Sunday Afternoon 4/17/2016


It’s another cool and rainy day on the Garden Island. Yesterday it poured most of the day and into the night, but this morning thankfully hasn’t been as bad. I am always happy when it rains here because it not only keeps things green, but also means that we don’t have to turn on the sprinklers for the lawn. It also makes riding the exercise bicycle much more comfortable.

Not a whole lot is going on around here otherwise, at least for me and Brett. WenYu made it into the track finals (running the 1500m) this past week, which means another week of practice and one more meet to go. She is ready to be done though. Both girls have been extremely busy with school and community projects, and besides their regular coursework they’ve also been studying for their upcoming AP exams, which begin in another three weeks. I don’t remember ever being as overloaded as they are when I was in school, but then again AP courses didn’t exist, and I went to school pre-Title IX: girls weren’t allowed to participate in league sports.

P.S. Why I love living here: After I posted this I went out to the garage to ride my exercise bicycle. A group of nine teenage and pre-teen neighborhood girls walked by, and all either waved or threw me the shaka. One even yelled out, “Yeah, Auntie!”

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m into the last one-third of Over the Edge (it has nearly 600 pages). I just finished reading about the freakish, accidental deaths that have occurred in the canyon. Unlike previous deaths that have been discussed, where many if not most were preventable, these are ones that no one could plan for (lightning strikes, random rock falls). Interestingly, most of lightning strike victims over the years actually survived, which greatly surprised me but was a welcome relief to read. I’m now reading about deaths that occurred because of animal interactions (snakes, scorpions, mountain lions, etc.). Believe it or not, they are extremely rare if not nonexistent. There has never been a death on any of the paid mule rides since they started back in the early 20th century, and the only snake-related death in the national park came when a man was startled by a snake and had a heart attack. The entire book has been extremely interesting, but sobering as well, and has given me quite a bit of thought about safety, planning, and such.
  • Listening to: It’s been a very quiet morning. A few roosters have been screeching off in the distance, but mostly the only sound is the wind blowing through the trees and some occasional rain. Lawnmowers and such have been quiet today because of the wet. Brett just took YaYu to her weekly history study group, and WenYu is studying in her room, so the house is quiet.
  • Watching: Instead of watching Death In Paradise last Sunday, I watched Call The Midwife, Grantchester, and Mr. Selfridge, all of which I will watch again tonight!
  • Cooking/baking: I’m making another pan of brownies this afternoon for brownie sundaes for tonight’s dessert and for the girls’ lunches next week. Dinner tonight is slow-cooker chicken pho (sesame-peanut noodles for me) – the whole house smells wonderful!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I finished another Shutterfly photo book for my mom and got that sent off. I also finally ordered a new phone – my four year-old one lacked WiFi calling, and because our house sits in a small valley I’ve been unable to use the phone in the house for either talk or text because I can’t get a signal, and it’s been hit or miss outside as well (Brett and the girls all have WiFi connectibility on their phones). After losing my connection twice on Friday while standing outside and speaking with a friend from Oregon, I decided I’d had enough and bought a new phone – it’s expected to arrive tomorrow!
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I will be going to the florist this week to order lei for WenYu’s graduation. Family members have been very generous, so she will be getting some lovely ones! Brett and I will also be giving her a haku, a floral wreath for her head.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I had a lovely conversation this past week with my Mom, who turns 92 at the end of this month. It was obvious that there are many things she cannot remember these days, but she knew who I was, where I lived, and asked about Brett and all four of our children and her great-grandchild (thankfully I stayed connected during that call). I used the $20 coupon that I received from our last flights on Hawaiian Airlines to help cover the Shutterfly order. I also had calls from two friends in Oregon. I rode my bike every day this past week, even though the weather was a bit warm for a few days and it wasn’t much fun. We put $8.64 cents into the change/$1 bill jar.
  • Grateful for: A husband who will come and chase giant toads out of the garage for me – one came in yesterday evening. He’ll also catch and release geckos outside for the girls, and take care of any other bug that manages to make it into the house (although I have no problems handling bugs and spiders on my own).
  • Bonus Question: What would you request for a last meal? Years ago Brett and I had an anniversary dinner at The Ark restaurant in Willapa, Washington (which has since closed). To this day that dinner remains the most perfect meal I have ever eaten. I said then that my dinner was what I would request for my last meal if it ever came to that. I had fresh Willapa oysters on the shell for an appetizer, followed by a perfectly cooked medium-rare petite filet mignon and roasted potatoes with herbs. Dessert was a Swedish Creme with berries along with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It was nothing exotic, but every bite was exquisite. I also bought one of their famous Szechuan brioches as we left and enjoyed that for breakfast the next morning.

