Sunday Morning 11/29/2020: Heading into December (finally)

There were sadly almost no photo-worthy sunsets this week: either there were too many clouds or no clouds at all, and the sun seemed to disappear very quickly. We did get some breathtaking views out to Niihau and Lehua though from the top of Kukuiolono Park during our walks.
Saturday evening tried, but this small effort only lasted a few minutes and then turned completely gray.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

The end of a rainstorm almost always means there’ll be a rainbow. We could see where the pot of gold was located with this one.
A fully-arched rainbow is always enough to get us to stop and stare for a few moments. This one was a double!

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 relaxing on Thanksgiving Day with some adult coloring. I love her hair color – it’s actually blue but has a greenish tinge in this photo.

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.”
    I think we have a new Thanksgiving tradition! Hamura’s lilikoi chiffon pies are legendary. The filling is flavorful but light as a cloud, and melts in the mouth. Pure heaven.
  • 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.
    The Hanapepe posters came from Hanapepe (!) – one of our favorite Kaua’i towns. They were the perfect finish to the kitchen and our home decor.
  • 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.
    We have lots of coconut now; I just need to think up some ways to use it.
  • 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.
    A clean desktop keeps me very happy and calm. This picture of Catalina Island is very calming too.
  • 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.
The Iron Deer sporting some holiday finery!

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!

14 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 11/29/2020: Heading into December (finally)

  1. Aah, feeling connected in that we were gazing at Catalina Island from Doheny last night, and from our home here on the hill we can see San Clemente Island.

    You have inspired me to begin planning out our December calendar. It’s going to take an effort to put the ‘special’ in December this year, but I am thankful, like you, to live somewhere temperate and beautiful. Basically if it is outside, festive, and relatively uncrowded, we will likely be there.

    Your holiday breakfast plans sound lovely!


    1. Believe it or not, I have never actually been to Catalina! Living in SoCal, it was just one of those things that never happened. My great uncle owned the hotel & casino for a while, but that was before my time – if he had still owned it back then I’m sure we would have gone. Something else to add to my bucket list, I guess. BTW, we could also see San Clemente Island from our house, but these days there a great big two story house in the lot next door, so that’s the view.

      I agree with you about putting the ‘special’ in Christmas this year, but we’re going to try. We picked up a few things for the holiday at Costco today (including Bubbie’s mochi ice cream in holiday flavors – gingerbread, peppermint ice cream, and chocolate eggnog), so we’re slowly moving along. But, normally I’d be excited about decorating the tree but just am not feeling it this year. Like you, we’ll be outside as much as possible, and no crowds.

      The salmon is traditional but the scones will be new this year – YaYu makes them and they’re terrific!


  2. I like her hair too!
    It was in the low 70’s here until today and now it is pouring rain and a cold front will be here tomorrow and be much colder.
    The pie looks fabulous!


    1. We’ve had nice weather for the past few days and almost don’t know what to do with ourselves! Fingers are crossed now for some pretty sunsets, but they seem to come and go fairly quickly these days.

      Hamura’s lilikoi pies are amazing. Their saimin is famous, but I go there for the pie! We didn’t realize until we visited there this past January though that you could buy a whole pie from them.


  3. I believe it is just Kauai that is going back to the 14-day quarantine requirement? That is what I read in the news yesterday, that the governor of Hawaii approved a request by Kauai’s mayor for a temporary moratorium on its participation in the pre-travel testing program. The mayor is concerned about hospital capacity on Kauai.

    Does YaYu have any recommendation for adult coloring books? Looks like fun!


    1. You are correct about this change happening only in Kaua’i. It is necessary here as there are only nine ICU beds on the island, and there have been way too many cases popping up lately. I have to give our mayor a ton of credit – he has been on this from the beginning, and has had to make some tough choices for the island, but we’ve stayed safe. I do feel badly though for all the people who have finally been able to go back to work with the reopening; that will all go away again for the time being.

      The coloring book is one I got for Christmas from Meiling a few years ago – it’s called ‘Secret Tokyo’ and is a lot of fun. Sadly, I have no other suggestions.


  4. A year ago today I was on a plane headed for Kauai on a two week vacation. Little did I know that would be my last long distance trip for years (most likely). I’m so grateful that I took that trip when I did.

    I’m not surprised Kauai has returned to the 14 day quarantine. That seems like the only option if the virus has been spreading and you’re seeing a lot of tourists. Kauai just can’t afford to risk an outbreak.

    The lilikoi pie looks amazing! I still have never had it. We were going to stop at Hamura’s last year but just never got around to it. It’s on my list of places to visit next time (whenever that will be).

