Sunday Morning 5/24/2020:

We got three beautiful sunsets before bad weather rolled in. 

The beaches may have opened last week but the weather conspired in every way possible to make getting there nearly impossible – we had high winds, cool temperatures, and rain, rain, and more rain down on our part of the island. On Thursday the wind was so strong it blew the rain sideways all day. We’re planning to go today but this past week was sadly a bust.

Some stores have opened back up, albeit with shorter hours. I think about half are opened in the Kukui’ula Marketplace now, outside of restaurants, although more of those are offering takeout. We went up to Kapaa yesterday to pick up a couple of things we needed and saw that more stores were open up there as well. There are still no tourists though so there was no traffic – that still feels a bit odd, although it was nice zipping through town for a change. Kapaa was also much warmer than it is where we are now and there was less of a breeze. Word is that hair salons are supposed to be opening soon – I sure hope so because my hair is driving me a little more crazy every day!

It’s been another frustrating week though as far as our Aeromexico refund and getting our storage items here. It’s been three weeks since I last spoke with the moving company in San Diego who was going to “get right on it” and neither I nor Joan have heard anything from anyone since. So, I will go back on the phone this week, although I’m not quite sure who to call this time – should I start with Royal Hawaiian here again, since the move is being done under their auspices, or should I call the company back on the mainland who is supposed to coordinate getting our stuff there? I have no idea anymore. Aeromexico continues to dig in their heels as well when it comes to our refund. This past week I received an email from them in response to the DOT telling them I was owed a refund. Aeromexico claims that because I also filed a dispute with our credit card they do not have to follow DOT’s ruling; the issue is now strictly between me and my bank (although of course, a dispute means the bank has to deal with them and I’m pretty sure Aeromexico is making that as difficult as possible). I spoke with the bank and they are “working on it,” but they did ask for more documentation which I happily provided. DOT also (supposedly) got a copy of the same email I was sent and I have a feeling they’re not going to be happy about it, but what do I know at this point? We are owed less than $500 but I have read complaints this past week where Aeromexico customers are out thousands and have been refused refunds for their canceled flights.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Yellow House, and started American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins. I’ve had in on my Kindle for a while but had lots of other books came in from the library so it sort of got set aside. But, I’m ready now. I’m also still reading The Dutch House and should finish it this week.
  • Listening to: After all the howling wind we listened to these past few days, this morning is a blissful change. There’s a breeze, but it’s barely rustling the trees – I can actually hear birds singing. YaYu is still sleeping, and Brett is reading so it’s very, very quiet inside as well – my kind of morning!
  • Watching: YaYu and I started watching Tiger King this past week. O.M.G. Neither of us is ready to say whether we like the show or not, but it’s compelling, just like a train wreck is compelling, and we have had some interesting discussions. We also started watching Best British Home Cook on Hulu, which is OK. It’s definitely no Great British Baking Show, although Mary Berry is one of the judges. A new British crime series has arrived on BritBox (with four seasons!), so Brett and I are going to give that a try when YaYu and I finish Tiger King.
  • Cooking: I did a little bit of baking this past week: banana bread with chocolate chips (YaYu’s request). My loaf pan in storage so I instead, necessity is the mother of invention and all that, baked it in a 9″ square pan which worked pretty well. I broke down and ordered a new rice cooker because making rice in the Instant Pot has not gone as well as I had hoped. The results from the beginning have been very inconsistent, and we usually end up with mushy, overly sticky rice and lots of it stuck to the bottom of the cooking insert. It may work better with less sticky rice, but we prefer Japanese-style rice, and we eat it frequently enough not to want to deal with the mess anymore. Anyway, tonight we’re going to have spicy steak pizzaiola with grilled flank steak with some vegetable and garlic bread. Also on the dinner menu this week will be bacon-blue cheeseburgers; breakfast for dinner (eggs benedict); tuna melts; chili shrimp and fried rice; and a chicken, rice, and broccoli casserole.
    We have only seen the nene flying overhead on our walks – they are noisy! A mom and her babies though are best avoided – get too near and mom will take. you. out.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: Next Sunday would have been WenYu’s graduation from Wellesley, but since that’s not happening Brett and I put together a box of WenYu’s favorite Hawaiian goodies (butter mochi mix, Kaua’i Kookies, macadamia nuts, mango jam, Maui beef jerky, and a few other things she loves from here) – it will be on its way tomorrow morning. My daily checklists have kept me busy all week – I got everything filled in, walked four days out of the last seven (thanks to the weather), and earned 479 Swagbucks (my goal each week is 350).
