These were the two best “sunsets” we had this past week. It’s been gloomy.
Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
It’s over . . . finally. Brett and I started watching election results at 4:00 p.m. here last Tuesday and lasted until nearly midnight, both of us nervous wrecks. We put together a big plate of sushi to eat while we watched but were too anxious to even get through half of it (we ate what was remaining for lunch on Wednesday). The initial results were not everything we hoped for here at Chez Aloha, but the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was finally called yesterday. Some states were flipped from the last election, and there’s still a chance for big things to happen in Georgia in January. The overall turnout for this election was amazing and heartening, and I hope it continues going forward in future elections. I have no illusions that things are going to magically change for the better, or change quickly, but there will be changes, some of them faster than others, and I am heartened that getting the pandemic under control will be the top priority. I am especially thrilled that our new VP will be a woman – it’s been a long time coming and long overdue.
We finally got YaYu’s travel plans sorted and arranged, and she will be home on November 21 and with us for Thanksgiving as originally planned. It looked for a while like her homecoming might be delayed because of the testing requirements, and she was making plans to stay with a friend in Seattle for a week or so to get her pre-flight testing done there before coming to Hawaii, but the friend’s parent are both physicians and have been assigned to the COVID-19 area in their hospital this month, so it turned out not to be a good time for hosting anyone in their home. However, YaYu made arrangements with a friend in Pennsylvania to take her to be tested the day before she leaves, and she will quarantine for two days once she gets here and then submit the results online and follow up with back-up testing here on Kaua’i. Cases of the virus are rising here on Kaua’i – as of Friday there were nine active cases on the island with two of those hospitalized. One good bit of news though – the first flight of visitors from Japan arrived in Honolulu yesterday, the first foreign visitors allowed back into the state. Our son has said that once a vaccination has been tested and approved, they will come to Hawaii. We are all hoping for that to happen in 2021.
We had a weird/disturbing thing happen this past week: On Monday, Brett received a U.S. Bank debit card . . . and we don’t have a U.S. Bank account. We did some investigating, and the card was apparently filled with hundreds of dollars of unemployment benefits! We learned this is a major scam that’s been going on all around the U.S., apparently run by some Nigerian outfit (the prince?). Retirees have been targeted, and their names and addresses used to file for unemployment benefits (because in some states all you apparently need is a name and address) but sometimes the cards have ended up going to the actual retiree named on the card, like what happened with us. Hawaii is in the mix of states affected, so we have no way of knowing whether the fraud happened here or in another state, which seems more likely as U.S. Bank does not operate in the state of Hawaii. Brett filed a fraud alert with the bank, and with the card issuer, and we went over our credit records with a fine-toothed comb but found nothing irregular. We will be watching things a bit more carefully for the next few months though.
We had another stormy, crazy weather week, with cloud cover most days and several days of very high humidity once again. It was not a good week for picture taking. The trade winds broke through when they could, and we got out to walk as much as possible, but also spent a couple of days stuck inside. We were hoping to have a celebratory bonfire in the yard with our neighbors as we bought some firewood this past week, but it looks like that’s going to have to wait. Fall weather has always been sort of messy here, and winter is coming, even in Hawaii.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I’m about halfway through Susan Spann’s Climb and enjoying it. It makes me wish I was in Japan.
- Listening to: There’s a strong, cool breeze blowing outside this morning – it’s wonderful listing to the sound of the trees moving in the wind again. Humidity is very low or at least it feels that way. Brett is in the kitchen making his breakfast, and our neighbor has been rustling around upstairs, but otherwise it’s a perfect, quiet morning.
- Watching: We finally finished Homeland, got through “80s Week” on The Great British Bake-Off, and are now watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix – it’s so, so good. We’re also alternating between episodes each an evening of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix and Bordertown. WenYu had been watching Unsolved Mysteries and thought we would enjoy it as well (and she was right).
- Cooking/baking: It’s Sunday, so beans and rice for dinner tonight – Cuban beans this week but with roasted sweet potato, fried banana, and a little salsa for a sort of Cuban bowl vibe. This week we’re also going to have grilled fish (ono) tacos; subuta (Japanese style sweet & sour pork); grilled smoked chicken sausages and sauerkraut (we want to finish up the big container we bought at Costco last month); and InstantPot chicken adobo with bok choy. We finished up the Blue Bunny ice cream yesterday, so I’ll be baking the dark chocolate cake this afternoon for our dessert tonight.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Because of this week’s weather we only got in five days of walking up at the park – we were rained out last Sunday afternoon and this past Wednesday. We almost had to scrap our plans to increase our distance this week as well, but Thursday afternoon there was a wonderful cool breeze blowing during our walk, we felt good, and we got in the extra amount and walked a little over four miles. We’ll be going for two days of that distance this week. I finally got our pantry better organized this past week using some OXO containers, and it’s wonderful not having to dig through everything to find needed items as well as have the extra space the organization created (we’re fortunate to have a pantry in our tiny kitchen, but it’s very narrow and had been difficult to arrange things in any sort of practical way).
