Sunday Afternoon 8/12/2017

The calm before the storm yesterday morning. We had a steady stream of voters in all day, and Hawai’i had its highest voter turnout in recent years. The entire state of Hawaii is moving to mail-in ballots in 2020, and scenes like this will be relegated to history.

Brett and I spent a very L-O-N-G day yesterday serving as poll workers for the Hawai’i primary election. It wasn’t exactly a volunteer position – we’ll both get paid a small stipend – but it was exhausting nonetheless because we had to be up so early (at the site at 5:30 a.m. to set up) and couldn’t leave until all the voting was over at 6:00. It was an interesting experience though, and the people we interacted with were very nice. The voters represented a real slice of Kaua’i life and its diversity, all the way from some in bathing suits (it was a gorgeous day) to one guy who looked like as soon as he took care of voting he was taking his yacht out for a cruise! Brett and I have decided we’re going to use our stipends to go out for a fabulous meal on Election Day (November 6) while we’re in Florence.

The sun was just coming up when Brett and I arrived at our polling station. Yesterday’s weather, while we were stuck inside all day, was gorgeous, but it’s been raining off and on today.

All the sitting at middle school cafeteria benches took a big toll on my back though (no support), so I am once again dealing with pain that has got to be gone before we leave next week. I spent some time in the hot tub as soon as we got home last night which helped a lot, and will be there every day this week, and hopefully I can get this taken care of once and for all. Just to keep things even more interesting, YaYu has apparently developed a case of allergic pinkeye. Fingers are crossed we can get her in to see the doctor this week and get that taken care of. Brett is fine and looking out for us all.

Today’s post will be my last Sunday Afternoon post for a while – we’ll be packing all day next Sunday and getting ready to go, and I don’t think I’m going to have a whole lot going on this coming week to write about anyway. After we depart on the 20th I won’t be following a regular posting schedule, at least not for a while, because I don’t know how often I’ll have time to write. I am going to aim for posting once or twice a week while we’re on the road though. I will be pictures up more frequently on the Occasional Nomads Instagram site while we’re traveling, so I hope you’ll follow us or check in from time to time.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I still have two books going: I read Our Towns during the day (but it’s due back at the library tomorrow!), and The Great Influenza by John Berry at night. Sluggy over at Don’t Read This; It’s Boring recommended it, and I thought it sounded like something I’d like to read. My grandmother occasionally talked about the flu epidemic (she was born in 1890, so was 28/29 when it was going on) and how terrifying it was. I’ve also been reading our Buenos Aires travel guide to get ready for the first stop on our adventure.
  • Listening to: Another blissful day of peace and quiet. I’m listening to nothing right now but the sounds of my own thoughts (and they are happy ones for the most part).
  • Watching: I watched last week’s episode of The Great British Baking Show and a repeat episode from Season 4 of Sherlock on PBS, but also started a 10-episode series on Netflix, The Five (which I’m watching on my computer). It’s really good. Commercial/cable TV drives me nuts to the point that I can’t stand watching any of it.

    No cooking required – my favorite breakfast these days is nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh peach and a sprinkle of granola.

  • Cooking/baking: We’re eating lunch out a few time this week (Ono Char-Burger, Hamura’s, Kauai Pho); are going out to breakfast at the Tip Top on Friday morning; and having dinner at the 1849 Eating House next Saturday evening, but otherwise our task here will be to finish up as much as we can of the food we have in the condo, which isn’t a whole lot at this point. I have a two-pound pork tenderloin that I’m going to cut up – we’ll have grilled pork one evening, and use the rest to make pork yakisoba and pork curry on other evenings.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: We took care of a few more address changes that we had somehow missed, and we also got rid of a few more things that we brought over with us to the condo that we thought we might need but don’t. We also signed up for a free walking tour of Paris through Paris Greeters.
  • Looking forward to this week: Besides getting to eat at some of our favorite places on the island, I am also getting my hair trimmed up on Wednesday (Brett is getting a haircut too), and having a mani-pedi at the resort spa on Saturday morning so I’m ready to go! I’m also looking forward to getting all of our travel things packed, and as much time at the pool as possible. The weather was very gloomy last Thursday and Friday and more rain is predicted this week.

