Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
We’ve had a lovely week, even with the crazy weather that started off the week. Rain, wind, cold temperatures (for here) – we got it all, but on Friday we woke up to blue skies and sunshine, and a normal level of wind. It has stayed cold though – yesterday morning it was 63° which is break-out-the-down-parkas weather here. We’re very much enjoying having YaYu here with us, although she is still suffering a bit from jet lag. She goes “back to class” tomorrow, and will be waking up at 3:00 a.m. HST to log into her 8:00 a.m. classes in Pennsylvania. Classes will continue for the next two weeks, but I wear ear plugs at night so should be able to sleep right through her early rising. I’m not so sure about whether Brett will be able to sleep through it though – we’ll see.
YaYu’s Hawaii returning resident COVID test, taken last Wednesday, was negative, so thankfully she hasn’t had to quarantine except for the first few days home. However, she is still very nervous about possibly having picked up the virus on her journey, and wants one more test before she can relax and feel safe going out, so she will be doing that today. She did go and walk with us at the park this past week, but it’s a very socially distanced activity so she felt safe. Kauai’s COVID cases have climbed into the upper 20s, and there has been one death, an 80-year-old man who unfortunately had underlying conditions. There are so many visitors on the island now – Brett and I were frankly shocked and dismayed on our farmers’ market trip last Wednesday by how many there were. Thankfully most people were wearing masks, but we saw a few people who I guess didn’t think the rules applied to them (even with signs everywhere reminding people that masks are mandatory). Hawaii is going to do away with their testing protocol this coming week – all visitors and returning residents will once again be required to quarantine for two weeks. Too many with the virus were slipping through and cases were climbing here, so the state is going back to what worked before. We continue to not go out much, and the park where we walk is not a tourist destination, so hopefully we will all stay OK. We are going to Costco and Walmart tomorrow and I’m sort of scared of how many people may be there but we will be armed with masks and hand sanitizer.
I can barely believe however that December will finally arrive this week – one last month to get through in this crazy year. I’ve been allowing myself to at least think about the coming year, what I would like to do and what I would like to accomplish along with what isn’t going to happen (travel) and how we’re going to manage that. Some of what I’ve been thinking about has been coming together and there will be some posts coming up about where we want to go and how we’re going to get there.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I am nearly half of the way through Caste. Thought-provoking does not come close nor do justice to the effect this book is having on me. The descriptions and examples of how we deal with race in America and why go beyond horrifying, shocking, disgusting, and rage-producing because they’re unfortunately all too predictable.
- Listening to: Brett is reading and YaYu is quietly listening to a podcast on her phone, and while there are blue skies outside there a nice breeze blowing so our background noise is rustling palm trees once again this morning. It’s delightfully cool though, and the humidity is low.
- Watching: We finished The Crown (Charles was awful – there, I’ve said it), and we’re now binge-watching Schitt’s Creek and loving it. We had our traditional viewing of The Descendants on Thanksgiving, and of course the final of the Great British Bake Off on Friday (and our favorite won!). I’d love to see GBBO go back to its roots next year though, and get away from some of the weird and unnecessary things/themes it’s been doing this season, like “Japanese Week.”
- Cooking/baking: It’s beans and rice night but this week we’re having the curried pumpkin chickenpeas with lime that I fixed and froze a few weeks ago. We’ll add lots of cilantro this time and also some chilis to spice it up a bit for YaYu’s tastes. We’ve still got quite a bit of leftover ham, so we’ll also having three-color Chinese salad (hiyashi chukka) this week to use up some more of it. Other things we’ll be having this week are hamburgers; chipotle chicken tacos; farmers’ market pasta (if I can get zucchini and basil at the farmer’s market); and pepperoni pizza. Ham sandwiches will figure frequently on our lunch menus. We’re finishing up our Thanksgiving lilikoi chiffon pie tonight and tomorrow I’m going to bake a chocolate cake which YaYu will top with her homemade ganache.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: We got a lot done this past week, or at least it seemed that way. 1) The frames I finally found for our two Hanapepe posters arrived this past week and Brett got those hung in the kitchen over the stove. With that task done the apartment is finished – there will be no more decorating or other household purchases. 2) In spite of some really awful weather this past week, Brett and I were able to walk every day with a minimum distance of three miles most days, and longer walks on Thanksgiving, Friday, and Saturday. We’re not sure of the distance we walked on Thanksgiving because the app was acting up, but we walked for a full hour and have decided to use time as our measure versus distance. 3) Brett finally got the coconuts we brought from the park opened up; we shredded the coconut meat to use for cooking and baking and have been enjoying the coconut water. 4) We got Meiling’s and YaYu’s Christmas presents mailed off, a more expensive proposition than we imagined but a necessary one. 5) I finished Level 5 of Japanese on Memrise and began Level 6. Level 5 was very difficult, and included lots of Japan-related political terms and such that I had difficult remembering. I am doing much better at remembering kanji overall, but worse it seems at remembering vocabulary. My grammar level seems to be holding steady though – some of it I get, some of it I don’t.
