Sunday Morning 4/12/2020: Settling In

First, wishes for a very happy and meaningful Easter to those who celebrate! Today’s a bittersweet day for us because we were looking forward to celebrating with our grandkids. We had reservations for Sunday Brunch at the New Sanno Hotel with our son and family, and this would have been our last full Sunday in Japan. Restaurants are now closed at the New Sanno (and pretty much everywhere), and Tokyo is on lockdown, so even if we were still in Japan we wouldn’t have been able to go or do much of anything.

Lawai valley, as seen from our living room window

I’m sorry for not posting this past week, but we were busy! We officially moved into our new permanent residence this past Friday, the day YaYu could finally leave quarantine. Getting the place ready was exhausting though – Brett and I are almost getting too old for this. He and I traveled down to the south side every day, driving 43 miles and an hour and ten minutes each way, and often with stops at Costco or Home Depot on the way for supplies. Although it was already very clean, we did another deep clean, moved furniture, unpacked and put things away, and took care of everything else we could to make the place habitable. We’d drive back to the condo every evening and collapse, only to get up the next day and go for another round.

Monday was the toughest day. We started out by picking up a cargo van early in the morning, then headed over to Costco to pick up a new gas grill as well as a market umbrella and stand for the deck. A very nice Costco employee helped Brett get everything loaded into the van. The umbrella stand was apparently made from a combination of pure lead and depleted uranium, and the grill wasn’t much lighter (a customer inside the store helped Brett get them on our cart because I was worthless when it came to lifting – the two of them looked like a pair of masked bandits!). The next stop was Home Depot where we picked up a few cleaning supplies, two resin Adirondack chairs, and a chaise lounge, also for the deck. Then it was down to the house to drop off the chairs, chaise, and umbrella before Brett headed back up to Kapaa to meet up with our friend, Alan, who helped Brett get our sofa and mattress from the furniture store. While they were gone I deep cleaned the kitchen and started unpacking and putting away some of the things we had bought. Brett and Alan arrived late afternoon with the (heavy) furniture, new grill, and umbrella stand and through a sheer force of will those two old men got everything up and into the apartment. We didn’t make it home that night until nearly 8:00 p.m. where YaYu had dinner waiting for us.

The rest of the week was a little bit easier but the days were still long. I got the kitchen pulled together (the bar sink is challenging but not impossible), Brett put the grill together, set up the deck, and got the TV hooked up; I got all our travel clothing and items sorted and put away (and cried a little while I did) and the linens too. On Thursday the TV/storage cabinet and dining table and chairs we purchased were delivered. We got everything arranged the way we wanted and were finally ready to move in on Friday morning!

The apartment is currently very minimally furnished, but everything we bought is comfortable and fits perfectly in the space. We have beautiful views from every window. I know the place will eventually look much more like home once we get our storage shipment and have our personal items again. This place has made us realize how very, very little scenery we had outside our former house in Kapaa, just a hillside out the back and the side of the neighbor’s house, but no flowers or interesting or beautiful plants. Here we look out at either rolling hills or a beautiful tropical garden in the back yard – it’s so refreshing and pleasant. The apartment stays cool too – for all the work we’ve done we’ve never had to turn on the ceiling fans where our old house never ever caught a breeze – the windows all faced the wrong direction. We’ve got our fingers crossed the breezes last through the summer and into the early fall.

I don’t think I can ever get tired of this view out our front door.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I got out my Kindle again yesterday and started reading The Splendid and the Vile again and was able to concentrate for more than a few pages – it felt good to be reading again. I will get back to The Dutch House after that.
  • Listening to: The sky is bright blue, and the only sounds are a soft breeze blowing through the palms out back and the birds singing. We have the front door open and the breeze is sweeping through the living room as well. Kaua’i, I have missed you!
  • Watching: Meiling and WenYu have been asking us to watch Tiger King so we can discuss it together, but I’m still resisting. YaYu and I watched Train to Busan on Friday (an enjoyable film if you’re into zombies) and then started watching old Top Chef seasons yesterday (she loves cooking shows and I love Top Chef).

