Sunday Morning 5/2/2021: May, the Best Month

Tuesday’s sunset was flat-out gorgeous.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Is it really May already? The time really is speeding by even though our days seem so slow and relaxed. Besides being outright one of the best months of the year, May is a special month for me, with both Mother’s Day and my birthday happening within a few days of each other. My favorite treat for Mother’s Day has always been A Day of Doing Nothing, where the girls and Brett used to (and now just Brett) take care of all the chores, from bed making to cooking to laundry – whatever I normally do that day. My upcoming 69th birthday is giving me quite the pause for reflection, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got where I am today and all that I still have to look forward to. I clearly remember relatives at this age seeming positively ancient, and yet here I am and I still don’t feel old for the most part, both mentally and physically. My body tells me otherwise from time to time though, and it’s honestly become more difficult to keep up with all the technological changes, memes, and other cultural bits that are happening all around. I haven’t given up trying though, and am in a great place overall, looking forward to what’s to come.

We did a massive (for us) food shopping this past week as we had run out of so many things, from pantry staples to bread, protein, and produce. It was exhausting too but we have lots of variety on hand now and will be eating well in the coming month! The pantry, fridge, and freezer are stuffed. Costco had a big selection of lovely produce so we stocked up: loads of peppers, locally grown cucumbers because there haven’t been any at the farm stand lately, big, luscious artichokes (yum!), organic bananas, organic apples, melons, and avocados. Ripe strawberries are a treat here and aren’t in the markets very long, and Costco had organic berries at a very good price (almost better than non-organic) so we enjoyed those for a few days as well. Costco is the best place on the island to buy protein and we stocked up in that area as well because our freezer was near empty. No cleaning supplies or pharmacy items were purchased, nor were prepared or convenience items, and the only three non-consumable items in our carts on Tuesday were sunscreen and a pair of shorts, both on sale/special at Costco and on the list, and a 2-pack of paper towels at Walmart. Otherwise, it was all basic food items, building blocks for future meals. Prices are climbing here like everywhere, but Costco and Walmart continue to keep things affordable so we can stay on or under our budget.

It was overcast at our place when we left to go to the beach, but gorgeous and warm when we got there.

Although the weather at beginning of the week started off kind of sketchy, with a storm on Tuesday and rain all day Wednesday, the rest of the week has been very nice, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the beach yesterday. Our apartment is in a poor location for determining the weather in other parts of the island, so we always set off to the beach, for example, with our fingers crossed. It might look sunny over that direction, but the winds could be howling – we won’t know until we get there. Likewise, it can be overcast and windy here, but beautiful up at the park or at the beaches out west. Kaua’i has many microclimates operating over the island, actually one of the things we love about it here, but you can only guess sometimes about what you’ll find when you head off to another location. I am so happy May has arrived though! I’m hoping it will be full of beautiful Hawaii weather: warm temperatures, sunny skies, and just enough rain to keep things green and blooming.

This morning I am:

Sandra Pankhurst, the trauma cleaner.
  • Reading: I read and finished The Trauma Cleaner in four days, an absolutely wonderful book about a most remarkable woman. The book turned out not to be directly about crime (her service does clean up crime scenes or after deaths and suicides) but more about her life and what she has overcome to be the woman she is today. I enjoyed every minute of reading it. The Trauma Cleaner was also my 26th book of the year, so I’m now at the halfway point of my goal to read 52 books this year. My current book is Last Rituals, a novel of murder and suspense originally published in Iceland. It shouldn’t take long to finish, and hopefully by then something else will have come off hold from the library.
  • Watching: Nightly viewing of an episode of DCI Banks continues, and I’m now into the fourth (available) season of Great British Menu. This year the contest benefits the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and winning chefs will cook for a banquet for veterans of that day (the actual banquet was held on June 6, 2014). It will be interesting as always to see which chefs return this year, and what the new chefs bring to the competition. I’ve also come to enjoy the judges as much as the contestants – it’s always a surprise to see who gets assigned to each area (judges are selected from former banquet finalists).
  • Listening to: Although our upstairs neighbor is sort of thumping around this morning, it’s otherwise pretty quiet so far. It’s overcast outside, and there’s a soft breeze and a few birds singing, but much nicer than last night when the winds were howling through the yard and it was pouring rain. It’s actually warm enough that we’ve got the French door open. Rain is also predicted for much of today, but we’re hoping it will be missing this afternoon so we can get up to the park. We usually don’t go for a walk on Sundays, but if we’ll go today if possible because we missed walking yesterday (a beach visit got in the way). Brett just finished putting away all of last night’s dishes and is settling in with his reading, so it’s quiet once again inside.
The John Alden House in Duxbury, MA, is still maintained by his descendants. It looks a bit more weathered these days though than it does in this old postcard.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Another week with small accomplishments, but I did discover where in the UK two more of my family lines (my father’s paternal line, and my grandmother’s maternal line) came from: Barrow-in-Furness, near the Lake District, and Southampton on the southern coast. Three of my maternal grandmother’s lines came to America on the Mayflower (John Alden and Priscilla Mullins being the most famous), and my father’s paternal line came to South Carolina in 1762. That ancestor was apparently quite athletic, and before he left for the colonies had been captured by pirates off the coast of England, but jumped off the ship one night and successfully swam to shore and escaped (the other young man who jumped with him unfortunately drowned). What I found fascinating from that search was all the names that have been passed down and used again and again through the generations in my father’s family, both for men and women. So many Williams, Roberts, Isaacs, Johns, Esthers, Alvas, Sarahs, etc. over and over. My (maternal) grandmother’s father’s line has proved to be the difficult one, and I could only find information going back a couple of generations from her father but know he has Scots heritage. Other than learning more about my family and where we came from in England, all the other things needing to be done got done during the week.
  • Looking forward to next week: Although I’m not entirely looking forward to it, I have an appointment with the eye doctor this week and will most likely learn whether or not I’m going to need cataract surgery this year. My vision has been getting worse, so something is going on. I’m also hoping for more good weather so we can get to the beach again. Our goal for this year is to get to the beach 26 times, and we have LOT of catching up to do!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a lovely, relaxing afternoon at the beach again yesterday, our fourth beach day this year. There were lots of family groups at the beach park while we were there, and kids swimming – it felt good to see those happening again. On the way back from the beach we stopped in to see if the ReStore in Hanapepe still had some silk plants we had spotted before. They did, and we scored a big leafy palm tree in excellent condition for just $38. When we arrived last year, silk plants this size in the furniture stores were selling for over $500 (some online are going for $800) so we decided it was a worthwhile purchase, and we can sell it when we leave. We love the way it adds to the living room, and best of all, I can’t kill it!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We knew before we set out on our food shopping trip that we would be spending more than usual and budgeted accordingly. Because of what we bought now we’ll need very little in the middle of the month so the monthly food budget should balance out. Because we basically live in the same house, we’re going to share our Internet connection with our upstairs neighbor; he will pay half of the bill each month, and that money will go into our travel savings. We put $2.00 into the change/$1 bill bag this week, and saved a total of $21.18 in April. I earned 2,038 Swagbucks this past week, and 784 bonus Swagbucks for April!
I’m at an age now where balloons may be better than candles (photo credit: Caterina Berger/Unsplash)
  • Grateful for: This month I will celebrate the final year of my 7th decade, and I am very, very thankful to have gotten this far in what I think is very good shape and good health, all things considered, and in pretty good financial shape as well. I’m looking forward to the future and enjoying several more active years and adventures!
  • Bonus question: What is your favorite board game? Scrabble! Brett and I still play with the set that he and I bought when we first started dating, over 44 years ago. He usually wins (better letter draws at the beginning for some reason) but the games are still fun and thought provoking. I don’t know if it counts as an actual board game, but I love to play Yahtzee. Our original red plastic cup from 1980 (which had been fortified several times with duct tape) finally gave up the ghost right before we left Kaua’i in 2018, but we carried along a new cup and scorecards with us. Our family created our own version of the game, playing across the scorecard to fill the squares versus down each row one at a time. Our way goes faster, is more exciting, and involves more strategy as well. I also love playing Cards Against Humanity, and the old Trivial Pursuit (when the questions were harder). Otherwise, I am not a huge fan of board games although some of the ones available these days are amazing. I have a friend in Portland that’s deeply into them and her collection is fascinating as are the game themes. Still not my thing though – I prefer card games because they move faster than a board game.

In case you’ve ever been curious (but probably aren’t), this Sunday post does not actually get written on Sunday morning, or at least much of it doesn’t. I used to write the whole thing on Sunday, but it became such an effort that I decided there had to be a better way. These days I typically put up the template for the post on Tuesday, and as things happen throughout the week (books finished, things accomplished, good things, etc.) I make notes in the template. The actual writing doesn’t usually start until Friday and continues into Saturday, with pictures added on Saturday evening. I worry every week about not having enough pictures, but always seem to find them in the end. The most difficult part of the post is coming up with a bonus question, followed by what I’m grateful for, only because I am grateful for too many things to have to pick just one. On Sunday morning I go through everything one last time, add in what I’m listening to at the moment, and then hit “publish.” Hopefully the truth of how this post gets done has not destroyed anyone’s image of me sitting with my computer and just pulling this thing together effortlessly. I am not and have never been in any way, shape, or form an effortless writer. Writing is real work for me, but I love doing it.

All in all it was another quiet, but great week. Money was well spent, books were finished and started, good things happened, and I have much to be grateful for. I’m looking forward to the week coming up, and hope everyone out there is as well!

