Things do and can change, go wrong, or not go as expected from time to time. I know of some full-time travelers who plan things out about six weeks ahead, others just a week or so. Brett and I are more the six months ahead types but we have an emergency fund, always have a Plan B and Plan C, and we can change on a dime when it’s called for without falling apart.
  • Are you willing to embrace minimalism? Full-time travel requires learning to live with what can be carried in a suitcase or even just a backpack. Minimalism does not mean having to get rid of everything, including your home, but it does mean letting go of your stuff at least for a while.
  • Can you and your travel partner’s relationship withstand the give and take of living on the road (if you’re not traveling alone)? Full time travel allows you to play to skills you already have as well as discover talents and strengths you didn’t know existed. Brett turned out to be a superb logistician – he has an uncanny sense of direction, and always got us where we needed to be when we needed to be there. He also loved tracking the daily minutia of travel including our spending each day, how far we walked, etc. On the other hand, I’m good at and enjoy planning, discovering bargains, keeping us fed, and finding entertainment, so those tasks typically fell to me. We made a great travel team! It was also important that we have a solid, loving relationship and enjoy spending time with each other. That being said, our marriage is better and stronger because of our travels.

After we first asked ourselves that fateful question, “could we do that?”, the above were the things we asked ourselves and investigated before we committed to traveling full time. A few were unknowns that we discovered as we traveled, but most of the above were examined carefully before we finally decided we could manage living on the road. The one thing missing from above though? Finances – but that’s a subject for another post.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (1/2 – 1/8)

I’ve really enjoyed cooking with YaYu these past few weeks. She and I make a good team: I create the mise en place (i.e. do all the chopping and other prep) and then she comes in and magically puts it all together and seasons everything perfectly. All three of our daughters have become good cooks, but YaYu is the one who enjoys it the most.

With YaYu leaving at the end of the week, Brett and my new motto going forward is “use it up.” We will still shop and continue to follow a vegetarian diet, but our main goal will be to finish up the many things we have on hand in the pantry and refrigerator, like condiments or baking supplies. There’s not a lot and it’s going to take some creativity, but hopefully we will be able to use everything and not have to replace anything. I doubt we’ll be buying much at Costco before we leave other than travel supplies, produce, and a couple of other things we use regularly, but I’m still hoping we can keep to a healthy well-balanced diet while not blowing up our food budget.

Meals last week were fairly simple. The spicy Singapore noodles YaYu made were amazing, and because she and I did it together it didn’t require as much effort as it would have for either one of us on our own. The cheeseburgers and grilled ahi tacos were also exceptionally good.

Sunday: Pasta with marinara & plant-based meatballs; roasted squash

Monday: Vegetarian cheeseburgers; 3-bean salad

Tuesday: Vegan corn dogs; onion rings’ 3-bean salad

Wednesday: Spicy Singapore noodles with shrimp

Thursday: Grilled ahi tacos with fresh mango salsa

Friday: Be’f pot pies; garlic roasted cabbage

Saturday: Vegetarian meatball mini pizzas

Our dessert almost all week was the remainder of the pecan pie we started the week before. It was very delicious, but also very sweet and sticky and it will be a l-o-n-g time before we need to have one of those again. We made s’mores outside one evening, and enjoyed a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake the rest of the week (the orange cake will get made this week).

Next week’s dinners will continue to be easy to put together, with YaYu making her yummy fried rice for us one more time. Brett and I will have the spring rolls and mini pizzas after she departs. We’re going to miss our girl and all her spicy concoctions (she adds lots of red pepper flakes, sriracha, or chili crisp to every on her plate, sometimes in combination. We don’t know how she does it, but she loves the heat.

  • Fried rice with imitation crab & vegetables
  • Chick’n patty sandwiches
  • Vegetable spring rolls with rice
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheesy white bean & tomato bake
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Vegetable barley soup & toasted cheese sandwiches

Breaks in the weather at the beginning of the week allowed us to walk up at the park last Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. By the time we finished walking on Tuesday though I knew something was seriously wrong with my right foot and took the rest of the week off to let it rest. We went to the beach on Wednesday, and on Thursday Brett and YaYu took a hike in Waimea Canyon while I stayed home and got things accomplished. On Friday we went back to the beach at Barking Sands, but all of us took a long walk on the sand versus using the Waiokapua Trail as usual. The sand was much easier on my foot, and sand walking burns at least half again the calories of walking on a hard surface. On Saturday Brett and YaYu went for another hike, this time on the Maha’ulepu Trail while I again stayed home and continued to rest my foot. It still hurts a bit, but nothing like it did last Tuesday.