    We made pesto from the basil we got in last week’s CSA box and served it with tortellini, green beans from the box, and garlic toast.
  • Cooking: We got this week’s CSA box this past Friday instead of having to wait until tomorrow (containing salad mix, broccoli, bok choy, microgreens, green onions, and cherry tomatoes) and between it and all the stuff we brought down from the condo our very small refrigerator is stuffed. We definitely bought too much food when we arrived, not knowing we would eventually have such a small refrigerator and freezer here. Trying to use up as much as we can of what we have on hand, YaYu and I came up with a menu for the week that will create more space in the fridge. Tonight we’re having breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs, sausages, roasted cherry tomatoes, and croissants). The menu for the rest of the week includes spaghetti carbonara with green salads and artichokes; tofu and vegetable stirfry over rice; chicken yakisoba; croissant tuna sandwiches with microgreens and chips; potstickers, rice, and garlic broccoli; and meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and four-bean salad. She and I will do our shopping tomorrow but we have very little to buy this week. YaYu will use the bok choy when she makes noodles.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: Besides getting moved in and settled, Brett has broken down I-don’t-know-how-many cardboard boxes and gotten all of them out of the apartment and recycled. We put away almost everything and got things organized surprisingly quickly, one of the benefits, I guess, of not having a lot of stuff and being in a place with lots of closets and cabinets.
  • Looking forward to next week: Some of the things we ordered from Amazon that we weren’t expecting until the end of the week have either already arrived or are now going to arrive this coming week, like our bed frame! Yeah! Also expected to show up this week will be our new bedding (duvet, cover, and shams), placemats, and hopefully the coffee table.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The BEST thing that happened this week was that our daughter-in-law’s department decided to allow their team to work remotely, so she no longer has to ride a crowded train to work and back every day during the shutdown. We have been so worried about her, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases has been rising again in Tokyo. All four of them are at home now, but they’re making it work. Thankfully their house allows for our son and DIL to have their own offices, but also easily get out to help the kids. Our new hybrid memory foam mattress is very comfortable – one more night on that mattress in the condo and I would have lost it as it was by far the worst mattress we slept on in nearly two years. The new bedside tables we ordered from Amazon arrived two days early – they were waiting for us when we arrived at the apartment on Friday morning. We’re very happy with them – although they didn’t cost much they’re all wood (no particleboard), very stylish, and were easy to put together. I can’t wait to get the bed frame and get the mattress up off the floor.

    C shares his foreign currency collection with his class, while K takes a break with some Lego.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Once again, this has not been a particularly frugal week in many ways – moving and setting up a home always comes with many hidden and unknown spending surprises. However, when we picked up the grill we had chosen at Costco the price had dropped by $40, as had the prices of the umbrella and stand – $120 saved! We also ended up choosing a smaller TV (43″ vs. 55″) that cost $200 less than what we had thought we would pay, and by purchasing the chaise lounge at Home Depot versus Costco we saved another $40! We have been using and enjoying everything from our CSA box and only threw out one tiny bit of lettuce when we moved our food down from the condo.
  • Grateful for: We’re thankful to have this move over with, and feel that we are in a great location now to hunker down for the next month or longer. There’s still more to be done, but the bulk of the work is over (well, until our shipment arrives).
  • Bonus question: What was your worst moving experience? We have moved many times, but the worst one was after we sold our house (a 1924 Craftsman bungalow) in 2005 to the Buyers From Hell. We dealt with one annoying request after another from them and their agent the minute their offer was accepted, but the last straw was when they announced less than a week before closing that they wanted to take possession of the house 24 hours after closing instead of the 96 hours stipulated in the contract. They made their usual empty threats but this time we said OK because we were beyond ready to be done with them. However, this meant the new deadline was 4:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July. We somehow found some movers to help us that day (they were great and fun to work with) but even with their help, we scrambled all day to get everything out on time on such short notice. To make things even worse, the buyers and their agent arrived an hour before the deadline and stood out in front of the house to watch us, with their agent calling our agent and screaming at him that we were going to be in breach of the agreement, that we were going to leave the house dirty, etc. The whole episode was absolutely bizarre, unprofessional, and beyond stressful, but we somehow made it out with minutes to spare and with the house spotlessly clean. Karma always operates on its own schedule though. The buyers had paid more than our asking price in what was a hot market and planned to renovate/upgrade and flip the house to make a killing, but the housing bubble burst not long after the sale and they ended up losing money and having to stay in the house longer than planned.

