Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka! Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
Happy New Year! We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve with YaYu, and were ready at midnight with some wine to toast in 2022, but headed to bed shortly after midnight. Fireworks started going off on our street before 7:00 p.m. but rain kept the noise tamped down until midnight when everything seemed to explode again. This is Brett’s and my 44th year of celebrating the arrival of a new year together. It would have been the 45th, but we missed being together in 1991 because he was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. My favorite celebrations were the years we lived in Yokohama – New Year’s is the BIG holiday in Japan, and at midnight all the ships in Yokohama harbor would blow their whistles for an hour – it was very exciting. We used to get the girls up to bang on pots and pans when they were little, but otherwise we’ve always kept our celebrations low key, and this year was no different. We kept busy on our first day of the new year packaging up art we’ll be storing during our travels.
One upside to all the rain is that we didn’t have to listen to hours of these being set off. There still was a lot of firework action at midnight though, rain or no rain.
We have much to look forward to this year, but our greatest wish is that our country and the world is somehow able get a better handle on the COVID situation. I believe that those who refuse to be vaccinated at this point are dug in and sadly nothing, not evening getting sick from the virus, is going to change their minds, but I have hope that more areas of the world will have access to the vaccine which will lesson its transmission around the globe. We chatted with a neighbor this past week, a nurse at our local hospital, and the stories she told us were frightening, horrifying, and extremely sad. Nurses and doctors are burned out, and some have left or are leaving the profession creating more work for the ones remaining and affecting care for all patients. She told us of patients near death but their families either still refusing to be vaccinated, or of patients begging the doctors to give them the vaccine then. And, apparently more than one person dropped off an elderly parent at the hospital and then left Hawaii to spend Christmas on the mainland (and if something like that happened here, it happened on the mainland as well). That was beyond anything I could imagine anyone doing, but it sadly it occurred more than once.
Our view from the front door this week was almost always clouds and rain.
If I had to pick one word to describe this past week it would be gloomy. There’s been rain every day, all day, beginning last Tuesday, or gray skies filled with low clouds and cooler than usual temperatures. Thunder and lightening rolled over us last night, waking everyone. We’ve gotten out to run errands, but have mostly been stuck inside (thankfully we’ve had plenty to do). The worst part of it was learning nothing is supposed to change for maybe another week, although Brett and YaYu are hopeful they can get out for a hike by the end of the week. I’ve always felt sorry for those who’ve spent a ton of money to come here for a vacation and arrive to bad weather, but I feel exceptionally sorry for those who came this week. It’s been miserable.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I got very little reading done this week – I’ve been busy during the day, and when my head hit the pillow at night I was asleep before I knew it. I thought a book or two would have come off hold from the library by now, but I’m still in the same position on hold I was three weeks ago. eBooks are apparently not being returned on time!
- Listening to: It’s still cold and gloomy outside, and I’d think I can see some tiny bits of blue sky peeping out, but it may be just another layer of clouds. There are birds singing though and for some reason chickens are screaming really loudly outside – they seem to be across the street. Inside is quiet though – YaYu is waking up, and Brett’s reading and catching up on the state of the world. Things will get noisy here later; but for right now my coffee is hot and delicious so I’m in my happy place (although I wish those chickens would quiet down).
- Watching: We’ve been watching a new series, You, on Netflix, about an obsessive stalker/serial killer. Sounds awful but the show’s done very well and we’re into Season Two of three seasons. We’ve also kept up with new episodes of Dexter, Shetland, and the new season of Cobra Kai. We’re also rewatching Only Murders In the Building with YaYu, a new show for her.
- Happy we accomplished last week: 1) We mailed five packages off last Monday to Meiling, WenYu, and our son. On Tuesday we mailed off another package to our granddaughter, a woodblock print of The Princess and the Pea. 2) I packed all our Christmas items for shipment and storage, and also began packing some of the pottery we’ll be keeping this past week. Those boxes will get mailed in a few weeks. We’re using flat-rate boxes whenever possible, but will picked up some bigger, heavier boxes this week for some of the larger, heavier pottery pieces. 3) YaYu renewed her Hawaii driver’s license and is covered through 2026. 4) We cleaned out the refrigerator and then did a Big Shop on Thursday and filled it up again! We’re good to go for another two weeks. 5) Brett bought himself a new computer on Wednesday, a small, lightweight PC. He loved his iPad, but needed/wanted some features that come with a PC. YaYu will be taking Brett’s old iPad back to school with her which she’ll update with a new keyboard and case. Her current computer is on its last legs as well.
- Looking forward to next week: YaYu and I plan to visit the very close by Lawai International Center next Sunday, a Buddhist retreat and temple that’s located almost right around the corner from us. Tours are given a couple of days each month so we signed up. Afterwards we want to have lunch at Kiawe Roots, a new restaurant serving Hawaiian-style dishes using local ingredients, located in the old Monkeypod Jam store. After all the miserable weather this past week, we’ve all got our fingers crossed for a beach day or a hike but know that’s probably not going to happen.
