Sunday Morning 6/13/2021: Sunsets, Rising Prices, and Reunions

The whole week was a sunset art installation.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Every week now we see prices are going up everywhere, and Kaua’i has certainly not been spared. Gasoline is now close to $4/gallon at Costco, the cheapest place on the island; other places on the island it’s over $4. Food costs are climbing, and restaurant prices are getting crazy. I know last year had a profound effect on the economy here, but I was frankly shocked by what was being charged for a simple fish sandwich at the restaurant where we had lunch with our niece on Friday. The restaurant caters to visitors, and we ended up sharing a sandwich instead of ordering individually (we frankly also didn’t need the calories). We usually stick to more “local” places on the island because the prices tend to be lower, but they’re not immune to price hikes either. With housing prices on the island at stratospheric levels and very few affordable rentals available we feel extremely lucky to have found our place when we did and at the price we did – there’s nothing available now that wouldn’t kill our budget or just be downright unaffordable for us. I have no idea how young families can afford to live here, at least without family support and parents working two to three jobs each. We have enough income to cover the price increases (so far), and we love Kaua’i and love living here, but saving for our next Big Adventure is beginning to turn into a challenge, and for the first time I’m feeling a little bit bittersweet that we have plans for the future that will take us off the island.

I put our three Japanese hibachis up on Craigslist and our local Buy & Sell group this past week, mainly to see what sort of interest they generated, if any. The ads have gotten lots of views, but no takers (yet), probably because while the hibachis are pretty, they’re purely decorative, and those sorts of things sell slowly. However, when I talked with Meiling this week, she suggested I create a shop on either Etsy or eBay for all the Japanese items we’ll be selling, and that she and WenYu could help me set one up when they’re here in December, taking the photos, writing copy, etc. In the meantime, I can research and come up with prices for various items as well what shipping costs back to the mainland would be. I’m going to keep the current ads up for another week or so, but her idea is a good one and will give me something to do until they get here – we have a LOT of Japanese things we need to sell.

Brett’s beach chair was emblematic of the windy week we had. If he wasn’t sitting in it, the chair immediately blew over (and it’s not light). Forget putting up an umbrella.

We have been living in the center of a vortex this past week, or at least that’s what it’s felt like – the winds have been blowing loud and hard around our house almost every day. There have thankfully been lots of blue skies, but the clouds don’t hang around and have been racing across the sky like they need to get somewhere in a hurry. Brett has had to clean the koi pond in the yard a couple of times every day (usually he does it once a week or so) because of all the leaves and such that are being knocked down by the wind. The temperature has remained cooler than usual too – by this time in the year we should be starting to complain about the heat and humidity, but not this year. It’s been great for walking though, and I’m going to enjoy it as long as it lasts because I know the heat is coming.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ve had two books going again this past week and finished both, A Fatal Grace and A Murder of Quality, by John leCarre, yesterday. Blue Sky, the fifth book in the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson, has been downloaded and started.
  • Listening to: For the first time in days, the wind this morning is a gentle breeze once again instead of a freight train roaring through the yard and trees. There’s nothing else going on out there either so it’s deliciously quiet except for some birds singing their hearts out. Brett is reading so it’s quiet inside as well, but he’s already set up everything in kitchen for me to make pancakes. Coffee first though.
  • Watching: We started the second season of The Unforgotten this past week. It’s such a good series and so well done (which explains why it was on Masterpiece Theater). I’m finishing up the last available season of Great British Menu – the chefs are cooking for a summer banquet celebrating the 140th anniversary of Wimbledon. This past week I also watched Tora! Tora! Tora!, the 1968 film about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, on YouTube. It’s historically accurate (mostly), and starred many great actors, both American and Japanese. I had a somewhat surreal experience the first time saw this film in 1971: I was the only American in a theater in Hiroshima watching Pearl Harbor being attacked. Anyway, one day this week I’m going to settle in and watch The Longest Day (over three hours long), and the week after I want to watch Midway. Both are also available for free on YouTube. These films let me geek out on history for a while.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: So glad to have that filling replacement over and done with because an afternoon at the dentist is not my idea of a good time! It was actually the least painful procedure I have ever had done, including the shots . . . until the Novocaine wore off, that is. It took two full days for my jaw and gums to return to normal. I also got my annual lab work done this past week and all is well for the next year. Otherwise, we enjoyed a very relaxing week with just the usual things accomplished.
  • Looking forward to next week: Other than a big food shop this Tuesday, we have another week coming up with nothing on the calendar, so we’re again looking forward to a relaxing week, with maybe a trip or two to the beach if the weather allows. The daughter of one of my dearest Portland friends is visiting Kaua’i right now, and we’re getting together for dinner tonight and looking forward to that. Finding a reservation somewhere was a bit of an accomplishment – every restaurant on the island seems to be booked solid for days – but we’re heading down to Hanapepe for an early dinner at Japanese Grandma’s Cafe, where Brett and I had lunch on our anniversary last March.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a great reunion with our niece and her family, visiting from Colorado. They were in Maui last week and on Kaua’i this week, and I don’t think I’d be wrong to say Kaua’i has been their favorite of the two. We enjoyed lunch at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu and had a good long catch-up – fun! Afterwards they headed across the street to spend the afternoon at Poipu Beach Park, and Brett and I headed home, changed into our swimsuits and went ever to Salt Pond for some beach time. It was an exciting visit for us as there was a BIG monk seal swimming in the pond, and at one point I nearly had a close encounter with it when it passed just three feet in front of me. Eventually it found a safe space to get out, bask in the sun, and sleep.