Kukuiolono was beautiful on Tuesday after all the storms. Lots of interesting and pretty mushrooms had appeared in all the damp ground around the park.

Ever since Brett and I stopped hunting for golf balls and walking the perimeter of the golf course we have been quite literally pounding the pavement doing two pavilion loops and then up the road to the clubhouse and back down. Constant soreness in my hips returned, and I apparently also developed a Morton’s neuroma in my right foot. Toward the end of our walk last Tuesday the pain was excruciating, shooting through my foot and up my ankle as we walked down the road from the clubhouse to the car – I wasn’t sure if I could finish the walk or not. I want to continue walking though so we have decided to return to perimeter walks in the park later in the day as the soft terrain is easier on my foot. We will also walk at a slower pace as the brisker walks on the (very uneven) pavement were also part of the problem, even for all the calories burned. Hopefully my foot will improve as I’m not sure what can be done otherwise in the time we have left here other than possibly a cortisone injection.

Sunday Morning 1/9/2022: A Beautiful Week

As the storms cleared out on Tuesday, we were rewarded with this gorgeous sunset. There were none the rest of the week however – because there were no clouds!

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

After an absolutely soggy week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the first week of 2022 year turned out to be a very nice one here on Kaua’i. There was still a lot of rain and a big, loud thunderstorm one night early in the week, but that mostly happened while we slept (the thunderstorm woke us all up though). The rest of the week there were blue skies and soft breezes, and we took advantage and got out as much as possible for hikes and afternoons at the beach. We were going to visit the Kaua’i International Center today but may go back to the beach instead.

The village of Colmar, named as one of the most beautiful villages in France, is a required stop on the Alsatian Wine Route.

I had a fun doing a little travel planning for a couple of side trips while we’re in Strasbourg. We’re already planning to take a short three-day getaway over to Mainz, Germany (via train), and up the Rhine River for some castle viewing, but we also would like to make a four- or five-day drive south of Strasbourg on the Alsatian Wine Route for some tastings, sightseeing, and hiking. Also, it’s a very short drive from Strasbourg to the Black Forest, so we hope do an overnight visit there as well, or maybe just a day trip. All of these will of course depend on whether there will be restrictions in place because of COVID, but it was still fun thinking about where we might go, stay, and what we’d like to see and so forth. We heard from our previous Strasbourg host this past week and we’re both excited about getting together again.

