Sunday Afternoon 5/27/2018

Ready for graduation with stoles and honor cords. So very proud of this girl!!

She did it!  YaYu’s graduation was a wonderful, fun celebration in spite of pouring rain throughout the ceremony. Even with umbrellas the graduates and everyone else there got soaked. We shivered too as the wind picked up and the temperature kept falling lower and lower throughout the evening. But, no one left early, everyone listened to the speeches, the songs, watched the kids walk across the stage to collect their diplomas, and then we celebrated! By the time we dropped YaYu off for the big grad night party we could barely see her face for all the lei she had collected beyond the ones we gave her, including one made from 10 containers of cup noodles! With her graduation over, we now segue from one chapter of our lives into another. We are all eagerly awaiting what comes next, both YaYu’s transition to college life and our upcoming travels!

Time to celebrate! Family lei from her brother and sisters, from Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, and the orchid one on top in memory of her grandparents. Brett and I gave her the haku (wreath). She received many more from friends, and had lei up to her nose by the time we dropped her off for the Grad Night party!

We met with the Royal Hawaiian moving estimator on Friday morning and learned it will cost us about half again as much as we thought to ship our stuff back to the mainland. Ouch. Our guess for the weight and his estimate matched, but because our shipment is a small one we will pay a higher rate per pound than we did moving over here. However, we won’t trust our stuff to anyone else because Royal Hawaiian does such a superb job, so we’ll have to readjust our budget to cover the overage. We are feeling even more thankful now for our friend’s offer to store our stuff for the coming year. By the way, the estimator, born and raised on Kaua’i, stayed and talked story with us for nearly an hour after he finished up the work part of his visit. This easy friendliness is one of the parts about living here that we are going to miss so much.

This is salt that’s been blooming up through the floor throughout the house for over a year.

Our landlord has started to spool up the drama over our leaving at the end of July. First, he has still not chosen a new tenant, although someone is scheduled to view the house next Saturday. A few weeks ago the landlord had two prospective tenants (both professionals) ready to write him a deposit check on the spot. Nope, they were not good enough for him, and there’s been little to no interest since (Hello! Because you’re asking way too much for rent!). Also, there are a couple of maintenance issues that have to be completed before a new tenant can move in. Someone who lived here before us installed shelves on the wall (without permission) in the living room and smaller bedroom, and didn’t do a very good job – the shelves are crooked and several holes were made in the wall. We asked the landlord when we moved in if he would take down the shelves, but he said no at that time so we have lived with them while we’ve been here. But now he’s asking us to take them down, fill all the holes in the wall and repaint! Nope, not touching that one with a 10-foot pole. It’s his problem; we didn’t cause it (he has apparently now hired a painter). Second, the cement floors throughout the house are emitting efflorescence, i.e. salt blooms coming up through the cement due to moisture from underneath the floor. He asked us to not only strip the wax (which we are going to do), but re-seal the concrete floors, and then come back and re-wax. Again, we said no to re-sealing the floors because it’s beyond the scope of our abilities, and again the problem is not something we caused. What we offered to do was to strip the floors for him, and then move out three days early so that he could come in and get all the repairs done before the next tenant moves in. However, he still thinks we should come back after our lease is finished and wax the floors for the next tenant! We again said no, that we are giving him three days at our expense which should cover him having to wax the floors after sealing, which could take up to two days or more to complete because all the old sealer has to come off too. Actually, the problem with the floors is a MAJOR repair issue from what we have learned. It’s possible that the baseboards in some areas will have to be removed in order to effectively re-seal the floor. We’ve decided that if he bothers us about the floor again, we’ll go ahead and strip and wax the floors, then he can strip them again for sealing. Anyway, on top of everything else we have going on, it has been exhausting dealing with him this past week. We feel like he is trying to come up with excuses to keep our security deposit, especially if it looks like he won’t have another tenant right away, and to cover his costs for the repairs too. We’ve had a good relationship with him all along, but things are starting to get weird now.

