It’s October! Fall is really here and I couldn’t be happier. The weather is noticeably cooler but still sunny and bright, the light is different, and the trees are changing – every day the hills around us pop with a little more color. When I was young, the sound of leaves rustling in the streets and gutters were the sign that fall had finally arrived in Southern California (usually happened just before Halloween), and I still love that sound when dry leaves get blown around our patio, which I now have to sweep almost daily. The stores are flooded with Halloween and fall items for sale, from costumes to candy to clothes to everything pumpkin. Halloween and fall were so not a big deal on Kaua’i (for some obvious reasons), but I had no idea until seeing all the fall hoopla around us here how little attention fall got there, including Halloween. I’m not sure what the treat-or-treat protocol is or will be at our apartment complex, or whether K might instead go with some of her friends from school who live in a nearby neighborhood.
K’s sixth birthday is this week and we’re very excited about celebrating with her. We’ve been in Japan plenty of times for our grandson’s birthday, but never in the fall for K’s special day. Later this afternoon we’re going over to our DIL’s place to attend a small birthday party for K, and we’re planning to make her actual birthday this week’s special day instead of on Friday as usual. We’re so thankful for all this time we get to spend with K, and being able to make memories with her.
We had planned to go to the Shiloh National Military Battlefield yesterday, but K woke up with a cough and slight fever, and we agreed with M that it was best for her to stay home and stay well so she could enjoy her party today. Brett, Kai, and I instead set out to visit the Stillhouse Hollow Falls, located about an hours drive south of Nashville. On the way we stopped at the Spring Hills battlefield historical site, and walked the battlefield to learn what happened there. Markers and maps were set up along the way that helped us understand what happened that day (the Battle of Spring Hill was the setup for the Battle of Franklin the next day). After we finished we headed to Stillhouse Hollow, a Tennessee State Natural Area, about a 25 minute drive away. We were mildly surprised to find the parking lot full, but yesterday’s weather was perfect for hiking, and we passed several other hikers along our way. We thought we would hike down to the bottom of the hollow for the view, but my bum knee did not like the downward slope of the somewhat rough trail, so we stopped at the falls overlook instead. By the time we arrived I knew if I hiked to the bottom I would be in big trouble. We were sad to miss the views, but the parts of the trail we did hike were filled with beautiful scenery. Kai was a fantastic companion, at both the battlefield and on the trail, and got along with all the other dogs he met along the way.
This morning I am thinking about:
- What we accomplished: 1) One of the few reading genres I dislike is dystopian fiction, so finishing The School for Good Mothers (by Jessamine Chan) this past week felt like a genuine accomplishment. I had no idea it was going to be such a dark story when I checked it out. The book was well written but difficult for me to read at times and I for several days I couldn’t pick it up or decide whether I even wanted to finish it which is unusual for me. Thankfully I did and the ending was somewhat satisfying. Five books came off of my library wait list last week, a new record, so I’m pretty much going to have my nose buried in a book for the next couple of weeks to finish them all. 2) Brett and I watched the sobering Ken Burns documentary about the Holocaust and the U.S. Some things that are going on in the U.S. now are a little to close for comfort to things that were happening back then. 3) I got all our food shopping done for the next few weeks at Trader Joe’s, ALDI, and Costco. I enjoy food shopping here (unlike in Hawaii, where it turned into a chore), although our local Costco is always a madhouse. I managed to get out of there this past week with less than 10 items in my cart which is something of a miracle.
- What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) We’re excited about celebrating K’s actual birthday with her later in the week. We’re giving her a small box of cookies from Crumbl for her treat after school that day because she talks about them all the time, and we will also be making her a balloon “bouquet” of six balloons (we have a small present to take to her party today). 2) Otherwise. we have nothing on the calendar for next week and are hoping for a relaxing week (with lots of time for reading).
- Exercise and eating last week: 1) Besides walking nearly three miles yesterday, we took four brisk 1 1/2-mile hikes in our neighborhood this past week, including a visit to the historical marker near us (about the Carothers Family) last Sunday afternoon. Nearby we found the old Carothers Family cemetery, with graves dating from the 18th century. Most of the stones were so old the engraving had disappeared, and there were so many small, tiny stones that we guessed were for children that died. The cemetery is preserved on the current grounds of a large conference center, so we walked around that and discovered several cherry trees at the edge of their parking lot which will be lovely next spring. The parking lot connected to a paved trail back to the apartments. We were grateful to find it because we are staying out of the woods behind us now. Poison ivy and oak have exploded and are everywhere – Brett has been dealing with an outbreak on his legs for the past two weeks. 2) We ate healthy and well last week. Our dinners this past week were inari sushi, chicken & vegetable spring rolls, and vegetable potstickers; a “leftovers pizza” that used up odds and ends from the refrigerator; Mandarin orange chicken, steamed rice, and cucumber; smoked pork in barbecue sauce over a baked sweet potato and corn on the cob; shrimp burgers with sweet potato fries; breakfast for dinner (pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, and strawberries); and California roll sushi, a surprise from M.
- How we saved: 1) After two weeks, five calls, and speaking with 10 different people, Brett managed to get an erroneous charge of $109.75 taken off of our Xfinity bill this week. 2) We put $10.93 into the change/$1 bill jar. 3) It took some effort and putting a couple of things back, but we stayed just under our grocery budget amount. 4) We didn’t throw away any food.
Good things that happened: 1) We took K to Starbucks for her Fabulous Friday treat this past week. She chose chocolate milk and a unicorn cake pop, Brett had a cinnamon latte, I tried a nonfat pumpkin spice latte – nope, still don’t like them – and Kai loved his first Puppachino (whipped cream in a small cup). 2) There were no other real standouts this week; everything that happened was a good thing in one way or another.
My insomnia has come back with a vengeance. I have cut my coffee way back, try not to drink any other caffeine during the day, and yet there I’ve been at 3:00 a.m. every night with my eyes wide open and my brain racing. It’s frustrating because I do eventually fall asleep but never know what time I’ll wake up. Some days it’s 9:00 a.m., but other mornings I sleep soundly until noon! I know the insomnia will eventually pass – it always does – but getting through it is a challenge. And, although I’m thrilled with the cooler fall weather, allergies have come back – I’ve had a runny nose and itchy eyes the past few days, and vertigo has returned as well. Hopefully this is just my body adjusting to a new location, climate, and flora, but I sure hope an adjustment happens sooner rather than later!
That closes another great week, one that went by surprisingly quickly. A quiet yet exciting week is coming up that will be filled with celebration, lots of reading, good food, and family. Change is in the air and I am here for it! I hope last week was a good one for everyone, and that you’re looking forward to the one coming up.