We finally got our mail released this past Wednesday. Brett went to the post office on Monday, but they still would not give the mail to him without the neighbor’s permission. So, Brett messaged the neighbor once again. The neighbor finally seemed to grasp that this was his doing and emailed a letter to the post office (with a a copy to us) authorizing them to release the mail to Brett. However, the post office still needed the code they had sent him, but he had thrown away it away (!), so the mail was stuck. The postmaster finally agreed to release the mail to Brett after calling the neighbor back in New England and getting verbal permission while also warning him to never do anything like this again. It turned out over 50% of the mail being held was ours, not only our packages but some other things as well, like my voter registration. The neighbor has delayed his return to Kaua’i, and we were afraid he might have gotten COVID, but he says it’s because he’s stopping in Portland to set up a household goods shipment with his girlfriend. Whatever – it still means a few extra days of peace and quiet upstairs for us.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: The library released three books off of hold this week: The Girls In the Garden, by Lisa Jewell, The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave, and The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee. It never rains but it pours. I had been #2 on the waiting list for The Girls In the Garden for nearly six weeks, #3 on The Shadows of Men list for the same amount of time, and last week was in the #142 position for The Last Thing He Told Me (I started at #832), but they all showed up on the same day! I’m thinking possibly 140 people in front of me got tired of waiting for the The Last Thing He Told Me and either bought it or got it as a gift for Christmas. Anyway, I’m reading it first because it was on hold the longest, then will move on to The Girls In the Garden with The Shadows of Men in anchor position.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying a beautiful, quiet morning. The skies are blue, the sun is shining, there’s a soft breeze, birds are singing, and otherwise nothing but peace and quiet outside. Allie the cat has already stopped by and she and YaYu are out on the deck in the sun. Brett is reading, so it’s also quiet and peaceful inside, a lovely way to start the day. YaYu is going to make some scones in a little while which we’ll have with vegan sausages for our breakfast.
  • Watching: Our viewing didn’t change much from last week: We’ll finish up Dexter: New Blood tonight, but finished Only Murders In the Building last night. We have another season of You to go and have almost finished the current season of Cobra Kai. YaYu wants us to watch a few movies with her this week, starting with Parasite.
Another mammogram completed!
  • Happy we accomplished last week: 1) I got my annual mammogram done (everything normal – yeah!) and my blood work ordered for my annual cholesterol check, which will happen this week. 2) I finally got my online prescription account untangled. Previous signup attempts with the program never worked and no one seemed to know what the problem was, but the technician I spoke with this time tried something new and voila! So glad to have that done before we travel. 3) We took several more bags to the thrift store and I packed seven boxes of things to (eventually) be mailed for storage. I would have done more but we ran out of packing materials. 4) We purchased YaYu’s ticket for her flight back to Pennsylvania; she’ll be leaving at the end of this week for her final term. 5) I deleted over 1200 photos off of my phone last week. There’s more to do, but this was a good start.
  • Looking forward to next week: We don’t have a lot on the calendar (I don’t think a dental visit counts as something to look forward to) so we should have a quiet and productive week with YaYu before she leaves. We’re all hoping for more beach weather!!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Beach days! Two of them! Wednesday was absolutely beautiful so we headed down to Shipwreck Beach and spent a few hours lolling on the sand under our umbrella. It was as glorious as hoped for. Friday’s weather was even better so we headed out to Barking Sands for the afternoon and were not disappointed. We were able to do some whale spotting on both days, mostly spouting but we also observed a couple of flamboyant full breaches. The weather remained nice enough on Wednesday evening that we enjoyed a fire outside and made s’mores. 2) The weather was also great on Thursday, and Brett and YaYu did a long hike in Waimea Canyon. I got a lovely, long day to myself to recharge and take care of some things that were difficult to do with everyone here. They hiked the Maha’ulepu Trail yesterday while I got more storage packing done. 3) One of the packages from our mail hold was a pair of travel umbrellas for Brett and me, a gift from YaYu! Umbrellas were the one thing we forgot before we started off on our last adventure, a mistake we didn’t want to repeat. Brett also got a new pair of Apple ear buds, YaYu’s screen protector and case for her new phone arrived, and some additional KN95 masks came as well (they’re very hard to find here). I also received some simple bullet journals I plan to use going forward rather than recording my daily tasks on 4×6 cards. 4) I had two Etsy sales, both unexpected this past week but always a good thing.

Brett and YaYu had a fantastic hike on the Waimea Canyon Black Pipe loop trail on Thursday (photo credits: Brett & YaYu)