    YaYu’s right cheek was still a bit swollen two days after her wisdom teeth came out but everything else is going well (that’s her beloved kamaboko – Japanese steamed fish cake – that she’s getting ready to break into).

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu’s oral surgery went well and she’s healed quickly, although she was quite swollen for a couple of day. She had her surgery on Monday and was back to eating regular food by Wednesday. Brett stopped at Costco for some fruit last week and discovered key lime pie. We lived in Key West for a while, so know good key lime pie when I taste it and this pie was good! 

    A BIG piece of key lime pie and coffee for dessert out on the lanai

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The condo provides the nicest 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, and I stopped by the office the other day to get another tube and they gave me three of them, so I now have everything I need for my carry-on toiletries. We were surprised to get refunds from both our water bill and our gas bill – we had thought we would owe on each of those, but had forgotten about the deposits we put down when we opened the accounts and those covered everything with money left over. The refunds will go into our first month’s travel budget. We have spent very little at the grocery store this week, just picking up things as we need them, like fruit or bread or yogurt. We have no plans to buy anything this week.

    My favorite Kaua’i-made product will forever be Monkeypod Jam’s lilikoi curd. It is a taste of the island right out of the jar.

  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very blessed and thankful for all the wonderful local foods we’ve gotten to eat over the past four years, from restaurant meals to fresh produce from the farmers’ markets to locally produced food products. This little island produces a lot! I am especially going to miss all the tropical fruit and the cucumbers – the ones grown here are the best I’ve ever tasted.

    I have fallen in love with this pool!

  • Bonus question: Which do you prefer, the beach or the pool? When we arrived here four years ago I couldn’t tell you how long it had been since I’d been to the beach, but I quickly fell in love with it all over again, sitting in my beach chair, swimming in the warm water and diving through the waves. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago which I preferred it would have been easy to answer. Going to the beach is the quintessential Kaua’i experience and a great way to spend anywhere from a couple of hours to the whole day.  But I have fallen completely in love with the pool here at the resort and now if asked to choose between heading down to the pool here or going to the beach I would choose the pool. There are plenty of chairs, chaises, and umbrellas to choose from, there’s a variety of things to do from hot tubs to slides to the lazy river, and it’s big enough that it never feels crowded. Towels are provided and the sandy bottom of the hot tubs is pure luxury. As one commenter on Instagram wrote the other day, the beach is for sitting and a pool is for swimming. I agree, but at this pool I can sit and look out at the ocean without having to deal with sand or carrying all our beach accoutrement to and from the car. So, for now I’m feeling somewhat torn – I will forever love the beach, but I’m also enjoying being spoiled rotten by the experience of this pool.

Less than 10 days to go, and just one more week to go from tomorrow until our departure!

I’ve always enjoyed writing the Sunday Afternoon posts these last few years – they’ve been fun to do – and hopefully I will be able to pick them up again in the future. Sunday Afternoons have been a great format for writing about our family and lives, and connecting with so many readers over the past few years. I hope you will continue to check in and comment while we’re traveling, and I promise to keep answering your comments. Thank you for being the best readers a blogger has ever had!

Sunday Afternoon 8/5/2018

Sixty-six years old and this is what my life has come to.

