Sunday Morning 1/23/2022: Ups & Downs, Good & Bad

There were either too many clouds or no clouds this week, so no sunsets . . . usually just a lovely glow.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

As if we needed another big expense before we go, last weekend I was eating something soft, and bit into something hard and discovered the top of a crown had broken off! The crown goes over a back tooth that is anchoring a bridge I had done back in 2000, but thankfully the bridge is holding firm. I am already seeing the dentist next week and they’ve added some time to my appointment to see if it can be fixed. Best case scenario, although expensive, will be to have a new crown made before we leave. Worst case scenario is that the whole tooth, bridge, etc. will need to be removed and replaced with implants, and there’s currently no time for that. We know that it’s possible to get high-quality dental work done overseas for a fraction of the cost here (and our dental insurance can be used overseas) so however this turns out I’m going to be investigating dental tourism in the coming days and possibly weeks.

The “mailing center” is beginning to take over the living room.

Otherwise, things are moving along as they should. Packages are getting packed, things are being sold, and so forth. It’s almost hard to believe that next weekend marks the end of January leaving us with only three more months to get everything finished up.

We enjoyed another beautiful week, but appointments, errands, and other tasks kept us from getting to the beach. Still, we got in lots of walking, sold some things, and kept moving forward on our departure from Kaua’i. Brett and I continue to make progress with French even though Duolingo is less than ideal (let me count the ways). We’re into Level 3 now, and can read most sentences easily and make only a few mistakes. However, we struggle with understanding spoken French and can only create the most basic of sentences when we try to speak, and our pronunciation is awful. I remember feeling the same way before we traveled in 2018, and yet I was able to understand more than I thought I could and even made a couple of appropriate comments in French toward the end of our time, so I’m hopeful the same will be true for Brett and me this year. We plan to continue studying while we’re in Strasbourg.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Girls In the Garden last Monday, another good mystery, although I sort of had things figured out before I finished. I’d like to read more of Lisa Jewell’s books though. I’m now almost done with The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee, the third in his detective series set in 1920s India. This past week I cashed in some Swagbucks for a $50 Amazon gift card, gave Brett half, and I am going to buy two books this coming week, Crying In H Mart and Dial A For Aunties. I put off reading them last year as neither fit with the mystery theme, but the current wait from the library is too long for both books and I’m dying to read them. In the meantime, as soon as the Mukherjee book is finished I’m going to read 1979, by Val McDermid, then Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny, the next book in the Inspector Gamache series – they both finally came off of hold from the library on Friday.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying a very quiet morning. There’s only a very light breeze outside and other than some birds singing nothing is going on out there. Even the chickens have quieted down. Inside Brett is reading and finishing his breakfast, so I’m in my happy quiet morning place with a hot cup of coffee in front of me.
  • Watching: We finished all available episodes of You this past week, but there will apparently be another season coming up! Such a creepy show, but well done. We’re still enjoying Kim’s Convenience, but started rewatching Call My Agent this past week to hear spoken French and hopefully improve our listening skills a tiny bit. They all talk very fast but we usually can understand at least one expression and a few words here and there. I guess that’s progress.
I would have kept the All-Clad cookware except it weighed too much and was too awkward to mail.
  • Happy I accomplished: 1) I ordered our free home COVID tests for Brett and me. We plan to use them when we’re in Pennsylvania in May as that’s when we’ll be around and involved with the most people. 2) We dropped off another load of stuff at the the Habitat for Humanity thrift store yesterday and I filled four more boxes to be mailed for storage; I’m close to getting finished with packing everything for storage although some things will have to wait until nearly the end of next month (i.e. the rice cooker). 3) Brett and I cleaned and polished the entire set of All-Clad cookware and listed it on Buy & Sell at the beginning of the week; it sold in less than half an hour (with several back-up requests), pretty good for a 30-year-old set of cookware! We are now using the nice big skillet and saucepan from when we arrived back in 2020 – they will be sufficient until we leave. The cookware buyer also made a deposit on our sofa, dining table and chairs, and market umbrella, but won’t be picking them up until after the first of March. 4) We took our big suitcases out of the closet to air out before we depart, as well as Brett’s sports coat and my leather tote bag (which somehow thankfully did not mould).
I hope the rest of the furniture sells as easily and quickly as the table & chairs and sofa.