There was a very big seal out there somewhere!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We only had a small amount of spending this past week: bought gas for the car and mailed a package to the mainland (our niece treated us for lunch). We put $1.83 in the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 1,851 Swagbucks. I am finally on my way to earning a fourth Delta gift card, two weeks ahead of schedule! Lots of leftovers were eaten and enjoyed this past week, and nothing got thrown out.
  • Grateful for: We grow more and more thankful every month that Brett stayed on active duty and retired from the navy, and that we now have a reliable source of income and good benefits that provide a very good quality of life for us in spite of rising costs. We know how fortunate we are for what we have and receive, and we are grateful for it every day.
  • Bonus question: If you could live someplace other than the U.S., where would you choose? Japan remains our top choice, for obvious reasons. It would be difficult place to live for a variety of reasons, primarily because of the language, but it’s also a country and system we understand and can adapt to. Because of the U.S. military bases there it’s also a place we can get medical treatment and use the commissaries and exchanges, both which would make life easier for us. There are several places we know we could live in Europe, but our first choice would be Strasbourg with Lisbon not far behind (even with all the hills and cobblestones, and being sick for almost our entire visit we loved it). We felt both of those cities were ones where we could live comfortably. We could also happy live in England, although the late fall and winter weather could be a bit of a problem for us. It got very gloomy when we were there, but otherwise we enjoyed everything about it other than we would probably have to own a car there as well.

Once again time seems to be both moving quickly and not fast enough. We’re entering the second half of June this week – that sure came up fast – but July and the rest of summer still seems very far away, let along December and the girls’ visit. When I think of getting ready for them though there seems to be very little time to get ready (buying presents, stocking up on food, etc.) while at the same time I know their time here will be over in a blink of the eye or at least seem that way. I’m trying hard to be more mindful and enjoy the present here on Kaua’i because when we leave next time it will be for good. At the same time, I’m ready to start traveling again now so it’s a difficult balance to maintain, and one I think will only get harder going forward.

That’s a wrap for this week! We had a very, very nice week overall, and I hope it was the same for everyone. Here’s to the week coming up – may it be another great one (raising my virtual glass)!

8 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 6/13/2021: Sunsets, Rising Prices, and Reunions

  1. Some beautiful sunsets there! Glad you are having some relaxing weeks. Somehow things have become very busy for us – the last month or so, we have been going nonstop. And it continues – we’ll be out of town most of the next two weeks. I have several projects that I want to get to, but maybe they will just wait until fall! But it’s all good. We’re doing things we enjoy and being with people we like being with, so we’ll just go with the flow for this season.
    Have a great week!