  • Looking forward to next week: Hopefully, the weather stays nice so we can get to the beach! We are heading up to Kapaa tomorrow afternoon to go the newly reopened farmer’s market and see our favorite farmers again, and get together with friends Alan and Cheryl for a little while.
    The craft gins we enjoyed in the UK spoiled us. We have a cocktail just three evenings a week, so our supply should be good for a long while now.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I discovered a few bottles of a limited edition Tanqueray gin, Rangpur, at our local Big Save, flavored with dark rangpur limes. Since G&Ts are one of our favorite things, we bought ourselves a bottle, and it is delicious! We’re good to go with gin now for the next few months. We stopped at Wailua Shave Ice when we were up in Kapaa to get a couple of things for WenYu’s graduation box and enjoyed our favorite flavors – tables were all spread apart so we could take off our masks and not worry about being to close to anyone else. In an effort to use up leftovers in the kitchen one evening last week, we created a “quesadilla bar” and each created our own masterpiece. The results were amazing and we now want to make it a regular thing – it’s a great way to use up leftovers. The back yard got “manicured” again this past week (they worked in the rain) and looks wonderful.
    There is nothing more refreshing than icy shave ice on a hot day!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not a particularly frugal week because we went food shopping and bought the rice cooker (and also the specialty gin, although it was marked down and we were given an additional discount on it for some reason). We still seem to be in pantry item acquisition mode, and having to buy those things (vinegar, sugar, oats, etc.) always seems to add a little extra to our bill, but we know once they’re purchased they will last for a while and will only be needed occasionally, and not always at the same time. With our small refrigerator and freezer, and without our storage containers for things like sugar, flour, etc. we currently have to buy smaller items versus larger sizes which is more expensive because we have no way to store bigger items. It will all sort itself out . . . eventually. On the plus side we ate all our leftovers this past week, didn’t throw away any food, and put $7 away into the change/$1 bill jar. Meiling also paid us for her annual phone service and that went right into our travel account.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are feeling very thankful for our new mattress, a memory-foam hybrid. We are sleeping so well these days, and waking up feeling more rested than we have for a long time. We slept on comfortable mattresses in most of the Airbnbs we stayed at, but the mattress we had during our last Japan stay ((extremely hard) followed by the one in the north shore condo here on Kaua’i (extremely soft) about did us in – they were the worst we experienced, and my back hurt every day we slept on those, so we are grateful for and appreciative of the comfortable sleep we are getting now.
    Pizza is my favorite food, and these Alsation-style pizzas, tarte flambée, knocked it out of the park for me. I had a three-cheese version with roquefort and brie, and Brett’s had tomato and herbs – both were amazing. Yes, we each ate the whole thing (with a knife and fork, as you do).
  • Bonus question: What were your favorite foods/dishes you enjoyed when you traveled? We did not eat out very often while we traveled – most of our meals were very simple and eaten in “at home” in order to keep our spending in check. Our favorite meals, especially in France and Italy, were simple cheese, pâté or salami, and fruit platters along with a glass of wine (mirabelle plums are at the top of our list for fruit). Still, we did go out now and again to experience and enjoy the local cuisine. Although we ate a LOT of good food in a lot of different places, I think both Brett and I would agree that the traditional Alsatian meals we enjoyed in Strasbourg were our favorites. I absolutely loved tarte flambée (flammekueche), and we both loved our meal of charcroute garnie (pork and sausages with sauerkraut). The baba au rhum I finally got to enjoy in Bordeaux was pretty amazing too, and we enjoyed stopping at the local boulangerie almost every day for a baguette while we were in France. The cacio e pepe along with fried artichokes I ate in Rome are also at the top of my list, as are the pizza and daily gelato we ate in Florence. And don’t get me started on Japanese food – it’s still my favorite cuisine of all. I would also love to sit and enjoy tea and fresh-baked scones served with clotted cream and jam again, or with a slice of coffee-walnut cake. Brett said I can’t forget Cornish pasties either – they were amazing, especially eaten freshly made from a shop. Oh, the memories!

