#Kaua’i: Everyday Color

One of the joys of living on Kauai is that every day nature provides an abundance of colorful delights for the eye, in all the colors of the rainbow and then some:

Deep purple

Bluer and bluest

Lush green (everywhere)

 Juicy, sweet yellow

Fiery orange
Vibrant red

Cotton candy pink

Soft, warm brown

Weathered black

Fragrant white

And sometimes we can see almost all the colors at the same time!

Oh so lucky we live Kaua’i!


Reservations Have Been Made

One of the views from the apartment we’ve reserved in Paris.

Brett and I have been very busy the past couple of days, going over the calendar and through Airbnb listings, and I’m excited to announce that the official itinerary for the Big Adventure has been set, and all lodging reservations for Big Adventure (Part I) have been made!

I was also able to score an amazing deal on Hawaiian this past weekend for our flight back to Portland in August: we will be flying first class for slightly more than the cost of flying economy! Hawaiian had nearly doubled the mileage requirement for a one-way seat in economy to both Seattle or Portland since the last time I checked their site, which meant that I now only had enough miles for one seat and would be left with extra miles in my account that I couldn’t use. But, I saw that the mileage for a first class seat was just 10,000 more miles than coach (it’s usually double the amount or more) and would use up almost all the miles in my account. At the same time the price for first class seats was several hundreds of dollars less than usual. So, I bought one first class seat with my miles, and then paid for two more (I had to buy each ticket individually because when I tried to buy two seats at the same time Hawaiian raised the price of each by $40!). First class passengers aren’t charged for checked bags, which would have been at least $100 for us in economy with YaYu’s extra luggage, so by dividing the cost of the two seats by three and subtracting the luggage savings, our three first class seats were just $81 more per ticket than the economy fare (which is only going to continue to go up). It was just too good of a deal to pass up. We will be flying economy the rest of our travels, so this flight back to the mainland will be a very nice way to start things off. I had originally hoped I would be able to cover all three of our flights back to the mainland using miles, but with Hawaiian increasing the required miles that wasn’t going to be possible no matter what. I am also thanking my mom once again for allowing me this little splurge.

We also got all of our Part I lodging reservations made this past weekend, and have already had several lovely interactions with the Airbnb hosts we’re renting from, including from one who took an around-the-world trip just a few years ago with her husband and children. She wrote that she is excited about sharing notes with us! I think we’ve found some terrific places to stay, and even though a couple of them of them cost more than planned, others cost less and in the end we were just $29.27 over our budget.

Here’s the upcoming itinerary for our Big Adventure so far:

We’re staying in this cute cottage while we’re in Portland.
  1. Portland. Our flight arrives very late at night, so we’ll stay the night in a hotel near the airport and then move over to our Airbnb rental the next day. We’re going to spend two full days in Portland outfitting YaYu for Pennsylvania weather as well as getting together with friends as much as possible. When we leave Portland we’ll head to . . .
  2. Dallas, TX. We’ll fly into Love Field on Southwest Airlines and stay with Brett’s sister and brother-in-law while we’re there, to visit and drop off our important paperwork and documents for safekeeping. Then it’s on to . . .
  3. Philadelphia. We’ll use Southwest Airlines again to get here from Dallas. We’ll pick up a car at the airport and drive out to our hotel near Bryn Mawr. We’ve planned one full day of shopping for dorm supplies, and the next day we’ll get YaYu moved in and say goodbye. Brett and I plan to attend the parents’ cocktail party that Bryn Mawr is hosting that evening, and then we’ll head back alone to our hotel (which I know is going to feel a bit strange). Then it’s on to . . .

    The small but fully equipped Buenos Aires studio apartment – it even has a washing machine!
  4. Miami, and from Miami to Buenos Aires: We’ll take a non-stop flight from Philly to Miami in the morning. Most flights to Buenos Aires leave Miami in the late afternoon, and don’t arrive until the next day, but I’m still researching this. We found a lovely studio apartment in the Recoleta district, and we’ve already been communicating with the host. We’re going to make reservations for the culinary tour the week after we arrive. We’re in Buenos Aires for 10 days, and then will take a three-hour ferry across the Rio de la Plata to . . .
  5. Montevideo, Uruguay. We found another lovely apartment in the central city here, within walking distance of most of the places we want to see. We’re planning to spend one day while we’re here up in Colonia del Sacramento, a World Heritage city, about two hours from Montevideo by bus. From Montevideo we will . . .

    Little kitchen with a view in Montmartre
  6. Fly to Paris. I am still pinching myself because I found (and booked) an absolutely fabulous fare on Air Europa for just a few dollars over what we budgeted and with a not-too-long flight schedule from Montevideo to Paris (there’s a short layover in Madrid). We had assumed we’d have to go back to Buenos Aires to get a decent fare over to Europe but the price from Montevideo saved us more than half of what we could have paid to leave from Buenos Aires. Plus, we won’t have to take the ferry back across the Rio de la Plata (a three-hour trip) and then make our way to the airport. The flight is a red-eye though, and because of the time change we’ll arrive in Paris early the next morning. We have six full days in Paris though, which is probably not going to be enough, and we have reserved a wonderful apartment in the Montmartre district of Paris. From Paris we’ll head to . . .
  7. Normandy. We’re going to take the train from Paris to Caen in the morning, and will pick up a rental car in Caen for the only driving we’ll do during the first half of the Big Adventure. We had originally planned to stay in a B&B in Normandy (in an old château) but instead reserved a sweet little apartment just outside of Bayeux at a considerable savings. Besides the proximity to Bayeux, it’s within easy driving distance to the landing beaches and Mont Saint-Michel. We’ll spend three full days in Normandy, then take the car back to Caen and leave for . . .

    The living/dining area of our Strasbourg apartment
  8. Strasbourg. We had initially planned to travel to Bordeaux from Caen, but apparently something BIG is going on in Bordeaux at the same time we wanted to be there because there were no rentals available, at least not in our price range. It was crazy – we found a few we liked on Airbnb but when we went back to inquire about them a couple of minutes later they were all no longer available and the inventory had dropped to almost nothing. So, we decided to go to Strasbourg first and then Bordeaux. We’ll be doing an overnight stay in Baden-Baden, Germany while we’re in Strasbourg, and also going over to Switzerland for two days, but will make those reservations later. The apartment we rented in Strasbourg is in the historic center of the city. It’s the only one we’ll be staying in though that doesn’t have a washing machine, so one of our first tasks will be to locate a nearby laundromat. When our time in Strasbourg is over we’ll go to . . .
  9. Bordeaux. Thankfully many more Airbnb rentals were available once we changed the dates, and we booked a lovely one bedroom apartment near the public gardens and not far from the historic city center. It’s a fairly new rental, but the owner has another property in Bordeaux and he gets good reviews so we decided to take a chance (communication with him has been great so far though). Access to public transportation is close by the apartment. Bordeaux is our last destination in France, and then we head to . . .