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) I’m not sure I can say I’m looking forward to going to the dentist this week, especially with this current issue looming over me, but at the same time I would like it all resolved, or at least know what my options are. 2) I booked a surprise brunch date for Brett and me next weekend. We haven’t gone out for a very long time and where we’re going should be fun (and delicious)! 3) We also have our fingers crossed that we can get to the beach again one day.
We took advantage of the weather and hiked the Maha’ulepu Trail this past week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) This past week, our son received the package we sent with his baby book, a few pieces of his earliest baby clothes, his first pair of shoes, and some other paraphernalia and paperwork. He and his family had fun going through everything, but his message to Brett and me at after finishing his baby book was, In all seriousness, I could feel the love. 2) Our daughter-in-law sent us another big bunch of photos and videos of the grandkids. They continue to get older and bigger and we miss them terribly. 3) I met a long-time reader, TexKauai, at Kukuiolono park one afternoon this past week when Brett and I were walking!! She usually walks there in the mornings, and we walk in the late afternoon, but the other day she and her husband were there in the afternoon – lucky me! They are also moving off island about the same time we are, so we had some stories to share. So very happy to have met her before we left. 4) I had two Etsy sales, always a good thing. 5) My final skin check went well; one small spot on the side of my temple (from sun exposure as a child!) was burned off but otherwise the dermatologist said I have beautiful skin for my age. My lab results from last week’s blood draw were also great in spite of my forgetting I was supposed to have been fasting. 6) We had lovely weather almost all week.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We have been thinking several clothing items were going to have to be dry cleaned ($$$) before we left, things that had gotten musty in the closet they’ve been stored in these past two years. Brett’s sports coat is now getting lots of fresh air and will be fine before we go. I tumbled our Edinburgh cashmere scarves in the dryer on low heat with a Bounce sheet and they smell fresh again, and washed a couple of sweaters by hand and all the musty odors are gone from them as well, so that’s money saved. Everything else that’s been in our storage closet the past two years can and will be washed before we pack. 2) We returned a pair of flannel pajama pants I had ordered for Brett that (finally) arrived this past week but he didn’t need any longer because Meiling gave him a pair for Christmas! 3) Brett ordered himself a pair of Duckfeet boots and saved $40 using a discount I had received for answering a survey for Duckfeet. We both now have all the clothing we need for travel. 3) We had a very low-spend week: just some spinach, a bunch of green onions, a can of beans, and nigiri tofu from Big Save. 4) We put $5.48 into the change/$1 bill bag, ate all our leftovers, but sadly had to throw away a block of firm tofu that had gotten pushed to the back of the fridge when the girls were here and was well past its prime.
  • Adding up what we sold: Besides selling the cookware this past week, I had two Etsy orders and $266.26 will go into our travel fund this week.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are feeling very thankful at this point in our lives for the good health we currently enjoy. Our teeth have been problematic, but we’re grateful to have good dental insurance.
Brett and the birthday girls at Epcot
  • Bonus question: What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever pulled off? In early 2006, Brett and I decided to take the girls for a week’s vacation to Walt Disney World in January of 2007 for their birthdays (which all fall together within a period of about one month). We wanted to surprise the girls, so while we saved and saved (we paid cash for the entire trip) and plotted all year we never let them know what was coming up. We used a travel agency that specialized in Disney vacations; they helped us get lodging, meal reservations (including breakfast with the princesses in Cinderella Castle), and other treats for the girls at bargain prices. We gave each girl a carry-on bag for Christmas, supposedly for “sleepovers,” and after the new year I began to secretly pack them. We contacted the girls’ teachers to let them know; they kept the secret and set up a fun assignment for each girl to do while they were there (journaling, etc.) The travel agency had sent Disney identification tags for our luggage along with big birthday buttons for each of the girls to wear, and after they fell asleep the night before our departure, still having no idea what was going to happen, Brett and I finished packing their carry-on bags, attached the Disney tags, and set all the bags at the foot of our bed. The next morning, Brett surprised the girls when he woke them up – he would have usually already been on his way to work – and told them to go wake me up for a change. When they came into our bedroom and saw those bags and tags . . . oh WOW!! At first, all three girls burst into tears! “Are we really going to Disney World?” “Today?” Then the laughing, screaming, and jumping began, and there was absolutely no hesitation that morning getting them dressed, down to breakfast, and in the car to go to the airport. We had an absolutely wonderful trip to WDW from start to finish. Just turned six-year-old YaYu cried the day we left – she had never imagined such a place existed – and she still has her luggage tag and button from that trip. The girls’ reaction that morning though was something I’ll never forget for as long as I live. Best surprise ever, even if it took nearly a year to pull it off!

