Sunday Morning 9/27/2020: Socially Distanced and Enjoying It

Only a couple of picture-worthy sunsets this week – usually the clouds had cleared out by that time of day and nothing happened.

Good morning!

This past week was a reminder in some ways that we are deep into “Sweatember” (as our friend Alan has named it) here on the island. Although we got quite a bit of rain this past week it’s also been hot and humid, uncomfortably so at times, and we’ve often walked with the sun beating down on us the entire time. September always seemed to be the worst month humidity-wise, especially when we lived here earlier, but we seem to be faring a bit better down here on the south side of the island. There were some days this past week when we wondered if we would be able to go for a walk either because of rain or the heat and humidity, but we always got ourselves up to the park and got it done (and were glad we did when we finished). We remain grateful for our apartment’s location because the wind/a breeze continues to blow daily, and along with our ceiling fans we’re staying cool and comfortable inside.

That cut through the hills in the distance funnels the wind and breezes directly down to our address, keeping things cool.

Rainbows appeared several days this week, from small pieces to full arcs. 

I wasn’t going to weigh myself until the end of the year, but MyFitnessPal kept asking me to update my weight, so I climbed on the scale yesterday and discovered I have lost an additional three pounds. That’s 17 total so far, so I now have less than 10 to go to reach the doctor’s recommendation of 25 pounds gone. The walking is really making a difference, but I have also been consistent and honest about tracking my eating with MyFitnessPal, both what I eat and how much, and have had no problems with keeping to 1200 calories per day. I used to get discouraged quickly when I would track my eating, and get tired of measuring or weighing everything, but these days I plan my next day’s meals and snacks the evening before and then stick with it, keep up with the measuring, and so far that’s been working well. I’ve decided I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing now (walking and portion control) for the next several months and into next year and will see where it takes me. In the meantime I’ll continue to stay away from the scale, except for a once-a-month check to keep MyFitnessPal from bugging me.

I spoke with all three of the girls this past week, and their lives all seem to offer a snapshot of the “new normal” so many are experiencing now. We were sad to learn that WenYu quit the waitressing job she was so excited about. She liked the work and coworkers, but quickly discovered it made her and her boyfriend (and his family) very nervous for her to be interacting so closely with the public, even if she was wearing a mask. She is once again looking for something full-time in her field, but in the meantime is doing graphic design projects for her boyfriend and also working part-time as a personal assistant to another artist. Her boyfriend has an extra car, and has offered it to her to get into Boston more easily once she finds work. I also spoke with Meiling a couple of times last week, and she confessed that she is bored and hasn’t been out of her apartment in six months other than to move to their new apartment (in the same building) and to go for a couple of long hikes with friends in the mountains. She and her boyfriend use a meal kit service for many of their dinners, and her boyfriend does the food shopping once a week as she just doesn’t want to be around other people yet. Her job keeps her busy though and she is saving, with goals for the future so she is putting up with all of it. YaYu is doing well at school – it seems that after a bit of a shaky start Bryn Mawr students are doing a very good job of keeping up with the new protocols and precautions. After two rounds of testing only two cases have been discovered and both those students are currently in quarantine. 