Most of our time these days is like the picture above, but the high drama continued with our former landlord who was in full loon mode on Friday. Brett messaged him on Friday to ask the status of our deposit. The landlord (LL) texted back that we had broken the freezer basket tracks and the freezer was “unusable” until it was fixed, and we would be charged for those repairs. The freezer basket worked fine when we left the house, the same way it worked the entire time we lived in the house – we told him we had a witness to its condition. Suddenly the refrigerator was still  under warranty and there would be no charges for repairs. I had told Brett ahead of this that I was sure LL was going to claim we broke the oven and damaged the floors, and sure enough he did not disappoint. When we mentioned that the oven had been “unusable” for nearly two months before we moved out and he had not seemed in any particular hurry to get that fixed he outright lied and said he had had three “licensed experts” look at the oven door, and they had concluded it was impact damage that we had caused. He could have stopped there, but no, he went on to say they had saved the shattered glass as proof. Uh no – Brett had helped the one repairman who ever showed up throw the piece of broken glass away! So LL backed down to two “experts,” but we said if they had ever come and looked at the glass they did so when we weren’t in the house, which was a major violation of our lease, so the whole oven argument was also quickly dropped. Then he started in on the floors, saying they were a mess and we hadn’t stripped or re-waxed them or gotten rid of the salt damage. We reminded him for about the fourth time that we had it in writing from him not to do the floors before we moved out! It took some back and forth, but he finally backed off that as well. The arguments and accusations went for on for a couple of hours, with almost every text from him containing a new (supposed) violation or some personal wrong we had done to him. He told Brett at one point that he was just a poor, sick old man, an honorable man and a former Marine, and we were disrespecting and dishonoring him (he’s only two years older than Brett, who spent 22 years in the navy versus getting kicked out after a couple of years so you can guess how that went over with us). He said we hadn’t cleaned the house while we lived there according to his directions or methods so therefore the house was not clean! Also, apropos of nothing, he told us he thought we were friends because we had discussed doing a house swap with him between Texas and Hawaii!  WHAT??? Anyway, at the end of all this he said we had been his best tenants ever and he had planned to give us back our whole deposit without even looking at the house (first time we heard this), but we screwed it up because we got angry when he stood us up last Sunday for the walk-through inspection. Everything, absolutely everything, according to him has been all our fault and we turned out to be nothing but a big disappointment. He said he is only going to mail a part of the deposit along with a list of all our transgressions, which we’ll believe if and when we ever see it. I have a strong feeling we’re going to be back on Kaua’i and in small claims court next year. The tax man will be coming for him in the interim though.

The landlord said he is going to have to charge us for the brown spot in the tub, but where is it??? I think he forgot we took LOTS of pictures, and had witnesses with us.

We continue to enjoy all that the resort and our condo have to offer. My favorite daily activity has been to soak in one of the hot tubs every morning for about 20 minutes, and then get some exercise in the pool. The hot tubs have a sandy bottom which feels great on my feet, and the temperature is wonderful – just at the point of being too hot when I get in but that I adjust to quickly. I love that I usually get the opportunity to chat with other visitors while I soak – I’ve met some very nice people this past week. And, I try to go down the pool slides every day. I keep telling myself I’m doing it for my grandson but the truth is I do it for myself because I LOVE pool slides and the ones here are awesome! The lazy river feature provides maybe too good of a workout – it feels like I’m carrying 50-pound weights on each leg as I walk back and forth.

