Sunday Afternoon 6/17/2018

We call this section of the beach path we’re walking now the “Pass of Doom” – each side of the cut is high enough that the breeze stops, the sound of the waves disappears, the temperature climbs by 10 – 15 degrees, and the humidity concentrates.

Happy Father’s Day to any and all dads who are reading today! YaYu is working, but here at Casa Aloha Brett is enjoying a Day of Doing Nothing (although he still got up and made the coffee this morning). We bought a beautiful fresh fruit tart at Costco the other day and will having that this evening as part of our celebration.

Pass of Doom II – thankfully not as long as the other one, but all the same oppressive features (this was in the early evening, when it was in the shade – still hot and muggy though).

Summer has arrived . . . and so has the humidity. We’re not to the stage yet where it’s a constant, miserable presence, but it’s getting there. The heat and humidity has been hardest to deal with when Brett and I go for our walk. There’s thankfully almost always a cool breeze down by the beach, but we still seem to always come back soaked in sweat. We recently changed where we walk on the beach path because we wanted more hills to help continue our “strength training,” and are enjoying all the different views and vistas.

This view is our reward at the turn-around point of our walk. Note how the waves arrive out past the rocks and their directions as they approach the shore!

One of the things I will miss the most about Kaua’i is our year-round local farmers’ market. The weekly Kapaa market is always been bursting with affordable, beautiful produce, and it’s made it possible for us to eat far more fruits and vegetables than we would be otherwise. I also will miss several of the farmers that we’ve gotten to know. Below is what we bought this last week, all for $24.50. We got the two big bags of lychee for just $5, less than we usually pay for half that amount. They’re also very sweet and juicy.

This week’s haul from the farmers’ market.

We were supposed to be heading to the Big Island next weekend to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but because the park and Camp Kilauea (where we were going to stay) are both closed due to volcanic activity we’ve decided to cancel the trip. We had thought about driving up from Hilo over the north side of the island and spending the night in the Kona area, but just are not feeling it and were not thrilled about incurring the extra expense for gas, meals, and a hotel room (our cabin at Camp Kilauea had a kitchen). Plus, our flight times conflict with YaYu’s work schedule which would have made things tricky, so we’ve decided to save our money and put it toward the Big Adventure. Our airline tickets were purchased with miles I had accumulated, and while I’m sad to give those up it’s not as painful as if I had paid cash (although realistically if I’d paid cash we’d still be going)

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Cooking Gene this week and am making good progress getting through Grant. Using food and Southern cooking as the central theme, The Cooking Gene gives an in-depth view of the lasting influence of slavery. It’s an interesting, but a tough read at times. I’m thoroughly enjoying Grant – it’s well-written and has added lots of detail and nuance to things I already knew about him. I had no idea though when I started that the book has 1104 pages! I’ve been reading three to four chapters a day, and hopefully I can finish it before it goes back. I’ve started Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman. I loved every one of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, but this is the first one by his daughter that I’ve read and so far it’s great.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet around here today. YaYu is at work, Brett is reading and I guess all the dads are taking a day off from yard work and other chores because there’s not one weed trimmer or lawn mower being operated in our neighborhood (yeah!). There’s just the buzz of the ceiling fan right now and a few birds singing in the trees outside. The laundry awaits, but I’m not in any hurry to get it started – I prefer the quiet.
  • Watching: We’re still watching two or three episodes of Parts Unknown each evening – we’re now in Season Three. We’ve also started watching the new season of Goliath, with Billy Bob Thornton. Loved Season 1 and so far Season 2 is keeping up.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having curry with chicken and vegetables for our dinner tonight, one of Brett’s favorites. We were hoping for the oven to be repaired last week, but parts are on order and it’s anyone’s guess when they will arrive from the mainland – they could arrive this week or it might take a while. This week’s dinner menu includes panzanella (bread salad) with chickpeas and feta cheese, mabo nasu with steamed rice, chicken noodle soup, and pizza (which can be cooked out on the grill).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve got almost all the pictures down and nail holes repaired along with lots of other small tasks that keep moving us forward. Brett and YaYu got her passport/eye exam/college lab work all done last Tuesday – it was a very busy day. Brett and I did our not-so-Big Shop on Friday and went to our election training on Saturday but otherwise it’s been a fairly slow week.
  • Looking forward to next week: There’s really nothing on the calendar this week. YaYu will be working but otherwise Brett’s and my time will be our own. Maybe, just maybe, the stars will align and we can get down to the beach for a while.