Blogger continues to disappear my comments. I keep trying though.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve almost finished The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai. The stories are fascinating, and the book is a real page-turner. I’ve got my next book downloaded already: The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South.
  • Listening to: It’s cool-ish and rainy outside, so it’s quiet other than the sound of rain dripping off the eaves. No birds, no breeze, and it’s pretty humid too. Also, there’s a teenage girl next door loudly arguing with her mother. I try to cut them some slack (they lost their home on the north shore in the flooding last month and are staying with our new neighbors) but they are loud, and it’s trying my patience today. YaYu is still sleeping off Friday’s grad night and a long work night yesterday, and Brett is reading. We’ll start the noisy laundry after YaYu gets up.
  • Watching: Brett and I watched Indian Summers, a PBS series from a couple of years ago that’s now on Amazon Prime. We had no problem following the Indian characters or most of the men through the series, but all the young English women looked the same to us and we couldn’t keep them straight! Every time we watch it’s “Didn’t she just . . .? Wait, isn’t she with xxx? No, that was xxx” and so forth. We found a couple of movies that we’re going to check out tonight.

    Fresh orange cake with dark chocolate glaze
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having fried rice again for dinner again tonight – YaYu is off from work so she’ll do the cooking. I baked an orange bundt cake yesterday and yes, put a chocolate glaze on it. I have almost used up all the cocoa powder though – there’s maybe enough to glaze one more thing. On the menu this week will be hamburgers along with sweet potato fries; spaghetti with marinara and grilled Italian sausages; and stuffed peppers. Otherwise we’ll be eating leftovers and other odds and ends out of the refrigerator.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett and I got the dining table moved out to the garage where we stripped off the messy old finish and got it sanded, oiled and buffed – it looks gorgeous! I cleaned out some more stuff around the house and filled a bag for the thrift store as well as pulled enough together to mail another package to Meiling (more kitchenware, an extension cord and a shower curtain) and also mailed two Starbucks mugs from Beijing and Shanghai to a friend who collects them. Brett also sorted through all of our personal papers and threw away and shredded things we do not need or want to keep, which turned out to be most of them. I booked our stay at an Airbnb in Lucerne, Switzerland, reserved a hotel room for our overnight in Boston, reserved a car rental to drive up to Vancouver, B.C. for our flight to New Delhi, and got tickets for our flight from Hong Kong to Perth – the fare for the only non-stop available dropped to an affordable price. I drank lots of water, and we walked five days. It rained almost every day last week, but I remain grateful for the rain because it means we don’t have to water the lawn.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re all looking forward to our first week of summer break. No early mornings, no lunches to plan or make, etc. Next Saturday afternoon we’re heading out to the west side (as soon as the rental viewing is over) for a two-night stay at one of the PMRF beach cottages – fingers are crossed for good weather! There won’t be Sunday post next week because the cottages have little to no Internet connection, but I’m looking forward to being offline for a couple of days.

    YaYu being honored at the Senior Award assembly last Tuesday (she’s so tiny!). She was in the top five in her class for dollar amount of grants and scholarships received!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: There’s no way to top YaYu’s graduation, both the lead up to it and the actually ceremony, rain and all. It was fantastic! The principal announced at the ceremony that all 273 students who began the year graduated, and the scholarships and grants for the entire class totaled over $3.5 million dollars! Not too shabby for a little country high school out in the middle of the ocean.

