First, an announcement: I will be taking next week off from blogging. I have been posting five times a week (with some occasional help from Brett) since the beginning of the year, and feel like I need a short break to recharge my batteries. I plan to re-post a couple of popular articles next week, but will be back to regular posting again beginning July 3.
Yesterday (in Japan) our son walked the second annual Imperial Challenge, an event he created to raise funds for a charity that provides support to children with severe and sometimes incurable diseases and their families. The challenge involves walking around the Japanese Imperial Palace pathway as many times as possible. The distance around the palace is 3.1 miles, and although yesterday was beastly hot and humid he walked nine laps for a total of almost 30 miles, and with some assistance from friends and colleagues raised nearly $4200 for his charity. We are so incredibly proud of our son!
We got a frantic call from Meiling on Thursday evening – she had received a letter telling her she would not be receiving her scholarship this year because she did not qualify for a Pell Grant. What??? WenYu received one, no problem, but Meiling wouldn’t? After some checking we discovered that someone at her university financial aid office had mistakenly added back in an IRA rollover we did in 2015 as income (2015 tax filings are being used for both last year and this year). We were a bit worried as this financial aid office has been unwilling to correct errors in the past, but Brett talked with them on Friday morning, they admitted the mistake (it’s a non-subjective error, so not much they could argue with) and Meiling will receive her Pell Grant and scholarship.
And, just to keep things interesting, WenYu had planned a day hike with a friend on Friday, but when she got ready to early Friday morning our car wouldn’t start. We had to call a tow service to come and charge the battery (which was purchased new a year and a half ago at Costco), but they thankfully gave us the kamaaina discount, so it wasn’t as bad of an expense as we thought it might be. Afterwards, Brett took the car down to the mechanic for further charging and to check out the battery and other systems, and there were indeed problems with the battery (everything else is fine). When the battery was pulled out to look it over though there was a sticker saying “free replacement within 36 months” so Brett went back to Costco and got a new battery for free! The mechanic didn’t charge us anything either, so total cost ended up being less than $100, which we covered out of our emergency fund. By the way, when the car wouldn’t start, WenYu called her friend to see if she could drive . . . but their car wouldn’t start either. Both girls feel that for some reason they were being told that it was not a good day for them to go hiking.
This afternoon I am:
- Reading: I finished Raven Black and am reading Cold Earth by the same author, Ann Cleeves. I had two more books come off of hold: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, and News of the World by Paulette Jiles – I’ve been waiting for them to be available for several months, so am going to have to step up my reading game to get them both finished before the downloads expire.
- Listening to: It’s all very quiet here right now. WenYu and her friend are out for a day at the beach, and Brett is out on his daily walk/run. It’s quiet out in the neighborhood too, so there’s just the sound of the fans turning, a gentle breeze through the trees, and birds singing. I can hear one chicken scratching through the brush next door, but that’s it for chicken noise (thank goodness). I’ll start the washing machine in a few minutes though, and that will be the end of the peace and quiet.
- Watching: Reader Nancy recommended in the comments last week that we try the French version of The Returned (Les Revenants), which has two seasons versus one, and it’s been great (and creepy). On Friday evening we watched Moana on Netflix – we saw it in the theater last December and enjoyed it so were happy to watch it again. Of course, that meant we missed The Great British Baking Show, but I streamed it yesterday online so I am caught up. I just started Season 7 of Top Chef – I am loving this show!
- Cooking baking: We’re having pancakes for dinner tonight, along with sausage and fruit. WenYu loves pancakes, but YaYu doesn’t, so with her still in China it’s a good time to make them. I’ll just be having sausages and fruit. Brett cooks our sausages out on the grill now – less mess and it helps keep the house cool. No baking today as we don’t want to heat up the kitchen, but we bought a bag of lemons at Costco so I’m planning to make lemon bars sometime this week, before YaYu gets home – they’re one of her favorites.
- Happy I accomplished this last week: So happy we got our big shop done before the battery needed replacing or before WenYu went hiking – it would have been a real mess if it had died in the Costco parking lot when we had frozen and cold food to get home, or if WenYu and her friend were up at the end of the highway on the north side of the island. I got in all my bike rides this week except for Thursday, when I only did the evening ride – it was just too hot in the afternoon. I did walk around Costco for nearly 45 minutes though, pushing a heavy cart – does that count? I drank all my water, and did my language study every day. I’m into the second level, but it’s slow going. I earned all my Swagbucks’ first goals, and the second goal on three days, which will really bump up my end-of-the-month bonus.
- Looking forward to next week: YaYu arrives home from her China trip on Thursday, and we’re all excited to have her home and hear about her experiences. She has been having a great time, but says one girl in the group has been causing a lot of drama, whatever that means.
- Reporting Gains and Losses: Since it’s the end of the month I tallied up our travel savings for the month: We put away $666.31, and our savings total is now $3781.23. We’re at the halfway point for the year, and are $281.23 over where we need to be to reach our goal. Yeah us! I lost another pound this month, and am thrilled because I’m not getting as much exercise because of the heat, and the humidity is causing quite a bit of water retention as well.
- Thinking of good things that happened: My 50,000 bonus miles are now in my Hawaiian Miles account, thanks to some special help from the Hawaiian Airlines finance center – yeah! So glad that ordeal is over, and I have only good things to say about Hawaiian’s customer service. California peaches have arrived at Costco! We look forward to them every year, and they are juicy and delicious (and ripe). We also bought melons and lots of other fruit, and mangoes, papayas and sweet, juicy lychees at the farmers’ market. I adore summer fruits, and love that I can eat my fill right now.
- Grateful for: This last week I’ve been reflecting on how much I love to read. My grandmother read with me when I was little, before I even learned to read, and I had teachers all through K-12 and college who encouraged and rewarded reading, whether fiction or non-fiction. Reading has and continues to expose me to the human condition and experience in all its many forms and permutations. A love of reading can never be taken away. And, as I told my students and my children, good readers make good writers. I’m so thankful for all the many people who fostered and encouraged my love for the written word, in any form!
- Bonus question: Do you ever read the end of book first so you know how it all turns out? I’ve never read the end of a book first, but I do sometimes look to see how TV shows or series end – it depends on the show. For example, I like to see ahead of time who wins the title of “Top Chef” when I begin a new season and then follow their progress throughout the season (without knowing how they do in each episode or challenge). For me, it just makes the show more interesting, and doesn’t detract from the other contestants’ efforts. But, I can’t imagine ever looking ahead in a book.
That’s a wrap for this week! I hope all my readers had a great week as well, and I’ll be back in a few days!