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) By buying YaYu’s tickets to fly here and back separately, we saved approximately $300 from what we would have had to pay for a round-trip ticket during the holiday season. Her return ticket was the final one we had to purchase for our children. Once they finish college they’re responsible. 2) We had a fairly low-spend week: some packing materials, gas for the car, and a few bits of produce from Safeway (we hate shopping at Safeway because it’s so expensive but they always have what we need/want in stock). 3) We put $4.18 into the change/$1 bill bag, all the leftovers were eaten, and we didn’t throw away any food.
We really don’t want to sell this lamp, but it’s very heavy and would cost a small fortune to pack safely and mail.
  • Adding up what we sold this past week: I had two sales on Etsy: six hashioki left the house and $35.07 will be going into our travel account tomorrow. I listed our sake jug lamp on Buy & Sell but know it’s going to take a while to sell.
We’ve enjoyed some very beautiful days almost all week. It’s been cold at night though.
  • Grateful for: We’re so very, very thankful for the beautiful weather we enjoyed this past week. After December’s horrible weather it was a wonderful way to start the New Year.
Heavy clouds out at Mont St. Michel
  • Bonus question: What was the funniest thing that happened during your travels? 1) In late September 2018 Brett and I went to visit Mont St. Michel on our last day in Normandy (or, as our GPS insisted on calling it, Mont Saint Mitchell). We drove there from the little village where we were staying, but it was raining so hard that for a while we could barely see the road in front of us. We unfortunately didn’t have umbrellas or even hats, although we stopped at a couple of stores along the way to check if we could find some (nope). It was so miserable we decided if it was still raining when we got to our destination we would turn around and skip the visit. 2) When we arrived at the Mont St. Michel parking lot, although it was still very overcast, the rain had stopped! Quelle surprise! We were able to quickly get on one of the big buses that would take across the causeway, but we were still nervous and unhappy because we didn’t have umbrellas. 3) The bus driver started the engine, closed the doors, and the heavens immediately opened up again with the rain harder than ever and with added heavy winds this time. We were now trapped and going across the causeway whether we liked it or not. 4) As we stepped off the bus we were immediately glad not to have umbrellas! Everyone else from our bus was wrestling or struggling with theirs in one way or another, and it was almost like being in a Mr. Bean movie. The umbrellas, if they weren’t immediately flipped inside out, were dragging people along the causeway. Fabric was being ripped from some umbrellas and blowing away, leaving people with just empty metal ribs, and in a few cases the fabric had attached itself to people’s faces like an octopus. Brett and I started laughing and couldn’t stop even though we were getting soaked – the whole scene was crazy. However, we stepped through the stone gate at the entrance and . . . the rain and wind stopped again, just like that! 5) The first shop we went into sold umbrellas and we each got one, but never needed to even open them the rest of that day although it stayed very overcast. We both still start laughing and can’t stop whenever we think of that scene on the causeway.
The Prince Genji print, in the handmade paper mats used when it was framed in 1981. The print is around 14″ x10″ in size.

During our first tour in Japan (’80 – ’83), there was a great little antique store on the Yokosuka base. I didn’t go there much because we lived in Yokohama, but whenever I had business in Yokosuka I made a point to stop by. On one visit I found a colorful old woodblock print in the back of the shop, behind some other things. It was priced at $45, not bad for an old print, so it came home with me. A few months later I took it to a nearby Japanese gallery to have it framed, and the owner gasped when he saw it: Where did you find this? He looked it over very carefully, checked a couple of books, and told me I had an authentic Toyokuni III print, and gave me a value that was quite a bit more than $45 (I don’t remember what that was though). The print was of Prince Genji, from a series Toyokuni III did in 1858 from the famous novel, The Tale of Genji. Anyway, I had the picture framed and it has hung in every one of our homes ever since. Fast forward to last year when we decided I would sell it in my Etsy shop, we thought for around $100 or so, completely forgetting everything we had been told about it in the past. I got lazy though and never got around to listing it. None of the girls wanted it either, so we decided to keep it. When we took it out of its frame last weekend, there was the authentication slip on the back, which I had completely forgotten about. I looked up the print online to try and determine its value now and although I did not find ours, similar ones are valued between $500 and $1700! Prince Genji is going to remain with us, needless to say.

The authentication

We’ve enjoyed a beautiful week, with beautiful weather and lots of good things happening. It was a great way to start the new year as well as one of those weeks that makes me sad we’ll be leaving Kaua’i. Here’s to another good week for all, filled with good things happening, good weather, good books, good food, and good friends. And, here’s to better days for all of us in 2022!

Let’s Travel Frugally

There’s something for everyone when it comes to traveling. There’s luxury travel, cheap travel, nomadic travel, cruises, travel tours, RV travel, family travel and on and on. Almost everyone can find something to fit their needs and budget when it comes to traveling, and it’s not difficult to find ways to save both before and during one’s journey.