- Looking forward to next week: We’re happy that YaYu will be regularly going along with us to the park when we walk next week – so many friends we’ve made there have asked after her, and we know they will be happy to see her again (and she’ll be happy to see them). We’re going food shopping tomorrow, always a fun outing for me, and we will start getting some things for our Christmas meals – fun!
- Thinking of good things that happened: We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day in spite of rain off and on for much of it. The lilikoi pie was as delicious as hoped and has been such a wonderful treat. YaYu’s negative test this past week was of course the best news, and made for three negative tests in a 10-day period. Hopefully today’s test will be the last of it.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I signed up for a free one-week trial of HBO Max so we could watch The Descendants for free on Thanksgiving, then cancelled the subscription the next day so I wouldn’t forget and be charged. 2) It’s sometimes difficult on Kaua’i to find pantry/fridge staples at reasonable prices. For example, a 10-oz bottle of Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce costs between $5 – $6 in stores here (if we can find it, that is). That’s too much for me as we go through soy sauce fairly quickly, so I went ahead and ordered a 64-oz bottle available on Amazon for less than $17, a savings of nearly 50% overall, especially with free shipping. 3) I made a shopping list for our trips to Costco and Walmart tomorrow and we will stick to the list! 4) There was nothing this past week for the change/$1 bill jar – we spent our entire $20 again at the farmers’ market, and other than that trip we had a no-spend week. 5) I earned 2172 Swagbucks – with the holiday it was a somewhat difficult week to earn but I kept at it and reached my weekly goal of 2100 SB. 6) Leftovers here are disappearing at a fast pace now that YaYu is home, and nothing is being thrown out.
- Grateful for: I’m feeling very thankful for the good weather that returned this week and the cooler temperatures – it makes walking up at the park so pleasant and it’s much easier to add to our time and distance. Not having to dodge rain clouds, nor feel drained by heat and humidity after a couple of laps feels pretty darn nice.
- Bonus question: How much email is in your inbox? How many apps/icons are on your desktop? I’m one of those who tries to keep my email folder as empty as possible. I get lots of ads and other requests these days and almost all of those go right into the trash as soon as I see them. The only things that stay in my inbox for more than a day are reminders of some sort, like for a doctor’s appointment, but as soon as I don’t need them they’re deleted. Right now, for example, the only thing in my inbox is reminder I sent myself with ideas for future Sunday bonus questions. I keep a “saved” folder for things I need/want to keep track of, like YaYu’s flights, for example, and while we traveled I had a special folder filled with reservations for Airbnbs, flights, train trips, etc. but that folder has been deleted for the time being. My desktop is always clean – it drives me nuts to have stuff sitting there. My desktop photo is a shot from the Apple file of Catalina island. We used to be able to see the island from the kitchen window of our family beach house, so the photo brings good memories for me and I like to keep it clutter free.
And now we turn our eyes and hearts toward Christmas. We’re looking forward to having a very simple holiday here with just the three of us, and are starting to make plans for meals that day, and the very little bit of shopping we still need to do. I don’t think we’ll have a tree this year – there’s really no room in the apartment, and neither Brett nor I have seen anything we’re interested in getting. YaYu and I will be going out in the next couple of weeks to do our shopping for Brett – we’ve got a few ideas up our sleeves. I’m already thinking we’ll grill some steaks for our Christmas dinner this year, and have the rest of the menu to plan around that (stuffing has already been mentioned as everyone loved it). Our Christmas morning brunch will be different this year as well as YaYu is not crazy about bagels nor cream cheese (our traditional Christmas morning breakfast), and Brett and I don’t really want one either – too much bread for the both of us. It’s looking like we may have scones with some kind of curd (Tahitian lime? lilikoi?) along with smoked salmon and fruit. In the next couple of weeks YaYu and I are going to go through all our ornaments and divide them up to send to everyone next year. It will be an all-day job for the two of us, but it needs doing.
It was a very good week, if I do say so. Lots accomplished, frugality reigned, a good book to read, and our little family group together and well for Thanksgiving. I sincerely hope it was a lovely week for everyone as well – here’s to another great week coming up!