Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
Visitors began returning to the islands in significant numbers beginning last weekend, after the state removed the quarantine requirement for anyone who had a negative COVID-19 test from an approved vendor within three days before arrival. Their return has come with mixed emotions. Some people have been able to go back to work, while others still wait for things to gear up a bit more. For example, the wife of the couple in our building has gone back to work; her husband, the chef, hasn’t. There are signs placed all over our area reminding visitors that Kaua’i/Hawaii is a “mask-wearing community” and to please remember to wear theirs at all times. Other signs ask visitors to “do their kokua” and wear a mask (kokua means to cooperate and pitch in to help others without any expectation of personal gain). Still, there have been problems with visitors refusing to mask up, and some businesses have opted not to serve visitors without masks with both sides feeling upset and disgruntled. Also, there have been reports and rumors that many of the current visitors came because of current cheap airfares and hotel deals, and are not tipping or otherwise supporting the local community. We noticed this past week that for the first time since we arrived last March traffic had increased, and Walmart and Safeway had several empty shelves, something we used to see regularly when we lived here before and tourists abounded. So far there has been just one new case of the virus on Kaua’i, apparently a local who returned to the island, but the tiny island of Lanai had six new cases reported last Thursday, and an additional 16 on Friday! It’s going to be a bumpy ride for a while as we settle back into the “new normal” here, but we’ll get through it.
We had a emotional call from YaYu yesterday morning about her return next month and having to quarantine in our small apartment. She is unable to go through the new pre-testing regime to avoid quarantine (she would have to be tested in Seattle during her flight back, and has no way nor time to get to the only approved testing site there, located in downtown Seattle and costing $135). That means she won’t qualify for the free resident testing upon arrival (she has to have taken an approved test before leaving the mainland). She is terrified of bringing COVID-19 to us and has already worked herself into a state about it. We are prepared for her to quarantine here and will take every precaution, but there’s really nothing we can do about it otherwise and she doesn’t want to accept that. Hopefully Meiling and WenYu can calm her down so she can get through her last month at school. She will be tested five days before departing Bryn Mawr, and if for some reason she tests positive she won’t be allowed into Hawaii anyway and we will have to make other plans for her. We know she will take every precaution at the airports and on her flights. Neither Brett nor I are sure what the difference is between when she came back in March and now, and have tried to reassure her, but so far we haven’t been successful.
It’s been another roller coaster week as far as the weather. We’ve had high humidity, rain storms, thunderstorms, everything. Brett and I did our food shopping last Tuesday morning while it poured outside, and yet by the afternoon the rain was over and we were able to get out and walk. It was very humid though, like being wrapped in a damp blanket, and we noticed that any breeze we felt (which wasn’t much) was coming from opposite the usual direction of the trade winds. We woke up to pouring rain again on Friday morning, but it was over by the afternoon, enough that once again we could get out and walk. It was of course terribly humid again, enough that we skipped the last lap on our walk. One blessing this week has been cooler temperatures, to the point we had to turn off the ceiling fans in the evenings because it got so chilly, and the sun has been covered by clouds most of the time during our walks, which helped some. Anyway, we’re hoping this coming week things will calm down and return to normal, and the trade winds will return. Fingers are crossed!
By Friday afternoon the rain had stopped, but heavy clouds, no breeze, and high humidity remained.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I’m halfway through A Song for the Dark Times, and it’s very good. Detective John Rebus is elderly now, and doesn’t consult with the Scottish police any more, so I wondered how Ian Rankin would fit him into a police procedural, but it’s a great story so far. Next up later this week will be Climb, by Susan Spann.
- Listening to: Nothing really – a few birds are singing outside, but that’s it. I wish I could hear the trades blowing through the trees, but it’s dead calm out there. Brett is reading and for now it’s delightfully quiet inside – my kind of morning!
- Watching: Same old, same old again this week, with multiple episodes of Homeland and The Great British Baking Show on Friday. We extended our Showtime subscription for three months.
- Cooking/baking: I am making pumpkin apple pancakes for Brett and my breakfast this morning, right after I get this posted. Brett will have two of them, but just one for me (I make big pancakes) and leftovers will be enjoyed during the rest of the week. I had so much trouble finding pumpkin this past week – a couple of places were sold out, but I finally found some at Big Save, at the back of the shelf. I bought five cans even though it was expensive. I’m going to order via Amazon next time if I can. Dinner tonight will be curried chickpeas with jasmine rice, and other meals this week will be chipotle chicken tacos; grilled smoked chicken sausages with sauerkraut; chicken tortilla soup; and a new pumpkin recipe. I hope to be able to post the recipe on Friday! I’m planning to bake that dark chocolate cake topped with coffee buttercream for our next dessert on Wednesday.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I bought a giant, 150-piece bag of Halloween candy at Costco this past week, divided it up (without eating any!), and sent a package off to each of the girls. Snickers bars abounded and there was a pretty good selection of other varieties, but only three Almond Joys in the entire bag! We got started on our Christmas shopping for the girls, the part we can do here, and picked up flat-rate boxes at the post office to pack things in so we can get them off to the girls before the end of November. We also got the grandkids’ gift sent off to Japan – the postage for that was just over one-third of the amount of yen we sent! In spite of the crazy weather and the insufferable humidity on some days, we walked every day this week. We sure are ready for some cooler weather though. We did a big food shop on Tuesday, and along with having a hard time finding some things we went over our budget. Thankfully we will only need a very few things this coming week so we will be back in balance. I almost can’t believe that I got through this last week’s Japanese lessons as they were all about politics, political parties, the military, etc. The kanji was excruciating, and I’m dreading the tests at the end of the level. The grammar is getting tricky as well.
