Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!
After an absolutely soggy week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the first week of 2022 year turned out to be a very nice one here on Kaua’i. There was still a lot of rain and a big, loud thunderstorm one night early in the week, but that mostly happened while we slept (the thunderstorm woke us all up though). The rest of the week there were blue skies and soft breezes, and we took advantage and got out as much as possible for hikes and afternoons at the beach. We were going to visit the Kaua’i International Center today but may go back to the beach instead.
I had a fun doing a little travel planning for a couple of side trips while we’re in Strasbourg. We’re already planning to take a short three-day getaway over to Mainz, Germany (via train), and up the Rhine River for some castle viewing, but we also would like to make a four- or five-day drive south of Strasbourg on the Alsatian Wine Route for some tastings, sightseeing, and hiking. Also, it’s a very short drive from Strasbourg to the Black Forest, so we hope do an overnight visit there as well, or maybe just a day trip. All of these will of course depend on whether there will be restrictions in place because of COVID, but it was still fun thinking about where we might go, stay, and what we’d like to see and so forth. We heard from our previous Strasbourg host this past week and we’re both excited about getting together again.
We finally got our mail released this past Wednesday. Brett went to the post office on Monday, but they still would not give the mail to him without the neighbor’s permission. So, Brett messaged the neighbor once again. The neighbor finally seemed to grasp that this was his doing and emailed a letter to the post office (with a a copy to us) authorizing them to release the mail to Brett. However, the post office still needed the code they had sent him, but he had thrown away it away (!), so the mail was stuck. The postmaster finally agreed to release the mail to Brett after calling the neighbor back in New England and getting verbal permission while also warning him to never do anything like this again. It turned out over 50% of the mail being held was ours, not only our packages but some other things as well, like my voter registration. The neighbor has delayed his return to Kaua’i, and we were afraid he might have gotten COVID, but he says it’s because he’s stopping in Portland to set up a household goods shipment with his girlfriend. Whatever – it still means a few extra days of peace and quiet upstairs for us.
This morning I am:
- Reading: The library released three books off of hold this week: The Girls In the Garden, by Lisa Jewell, The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave, and The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee. It never rains but it pours. I had been #2 on the waiting list for The Girls In the Garden for nearly six weeks, #3 on The Shadows of Men list for the same amount of time, and last week was in the #142 position for The Last Thing He Told Me (I started at #832), but they all showed up on the same day! I’m thinking possibly 140 people in front of me got tired of waiting for the The Last Thing He Told Me and either bought it or got it as a gift for Christmas. Anyway, I’m reading it first because it was on hold the longest, then will move on to The Girls In the Garden with The Shadows of Men in anchor position.
- Listening to: We’re enjoying a beautiful, quiet morning. The skies are blue, the sun is shining, there’s a soft breeze, birds are singing, and otherwise nothing but peace and quiet outside. Allie the cat has already stopped by and she and YaYu are out on the deck in the sun. Brett is reading, so it’s also quiet and peaceful inside, a lovely way to start the day. YaYu is going to make some scones in a little while which we’ll have with vegan sausages for our breakfast.
- Watching: Our viewing didn’t change much from last week: We’ll finish up Dexter: New Blood tonight, but finished Only Murders In the Building last night. We have another season of You to go and have almost finished the current season of Cobra Kai. YaYu wants us to watch a few movies with her this week, starting with Parasite.
- Happy we accomplished last week: 1) I got my annual mammogram done (everything normal – yeah!) and my blood work ordered for my annual cholesterol check, which will happen this week. 2) I finally got my online prescription account untangled. Previous signup attempts with the program never worked and no one seemed to know what the problem was, but the technician I spoke with this time tried something new and voila! So glad to have that done before we travel. 3) We took several more bags to the thrift store and I packed seven boxes of things to (eventually) be mailed for storage. I would have done more but we ran out of packing materials. 4) We purchased YaYu’s ticket for her flight back to Pennsylvania; she’ll be leaving at the end of this week for her final term. 5) I deleted over 1200 photos off of my phone last week. There’s more to do, but this was a good start.
- Looking forward to next week: We don’t have a lot on the calendar (I don’t think a dental visit counts as something to look forward to) so we should have a quiet and productive week with YaYu before she leaves. We’re all hoping for more beach weather!!
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Beach days! Two of them! Wednesday was absolutely beautiful so we headed down to Shipwreck Beach and spent a few hours lolling on the sand under our umbrella. It was as glorious as hoped for. Friday’s weather was even better so we headed out to Barking Sands for the afternoon and were not disappointed. We were able to do some whale spotting on both days, mostly spouting but we also observed a couple of flamboyant full breaches. The weather remained nice enough on Wednesday evening that we enjoyed a fire outside and made s’mores. 2) The weather was also great on Thursday, and Brett and YaYu did a long hike in Waimea Canyon. I got a lovely, long day to myself to recharge and take care of some things that were difficult to do with everyone here. They hiked the Maha’ulepu Trail yesterday while I got more storage packing done. 3) One of the packages from our mail hold was a pair of travel umbrellas for Brett and me, a gift from YaYu! Umbrellas were the one thing we forgot before we started off on our last adventure, a mistake we didn’t want to repeat. Brett also got a new pair of Apple ear buds, YaYu’s screen protector and case for her new phone arrived, and some additional KN95 masks came as well (they’re very hard to find here). I also received some simple bullet journals I plan to use going forward rather than recording my daily tasks on 4×6 cards. 4) I had two Etsy sales, both unexpected this past week but always a good thing.
