We had some pretty sunsets this past week!
Happy birthday today to our son, M (his birthday is already over now in Japan though)! He has been a delight since the moment he was born, was pretty much the world’s easiest child to raise, and we couldn’t be prouder of him if we tried for all he has accomplished both personally and professionally, as well as for being such a great husband and father. One of the very cool things he does every year is walk the Komazawa Challenge to raise funds for a charity in Japan that supports and assists children with terminal or incurable diseases and their families. He believes this year he will go over $30,000 total that he’s personally raised for the charity during the five years since he founded the walk in 2017. He usually holds the event in June, but because of Covid-19 it was postponed until September this year (the walk is next Saturday). We’re not-so-secretly hoping he’ll do the same in 2022 when we’re in Japan so we can walk with him, for at least part of the distance anyway as the total walk is near marathon length.
I have now grown sick to death of the scent of guava, something I never believed could happen. Guava have a naturally sweet, perfumed aroma that I used to love, and in the past we’d set a bowl of ripe guava out on the counter in the kitchen (we had a guava tree in the back at our old house that produced about six to ten fruit per year) and it would perfume the whole house for a short period every year – it was lovely. With the daily bags of fruit now coming off our tree, the scent in the house is ever present and getting into everything, and the aroma now is overly cloying and overly sweet. Brett took two huge bags of fruit up to Monkeypod this past week, but the ripe fruit just keeps on coming. I love the jam we made, and Monkeypod is happy to receive all of our excess fruit, but the amount the tree keeps putting out has almost been overwhelming. Even the birds seem to have had enough.
Brett received a notice this week that beginning January 1 he will be charged $25/month for our Tricare Standard insurance, the same insurance that was guaranteed to be free for life when Brett enlisted in the navy in 1970 as well as when he retired in 1992. We have to have a Tricare Standard policy to cover YaYu until she graduates in 2022, but thankfully our separate Tricare for Life insurance remains no cost, for now anyway, but we expect that will soon change as well. While it’s frustrating to see our benefits erode, the $300 dollars/year will be thankfully much, much less than Bryn Mawr’s mandatory health insurance cost. This year was the first where students could opt out of that insurance if they could show proof that their personal insurance was as good or better than what the college offered. Health insurance in this country is a flat-out mess, and I am hoping in the next few years that something similar to our military plan will be made available for everyone. Having lived with “government insurance” for over forty years, I can attest that it works well and beats anything else currently out there.
None of these guys wanted their picture taken – they never stopped moving!
It would be easy for us to take chickens for granted here on Kaua’i, and most of the time we do, but others times some will surprise and amuse us. We’ve been walking long enough up at Kukuiula Park now that we can recognize different roosters and chickens and have gotten to a point that we look for the ones we know. We’ve also started to give some of them names (perhaps an early sign of insanity?). One of our favorites these days is a rooster we’ve named Chatterbox, that will occasionally walk along the path with us for a while, singing/chatting the entire way, or if he doesn’t walk with us, will just come over and greet us and chatter a bit as we walk past. Another rooster we always look for is General Custer, named for the blonde feathers that cascade down his neck and gold feathers on the back of his body. Both Chatterbox and the General are wild jungle fowl and they hang out up in the park. The most stunning rooster I have ever seen though is one we’ve spotted in the parking lot at the bottom entrance to the park. We’ve named him Mr. Beautiful because he is simply gorgeous (and he knows it). He is large, and perfectly proportioned from the comb on his head to the tip of his beautiful brown tail feathers. His other feathers are in blocks of tan, rust, burgundy, and gold and are beautifully glossy – he’s just something else to look at. We don’t get to see him very often, but when we do he always has large harem milling around him. Several of the other regular walkers feed the chickens in the park from time to time with stale bread, but we haven’t gone that far yet (mainly because we never have leftover bread), but that doesn’t keep most of the chickens from running up to us almost daily to make sure.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished Breasts and Eggs mid-week and got it back to the library on time, and am now reading Love and Other Consolation Prizes because of positive comments from two readers. It’s an interesting book, based on a true story, and a fairly quick read. I’ll be on to Sex and Vanity in a few more days.
- Listening to: It’s deliciously cool this morning, and I’m listening to the drip, drip, drip of rain outside as I write and sip my coffee. The rain started last night and is supposed to continue throughout the day, and will most likely make this the first time in weeks that we don’t get to go out for a walk. Otherwise, it’s very quiet inside – Brett’s reading – but I’m going to get up in a short while and make us a bacon and eggs breakfast.
- Watching: We’re still watching Bordertown and One Foot In the Grave. Bordertown has been “interesting” – the story lines are good and keep our interest, but the show comes from Finland and has been both dubbed and given close-captioning. Those two rarely match so it can get confusing at times as to just what’s really being said or inferred. Also, the dubbing is terrible – the voices for each character basically just read a script – there’s no emotion or “acting” whatsoever, or no real effort to match the words to the actors’ lips moving. It’s funny to listen to if I close my eyes for a moment as it sounds almost robotic at times and nothing like a television show.
- Cooking/baking: We had a change of plans mid-week when we couldn’t find eggplant at the farmers’ market and therefore couldn’t make mabo nasu. I had some stuffed bell peppers in the freezer so we had those instead, and will keep our fingers crossed that we can find eggplants and have mabo nasu this week. Coming up later in the week will be a Mississippi pot roast and then French dip sandwiches made from the leftovers. Tonight we’re having Cuban beans and rice along with sautéed green beans, and we still have one serving left of ice cream for dessert. I’ll be making the Bacardi rum cake tomorrow. The ice cream has been a lovely treat though. I’m already thinking that after we finish the rum cake I should make a British coffee walnut cake – it was my favorite when we were in England – and then we’ll go for a pumpkin pie from Costco. Having a small, sweet treat after dinner each evening has been so nice to look forward to, and helped both of us each less during the day.