    So proud of our son! (not sure what lap he’s on here)

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our son completed his annual fundraising event in Japan yesterday, the “Imperial Challenge.” He collects pledges, and then walks around the Imperial Palace for as many laps as he can (one lap is just over three miles) – this year he walked over 27 miles in almost nine hours, and raised almost $4500 (¥498,900). He created this event three years ago, and has now raised a total of $11,500 for Nanbyo Network, an organization that assists children suffering from incurable conditions as well as their families. We are so proud of him! We also learned that we don’t have to strip and wax the floors when we move out! YEAH!! The landlord brought in a masonry specialist this past week and as we suspected the entire floor needs to be cleaned with a special solvent and then re-sealed, and it will be a major job. The landlord will take care of everything including the stripping, so we are completely off the hook. This is the best news ever for us because we have absolutely been dreading getting the floors done to the landlord’s satisfaction. We’re still planning to turn over the keys three days early though as the condo will be available and we’d rather be over there than staying in an empty house.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had another fairly low-spend week, but we did take care of our monthly food shop, visited the farmers’ market, and we paid our electric and water bills (with cash).  Brett did bring home some tasty items from the Kilauea Bakery last Tuesday, including lilikoi cream puffs. We almost completely emptied our refrigerator and freezer this week, and were able to get everything cleaned out of the pantry and moved into the kitchen. I’m proud of the nutritious meals I was still able to pull together using the very little we had on hand. We put $8.95 into the change/$1 bill jar, $3.88 in change back from the bills, $3.07 from recycling and $2.00 change from the bakery.
  • Grateful for: I look at travel blogs, articles and forums that are available online almost every day in preparation for our travels. Any angle of travel I want to know about or figure out, I can find something about it online. While we’ve bought guidebooks (they still have their place and function) and and will take them with us, these days it’s easy to read others’ experiences and advice to figure out what we might want to do in any location, where and what are the best things to eat, what we maybe want to avoid, how we can save, etc. Every day I learn something new.
  • Bonus question: What do you like best about summer? Well, it’s definitely not the humidity here! When I was a child I loved summer: no school, swimming, barefoot days outside, our library’s summer reading challenge (yes, I was a nerd), barbecues, and summer fruit. Summer is no longer my favorite season except for the fruit. These days you can get summer fruits (melons, berries, etc.) year round, but there’s still something special about summer fruits picked in season. Ripe peaches, juicy melons, sweet plums – it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. We get tropical fruits here year round, and I will miss papayas, lilikoi, mangoes, lychee, etc. but I admit I’m already looking forward to Oregon berries, melons, plums and peaches next summer. One of my favorite summer desserts is Peach Melba: a perfectly ripe peach half topped with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberry sauce poured over it. YUM!

Another pretty view along the stretch of the beach path we’re walking now.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was yours? What good things happened for you? What are you reading and eating? How’s the weather where you are? What’s your favorite thing about summer?

A West Side Getaway

Sunday evening’s beautiful sunset (the unihabited island of Lehua can be faintly seen on the horizon).

Sometimes you just need to get away from regular life, to decompress and forget about all the everyday things that you have to do. Here on Kaua’i, we discovered that going just 35 miles away from home put us in a completely different environment, both climatically and culturally.

The weekend before last Brett and I took care of an item on our Kaua’i bucket list: a little holoholo to the island’s west side, to stay in one of the beach cottages at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands (PMRF). The getaway was supposed to be part of YaYu’s graduation celebration, but since she’s now a working girl and couldn’t take time off, and because reservations are currently hard to come by (summer season), Brett and I decided to head out on our own rather than cancel.

Our cottage

The view from our lanai

The beach cottages are run by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, and are available to all active duty and retired military members, some reservists and other classes of military veterans and civilians. We were surprised to learn when we checked in that we had been “upgraded” which meant we were assigned one of the oceanfront cottages versus one in the second row back. Our two-bedroom cottage was clean, spacious and very well-equipped, including a in-house washer and dryer – the only thing missing was a dishwasher. We had a good Internet connection (a surprise), and cable TV was also available. Our bed was comfortable, and there was air-conditioning in the bedroom which made sleep heavenly. Best of all was the amazing location – besides the view of the pristine Barking Sands’ beach and the 24/7 background sound of the surf, we could also see Niihau and Lehua islands.

Barking Sands beach, looking east. We walked out to the far point and back in the mornings

Saw loads of these on our beach walks – can you guess what it is*?

After the past few months of craziness, our time at Barking Sands felt like indulgent laziness – it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so relaxed. We woke when we were ready to get up, and took a long walk on the beach each morning. Brett went hiking in Waimea Canyon one day with friends who were visiting from the mainland but I stayed back and pitched our umbrella out on the beach and relaxed there for a few hours. We enjoyed our coffee in the morning and a glass of wine each evening out on the lanai while listening to the sound of the surf, and we headed out the beach at dusk each day to catch the sunsets.

Mango-lilikoi pie (and yes, we brought whipped cream with us!)

We brought all our own food along from home, and with the low daily price we had a very affordable little vacation. We made a couple of stops on the way down to pick up fresh pies from two of our favorite places: a mango-lilikoi pie from The Right Slice in Kalaheo, and a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi in Waimea, to bring home for YaYu. We had planned to stop at the original JoJo’s in Waimea for a shave ice on the way back, but were sad to discover they had closed.

