Sunday Afternoon 9/18/2016

Beautiful shades of blue at the beach last week

Beautiful shades of blue at the beach last week.

They say you can’t go home again, but this last week I learned we probably couldn’t afford to go home again, at least not back to Portland, which I think most people imagine has a lower cost of living than Hawai’i. I found our former house in Portland on a real estate website, and was more than a bit surprised to learn that the current estimated price is nearly half again higher than what we sold it for just two and a half years ago. The property taxes this year were more than double what they were when we bought the house. Even more surprising was that the house next to ours sold for $50K more last month than our house did in 2014, and it’s a house with more than 400 fewer square feet than our former house, no yard, no garage, etc. Housing prices in Portland seem to be spiraling higher and higher over all, and I read a couple of articles last week about how many these days are being pushed out of the housing and rental market in Portland, including young people who have grown up there, and recent immigrants and refugees – problems that we hear about all the time on Kaua’i as well. I also checked some recent Portland grocery flyers, and food prices aren’t much lower there if at all, and gas is only 25¢ per gallon more here at Costco than there. From the frying pan into the fire, or vice versa, I guess.

We’ve had a somewhat creepy ‘visitor’ come to our back yard two nights this past week: a large dog. It’s been dark enough that I can’t tell the breed of the dog or whether it’s wearing a collar or tags, but I’ve seen it moving around, and both YaYu and I have definitely heard it as it stood up at our windows at the back of the house to sniff around. I use the word creepy above because during its first visit last Tuesday night, around 1:00 a.m., I watched it kill a chicken and some baby chicks right outside our bedroom window, and then listened to it eat the chickens (it left body parts throughout the yard for Brett to dispose of in the morning). We don’t know if the dog is a stray, or if it belongs to someone in the neighborhood and has gotten out, but we’re definitely not going out to check on it or interact with it. If it returns again we’ll contact the Humane Society.

Meiling still has another week to go before her classes start, and WenYu continues to enjoy her college experience at Wellesley. YaYu comes home later today from an overnight Key Club meeting on Oahu, and she will leap right back into her busy schedule here next week. Brett and I made it to the beach just one day last week; otherwise, we were busy or the weather wouldn’t cooperate. The day we went was absolutely lovely though, and we practically had the place to ourselves. I went into the water for a while, but was whistled back by the lifeguard, and when I turned around and looked back I could see all sorts of rip currents that hadn’t been there when I went out. Never underestimate the power of the ocean!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I started The Man In the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal this past week, the story of Christian Karl Gerhardsreiter, a German from Bavaria who pulled off one of the longest known cons in American crime history, using multiple identities around the U.S. When he was arrested he was living in Boston as Clark Rockefeller, claiming to be a member of the Rockefeller family, and had an extremely valuable art collection, membership in elite clubs up and down the east coast, a catamaran, etc. He lived as Christopher Chichester for a couple of years in my hometown (San Marino, California) before moving back east and eventually assuming the Rockefeller persona. Gerhardsreiter was convicted in 2013 of the first degree murder of Jonathan Sohus in San Marino – a chopped up body was found when the backyard of Gerhardsreiter’s former residence in San Marino was dug up in 2004 to put in a swimming pool, and eventually the murder was linked to him. I definitely know of at least one person, and the names of some others, who socialized with him and were totally charmed by him, but many, many others in SM were as well when he operated there.
  • Listening to: Since last Tuesday’s incident with the dog, the chickens have been much quieter, or at least it’s seemed that way, but today we heard baby chicks peeping again. The house and neighborhood seem very quiet today (other than the sound of the washing machine).
  • Watching: I’ve been watching American Crime Story Season I: The People vs. O.J. Simpson for the past few nights. It’s excellent. Brett and I have squeezed in a few more episodes of Lark Rise to Candleford as well.
  • Cooking/baking: Brett and I just got home from breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue. The food was delicious and affordable. I had sweet bread french toast, and Brett had pancakes (we’re pretty sure the girls will love this place – there are fried noodles on the menu!). I’ve got chicken soup going in the slow cooker right now for dinner tonight. We have half of a pan of leftover cornbread in the freezer, so will defrost and reheat that to go with the soup tonight (lentil soup for me), but otherwise I’m not turning on the stove or oven today.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I had a great trip down to the west side of the island yesterday, including a visit to Waimea Canyon. We hadn’t been there since we went right after our arrival in 2014, and it was spectacular, although we were racing rainstorms the whole time. We also finally got all the Hawaiian Airlines miles moved into one account (sounds easier than it actually was) and are ready to ‘purchase’ Meiling’s and WenYu’s tickets to come home for Christmas.
  • Looking forward to next week: YaYu will be volunteering at the Kaua’i PowWow next Saturday, and both Brett and I are thinking of going to check it out. He and I are planning on another trip or two to the beach this week, and will probably go to Costco later in the week to do our “big shop” (which isn’t actually going to be very big this month).
  • Thinking of good things that happened this week: We had very tasty fish tacos at Island Taco in Waimea and pie at The Right Slice in Kalaheo yesterday, and breakfast this morning at the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue. The Tip Top is very old school, very local, and very affordable. We don’t go out to eat very often or so much unless we’re on the road, so this was a treat. We had no food waste this past week, and put $10.10 in the change/$1 bill jar.
  • Grateful for: Once again I am feeling very thankful for and awed by the spectacular beauty to be found on the island where we live. Although it was either raining or threatening to rain all day yesterday, Brett and I decided to go for it and made it all the way out to the end of the highway at Kokee State Park and the Kalalau Viewpoint, and were rewarded for our perseverance with an amazing view when we got to the lookout. The rain and clouds arrived a short while after we did, but before they did we got to experience this:

    Kalalau Viewpoint, overlooking the Napali Coast of Kaua'i

    The breathtaking view from the Kalalau Viewpoint, overlooking the Napali Coast of Kaua’i

  • Bonus Question: Did you follow the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995? I’m a fan of true crime stories and trials, and got totally wrapped up in this trial when it was going on, and watched whenever I could during the day and followed the cable shows about it in the evening. I believed then and still do that O.J. Simpson was guilty of murdering his former wife and Ron Goldman, and although the verdict at the time didn’t surprise me it was disappointing. I think today’s crime scene procedures, DNA testing, etc. would link him to the murders beyond a shadow of a doubt and the defense would have a difficult time disputing the findings. During the civil trial, it was discovered that O.J. did in fact own a pair of the Bruno Magli shoes that made the footprint at the murder scene – he had been photographed in them and then lied about owning them. They would have been damning evidence at the murder trial. The prosecution did a terrible job though over all (especially with the gloves! You never do something like that unless you’ve checked beforehand that it will come out how you expect), and the whole thing turned into a 3-ring circus. Johnny Cochran and the defense team did a masterful job of defending O.J. even though their egos kept them from getting along. I had heard that O.J.’s best friend, Robert Kardashian (dad to Kim, etc.), distanced himself from O.J. following the trial and have always wondered why. Apparently he was very conflicted over whether O.J. did it or not because he found the blood evidence against O.J. overwhelming, and also didn’t buy the whole police conspiracy story woven by the defense. He also didn’t like the way Nicole was portrayed during the trial.

And that’s a wrap from Casa Aloha! How is your Sunday going? What have you been doing this past week? What good things happened for you?

6 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 9/18/2016

  1. Laurel says:

    We lived in the Bay Area for five years in the ’90s and recently visited again. My tiny condo has doubled in price in 15 years (and it had appreciated 57% during the four years I owned it!). Crazy real estate prices on that Left Coast. The Midwest has its issues, but that is breathtaking. And sad for the upcoming generations.

    My first visit to Hawaii was Kauai and the two most striking memories are Waimea Canyon and the boat tour we took up the Napali Coast. You’re right…you are lucky to be there! 🙂

    I remember the trial but the White Bronco car chase with live TV aerial coverage is more vivid in my mind. OJ is definitely guilty…no question in my mind. Did not know the bit about Robert Kardashian. Interesting!

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    • Laura says:

      I agree that the saddest part of these rapid rises in real estate prices is that upcoming generations are priced out of the market. It’s a HUGE issue here on Kaua’i, and with the rise of off-island property owners the problem is becoming even worse. It looks like the same thing is happening in Portland and Seattle, and it happened years ago in California. Still, as bad as we think it is here, it’s nothing like what prices are like in Japan. My son and his wife are getting ready to buy a home there, and I cringe to think of what they’ll pay. He makes a very substantial income, but they’ve still been saving and living frugally for years . . . .

      The Bronco chase is the thing I remember least of the whole O.J. trial/peripheries. I remember it happening, but it still hadn’t grabbed my attention yet.

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  2. Janette says:

    We cannot go home again either. We built our house on five acres in rural Flagstaff in the 1990’s. We sold it just before the recession hit. It just resold for double what we sold it for! The property taxes alone would be almost half of my husband’s pension. Oh well, we love Delaware.
    Sorry to hear about the chickens. I am sure your neighbors are a bit upset!
    Thank you for sharing the lovely photo. Enjoy this week!

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    • Laura says:

      This surprised me – I just never would have thought of Flagstaff as a high property tax/high housing price area. I’m glad you’ve found someplace else to live though that you love. There are many other places that would be cheaper for us to live than Kaua’i, but we are genuinely happy here and will make it work no matter what!

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  3. Hawaii Planner says:

    Gorgeous photo! I’m back from the soccer fields (finally!). Super long & hot day. It was 95 here. We are definitely priced out of the market here. Our house in Seattle has gone up 50% in 10 years, so a very, very fast clip in appreciation. Meanwhile, at the Oregon coast. . . 😉

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    • Laura says:

      Kids and sports. I thought it was bad when they were young, but its nothing compared to how busy your life becomes when they get involved at the high school level. Get ready!!

      We sold our first house in Portland for more than twice what we paid for it after owning it for 10 years. We didn’t do anything to it either other than mechanicals and other upgrades that didn’t really show (plumbing, roof, etc.) – no cosmetics other than a bathroom upgrade. The house’s current estimated price is now approaching 3x what we paid for it 22 years ago. I guess the writing was already on the wall back then (we sold at the height of the housing bubble though – the people who bought from us did a LOT of high-end upgrades and landscaping, but took very little out of the house when they tried to flip it three years later). People were amazed/surprised/disappointed when we bought in the neighborhood we did when we did, but things only went up. The Oregon Coast is an entirely different beast though.

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