The Games We’ll Play

Because we know that not every minute of the Big Adventure will be spent sightseeing or traveling from place to place, Brett and I are taking along three of our favorite diversions, Scrabble, Yahtzee and cards, for when we have some “down time. They’ve all made countless moves with us over the years, and we thought they deserved to be part of this journey as well.

We’ve had our Scrabble set since before we were married, but have ditched the box for this trip. Brett is a skilled player and I rarely can beat him, but am always willing to embarrass myself yet again and try. We’ve had our Yahtzee cup since our son was in elementary school, and repeated coverings of duct tape have kept it functional. Our family came up with our own version of Yahtzee a long time ago, playing across the scorecard versus down each row. The game moves a little faster this way, and requires a bit more strategy, but we can’t imagine playing any other way now.

Our favorite card game is a simple one: eleven card gin. We keep score, and first person to get to 500 loses. We were going to buy a couple of new decks of Bicycle playing cards to take along (versus YaYu’s deck of Studio Ghibli cards pictured above), but after I took the picture she presented us the lovely boxed set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, something her aunt gave her years ago and that have never been used.

Brett and I also enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles, the more complicated the better, but for obvious reasons will not be putting one of those into our suitcases. We hope to buy one now and again though when we’re settled in someplace for a while, and will leave it behind for the next guests when we move on.

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Welcome the Year of the Dog!

恭喜发财! Kung Hei Fat Choi! Wishing all my readers a belated Happy New Year (because the Lunar New Year actually began last Friday).

2018 is the Year of the Dog, the 11th of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Dogs are loyal, friendly, and kind, and people born in dog years are said to share those traits as well as being honest, easygoing, and helpful to others. Rather than seeking money and power they are more likely to try to make the world a better place. However, people born in a dog year can also be critical, stubborn, and cold at times. They can have trouble communicating and possibly become pessimistic. The strength or absence of these personality traits will depend on the lunar month of the year in which someone is born.

Lucky numbers for those born in a dog year are 3, 4, and 9, and unlucky numbers are 1, 6, and 7. Lucky colors are red, green, and purple, while blue, white, and gold are considered unlucky. Dogs are traditionally compatible with people born in a rabbit year, but not with those born in dragon, goat, or rooster years.

Unfortunately, this year is predicted to be an unlucky one for people born in a dog year because contrary to what you might think, the years that share your birth sign are thought to bring bad luck! If you were born in a dog year it’s recommended that you do everything you can to try to stay calm as well as relaxed as possible throughout the year. One superstition says you can hold off bad luck by wearing red underpants every day!

Industrial projects and developments in energy are predicted to be successful in 2018, while projects or undertakings based on greed will be rejected or fail. Family relationships will be especially important during the year. It’s also a good year to make lifestyle changes but you may also experience short periods of loneliness or sadness. This year has the potential to be one of hope, with differing cultures working to achieve solidarity and rejecting indifference.

Some famous people born during a dog year include Madonna, Steven Spielberg, Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson, and Donald Trump.

Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations go on for over two weeks. I was in China for the end of the Lunar New Year in 1999, in Changsha, Hunan Province. I was staying in a big, fancy high-rise hotel with a friend, and had just met and adopted WenYu the day before (Brett had stayed home with Meiling). When the fireworks started, to signal the end of the New Year’s celebrations, we thought war had been declared and the hotel was being shelled. The noise was deafening, literally earth-shaking, and one of the most frightening experiences of my life!

Sunday Afternoon 2/18/2018

This past week there was another horrible school shooting, with 17 beautiful lives ended this time by yet another person who should never have been allowed to own a gun, let alone a military-style automatic rifle. When it comes to the issue of guns, our country is like an alcoholic who refuses to admit they have a problem and get help, all the while continuing to hurt everyone around them. The NRA, founded to teach gun safety, isn’t about that anymore; its mission now is to sell more guns. And, no matter where you stand on the regulation of firearms, not one of us anywhere in this country is safe anymore.  NO ONE – no matter where or how they live, if they own guns or not, or how well-trained they are – is immune from the possibility of gun violence. People – CHILDREN! – are gunned down in schools, theaters, parking lots, concerts, shopping malls, offices – churches aren’t even a safe place any more, for heaven’s sake. The reality is that gun violence can happen to any one of us, anywhere, at any time, made all the easier by the proliferation and ease of obtaining guns in this country, especially ones that were designed specifically for killing as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. When are we as a nation finally going to say “enough” and mean it?