On Sunday I had the beach all to myself. Sadly, Barking Sands is not a swimming beach – there’s a dangerous shore break and lots of rocks hidden just under the water.

Brett and I have decided that when we come back to Kaua’i to visit this is where we want to stay. Besides being affordable, it’s also sublimely quiet and peaceful, and the drive back to the south or east sides of island is not too bad. The west side is more relaxed, and there are fewer tourists. Neither of us was ready to leave when our time was up, and we wished we could have stayed a few more days. We’re happy though our our experience, and excited about the prospect of coming back some time in the future.

*This little guy and his (or maybe her?) friends were responsible for all the holes and sand hills on the beach. He’s about as big as my fist, and didn’t like having his picture taken!

Oh, the Airlines They’ll Fly!

Other than our flight from Tokyo to Portland at the end of the Big Adventure, we have wrapped up all of our flight reservations, and counted up all the different airlines we’ll be flying – the current total is 14!

Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Air Europa
  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Air
  • American Airlines (2)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Airlines
  • India Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle
  • Ryanair (2)
  • Southwest Airlines

We won’t know the Tokyo to Portland flight information until late fall or December, but the airline we use will be the one with the best fare/best schedule!

All flights are non-stop except the flights from Portland to New Delhi and the flight to Boston from Madrid. We won’t change airlines on either trip, but will have a stopover along the way. We stayed with non-stops as much as possible as they will hopefully lessen the chance of our luggage being lost.

The longest is the 12-hour+ flight from Vancouver, B.C. to Taipei, the stopover on the way to New Delhi. That entire journey will take more than 24 hours from start to finish, including our drive from Portland up to Vancouver. The most expensive flight is the one to Buenos Aires followed closely behind by the flight to Paris from Montevideo. The least expensive (and shortest) flight is one from Lisbon to Madrid. All the flights cost at least what we expected, but most cost less, sometimes much, much less than what we had estimated. Other than first class seats from Lihue to Portland at the start of our trip, and premium economy on our flight from Boston to Portland in December, we’ll be flying economy.

I also figured out all our flights put together equal around 53,000 air miles – more than two trips around the earth’s circumference! It’s very exciting and satisfying though to see that all our flights are arranged.

We have not signed up for any mileage plans yet either (other than Hawaiian), but will do that as we go along and see what we can accumulate for future travel.

Sunday Afternoon 6/10/2018

Looking west from Barking Sands – next landfall is Japan!

Brett and I both felt that our getaway to the west side was too short. It was a very relaxing time for both of us, and we wanted to stay a few more days before coming home. Both of us also wished we had gone out there earlier, and that YaYu (and the other girls) had been able to come with us as well.

The almost-end of another pretty sunset. The island of Niihau can be seen on the left horizon.

But, we are back into the thick of things. If we thought YaYu’s school and volunteer schedule was nuts, her work schedule is almost crazier with her working day shift one day, evenings the next, or having it changed at the last minute. She is working her tail off, bless her heart, and making lots of money, but she’s also exhausted and having a hard time fitting in other tasks that need to be taken care of, such as applying for her new passport (she has to appear in person) and getting some more medical stuff taken care of for Bryn Mawr.

Brett and I are taking care of things around the house, trying to get something done every day so we’re not overloaded with a ton of work right before we move out. The people who were supposed to look at the place before we left last weekend never showed up, and there’s been no other interest. The landlord claims he still has the other two interested parties from a couple of months ago on the line, but Brett and I would be very surprised if they haven’t moved on to other opportunities. It’s kind of sad because the house is actually a very nice place in a great location.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading The Cooking Gene, and enjoying how the author links together history, race, genealogy and food. I’m learning a lot as I go along as well as having to think more deeply about some things (and rethink a few things I thought I knew). My copy of Ron Chernow’s Grant came off of hold from the library at the same time as another book, so I’m reading Grant during the day on my computer and The Cooking Gene at night. Hopefully I can get one or both finished in time to get to the third book before it has to go back. Two of Brett’s and my favorite mystery authors, Ian Rankin and Tana French, both have new books being released in October. I’ve already pre-purchased both of them from Amazon.
  • Listening to: It’s pretty quiet around here right now. Brett is reading, and YaYu is still sleeping – she doesn’t go into work until later this afternoon – and we haven’t started the laundry. A few birds are singing outside, a couple of roosters are crowing off in the distance, but there’s thankfully no noisy yard work going on (for now, anyway). Yesterday our next door neighbor ran his pressure washer for over three hours non-stop, even when he wasn’t doing anything, and I thought I was going lose my mind! In the meantime I’m mainly listening to the sound of the ceiling fan overhead – summer is here, the humidity is back and the fans are on almost all the time now.
  • Watching: Brett and I finally finished Indian Summers, and are now watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, which is proving to be a bittersweet experience. The series is supposed to leave Netflix on June 16, so we’re trying to squeeze in as many episodes as we can between now and then.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having kalua pork tonight versus fried rice because we currently have to avoid using our range as much as possible – the outer oven door spontaneously shattered in the early morning hours on Thursday while we were asleep (it hadn’t been used in five days either). The glass thankfully has not fallen out of the door (yet), but there’s no guarantee that won’t happen at any moment. According to the landlord, repairs are “in the queue.” In the meantime, everything we cook has to be prepared in the slow cooker, the microwave or out on the grill, and baking is obviously out of the question. I’ve put grilled pork chops and grilled teriyaki chicken on the menu this week, and we’ll fill in with leftovers as necessary, but I am going to have to almost completely redo the Big Shop list.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve been steadily working on getting items on our monthly goals list taken care of. I removed all the pictures from the hallway, and some from the girls’ room and filled the nail holes – the landlord will be hard pressed to find them because I can barely find where they were! I’ve also been working on getting things out of the pantry and have three shelves cleaned off so far, but I’m going to have to do a bit of touch-up painting because the shelf liner stuck to the paint and has had to be sanded off. It’s been a good week for walking and other exercise too. Instead of studying French online, I’ve gone back to studying my phrase book and practicing how to order, or buy something, etc. – things I will actually need to use.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I will be working at the polls in August for the Hawaii primary and we have our training session this coming week. YaYu has worked the elections for the past two years, and was asked if she would do it once more, but she can’t because of her job so Brett and I stepped up. Otherwise, there’s nothing special on the calendar other than our Not-So-Big-Anymore Shop on Friday. We’re looking forward to a relaxing week – the weather is getting better so we may actually get to the beach.