    Kitchen and dining area, looking into the living room in the Florence apartment
  10. Florence. The apartment we found in Florence is amazing. It’s in a fully restored historic home in the heart of the Oltrano district, just a short walk over the Arno River to the center of Florence and all the city has to offer. We initially dismissed the apartment as too expensive, but found ourselves going back to it again and again and finally decided it was where we wanted to stay. We’ll be in Florence for a month and knew we’d kick ourselves later if we didn’t take it when we had the chance because the place is usually always booked. We’ll be visiting the Cinque Terre for three days during our stay in Florence, but otherwise most of our time will be spent visiting museums and churches in Florence and other parts of Tuscany, including a full day in Siena, and eating lots of gelato. After our month in Florence, we’re off to . . .

    It will probably be too cold to take advantage of the terrace when we’re in Rome, but we’ll still get the views!
  11. Rome. For our week in the Eternal City we’ve rented a lovely apartment just a five-minute walk from Vatican City, and with views of St. Peter’s. When we leave Rome we’ll be heading to our last stop in Europe . . .

    The living room of our Lisbon apartment
  12. Lisbon. We rented a “minimalist” apartment in the historic Bairro Alto neighborhood (although fully furnished with a full kitchen and washing machine). After nine days of exploration in and around Lisbon we will . . .
  13. Fly to Portland. Our former hometown will be the segue between Part I of our adventure, and Part II. The girls will be joining us here to celebrate Christmas – their arrivals will be staggered in depending on each of their school’s schedule. We’ve found a great Airbnb property we hope to rent, but can’t reserve it until late May at the earliest. All fingers are crossed that we can get it (although we have backups in case we don’t)! We’ll have a car while we’re here as well, and we’ll be able to drive down and pick up Meiling and take her back to Eugene after New Year’s. Right after that we’ll fly to . . .
  14. New Delhi. We’re leaving Portland a couple of days before our tour begins so we can arrive at least a day early to rest up and hopefully shake off some of our jet lag. Then it’s seven full days of India, including visits to the Taj Majal at daybreak and at sunset. The evening our tour ends we’ll board yet another plane and head to . . .
  15. Hong Kong. We’ll most likely be arriving late at night, but will somehow get ourselves to the Salisbury YMCA in Kowloon. 2019 bookings are not open yet though but we’re guessing we should be able to make reservations starting in May or June. In spite of the hotel belonging to the YMCA, the Salisbury is an absolutely wonderful, and affordable, four-star hotel in an amazing location in the city. Hong Kong is going to be all about the food, and we’re going to check out HK Disneyland one day! After six days in one of our favorite cities we will leave for . . .
  16. Perth. We’re looking forward to doing a bit of sightseeing while we’re here, but we mostly plan to relax and rest following our time in India and Hong Kong. We won’t be booking our Airbnb rental here until probably late July or early August. The last morning in Perth we’ll board the . . .
  17. Indian-Pacific train to cross Australia. This trip has been on Brett’s bucket list for as long as I’ve known him and I am really, really, really looking forward to it. The train stops at least once each day along the way for sightseeing and/or tours, which were included in the price of our tickets. After four days and three nights we arrive in . . .
  18. Sydney. As with Perth, we will be making our Airbnb reservations here later this summer. Thanks to reader suggestions, along with several free activities we’ll be taking ferry rides across the harbor, indulging in a culinary tour, and I’m going to take the backstage tour at the Sydney Opera House while Brett does some solo exploration. Leaving Sydney, we’ll fly to . . .
  19. New Zealand (North Island). Our plan is to pick up a rental car at the Auckland airport and head directly down to Rotorua for three nights. Then it’s on to Napier for one night, three nights in Wellington, one night in New Plymouth, and we’ll finish up with a couple of days in Auckland. We’re just starting to look at lodgings, but reservations for those will come later. We”ll turn in our car at the Auckland airport, and head on to our last stop on the Big Adventure . . .

    We still almost can’t believe we get to live so close to our son for three months in this beautiful Tokyo apartment.
  20. Tokyo! We booked our Tokyo apartment the Setagaya district, just a few minutes away from our son’s condo, several months ago. We’re staying in Tokyo most of the time we’re in Japan but are planning to go for a week to see both Hiroshima and Kyoto, probably sometime before the end of April. We’ll check with our son to see if they want to go with us, and will plan the dates around their decision. And then . . .
  21. ???? We have to be in Oregon for Meiling’s graduation in mid-June, but otherwise don’t know for sure right now where we’ll head to when we leave Japan, although we have a few ideas (which will remain a mystery for now).

Brett has moved on to researching car rentals in France – we’d love any tips you could share if you’ve done this before, especially information about insurance and other things we might need to do before we go. Next week I will begin searching again to set up some more air travel, and will also start booking our Southwest flights inside the U.S. using the gift cards I earned last year doing Swagbucks.

This is really happening!

Sunday Afternoon 3/25/2018

Accepted at Bryn Mawr College with a full scholarship!!!

What started out as a very rough week – rejected by Smith and Amherst, waitlisted at Wellesley and Carleton – had a very happy ending with YaYu’s acceptance at Bryn Mawr with a full scholarship. The college has been on her list from the very beginning, so this was an especially nice finish to what were otherwise two very difficult and depressing weeks. YaYu is over the moon though (us too). She plans to major in East Asian Languages & Culture (Chinese) and minor in Education, working in tandem with Haverford College, which is nearby.