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1) WenYu and Meiling made it safely back to the mainland with all their things and no extra charges for all their heavy luggage. 2) I had four Etsy sales, always a good thing, and would have had one more but had to cancel it when the customer ordered two of the same item (all the hashioki are one of a kind) and wasn’t willing to make a substitution. 3) YaYu and Allie the Cat are having a wonderful reunion. Whenever the rain lets up a bit, Allie heads over here and the two of them spend time together. 4) And, we made it through 2021! YEAH!!!
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I cancelled our Amazon Prime account. That’s a savings of $13.60 per month (we paid annually though), and we’re getting a one-month refund now (auto-renew was January 28). 2) Brett bought a pair of jeans from Lands’ End, and I bought two pair of Perfect Fit pants from L.L. Bean. We searched for promotional codes before we paid and Brett got 50% off his order and I got 10% off mine. We have all the clothes we need and want for our travels and are done! 3) Brett had thought about buying a computer before last week, but because he waited the price dropped an additional $50 and he got a newer edition! 4) We spent slightly less than $10 over our budget when we did our Big Shop on Thursday, but got everything we wanted. We’re currently feeding three so thought we would go over by much more than we had planned. 5) We put $2.20 into the change/$1 bill bag. The total saved in the bag the past six months was $134.97, so we’re estimating we saved somewhere around $300 in 2021 in our little bag. 6) YaYu has been very creative using things up and all leftovers have been eaten promptly.
- Adding up what we sold last week: I had four completed Etsy orders last week. Ten hashioki left the apartment and $71.57 will be deposited into our travel account tomorrow.
- Grateful for: Last year was difficult for everyone, and we often felt as if we were standing in the middle of a horrible storm, just trying to stay safe. In spite of all that, Brett and I managed to come up with a goal for our future, make a plan, organize, and save, and for that we are grateful. In spite of being a long, trying year, 2021 still offered opportunities, and in spite of what swirled around us, we came out ahead and in better shape than where we started at the beginning of the year.
Our four stays in 2022: Strasbourg, Oxford, Edinburgh, and Tokyo. (photo credits: Unsplash)
- Bonus question: What are you looking forward to this year? Most of all, I am hopeful that the coronavirus will finally be tamed this year. In 1920, at the end of the Spanish flu pandemic, there was one last round before it petered out. It turned out to be the most virulent one but the least deadly, and as it waned the pandemic petered out. I have my fingers crossed and am hoping this is what’s happening with the Omicron variant – time will tell. We’re of course looking forward to traveling once again, and we remain optimistic that we will be able to go to France in May. Current rules allow us to enter France because we are vaccinated and boosted, and willing to take a COVID test within 48 hours of our departure. The UK is still iffy right now, but we aren’t scheduled to go there until next August and we’re hopeful things will have improved by then. We are also greatly looking forward to attending YaYu’s graduation in May, our fourth child to finish college (although she plans to continue on to graduate studies). Both WenYu and Meiling are going to come as well so we’ll get another small reunion before we head overseas. Otherwise, we are looking forward to divesting ourselves of more stuff before we leave, and hoping that our clothing and supplies fit into our suitcases without being overweight!
Before and since Christmas we started receiving notices that Amazon was unable to deliver packages to us. We asked at the post office what was going on and were told they were all “on hold.” What??? We certainly hadn’t put a hold on anything. It turned out that when our upstairs neighbor went on vacation he had (inadvertently) put a hold on all mail coming to our building, no matter who it was for! He thought he could ask them to sort out his mail and didn’t read that a hold is for the entire address, not one person. Brett has messaged the neighbor twice to ask if he would please remove the hold so the rest of us can get our mail, and told him we would gather and hold his mail for him until he returns like we did the last time he went on vacation. Upstairs neighbor has been very negative though, and said he had signed a card at the post office letting them know the hold was only for his mail. He blames the post office for what’s going on and won’t stop the hold because he believes someone at the post office should be personally separating out his mail from the rest of us! A couple of our packages being held are Christmas gifts to us from the girls but others are things we ordered because we need them. Brett’s going to the post office tomorrow to see if we can get the situation straightened out – as residents of the building we feel we have as much right to terminate the hold as he did to establish one that affected everyone, especially since he’s just a renter like the rest of us.
Anyway, as we begin 2022, I want to wish all a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. We’re definitely not out of the woods yet, but maybe we’re finally getting ourselves on the right path and can start to feel hopeful for an end to the pandemic. Only time will tell, but my wish is for a more positive, productive year, with more good things happening for all. Happy New Year!