    Sweet, juicy lychee are only in at the farmers’ market for a very short time.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Lychee were back in the farmers’ market again this week – so happy for the chance to enjoy them once more before they disappear for another year. We also enjoyed a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi’s in Waimea that we bought on our way down to the PMRF last weekend and brought home to share with YaYu – so delicious! It had been too long since we last had one. We all had a lovely luncheon at the Nawliwili Yacht Club yesterday with the Zonta Club of Hanalei, where YaYu and others received their scholarships.

    Lilikoi chiffon pie – YUM!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Brett got a very nice free haircut from a Supercuts trainee (although the guy next to Brett didn’t fare so well with his cut). 2) Other than a trip to the farmers’ market we had a no-spend week, and ate from the pantry, fridge and freezer, all of which are getting exceedingly empty. 3) Our water and electric bills were both once again lower than they were the month before. 4) I did some research, and was happily surprised to figure out that we won’t need to purchase travel insurance, a savings for us of over $900. Our credit card insures lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc. – everything but medical – and our medical and dental insurance cover us worldwide. 5) We put just $3.00 into the change/$1 bill jar, our change from the farmers’ market.
  • Grateful for: What a sorrowful week this past one was. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and others whose names most of us will never know, gave up their struggles with their demons. Once upon a time someone reached out to me when I was at my lowest, and let me know that I was valuable and that I was needed in the world. Because of that person’s intervention I was able to go on and eventually met Brett, had four amazing children and now two beautiful grandchildren, and I have had a wonderful life. My demon hasn’t been around for a long, long time, but I know it still exists – I can still hear it pacing just out of sight now and again. If you know someone who is suffering from depression, reach out to them because they might not be able to reach out to you to ask for help. You don’t have to be a therapist; just be available and let that person know you care and are there for them. Don’t wait for someone to ask – make the first move. It can make a difference.
  • Bonus question: What is your favorite song opening (because I need to think about something happy)? There are two song openings that always, always draw me in no matter what I’m doing: Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones (1969), and Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down (2000). Both are at the top of my list The Rolling Stones have had loads of great song openings, but I think what gets me with these two songs are that the openings are quirky enough for some reason to always make me stop whatever I’m doing to listen. I heard Monkey Man this past week, which got me thinking about other openings that have caught my attention in the same way, but after a lot of thought, besides Kryptonite I couldn’t come up with anything else. The opening to Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky is high on my list of favorite openings but mainly because it triggers nostalgic feelings more than anything else, immediately taking me back to my senior year, driving around San Diego in my little red ’63 VW bug. Brett said his favorite song opening is the guitar riff at the beginning of Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools.

Anthony Bourdain’s death has affected me deeply, and it will take me a long while to come to terms with it. He was one of the most honest people around, seemed to lead a charmed life, and yet we now know carried demons along with him that eventually overtook him. He had such a pure interest in the world and a genuine affinity for the unpretentious, especially for the common man or woman, viewing their lives and contributions as an integral part of a good and just society. And, he embraced the unknown and was always curious, always wanting to know and learn more. Ian Sinclair said it best for me in a tweet I read on Friday, about how to mourn the loss of this man: I feel we should mourn Anthony Bourdain in the way he would have wanted. Eat something cooked with love. Drink a cold beer. Book a trip somewhere you’ve never been. Try a new food. Tell your friends and loved ones that they are loved. Pour a bottle of truffle oil on the ground.