These past two weeks in quarantine have been difficult ones for YaYu, starting with leaving her boyfriend and friends and making the long trip over here only to have to stay indoors for a full two weeks – she couldn’t even get out for a walk! She has friends here too, but couldn’t/can’t socialize with them. But, she has taken it all in stride and has never complained once about her situation and has been a big help with the cooking and other chores. Even when we had no Internet service for our last two days in the condo she found a way to do what she needed to do in order to get her coursework done. We’re thankful she is healthy and with us (and she has said repeatedly she is happy to be here too).

YaYu has also always been our biggest critic, but she likes our new place and says it’s perfect for us. We think it’s pretty perfect too. We’re in a quiet, private area, have nice neighbors, wonderful breezes, and are in a good location to take care of our shopping and exercise needs. The only complaint we can make for now is that our upstairs neighbors can walk rather heavily at times across the floor, but thankfully that doesn’t happen much. Did I mention this place also has a HUGE bathroom? It’s actually bigger than our bedroom and has a large walk-in shower with three nozzles and a giant Jacuzzi/soaking tub. The jets in the tub are currently not working, but that’s something we hope to take care of in the future. Anyway, we’re happy to be here and are looking forward to getting our items out of storage to make it more personal.

One half of the giant bathroom. That corner behind the tub is crying out for some candles.
There’s even a chandelier!

I continue to hope all my readers are well and managing sufficiently during this difficult time. What are you all doing these days to stay sane? The move has kept us busy but now we are going to have to find other things to keep us occupied. I’d love to hear from you about how you’re coping. Most of all though, please take care to stay healthy and safe!


23 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 4/12/2020: Settling In

  1. Sounds as if you have had to do a lot of hard work but will soon be settled back in paradise enjoying life. Tiger King, we binge watched last weekend and it was quite eye opening as it made us aware the disparity between our lives and others. The weakness of the show is I believed the makers failed to address some glaring issues about some of the inappropriate what was going on but won’t say more until you watch.


    1. Thanks, Vicky! We are almost settled, and the things we still need are coming in slowly but surely. It hasn’t been easy, but we are blessed to be able to be in such a beautiful place.

      I know I will eventually watch Tiger King – just not there yet.


  2. Wow! What a week you’ve had! Sounds like you can get some rest now, though, and enjoy the views and your lovely bathtub. I’m a big tub fan, and when I need a real break, you can find me in the tub with a novel – usually for a couple of hours. 🙂

    I made seven masks this week for myself, my mom & her husband, and a friend and her boyfriend. I now have a new appreciation for those who are making them day in and day out. They’re time consuming and putzy, as my DH would say. But I was also able to use some fabric remnants that I’ve been carrying around with me for 30+ years. Ha!

    We normally do Easter brunch for anywhere from 12-20 people, so this year was strange. Add it to the list of strange in the time of Covid19. It was easier to cook for 2 than 12, I must admit, and I continue to be grateful our family and friends are all safe and healthy.


    1. Last week was nuts, but we have spent the weekend resting up and are feeling less stressed about everything. There’s still much to do, but the big pieces are in place now, thank goodness.

      I have seen the cutest masks here (not homemade) but have no idea yet where people are getting them. Walmart? Grocery stores? I saw a cute idea for masks on another blog: scruncy headbands! They expand enough to cover the face from nose to under the chin. Not sure how effective they are, but it’s a good idea.

      We had a simple Easter here: eggs for dinner, and I baked an orange cake using oranges from the yard. I too am grateful that our family is currently healthy and safe, although I worry constantly about Meiling in NYC.


  3. I’m so glad you’re moved in, and I love your new furniture! It is a cloudy and chilly day here, so I’ve been cooking all day to have leftovers all week. And then making mac and cheese and brownies to deliver to a friend for his birthday – with a six pack of his favorite beer! My FB memories this week included our fun day at Kipu Ranch. I can’t believe it’s been two years already! I can’t wait to be able to come back!!