And since we now know when we have to be where, Brett and I have been sitting together with the calendar and finalizing the first half of our adventure. We’re leaving Kaua’i (August 20), and will be flying to Portland for a couple of days to do some shopping for YaYu and see friends – we’ve already rented a place to stay through Airbnb while we’re there, in a wonderful neighborhood not far from where we lived back in the day. From Portland we’ll head to Dallas to spend a couple of days visiting with Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, and dropping off our important papers and documents for safekeeping while we’re on the road. Then it’s on to Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr to get YaYu moved in to her dorm. From Philadelphia we’ll fly to Miami and then head down to Buenos Aires to begin the Big Adventure!

We could see big swaths of chocolate-brown water running through the ocean when we took our walk yesterday, runoff from five days of rain. It will take anywhere from two to seven days to dissipate.

We had nothing but rain, rain, rain almost all this past week – it started on Monday and the skies didn’t clear until yesterday. As of yesterday there have been only six days this month when it hasn’t rained here. It made me wonder how we ever lasted so long in the Pacific Northwest because all this gloom has been hard to take, to say the least.

This week I am:

  • Reading: I didn’t pick up Eat Up! at all this past week until Friday evening because I was too anxious to concentrate for more than a couple of paragraphs, and finally decided it would just be easier to wait until life calmed down again. I picked it back up again on Friday evening and am enjoying it immensely.
  • Listening to: The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the bird are singing and all’s right in the world, at least here right now. Besides birdsong, I’m also listening to loads of baby chicks peeping away in the yard – they’re quite loud. It’s quiet in the house right now though. Brett and YaYu are reading, and we haven’t started the laundry yet.
  • Watching: We watched two movies at the beginning of the week: I, Tonya and Murder On the Orient Express. Allison Janney in I, Tonya was nothing short of amazing – she deserved the Academy Award.  Tonya Harding was always front-page news in Portland (usually not in a good way), but I never had any idea of the abuse she put up with for so many years. We watched Dunkirk on Friday night (even YaYu thought it was good, and she hates war movies). We also watched some a couple more episodes of The Brief, and tonight we’re going to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
  • Cooking/baking: Our egg-centric dinner tonight is Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs, along with rice and cucumbers. I’m baking some orange-chocolate cupcakes later this afternoon so Brett and YaYu will be good for sweets for a while. I didn’t end up making the turkey divan casserole last week, so we’re having that tomorrow, and mabo nasu with rice, spaghetti with marinara and meatballs, and pork fried rice are also on the menu this week. We’ve still got track season going on, so our schedule remains screwy for a few more weeks.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: I consider that with all the tension and stress going on this past week the fact that I did not stand in front of the refrigerator and just stuff myself was a huge accomplishment! It was that kind of week. We got more things sorted for the thrift store, and YaYu and I went to the new Ross store down the road and got started on her dorm supplies. We found a very nice comforter and towels, but most everything else is going to have to be purchased nearer the college when we get to Pennsylvania. I drank lots of water and studied French every day, but Brett and my daily walk didn’t happen except for last Sunday and yesterday because of the weather. Not my accomplishment, but Brett finally got his hair cut. I liked his hair long, but he could never depend on it looking nice, so he’s back to his usual short style. I think it’s incredibly unfair that he still looks so young – he’ll be 68 next month! 

  • Looking forward to next week: I’m looking forward to recovering from the past two weeks of stress, disappointment, tension and frazzled nerves. The process was so competitive this year! Brett and I are celebrating our 39th anniversary on Friday with dinner at Duke’s Kauai, down by Nawiliwili in Lihue. We’re super excited about eating there (their seafood is excellent), and sharing a piece of their famous Hula Pie!

    Can’t wait to spend time with these two!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I don’t think anything can top YaYu’s acceptance – it was the last school she heard from, and it was such wonderful news. YaYu burst into tears when she read the announcement. I think that buying that comforter on Thursday was a good omen – her class color at Bryn Mawr will be dark blue, and the comforter is a beautiful dark blue and white print!  My daughter-in-law sent us loads of pictures again this past week and we are getting VERY excited about their upcoming visit. They are planning all sorts of activities, and Brett and I have promised to provide as much childcare as they want as often as they want.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: YaYu always has an eye for savings, and chose the cute and affordable name-brand comforter for her dorm room at Ross for less than $30 versus another more expensive one, as well as a quality set of bath towels for around $15. We also looked at some throw pillows for her bed, but she said she wants the ones that are on our sofa now which will be another big savings. All the movies we’ve watched this past couple of weeks have been free, courtesy of Amazon credit earned through Swagbucks. We put $4.55 into the change/$1 bill jar, left over from the farmers’ market and the Big Shop.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I lost another pound this month, so that makes 32 pounds gone since February of last year. I’m just going to keep on keeping on. We put $1067.50 into our travel savings, for a total now of $17,646.07. We’ll be using our savings in a big way in the next couple of weeks as we begin making reservations for our Big Adventure lodgings and flights.
  • Grateful for: All of us are feeling so very, very thankful for YaYu’s admission to Bryn Mawr and for the very, very generous financial aid she received. YaYu has the most impressive high school resume of all of our kids, both grades and extracurriculars, and yet she had the toughest time of all being accepted in spite of applying to more schools. Admissions were just incredibly competitive this year. The colleges that YaYu applied to received anywhere from a 15% to 45% increase in the number of applications received, so it was very tough standing out and being chosen. She received lovely, warm letters from the colleges where she was waitlisted, and all encouraged her to stay on their list, but she wants to go to Bryn Mawr. We think the college is going to be a wonderful fit for YaYu, and are happy too that another one of our girls will be attending one of the Seven Sisters. These schools provide a unique and empowering experience for women, on top of giving them a top-rate education.

    Lewis & Clark still has the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen though. It was almost impossible to study there – you couldn’t help but find yourself constantly staring out of the window, taking it all in.
  • Bonus question: If you attended college, do you remember how much it cost? I attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland back in the early 1970s – the cost for tuition and room and board was right around $4000 per year, something my very middle-class parents could afford while they were also paying out-of-state tuition for my older brother to attend the University of Washington. Fast forward to now, and the tuition plus fees and room & board at Lewis & Clark is $63,588! The University of Washington cost for a non-resident is $46,482. And that’s not counting books, travel expenses or other miscellaneous costs. What middle class family can afford that these days, let alone for four years, or even save enough? Bryn Mawr’s costs are not any better, but compared to Lewis & Clark they offer much better financial aid. Hopefully YaYu’s savings will be enough that she doesn’t have to take out any loans, at least not initially, but she will be working while she’s in school to help her bottom line. The cost to attend the University of Hawaii would have been somewhere between $28K – $30K, and that’s for a resident. Financial aid would have helped, but that’s still a lot of money every year.