I was very scared the other day when the doctor’s office called to tell me he wanted to speak with me personally. Usually after lab work is done someone calls and says everything is fine and within normal range and that’s that. However, this time I thought something awful had been discovered in the results and he wanted to tell me in person. I was so nervous when he called, so you can imagine my relief to hear that not only were the results of my lab work okay but that the numbers were better than ever and all the efforts Brett and I have made to improve our health through exercise and eating better had made a discernible difference! Of course I still have this major dental issue to resolve, but now I remain hopeful the news won’t be as bad as it could be.

And that’s a wrap for another week at Chez Aloha! Shows watched, good food eaten, good books read, good news received (along with a bit of not-so-good news), and tasks accomplished. We’re hoping for the good things to continue into next week, and I hope everyone out there is looking forward to the week coming up as much as we are!

30 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 1/23/2022: Ups & Downs, Good & Bad

  1. Just hearing the birds can be such a lovely peaceful background, unless the magpies are being loud (they can be so loud 🔊)✨ I hope you get to enjoy that trip to the beach soon, have a good week!💫

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    1. No magpies in Hawaii! The bird here (other than chickens) all seem to have lovely songs – we’ve learned to itentify some by their singing.

      Looks like we’ll be going to the beach today (Monday)!

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    1. I have honestly got fingers crossed on both hands and toes on both feet that all that will be needed is a new crown. The bridge is holding firm and I’m not in any pain whatsoever, so I’m hopeful.

      The books have all been great. Can’t wait though to read Crying in H Mart and Dial A for Aunties – they come highly recommended!

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  2. What a great surprise! I’m sure it was almost as exciting planning and then seeing their reactions as it was for them.

    Not surprising to see that All Clad go quickly. And your furniture is beautiful. A real find for someone. Your plans are all moving right along. Hoping for the best outcome for you at the dentist! I have a lot of crowns and they’re great…until they aren’t. 😊

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    1. We almost gave the whole thing away several times, but managed to keep our lips sealed. Their reactions were more than we hoped for! They still call it the best vacation ever for them.

      I hope the furniture goes quickly and easily. You just never know here. The big hibachi table will be the most difficult to sell. Easy peasy back in Portland, but here, no. If it doesn’t sell our friends are going to keep it for us, and whenever we eventually settle we’ll have it shipped over to us.

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  3. That story about your Disney trip brought a huge smile to my face! What an amazing surprise!
    I would be terrified too if my doctor said they wanted to talk to me. I need to get serious about eating better and that’s just a good reminder that doing the work really does pay off. Congratulations!

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    1. We had a lot of fun planning that trip, and saving without the girls knowing what was going on. The secret was hard to keep at times because of our excitement but we pulled it off.

      The doctor wanting to speak with me personally is always scary, so I was thrilled to get good news this time. My doctor here was very happy with the results – me too because it was supposed to have been a fasting blood draw and I hadn’t fasted!

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  4. I love the story of Disney World. Your girls will forever remember the surprise and joy of it. Thank you for sharing your stories and your week with readers. I suppose it’s the intention, purpose, and joy in simple pleasures that I appreciate. Thank you!

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    1. The girls loved that trip – Meiling still talks about going back. She says she wants to get married there only because we’d all be together again on a Disney vacation (Brett and I hope she doesn’t mean it – we have no desire to go back).

      Thank you for your kind words! Simple pleasures is what we’re all about these days.

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  5. I understand you use the TV you have and are unwilling to do more. But I gotta tell ya your best listening effort would be to find French TV shows (spiral for example or murder in) and watching then without subtitles.