    LOL – this is so true!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I ordered sheets, a mattress pad and pillow sham for YaYu’s dorm room from Bed, Bath & Beyond and used a coupon to bring the total with tax to almost $5 less than the original order before tax, and also received free shipping. 2) Our flight to New Delhi next January leaves from Vancouver, B.C. and non-stop flights from Portland to Vancouver have been running around $200 per person (or more) which is way more than we want to pay, especially for such a short flight. We instead rented a car and are going to drive up to the Vancouver airport, a 5 1/2 hour trip from Portland, with lots of pretty scenery along the way. The cost will total less than $150, including gas. 3) Last month we renewed our Costco membership, but because we won’t be using it much in the coming year we downgraded to a regular membership, and saved $60. 4) We were going to go to the farmers’ market last week but realized we still had more than enough produce on hand so stayed home and saved $15 – $20. 5) We put $4.20 into the change/$1 bill jar: $2.52 from Long’s for mineral oil (for the table), $1.48 from Big Save, and 20¢ from the Kilauea Bakery (Brett bought us coconut macaroons!).
  • Reporting gains and losses: I lost another pound this last month, bringing my total loss now to 32 pounds gone. We applied $4613.50 in income and savings toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: Feeling very thankful right now that Brett was given the “all clear” this past week on his annual skin check. He’s had a couple of moles that I thought looked suspicious, and I have been worrying he would get bad news which would end up affecting all our plans, but the doctor said there was nothing irregular or cause for worry. Healthwise we are now cleared and ready to go!

    Our precious, elegant, beautiful and intelligent treasures. This portrait, my favorite, was taken about two months after YaYu joined our family.
  • Bonus question: What do your girls’ Chinese names mean? I may have answered this question before, but Meiling means “beautiful intelligence.” It was not the name given to her at the orphanage but we were told that name was “not very special” and Meiling was suggested as a substitute. WenYu means “elegant jade,” with the character for elegant connoting a “scholarly elegance.” My nickname for WenYu has always been “Her Serene Highness” – she really is elegance and serenity combined, even as a baby and toddler. YaYu means “precious treasure.” The intake worker at the orphanage wrote that she chose the name to give YaYu all her best wishes and hopes for a happy future. Each of their names, given when they were tiny, fits them perfectly. I marvel at how the orphanage workers, and the person who suggested Meiling’s name, were able to choose names that have turned out to fit them so perfectly. I also marvel at our good fortune, that Brett and I were blessed with these three beautiful, intelligent, elegant and precious jewels.

That’s a wrap for this week – it was a good one here at Casa Aloha! I hope everyone had a great week as well. What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?


12 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 5/27/2018

  1. Do you use a gmail account to comment over there on Blogger? I think that is why it is still working for me. You can open one for free and give that a try if not. 🙂

    I much prefer the look of the Hawaiian graduation. So colourful and amazing!

    I’m not sure how easy it would be to do but we do have Costco here in Australia. The closest to Sydney would be Parramatta and one could catch a bus there.

    We always make a point of visiting the ones in Hawaii when we travel over, and my bestie from the US has been to at least two when visiting me here, Parramatta and Canberra. It is a good place to get a cheap lunch and see what regional items appear. It is not always cost effective to shop there when travelling but it is always fascinating to see what local items they have. 🙂


    1. I have a gmail account but I don’t use it for commenting because it links up to my personal email and I don’t want that out there. I’ve tried to open a different, separate account, but it always links back to my main gmail account. I’m having trouble with Blogger accounts that allow you to put in your name and URL – they also dump my comments, so I’m not sure what’s up. I’ve had one or two go through, but then the next time I try – poof! By the way, all of your comments now go to my spam folder – I have NO idea why because you’re an approved commenter – just more WordPress magic.

      We will use Costco when we’re in Portland this December, and when the girls are with us, but that’s really it. They also have Costco in Japan, but I can’t see the two of us needing to get anything from there. We may go check it out just to see what a Costco in Japan offers (I’m more curious about where the stuff gets stored in a Japanese house!).


  2. Wow! YaYu had a flower shop around her neck and on her head. Beautiful! What a great custom. And I love the b/w pic of your little girls. No wonder you are proud!

    Landlords can be the worst. My DD moved last month and had to work out an agreement for one of her sub-leasees. Her landlord was great, but she is thrilled to have moved into a studio alone. The roommate situation in a city is more than any of us should have to bear, and luckily she’s gotten enough grant money for her remaining PhD time to be alone again. Your landlord sounds like a pill. It’s too bad he’s trying to shift his costs to you, especially after being so good thus far.