What a week! I’m so glad it ended on a high note. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

#Kaua’i: Malasada Love

Fresh malasada – what’s not to love?

Last Saturday morning, YaYu came home from her service project and handed Brett and I a bag: “I brought these for you.” Inside the bag were two still-warm and fluffy malasada, or as they are sometimes called, “Hawaiian doughnuts.”

I avoid most carbs and can say no to a doughnuts, but I will not say no to a malasada. First of all, they are delicious. Second, we don’t see them very often because they sell out very quickly here.

Traditional egg-shaped and sugar-coated malasada may look like a regular doughnut on the outside, but their appearance hides the deliciousness inside. They’re way more rich and flavorful than a regular doughnut. Yeast-raised and fried, malasada dough contains egg, usually one egg to every cup of flour, and they’re also made with either evaporated milk or cream.

Malasada came to Hawai’i with the Portuguese workers who were brought to work on the sugar plantations. The Portuguese were mostly hired from Madeira and the Azores, considered highly desirable because they were skilled from working on sugar plantations there. Like other plantation workers they brought recipes from their home country with them, including malasada.

A variety of fresh malasada from Leonard’s

The most famous place to buy malasada in Hawai’i is Leonard’s in Honolulu. Leonard’s claims to be the original malasada bakery in Hawai’i and they are well-worth a stop. While a traditional malasada is plain, they can also be filled with custard or coconut-flavored haupia, and Leonard’s carries a wide variety of filled malasada as well as plain. They make the doughnuts all day long so fresh ones are always available. That’s a good thing – allowed to cool for too long, a malasada becomes dense and more like a fat bomb than a doughnut.

Here on Kaua’i, malasada can be somewhat tricky to find. You have to know where to go and be willing to get up early to get them because they sell out quickly. Malasada are traditionally associated with Mardi Gras and the Lenten season, so a few more places around town recently had them available, although we abstained then. They are definitely worth searching out though if you are visiting, and nothing goes better with a hot cup of coffee!

Language Learning for Adults

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially since I’ve been studying (and struggling to learn) French now for many months in preparation for our travels there later this year. I also spent a considerable amount of time (like years) trying to learn Japanese, only to find myself with an ability less than a two year-old. Because my professional  background is in adult language learning and acquisition you would think I’d have this all figured out by now and would know all sorts of tricks to make learning faster and easier, but sadly, no.

Children pick up new languages very easily, at least the spoken part, typically because they are usually far more immersed in a new language than most adults (i.e. in school all day with other native speakers). If children learn a second language before the age of twelve they usually become fluent speakers with no accent. Although adults learn a language in the same steps as children, how adults process what they are learning is different based on cognitive differences and other previous learning experiences. The reality is it just takes adults longer to acquire a second language. The good news is it’s not impossible.

When adults are learning a second or foreign language, there are three main aspects that come into play: 1) motivation, or the reasons for learning another language; 2) how an adult views themselves as a learner; 3) who an adult sees themselves to be when they speak another language. All three of these are important, but any one of them on their own can have a profound effect on the learning experience. Being aware of these forces and the roles they play can help adults through the process.

Motivation falls into two classes, intrinsic or extrinsic. That is, motivation to learn another language either comes from within or from without. Are you learning a new language because you want to or because you have to or need to? How strong is the desire or need? A combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons for learning is best, and together can provide powerful motivation to push through difficult stretches and improve.

Language learning has often proven to be a sticky problem for adults who have always seen themselves as successful learners or talented in other respects. Recognizing that language learning calls on a whole different set of skills than learning math or history, or participating in a sport or hobby, and that it might not be as easy for you as you thought (or as fun) is an important step in staying motivated and continuing to learn.

Finally, how do you see yourself when you imagine yourself speaking another language? As a native speaker of English, I view myself as a confident, skilled adult when I speak, read, write or listen to English, able to know what to say in almost any situation or figure out what someone else is saying or inferring. With a new language I often find myself with less ability than a small child, making lots of (sometimes embarrassing) mistakes, sometimes unable to order in a restaurant or ask directions, let alone manage any other social or professional situations. It’s very humbling, and can also be humiliating at times. One’s self-image when learning a new language can sometimes take some serious blows. Also, there’s the aspect to self of fitting in socially and culturally where the new language is spoken. Knowing that these feelings are perfectly normal can help you stick with language learning.

Based on my many years of teaching English to adults learners, here are some tips for making language learning more productive and less painful:

  • Communication should be the goal. Not fluency, not perfection, although you can strive for those. Can another person understand what you’re trying to say or write and communicate back to you? That’s what really matters.
  • Know how difficult a language is to learn. Russian or Chinese or Finnish are going to be w-a-y more difficult for an English speaker to learn than Spanish or French. All language learning takes time and effort, but if you want to learn one of the more difficult languages, give yourself even more time. Although the goal may be much less than professional proficiency, here is the Foreign Language Institute difficulty ranking for English speakers, and the time it takes to reach Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3) and Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3) in different languages.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Seriously, mistakes are how we learn, especially in language learning! Think of all the mistakes children make when they’re learning to speak. Adults go through the same steps, and mistakes will happen. The important thing is to keep trying to produce the language in some form rather than shut down. An ideal instructor (or online program) will always model the language correctly for you when you make a mistake and give chances to try again. It’s also important to find a classroom and instructor where you feel safe to make mistakes. My Japanese instructors in college didn’t go for safety and it was an incredibly stressful and miserable experience. I remember nothing from those classes other than wanting them to end (although I was able to get a Master’s thesis out of the experience!).
  • Be prepared to memorize. Memory is a very big part of language learning. We memorize constantly when we learn our own language (I took weekly spelling tests through the eighth grade because much of English spelling and pronunciation is based on memorization, even for native speakers), and it will be true for any other language. It’s more difficult to remember things when we’re older because we’re carrying around and having to deal with so much more information in our brains than we did when we were younger. The best way to remember what you’re learning is to practice. Every day.
  • Don’t sweat pronunciation. The ability to speak another language without an accent ends at about age 12. That’s when our mouths and oral muscles “solidify” around our native language. Not worrying about pronunciation doesn’t mean not trying to pronunciate a new language correctly in order to be understood, but sounding like a native speaker doesn’t need to be the goal.
  • Find ways to expose yourself to the language. Learning French in France is going to be a whole lot easier than trying to learn it in the U.S. Why? Because learners are immersed in the language there – it can’t be escaped and has to be dealt with. In your own country, once you’re out of the classroom it’s difficult to find opportunities to practice and use the language you’re learning. Immersion experiences here in the U.S. do exist though. Shop in international markets and read the labels or ask questions in the language you’re learning. Pick up a newspaper or magazine in the new language, go through it and see what can be figured out. Watch foreign films or TV shows in the new language without subtitles. For example, when our girls were learning Chinese, they found that all their favorite Disney Channel shows could be watched online in Mandarin, so they got lots of extra listening comprehension practice from those. Go to a church service where the language you’re learning is spoken (they exist). See if you can set up conversation experiences through local colleges, or hire a tutor and have them provide a weekly immersion session. I was sometimes able to match up my students, if they had time, with an English speaker who was trying to learn their language. They’d spend one hour together in one language, the second hour in the other language.