OK, rant over. I’ve been angry before, but I’m staying angry this time, and going forward I am going to do everything I can as a citizen of this country to change the status quo. Enough of this. I’ve been thrilled to read that high school students all over the country are stepping up and speaking out about this issue now – it’s not going away this time. The America I know and love can change and do better.

The view while we ate lunch at Brenneke’s

On a happier note, Brett and I enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s Day holoholo (Hawaiian for “getaway to someplace different”) down in Poipu. We started with lunch at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler, where the food was good, but the view was fabulous! When we arrived the place was packed with LOTS of tourists, and we were told the wait for a table would be around 40 minutes. But, 15 minutes later the hostess called our name and took us to the best seat in the house, right up at one of the front windows overlooking Poipu Beach Park! After lunch we headed over to the Kukuiula Marketplace, and had time to have a kid-size scoop of ice cream from Lappert’s and pick up a big Valentine’s cookie for YaYu before the culinary market opened. We were unable to get organic macadamia nuts for WenYu because the vendor wasn’t at the market – it turned out he was out of the country on vacation last week (but will be back the coming week), but we did buy some nice produce including a locally-grown pineapple. Since the market primarily caters to tourists we were afraid the farmers’ prices might be higher than we are used to at the Kapaa market they weren’t. We finished and headed for home in time to pick up YaYu from track practice.

YaYu’s BIG cookie

The scholarship madness continues. YaYu interviewed yesterday morning for a Rotary scholarship, but had to go out on Friday after school and buy a pair of “professional-looking shoes.” Yup, there was an actual dress code for the interview! She ended up finding an inexpensive but acceptable pair of shoes at Ross. She has one more interview to go, for a local scholarship, and then she’s all done except for the waiting.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m working my way through Hamilton and greatly enjoying it. Like Grant’s Memoirs it’s very interesting but a dense read with a lot of detail, so it’s not going very quickly, and I’m probably going to have to purchase a copy for my Kindle in order to finish it.
  • Listening to: It’s quiet inside right now although we’re starting the laundry in a few minutes. Outside it’s overcast, and has been raining off and on, but in between downpours the birds come out and sing for a while (and the roosters scream) before running for cover again. I can’t get over how many different birds we hear here – just when I think I recognize a song, up pops a new one I haven’t heard before and I wonder what kind of bird makes that beautiful song. I realized the other day that there are no crows here (or seagulls) – we used to hear them all the time in Portland and it’s been blissful here not having to listen to their racket.
  • Watching: We’ve watched bits and pieces of the Olympics, but that’s all for me this week.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re almost out of eggs, but have just enough to make scrambled eggs for the three of us tonight so we’re having those with bacon, toast and fruit. I made another pan of brownies yesterday so no baking today. On the menu for this week is pizza; grilled teriyaki pork kabobs with pineapple and green peppers; Italian sausage sandwiches with sautéed peppers and onions; mabo dofu with rice; chicken and vegetable curry; and of course leftovers.

    Good company and conversation, lovely breezes, and views like this are why Brett and I look forward to our daily walks.

  • Happy I accomplished this week: It’s always a big chore, but we got the freezer defrosted this past week. We’re trying to downsize enough that we can start keeping all our frozen items in the house, but we’re not quite there yet. Our landlord wants to buy the freezer from us so as soon as we can stop using it he will take it. We walked four days last week, I drank lots and lots of water, and studied French only four days. I’m working on phrases associated with eating and food right now, but nothing is sticking in my head. I need to be in a classroom (or in France)!
  • Looking forward to this week: We’re doing our Big Shop tomorrow – it’s the only day we could fit it in this week because of other appointments. We’ll drop in at Walmart, Foodland and Big Save on Tuesday. I’m hoping for good weather every day so we can walk every day and maybe get to the beach.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I went to the beach! The stars finally aligned on Friday and we were able to spend around an hour there, and it was wonderful! Other than not being able to get the macadamia nuts last Wednesday, our Valentine’s Day outing was lovely – everything went right, from finding a parking spot to getting the table with the best view. My daughter-in-law sent us a big bunch of photos and videos again, and we had a lovely, long chat with WenYu on Monday for her birthday. We’re down to just one teenager now.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We got our Costco rebate check: $213.55. It went right into our travel savings account. 2) I bought a $25 Amazon gift card for just 2200 Swagbucks (regular price is 2500 SB). We’re going to use our Amazon credit to buy books for our Kindles before we go. 3) We saved both money and calories on Valentine’s Day by sharing a sandwich and skipping cocktails, and then each having a small ice cream later at Lappert’s versus ordering dessert at the restaurant. 4) Our waiter gave us a 10% kamaaina discount when he learned we were local. 5) We put $9.00 into the change/$1 bill jar, leftover from the farmers’ market.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling thankful right now that Hawai’i enforces some the strictest gun control laws in the United States: “In Hawaii, no person shall acquire the ownership of a firearm, either by purchase, gift, inheritance, bequest, or in any other manner, whether procured in Hawaii or imported, until he has first procured from the chief of police of the county of his place of business, residence, or sojourn a permit to acquire.” It takes a minimum of 14-20 days to get a permit, the permit is only good in the county where it was issued, and there is no open carry. Concealed carry permits from other states are not recognized in Hawai’i. The laws in place here make a difference but no place is truly safe these days. There are all sorts of guns on Kaua’i, primarily owned and used for hunting, but there are also a couple of dealers on the island selling automatic rifles and accessories. For the most part though they are NOT welcome, and are shunned by locals.