YaYu will have her wisdom teeth removed early tomorrow morning. We know that everyone’s procedure goes differently – I was laid up for a couple of days eating nothing but applesauce, ice cream and mashed potatoes while Brett was eating pork chops for dinner the same evening he had his removed – so we’re just going to play it by ear afterwards. We can easily get over to Safeway for whatever she needs or wants to eat.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I am almost done with The Child Catchers. It’s been very thought-provoking, and at times has challenged some of my own thinking on adoption. I am still working my way through Our Towns. It’s very interesting, and my biggest take-away so far is that many people and places in the U.S. are not doing as badly as what gets reported. It’s reminded me of the old adage that a good story will only be repeated once while a bad one will be shared at least fifteen times.
  • Listening to: Again, I am loving the peace and quiet here.  I honestly had no idea how noisy our former neighborhoods were until we left: the chickens and roosters, loud cars, noisy neighbors, loud music, weed trimmers, saws and lawnmowers, and dogs barking were almost constantly making some kind of noise, even in the middle of the night. Yes, there were times when I could hear the breeze through the trees, and birds singing, and I sort of got used to the noise after a while, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate how much I enjoy true peace and quiet.
  • Watching: Although we have cable TV here, the only things I’ve been able to bring myself to occasionally watch are the Food Channel or HGTV, and only in very small doses. After only Netflix or Amazon or PBS for the past several years, the commercials drive me nuts now. I did enjoy watching Endeavour and the Great British Baking Show on a regular TV screen this past week versus my computer.
  • Cooking/baking: I baked a cake yesterday! The condo came equipped with a cake pan, mixing bowls, and measuring spoons and cups, so I made a butter cake with a chocolate glaze (which used up the last of our expensive chocolate powder and confectioners sugar). We’re having grilled steak for dinner tonight, and I plan to make chili-pork burritos and Chinese stir-fired tomatoes with eggs some time this week. Otherwise I’m not sure what else we’ll be having.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We took care of the last bit of banking we had to do here on the island, and will be ready to shut down our local account a few days before we go. We also got our VPN account set up – we needed one here at the condo and will need to have one as while we’re traveling. I otherwise accomplished nothing other than getting myself out to the pool every day because there was nothing else that needed to be accomplished! We officially transferred the Civic over to Alan and Cheryl this week, and are in the process of assembling a few things more to go to the thrift store but that’s the extent of our busy-ness these days.
  • Looking forward to: Brett and I are going to look at our travel calendars, pick dates and start making museum reservations for Paris, Florence and Rome. Otherwise, I’m not looking forward to anything more than spending time by the pool. The weather wasn’t ideal last week (warm, but always a bit overcast) so hopefully we’ll have some more sunny days this week. Hurricane Hector is currently passing by and has brought wind and some rain, off and on, but the past couple of days have been lovely most of the time.

    YaYu’s future dormitory at Bryn Mawr!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu got her dorm assignment this past week and will be sharing what appears to be a quite small room with a girl from the Los Angeles area. They’re already chatting and getting to know each other, and we’re all anxious to see what the room looks like inside. The dorm itself is in a great location on campus though and reputed to be one of the most desirable. Although dealing with our former landlord this past week was aggravating (which is putting it mildly), we did get all of his lying, bullying, inconsistencies, etc. on the record because his whole tirade was done through texts (Brett has messages from him going back to early May). Brett has taken screen shots of everything and stored them, making it much easier for us if we do have to go to court. Otherwise, just being here at the resort has been a very good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than buying the few things we need from the grocery store we’ve been using up what we brought with us from the house, trying not to waste anything.

    In my happy place

  • Grateful for: I hurt my back the day before we moved out of the house doing who knows what, and am very thankful I can sit on the bench in one of the hot tubs, have the jets massage my back, and voilà! any residual morning pain is gone. I climb out of the hot tub feeling terrific and my back doesn’t bother me the rest of the day!
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite type of chocolate: dark, milk or white? Although I like dark chocolate (in particular, dark chocolate with orange) and it’s pretty much all I eat now, my favorite type of chocolate will always be milk chocolate. I don’t eat much of any type of chocolate these days, and when I do it’s almost always dark chocolate now, but I still prefer milk chocolate. I’m pretty particular about it too – my favorite milk chocolate comes from See’s Candy, but I also like Lindt and authentic Cadbury chocolate from Great Britain (and I adore Cadbury Creme Eggs). Godiva is only so-so in my opinion. Hershey’s used to make a thick milk chocolate bar with almonds that was fabulous, but they discontinued it several years ago for some reason and I still miss it. I don’t care for white chocolate at all, or even consider it chocolate.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you? And most important, what’s your favorite type of chocolate?

Sunday Afternoon 7/29/2018

Sunset was approaching when we finally finished cleaning and arrived at the condo.

We are out of the house!

