Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
Happy Hanukkah! Chag sameach! Wishing all who celebrate a joyous eight days filled with love, happiness, and blessings, along with a lifetime of light.
Brett and I enjoyed a lovely, quiet Thanksgiving last week. We took a hike on the nearby Maha’ulepu trail in Poipu, had a simple but yummy dinner, and watched The Descendants. Thanksgiving was always the one holiday I could count on Brett being gone when he was in the navy, so I enjoy being together now even if it’s just the two of us and all we’re having is a vegetarian casserole. Back in the day, when Brett was gone, our son and I would often go with friends to the enlisted chow hall on base for our Thanksgiving meal – for around $2.50 we could enjoy an amazing turkey dinner from soup to nuts, with delicious appetizers, every side dish imaginable to choose from, an amazing array of desserts, and even ham or roast beef if turkey wasn’t your thing. Loads of people of every rank showed up for that meal!
It’s honestly a bit unbelievable to me that we will slide into December this week. There are less than three weeks left until the girls arrive for Christmas, and all of us are getting more and more excited about being together again. This week I’ll finalize the menu for when they’re here so when that Brett and I shop this week as well as the day before Meiling’s and WenYu’s arrival we don’t forget anything. I wish we had a bigger refrigerator and freezer, but we’ll manage somehow. We’ll be spending time while they’re here sorting through their things and deciding what to keep and what to let go of or throw away, and also figuring out how to get everything they’re keeping back east. Most of all though we want to relax with them and enjoy being together on Kaua’i one last time. We’ve already got all our fingers and toes crossed that the weather will cooperate so we can get to the beach at least a couple of times, enjoy an evening out by the fire pit, and take a couple of hikes.
This morning I am:
- Reading: Another satisfying mystery, A Slow Fire Burning, was finished last Sunday afternoon, and afterwards I had to do some searching to find something new to read as none of the books I’ve got on hold are close to being available. The Scandinavian noir genre always seems to provide something new and different, and now about halfway through the Norwegian mystery, I’m Traveling Alone, by Samuel Bjork. It’s just as creepy as hoped for. I have just one more month to go in my year of reading mysteries, procedurals, suspense, etc. but there will be no theme next year – I have a stack a mile high now of other things I want/need to read.
- Listening to: It’s quite breezy outside this morning (and also quite cool) so sort of noisy whenever the wind gusts. Not a whole lot going on otherwise though so it’s mostly quiet out there. Brett’s eating his breakfast and reading, so once again it’s also a perfectly quiet morning inside. I still can’t get over how calm and peaceful our neighborhood is here versus when we lived in Kapaa.
- Watching: Our annual viewing of The Descendents on Thanksgiving was as special as always – we love the Kaua’i scenes even if they frequently get the geography wrong. We’ll finish the second season of Ted Lasso and Little Fires Everywhere tonight – both have been great. Friday evening we watched the Great British Bake Off finale, and my favorite baker this season, Giuseppe, won – I was so happy! We’re going to start watching The Morning Show tomorrow but are looking for a second show to go along with it.
- Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) Brett and I got started organizing and assembling some of the things for the girls to go through when they’re here. We pulled stuff out of closets and off shelves, and we put together a packet for each girl with all their important paperwork (adoption, citizenship, birth certificates, etc.) They’re all adults now and there’s no reason for us to be responsible for these things any more. Each girl will also get a package with the clothes they were wearing on the day we met them. 2) We got started as well on putting together a box for our son, with his baby book and some of his paperwork we still have for some reason. 3) Brett and I studied French every day for 20 minutes – we’re getting better but of course the lessons are getting more difficult as well.
- Looking forward to next week: There is nothing special on our calendar, but we’ll do a semi-Big Shop on Tuesday, and plan to continue getting things ready for the girls’ arrival. It feels good to sort through all these things we have. Another day at the beach is definitely a possibility, weather permitting.
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Last Friday, we enjoyed what we believe was the most perfect beach day we’ve ever had in Hawaii. The weather, temperature, breeze, number of people, etc. all came together for a wonderful, long afternoon at Shipwreck Beach in Poipu. There was lots of cliff jumping going on during the day and we had a birds’ eye view of it. The Maha’ulepu trail starts at the beach, after our hike on Thursday we decided to give the beach a try on Friday versus going to Barking Sands or Salt Pond. It turned out to be a very good decision! 2) I had seven Etsy orders this week, all hashioki. I love seeing which ones people choose and am happy the hashioki are heading to new owners. 3) I watched the Rick Steve’s Monday Night Travel show on England – he covered Oxford and the Cotswolds, with memory and anticipation coming together for me as we watched those sections of the show. We’re super excited to be going back to England next year. 4) Meiling sent photos on Thanksgiving of the traditional turkey dinner she prepared, with everything made from scratch – it was very impressive! All three girls have become very good cooks, with no thanks to me. Our son had to take a major licensing exam on Thanksgiving Day (which is obviously not a holiday in Japan), but our daughter-in-law and grandkids attended Thanksgiving at the American Club in Tokyo and enjoyed the full turkey dinner experience. 5) Our new avocado tree is ready to move from its jar into a pot with soil this week! 6) And, we got a new visitor last week – a kitten! He/She looks to be related to Allie Cat, is very shy and ran away anytime we got close, but did drink some of the water we put out. We’re hoping for a return visit!