    Mmmmm – green tea roll cake with adzuki bean filling, one of my favorite Japanese desserts.

  • Bonus question: What do you like to have for dessert? I don’t dislike sweets, but I’m not all that crazy about them either, at least not these days. If I’m going to order dessert, I prefer something like a fruit crisp or small slice of fruit pie. I also like cheesecake, but again, not a huge slice, and I enjoy anything made with green tea because those desserts are usually not as sweet as something made with chocolate and such. Mostly these days though I’m content with a cup of coffee after lunch or dinner because most restaurant desserts are huge, and too big and too sweet for me. At home I usually have a cup of coffee after dinner along with a few dark chocolate chips, and that’s enough. Brett, by the way, loves all sweets and is always game for whatever is decadent on the menu.

Hope no one got whiplash from reading this post, going from a rant to Valentine’s Day or from gun laws to desserts. It’s been that kind of week though. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What frugal wins did you have? What good things happened for you?

In a Downsizing State of Mind

Downsizing has already provided some surprises, like six travel-size containers of hand & body lotion from previous travels (I found one more after I took the picture).

We didn’t bring much with us when we moved to Kaua’i in 2014. Our things barely filled half of a 20-foot shipping container, and that’s with everything wrapped and packed within an inch of its life. In the almost four years we’ve been here we’ve only bought the following items: a washer and dryer, a microwave oven, a small two-shelf bookcase, a nightstand for the girls’ room, a chair for the living room, and a stainless steel worktable for the kitchen. Other than new clothes and replacement electronics, that’s it.

But there is still So. Much. Stuff. Or at least it seems that way.

We’ve got around six months to get rid of all of but a very few things, which will be going into storage in July. We plan to hold a moving sale in early July to get rid of as much of what remains as possible. We started our downsizing last month by cleaning off one set of stainless shelves in the garage and getting them ready to hold items that will be sold at the moving sale. This month I’m cleaning out the hallway closets (which we use for pantry storage), and next month I want to declutter the tansu in the living room, clean out my bedside table, and get started in the kitchen.

Friends Cheryl and Alan bought several pieces of furniture from us when they visited last December. They will be moving here in early summer and our things will get them started on furnishing their Kaua’i home. Our landlord also wants to help up sell some things, and he has loads of contacts around the island. Combined with a big moving sale in early July, we’ve got our fingers crossed that almost all items will be taken care of and gone, and our travel savings total a little larger.

However, before July arrives, there’s an awful lot of stuff around here that we don’t intend to sell but that’s still usable and needs to go. We’ve given ourselves a goal of taking at least one bag to a local thrift store every month. So far we’re on target this month to take at least four bags. The other day I went through and cleaned out the girls’ closet, a veritable gold mine of junk, and filled three of those bags with clothing that’s no longer worn, purses, tote bags, etc. Every day though I try to put at least one thing into the thrift store bags. We’re using up odds and ends of travel-size items we’ve accumulated over the past four years. It took us over two years to downsize for the move over here, but that provided an invaluable experience and a solid roadmap for getting it done now. The most important lesson we learned was we had to work at it every day, even if it was only one thing that got tossed or put on the “for sale” pile.

We’re also trying to downsize food supplies as we go. Although buying in bulk is the way to save here, we’re trying not to buy as much at Costco as we have been in the past. We’re trying to use up supplies on hand, and buy more items individually as they’re needed. We don’t know yet how much it will affect the budget or even if it will.

Both Brett and I are in a downsizing state of mind, and determined not to be stuck with an overwhelming amount of stuff, and lots left to do, when the end of June arrives. For now we’re keeping at it day by day, item by item. Brett is the more ruthless of the two of us, which is a bit surprising because he held the title King of the Packrats for more years than I can remember. I’ll remark that maybe we should keep something and he’ll reply, “let it go.”

