Sunsets this week were pretty, but brief and sort of low energy.
Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
What a week this was, from the election results in Georgia to the insurrection at the Capitol, and the continuing aftermath of that. What happened at the Capitol, and why, was frightening, horrifying, and absolutely infuriating, and should never have gotten as far as it did. The more I learn about what happened (and what didn’t and should have), the more grateful I am that far worse didn’t occur. This wasn’t just people inside the Capitol taking selfies in front of statues, or with their feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. This was beyond a violent attempt to overthrow the past election – it was an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government, and there were people in that group who planned to do great harm (i.e. zip ties, guns, bombs, flash bangs were among the things found afterwards; a scaffold was built and a noose hung; people were shouting “death to Pence;” and on and on). People died, both rioters and a Capitol Police officer who was at his job defending the Capitol, and we can sadly no longer say that one of the hallmarks of American democracy is the peaceful transfer of power following an election. That distinction is gone forever. What happened in Washington D.C. this week deeply wounded our country, but in my opinion that was the intention all along. In spite of feeling that things will improve in 2021, I am still preparing myself for more of what happened this past week as I sadly believe things may only be getting started. One sign of the times popping up since last Wednesday: ads for camouflage combat wear/gear have been appearing on sites I visit.
Out on the Awa’awapuhi Trail
Back on Kaua’i we’ve had a great week for walking – the weather has been wonderful and just cool enough to making walking easy (I still work up a sweat though). Brett and I walked for over an hour on six days this past week, at 4.6 to 4.7 mph, so we’ve been getting a great workout. It was a breakthrough for me as the final lap we walk has always been a chore, but I had no reservations about adding it this past week. We’re going to keep this route for the rest of the month, and then will start adding another lap in February, one extra per week until we establish a longer route we can do every day. On Thursday, Brett and YaYu headed to Kokee State Park to do a 6.2 mile hike on the Awa’awapuhi Trail; I stayed home for some rest and for some sorely needed quiet time. The weather was again beautiful, the hike went well, but after hearing about it I am glad I didn’t go – apparently there was over a mile of continuous uphill walking on the way back, and both said that it was quite difficult and tiring. I know I’m not in any sort of shape yet to have handled that.
Meiling turns 25 today – 25!! We fell in love with her the moment we got our referral and her picture, and today is the 24th anniversary of the day I got “the call,” something we had begun to think wasn’t going to happen. I can still clearly remember meeting a scared little one-year-old baby girl in the hallway of the hotel we were staying at in China, dressed in several layers of clothing so that she looked like the Michelin Man, and carrying a bag of (Chinese) Cheetos. It wasn’t long before Brett and I discovered she was in fact a genuine spitfire, something that hasn’t changed one bit. She was the girl who watched us carefully as we opened the safety latches on the kitchen cupboards for a couple of days and figured out how to open them on her own (nothing was ever truly safe from her – we had to know where she was and what she was doing at all times). She was the girl who could eat onions like an apple and would eat anything we put in front of her. She was (and is) the girl who could draw amazing, detailed pictures at an early age. She could and can figure out almost anything if she sets her mind to it. She’s always been math, mechanical, technology, and art oriented – she wanted a vacuum cleaner from Goodwill instead of an American Girl doll for a gift when she was nine because, as she explained, she could take a vacuum cleaner apart, study it, and put it back together and that was way more practical than a doll – and it’s gratifying to see her doing so well in her post-college tech career. She’s always been a loving, generous daughter and sister, and we can’t wait to see her again.
This morning I am:
- Reading: The Woman in White is still by my bedside and gets read almost every night. It is an effort, but thankfully remains a good story. It has made me very glad that trends in novel writing has moved to being less wordy. My goodness, it seems to take Wilkie Collins 100 words to say the same thing as current writers say in 10. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was a great but very sad and sobering read; there was no happy ending. I finished it yesterday, and as of today my new “day book” will be Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – I’m starting it this afternoon.
- Listening to: I was expecting to wake up to clouds and rain this morning, but instead of rain I’m Iistening to a lovely, cool breeze blow through the trees, and the sky is a beautiful blue! Yeah! It’s quiet inside – Brett is reading, and YaYu just woke up. My kind of morning!
- Watching: Brett and I are still watching Dark, and then the three of us have been getting together afterwards to watch a couple of episodes of Cobra Kai. It’s better than we expected and we are all enjoying it. YaYu and I also usually got in an episode of Top Chef: Louisville most days last week but have several more episodes to go before the final. Yesterday evening we watched the movie Prom on Netflix, starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and James Corden -we loved it!