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ll finish Love and Other Consolation Prizes today and will start Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as soon as I’m done as it came off hold at the library yesterday. Brett just finished reading our friend Susan Spann’s recently published book, Climb, about climbing 100 of Japan’s mountains following her recovery from breast cancer, and I’ll start that after I finish Harry Potter. I keep telling myself that I’ll eventually get to read Sex and Vanity, hopefully by the end of the year.
  • Listening to: I got up early again this morning, although not unreasonably so. The wind is blowing outside and making a bit of noise, a couple of roosters are doing their thing, and Brett is putting around in the kitchen making coffee and putting away last night’s dishes. The sky is blue but there are clouds to the north, so we’ll just have to see how the day turns out!
    Looking foward to watching Ratched starring the wonderful Sara Paulson.
  • Watching: We have just a few more episodes of Bordertown to watch, and we’re almost at the end of One Foot In the Grave as well. We watched the first episode of the Great British Baking Show on Friday evening though. At the top of our watch-next list are two “prequels” currently available on Netflix: Young Wallender and Ratched, about who the nurse was before she appeared in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ratched is said to be pretty wild and very colorful. We also want to check out Cobra Kai for something different – we’ve heard good things about it (and are still fans of the original Karate Kid).
  • Cooking/baking: Instead of beans over rice, tonight I’m putting together burritos with Mexican cowboy beans, some leftover pot roast, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and salsa for our dinner. We have been enjoying the A Dozen Cousins beans so much that we’ve decided to get them regularly through Amazon’s Subscribe ‘n’ Save (which will also save us a little bit). Also on the dinner menu this week will be Guadalajara quesadillas; grilled ahi with guacamole salad; grilled Italian sausages with sautéed peppers and onions; and of course, leftovers. The rum cake did not get made last week because we couldn’t find dark rum! It’s not that there isn’t any on the island, but we only want a pint and not a full bottle because that’s too much, too expensive, and we don’t drink rum. The Koloa Rum store is scheduled to reopen on October 1, and whether that will happen remains to be seen, but we can get miniatures there which would be ideal so are holding out for that. Anyway, I baked a coffee walnut cake for us last week instead, and we plan to pick up a Costco pumpkin pie next week to have after we finish the cake. By the time we finish the pie we will have hopefully have a solution to the rum issue!
    Another five-week set of cards is ready to go! They are instrumental in helping me stay on track and reach my goals.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week (and two fails): 1) We made a small food shopping trip on Wednesday and once again stayed within our budget. 2) I filled in the last card of my last five-week daily activity cards, and made a new set for the next five weeks, which will see me all the way through until the end of October. It’s still amazing to me how quickly five weeks passes when I use these cards (plus, I know I’m getting everything done I need to do). 3) In spite of the hot and humid days, and rain some days as well, we walked 3+ miles every day again this week. 4) Not my accomplishment, but Brett got the car washed and all spiffed up. It’s hard to keep a car clean here because of all the red dirt, but it will hopefully stay nice for a couple of weeks. 5) Fail: We still have not gotten the windows washed, but it will happen one of these days. 6) Fail: We decided to postpone our Waimea Canyon visit for a while as all the overlooks are currently closed, and the views are the main reason for going!
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m seeing the dermatologist on Wednesday for a skin check – I’m always glad to get that done. We will begin adding some more distance to our walk this week, starting with just one day a week and adding a day each subsequent week until we’re walking the new distance daily. We’ve got our route picked and we’re ready!
    The guava tree is still producing, but the harvest is thankfully slowing down.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The guava harvest has continued, but has been nowhere near what it was last week. Brett only had a half bag fruit for Monkeypod this past week. Pretty much everything else that happened this week was a good thing as well, including getting to talk with all the girls and our son walking 29 miles (in the rain!) during the Komazawa Challenge yesterday and raising nearly $8,000 this year!
    M’s walk this year included a few changes of wet clothes, but he still walked nearly 30 miles!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) After comparing prices, we ordered a case of Scott’s toilet paper from Amazon at $42.22 (including tax) for 80 rolls, or 53¢ per roll. I’m not sure right now where we will put all of it, but we’ll manage somehow at that price. If the price stays low we’ll sign up for Subscribe ‘n’ Save for it as well 2) We put $3.03 into the change/$1 bill jar, left over from this past week’s shopping trip. We actually ended up with $8.03, but decided to spend an extra $5 at the farmers’ market as we found some great bargains. 3) Other than our grocery shopping, the farmers’ market, and a gas fill-up on Wednesday we had a no-spend week. We also had three no-drive days, which saves on gas and wear and tear on the car. 4) I earned 2,085 Swagbucks and am getting close to the halfway mark for a $500 Delta gift card! 4)It was another good week for finishing leftovers, and once again no food was thrown away or wasted.
    This week’s haul from the farmers’ market: bananas, avocados, baby zucchini, papayas, limes, cucumbers, dragonfruit, green beans, and cilantro.
  • Grateful for: We continue to be exceedingly thankful to be living on Kaua’i, in our little COVID-free bubble here. The state has extended the quarantine again until the end of October, but will be offering testing options for visitors beginning mid month. We’ve seen fewer visitors around these days though. We feel very safe here, but like the rest of the island, take nothing for granted and continue to take precautions like mask-wearing (required in any public area except when exercising outdoors), social distancing, and hand washing. We know this pandemic is not over by a long shot.
  • Bonus question: Was there some perfectly normal activity or thing that terrified you as a child? I was always abnormally terrified during Fire Prevention Week, held every fall in our city’s elementary schools. We had five days of drills, a visit from the fire department, lessons on fire prevention, etc. culminating in a fire prevention film on Friday. The film always scared me out of my wits, and I was never able to get out of watching it. Fifth grade was the worst – the film was about a fire starting in a school, but little Bobby was goofing around and decided he didn’t need to go out when the alarm went off because it was just a drill. After all the other kids were out his teacher went back in to look for him, and at the end of the film a fireman found them dead from smoke inhalation in a stairwell. It was horrifying. That film stayed with me for nearly a year, even though none of our schools had stairs. Every year the films made it impossible for me to fall asleep at night for months because I believed the minute I nodded off our house would burst into flames (there were no smoke alarms then), and when I did fall asleep I would frequently have nightmares about fires. So, I would lay in bed, my heart pounding for what seemed like hours, and tell myself over and over that Dad was still awake downstairs (thankfully he was a night owl) and would get us all up if a fire started. If for some reason though he came to bed earlier then usual all bets were off as to when or if I would fall asleep. Ironically, the most likely way for a fire to have started in our house back then would have been from one of my dad’s cigarettes! Anyway, when I moved up to sixth grade in the middle school, no more Fire Prevention Weeks, no more sleep problems, and no more nightmares. Also, listening to Prokofieff’s Peter and the Wolf gave me nightmares (those French horns!), and had me imagining wolves were waiting for me right outside my bedroom door (the absurdness of wolves living in urban Southern California, let alone inside our home didn’t occur to me at age five).