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    1. Last week’s sunsets were fantastic – there was a good one every evening, and we got to enjoy them all from the comfort of our sofa!

      We had two meetups from with mainland friends and family this week within a day of each other, and it was almost too much for us. We are getting old! We seem prefer our lazy days now and each other’s company, and not a lot of things on our calendar now. The days still move by pretty quickly.

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  2. Having difficulty posting so apologies for the possibility of multiple submissions!
    We too are empty nesters also trying to downsize possessions. There’s something to be aware of with Ebay sales (not sure about Etsy). Starting next year 1099-ks will be issued in all states for accumulated sales over $600 in a calendar year. There has been a fair amount of discourse on various forums regarding taxability, and how to report sales included on the 1099-k. Technically, if you are the equivalent on an online garage sale, the cost of your items would exceed the sales price and there would be no gain to recognize. Nonetheless with the issuance of a 1099-k there is the question of how to report if you are not recognizing any income. Do you NOT include the 1099-k amount in income with no explanation, but keep documentation in case of an audit? Alternately, do you include the 1099-k income minus cost to show a net of zero taxable income somewhere on the tax return? It’s one of those areas open to interpretation. Moreover, many sellers no longer have the receipts proving cost basis. Regardless of my opinions about this new twist on ebay sales, I thought that you might want to be aware of tax implications before moving ahead with listings.
    You two are my heros!

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    1. Thanks for this information – it’s important. Maybe I’ll only sell a few things, and split them up between Etsy and eBay. I’ll probably make less than I think, and things will get sold for less or the same that we paid for them all those years ago, so no profits. Slow and steady on Buy&Sell and Craigslist may be the way to go.

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  3. Was it uncomfortable being the only American in the cinema watching Tora?

    I wonder how the locals manage on the islands? Those that live there “forever”. They can’t compete with tourists.

    That wind would send me barmy.

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    1. Yes, it was a bit uncomfortable. I felt like all eyes were on me, but I also felt the entire theater shared a sort of collective guilt as we watched about what we did to each other during the war.

      I have no idea how locals are managing now, especially young couples or families. There is a strong culture here of families sticking together, so that young people don’t feel the need to move out on their own right away, and there is lots of house sharing going on. People who bought homes here in the 70s and 80s are millionaires now though. It’s very discouraging for all though to see what are basically shacks going for half a million dollars.

      The wind for the most part is welcome because it keeps the humidity low in the apartment and the temperatures cool without A/C. When it’s bad though the noise is just awful.

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  4. Everything does seem to be increasing in price. We have always considered Hawaii really expensive, so I can only imagine how it is now. Yikes. Hopefully once the supply chains get back in line, things will improve a bit for all of us. The world has changed, that’s for sure.

    Interesting comment by docamocha re: eBay issuing 1099-k tax forms. I have been put off recently by their move away from Paypal and requiring me to add a bank account that they can use to pay me or charge me for fees. I suppose it’s no different than EFT payments to other vendors but for some reason it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And they’re holding the money longer. Paypal always transferred the money straight away. Everyone has an angle.

    If I had to move, I’d probably choose Canada. They have the closest culture to ours that I’ve experienced and I do love many of their cities. 🙂

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    1. We all have our fingers cross that things will calm down after a while here, but for now it’s crazy. When Costco gas is nearly up to $4/gal you know it’s bad though.

      The other day I looked into selling some books on both eBay and Amazon. There were so many hoops to jump through, and Amazon now wants $39/month to register as a seller (and I could not find a way to opt out as a one-time seller). That’s more than the books are worth – I’d rather donate. You’re right, everyone has an angle. For now, Etsy looks to be the easiest option, but eBay may be better for some items, so we’ll see.

      I had never though of Canada! I guess we tend to think that if we’re going to move to a foreign country it should be, well, foreign. But Canada would be a lovely place to live.

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