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    1. We are no where near being able to watch a show in French without subtitles! Right now they’re our only confirmation that we’ve heard something we’ve learned correctly. And, without subtitles we’d have absolutely no idea whatsoever what was going on in the show, and we love the story. We’ll be watching plenty of French shows in France without subtitles but we’re not there yet.

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  6. Love the story of your trip to Disney World. I just found our annual passes for Disney while cleaning out one of the drawers. Great memories.

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    1. We took the girls to WDW a total of four times – we went twice before YaYu joined our family, the surprise trip, and then once more (they were in on that one). All required a LOT of saving on our part, but it’s where I really learned all sorts of ways to save and how to be disciplined about it to reach a goal.

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  7. I have a smaller but similar Disney story. One of my best friends decided to visit for a holiday weekend with her kids. I picked up my kids from school – they had a half day – and surprised them by saying I had taken off the rest of the day from work, and what did they want to do? They asked for lunch? A movie? And then I countered and said “How about we pick up Auntie Nancy and Robby and Katie at the airport and go to Disneyland for the weekend?! Their eyes were as big as saucers as they screamed yes. I hadn’t thought about that in years – what a fun memory!

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    1. I love seeing kids’ reactions to finding out they’re going to Disneyland or DisneyWorld. Big eyes, screams, tears, etc. for Disney anywhere in the world. Our grandkids are the same – they get very excited if they hear “Disney” mentioned.

      True story – we lived about 45 minutes from Disneyland growing up (I went for the first time 3 months after it opened and remember watching the Matterhorn being built). My parents used to surprise us occasionally and take us there for the day. Once we were supposedly driving to San Clemente, and were in the far left lane of the freeway. Right before the Harbor Blvd. turnoff, my dad crossed three lanes of traffic to take the turnoff!! Scary, but we knew then we were going to Disneyland – you should have heard our screams! We usually always knew we were going though, and couldn’t sleep the night before from excitement. Several of my mom’s students worked at Disneyland during the summers as well, and always brought us to the front of the line when they spotted her (especially appreciated on the Matterhorn).

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  8. We enjoyed meeting you and Brett in real life. Too bad it was so near the end of our time on Kauai for all of us. We leave even sooner than you and have so much more to do it’s frightening. Safe travels to you in the coming months!

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    1. So, so happy we were able to meet, even if only briefly. Did you get an offer?

      We are now hiking Maha’ulepu daily – our last encounter with the groundskeeper was so unpleasant that we decided to give up Kukuiolono. We love it there, but I can’t walk the paths/roads any more and he’s determined to let no one walk on the golf course even if there are no golfers present!

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      1. Yes, we have a contract and they want all the furniture so that makes our move a lot less complicated. I’m sorry to hear you won’t be walking at Kukuiolono any longer. We’ve always stuck to the paths and roads since we walk in the mornings so have not had any issues.

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      2. Congratulations!! We’ve only got four more pieces of furniture to go. Will list in March.

        Groundskeeper at Kukuiolono was very unpleasant and condescending so we just said “screw it.” We’re enjoying the hikes at Maha’ulepu – a bit more strenuous but way more beautiful than the park (which was pretty beautiful).

        Hope all goes well with the rest of your move!

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  9. Bonjour de France! I arrived on 12 Janvier and wanted to let you know a few things.

    1. The Passe Sanitaire has been very difficult to get. The French Government’s website has a map with the designated pharmacies that are supposed to be able to review American vaccination cards and issue the QR code for our phones. I’ve tried two pharmacies so far and have been told it is impossible and to contact the US Embassy. Today I called the Consulate in Marseilles and was told that It is definitely possible but the woman with whom I spoke said she had to try three different pharmacies before finding one with a young person who was willing to figure out how to make it work. Essentially the pharmacy employee must enter all of our vaccination info into the French database before generating the QR code. It cost the consulate employee 36 Euros.

    2. The only time I have been asked for my vaccination info is at the airport. JFK was more rigid than CDG. I have not tried to eat in a restaurant or visit any indoor cultural site.