- Looking forward to next week: We will be ordering the online portion of our Christmas gifts this week which should be fun. Recent gift ideas/requests from the girls have helped us narrow down what we’ll be getting for them. We’re also hoping for some beach weather so we can get back down to Barking Sands and/or Salt Pond, and want to get up to Kilauea toward the end of the week to walk the Stone Dam trail.
- Thinking of good things that happened: My mammogram results were normal, so I can exhale for another year. I lost another three pounds this month, and now have only five pounds to go to reach the doctor’s weight loss goal for me. I am going to keep going with what I’ve been doing though and see if I can lose an additional 10 pounds beyond that. Our avocado tree has sprouted! It will stay in the jar for another five to six weeks, and then be transplanted into a pot. We learned that avocado trees grown this way, and kept indoors, will not bear fruit, but will make a lovely houseplant.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not a frugal week, with postage costs and overspending on food, but we should have things rebalanced by next week. Brett also desperately needed new walking shoes (the soles are worn through and coming off the ones he’s been using since 2017) and he found an affordable pair on Zappos, and discovered when he ordered them that he still had a balance on his gift card which saved an additional $5. I went to cancel our Showtime subscription and they offered me three months at 50% off so we took advantage of that deal and will cancel when it ends. I earned 2,300 Swagbucks this week, and we put $10.81 into the change/$1 bill jar. Leftover were finished up and no food was thrown away.
- Grateful for: I am thankful for, and amazed and exited by the numbers of early voters this year – it’s really been something to see all the enthusiasm for a change. I am grateful too that voting in Hawaii was so easy – we’re a mail-only state when it comes to voting, same as it was for us back in Oregon. No standing in lines or going to a polling place. Either put your ballot in the mail, or drop it off. I wish it were this easy for everyone, everywhere.
- Bonus question: What’s something from your childhood that kids today just wouldn’t get? Oh my, this list could go on forever. I may have asked and answered this question before, but the other day I realized that the girls may have never known or don’t remember that we all used to share the same phone number – they’ve always had their own. I can’t remember how long it’s been since we gave up a home phone and went to cell phones only. They also never have experienced having to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel, or having only three channels to choose from, no color, and of course nothing like streaming. Movies, if they were on TV at all, were only shown on certain days of the week (“Tuesday Night At the Movies”), or like The Wizard of Oz, only shown once a year. I was thinking the other day that there are in things in my children’s lives that they take for granted that their children will someday find strange and outdated as well – time and technology march on! These days, when it comes to the changes that have occurred in my lifetime, I identify more with my grandmother who was born in 1890, and in her lifetime saw the advent of automobiles, airplanes, and television; lived through two world wars and other conflicts; and saw a man walk on the moon. I don’t know what she thought of things like the women’s movement, the anti-war protests of the 70s, and other social movements, but she always stayed positive about it all, and I try and follow her example. Progress may be difficult, but it’s overall a very good thing.
There have been lots of new flowers appearing in the yard recently, including orchids that seem to pop out of nowhere. We wonder if our landlord or whoever lived here before would buy orchids for inside, and then toss them out in the yard once the blossoms dropped off. Some of them rooted and we’re now the beneficiaries now as they bloom again in various places around the yard. I sadly don’t know the name of most of these plants, and I keep telling myself to use the iNaturalist app but then I get busy and forget to do it.
Just nine more days to go until the election! We have been lucky here to have not been bombarded with ads, signs and other election paraphernalia, but I know that others around the country are sick to death of it all. Brett and I went online this past week and learned both our ballots have been logged in and tabulated! YaYu finally got her Pennsylvania ballot this past week, and both the WenYu and Meiling have voted as well, or at least are ready to go. If you haven’t voted yet, I hope you have a plan and are ready to go on November 3. If you are mailing in your ballot, get it in now!
That’s it for this week. In spite of the weather it was a great week, and lots of things were accomplished and good things happened too. I hope it was the same for you, and that the week coming up will be a great one for all of us!