    Poor YaYu–waking up at 3:00 am? Ugh, but at least it’s only for a couple of weeks. But if she still has jet lag, maybe it won’t be so bad for her if she’s still on eastern time.

    I remember some chilly nights when I was there last year. That was the first time I’d been there in December and I liked the lower temps and humidity, but I’m sure it’s a shock to the system if you live there and are used to much warmer temps.

    Thanks for the rainbow pictures!


    1. It turned out YaYu’s class started at 9:00 a.m. so she got to sleep in until 4:00 a.m. here. Once it warmed up enough she took her stuff out to the deck and did her classes out there – it was fun hearing her Chinese lesson – she is so fluent.

      Hopefully you’ll be able to get here sooner rather than later, but who knows what next year will bring. I’m hearing the next few months are going to be awful and to be prepared. YaYu is already debating whether she will go back to PA for the next term – it will depend on how bad things are then. Bryn Mawr did a good job last term at keeping their students safe, but the travel for YaYu may be unwise, vaccine or not.

      This past weekend it was COLD. Once you acclimated to normal temps here, when it drops into the 60s it is downright chilly (and uncomfortable). Today is a little better so hopefully the cold temps have moved on. It has been nice for walking though.


      1. Does YaYu know yet if all her classes will be online next term? My oldest nephew is a senior and just found out he got a job for after he graduates! It’s in California though so very far from here, which makes me sad since we’ll hardly ever see him, but I was thinking how you’ve been able to handle it with all of your kids living far, so we’ll adjust and figure it out.

        I agree things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. I’m prepared, and am hoping the vaccine works and this will all be nothing more than a bad memory soon. I really doubt I’d feel comfortable making the long flight to Kauai next year, even if things are better, so I’m thinking it’ll be more like 2022, but we’ll see.


      2. This past term students had the opportunity to stay home and take classes remotely, so I’m assuming they will offer the same for the spring term. Whether or not she goes back will be determined by how badly the pandemic is raging in January.

        Congrats to your nephew! We feel the same way about the distance between WenYu and Meiling – both are staying back east. YaYu is already planning to go on to grad school though, but has no idea yet where that will be.

        2022 is the earliest we will feel safe traveling as well. We’re hoping with the vaccine available that our son and family will come to Kauai next year, maybe at Christmas when the girls plan to come as well (not sure where we’ll put everyone though).


  5. My screen changes with my mood. It’s usually one of my travel photos – one of my favorite uses for them. Right now, though, it’s a photo of the High Sierra by Apple. I keep my desktop clean except for a few folders on the edge. As for my email, I have sorted it into categories with filters, but my Inbox tends to get full and I have to sit and purge. I’m due again.

    I love YaYu’s hair color. It sounds like her trip went well and I’m sure her last Covid test will too.

    I’m halfway through The Crown and have to agree. What a giant man baby Charles is. But what a joy Schitt’s Creek is…I may have to watch it all again. Have you seen Roadkill on PBS Masterpiece? I love Hugh Laurie, so I’m enjoying it. It’s a political show with human back stories, which I always love.


    1. I actually like the Apple offerings that came with my new computer. In the past some of them have been a bit weird, but these one I can recognize (Catalina and Yosemite NP, my favorite). I have tried to use my own photos but for some reason they’ve all gotten bumped by the Apple ones. I guess I’ll have to have YaYu figure out what I’m doing wrong!

      YaYu sleeps out on the sofa, and yesterday I discovered her hair color all over one of the cushions. I was thankfully able to get it out before it became permanent, but she now has to make sure the entire area where she sleeps has protective coloring. One of our pillowcases is also now permanently blue, but that’s easy to replace.

      We don’t get PBS (streaming only at our house) but there are ways to bring it up on our TV. I will check it out. Currently Brett is into Scandanavia mysteries/crime procedurals. The current one, Deadwind, is again from Finland, but it’s not dubbed and we’ve discovered that Finnish sounds somewhat like Italian if you’re not paying close attention. We are loving Schitt’s Creek.

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      1. Interesting…my mother is Finnish and I grew up listening to my grandparents speak Finnish when they didn’t want the kids to know what they were saying. 🙂 I hadn’t thought about it sounding like Italian. I’ll have to listen to both sometime and compare them.


      2. Now that I know it is not Italian, it sounds completely different. But it took me a while to accept that it was not Italian. It was sort of like how listening to Korean is for me – it sounds close to Japanese, but I have to listen carefully for a few moments to make sure it’s not Japanese.


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