Brett and I consider ourselves to be experienced frugal travelers; that is, we are out to get the biggest bang for our bucks all while staying within a budget that works for us and doesn’t send us spiraling into debt. Being frugal while on the road not only means being thrifty, but avoiding waste and managing our funds with care. Being thrifty while we travel is not always about finding the lowest price but searching out the best value and getting the most for our money. For example, when we were in Rome in 2018 we signed up for a small group tour and visited the Colosseum, Palantine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The cost per person was above our usual price point, but after reading through what the tour offered compared to other lower-priced tours we decided the one we selected would give us a lot more for our money, or in other words, a better value. We ended up with a more in-depth look at these historic places (the tour guide was a local historian) and a group limited to 12 people, small enough that everyone could hear the guide and ask questions easily – no one was left “standing at the back” of a crowd . What we saw, learned, and discovered about the places we visited on the tour provided far more value than what we would have saved by booking a cheaper tour or trying to do it on our own.

To keep our travels affordable, we stayed in Airbnb rentals, shopped locally for food and cooked our own meals almost every day. We rode trains, buses, and took cheap flights, and we walked or used public transportation to get around in each location. Brett faithfully recorded our spending every day so we knew whether we over, under, or right on budget. We balanced stays in more expensive lodgings with less expensive ones in other places, and ended up just $38 over budget overall for our lodging.

In the next few months I want to explore what we’ve learned about traveling frugally, about different ways to save before and during travel, and how to get more for less while you’re on the road or visiting any location. I’ve already posted a bit about saving ahead of time for travel (located in the Saving category), but I want to learn more and better ways to travel while spending less and getting more, and I hope you’ll follow along.

Crunch Time Has Arrived

This is it! All the “fun” things for this year’s upcoming Big Adventure II have been done: itinerary drawn up, reservations made, deposits paid, flights booked, and clothes bought. We’ve sold all the “easy” stuff and built up our travel savings account.

But . . . we move out of our apartment in less than four months and the hard work of making that transition begins now.

Things have to be shipped for storage and to others:

  • A package to our son containing some of his personal papers that we had along with his baby book and other baby items we had kept.
  • A few Christmas items.
  • The few pieces of art we’re keeping.
  • All of our pottery collection.
  • Dishes Meiling and WenYu decided they wanted to keep.
  • A few Japanese items
  • Kitchen utensils and our stainless cutlery.
  • Two pillow covers, our antique Japanese banner, and our comforter.
  • YaYu’s remaining things.
  • The inflatable mattress.

So many boxes, so little time . . . .

Things have to be sold:

  • My All-Clad cookware
  • The big hibachi table
  • A sake jug lamp
  • Our dining table and chairs
  • The barbecue, market umbrella, fire pit, and patio furniture
  • Our TV/storage cabinet
  • The sofa & coffee table
  • Our mattress & bed frame
  • The car

After all that we have to hold a yard sale for everything else and what’s left after that will go to the thrift store.

We have to pack our suitcases, and make sure we’ve provisioned ourselves well enough for a long-term stay overseas.

We have to get ourselves up to our little rental on the north side for our final week on the island.

And then, on May 9, we’ll depart Kaua’i for Pennsylvania!

Crunch time has arrived and we have less than four months to accomplish everything. Wish us luck!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (1/2 – 1/8)

We polished off all of the meat in the house last week and are happily returning to vegetarian/vegan meals this week. We did a Big Shop on Thursday and stocked up and the freezer is full. Brett and I didn’t mind eating meat again, but we much prefer not eating it so are looking forward to a return to our former ways. YaYu is also thankfully happy to eat vegetarian and helped me come up with some ideas for the new few weeks. We’ll still be eating seafood now and again.

Our goal for next year is to continue to eat healthy, mostly plant-based meals and manage our portions so that we can maintain our current weight. Another task will be to better manage food purchases going forward so we don’t end up with a lot of food that has to be thrown out when we leave. For example, I passed on a big bottle of olive oil at Costco last week because I knew we wouldn’t be able to finish it before May, and it was the same for a couple of other items. We did buy three Costco-sized packages of vegan items (chick’n patties, vegetable egg rolls, and plant-based burgers), but that’s probably it for Costco other than a few things like wine and such. The store has been a lifesaver for our budget, but we just won’t be able to use up any more of those big packages before we go.