Knowing another language opens doors for understanding a new and/or different culture, but language learning is a process that takes time, in some cases LOTS of time. It’s important to remind yourself, especially if you’re struggling or on the fence about sticking with it, that you didn’t learn English (or any other native language) quickly as a child either. Unless necessary for professional reasons, fluency doesn’t need to be the goal of language learning; rather, you should strive to learn enough of a new language to communicate effectively, and as a means to better understand and enhance  experiences in a different culture.

Finally, one other interesting side effect of language learning is that you will probably learn more about English as well, and what a crazy, difficult, and sometimes impossible language it is. I thank my stars every day that English is my native language, and that I didn’t have to learn it as a second or foreign language. My years of teaching gave me an immense amount of respect for anyone trying to learn English, a daunting task if there ever was one.

Sunday Afternoon 3/18/2018

Second round coming up!

It’s been a week of ups and downs. YaYu received rejection notices from both Bowdoin and Colby on Friday, but took them in stride and we all drowned our sorrows in bowls of ice cream that evening. Yesterday morning she heard from both Colgate and Bates: rejected at Colgate, and waitlisted at Bates. Admission to all four of these schools was very competitive this year – the increase in the number of applications received at the schools ranged from 25% – 45% more than last year. This first round of decisions was tough for YaYu, but she will hear from five more schools this week, and remains hopeful for good news. Brett and I keep reminding her that whatever school she ends up attending, even the University of Hawaii, will be a great fit for her and will be her school. On the bright side though, earlier in the week she learned she had been awarded a General Erik K. & Patricia Shinseki Foundation scholarship for $1000! That will be officially awarded on May 2, at a recognition luncheon held at Gaylord’s restaurant in Kilohana (Brett and I get to go too!). And, in other good news, Meiling got the tech job she interviewed for week before last! She’s especially excited because beyond the experience her salary will be more than double what she’s made at previous jobs.

Blue skies and calm seas for as far as the eye can see.

After nearly three weeks of overcast skies, strong wind, and lots and lots of rain, Friday saw the return of sunshine and beautiful weather. It was actually even hot when Brett and I walked on Friday! All the gloomy weather reminded us though of why we decided to leave Portland more than four years ago. Brett and I have both concluded that wherever we settle when the Big Adventure finishes, sunny, warm weather will again be a top consideration.

I’ve been going through my annual bout of insomnia for the past few weeks, but hopefully it will be over soon because I’m very, very tired of being tired all the time. I have absolutely no idea what causes it, but even reducing or giving up caffeine has no effect on my ability to fall asleep, nor does any of the other tricks or sleep aids I’ve tried. I think nerves over YaYu’s college news has been playing a role this year, but that should all be over next week and hopefully my sleep schedule will start getting back to normal.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Chinese Lessons this past week. It was a thought-provoking read for me because I could identify with so much of the author’s experience, thoughts on, and nagging questions about adoption. I’m just getting started with Eat Up!: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want by Ruby Tandoh, about one of life’s greatest pleasures: eating. Ruby was a finalist on the Great British Baking Show one season, and this book has gotten great reviews.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet here, both inside and outside. Everyone is reading or writing, and the laundry hasn’t been started yet either. Outside right now there’s a wonderful breeze blowing, enough to cause some noise as it rushes through the palm trees. Otherwise even the animals are quiet this morning, and no one is working on their yard, at least for now. There are some clouds out, but it’s still mostly sunny. I hope that lasts too!
  • Watching: This past week I watched Season 2 of The Tick on Amazon. I didn’t think it was quite as funny as the first, but still entertaining. Brett and I watched the first episode of British series The Brief, but switched to movies on Friday evening beginning with Get Out (really good), then Ladybird last night, and tonight we’re watching The Shape of Water. We’ll be back after that with The Brief.

