This past Thursday was the first day since we arrived on Kaua’i that we did not have to go anywhere or do anything associated with relocation nor did we have to interact with anyone else. After all the energy and effort this move has required, it’s been nicer than we imagined to have some time to ourselves – we’ve slept in, and relaxed and read during the day (YaYu is already bored though). There are still things that need to be taken care of, but the big stuff is done and we can finally step back and just fully enjoy being home.
For a few days last week though we began to wonder if we had made a mistake renting this place as our neighbors to the front and upstairs were being very noisy. It started with heavy footsteps upstairs all day and well into the night, but on Sunday and Tuesday nights they partied until the wee hours of the morning, playing loud music, talking loudly, clumping around, and so forth. On Wednesday afternoon though Brett got a chance to talk with them and mentioned the noise. They all apologized profusely and said they would be more careful, and they have been. It turns out they all work together at the Grand Hyatt and are all currently laid off – our landlord, their employer, has provided housing for them here. One of our neighbors is the executive chef at one of the restaurants while another is the general manager for the hotel’s restaurants, and the third guy is in charge of all entertainment at the hotel! They told Brett they hoped all of us could get together one of these days and have a barbecue and get to know each other better – we’re up for that! The two guys who live in front of us also asked us to please use their new, fancy washer and dryer from now on to do our laundry until ours arrive, rather than pay to use a laundromat.
In the short time we’ve been in the apartment, Brett, YaYu, and I have each been able to carve out our own space, and we try to be respectful of each others’ schedules. All of us are enjoying the deck and being able to be outside to read and relax or work on our tans so we’re not so pasty – the chairs and umbrella were very worthwhile purchases. I’m sleeping better than I have in a long time, and YaYu says the sofa is very comfortable for sleeping too. We’ve got the kitchen figured out and even the little bar sink no longer bothers us. I’m looking forward now to getting our storage shipment over here and really settling in, although that effort is just getting started.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I had another book come off of hold from the library, so I’m now reading Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter during the day, and continuing with The Splendid and the Vile at night.
- Listening to: It’s a pretty quiet morning all around. YaYu is still sleeping and Brett is reading so it’s quiet inside. Our upstairs neighbor just ran his vacuum cleaner but that didn’t last long thankfully. It’s pretty quiet outside as well – just a quiet breeze this morning, some birds singing, and no chickens or roosters. Considering that our current location is far more rural than where we lived before, we’re sort amazed how much quieter it is. We thought we’d be overrun by poultry here, but that isn’t the case at all. There are fewer dogs barking too.
- Watching: YaYu and I finished up Season 13 of Top Chef – our favorite chef came in second but the chef that won deserved it. Brett and I are now watching Shetland via our BritBox subscription.
- Cooking/baking: We are making real progress in opening up space in the refrigerator and will continue to work on using up more of the food we still have on hand this week. YaYu is making oyakodon tonight for our dinner which we’ll have with rice and cucumbers. We won’t be getting a CSA bag this week and will stop at a nearby farm stand instead and see what they have for sale – we decided we’d rather pick our own produce than have it chosen for us. Also on the menu this week will be pork and vegetable stir fry; tofu curry with steamed rice; breakfast for dinner (pancakes); and BLT sandwiches and chips. We may try and make a Thai chicken pizza as well but that will depend on whether we can find some smaller sheet pans – the standard one we bought is too big for our small apartment-size oven (and is now holding overflow items under the bathroom sink).
- Happy we accomplished this past week: For the first time in forty years, I made rice in a saucepan. Seriously, I’ve never used anything but a rice cooker since we first went to Japan in 1980, so I count making perfect Japanese sticky rice on the stovetop (the first electric stove I’ve cooked on in nearly 30 years) a genuine accomplishment. We contacted Royal Hawaiian to get the ball rolling on getting our stuff back over here but that’s going slowly – we’re still waiting on a callback from them. Our bed frame arrived on Tuesday (two days earlier than expected) and Brett got that assembled. While it’s wonderful to be off the floor, the bed is now higher than I’m used to although I’m getting used to it. Brett has continued to break down cardboard and recycle it as packages trickle in from Amazon, and the UPS store in Lihue took all of the styrofoam we’ve accumulated as well so that isn’t building up around the apartment.
- Looking forward to next week: Our new washer and dryer are scheduled to be delivered and set up on Thursday – YEAH! Our landlord said we might get just a 15-minute warning that it’s coming, but we’re not going anywhere so that’s OK. Tuesday will be Brett’s 70th birthday and we’ll have a small celebration for him that evening which will include coconut cake, one of his favorites (store-bought from Pepperidge Farm though as our cake pans are still in storage). We’re hoping to get down to Poipu again for some exercise and to view the sunset at least a couple of times next week as well.