Brett and I seem to have settled into our new Hawaii lifestyle. Unlike when we lived here before, there is no running around every day or adjusting our day or desires to fit the girls’ lives and schedules, and we get up, eat, and go whenever we’re ready. Along with not having visitors crowding the island, it’s really lovely. I know we’ll be out more as things open up, but for now this lifestyle is exactly what I imagined retirement to be. YaYu seems to be managing okay as well – there have been no complaints other than she misses college and her friends there, but she stays busy communicating with said friends, watching shows in Mandarin to keep her skills up, reading, and exercising. Besides watching TV together every evening, she and I continue to study Japanese together, and we each bring our own strengths to the process. We gave up on FluentU, and are back to using Memrise. It’s not perfect, but we feel what we are learning is more useful.

As promised, here are a few more of the gorgeous hibiscus we discovered over at Kukui’ula the other day. Finding new varieties has become sort of a treasure hunt for me these days.

That’s it for this week. Here’s hoping you all had a good week as well (and better weather), had lots of good things happen, and are looking forward to the week coming up!

17 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 5/24/2020:

  1. Did you like The Yellow House? I have a sample of it on my Kindle, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I just started Secondhand and am finding it fascinating. The timing is perfect, since we are packing to move and getting rid of a fair amount of ‘stuff’…again. I just finished The Most Fun We Ever Had, which is a looong novel, but I like to have something to fall into at the end of the day that allows me to enter another space. IMO, it could have used some editing and the way the author wrote conversation (lots of fragments and unfinished sentences) was annoying at times, but overall I enjoyed it. I am a fan of big family stories having come from one myself.

    Your food pic started me thinking about our trip to Italy and which foods I loved most. My favorite is the still the pesto linguine that was made for me at the Mercato Centrale in Florence. I could eat pasta every day so I guess that’s not surprising. I also LOVED the Taralli (wine crackers) and quickly exhausted all I brought home with me. I’ve searched for them here and found something being sold as them, but they’re just not the same. I really hope we can travel again soon.

    This week’s highlight for me was an hour and a half of FaceTime with the new parents and my new granddaughter – who slept through most of it but managed to wind up for a diaper change. LOL – she has good lungs. The entire labor story, etc., was something I was looking forward to, and the new parents are doing great. They’re exhausted (of course) but all is well. So, so grateful.

    And now we’re into moving. I packed the first 10 boxes today. It’s going to be a big job. (no surprise) Our GoodWill is accepting donations again, so my trunk is full with the first run. Onward and upward.

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    1. Oh my – the wine crackers! How could I forget! We discovered rosemary-potato ones in our supermarket, and pretty much bought them out – as soon as they would appear on the shelf, we pretty much bought them all. I could eat the whole box in a single sitting, too. If not for all the walking we did there I would have blown up like a balloon between those crackers and the gelato. I like pasta versus loving it, but the linguine with pesto I had in Riomaggio was the stuff of legends.

      I did like The Yellow House. At first I trouble keeping all the names straight, and kept having to look at a map of New Orleans to get my bearings, but by the end everyone felt so familiar. It’s a good read. I’m going to have to check out The Most Fun We Ever Had – sounds intriguing (dialog issues and all).

      Holding good thoughts for you as you prepare for your move!

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  2. We’ve been busy with homeschooling & working, so having the long weekend (we also had Friday off) was a real gift. We’ve taken advantage of the home time by getting a bunch of house & yard projects kicked off. I suppose that’s one good news angle.