And so it goes, or hopefully at least most of it.

 

An Invitation . . .

The inner courtyard of the Meiji Shrine

Just around a year from now Brett and I will be beginning our three-month stay in Tokyo (mid-February to mid-May 2019). We’ll be spending lots of time with family and learning about a new part of Tokyo as well as visiting familiar sights. We’re also going to be in Japan for cherry blossom season, which we’ve just missed by a few days on our last two spring trips.

Brett and I have had an idea for a while now that if any of our readers has ever thought about visiting Japan, we would enjoy helping you arrange some of your trip and also showing you around Tokyo while you’re there!

We would be willing to:

  • Make suggestions for lodging options
  • Suggest transportation options from either Narita or Haneda Airports into Tokyo
  • Serve as tour guides around Tokyo, including showing how to shop and eat for less.
  • Assist with planning transportation around Tokyo (trains or taxis)
  • Set up day trips in the greater Tokyo area. For example, we could arrange or even go along on a walking tour of Kamakura or up to Nikko for the day.
  • Make suggestions for transportation to and lodging, etc. in other areas of Japan, such as Kyoto or up to Hokkaido, for example.

    The Kamakura Diabutsu

This is a very soft outline, and of course can be adjusted and/or adapted as needed. We’ve had the great pleasure of meeting and getting to know several readers while we’ve been here on Kaua’i, and would love to continue that tradition and share our love of Japan with others.

Shibuya’s famous zebra crossing

We know a trip to Japan is a big undertaking so we don’t need to hear anything now, but wanted to get this out as food for thought. If now or in the coming months you think you might want to come to Japan while we’re there,and connect with us, just drop a note in the comments and I’ll email you back and we can go from there. We won’t be available the entire three months we’re in Tokyo, but we are willing to set aside some time, and would be happy to arrange a meet up or more.

The Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

Sunday Afternoon 2/11/2018

Here’s one way to use some of the driftwood blown up on the beach by a storm: build a lean-to!

We’ve had another week of crazy weather here on Kaua’i. There was lots and lots of rain, thunder and lightning and wind earlier in the week, but although the sunshine is back it’s still cooler than usual. Nights have been downright chilly (well, for here). But, the humidity is low and it’s been great for walking – the skies miraculously cleared every afternoon so Brett and I have been able to get out every day except for last Sunday afternoon.

Every time I think YaYu is done with this whole college thing, she announces she’s applying for yet another scholarship, and we’ve had to run to Walmart for envelopes and mailing supplies, or to the post office for stamps. This week she brought home a form asking us to shop at Foodland because apparently they donate money to each high school based on the number of families that shop there and mention their school, and that money is divided up among students for scholarships. Foodland is not our favorite local grocery, but we’ll shop there this month to contribute. YaYu will hear back later this month from one of the colleges she applied to – she requested “early evaluation” and will receive a notice of likely, possible, or unlikely. A likely pretty much means she’s in, a possible gives her around a 20% chance of acceptance, and an unlikely means “no chance.” The school is not her top choice, but it will be nice to know one way or another what her chances are there and give her an indication of how she will fare elsewhere.