The most hellish part of our daily walk are these two sections where the sun beats down and the breeze/wind stops. Thankfully they don’t take too long to get through, but we do each of them three times and dread them.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: I moved up to Level 4 Japanese in Memrise! I scored 100% on the review questions for Level 3 and got a notice that I had completed the course. Yeah me! I hope to see the kanji and grammar patterns I learned repeated from time to time in Level 4 so that I don’t forget them. Brett and I again walked over three miles every day this past week. It was difficult at times because temperatures were up this past week as was the humidity at times, especially yesterday as we walked right after some rain. The hand weights seem to get lighter every day.
- Looking forward to next week: Brett and I have been talking about visiting Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park this coming week but haven’t decided which day yet. We have another food shopping trip to make on Wednesday so will work around that. Otherwise it’s a pretty ho-hum week.
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1)WenYu finished her first paid commission, an amazing piece of animation to accompany a recording of a poem! Her animation is lovely, moving pencil sketches that highlight scenes and words in the poem, and gratifying to see because animation is what she loves and wants to do. We think this is how things are going to go for a while, that she’ll freelance and wait tables before finding something more permanent. 2) Our back yard got a trim this past week – it always looks good to me, but it’s still amazing what a difference a quick visit from the yard crew makes. 3) Although temperatures have been higher this week, the weather has mostly been lovely, although it was exceptionally windy on Friday morning and rained yesterday afternoon (and today).
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We put an amazing $31.20 into our travel savings this past week thanks to a successful and frugal food shopping trip last week. 2) I clipped two ferns from the back yard to put in a vase that sits on our bathroom sink. I had been thinking I was going to have to buy something artificial as nothing else I tried from the yard seemed to last more than a day, but the ferns have been holding their own for days now, are pretty and tropical, and of course were free (and there’s a HUGE supply in the yard). 3) I earned 2,206 Swagbucks, another very good week. 4) It’s been the same-old, same-old eating all the leftovers and not throwing away any food. One of my leftover creations this week was loco moco made with leftover hamburger patties – easy to put together and we loved it! 5) Other than our food shopping and the farmers’ market on Wednesday, it was a no-spend week.
- Grateful for: I have been profoundly saddened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg but am beyond grateful for her many years of service to our country and her work for women’s equality. So many of the rights many women take for granted today are there because of her, including the right to sign a mortgage without a man; the right to have a bank account without a male co-signer; the right to have a job without being discriminated based on gender; and the right for women to be pregnant and/or have kids and work. The second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, RBG had a powerful legal mind and was a brilliant jurist who fought not just for gender equality but for equality, justice, and fairness for everyone. My favorite quote from the Notorious RBG was I’m sometimes asked: when will there be enough [women on the supreme court]? And I say, when there are nine. People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody raised a question about that. Justice Ginsberg wrote to her granddaughter shortly before her death, My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed, but it now remains to be seen if the Senate will follow the rule they imposed on President Obama and not push through the nomination of a new justice before either the election or next year’s inauguration.
- Bonus question: What’s something you were expected to be good at but weren’t/aren’t? What’s something you were/are good at that was completely unexpected? From an early age I was told that I was “artistic” which is funny to me because I can barely draw a stick figure. Where the “artistic” came from, I think, is that I was quite good at a young age at coloring inside the lines, and using the “right” colors. Anyway, I am not artistic but I am good at arranging colors and things . . . Brett calls it “doing installations.” He, along with Meiling and WenYu are the true artists in our family. Something I turned out to do quite well that surprised both me and everyone else was that I actually had some musical talent. I learned to play the clarinet at age nine, played for just over four years, and entered and won several superior awards at solo festivals before I turned 14. However, I never came to love playing the clarinet or developed any real belief in my musical ability – my parents had chosen the instrument for me (I wanted to play the flute) and I absolutely hated having to play in the school’s marching band, which was a requirement if you played an instrument other than strings. I quit before I entered high school so I could take art classes (and did poorly at those). I finally learned to play the flute in my late 30s, and was told by my teacher then, a professional flutist, that I had genuine musical talent, but at that point I thought I was too old to pursue it and eventually quit that as well. I can still read music but that’s as far as it goes these days.
I seem to be entering another one of my biannual rounds of insomnia, but in a somewhat different way. This past week I have been waking up early, very early sometimes. In the past my insomnia caused an inability to fall asleep at night, but with all the walking we’re doing now I’m not having any trouble with that – these days I put my head on the pillow and I am out like a light, and I sleep deeply through the night. However, waking up at 6:00 in the morning like I have on a few mornings is definitely weird (and annoying). I wear earplugs and a sleep mask at night so I know it’s not the light coming through the windows in the morning nor noise from the birds or wind that’s waking me, so am not sure what’s going on. Hopefully this is something temporary because I dislike feeling sleepy in the afternoons, especially right before it’s time to head out for our daily walk.
Also, the past couple of weeks I’ve been able to comment on a couple of Blogger-platformed blogs using my phone, but with others comments from my still vanish into the Internet ether. I still have no idea why that is or how to fix it, but I keep trying!
What a year this week has been! Actually, we’ve personally had another good week, but it’s been a strange and sad one in other ways. Hopefully it was a positive week for all of you, and you had several good things happen for you. I glad we got through it, and I’m looking forward for all of us to the week coming up!