    1. Thanks, Denise! Can’t wait until you can get back either!

      We’re happy with the furniture too. The dining table isn’t exactly what we hoped for, but it was affordable and it works in the space (we could only get three chairs though – a fourth would be too much). Can’t wait until our bedframe gets here so we can get our mattress off the floor. Also a coffee table! Right now we have no place to set anything down except the floor.

      We drive by Kipu Road on our way back into Lihue, and I think of you and our fun day every time we go past. Until we did that outing I never noticed the roads going up Ha’upu, but now I see them all the time!


  4. My goodness, once again I have to marvel at how much you’ve gotten accomplished!

    It’ll probably be another 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is developed, tested, manufactured, and distributed, so my guess is that internation travel won’t resume until then — you’ve picked an absolutely gorgeous place to live in the meantime. I could live in that apartment permanently; the views and that backyard are just glorious.

    According to Google, I hurt my right rotator cuff about a week and a half ago. Basically, I couldn’t lift my right arm without intense pain. It made it almost impossible to sleep, because I’d accidentally jostle my shoulder in the night and wake up. Everything also became so much harder, because I’m righthanded. For a while I thought I’d have to see a doctor, but it’s getting much better. In fact, this morning I celebrated by changing the sheets on my bed, something that I wouldn’t been able to do even yesterday 🙂

    Initially, I didn’t know what caused the problem but then I realized it was a repetitive strain injury — I’d been spending far more time than usual texting and scrolling through news articles on my phone, and having my right hand hovering almost constantly over the phone took its toll. I was embarrassed, but relieved, to figure that out. Anyway, now I’m only using my phone to make calls, listen to audiobooks, and take photos. I have learned my lesson!

    In sad news, the uncle of a good friend of mine passed away from the coronavirus this weekend. He was living in a nursing home, suffering from dementia and other ailments, and the doctors respected his DNR and made his last days comfortable with morphine. Many of the deaths here in the province of BC have been nursing home residents (many caregivers used to work in more than one nursing home, spreading the infection that way, but are now restricted to working in only one nursing home), but this happened in the Netherlands, which made the situation even worse in some ways because it all unfolded so far away.

    On a positive note, we do seem to having success in “flattening the curve” here though it’s early days yet:

    Happy Easter!


  5. Congratulations on what sounds like a lovely new abode,even as I know it’s not exactly the timing you would have hoped it to be. I know coming home early from your travels is disappointing, but I’m guessing that being away from your grandchildren earlier than expected is even worse. Mine were supposed to be here this past week, but of course, those plans were derailed entirely. Still holding onto hope that they will be able to travel here this summer instead. I can forego the travel, but family? Not so much, and not so easily.

    I love, love your new gray sofa sectional, and that gorgeous blue Asian side cabinet! The floors look beautiful as well, and the views are wonderful. What a cozy place to settle down for a bit.


    1. Brett is already saying he never wants to leave this place! The only issue we’ve discovered so far is that the upstairs residents can be noisy at times (two young guys) but it’s nothing unbearable, just annoying now and then. We’re making it work though for the three of us. The blue cabinet holds our TV, but YaYu is using the cabinet underneath for her things, and solution that is working well. She sleeps out on the sofa and says it’s comfortable, so we’re grateful for that. My kingdom for a coffee table though! We currently have no place to set anything when we’re using the sofa – that’s more annoying than the occasional noise from upstairs!

      Japan will be our first destination once we can travel again, and our son has said they will come to Kaua’i as soon as it’s safe for them. I almost can’t believe we would still be in Japan, although this would be our final week. I’m glad we came back though – it was the right thing to do. I miss them all so much though.


  6. Lovely pictures. We have been dealing with tornadoes state wide all day, but we were not hit nearly as bad as Mississippi and Louisiana. Some of my friends have property damage but are ok. Folks didn’t want to go to tornado shelters because of pandemic. It has been like a day out of a horror book.


    1. I was reading about the storms in your area yesterday – YIKES!! Even the radar pictures were scary. I just can’t believe all this is going on at the same time – storms, virus, locusts in Africa, etc. It really is almost bibllical (I will give up when it starts raining frogs).


  7. Hi Laura, I have an off-blog question I wanted to ask you. Would you feel comfortable sending me an email to anexactinglife (at) gmail?