We did a great job of cleaning out the refrigerator last week, using up odds and ends of things, eating leftovers, and so forth before we shopped on Thursday. Some of our meals look pretty uninspiring though. We had a last few meals with meat during the last week of the year: a meatloaf from Costco, one of YaYu’s favorites; Snake Alley noodles with ground pork and shrimp; and lumpia, which also is made with ground pork.d

We are selling the lamp that sat on our table up until the last couple of weeks – it provided such great lighting for food photos. The only place to take a photo now is in the kitchen and the light there is awful, so I apologize for the poor quality of the food photos these days.

Sunday: Ham & vegetable fried rice

Monday: Noodle bowls topped with ham, fish cake, kim chee turnip, onion, and bok choy

Tuesday: Tofu in Thai red curry sauce; steamed rice; kim chee coleslaw

Wednesday: Potstickers; steamed rice; roasted vegetables

Thursday: Meatloaf; mashed potatoes; roasted squash

Friday: Snake Alley noodles; namasu

Saturday: Pad thai & pork lumpia; leftover namasu

We had a Pepperidge Farm cake for dessert at the beginning of the week, and then picked up a pecan pie at Costco along with some lactose-free ice cream at Times Market for YaYu (we would have preferred having apple pie but all that was available were pecan or pumpkin). YaYu tried one serving of the pie and that was enough for her and she’s been enjoying a small bowl of ice cream every evening instead. Enough oranges should be ripe on our tree that I can make an olive oil orange cake after we finish the pie next week.

YaYu helped me come up with this week’s menu. She is going to make the noodle dish with shrimp using a recipe from the Padma Lakshmi cookbook she received for Christmas (Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet) and also asked for fish so we’ll have that later in the week in some tacos.

  • Spicy Singapore noodles with shrimp
  • Plant based burgers
  • Pasta with marinara & plant-based meatballs
  • Vegan corn dogs & onion rings
  • Be’f pot pie
  • Mini pizzas
  • Grilled fish tacos

The gloomy weather this past week kept us guessing each day whether we’d be able to get out for a walk or not and it turned out to be mostly not. Monday surprised us and we did our regular 4+-mile walk at the park, but there were storms on Tuesday and Wednesday that kept us at home. It was still stormy on Thursday, but we did our Big Shop at Costco and Walmart so got two and half miles of walking done that day, but were stuck inside again on Friday and New Year’s Day. We took advantage of a break in the storms yesterday afternoon though and got in a full walk.

Kukuiolono Park was a soggy mess, but it was great to get out for a walk again. Golfers were stacked up at every hole!

Brett keeps a spreadsheet of our walking distances, and by the skin of our teeth, we walked over 1100 miles last year. We were walking longer distances at the beginning of the year, but like the distance we do now, around four miles, and are going to stick with that until we leave. I have more aches and pains than I did at the beginning of the year, especially in my hips, but nothing that keeps me from doing anything. We see a lot of walking in our future this year and are excited about the walks coming up in France and the UK (and hopefully Japan by the end of the year).

Sunday Morning 1/2/2022: Hoping 2022 Does It Better

Instead of sunsets this past week there was rain, and lots of it.
New Year’s Day tried very hard to give us a sunset but came up short.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka! Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Happy New Year! We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve with YaYu, and were ready at midnight with some wine to toast in 2022, but headed to bed shortly after midnight. Fireworks started going off on our street before 7:00 p.m. but rain kept the noise tamped down until midnight when everything seemed to explode again. This is Brett’s and my 44th year of celebrating the arrival of a new year together. It would have been the 45th, but we missed being together in 1991 because he was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. My favorite celebrations were the years we lived in Yokohama – New Year’s is the BIG holiday in Japan, and at midnight all the ships in Yokohama harbor would blow their whistles for an hour – it was very exciting. We used to get the girls up to bang on pots and pans when they were little, but otherwise we’ve always kept our celebrations low key, and this year was no different. We kept busy on our first day of the new year packaging up art we’ll be storing during our travels.

One upside to all the rain is that we didn’t have to listen to hours of these being set off. There still was a lot of firework action at midnight though, rain or no rain.

