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:
Oh so lucky we live Kaua’i!
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:
Oh so lucky we live Kaua’i!
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:
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!
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 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:
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?
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
How was your week? What good things happened for you this week? What are you looking forward to next week?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
There’s still more than plenty left to do though:
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!
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)!
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:
That’s all for this week!
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.
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.
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 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.