    We barbecued burgers yesterday, and today will be grilled chicken. We’ll have that over Caesar salads. Oh, and we’ll likely have champagne by the pool while the kids swim. Gotta live a little. 😉

    We are caving in & hiring a yard service. The landscaping on this house is just crazy (lots & lots & lots of leaf bearing, high maintenance plants). If this landscaper works out, we’ll do some one time clean up work, start to move towards more drought resistant & lower maintenance plants, and have a regular service. It’s pricey, but we can’t keep up. I’ve invested a ton of time over the shelter in place, and we’re not close to having it looking good. That’s a sign that it’s never going to happen.

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    1. Yard care/lawn service is now something we would never go without, no matter where we lived. Especially here though, where we practically live in a jungle. Find someone you like and you’ll be set for a long, long time (and you will love your yard even more once you’re not the one having to care for it).

      Japan seems ready to move back from the emergency conditions they’ve been under since we left, so I’m guessing schools will reopen as well. Our grandson’s school is on the American systems though, so he’ll probably finish out the year at home. Our granddaughter was supposed to start international preschool, but now I think she won’t start until fall. I wish YaYu could go back over there and help out again. She’s not keen on the idea, but she could use the income and they could use the help.

      It was beyond great being back at the beach again today – perfect weather, and lots of happy local people enjoying the weekend. And no crowds either, which is what we would be dealing with under normal conditions.

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  3. Tiger King is a total train wreck, we binge watched it with our jaw on the floor most of the time. Some creepy aspects of human behaviour which seem to be glossed over. Everyone seems so focused on did Carol kill her husband whereas to me the big question is these men taking advantage of minors and providing illegal substances.

    The problem with the movers. It’s not De Witt is it? I contacted RH and DW responded to me totally ignoring what I was enquiring about and focused totally on shipping my car which I had never mentioned nor required. DW do have mixed reviews.

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    1. Train wreck is the perfect description, and you’re right, the documentary does gloss over (not completely though) the drug use and minor abuse. And as for Carol, all the “evidence” was just stuff people wanted to be true because they wanted her to be guilty. I thought the argument laid out in the show was weak. I could counter every one of the arguments put forward and I’m not a lawyer.

      The mainland mover is DeWitt. I guess I am going to start again with RH, and let them know their partner on the mainland is making them look bad.

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  4. Sunrise colour hibiscus is my fav. You have me salivating! And kicking myself – we didn’t eat a flammekueche on our last trip. Something to look forward to for next trip to Western Europe.

    Not going to even try the Tiger King. Watched some bits while watching Gogglebox – which is my way of catching up on trash TV, with humorous commentary.

    Congrats to WenYu. Shame about missing graduation – so much is changed!

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    1. The tequila sunrise one is my favorite – simple but a showstopper.

      We have one more episode of Tiger King to go. It’s been a waste – we would have been better served watching something else.

      We spoke with WenYu yesterday – the college has showered gifts on her and other classmates, and there will be a virtual ceremony this coming weekend. She is in line for a full-time job with the college, but of course there’s currently a hiring freeze.

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  5. Have you looked at the justonecookbook.com instructions on how to make Japanese style rice in the Instant Pot? She prefers the Japanese rice and tested several methods before posting instructions. She’s Japanese and her blog shares easy Japanese recipes.

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    1. No, I hadn’t seen that and wish I had before I bought the rice cooker – they’re not cheap. I am excited about seeing her other Japanese recipes though!

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      1. I always choose Zojirushi. My first one lasted for 20 years; I only replaced it because we needed a bigger one when we added the girls to our family. I bought another one on our first visit to Kaua’i (our rental didn’t have one) and a friend took the old one for her beach house, and we used that until we started traveling – it went to one of our daughters and is still being used. Their price for a Zojirushi has gone up, but I still believe they are the most dependable model.

        The model we bought it currently unavailable – I think we may have gotten the last one.

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      2. We used the Zojirushi for the first time last night – the difference between the rice made in it and the rice from the Instant Pot is night and day. I’m sticking with my rice cooker!

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  6. very cool…I think I’m going to go back to the ice maker too.That one is our of stock but I’ll wait and see when it comes back in. The price is pretty good. I used Cal Rose for “Japanese ” style rice . Do you have a brand you use? BTW, I’m looking for a specific Japanese Sound collection bowl (ceramic ) do you have any recommendations where to look. Ebay doesnt have any.

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