#Kauai: Backcountry Adventure Tubing Tour

Our grandson coming down the waterfall – he loved the tour from start to finish!

The tubing tour here on Kaua’i was never all that high on my “must experience” list. I’d heard about it, but never thought about actually doing it until family came to visit this year and I was trying to find fun, local activities to do with my grandson. Floating in a giant inner tube through old irrigation channels looked like it might have just the right amount of excitement for a seven year-old.

I ended up having so much fun that I now can’t recommend the tour enough, and keep telling Brett and YaYu they should do it before we leave the island.

Lights on! Heading into one of the tunnels – there are five of them in all.

The tour takes place on what was the former Lihue Sugar Plantation, now privately owned by Steve Case who, like the owners of the Kipu Ranch, has agreed to keep the land undeveloped. The irrigation channels and tunnels were dug in the late 19th century by Chinese laborers to supply necessay water daily to the thirsty cane (over a million gallons a day). The tunnels were hand dug through rock with laborers digging from each side and meeting in the middle. They are still considered an engineering marvel for their size and length – some even curve in the middle. The first people to float the channels did it in a kayak, and flipped over while traversing one of the tunnels, losing their light and having no way to know how long the tunnel was. It gets very dark inside the tunnels so I can only imagine how unnerving that experience was.

Starting out everyone is bit crowded but the channels move everyone along at a different pace.

Participants on the tours are provided with a helmet, lamp and gloves at check-in, then driven over to the starting point, with a couple of stops along the way to check out some spectacular views that are otherwise hidden from the public, including Mt. Wai’ale’ale’s Blue Hole and its Weeping Wall of waterfalls. At the float starting point, after receiving a safety briefing and instructions, guests climb on to their tubes and once everyone has boarded the group is released to float. Helmet lights are needed for going through the tunnels, and the gloves prove their worth over and over when the tubes drift too close to the sides and riders have to push off from rocks or mud on the sides of the channels or tunnels.

Running the “rapids”

The current through the channel can move swiftly at times, but usually the pace is leisurely. The two biggest challenges are going over a three-foot “waterfall”  and keeping from getting wedged together with others’ tubes inside the tunnels. The entire ride though is fun and relaxing, and takes a little over an hour to complete (2.5 miles), with the entire tour from start to finish taking around three hours. The guides moved among us throughout the tour and even provided live ukulele music and Hawaiian songs as we floated along! At the end of the tour we were treated to  deli sandwiches, chips, and cookies and then driven back to the tour office.

Tubing tours can be booked through Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures. They offer several tours each day (which fill up fast, rain or shine); all are suitable for children aged five and above. Tour price is $110 per person; there is no price discount for children.

Privileged To Travel

I love to travel. I love to talk about travel, I love to read about travel, and I love to hear about the places people have been and their experiences. I have been having a blast planning and making reservations for our upcoming Big Adventure. Recently though I’ve been thinking about how very privileged we are to be able to do something like this.

Brett and I have been saving every penny possible for over a year now to make this trip happen. We’re selling most of our household goods, and giving up our life in Hawai’i in order to go around the world for almost a year. We have an income that will support us, and allow us to save a little as well (hopefully) while we’re on the road. If that isn’t privileged I don’t know what is.

It would be very easy for me to say, “We worked hard to be where we are today. We deserve this” and leave it at that. But the reality is LOTS of people, here in the U.S. and all over the world, have worked hard their whole lives, or are still working hard, and cannot afford even the simplest bit of travel. Brett and I are lucky – even with some ups and downs through the years things have worked out well for us. However, I’m reminded of an anthropology professor who once said that the concept of “hard work” never exists in isolation, that some people come from circumstances or are provided opportunities that don’t or will never happen for others, opportunities that at their least enhance or support effort, but often open doors to even better things. Over the years Brett and I have both been given opportunities and chances that, along with hard work, have made our current life possible.

If we can afford to travel, whether it’s one vacation a year to the next state over or by selling everything we own to travel around the world, we are coming from a place of privilege. I’ve written that it’s not impossible to save for travel, but I also know that might be a whole lot harder or not possible if one is poor, or receiving food or other social assistance, or is working two (or more) jobs and can’t afford to take time off, or is weighted down by crushing student debt, or is in poor health and facing (or trying to pay) high medical bills.

And, travel can also be far more difficult to undertake if one is a person of color, identifies as LGBTQ, or has a disability.

Travel is a consumer good (no one travels for free), but it seems sometimes as if it’s been put on a pedestal and is being offered as something else. However, whether one is traveling on a budget or whether money is no object, it’s worth remembering that travel is something that’s not available to everyone, at any price.

Brett and I are LUCKY that we can afford to even dream about, let alone prepare for and make our Big Adventure. In our case it has meant careful planning, months and months of saving, and following every penny closely, but our ability to travel is a privilege, and we don’t ever want to forget it.