    Open-faced hot turkey sandwich – yum! They’re a total carb-fest, but I skip the bread and have just a quarter cup each of the stuffing and mashed potatoes.
  • Cooking/baking: Dinner tonight will be baked chili rellenos, along with rice and cucumbers. I made a plain yellow cake this morning – we have a lot of whipped cream on hand, and YaYu thought yellow cake filled with whipped cream would be delicious. I wasn’t able to fix yakisoba with chicken last week so we’re having that this week, as well as slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy; vegetable and chicken curry; roast turkey with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy; hot turkey sandwiches; and turkey divan casserole (we’re picking up a roast turkey breast at Costco). And, there will be some more ice cream eating going on as well, one way or another. YaYu is on spring break this week, so I need to make sure there are leftovers and snacks around for her.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: I got the big living room tansu pretty much cleaned out, and did some work on the baking cupboard in the kitchen. We had planned to mail some of our baking things to Meiling, but unless it can fit into a flat-rate box it will go out at our moving sale or to the thrift store – the postage to mail anything from here, even to the west coast, is just too much. Although I drank lots of water and studied French almost every day, between YaYu’s practice and meet schedule, being under the weather on Monday night and most of Tuesday, and some epic rain on Wednesday, Brett and I were only able to walk on Friday and yesterday. We’ll be out again though later this afternoon.
  • Looking forward to next week: All of us are excited and nervous about hearing from the rest of the colleges – Wellesley and Bryn Mawr announce on Wednesday, Carleton on Thursday, Smith on Friday, and Amherst on Saturday. Last week YaYu got an email from the Bryn Mawr financial aid office asking her to clarify some information for them, but we don’t know if that means good news is coming or not – the notice certainly wasn’t giving anything away. We’re also supposed to get another week of overcast and rain, but we are hoping beyond hope that the sunshine continues – we (me especially) need it! Brett and I had to postpone our Starbucks coffee date last week, but should be able to go this week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: In spite of not receiving good news from colleges this past week, YaYu’s scholarship award and Meiling’s new job were enough good news to keep our spirits up. Also, the sun broke through the clouds Thursday afternoon in time for YaYu’s track meet so it didn’t have to be held in the rain – thank goodness! She beat her personal best in the long jump by a foot last week! She was also moved up to the next faster heat in the 800m race, and while she didn’t finish as high up as others she also didn’t come in last!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We almost had a no-spend week except for buying ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream to celebrate and/or mourn YaYu’s college announcements. Otherwise we did the typical frugal stuff around here, including getting the list made for next week’s Big Shop. We put $11.11 into the change/$1 bill jar: $5.01 change from our cable bill, $2.87 back from recycling, and $3.23 from ice cream shopping.
  • Grateful for: Believe it or not, I’m thankful for all the rain we have received this winter – it’s the rain that keeps Kaua’i green and lush, but all the cloudy days have also helped me appreciate the sunshine that much more, as well as realize that I am happier when there’s more sunshine than not. I just don’t do well with clouds, rain, and overcast anymore, at least not when it drags on for days or weeks. I am also thankful that because of the clear skies and calmer ocean Brett and I were able to watch some whales off in the (near) distance yesterday when we took our walk! We saw one leap out of the water, and another wave its flipper, and there was also plenty of spouting going on. I had been afraid I wouldn’t see any whales this year because the ocean has been so rough, and it’s almost time for them to leave Hawai’i.
  • Bonus question: How did you and your spouse/significant other meet? I’ve probably mentioned it before, but Brett was my instructor in a transistor theory class at navy “A” school in Millington, Tennessee. I can still close my eyes and picture the first time I saw him, standing in the middle of the classroom holding two electric leads as I walked in. He came right up to me and introduced himself. He was above me in rank (obviously), so I had to address him formally in class, but something definitely clicked right from the start. The transistor class was only two weeks long, but after I finished and moved on to the next course he asked me out. Our first date was going to see the totally forgettable movie I Will, I Will . . . For Now with Diane Keaton and Elliot Gould. I came home from that first date and told my roommate I was in love. I found out later that Brett used to watch me from the window when my previous class took our breaks (my class before transistor theory was on the first floor; TT was on the second), and he pointed me out one day to the two other instructors he worked with, telling them he was going to marry me some day. Our meeting was 41 years ago this past May 25th.

How was your week? What good things happened for you this week? What are you looking forward to next week?


#Kauai: Historic Christ Memorial Episcopalian Church in Kilauea

The front of the church with its traditional stained glass rose window.

Brett and I have driven by this small, beautiful stone church several times on trips up to Kilauea, or at least seen it off to the right as we get ready to turn left to head for home. The other day though, after a doctor’s appointment, we had some time on our hands and the weather was lovely, so Brett and I decided to turn right and see what we could find out about this old and historic church.

The cemetery on the south side of the church. The border around the grave indicates a family plot.
The south side and cemetery – several of the stones are over 100 years old. The building across the street is the church’s thrift shop.
The church and cemetery grounds to the rear, on the south side.

Episcopalian worship services were held beginning in 1888 in Kilauea under Bishop Willis who had been sent to Hawai’i by the Church of England. The idea for a permanent church came about in 1924, on the site of a frame church where the church had been meeting but that was owned by the Hawaiian Congregational Church. In 1939 the Kilauea Sugar Company deeded the churchyard to the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii and donated the native stone used to build the current church. The chief benefactor, however, was Mrs. Robert Shepard, of Griffin, Georgia, in memory of her husband. The church was consecrated in 1941.


The cemetery around the church dates back to the earliest days of the original Hawaiian Congregational Church, with several graves more than 100 years old. There are also many unmarked graves on the grounds, and the number of people buried here will stay a secret “known only to God.” Many of the gravestones include not only dates, but information about how the person died, and their position in the family. The most recent burial we could find was in 2013, in a family plot beside the church.

South side stained glass windows.

The Christ Memorial Episcopal Church is one of the most picturesque historical churches on Kaua’i and in the Hawaiian Islands. It is especially noted for its beautiful stained glass windows. The windows were originally made in England, but reworked in 1968 to insure a longer life.

North side stained glass windows.

The church is open to visitors from 2-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There’s also a wonderful thrift store operated by the church across the street. The church is closed to visitors on Mondays and Sundays, although we stopped by on a Monday and there were people there who let us come in.  It truly was a beautiful place to stop for a while, and absorb a little history of the island.

Less Than Six Months To Go!

Other than continuing to save we haven’t been doing all that much directly related the Big Adventure lately both because there’s been lots of other stuff going on and mainly because we can’t. It dawned on me last week though that we have less than six months to go before we depart! While we’ve accomplished what we can so far, planning and scheduling is going to accelerate quickly beginning next month.

For now, we’re scheduled to leave the island on August 20. We still don’t know though where we’ll be heading, whether that will be over to Honolulu first to take YaYu to college there, or on to somewhere on the mainland. Once we have the college information we’ll be able to pull out the big calendar to figure out locations, dates and deadlines.

Anyway, here’s what we’ve already done to get ready:

  • Purchased our luggage and backpacks. We still need to get locks though.
  • Purchased all our clothes and shoes, and put together our travel wardrobes (minus one pair of leather shoes for Brett). Both of us are under the weight limits that we set for ourselves for our big suitcases (44 pounds).
  • Assembled all our electronics. We’re taking my MacBook Air, an iPad, our iPhones, Brett’s iPod, two Kindles, my digital camera, all the chargers, and a couple of converters. We’re also going to take Brett’s old Samsung phone to use for local calls (will buy a SIM card at each location). Otherwise our phone plan gives us data and texting for no extra charge.
  • Made reservations for Kaua’i condo (7/27 – 8/20), the India Tour, the Australian rail journey, and our Tokyo Airbnb.