10 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 5/2/2021: May, the Best Month

  1. I was shocked you have only been to the beach four times this year, but then I seem to remember y’all were not allowed to go for a long time? Is my memory right or was that in the early days of Covid?

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    1. When we arrived here last year you could not go to the beach. They opened up gradually, and now are in full swing. We loved being able to go to the Poipu beaches when there were no visitors, but now they’re much too crowded for our taste.

      The weather so far this year has not been particularly beach-worthy, or at least it has seemed that way. It will get better though. We also seem to have plenty to do as well, and getting ourselves to set aside other things to go to the beach can be a real effort for us at times.

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  2. I used to do the same thing with my Sunday posts! I think it’s a much better and easier way to write it!

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  3. Sandra the trauma cleaner is such an extraordinary person – what a book! I also learned a lot about the recent cultural history of Australia while reading it. I have been working on family history, too, and came up with lots of good discoveries that fill in gaps! Your different flavours of Carr’s crackers look yummy.

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    1. Extraordinary is just one of many well-earned descriptors for Sandra. She is an inspiration. And I also enjoyed learned more about the recent cultural history of Australia. During our train ride across the continent we made a stop in Kalgoorlie, and the bus that took us out to view the gold mines drove us through the area where she worked for a while. When I read about her time there I could picture it, and how isolated she was during that time.

      We opened our first box of Carr’s yesterday – yummy!

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  4. The Trauma Cleaner sounds wonderful, and I’ve been trying to find one more book for my Kindle in preparation for my trip this week. To Southampton! 🙂 Maybe I will see some of your distant relatives and not know it.

    What a deal on that tree! I had a similar silk tree in my home in California, and like you, I loved that it needed nothing. I’m tempted to get another and replace the ‘real’ tree that DH refuses to part with. I like the visual addition to my front hall, but it’s a maintenance item now.

    Great idea on sharing the internet!

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    1. Lucky you to be heading back to England! Southampton is where the Pilgrims were from and sailed from, and John Alden was part of the Mayflower’s crew (a cooper) who decided to stay in America instead of returning to England with the ship. I’m very interested in finding our more about my dad’s side who came from the northwest. They were Quakers (still are, mostly) and I’m curious why they left (persecution or free land?). Anyway, we are anxious to get back to England, and are currently dreaming of doing a six-month stay there in the future. I hope you have a wonderful trip, and I know you’ll have a grand time with family and the baby.

      We LOVE our tree – it makes a huge difference to the feeling in the living room. Brett was really not sure about it, but now agrees buying it was the right thing to do. We are already planning to string it with lights and use it as our Christmas tree this year!

      We haven’t received anything from our neighbor yet although he’s already signed on, but he said he will pay us several months upfront. So far, so good.

      Oh, and I think you will LOVE The Trauma Cleaner.

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  5. “It’s May! It’s May! The Lusty Month of May when everything goes blissfully astray!” LOL I was singing this in the car over the weekend 🙂 I agree with you that it is my favorite month but due to the gorgeous weather, flowers, vivid green grass, sunshine, and longer days. May is to summer what Friday evening is to a weekend – the start with an entire summer/weekend stretching out in front of us.

    69 is a big number but I love how centered you seem in your life.

    Genealogy is fascinating. What tools are you using? My first ancestor to come to this country was a Scot who had been fighting against the British, was captured as a POW, put on a boat to cross the Atlantic in November, sold in Boston as an indentured servant, and worked in the Saugus Iron Works. This was 1650. We have never been able to trace where in Scotland he originated, but I recently found a DNA site with a project tracing the heritage of Scottish POWs in early America. Have to be a male direct descendant who takes the test.

    And it is a very WASP New England thing to repeat first names generation after generation (hence the common use of nicknames to distinguish between different family members) and then use family names as middle names. For example, my grandfather’s middle name was Griswold and I am one of four in my generation to have that as a middle name too. He was named after his grandfather and on and on it goes. I rather like this tradition.

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    1. The only tool I have tried so far is Ancestry (hated it) – I got better results from the family Wiki page! John Alden and Priscilla Mullins are well-known enough to have their own Wikipedia pages so found lots of information there. Brett has kept of a few of my family documents and we were able to match those with things I found on line. Lots of what I know comes from stories my grandmother told – she was heavily into genealogy and wrote a couple of books (all done before computers). Anyway, it’s all interesting, but really not my thing – I just like knowing the places they came from in the UK as we plan to go back.

      The naming thing continues in my generation! Our son is named after my brother, one of our daughters carries on my mother’s middle name, another has another family name for a middle name, and so on. Cousins children all have familiar family names scattered about as well. The younger generations seem to be breaking away and becoming more original.

      I adore May, even if it didn’t contain Mother’s Day and my birthday. I honestly think it’s the best month of the year, with spring in full-swing. My allergies are driving my nuts this year though.

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