Sunday Miscellany

My favorite view on the island.

There’s no regular Sunday post today – Brett and I are down on the west side for the weekend with no Internet connection. I do have a few odds and ends though:

  1. We’ve had a long, cool winter and spring, and I knew it was coming, but . . . the humidity is back. Ugh. It’s not as bad as it’s going to get, and the trade winds are currently still brisk, but the humidity is noticeable and has gotten uncomfortable at times. For a brief while though I had almost forgotten what it’s like to sweat so much! We’ve got less than two months to go in the house, and the condo we’re moving into at the end of July is air-conditioned – we’re all looking forward to it!
  2. I’ve been reminded that while there are a few big moments during the downsizing process, mainly it’s lots and lots of little tasks, ones you have to keep doing every day. Sometimes I look at all that’s left to do and feel discouraged, but then realize that our shipment at the end of this month will take care of a lot of what’s here; friends moving to the island are taking a big part of our furniture at the beginning of July; and right after that we’ll have a big garage sale and will hopefully get rid of most of the rest! It all will be happening sooner rather than later.
  3. I’ve also realized that because of the above scheduled events, for most of July we won’t have a TV, or any furniture other than our inflatable mattresses. We’ll still have our Internet connection to the end of the month though and will watch stuff on our laptops, and we’ll be working hard in the meantime on getting the house deep cleaned. It’s going to be an interesting month though, to say the least.
  4. This month will mark the fourth anniversary of our arrival on Kaua’i. It seems though like we’ve been here a lot longer than four years. I feel very sad when I think about leaving, and I find myself looking at things around the island more closely these days, or closing my eyes and picturing different places in my mind so that my memories stay strong.

Assembling A Medical Kit

Thank goodness we don’t have to take along anything like this 19th century travel kit!

During the next couple of months, Brett and I will be gathering together various items for a small medical kit to carry along on the Big Adventure. We both take prescription medications and have those covered, and we also take a multivitamin every day, but we’ve come up with the below list of various other items we think it would be wise to carry along, just in case.

  • Neosporin
  • bandaids
  • alcohol wipes
  • Aleve
  • Sudafed cold tablets
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • Bonine (for motion sickness)
  • Pepto-Bismol tablets
  • Tums
  • laxative tea bags
  • sunscreen
  • (extra) medicated lip balm
  • hand sanitizer

All will be in regular-sized packages that hopefully will not take up too much room or be too heavy (i.e. nothing will be Costco-size), and hopefully we can get it all into a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Other than the hand sanitizer, nothing is a liquid so that it can go into one of our backpacks and not cause problems at security.

I know many of the above items can be found in the cities where we’ll be staying, or at least something similar, but if we’re not feeling well I also know we’re not going to want to have to hunt for a pharmacy or try to figure out how to ask for something in a different language.

I feel like we’ve covered most every scenario that won’t require seeing a doctor, but what are we forgetting? I’d love to have your suggestions for any other items you think we should carry, or that might be necessary.

Goodbye May, Hello June

June doesn’t actually arrive for another couple of days, but we now officially have less than two months to go before we move out of our rental house, and there is more than plenty to do in the coming month to continue to get ready for that.

First though, here’s how we did with last month’s goals:

  1. Pay at least $900 on our credit card balance. We paid $4613.50 on the balance. We still have a bit more to go though.
  2. Clean out paper files. Brett took care of this, and got our entire file box compressed down to one envelope of papers to keep.

    Before: The original finish on the table was dissolving, and a hot mess thanks to heat, humidity and salt.

  3. Strip, sand and oil table top. Done – the table is beautiful and ready to go to its new owners!

    After: Believe it or not, this is the same edge on the table. Citrustrip, mineral oil and a little elbow grease made the table gorgeous once again!

  4. Reserve window cleaners and house cleaners for move out in July (we’ll need help with the windows and floors). We decided to do these tasks ourselves.
  5. Clean out bookshelves in YaYu’s room and help YaYu fill at least one bag of stuff for the thrift store. The most difficult task of all because she hates to throw away anything (but of course can’t take it with her to college either), but she got it done! We filled one bag of stuff from her room along with another bag from around the house to go to the thrift store.

Here are our goals for June:

  1. Pay at least $900 on our credit card.
  2. Purchase travel insurance.
  3. Clean, oil and buff three tansu for new owner.
  4. Take down and package TV for new owner; disassemble girls’ bunkbed and clean.
  5. Take down all art work from the walls; fill and repair nail holes.
  6. Empty pantry, clean shelves (repaint if necessary).
  7. Take all items to be shipped and stored into the garage for the movers.
  8. Start pricing items for moving sale.

Let’s see how it goes!


Sunday Afternoon 5/27/2018

Ready for graduation with stoles and honor cords. So very proud of this girl!!