I have to admit I am enjoying our “new normal” these days – a weekly trip to Lihue for gas and supplies, our daily walk at the park, and an occasional trip to the beach. We get up when we want, have our meals when we want, and otherwise have to time to do many of the other little things that we didn’t before, all without pressure. As an introvert it’s been a dream come true for me. It’s all been very relaxing, but frankly I would rather this pandemic be done so we could be traveling again. I know my reality is very different from many if not most people, and am very aware that our comfortable life these days comes from having a steady income and not having to work, and not having to deal with the public in any meaningful way like so many others do. We are lucky and we know it.

American readers: are you registered and ready to vote? If not, I urge you to please get it done, and then vote early if you can in your state, or find out how to make sure your mail-in or absentee ballot gets in on time. Hawaii is now a mail-only state – our ballots will arrive in another three weeks, and we will be dropping ours off at the election office in Lihue. 

That’s a wrap for this week. I hope it was a good one for everyone, and that lots was accomplished and plenty of good things happened. Here’s looking forward to the week coming up!


10 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 9/27/2020: Socially Distanced and Enjoying It

  1. I was interested in your comments about things from your childhood you were afraid of…..we lived in the country and could often hear foxes barking at night. I would close my windows even on the hottest nights in summer (we had no a/c) so that I wouldn’t hear the foxes….I just knew they were coming into the yard and would be under my window! I was recently back at my childhood home and now you can hear coyotes at night….but I was able to sleep with the windows open! LOL
    By the way, your handwriting on your “to do” cards is lovely!


    1. Wild animals were a constant fear for me even though they were rare to non-existent. I once saw a TV show that had a rabid wolverine terrorizing the family in the show, and it was a while before I could sleep after that, sure there was a rabid wolverine in our back yard (again, in Southern California). I did see a fox once though, crossing the street from the Huntington Library grounds to another wooded lot. That surprised me.