And that’s a wrap for this Sunday! How was your week? What good things happened for you?

7 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 4/17/2016

  1. I was discussing AP classes with my nephew yesterday (he’s a junior in HS) and was saying how things were so much easier and laid back in my day (early 80’s). The HS I went to did not have AP classes then. There is a dizzying amount of classes to choose from these days and I really don’t know how they keep it all straight. I was in school after Title IX and played sports and am grateful that option existed, but it didn’t keep me as busy as kids seem to be these days.


    1. Our son graduated from HS in 1996, and there were no AP classes at his high school then; I think now there are around 20 choices! I basically think they’re a good idea, giving students the opportunity to earn college credit while they’re in high school if they are motivated. The problem now though is that they are “must haves” to get into a “good college,” and students have to start taking them in their sophomore year in order to be competitive. YaYu is 16, and while she is a very good student, I honestly don’t think she needs to be taking a college-level course in American history yet. But, in order to fit in all the other courses she needs, including AP courses, she’s taking it now.

      In other words, it’s NUTS. And adding way to much stress to an already stressful time of life. Participating in sports is a good release, but it’s become non-stop as well. Students finish one sport on Friday, and start the next one on Monday. There’s no rest.


      1. I think my nephew took AP History as a sophomore. I can’t keep track of them all, but I think he’s taking AP Computer Science now and maybe one or two others. He also runs track in both winter and spring and told me he’s thinking of doing cross country next year. I told him I don’t know how he does it all! One of the colleges he visited over the weekend said they want a 4.0 GPA and a certain number of AP classes before they’ll even look at an application. Yikes! I completely agree that it’s nuts and extremely stressful.


      2. We discovered during our college research that most colleges these days look first at class rank, GPA, and course rigor (lots of AP and/or Honors classes) – test scores fall much further down on the admissions scale, but kids (and parents) tend to get themselves all worked up over those scores. I am happy to see that more colleges are starting to move to a “test optional” admissions policy, that those scores are not required (which basically show what someone knows on one particular day, and are not a good indication of how well you will perform as a student. Some students can afford to take them over and over, and can afford to pay for extensive test prep, something not available to everyone). The essays too are super critical and can make or break an application. I am so glad we are done with this admissions stuff for another year, and can catch our breath before jumping into it again!


  2. The HS my nephew goes to does not have class rank because it apparently caused too much jealousy or something. Whatever… Anyway, they only tell them what percentile they’re in. He’s taken the ACT (kids in his grad class of 2017 were advised not to take the SAT) and did ok, but he has a very high GPA and has taken AP and Honors classes. He is happy that one college he’s interested in is test optional. So glad to see colleges are doing that now. Some kids are bright but just don’t test well on those types of standardized tests and I agree with what you said about them. There is so much money to be made in the test prep business that I’m afraid they’ll never go away completely, unfortunately.


    1. The girls’ school does rank, but not individually. If you get 4.0 or above you are automatically ranked #1, but they don’t break that out any further, same for #2, etc. Her class has a lot of students ranked #1!

      SAT changed this year, so we’ll see how it goes for YaYu. Several of the schools she is applying to require two of the SAT subject tests as well. ALL high school students in Hawai’i are given the ACT test for free in their sophomore, junior and senior years. We’ll get updated test prep books for YaYu this summer, but that’s as far as we go – the rest is up to her.


      1. Wow, their school has an interesting way of ranking. My nephew’s school is quite large. He has close to 500 kids in his class.

        Yes, the SAT changed this year so that’s why kids in the 2017 graduating class were advised not to take it. It’s nice the ACT is free in Hawaii. My nephew did take one of those prep classes but it was through his school and didn’t cost much. I do know of some families that spent large amounts of money on private test prep classes, although my nephew has one friend who didn’t even study at all and got a perfect score! Some people are just good at taking those types of tests.


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