    I’m going to check out The Heart is a Shifting Sea – it sounds interesting.

    Still in planting mode. Bought everything to fill my planters and am determined to finish them today. Ready for the garden prep to be over.


    1. The sad thing (well to me, anyway) is that she only gets to wear the lei for around 45 minutes before it all has to come off – no lei are allowed at the grad nite party. They floral lei are all sitting in our fridge. She put a couple of them on yesterday while she worked in her room, but she’s partying with friends for the next couple of days (their families are throwing big graduation parties) so not sure if she’ll get a chance to wear them again. Maybe I should wear them!

      We think the issue with the landlord is that he’s never had tenants who actually clean a place when they move out, or they cause LOTS of damage, so he’s used to keeping the deposit. He’s seen our place and knows we keep it very nice (for example, he was very surprised that we keep the top of the kitchen cabinets dusted), and that it will be super clean when we leave, so he’s sort of panicking. Plus, he’s got these two BIG maintenance issue to take care of, and we didn’t cause them and now he’s going to have to shell out some $$$ out of his own pocket. We’ll see how it goes. It’s sad because we’ve always gotten along well with him (on top of paying our rent on time, etc.).


  3. Oh my goodness! You said YaYu was tiny- that is an understatement. It also shows, even more, her determination to be a good swimmer. What a blessing she had you two for parents!
    Costco? There is a Costco at Christina Mall in Newark Delaware- no sales tax. Just in case….
    The book As Bright As Heaven is worth a look. WWI/flu/Philidelphia/family. Checked it out Friday and will return today.
    We are always open to helping in an emergency- 80 miles to Philly next to Dover AFB. ~Janette and Scott


    1. We didn’t want to give up our Costco membership for good because we will be using next December when we’re in Portland for Christmas and the girls will be with us, but we’re not going to spend enough to warrant having the executive membership. Same for after we finish traveling and settle somewhere – we’ll probably still get a few things there, but not enough to pay the extra membership fee.

      I am going to check out the book because WWI and the era is something I want to know more about, and about the flu epidemic as well. My grandparents lived through it, and always expressed gratitude that they survived when so many they knew died.

      Thanks too for the offer of emergency help. If needed, we’ll send up the Bat Signal!


    1. It was a wonderful evening, rain and all, and a very emotional experience for her. But, I can see that she is glad it’s over as well – she’s ready to move on. Thanks too for the card – she said she was surprised to hear from so many people (she didn’t know I sent out the request on Facebook).


  4. Oof. That’s a real bummer about the landlord. There is already enough stress just with moving itself.

    Well congrats to YaYu! A Hawaiian graduation looks much more enjoyable with all the leis.


    1. Hawaiian graduations are fun, and the whole lei thing is really something. YaYu received many “original” lei as well, like the one made from cup noodles (she actually received three lei that contained noodles – her friends know her well!).

      We’ll get it worked out with the landlord. For now we are standing our ground – we will fix the things we caused, like nail holes, but are not going to repair things we didn’t cause. I think he has gotten the message that he can’t push us around, but we’re also afraid he is going to be very, very picky. Still, there is the “normal wear and tear” clause in the lease, which we’ll have with us when we do the walk through. We got the impression though when we moved in that he doesn’t believe in “normal wear and tear” so we’ll see.


  5. Your landlord sounds like a jerk! You are under no obligation to repair issues you did not cause. Good for you for standing your ground.

    Congrats to YaYu! Hawaiian graduation looks like a lot of fun.


    1. He is being rather jerk-ish right now, but we are standing firm. I honestly don’t think he’s used to having tenants who take care of the house and that he’s always collected the entire security deposit back, but this time it looks like he may have to give some of it back and that’s bugging him.

      The graduation was wonderful, rain and all. And now we’re done!


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