- Thinking of good things that happened: The things that came in from Amazon this past week, including the bed frame, have made things a lot more comfortable around here. We now have nice, cushy cotton bathroom rugs, our bottles of cooking oils and spices are organized on the counter; and plenty of Mrs. Meyer’s liquid hand soap on hand (we’ve been unable to find liquid soap at any store on the island). It’s been fun having a package arrive almost daily.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We received full credit for the Alaska Airlines tickets we purchased back in February (they were sadly not eligible for a refund). The credit is good for any future ticket and will cover the cost of getting YaYu back to Pennsylvania in the fall, with some leftover to help with getting her back here for Christmas as well. I got an email yesterday evening from Aeromexico that our flight had been canceled and that we now had an open ticket that can be used on any Aeromexico flight in the future through March of 2021. Brett and I won’t be able to use it so I am going to call and see if I can get a refund although that wasn’t offered. We spent very little this week – I ordered some summer pajamas (all I have now are the winter-weight ones I traveled with and they are getting to be too warm) and a couple of other small things for the house (cleats for window shade cords and a tray for the refrigerator to corral the bottles of sauces and condiments). YaYu got a further refund from Bryn Mawr and put it into her savings account for next year. Our stimulus money arrived the first day it was available, and is sitting in the bank – it will go toward covering the cost of getting our shipment over here. We’re using up what we have already bought and didn’t buy any additional food this week. Sadly though we had to throw out a few things from the fridge – some produce and a package of tofu froze because there was too much stuff in there. Another non-frugal thing that happened was a trip to the laundromat down in Eleele – it cost $12.75 to do three loads of laundry so we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our own washer and dryer, and are grateful for the offer to use the neighbors’ appliances in the meantime.
- Grateful for: As we hear more and more about possible disruptions to the food supply chain, we are grateful to be on Kaua’i. The island abounds with small farms and ranches, and with restaurants closed there is plenty of affordable produce available – farm stands are all over the place. Fresh fish is also easy to find, and because beef and other proteins (pork and lamb) are also raised on the island these are currently more available as well to the public for purchase. We continue to pick up toilet paper and other scarce items when we see them so have a good supply on hand. If things get dicey, we will be OK here for the long haul.
- Bonus question: What are you looking forward to the most to having back out of storage? I’m especially looking forward to having our art back with us again – they are the things that will truly make this place feel like home again. We used to carry a LOT of pictures around with us during our time in the navy and in Portland, and our walls were covered with them, mostly Japanese and Chinese prints that we accumulated during our tours in Japan, but we gave away several pieces to friends and sent other pieces to auction when we left Portland in 2014 (and did rather well with that). We kept only the pieces that were deeply meaningful to us. Those include an antique hand-carved six-foot ranma (wooden transom) and an old hand-painted fabric Children’s Day banner; four prints from old Japanese books I acquired in Kyoto when I was 18; an early 19th century Japanese woodblock print by Kunisada; a woodblock print by contemporary artist Katsuyuki Nishijma of a street we walked down several times during our years in Japan; a gyotaku print I made (using a tilapia as the printing plate); the map of Tokyo’s subway and train system I carried everywhere with me from 1989 to 1992, complete with worn creases, and had framed; and a wonderful chart given to Brett by renowned information designer Eduard Tufte, of Napolean’s march to and retreat from Russia. We also kept four pictures/photos of special memories from previous travels and a woodblock print of The Princess and the Pea that hung in my mother’s home. Again, it sounds like a lot, but when spread around the apartment it will be just enough – I can already see where everything will go. I’ve missed all of it and can’t wait to see everything again.
In the Before Time, we would have been departing Japan and on our way to Mexico today. Even after nearly a month since we left, it’s still difficult for me to look at pictures from our time in Japan. We really didn’t want to leave, and even in hindsight I sometimes wonder what might have happened if we had stayed. I know now that leaving certainly would have been far more difficult if we had delayed our departure by even a week and life there would be difficult if we had gotten caught up in the current lockdown. But, we didn’t delay, we came back to beautiful Kaua’i and now it’s time to reset our lives and get on with it. I’m thankful for all those KitKats we brought back – they make each day here a little sweeter and help bring back happy memories of our time in Japan.
Once again, I hope that you and yours are staying safe and healthy, and finding things to do and ways to stay connected with others. We are all definitely living in “interesting” times!