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I ordered a pair of Duckfeet boots on Thanksgiving Day and received 20% off, a nice bit of savings on something I need/want for traveling. The boots I thought I would be purchasing were out of stock but I was able to find another pair in a color I liked. The price for the boots I got was slightly less than expected as well, so there were more savings. 2) We bought a much-needed roll of packing tape (between the past two weeks’ sales I went through an entire roll of tape), but otherwise we had a no-spend week. 3) We put 13 cents into the change/$1 bag (Brett found it on the ground yesterday), and our total saved so far this month from change/$1 bills is $12.59, although there may be more after Tuesday’s shopping trip (November 30). 4) We didn’t spend anything on eating out, ate all our leftovers, made a good start on emptying out the freezer, and didn’t throw away any food.
- Adding up the things we sold: Thirteen hashioki (seven orders) left the house this week and we sold the last two boxes of golf balls, so $110.53 will be going into our travel account this week. Three of the five Etsy orders were just one hashioki. It takes me less than 10 minutes to get an order ready now as I’ve gotten the packaging down to a science. There are only seven of the small boxes left that I use for mailing hashioki orders (a box can hold up to five or six of them), and I think when they’re gone I will close the shop or turn it over to one of the girls. The total for all the golf balls we collected over the past few months and sold was just over $200. Not a huge amount, and we could have probably made more selling them on eBay, but local sales worked for us: everyone was happy, it was easy, and it was pure profit for us. We had a lot of fun hunting for all the lost balls and got in some good exercise as well. November was a good month for side hustles: total going into our account from sales was $889.40.
- Grateful for: I am feeling both terribly sad about and thankful for the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial this past week. If not for a videotape that surfaced of his last moments and the police interacting with Arbery’s killers, there would have been no trial and the three men responsible for his death would have gone free. The horrific video showed that the police did nothing for Arbery when they were called to the scene (and he was still alive), and they even coached the murderers on how to behave and dress. While I am grateful justice was done with the murderers convicted and the first state prosecutor in jail for her abject failure to prosecute, I’m also terribly, terribly sad for the effort it took for the case to go to trial. I have to wonder how many other black men have been murdered for what seems to be basically sport, and the deaths and cases that never make the news let alone come to trial.
- Bonus question: What’s been your worst travel experience? I’ve probably told this story before, but back in 1999, I traveled to China with a friend to adopt WenYu (Brett stayed home with Meiling). She and I flew into Hong Kong for a couple of days of sightseeing and then orientation before heading to China to meet WenYu. On the long drive from the Hong Kong airport to the city my suitcase fell out of the trunk of our taxi where it was run over by a bus and sent flying to the complete other side of the freeway (I was very lucky the suitcase did not fall out on a bridge and end up in the Hong Kong Harbor). While we were stopped at the side of the road to figure out how to get over and get the suitcase, we watched a car stop and take my suitcase! I remember the taxi driver, my friend, and I standing on the side of the freeway jumping up and down, waving our arms, and screaming at the man not to take the suitcase, but even though he saw us he put it in his car and drove off. The suitcase contained baby clothes, diapers, formula and baby food, as well as my clothes for the trip so it was a very, very depressing moment and an inauspicious start to our journey. It turned out though the man who picked up the suitcase was a police detective! Apparently through communication between the police and the taxi company, the driver was told to bring us to a police station where after answering a couple of questions I got my suitcase back. We learned later the driver was heavily fined for not properly securing the suitcase and for keeping the meter running while we were in the police station! The suitcase had been smashed flat, but once we got in our hotel room I was able to get it open and found everything inside had somehow survived, even the glass jars of baby food (shout out to Samsonite hard side luggage!). The only things damaged besides the suitcase itself were some granola bars. I bought a new suitcase later that afternoon and the rest of the trip came off without any issues.
Finally, we have a new neighbor upstairs, a German woman who has moved in with the doctor living there. Brett asked him if she was visiting but he said, no, this was something “more permanent.” The two of them met just a couple of weeks ago, so things apparently got serious very quickly. She seems to work on a beach somewhere because there’s been a lot of sand appearing almost daily on the stairs up to our apartments, and we can hear the vacuum running upstairs many evenings as well. We think she might be either a yoga instructor, tai chi instructor, or a massage therapist because they’re the only occupations we know other than lifeguards that work out on the beach. According to what the doctor told Brett the other day, she left everything behind in Germany to come live on Kaua’i several months ago (and gave herself a Chinese name when she arrived). She doesn’t look a day over 30, if that, while the doctor is somewhere closer to 80 years old, so we honestly hope things go well for them. He still clomps around upstairs as much as always, but she is thankfully quiet and doesn’t make a lot of noise. He’s also hinted they may not be staying in the apartment upstairs much longer, but he paid us for another three months of Internet access so we’ll see.
This week was a good end to the month, with great weather, a lovely holiday, a beach day, a hike, and more. It’s still somewhat hard to believe December and the end of this year will be here so soon, but we are ready or as ready as we can be. I hope everyone had as a lovely week as we did – here’s to the one coming up!