    Your new place is gorgeous!


  8. Hi Laura…..long time reader, but I seldom comment. However I wanted to pass along something I read recently about leather furniture. Apparently the alcohol in hand sanitizers can penetrate the protective coasting that is used on leather. (This came to light recently when so many children have been using hand sanitizers and then climbing on the family furniture.) I can’t verify this but thought I would pass it along. I love your beautiful new couch!

    I’ve been following since you moved to Kauai the first time. Love your writing and enjoy your many adventures.


    1. Wow – I did not know that about hand sanitizer and leather. We primarily wash our hands in the house versus using sanitizer, but that is something good to know. I have dreamed of owning a leather sofa, and want to have this one last a good, long time!

      Thanks for hanging in there with us for so long. We’re still trying to figure things out, but it’s all still an adventure.


  9. Glad things are settling into place. I love the tub/shower.
    Your grands look like you gave them a good start and they are doing well with the schools closed.
    Delaware continues to be stead- 200 in the hospital at a time in the whole state. We are still at 1/10 of the people tested being positive….but we JUST got tests..
    Hoping to travel this summer….France is opening schools May 11!


    1. I am hoping too that you can travel this summer! But who knows anymore? Predicting the future is a fool’s game these days. Hawai’i is doing OK, but only because of the quarantine and the resulting lack of visitors to the islands. Only 21 cases total on Kaua’i, and 14 of those have either recovered or been sent back to the mainland. The rest are in isolation, and only one case had to be hospitalized here. Community spread is low to non-existant, but as of yesterday masks must be worn inside stores – no options.

      We still haven’t tried the tub, but the shower is wonderful.


  10. You’ve had quite the busy week! I’m glad you are settled in your new place. I can’t get over the beautiful flowers in your yard!
    I’m very thankful that my husband and I both still have our jobs but it has been challenging working from home with a 4-year-old. Thankfully we aren’t having to do online learning with him but it is difficult to keep him busy while we work. We’ve been taking short walks around the block at lunchtime and trying to get outside as much as possible.
    I recently started watching “Anne with an E” on Netflix. I absolutely love it! I loved the original Anne of Green Gables series and I was skeptical that I would like this one but I adore all of the characters. It is very well done and I highly recommend it, if you haven’t already seen it.


    1. I am looking forward to having a day or days where we don’t have to go and do something! Today we tried to transfer the title on the car, but the DMV is closed until 4/30. Tomorrow we have to go out and do laundry – the new washer and dryer for the apartment still haven’t arrived at Home Depot.

      Brett and YaYu have been going out for long walks down by the ocean, but I’ve always been busy with something when they go. We’re all looking forward to heading down one of these days to watch the sun go down. Without the tourists there will plenty of places to park.

      Thanks for the recommendation – I have heard lots of good things about “Anne with an E.” It sounds like something YaYu might like to watch as well, although I’m not sure if she’s seen or read “Anne of Green Gables.” Our son loved that series when he was young.


  11. You guys never cease to amaze me! Always so busy and focused!! I too love your views, my goodness it’s lovely! That bathroom is also awesome!!


    1. We really did luck out finding this place, or at least we think so for now. Great location, great price that includes utilities, and in a beautiful setting. The bathroom is pretty amazing, although believe it or not there are no towel bars! We looked into getting a freestanding towel rack but anything big enough for our bath towels was way too expensive, so Brett installed some towel hooks instead.

      Things are slowly falling into place – I think we may actually not have to go anywhere on Thursday – a first since we arrived.

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  12. Having something to look at makes all the difference. Love the garden view. I hate moving. Hate all the packing. The dust. The sorting. The effect on my back from bending and lifting. We’ve been here over 10 years, maybe 15, with no plans to go anywhere.


    1. We have realized here that the last house we lived in looked out onto nothing – we couldn’t even see the sky! And it was hot, usually hotter than outside because the house was poorly oriented on the lot – this place stays cool all day with lovely breezes. Pluse we have a beautiful yard to look out on. We feel very lucky.

      Brett has already stated that we are never moving again. We still have our shipment to come and unpack and put away, but hopefully that won’t be too bad. I already know though there are things we won’t need or want here.

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