She did it!  YaYu’s graduation was a wonderful, fun celebration in spite of pouring rain throughout the ceremony. Even with umbrellas the graduates and everyone else there got soaked. We shivered too as the wind picked up and the temperature kept falling lower and lower throughout the evening. But, no one left early, everyone listened to the speeches, the songs, watched the kids walk across the stage to collect their diplomas, and then we celebrated! By the time we dropped YaYu off for the big grad night party we could barely see her face for all the lei she had collected beyond the ones we gave her, including one made from 10 containers of cup noodles! With her graduation over, we now segue from one chapter of our lives into another. We are all eagerly awaiting what comes next, both YaYu’s transition to college life and our upcoming travels!

Time to celebrate! Family lei from her brother and sisters, from Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, and the orchid one on top in memory of her grandparents. Brett and I gave her the haku (wreath). She received many more from friends, and had lei up to her nose by the time we dropped her off for the Grad Night party!

We met with the Royal Hawaiian moving estimator on Friday morning and learned it will cost us about half again as much as we thought to ship our stuff back to the mainland. Ouch. Our guess for the weight and his estimate matched, but because our shipment is a small one we will pay a higher rate per pound than we did moving over here. However, we won’t trust our stuff to anyone else because Royal Hawaiian does such a superb job, so we’ll have to readjust our budget to cover the overage. We are feeling even more thankful now for our friend’s offer to store our stuff for the coming year. By the way, the estimator, born and raised on Kaua’i, stayed and talked story with us for nearly an hour after he finished up the work part of his visit. This easy friendliness is one of the parts about living here that we are going to miss so much.

This is salt that’s been blooming up through the floor throughout the house for over a year.

Our landlord has started to spool up the drama over our leaving at the end of July. First, he has still not chosen a new tenant, although someone is scheduled to view the house next Saturday. A few weeks ago the landlord had two prospective tenants (both professionals) ready to write him a deposit check on the spot. Nope, they were not good enough for him, and there’s been little to no interest since (Hello! Because you’re asking way too much for rent!). Also, there are a couple of maintenance issues that have to be completed before a new tenant can move in. Someone who lived here before us installed shelves on the wall (without permission) in the living room and smaller bedroom, and didn’t do a very good job – the shelves are crooked and several holes were made in the wall. We asked the landlord when we moved in if he would take down the shelves, but he said no at that time so we have lived with them while we’ve been here. But now he’s asking us to take them down, fill all the holes in the wall and repaint! Nope, not touching that one with a 10-foot pole. It’s his problem; we didn’t cause it (he has apparently now hired a painter). Second, the cement floors throughout the house are emitting efflorescence, i.e. salt blooms coming up through the cement due to moisture from underneath the floor. He asked us to not only strip the wax (which we are going to do), but re-seal the concrete floors, and then come back and re-wax. Again, we said no to re-sealing the floors because it’s beyond the scope of our abilities, and again the problem is not something we caused. What we offered to do was to strip the floors for him, and then move out three days early so that he could come in and get all the repairs done before the next tenant moves in. However, he still thinks we should come back after our lease is finished and wax the floors for the next tenant! We again said no, that we are giving him three days at our expense which should cover him having to wax the floors after sealing, which could take up to two days or more to complete because all the old sealer has to come off too. Actually, the problem with the floors is a MAJOR repair issue from what we have learned. It’s possible that the baseboards in some areas will have to be removed in order to effectively re-seal the floor. We’ve decided that if he bothers us about the floor again, we’ll go ahead and strip and wax the floors, then he can strip them again for sealing. Anyway, on top of everything else we have going on, it has been exhausting dealing with him this past week. We feel like he is trying to come up with excuses to keep our security deposit, especially if it looks like he won’t have another tenant right away, and to cover his costs for the repairs too. We’ve had a good relationship with him all along, but things are starting to get weird now.

Blogger continues to disappear my comments. I keep trying though.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve almost finished The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai. The stories are fascinating, and the book is a real page-turner. I’ve got my next book downloaded already: The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South.
  • Listening to: It’s cool-ish and rainy outside, so it’s quiet other than the sound of rain dripping off the eaves. No birds, no breeze, and it’s pretty humid too. Also, there’s a teenage girl next door loudly arguing with her mother. I try to cut them some slack (they lost their home on the north shore in the flooding last month and are staying with our new neighbors) but they are loud, and it’s trying my patience today. YaYu is still sleeping off Friday’s grad night and a long work night yesterday, and Brett is reading. We’ll start the noisy laundry after YaYu gets up.
  • Watching: Brett and I watched Indian Summers, a PBS series from a couple of years ago that’s now on Amazon Prime. We had no problem following the Indian characters or most of the men through the series, but all the young English women looked the same to us and we couldn’t keep them straight! Every time we watch it’s “Didn’t she just . . .? Wait, isn’t she with xxx? No, that was xxx” and so forth. We found a couple of movies that we’re going to check out tonight.