There’s still more than plenty left to do though:

  • Make travel arrangements to the mainland. Our current plan is to fly into Seattle from here using our Hawaiian air miles, and go from there. Whether there will be three of us going, or just two, is the big unknown right now. If YaYu is with us (i.e. attending college on the mainland), we will spend a couple of days in Seattle to take care of cold(er)-weather clothes shopping for her before heading on to her college.
  • Reserve Airbnb lodgings (and Hong Kong hotel). This can be done once we can set dates for the rest of the trip. We are working this month on narrowing our list of possible rentals, and ranking them. The Salisbury in Hong Kong hasn’t released their 2019 prices yet – not sure when that will happen, but once they do we’ll make our reservations there.
  • Make flight reservations. Besides getting ourselves to Dallas we also will make reservations from Dallas to Miami, Miami to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Paris, and Lisbon to mainland and on to Portland for Christmas. Early next month will be a great time (five to six months out or so) to find good prices for international flights. Other flight reservations will be made while we’re on the road
  • Set up mail forwarding service. We will have mail collected here and forwarded on once a month to Brett’s sister and brother-in-law in Dallas. They will also be keeping all of our important and official papers while we travel. We plan to spend a couple of days visiting with them before we take off for Buenos Aires.
  • Purchase pillows. We are still going back on forth on these. We’ve settled on some a couple of times, but then discover they’re too heavy, or too big, too soft, or too something else. I know we’ll find the right ones eventually, but so far this has been frustrating.
  • Assemble toiletry and medication supplies, and purchase gifts for Airbnb hosts. This will be done closer to departure, but we especially need to make sure we will have enough of our medications for at least the first three months of travel. We also plan to leave a small gift of some Kaua’i-made items for our hosts as a thank-you.
  • Arrange for cleaners to assist with move-out cleaning of the house (floors and windows). This house has to be cleaned to perfection in order to get any of our deposit back (it was perfection when we moved in). We can do most of it on our own, but the floors and windows will require some extra assistance, especially the floors. They are etched and stained concrete, beautiful but a real pain to maintain. We have to strip and replace the seven (!!) coats of wax the landlord put down before we moved in.
  • Arrange storage for household goods we are keeping. We plan to meet with Royal Hawaiian, the company that moved us over here, in early May to set that up.
  • Advertise, set up and hold moving sale. For now we have been separating things out that will go to the sale, and we plan to hold the sale in early July. We also need to arrange to sell our washer and dryer, but closer to the end of July. Our landlord is thinking about purchasing the pair for the house though – fingers crossed as that would be ideal for us.  Whatever is left over from our moving sale, or that doesn’t go into storage will go to a local thrift store when we leave the house at the end of July.
  • Sell our car and reserve a rental for our last month or so on the island. We plan to have the car detailed and listed in early- to mid-July.

Looking over this list, I feel both excited and stressed! There’s a lot still to do. Hopefully being proactive now about saving, downsizing and getting organized is going to make the process easier and less stressful, and I’m excited about booking our lodgings and getting our flights, but I imagine things are going to pile up at bit as we get nearer our departure time. I know it’s all going to come together though and then we’ll be off!


Sunday Afternoon 3/11/2018

YaYu’s college notifications start arriving this week! She’ll hear from two colleges at the end of this week, from two more next week, and then the rest by the end of the month. The mood around here is cautiously hopeful, but we are stocking up on ice cream tomorrow (cookies ‘n’ cream and mint chocolate chip), chocolate sauce and whipped cream so we can either celebrate with her or help her drown her sorrows. Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME remains her top choice, but the other schools she is waiting to hear from are Bates, Colby, Wellesley, Amherst, Smith, Colgate, Bryn Mawr, and Carleton. All are in cold, cold places! None of us have any idea whatsoever how it’s going to shake out, but I hope you’ll send lots of good thoughts her way. It’s going to be a very anxious few weeks for her (us too)!

One of several squalls we spotted out on the horizon last Wednesday. What the picture doesn’t show was how cold and windy it was, in spite of the surf having calmed down some.

Just like most places on the mainland (and otherwise), we’re eager for spring to arrive. We’ve had yet another cool, breezy, overcast, and rainy week here. Monday was gorgeous: warm weather, blue sky and sunshine, but I had a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day so we didn’t really get to enjoy it much other than we got to spend a nice afternoon in Kilauea. The clouds were back by evening and the rest of the week went downhill from there. We didn’t even open the doors or windows on Thursday or Friday because it was so cold, but yesterday evening things began to clear our and it was lovely again for a while, but very cool again this morning. This has definitely been the coldest winter we’ve experienced since we’ve lived here, which has been great for walking. We know warmer weather is coming though (along with increased humidity). I always think to myself when the weather is like this that I’m glad I live here and didn’t spend thousands for a vacation only for us to be unable to go to the beach or have to deal with lots of red mud.

I consider myself a very healthy person, and doing all the right things (weight-bearing exercise, healthy eating and weight, enough daily calcium, etc.) so I was surprised (and a little scared) to learn this past week that I have beginning osteoporosis in one hip and in one place in my lower spine. The first call I got from the doctor’s office about the bone density scan said the results were good, but then a few days later I got a call that the doctor wanted to talk with me about the results. It turns out my scores for the hip and spine were right on the dividing line between actual osteoporosis and pre-osteoporosis (and the other hip was close). The doctor told me to keep doing what I have been but prescribed medication to see if the progression can be stopped, if not reversed somewhat. My mom and her mother both had “good bones,” but I don’t have any idea about my dad’s side of the family, or what I might have inherited from that direction.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finally finished Hamilton! Yeah! I’ve started Chinese Lessons: An American Mother Teaches her Children How to be Chinese in China by Patti Waldmeir. Waldmier, a single mom, became the Shanghai correspondent for the Financial Times, and lived there with her two daughters, both adopted from China, for around eight years. I’m finding it very relatable, both her feelings and experiences as an adoptive mother, and her children’s reactions to being adopted and attitudes toward China. Although all three of our very American girls are proud to be from China, speak Mandarin (fairly fluently), have visited China more than once and enjoyed their time there, they have absolutely NO interest in living there (well maybe YaYu, but that’s for the food).
  • Listening to: It’s been a quiet morning here other than there have been a couple of very loud roosters of and on out in the back yard. We haven’t started the laundry yet, and with just Brett and I here it’s been quiet inside – a taste of things to come? With the windows still closed there isn’t much noise from outside, but I can hear someone’s weed trimmer off in the distance.
  • Watching: Brett and I watched both seasons of Shelbourne Hotel this week, and of course now we want to go to Dublin and stay there, even if just for a night, or just to have tea. Last night we watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and tonight we’re going to watch Coco with YaYu.
  • Cooking/baking: YaYu is making fried rice for us again tonight – we have leftover rice, and everything else we need (chicken, vegetables, and eggs). I baked a batch of ginger sugar cookies this past week to use up some molasses and spices and because the weather is cool, and there are still some of those around. On the menu this week is lumpia and potstickers along with rice; yakisoba with chicken; stuffed peppers; and grilled chicken (which we didn’t end up having last week).