- Looking forward to next week: I am so hoping we can get through a whole week without a storm and its accompanying humidity, or at least if there has to be one it comes in the middle of the night and is gone by morning. Our avocado tree has leafed out and we’re looking forward to transplanting it into a pot this week.
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Even with the days of counting, the election results were worth the wait. 2) On Friday our neighbor brought us some fresh fish he had caught (he cleaned them too), two blue snapper and one gold snapper. We tucked them into the freezer and will roast them with lemon and rosemary when YaYu is home. 3) All the Christmas presents we ordered for the girls arrived this week so all Brett and I need to do now is get them wrapped, packed (if going to Meiling and WenYu), and sent off by the end of the month. I love wrapping presents so I’m looking forward to this. 4) Rambutan was available at the farmers’ market this week. They’re like fuzzy litchi, but so, so good. The ones we got are big and sweet.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: While we underspent on our food shopping at Costco, Walmart, and the farmers’ market this past week, and put $18.61 into the change/$1 bill jar, the week ended up being an expensive one as we restocked our gin collection for the next several months. We bought giant bottles of Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick’s at Costco at a higher up-front price but lower overall price for the quantity than buying it elsewhere. Although those two bottles upped the amount we spent now they will save us overall in the long run. Otherwise we had a no-spend week. I earned 3,016 Swagbucks, which included my 681 SB October bonus. All our leftovers were happily eaten, and no food was thrown away.
- Grateful for: I am unabashedly grateful that the majority of voters in our country stepped up and chose democracy and decency and rejected outright authoritarianism and yes, fascism. There is much work to be done going forward, many things to be fixed, and the journey will not be easy, but I am grateful that our country will be stepping back on the right path again.The message below expressed perfectly to me of what was lost these past four years, and a big reason why we supported Joe Biden in this election.
- Bonus question: What is your weakest claim to fame? This was another fun question that popped up on Twitter this past week and the answers were fun. Basically, it asked what was your most mundane interaction with a celebrity. Most of my moments meeting celebrities were thrilling, but the most mundane was selling a newspaper to Stacy Keach in 1987 at the Casa Marina hotel gift shop in Key West, FL. I usually staffed the hotel clothing boutique, but that morning I was fill-in in at the general gift shop for some reason. I recognized him immediately even though he looked like hell, sold him his paper and handed him his change without saying a word, and that was that – so very mundane. Now, if it had been Eric Clapton buying a newspaper (he had stayed at the hotel the year before), I would be telling a very different story!
One of the things I’ve read about, heard rumors about, and will be watching for when Biden takes office will be possible changes affecting student loan repayment. I have been paying back the federal student loans I took out to finish my bachelor’s degree and attend graduate school since 2000, for a degree that was required for me to work in my field. Every month since then several hundred dollars have been automatically removed from our bank account, except for the nearly three years I took classes again to earn a certificate in Conflict Management and received forbearance (the college I worked for covered my tuition). As of now I have made payments equaling what I borrowed, but I still have another 13 years to go before the loan is paid in full, and I have always had an interest rate less than 3%! The total amount I will have paid at the end of the loan period will be nearly double what I borrowed. My loan is nothing unusual or out of the ordinary, and students today are holding far more debt, and at much higher interest rates. So, I am going to hope beyond hope that some forgiveness might become a reality, not just for me but for so many others who struggle to pay their loans and who cannot more forward because of them, and that the whole student loan business model is refigured. Forgiving student loans, or some portion of them, will provide a huge boost to the economy, more than many other changes that can be made, and more than people realize, I believe.
The day lily above is one of many that have sprouted in the woods recently at Kukuiolono Park. The photo above does not capture how much its orange color actually glows – the color is almost DayGlo because it’s so bright. We saw earlier in the week that some of the lilies had been dug up, probably by other visitors/walkers, but these past few days more were bursting out in the area. I’m not the biggest fan of day lilies, but these ones are nothing if not eye-catching, and the color gorgeous.
I’m frankly glad this week – this election! – is over. The election itself and the following vote count caused so much anxiety, and even though the ending turned out well for the majority I know there are still hard feeling and they will continue. I also understand the disappointment many are feeling now as we experienced the same in 2016. But, here’s to a good week coming up and better times, and to the start of some healing for our country.