The landlord was a no-show for the inspection this morning. We arrived at the house with Cheryl and Alan at 7:15, and waited around until 8:30. Brett texted the landlord at 7:45 and he started out with “I forgot.” Then he began listing all the other appointments he had set up and had to get to (????), that his workers were no-shows, etc. At 8:30 we messaged him that we were leaving the keys and garage door openers on the kitchen counter (we took pictures of all of us at the house, the keys on the counter, etc.) and that we would see him in small claims court. Then the excuses started, each one contradicting the one before – he kept trying out different reasons for not showing up, I guess trying to find one he thought we might accept. He said we were “panicking” and that he didn’t need us there to do the inspection (Hawai’i law would beg to differ on that), and that he would have our check tonight – he was the one panicking! We sent him our forwarding address and told him to mail our check because we were done with him and all his excuses at that point. Anyway, the house was SPOTLESS and we took TONS of photos. We’re pretty sure the landlord knows at this point that his goose is cooked, and we doubt we’ll ever see our deposit, but the Hawai’i tax department is definitely going to be getting a message from us before we leave the island. I’m normally not a vindictive person, but after all the work we put into cleaning the house, his no-show and subsequent messaging is going to end up costing him a whole lot more than our deposit.

Pound cake french toast with Nutella, fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

On a brighter note, we had a wonderful breakfast with Cheryl and Alan at the Kountry Kitchen. Alan and I had more traditional breakfasts, but because it is Cheryl’s birthday today she and Brett decided to have the completely decadent (and delicious) pound cake french toast. How they finished it I don’t know, but they both managed to clean their plates. After breakfast Brett and I did a little grocery shopping so we’re set for the next couple of weeks.

I can’t express enough how nice it is to finally be at the condo. It’s air-conditioned, and we slept like babies last night although the bed is a little soft for our liking. It’s very quiet here – we can sleep with the windows closed and not have to listen to loud neighbors, screaming roosters, fans, etc. In fact, last night was the first I’ve been able to sleep since we arrived in Kaua’i without having to wear earplugs. The condo has a garbage disposal and best of all a dishwasher, something we’ve done without for the past four years. And of course there’s the pool! Brett and I are heading down there in a short while to walk some laps in the lazy river and lay out in the sun and RELAX!

We found out this last week that YaYu has to have her wisdom teeth removed ASAP – one of had become infected. She saw the oral surgeon last Monday, but they didn’t have any open appointments until September. Then we got a call on Wednesday that there was a cancellation on August 6, so she will be going in that morning to have three wisdom teeth removed. Hopefully it will go easily and she’ll only miss one day of work. Both Meiling’s and WenYu’s wisdom teeth came in without any issues, but they of course had to endure years of braces which YaYu didn’t need, so I guess the universe decided that things needed to be evened out.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Standard Deviation (loved it!), am still reading The Child Catchers, and just downloaded a new book by James Fallows and his wife, Deborah: Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America. In 2012 they splurged and bought a small plane and then spent five years flying around the United States, visiting small(er) towns and cities all over to try to understand the country at a more local level.
  • Listening to: Nothing – it is blissfully quiet here. Even the appliances are super quiet.
  • Watching: No one has been watching much of anything this week, although I did catch a few episodes of the new Netflix show, Sugar Rush. I’ll just say the show has potential, and I also now want to stop by Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie when we’re in Sydney. I also watched the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show on Friday. Tonight we’re going to watch Endeavour on an actual TV!
  • Cooking/baking: Although it was fun eating out for a while we are all glad to be where we can cook our own food again. I’m especially looking forward to eating more healthy foods again – restaurant meals and processed food were not my friends, and I gave up trying to avoid carbs. We’re having mabo dofu tonight (I brought our wok from the house), but I’ve put yakisoba, spaghetti with marinara and grilled Italian sausages (the resort has several grills available for guests to use), a soba salad with chicken, and noodles with pork sauce on the menu for this week. Even if YaYu is not home for dinner she said she will enjoy the leftovers.

    Lots of places in the girls’ shower for mildew to hide and grow, especially under that bottom ledge. Definitely NOT the best shower surround design for a house with no A/C in a very humid climate. The white stuff coming down from the bottom is a bleach paste I used to get rid of the mildew.