Ready to be sorted and organized

This past week I went through all my cookbooks and recipe files and cleaned out all the things I don’t use or want any more. Back in the day I collected cookbooks, read several food and cooking magazines, and was a big-time recipe saver. I kept my clipped recipes neatly organized in a set of notebooks but the reality was I rarely fixed any of those recipes – I had cut them out because I thought I might try them some day (and then never did). These days though I mainly go online to find new recipes or look up old ones, and was only using the notebooks now and again for a few family favorites. So, I went through everything, took out the few recipes I wanted to keep, tossed the rest, and organized the keepers in one big binder. I also went through my cookbooks and ended up keeping only four: Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, Better Homes & Gardens Big Book of Slow Cooker Recipes, Japanese Country Cookbook (no longer in print), and Sunset Magazine’s Favorite Recipes, which I’ve been using since I was a teenager. All four have loads of favorite recipes plus plenty I’d still like to try. The rest of the cookbooks will go out at our moving sale or to a local thrift store.  I plan to cut w-a-y back on my cooking duties once it’s just Brett and me, so getting rid of recipes and cookbooks I’m never going to use makes sense and means less we have to put into storage.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished up Grant’s Memoirs, and am now greatly looking forward to reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Grant, which has gotten great reviews. In the meantime, I raced through Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding this past week. I’m not a big fan of foodies’ tales of the very important or very cool people they got to meet or the very special restaurant they got to eat at or the very special dish they got to try, but Goulding throws in enough cultural stuff to keep the book down to earth for regular eaters like me. He even has a section on convenience store food! It was an enjoyable and quick read, and I highly recommend it for anyone traveling to Japan. The day before I finished it Ron Chernow’s Hamilton finally became available to download from the library so I’m into that now, and hope I can finish it in three weeks!
  • Listening to: Other than a few roosters doing their thing out in the distance, and a few birds signing, it’s pretty quiet outside. We’ve been seeing and hearing lots of baby chicks these days too, but they’re not around right now. Inside it’s quiet too – we haven’t started the laundry yet, and each of us is doing something quiet (i.e. reading and writing).
  • Watching: We finished up Season 2 of True Detective – it started off slow but ended strong (we still like Season 1 better though – Season 2 was complicated). Even though we cancelled our basic cable, it’s still available to us through Tuesday, so we’ve been able to watch some of the Winter Olympics and then will switch to using YaYu’s Roku stick. We watched Keeping  Up With the Joneses yesterday evening with YaYu – fun movie!
  • Cooking/baking: Brett’s making Scotch eggs for dinner tonight, and I’m going to steam a couple of artichokes to go with the eggs, and make toast for Brett and YaYu. I baked another olive oil orange cake on Thursday and there’s still some of that, so no baking today. On the menu this week is grilled teriyaki chicken and zaru soba; grilled pork chops with pilaf and artichokes; spaghetti with marinara and meatballs; grilled beef Polish sausages with roasted cabbage; and beef and broccoli stir fry with rice.

    The only cookbooks I’m keeping (along with two user’s manuals that will later go with appliances when they’re sold)

  • Happy I accomplished last week: Besides getting all of the cookbooks downsized and organized, I also cleaned out a couple of the junk drawers in our living room tansu. I figure if I just keep plugging away at downsizing by the time things need to be packed for storage, or organized for our moving sale, we’ll be in good shape. Lots of little things got done this past week besides mailing off YaYu’s local scholarship applications. Brett and I walked every afternoon, and tried a new stretch of the beach path yesterday – it was a bit more effort, but lovely. I’ve drunk lots and lots of water, and except for a couple of days I’ve stuck with my French study. I feel like I know lots of words these days, but still can’t say anything.

    The  beach path between Kapaa and Kealia is a little more hill-y than down by Baby Beach, but comes with lots of wide, beautiful views.

    The view south to Lihue

  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I are heading down to the south shore on Valentine’s Day to have lunch at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler – hopefully the weather will be nice and we can snag a table to enjoy an ocean view while we sip mai tais. After lunch we’re going to the weekly culinary market at the Kukuiula Marketplace instead of our usual farmers’ market. WenYu’s boyfriend’s dad wants some organic macadamia nuts, and after much searching the only place to get them on the island is from a vendor at the market. Even the natural food stores didn’t have them. We’re just hoping the vendor is there on Wednesday. We’ll still be able to pick up our usual produce there – lots of farmers set up at the market.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I rarely do anything spontaneous when it comes to spending, but we had a lovely breakfast at the Art Cafe Hemingway on Wednesday, and can’t believe it’s taken us this long to eat there. We’re both looking forward to going back, and when we told YaYu about the crepe menu she wants to go now as well (we’re thinking for Easter brunch). It’s been a bit of a struggle this week weather-wise, but the sun is mostly back out, the island is drying out and the humidity is staying low.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We finally cancelled our basic cable TV, a savings of $11 per month. We’ve only watched TV via streaming services the past several months and decided we didn’t need the cable. 2) We cooked all meals at home except for our spontaneous breakfast out. 3) We all ate leftovers for our lunches everyday this week, including YaYu. She said her friends envy her leftovers! 4) I ran out of my favorite Mrs. Meyers bathroom cleaner, but instead of buying more made my own cleaner with vinegar and baking soda. 5) We put $21.50 into the change/$1 bill jar: $4.48 back from the cable bill, $3.98 from Walmart (mailing supplies); $10 change from the farmers’ market, and $3.04 from recycling.
  • Grateful for: Even though the weather has been kind of wacky lately, I am thankful for the cooler temps and low humidity. Both make exercising, housework and sleeping way more comfortable and enjoyable than when it’s humid. The humidity will return in a couple of months, but for the time being I’m enjoying the “winter chill.”
  • Bonus question: Have you ever spent the night in a hospital? Too many times, in my opinion! I’ve had six overnight hospital stays beginning with having my tonsils out when I was three and ending with surgery to repair a fractured kneecap when I was 46. Other than the tonsilectomy (one night), I was in the hospital for around a week each time, including when our son was born, but when I had my knee surgery I was discharged in two days. I guess that’s a good thing though the more we’ve found out about the nasty infections you can pick up in a hospital. What I remember most about my hospital stays was how noisy it was, and how I was constantly being awakened for something (vital signs, take a walk, roll me over, etc.) when all I wanted to do was sleep. The only wake-ups I didn’t mind were the ones to nurse our little boy.