- Cooking/baking: Last week seemed to involve an awful lot of time in the kitchen for me (and lots of dishes for Brett), so I want to take a bit easier this week and let YaYu do more of the cooking. She’ll be making Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs for our dinner tonight. Other meals will be Instant Pot pork chops and sauerkraut with apples and bacon; ham fried rice; mabo tofu; InstantPot chicken risotto; and chicken tikka masala pizzas. I baked an olive oil orange cake yesterday, and we’ll be having a small piece of that topped with a spoonful of Monkeypod orange-chocolate sauce for the next few days – so yummy! Later this week I’m planning to make a dark chocolate cake frosted with a coffee buttercream.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Besides getting lots of walking done, I was able to take care of almost everything on my activity card this week, although it’s going to take me a few weeks to find a rhythm to fitting everything in. I am using this video for a 10-minute strength training session every day (in a couple of months I hope to knock it up to two sessions a day). I finished Level 6 of Japanese on Memrise (yeah me!) and will begin using Japanese for Busy People and an online kanji course this week, still just for 20 minutes/day. I also decided to use the Memrise French program again for now (the MIT program required three expensive textbooks which I didn’t want to purchase).
- Looking forward to next week: Fingers are crossed for continued good weather as we hope to head up to Kilauea and hike the Stone Dam trail again this week. We really would like to get to the beach as well, but it’s been just a bit too cool for us.
- Thinking of good things that happened: Brett’s and YaYu’s hike was a very enjoyable experience for both of them, and I needed a quiet day off more than I realized. We finally got around to using the new milk heater/frother that Meiling gave me for Christmas, and Brett made some very tasty cappuccinos this past week. The frother was so quiet though I had no idea it was even being used! YaYu was able to get together with one of her good friends yesterday and was happy about that. Her friend has been working, and had to return back to school yesterday (on Oahu), but they managed to find some time to get together and catch up.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We put $2 into the change/$1 bill jar, leftover from the farmers’ market. I bundled $25 of $1 bills to go to the bank this next week. Last week was a no-spend week other than the farmers’ market. We ate all of our leftovers and there was no food waste. I earned 2,265 Swagbucks, which includes 587 bonus SB for making my goal every day in December. Earning SB was difficult several days this past week, but I’m staying patient and focusing on making my daily goal for now. Hopefully things pick up next week.
- Grateful for: My very occasional expressions of politics on my blog sometimes upsets some people for some reason, but I’m grateful this week for three things: the election results in Georgia; the certification of Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’s Electoral College win; and that the insurrectionists/rioters were removed from the Capitol and that there are already charges for some and more are coming. In spite of all that happened, democracy won the week, but my beloved country will have to remain extremely vigilant going forward in order to keep it.
- Bonus question: What food do you think about most from your travels? Pizza! While we expected to find pizza in Italy, we discovered tarte flambé in Strasbourg and fell in love with that and I dream of eating it again in our favorite city. Those pizzas remain one of the top three meals I enjoyed during our travels. We also had an unusual but delicious Moroccan pizza when we were in Rotorua, New Zealand, topped with dried apricots and cream cheese. We were a little wary when we saw it on the menu and read the ingredients but decided to give it a try and were very pleasantly surprised – the pizza was flavorful and the apricots and cheese fit right in. The apex of pizza for me though was learning to make Napoli pizza from a master during our time in Florence. I created a simple pizza with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, and truffles, and every bite was a revelation (especially the crust!). The pizza-making experience was everything I hoped for and more as well. We ate other pizzas while we were in Florence, but the one I made in our pizza class was the best, from start to finish. The pizza we had in Rome was very different, but I loved the experience of going into a shop and having a slice of the variety I wanted cut from a huge rectangular sheet pan and then weighed to determine the cost. The crust was entirely different than what we’d had before, more like focaccia, but still very good. We also ate pizza in Normandy, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and England, and we could have had it in Hong Kong if we desired. The only places I don’t remember seeing pizza were Uruguay, Paris, Lisbon, and India, but I’m pretty sure it exists in all three places. Other than pizza, I still dream about the dinner our Strasbourg host prepared for us in her home: duck confit, potatoes, a Mirabelle plum tarte, and an assortment of wines and cheeses. It was pure food heaven along with some very good company.
I am once again going to take some time off from writing beginning this week, for two weeks this time. I have been having difficulty finding time and inspiration to write these past few weeks, and have realized it’s time to rest and recharge and think about how I want the blog to be going forward. I have also come to realize I can either blog or start writing a book but not both, so I want to think about that as well. These first few days of the year have been busier than I imagined, with more daily activities to complete, longer walks, etc., and finding time to write for the blog has frankly been difficult (although never a chore). I’m not giving up, but want some time to reflect and think about a direction that will work for me going forward, things I’d like to write about, and so forth. For those that just subscribed I hope you’ll stick around . . . I will be back on January 24.
That’s a wrap for now! Here’s hoping for a calmer week going forward, with good things happening and time for all to breathe. Wishing two good weeks for all ahead, and I’ll see you in 14 days!