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.
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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
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!