That’s it for this week? How did your week go? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you? What are you reading?

#Kaua’i: Art Cafe Hemingway

Fresh herbs grow in the boxes that surround the lanai out front of the cafe, and more grow in the back.

After several days of heavy rain and cloudy skies, the sun came out on Tuesday morning, so Brett and I decided to get out of the house for awhile and have breakfast at the Art Cafe Hemingway in historic Kapaa Old Town, just five minutes down the road from us. We drive past the Art Cafe all the time, and have often eaten at their next door neighbor, Kountry Kitchen, but had somehow never tried the Art Cafe for breakfast. On the plus side, after nearly four years here it’s still fun having a “new” place to try.

The interior of the cafe blends Europe and Hawaii.

The restaurant is located at the north edge of Old Town, across the street from the Kapaa library, in an original old Kapaa building from 1927. We asked while we were there, and I later searched online, but were unable to discover the original function or name for the building.

We kept our espresso order simple and each had an Americano.

The cafe serves both breakfast and dinner, with a focus on healthy, organic, local food, much of it grown on site or on the owners’ own farm. Dishes are French-style but with a Hawaiian touch, and many of the menu items are named after Hemingway’s books. The breakfast menu offers a large selection of made-to-order crepes, as well as several croissant variations, and full breakfast entrees come with fresh-baked baguette and other homemade breads. There’s an impressive menu of espresso, tea drinks and other breakfast drinks.

Yummy quiche

Brett and I kept it simple: he ordered a slice of spinach and local venison quiche, and I had Greek yogurt and fruit, and we each enjoyed an Americano. The service was friendly, and the food affordable and delicious.

We had hoped to eat outside on the lanai in front, but it was still a bit too wet from a recent rain.

According to Hawaii Magazine, Art Cafe Hemingway offers “the cutest breakfast in the cutest part of Kapaa,” and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere that “isn’t tropical per se, but definitely beach-y.” We completely agree, and can’t wait to go back again for breakfast and to try out their dinner menu as well some day.

Travel Clothing Part 2: Brett

I’ll just say this: Brett is taking a LOT fewer pieces of clothing than I am.

He’s bringing six cotton shirts – three aloha shirts for warmer weather, and three long-sleeve buttondowns for when it’s cooler, or to go under a sweater. Two of the three aloha shirts are Reyn Spooner – we bought them at Goodwill back in Portland, with tags still attached, for $6.95 each (similar Reyn Spooner shirts retail for $98). The oxford-cloth shirts are all from L.L. Bean – they are easy care, don’t need ironing, and wear like iron.

Knit shirts include the four short-sleeve t-shirts in the top row (dark gray, black, white and navy), two long-sleeved polo shirts (navy and light gray), and two long-sleeved souvenir t-shirts (navy Crater Lake and light gray Kilauea lighthouse).

He’s bringing along seven pairs of pants: three pairs of jeans (two blue, one gray – he was wearing one pair when I took the picture), a pair of khaki chinos, one pair of lightweight travel pants (lower legs can be zipped off), and two pairs of cargo shorts.

For staying warm, he’s packing two cotton-cashmere v-neck sweaters and his orange all-weather jacket that we found a couple of years ago at Costco. He also will be bringing along his trusty navy watch cap that he’s had since boot camp back in 1970.

For now he’s got two pair of shoes: canvas Skechers slip-ons which are great for strolling around, and his navy sneakers for more strenuous walking. He’s planning to get a pair of leather shoes, but hasn’t decided yet what he wants, and he’s also going to get a pair of Keen sandals.

As with my stuff, pretty much all of his clothes were bought on sale, or using gift cards or coupons.

Besides his socks, underwear, and sleepwear, that’s it. What can I say, the man likes to live lean.

I will probably be tired of his clothes before he is.

Sunday Afternoon 2/4/2018

This storm moved out in time for us to take our walk, but the next one wasn’t as accomodating

And it’s February! Less than seven months until we leave on the Big Adventure! Right now we’re in a sort-of holding pattern as far as trip planning, and are waiting now to hear where and when YaYu will be going to school. Once we know that, near the end of March, things will begin to move very quickly again as far as reservations, etc. In the meantime we’re working on downsizing and try to do something every day toward that end, no matter how small, so that we’re not overwhelmed as we get closer to our departure.