      Thank you about the handwriting. It was my pride and joy when I was young but it’s awful now, honestly, compared to what it was. I used to be able to write for ages; these days just filling out those five cards wears me out. All three of our girls learned cursive, but I think it’s now completely disappeared from the elementary curriculum (as it should).


  2. You son is so handsome, and to walk so far in the rain is really something! Your daughters also seem remarkable! I’m just wondering what MFP is on your index card. Is it something like Swagbucks, which seems confusing and time-consuming? You’ve probably previously explained, so maybe you could just tell me what date to look at. I do e-rewards, which can be confusing and time-consuming. I don’t really understand why companies would give us rewards for taking surveys or whatever. How does that help them, really?


    1. Well, I do think out son is handsome (he honestly takes after both of us), but if you could see him under the mask you might have thought differently – he hasn’t shaved or cut his hair since he started working remotely last February! He is VERY shaggy right now, and I’m pretty sure he gets some looks when he’s out and about. We were very impressed with his distance this year, especially in spite of the rain.

      MFP is MyFitnessPal – it’s on the card so I’m sure to fill out the next day’s eating plan. I have a system for Swagbucks so don’t spend too much time on it. A new Swagbucks day starts midnight PST, which is 9:00 p.m. here, so I do about an hour of it while we watch TV at night. Then I do a little more in the morning while I drink my coffee, before I get into the news. I always make sure to reach the daily goal at night before I stop, and then use the next day to top it off! So, not a lot of time spent on it really. I think Swagbucks is a source for lots of survey firms to find people – I usually get kicked out of most surveys as they are looking for specific demographics and I don’t fit the bill.


  3. Hi Laura,
    I too am enjoying many aspects to our ‘new normal’ here in Scotland; whilst somewhat concerned at times as to what the future may bring. I’m trying to work out how long I’ve been reading your blog; I’ve been tuned into previous incarnations too and am wondering if it’s been as long as 10 years!? Can you remind me of what your previous blogs were called?
    All the best


  4. I don’t blame WenYu for quitting the waitressing job. It must be scary having a public facing job these days. I have a friend who is a high school teacher and I don’t know how she does it. Congrats to your son! Does he walk 29 miles all in one day??

    I watched the first few episodes of Cobra Kai and it’s kind of a train wreck. I was in high school when the original Karate Kid came out and have also practiced karate, so the whole thing resonates with me, but the two main characters are so unlikeable that I found it tough to watch. I’ll probably give it another try though because I am curious. I’m also curious about Ratched.

    I agree with Addy about your penmanship! It’s really a lost art.


    1. Ok, I just want to take back what I said earlier about Cobra Kai. I watched the rest of Season 1 today and actually enjoyed it. It really improves after the first few episodes, so I’m glad I didn’t give up on it.


      1. Glad to hear that Cobra Kai gets better. We just signed up for a free trial of Showtime so are going to binge-watch shows there for the coming month before we cancel, but Cobra Kai is staying on the watch list for November!

        Thanks too for the kind words about my writing – it really is a mess now compared to what it once was.


  5. Late to the post here, but wanted to say I have new respect for your meal planning skills. My “kids” in England shop once a week and have it delivered, so we’re doing meal planning. It’s a challenge, but so far, so good. We plan meals and then use the things that spoil first earliest. I have walked to the local grocery for a couple things so it’s not cast in stone. I could plan better at home, but we are pretty loosey goosey about our meals some nights when it’s just the two of us. And the leftovers go farther without a hungry nursing mom in the mix. :0)


    1. Brett and I are much less rigid about our meals these days than I was back in the day with a full family to feed. Back then I had everything organized down to the day so things got used up in time. For now, it’s enough to just list what we want to have, then decide later when to have them. And if they don’t get made, no big deal.

      I absolutely loved food shopping in England – we went to Aldi most of the time and it was always an adventure. Our village store always had interesting things as well, like locally made sausages and such, and always good sales on items that would be going out of date soon – we snapped those up.


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