    3. I’m in the south where, as a native told me, they are more casual about following rules. About a third of the people at the outdoor markets do not wear masks and another 10% have masks pulled down so it only covers their mouth. On the local city buses at least 10% have masks pulled down. I’ve only seen one person (teenage boy) eating or drinking on transportation. People are rarely wearing N95 masks – just the disposable “surgical” masks. I have been double masking with a silver-impregnated cloth mask underneath the disposable mask. On the less crowded streets, most people are not wearing masks.

    4. The no eating or drinking on public transportation rule was strictly enforced on my flight from Paris to Marseilles. I was glad to have grabbed some lunch at CDG and also to have had a bottle of water for when I got into my rental car after the flight.

    5. The person with whom I am staying tested positive for Covid on Saturday evening. Rapid testing at clinics is free for French citizens but cost me 20 Euros this morning when I went.

    6. Covid was so rampant when I left Connecticut, that there was a 3 week wait to get a PCR test appointment. I ended up spending $250 at JFK for the rapid result PCR and got my results in less than one hour.

    You sound so well prepared for your trip!

    I LOVED the WDW story. What an amazing surprise to pull off and I love that YaYu still has her mementos of that magical trip.

    I also agree with you about Duolingo. I minored in French in college, took 11 years of French, and lived here as a student so I have a solid foundation for the language and found Duolingo very frustrating. No help at all in preparing me for speaking French – only for grammar and vocab reviews.

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    1. SO MUCH good information – thank you!! There is a U.S. consulate in Strasbourg if we run into trouble getting our passes, so this was especially helpful information. We’re still planning on wearing KN95 masks for as long as possible. France’s COVID caseloads are still climbing and we want to stay well-protected for as long as possible. We’ve had a lot of experience wearing masks here on Kaua’i and are just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing here no matter what everyone else out there does.

      We are planning to get rapid antigen tests done within 48 hours of departure, but will also book an appointment for one within 24 hours just in case. I think the testing thing makes me more nervous than anything. Not that we’ll test positive, but that we won’t get results in time to leave!

      The girls were still talking about that Disney trip when they were here at Christmas – it really made an impression. And, Duolingo is awful! I have an advance degree in applied linguistics (teaching) and am so disappointed. I could go on and on and about everything I dislike about the program, but hey, you go with the language program you have and not the one you wish you had!

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      1. I, too, was nervous about the testing right before leaving….what would I do at JFK if I tested positive? I ended up booking my appointment for six hours prior to my flight departure….because the testing place said they take up to three hours to provide results and Delta wanted passengers checking in three hours prior to the flight. It was one way to avoid traveling through NYC at rush hour LOL!

        I leave from France in early April to fly to Cyprus and am already thinking about how to quarantine prior to leaving to be sure I’m negative. Also I’ve been asking around here (Toulon) and there doesn’t appear to be any rapid PCR testing sites so not sure how I’ll do that. I was told today that PCR tests cost 45 Euros for non-French citizens.

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      2. Libby – my daughter visited Paris last November and had to be tested before returning to the U.S. They only discovered this once they got to the airport (new rule). She and her partner had rapid tests done at the airport (CDG) and made their flight. Not sure where you’re departing from but maybe rapid testing will be available there?

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  10. Sorry about your dental issue! I am currently going through the long process of getting an implant. The oral surgeon has done an excellent job and I am now at the stage of a four month wait for my bone to heal around the implant screw before getting the actual crown. In all, the actual surgeries have not been so bad, considering how brutal they sound when described. Here’s the thing to watch out for; they prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure since the surgery involves the bone. For my extraction and bone graft, they gave me Clindamycin, which is commonly used for orthopedic applications. It has a reputation of being hard on the digestive tract and it absolutely wrecked mine! I have had issues for months and just now seem to be recovering. If you can get a different antibiotic, do!

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    1. Thank you for this information! If I do need implants, we won’t have time to have it done before we leave, so I’ve been investigating where in Europe are the best (and most affordable) places to have them done. Winners so far are Spain and Malta! They’re about half the price of what it costs in the U.S. and the work is supposedly superb. They’re also affordable in Japan (at least more than in the U.S.) so if possible I would probably wait to have them done there because we could get a medical visa to remain in country longer.

      Good to know about the antibiotic as well. Brett has had one implant done but didn’t have issues, and he can’t remember the antibiotic he took back then.

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