Brett and I also continue to work on getting ourselves in the best shape possible for travel. We’re being careful about what we eat, and walking every day unless it’s raining. When we started out with our afternoon walks we sort of strolled along the path, but these days we’re doing more of a power walk, and I’ve started carrying weights to build up the strength in my arms. The bursitis in my hips has disappeared completely. Brett’s also back to running again most mornings. I’m happy where I am weight-wise, but if I can lose a few more pounds so much the better.

We’ve got more than enough “liquid sunshine” the past couple of days.

This past Wednesday, someone I know here said a big storm must be coming to the islands because his arthritis was acting up something fierce. My first thought was, “we’ll see” but late Thursday afternoon the storm arrived. Brett and I got caught out on our walk and got soaked, and heavy rain continued all night (along with thunder and lightning, which is rare here) and into Friday when the rain became even heavier. Thankfully it stopped for a while yesterday morning when YaYu volunteered at a community car wash fundraiser, and they got lots of customers. Brett and I went out for our walk yesterday afternoon, but the air was so thick with humidity you could have sliced it with a knife, and it started raining again during the last couple of minutes before we got to the car. It rained heavily all. night. long. last night, but it’s stopped again for now. We have no idea whether we’ll be able to get out for a walk this afternoon, but we’re not planning to hang out the laundry today – we’ll be using the dryer.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading General Grant, and continuing to make progress. Again, it’s all interesting but so very, very detailed that it takes time to get through. I’m now into Volume Two  and getting near the end of the Civil War, but I still think I have at least another week or so to go. I have two great books on deck though once I finish the Memoirs.
  • Listening to: I can still hear the drip, drip, drip of the last bit of rain coming off the roof, but there are lots of birds singing, and the chickens and roosters are making noise again so maybe that was the last of it (it’s still very overcast though). Inside it’s quiet, although we haven’t gotten the laundry started yet. It’s nice and cool outside though, and there’s a slight breeze blowing, so I’m happy.
  • Watching: We signed up for a free month of HBO Now last week (using YaYu’s Roku stick), and Brett and I watched all of Big Little Lies this past weekit was excellent! We’re now getting into True Detective, with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey, and it’s also very, very good.
  • Cooking/baking: I found a package of breakfast sausage in the freezer (I thought we had eaten all of it when WenYu and Meiling were home) so we’re having scrambled eggs, sausages, and fruit for dinner tonight, and Brett and YaYu will also have biscuits. I made a pan of brownies with pecans yesterday for YaYu and Brett so no baking today. On the menu this week will be panzanella (bread salad) with beans, chili pork burritos, kalua pork served with rice and cucumber salad, zoodles with pesto (a request from YaYu!), and mabo nasu with steamed rice (and leftovers one night).

    We’re still adjusting to the end of the hallway being empty – that’s where the bookcase used to sit.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I had a nice, lazy relaxing week and didn’t accomplish anything special, although we did clean out the small bookcase that sat at the end of our hallway, and are keeping less than 10 books, all of them about Japan. Brett and I walked every day except Friday, I drank lots and lots of water, and studied French six out of seven days. I moved up to Level 6 with Memrise, but for now I’m working in my phrase book, putting together what I’ve learned from Memrise with things I’ll need to know how to say or ask when we’re in France.

    The only books we’re keeping – all of them are about Japan.

  • Looking forward to next week: We have nothing on the calendar for next week. Maybe we will FINALLY get to the beach (we didn’t go this week because the weather wouldn’t cooperate).