We have much to look forward to this year, but our greatest wish is that our country and the world is somehow able get a better handle on the COVID situation. I believe that those who refuse to be vaccinated at this point are dug in and sadly nothing, not evening getting sick from the virus, is going to change their minds, but I have hope that more areas of the world will have access to the vaccine which will lesson its transmission around the globe. We chatted with a neighbor this past week, a nurse at our local hospital, and the stories she told us were frightening, horrifying, and extremely sad. Nurses and doctors are burned out, and some have left or are leaving the profession creating more work for the ones remaining and affecting care for all patients. She told us of patients near death but their families either still refusing to be vaccinated, or of patients begging the doctors to give them the vaccine then. And, apparently more than one person dropped off an elderly parent at the hospital and then left Hawaii to spend Christmas on the mainland (and if something like that happened here, it happened on the mainland as well). That was beyond anything I could imagine anyone doing, but it sadly it occurred more than once.

Our view from the front door this week was almost always clouds and rain.

If I had to pick one word to describe this past week it would be gloomy. There’s been rain every day, all day, beginning last Tuesday, or gray skies filled with low clouds and cooler than usual temperatures. Thunder and lightening rolled over us last night, waking everyone. We’ve gotten out to run errands, but have mostly been stuck inside (thankfully we’ve had plenty to do). The worst part of it was learning nothing is supposed to change for maybe another week, although Brett and YaYu are hopeful they can get out for a hike by the end of the week. I’ve always felt sorry for those who’ve spent a ton of money to come here for a vacation and arrive to bad weather, but I feel exceptionally sorry for those who came this week. It’s been miserable.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I got very little reading done this week – I’ve been busy during the day, and when my head hit the pillow at night I was asleep before I knew it. I thought a book or two would have come off hold from the library by now, but I’m still in the same position on hold I was three weeks ago. eBooks are apparently not being returned on time!
  • Listening to: It’s still cold and gloomy outside, and I’d think I can see some tiny bits of blue sky peeping out, but it may be just another layer of clouds. There are birds singing though and for some reason chickens are screaming really loudly outside – they seem to be across the street. Inside is quiet though – YaYu is waking up, and Brett’s reading and catching up on the state of the world. Things will get noisy here later; but for right now my coffee is hot and delicious so I’m in my happy place (although I wish those chickens would quiet down).
  • Watching: We’ve been watching a new series, You, on Netflix, about an obsessive stalker/serial killer. Sounds awful but the show’s done very well and we’re into Season Two of three seasons. We’ve also kept up with new episodes of Dexter, Shetland, and the new season of Cobra Kai. We’re also rewatching Only Murders In the Building with YaYu, a new show for her.
A corner of our living room has been turned into a staging area for packages to be sent and things to go to the thrift store.
  • Happy we accomplished last week: 1) We mailed five packages off last Monday to Meiling, WenYu, and our son. On Tuesday we mailed off another package to our granddaughter, a woodblock print of The Princess and the Pea. 2) I packed all our Christmas items for shipment and storage, and also began packing some of the pottery we’ll be keeping this past week. Those boxes will get mailed in a few weeks. We’re using flat-rate boxes whenever possible, but will picked up some bigger, heavier boxes this week for some of the larger, heavier pottery pieces. 3) YaYu renewed her Hawaii driver’s license and is covered through 2026. 4) We cleaned out the refrigerator and then did a Big Shop on Thursday and filled it up again! We’re good to go for another two weeks. 5) Brett bought himself a new computer on Wednesday, a small, lightweight PC. He loved his iPad, but needed/wanted some features that come with a PC. YaYu will be taking Brett’s old iPad back to school with her which she’ll update with a new keyboard and case. Her current computer is on its last legs as well.
  • Looking forward to next week: YaYu and I plan to visit the very close by Lawai International Center next Sunday, a Buddhist retreat and temple that’s located almost right around the corner from us. Tours are given a couple of days each month so we signed up. Afterwards we want to have lunch at Kiawe Roots, a new restaurant serving Hawaiian-style dishes using local ingredients, located in the old Monkeypod Jam store. After all the miserable weather this past week, we’ve all got our fingers crossed for a beach day or a hike but know that’s probably not going to happen.
Allie the cat snuggling with YaYu out on the deck
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) WenYu and Meiling made it safely back to the mainland with all their things and no extra charges for all their heavy luggage. 2) I had four Etsy sales, always a good thing, and would have had one more but had to cancel it when the customer ordered two of the same item (all the hashioki are one of a kind) and wasn’t willing to make a substitution. 3) YaYu and Allie the Cat are having a wonderful reunion. Whenever the rain lets up a bit, Allie heads over here and the two of them spend time together. 4) And, we made it through 2021! YEAH!!!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I cancelled our Amazon Prime account. That’s a savings of $13.60 per month (we paid annually though), and we’re getting a one-month refund now (auto-renew was January 28). 2) Brett bought a pair of jeans from Lands’ End, and I bought two pair of Perfect Fit pants from L.L. Bean. We searched for promotional codes before we paid and Brett got 50% off his order and I got 10% off mine. We have all the clothes we need and want for our travels and are done! 3) Brett had thought about buying a computer before last week, but because he waited the price dropped an additional $50 and he got a newer edition! 4) We spent slightly less than $10 over our budget when we did our Big Shop on Thursday, but got everything we wanted. We’re currently feeding three so thought we would go over by much more than we had planned. 5) We put $2.20 into the change/$1 bill bag. The total saved in the bag the past six months was $134.97, so we’re estimating we saved somewhere around $300 in 2021 in our little bag. 6) YaYu has been very creative using things up and all leftovers have been eaten promptly.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: I had four completed Etsy orders last week. Ten hashioki left the apartment and $71.57 will be deposited into our travel account tomorrow.
  • Grateful for: Last year was difficult for everyone, and we often felt as if we were standing in the middle of a horrible storm, just trying to stay safe. In spite of all that, Brett and I managed to come up with a goal for our future, make a plan, organize, and save, and for that we are grateful. In spite of being a long, trying year, 2021 still offered opportunities, and in spite of what swirled around us, we came out ahead and in better shape than where we started at the beginning of the year.