    Fresh orange cake with dark chocolate glaze

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having fried rice again for dinner again tonight – YaYu is off from work so she’ll do the cooking. I baked an orange bundt cake yesterday and yes, put a chocolate glaze on it. I have almost used up all the cocoa powder though – there’s maybe enough to glaze one more thing. On the menu this week will be hamburgers along with sweet potato fries; spaghetti with marinara and grilled Italian sausages; and stuffed peppers. Otherwise we’ll be eating leftovers and other odds and ends out of the refrigerator.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett and I got the dining table moved out to the garage where we stripped off the messy old finish and got it sanded, oiled and buffed – it looks gorgeous! I cleaned out some more stuff around the house and filled a bag for the thrift store as well as pulled enough together to mail another package to Meiling (more kitchenware, an extension cord and a shower curtain) and also mailed two Starbucks mugs from Beijing and Shanghai to a friend who collects them. Brett also sorted through all of our personal papers and threw away and shredded things we do not need or want to keep, which turned out to be most of them. I booked our stay at an Airbnb in Lucerne, Switzerland, reserved a hotel room for our overnight in Boston, reserved a car rental to drive up to Vancouver, B.C. for our flight to New Delhi, and got tickets for our flight from Hong Kong to Perth – the fare for the only non-stop available dropped to an affordable price. I drank lots of water, and we walked five days. It rained almost every day last week, but I remain grateful for the rain because it means we don’t have to water the lawn.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re all looking forward to our first week of summer break. No early mornings, no lunches to plan or make, etc. Next Saturday afternoon we’re heading out to the west side (as soon as the rental viewing is over) for a two-night stay at one of the PMRF beach cottages – fingers are crossed for good weather! There won’t be Sunday post next week because the cottages have little to no Internet connection, but I’m looking forward to being offline for a couple of days.

    YaYu being honored at the Senior Award assembly last Tuesday (she’s so tiny!). She was in the top five in her class for dollar amount of grants and scholarships received!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: There’s no way to top YaYu’s graduation, both the lead up to it and the actually ceremony, rain and all. It was fantastic! The principal announced at the ceremony that all 273 students who began the year graduated, and the scholarships and grants for the entire class totaled over $3.5 million dollars! Not too shabby for a little country high school out in the middle of the ocean.

    LOL – this is so true!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I ordered sheets, a mattress pad and pillow sham for YaYu’s dorm room from Bed, Bath & Beyond and used a coupon to bring the total with tax to almost $5 less than the original order before tax, and also received free shipping. 2) Our flight to New Delhi next January leaves from Vancouver, B.C. and non-stop flights from Portland to Vancouver have been running around $200 per person (or more) which is way more than we want to pay, especially for such a short flight. We instead rented a car and are going to drive up to the Vancouver airport, a 5 1/2 hour trip from Portland, with lots of pretty scenery along the way. The cost will total less than $150, including gas. 3) Last month we renewed our Costco membership, but because we won’t be using it much in the coming year we downgraded to a regular membership, and saved $60. 4) We were going to go to the farmers’ market last week but realized we still had more than enough produce on hand so stayed home and saved $15 – $20. 5) We put $4.20 into the change/$1 bill jar: $2.52 from Long’s for mineral oil (for the table), $1.48 from Big Save, and 20¢ from the Kilauea Bakery (Brett bought us coconut macaroons!).
  • Reporting gains and losses: I lost another pound this last month, bringing my total loss now to 32 pounds gone. We applied $4613.50 in income and savings toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: Feeling very thankful right now that Brett was given the “all clear” this past week on his annual skin check. He’s had a couple of moles that I thought looked suspicious, and I have been worrying he would get bad news which would end up affecting all our plans, but the doctor said there was nothing irregular or cause for worry. Healthwise we are now cleared and ready to go!

    Our precious, elegant, beautiful and intelligent treasures. This portrait, my favorite, was taken about two months after YaYu joined our family.

  • Bonus question: What do your girls’ Chinese names mean? I may have answered this question before, but Meiling means “beautiful intelligence.” It was not the name given to her at the orphanage but we were told that name was “not very special” and Meiling was suggested as a substitute. WenYu means “elegant jade,” with the character for elegant connoting a “scholarly elegance.” My nickname for WenYu has always been “Her Serene Highness” – she really is elegance and serenity combined, even as a baby and toddler. YaYu means “precious treasure.” The intake worker at the orphanage wrote that she chose the name to give YaYu all her best wishes and hopes for a happy future. Each of their names, given when they were tiny, fits them perfectly. I marvel at how the orphanage workers, and the person who suggested Meiling’s name, were able to choose names that have turned out to fit them so perfectly. I also marvel at our good fortune, that Brett and I were blessed with these three beautiful, intelligent, elegant and precious jewels.

That’s a wrap for this week – it was a good one here at Casa Aloha! I hope everyone had a great week as well. What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?