    One of the old gravestones at the CME church in Kilauea. This young man drowned in 1888, at age 33.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got a kitchen cabinet cleaned out this week – actually, I moved things around so that one cabinet now holds the dishes that will go into storage and another holds the things we are not keeping. When we were up in Kilauea on Monday for my doctor’s appointment, Brett and I finally stopped to visit the historic Christ Memorial Episcopal Church and cemetery. We usually turn the opposite direction from the church to head home, but are glad we took the time to visit the church and grounds – it was very interesting, especially the cemetery. In spite of the weather Brett and I got in five walks (and about got blown off the path on Friday!), I studied French every day, and drank lots and lots of water.
  • Looking forward to next week: Fingers are crossed for good news for YaYu, and for some nice, sunny weather! Maybe three weeks will be the charm and we’ll be able to get to the Stone Dam Trail this week.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Our movie watching was all free, courtesy of Amazon credit I earned from Swagbucks. Otherwise, it was just another regular week frugal-wise – nothing really stands out. It was another no-spend week except for the farmers’ market, and we put $9.00 leftover from there into the change/$1 bill jar.

    The Moloa’a Fruit Stand
  • Thinking of good things that happened: WenYu may have found a good summer job in Boston! It makes me sad she won’t be coming home this summer, but overall it will be good for her, and save all of us a lot of money. She’ll be able to stay with a friend there for the summer, so thankfully won’t have to worry about housing. Brett and I stopped at the Moloa’a fruit stand on the way home from Kilauea, and while they don’t make frosties any more, I did have a very thick and tasty papaya, pineapple and banana smoothie. YaYu is having a fabulous time at her Key Club convention – it’s on Maui this year!
  • Grateful for: Once again, I am very grateful for the prescription plan we have from our military insurance. It provides 90-days of medication, through the mail, at no or very, very low cost. The prescription service is fast, too. The doctor ordered my new medication on Monday, and I received it on Thursday (I could go to a local pharmacy if I needed it sooner though).

    Authentic Key lime pie is amazing. That is all.
  • Bonus question: Which do you like more: cookies, cake or pie? As I’ve said before, I am not a big sweets person these days but I do love a good piece of pie. I don’t think there’s any kind of pie I don’t like. My favorite fruit pie is cherry, I adore pecan pie, and I’m evenly divided between whether I like lemon meringue, banana cream, or Key lime pie more. The best piece of pie I ever had was a slice of banana cream at a restaurant called Perry’s in Portland. The pie had a wonderfully flaky crust, crushed pineapple and bananas under a luscious filling, and the whipped cream on top was perfect, and topped with toasted coconut. Every bite was amazing. Perry’s used to sell their pies, but I never saw that banana cream again (it probably sold out within minutes). My favorite cake is carrot cake, and my favorite cookie is anything with lemon, especially those ginger sandwich cookies with lemon filling. I can pretty much stay away from anything else though. I also love cobblers or crisps of any kind, maybe because they’re not as sweet as other desserts.

That’s all for this week!



Collections: Japanese Eki Stamps and Goshuin

The little stack of books above doesn’t look like much, but of all the Japanese things I’ve collected over the years they are the most precious of all. Each book contains stamps collected from train stations, attractions, and temples or shrines around Japan we visited during our two navy tours and other trips. Encouraged by my English students, I began collecting stamps during our first tour (1980-1983), and dutifully wrote the name and date of each station or place visited on the page to remember the visit, and one of my students wrote “memories of Japan” on the front of my first book (the green one). For the most part the books went everywhere with me because I never knew when I would be somewhere and able to collect a new stamp.

Two stamps from the Mashiko (the famous pottery village) train station. Stamp ink is either dark purple or vermillion red.

There are over 9,000 train stations (eki) throughout Japan. Most of these stations have a unique stamp (or even two) that highlights a particular attraction or novelty that the town or area is known for, from festivals to bridges to food. The stamp designs are detailed, and are a fun to way to collect memories of places visited. The stamp is usually located at the entrance to most train stations, but sometimes I had to do some searching to find it. One other issue that popped up now and again was the provided stamp pad was dry, and I could barely get a print in  my book (some hard-core collectors supposedly carry their own stamp pad). Occasionally I would come across a stamp but I did not have my stamp book on me, but many places had a stack of paper that I could use and I would glued the stamp into my book later. Eki stamps are not limited to train stations though. Most tourist attractions, including castles, museums, amusement parks, hot springs and so forth, have stamps as well.

Goshuin from Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto, from our second tour
Goshuin from Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion visit during our first tour

A special kind of stamp are goshuin, obtained at Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines. There is usually a special window at bigger temples or shrines where a small fee ($3 or so) is paid, and a monk or priest puts a stamp in the book and then writes the name, date, and maybe a blessing in beautiful calligraphy over the stamp. There are literally thousands of temples and shrines around Japan, and goshuin can technically be obtained at most of the bigger ones. Some people collect goshuin exclusively, but others, like me, mix them with their eki stamps.

Stamp books purchased at temples and shrines are accordion style, with room for stamps on both sides of each page.

Stamp collecting in Japan is very, very popular among all ages. There is often a “stamp rally” going on somewhere in Japan, where special books can be picked up and a prize earned for filling all the spots with stamps. Our grandson participated in one a couple of years ago, filled his book and earned two tickets to see Moana! I think I paid around $4 each for my books back in the day, but the traditional silk-covered accordion books are available for sale at most temples and shrines for around $10 now. Other stamp books, some of handmade paper, can be found in souvenir shops. It’s a small price to pay though to develop a wonderful collection of memories of places visited in Japan.