Our four stays in 2022: Strasbourg, Oxford, Edinburgh, and Tokyo. (photo credits: Unsplash)

  • Bonus question: What are you looking forward to this year? Most of all, I am hopeful that the coronavirus will finally be tamed this year. In 1920, at the end of the Spanish flu pandemic, there was one last round before it petered out. It turned out to be the most virulent one but the least deadly, and as it waned the pandemic petered out. I have my fingers crossed and am hoping this is what’s happening with the Omicron variant – time will tell. We’re of course looking forward to traveling once again, and we remain optimistic that we will be able to go to France in May. Current rules allow us to enter France because we are vaccinated and boosted, and willing to take a COVID test within 48 hours of our departure. The UK is still iffy right now, but we aren’t scheduled to go there until next August and we’re hopeful things will have improved by then. We are also greatly looking forward to attending YaYu’s graduation in May, our fourth child to finish college (although she plans to continue on to graduate studies). Both WenYu and Meiling are going to come as well so we’ll get another small reunion before we head overseas. Otherwise, we are looking forward to divesting ourselves of more stuff before we leave, and hoping that our clothing and supplies fit into our suitcases without being overweight!

Before and since Christmas we started receiving notices that Amazon was unable to deliver packages to us. We asked at the post office what was going on and were told they were all “on hold.” What??? We certainly hadn’t put a hold on anything. It turned out that when our upstairs neighbor went on vacation he had (inadvertently) put a hold on all mail coming to our building, no matter who it was for! He thought he could ask them to sort out his mail and didn’t read that a hold is for the entire address, not one person. Brett has messaged the neighbor twice to ask if he would please remove the hold so the rest of us can get our mail, and told him we would gather and hold his mail for him until he returns like we did the last time he went on vacation. Upstairs neighbor has been very negative though, and said he had signed a card at the post office letting them know the hold was only for his mail. He blames the post office for what’s going on and won’t stop the hold because he believes someone at the post office should be personally separating out his mail from the rest of us! A couple of our packages being held are Christmas gifts to us from the girls but others are things we ordered because we need them. Brett’s going to the post office tomorrow to see if we can get the situation straightened out – as residents of the building we feel we have as much right to terminate the hold as he did to establish one that affected everyone, especially since he’s just a renter like the rest of us.

Anyway, as we begin 2022, I want to wish all a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. We’re definitely not out of the woods yet, but maybe we’re finally getting ourselves on the right path and can start to feel hopeful for an end to the pandemic. Only time will tell, but my wish is for a more positive, productive year, with more good things happening for all. Happy New Year!