    The beautiful playing cards YaYu gave us

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I have had two packs of playing cards on our provisions list for the Big Adventure, but YaYu gave us a lovely twin pack of cards that Brett’s sister had given her a few years ago, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The designs are of antique Japanese lacquer. I have been enjoying the cauliflower rice we found last month at Costco, and feel like I’m finally getting a “full meal” these days.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Although I didn’t spend much time on Swagbucks last month, I will earn a few bonus Swagbucks (less than 100 though); 2) Brett used one of his many gift cards to get a pound of decaf coffee at Starbucks. For some reason decaf is very hard to find in stores on the island (we drink a 50-50 blend); 3) I did a big clean-out in the fridge, freezer and pantry last Thursday and made a wonderful chicken, vegetable and noodle soup for dinner one evening with the odds and ends I found; 4) I found a container with a small amount of loose-leaf lychee tea in the back of the pantry that I didn’t know we had, and made a pitcher of delicious and refreshing iced tea; 5) We put $9.80 into the change/$1 bill jar: $6 from the farmers’ market, $2.40 change from the water bill, $1.38 from Safeway, and I found 2¢ on the ground (yes, I stop and pick up pennies).
  • Grateful for: It’s sometimes hard to feel grateful for rain, especially when it’s coming down as fierce as it can here and we’re stuck inside (or outside nowhere near our car), but Kaua’i is beautiful and green because of it, the farms lush and productive, and there’s an abundance of fresh water for drinking and other needs.
  • Bonus question: If you were given the power to change just one of your physical characteristics, which would you choose? When I was younger I always wanted to be naturally thin, to not have to work at it and be able to eat what I wanted. I wanted a thin, athletic body that could run effortlessly. All those magazine ads, etc. that glamorized thin and equated it with beauty had a profound effect on me, and family members also teased me for being less than svelte (when in reality I was not even slightly overweight). These days though I’m happy with the body I was given. It’s not perfect, but I’m healthy and I can’t ask for more. I were to change anything now I think I’d rather have a beautiful singing voice – I would enjoy it more, and could do more with it for others and not just myself. No matter though with either – I’m happy with who I am and what I’ve been given.

Finally, a reader wanted to know what our kitchen looked like, so here’s a (not very good) picture I took the other afternoon. It’s small, but works for us. We bought the stainless worktable after we moved in – it’s very functional. We feel lucky to have a gas stove, and the only thing more we could ask for is a dishwasher. I’m still not crazy about granite counters.

That’s all for this week! How was yours? What did you accomplish? What are your reading? What good things happened for you?

Wanna See the Sights?

This is just a jumble of images from our life on Kauai, a glimpse or two of random beauty.

Waterfalls are among our favorite sites to see, and this little gem meets the sea just north of Donkey Beach at ’Āhihi Point. It’s only an intermittent trickle (tickle in Newfoundland), which sometimes runs dry in summer, but the sight and sound is especially soothing on warmer days.

Waterfall, Kauai

Little waterfall

Looking west across Kuhio Highway (56) from the top of the tree-tunnel pathway down to Donkey Beach provides a spectacular view of Kauai’s major water supply: cloud-capped mountains. Wai’ale’ale Ridge, in the background, features the two tallest peaks on Kauai: Kawaikini at 5,243 feet (1,598m); Wai’ale’ale at 5,148 feet (1,569m). Makaleha Ridge, in the foreground, is surrounded by peaks  averaging half that elevation and the highest point visible in this photo is Pōhaku Pili at only 2,477 feet (755m).

Kawaikini, Wai’ale’ale, Makaleha

Cloud-capped mountains

Closer to home, the skies offer spectacular shows like banshees, and dragons, and zephyrs, oh my! Some of the most unbelievable sights really can be found right in your backyard.

Returning to earth we find various expressions of what we are made of—calciferous rock, sand & ash, and Kauai’s infamous red dirt. (See also, Arizona to Georgia)

Striated Cut Bank

Eastside geology

Driftwood abounds at inlets, sometimes appearing as fanciful creatures, at other times simply a cache of “drift kindling.”

After living here for nearly four years, I finally pulled off Kuamo‘o Road to visit the Royal Birthstone, Pōhaku Ho‘ohanau, where all of Kauai’s Ali‘i (Chiefs) were once born. Then again, I had always wondered where those stairs at the back went, and presumed that they led to a viewing platform.

But oh no, they lead to a Japanese cemetery, which is visited often by descendants and loved ones. That is, there were fresh flower arrangements, toys, and food for hungry ghosts throughout.

On Monday, during my morning hike, I took a picture of a treacherous point along the old right-of-way that may be added to the Eastside Trail for completion to Anahola. Suffice it to say “road narrows”, and it’s been doing so quickly the past couple of years. A stream passes through a narrow culvert under what’s left of the fill and empties into Kuna Bay.

Speaking of the Eastside Trail, Ke Ala Hele Makalae (The Path that Goes by the Coast), future development to the south may transit this 165-foot (50m) bridge of the former Ahukini Terminal & Railway Company along the way to Ninini Point and Nawiliwili Bay.

Viaduct Spanning Hanamaulu Steam

Viaduct spanning Hanamā‘ulu Stream

Naturally, the coast speaks up in winter by way of weather advisories and warnings. It’s violence is fascinating when viewed from shore; not so much viewed from a small boat.

Stormy Surf

Storm surge

Thus ends another week in paradise.