Our lazy summer here at Casa Aloha continues. WenYu’s job is keeping her busy, as are YaYu’s volunteer commitments, and they both go for a run every evening (when WenYu isn’t working) but there have been few demands on Brett’s and my time. I prepare dinner, we share house-maintenance chores, and otherwise spend our time at the beach, taking care of the occasional errand, or reading, watching TV or getting some exercise. It’s everything we thought retirement would be and it’s wonderful.
It’s almost hard to believe that YaYu will be back at school a week from tomorrow. This year will be the last year for Brett and I when it comes to full-time child rearing, so we’re looking forward to it both with anticipation and dread (i.e. the whole college/scholarship application process). By the time YaYu leaves for college next year we will have been raising children for 40 years, and are finally ready to enjoy an empty nest (unlike when our son graduated from high school in 1996, when we were not ready – Meiling joined our family the following spring).
The weather continues to be hot and sticky, but the mornings and nights are thankfully still cool and comfortable. The remnants of a hurricane passed by this last week, and they tend to drag along hot, HUMID air as they go by. The last time I checked there were three other storms moving across the Pacific, so we’ve got our fingers crossed that once again they all miss Hawai’i.
This afternoon I am:
- Reading: I finish up Evicted and am currently reading Rich People Problems, by Kevin Kwan. It’s a fun, fluffy book, which I needed after Evicted. What an eye-opening book that was! I was frankly shocked at how the poor were exploited when it comes to housing. Only 33% of the poor in our country receive any sort of housing subsidies (vouchers or public housing); the rest are at the mercy of predatory landlords, and there is no other way to describe it than that they exploit these renters, and suck whatever they can from them. The unsubsidized poor are often paying 70 – 80% of their income in rent for substandard or downright unsafe and unsuitable housing, but it’s what’s available, and where they are forced to turn to for housing. One emergency, or foul-up with their income and these renters are evicted, which creates a further downward spiral of poverty.
- Listening to: It’s relatively quiet now, but there was a lot of noise earlier this morning, both from neighbors taking care of lawn maintenance, and one very loud rooster. There’s a lovely breeze right now, so I can hear the palm trees rustling outside, and birds are singing. The girls are still asleep, and Brett is reading, so for now it’s also quiet inside.
- Watching: Brett and I started and finished a documentary on Netflix this past week, The Keepers, about a small group of people who started out trying to solve the mystery of who killed one of their high school teachers, Sister Catherine, back in 1969, and ended up exposing a whole web of abuse and cover-up within the Baltimore Archdiocese (and possibly the Baltimore police). It was fascinating. We’ve got one last episode of Granchester to watch tonight, but are going to start another documentary, Room 237, about the real Overlook Hotel and Stanley Kubrik’s film of The Shining. I’ve almost finished all the available episodes House Hunters: International – I’ve been watching it when I work on Swagbucks. It’s addicting, and I wish there were more episodes available!
- Cooking/baking: We’re having grilled teriyaki chicken and zaru soba tonight – we had the Caprese skillet eggs on Thursday evening because the fresh basil we got at the farmers’ market had to be used quickly.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: I bought Meiling’s and WenYu’s plane tickets to come home at Christmas, getting a good price and good itinerary for both of them. I managed to get in at least one bike ride every day – some days it was just too hot and humid in the afternoon, even with two fans blowing on me. I drank all of my glasses of water every day, studied my language, and made my first goal on Swagbucks every day. Actually, I’ve ended up doing better than the personal goal that I set for myself on Swagbucks this month.
- Looking forward to next week: Getting our oven fixed – the repairman came this past week, but had to order the igniter. Of course, it worked for him, but he agreed it was “failing.” We don’t use it all that much, but it has been missed.
- Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu’s new running shoes arrived – she says they’re comfortable and fit well. Yeah Zappos! WenYu had more HawaiianMiles in her account than we realized, and she transferred them over to my account – there were enough to cover her flight over to Honolulu when she heads back to school at the end of next month. We went to the beach on Thursday, when WenYu had the day off – it was breezy, cool(er) and wonderful. And, the waves were big so the surfers were out – they are so much fun to watch! Prices were excellent this week on locally-grown tropical fruit, and we stocked up. The girls also deep-cleaned their room yesterday evening – it was a mess, but looks really lovely now.
- Reporting gains and losses for July: I lost another two pounds this past month, and 23 total since last February. Since I had to cut back on some of my daily bike rides because of the hot weather, I’ve been eating less, and measuring everything. Brett is within two pounds of his goal weight, but will keep up with his walking/hiking to stay in shape. And, we put $808.54 into our travel savings this past month!! Our total is now at $4589.76, so we’re well ahead of where we need to be at this point.
- Grateful for: I really don’t think about it much, but was made aware again of the benefits of living below our means when I totaled up this month’s savings. I’m very thankful for the simple, but comfortable lifestyle we enjoy these days in such a beautiful place, and that we are able to save enough for future dreams and travels.
- Bonus question: Do you have a story of a time something went wrong but turned out for the best? Brett and I arranged to go on a tour of the Fukushima prefecture during our first tour in Japan (the prefecture extends far inland, and we were not anywhere near the coast or the infamous nuclear reactors). We woke up the morning of our tour and realized we had overslept by two hours! We called the navy recreation office, explained what had happened, and they told us where and how we could meet up with the tour that evening. So, we took our son to the babysitter, and headed for the train station – we would have a long ride to get to where the tour was staying that evening. The train ride was wonderful! Although it cost us extra, we saw so many places along the way that we’d never seen, including a ride through a grove of plum trees in bloom (breathtaking!), had some tasty ekibento (station bentos) and snacks, and met kind and helpful people along the way. When we arrived at our destination it was very late, but we took a taxi to the inn where everyone was staying, and were put into a large traditional Japanese room, where we were given warm robes, our futons were made up for us, and someone brought us hot tea and snacks. We met up with our group in the morning for breakfast, and quickly realized that they had all slept dormitory style, with all the women in one room, men in the other, so we kept quiet about our luxurious accommodations. After breakfast (during which there was a fairly strong earthquake) we boarded the tour bus with our tour group, and enjoyed the second day of the tour, which included visiting a temple and some beautiful waterfalls, and returned home that evening. We still say that our mistake of oversleeping ended up providing us with one of the nicest getaways we’ve ever enjoyed!
How has your week gone? What did your accomplish? What good things happened for you?