Brett and YaYu had a fantastic hike on the Waimea Canyon Black Pipe loop trail on Thursday (photo credits: Brett & YaYu)
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) By buying YaYu’s tickets to fly here and back separately, we saved approximately $300 from what we would have had to pay for a round-trip ticket during the holiday season. Her return ticket was the final one we had to purchase for our children. Once they finish college they’re responsible. 2) We had a fairly low-spend week: some packing materials, gas for the car, and a few bits of produce from Safeway (we hate shopping at Safeway because it’s so expensive but they always have what we need/want in stock). 3) We put $4.18 into the change/$1 bill bag, all the leftovers were eaten, and we didn’t throw away any food.
- Adding up what we sold this past week: I had two sales on Etsy: six hashioki left the house and $35.07 will be going into our travel account tomorrow. I listed our sake jug lamp on Buy & Sell but know it’s going to take a while to sell.
- Grateful for: We’re so very, very thankful for the beautiful weather we enjoyed this past week. After December’s horrible weather it was a wonderful way to start the New Year.
- Bonus question: What was the funniest thing that happened during your travels? 1) In late September 2018 Brett and I went to visit Mont St. Michel on our last day in Normandy (or, as our GPS insisted on calling it, Mont Saint Mitchell). We drove there from the little village where we were staying, but it was raining so hard that for a while we could barely see the road in front of us. We unfortunately didn’t have umbrellas or even hats, although we stopped at a couple of stores along the way to check if we could find some (nope). It was so miserable we decided if it was still raining when we got to our destination we would turn around and skip the visit. 2) When we arrived at the Mont St. Michel parking lot, although it was still very overcast, the rain had stopped! Quelle surprise! We were able to quickly get on one of the big buses that would take across the causeway, but we were still nervous and unhappy because we didn’t have umbrellas. 3) The bus driver started the engine, closed the doors, and the heavens immediately opened up again with the rain harder than ever and with added heavy winds this time. We were now trapped and going across the causeway whether we liked it or not. 4) As we stepped off the bus we were immediately glad not to have umbrellas! Everyone else from our bus was wrestling or struggling with theirs in one way or another, and it was almost like being in a Mr. Bean movie. The umbrellas, if they weren’t immediately flipped inside out, were dragging people along the causeway. Fabric was being ripped from some umbrellas and blowing away, leaving people with just empty metal ribs, and in a few cases the fabric had attached itself to people’s faces like an octopus. Brett and I started laughing and couldn’t stop even though we were getting soaked – the whole scene was crazy. However, we stepped through the stone gate at the entrance and . . . the rain and wind stopped again, just like that! 5) The first shop we went into sold umbrellas and we each got one, but never needed to even open them the rest of that day although it stayed very overcast. We both still start laughing and can’t stop whenever we think of that scene on the causeway.
During our first tour in Japan (’80 – ’83), there was a great little antique store on the Yokosuka base. I didn’t go there much because we lived in Yokohama, but whenever I had business in Yokosuka I made a point to stop by. On one visit I found a colorful old woodblock print in the back of the shop, behind some other things. It was priced at $45, not bad for an old print, so it came home with me. A few months later I took it to a nearby Japanese gallery to have it framed, and the owner gasped when he saw it: Where did you find this? He looked it over very carefully, checked a couple of books, and told me I had an authentic Toyokuni III print, and gave me a value that was quite a bit more than $45 (I don’t remember what that was though). The print was of Prince Genji, from a series Toyokuni III did in 1858 from the famous novel, The Tale of Genji. Anyway, I had the picture framed and it has hung in every one of our homes ever since. Fast forward to last year when we decided I would sell it in my Etsy shop, we thought for around $100 or so, completely forgetting everything we had been told about it in the past. I got lazy though and never got around to listing it. None of the girls wanted it either, so we decided to keep it. When we took it out of its frame last weekend, there was the authentication slip on the back, which I had completely forgotten about. I looked up the print online to try and determine its value now and although I did not find ours, similar ones are valued between $500 and $1700! Prince Genji is going to remain with us, needless to say.
We’ve enjoyed a beautiful week, with beautiful weather and lots of good things happening. It was a great way to start the new year as well as one of those weeks that makes me sad we’ll be leaving Kaua’i. Here’s to another good week for all, filled with good things happening, good weather, good books, good food, and good friends. And, here’s to better days for all of us in 2022!