  • Happy I accomplished last week: The house was spotless when we were supposed to meet the landlord for the inspection this morning, all except for the floor being stripped and waxed, but that’s because he had told us he wanted to do it (we did thoroughly mop the floors though). The cleaning took a LOT of work, especially at the end, but we kept at it and got it done. You might think the house was filthy because of all the work we put into it, but it really wasn’t – things just get dirty here very fast. For example, I deep cleaned the girls’ bathroom nearly two weeks ago, and got rid of all the mildew that grows underneath the edge of the shower wall and other nooks and crannies. From then to now, the shower has not been used, and the windows in the bathroom and bedroom have been closed. Still, the caulking ended up covered again in mildew because of the humidity we’ve been experiencing, so I had to go in with the bleach again and get it off – ugh! Brett washed the house and cleaned all the screens last Tuesday, but our next door neighbor mowed his lawn on Wednesday and our lawn care guy came on Thursday, both of which filled the screens again with dust and dirt so Brett had to stop and wash them again. That’s the kind of stuff we found ourselves up against again and again, and along with packing and sorting, trips to the thrift shop, and the heat and crazy humidity it caused the cleaning to take longer and be more difficult than we imagined. Anyway, we also sold the last few things that needed to go last week (microwave, fan, folding table) and took more stuff to the thrift store on Friday (but we still have a couple more bags of stuff to go).
  • Looking forward to next week: Both Brett and I are so looking forward to doing nothing but sleeping in (in air-conditioned luxury), and relaxing out by the pool or swimming every day. It’s been too hot and way too humid to walk (and we’ve been too busy), but I’m going to walk several laps in the pool’s lazy river a couple of times every day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We sold the car! Alan and Cheryl decided it was a great island car for them at a great price and they are buying it from us! Neither Brett nor I are interested in owning a car again, but I have to admit I’m going to miss our little Civic. It it was also very convenient having two cars this weekend to get us moved over to the condo (our rental car is tiny!). I met some more wonderful Kaua’i people this past week and got to talk story with them for a while when they came to pick up the things they bought. These interactions will forever be one of my favorite Kaua’i memories. There are definitely some very strange/weird people here on Kaua’i but there are also the friendliest, warmest, and kindest people I have ever met or had the privilege to interact with and get to know.

    Smoked salmon board at Sam’s Ocean View – there was enough salmon left over for our bagels next morning! We also had a grilled cheese board (brie with fig jam), crispy cauliflower, and a small but yummy pizza.

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I used my last Southwest gift card that I had earned through Swagbucks when I purchased WenYu’s ticket to come to Portland for Christmas and saved $50. We still have to get her return flight to Boston but she doesn’t have a date yet (she wants to spend time in Oregon with her best friend and with Meiling before she goes back). We also kept to our budget while eating out this week, and enjoyed some very tasty meals.
  • Reporting gains and losses for July: We no longer have a scale so I have no idea if I’ve lost or gained weight. I’ve probably gained a few pounds though because we’ve been eating out so much and we haven’t been walking. I’m not really tracking our travel savings for the time being as we’re currently using the savings!
  • Grateful for: We thought it would be amazing if YaYu could earn a couple of thousand dollars or so this summer, but she will put more than double that amount into her savings account by the time we leave Kaua’i. Restaurant work here can be very lucrative, but YaYu is also a hustler, and has been proactive about picking up extra shifts, always willing to substitute for others when they need time off. We’re all very thankful that the restaurant manager took a chance on her (she literally had no job experience before she started) and that she’s been able to work and save so much toward her college expenses. Her scholarships covered most of her out-of-pocket costs this year, but she should have enough saved by the end of summer here to cover next year’s costs as well.

    My brown linen pants after cleaning blinds – lovely, aren’t they? The blue pants I was going to take along with me on our travels were also ruined.

  • Bonus question: What was the most difficult thing to clean for the move-out? Poor Brett put in a LOT of work this last week cleaning off the tops of the kitchen cabinets. What should have been a couple hours’ work took nearly four days because our wonderful landlord had apparently sprayed the tops of the cabinets with a ton of Pledge or some other kind of wax, and even though we regularly vacuumed up there, the heat and humidity had turned whatever he used into a thick, black sludge that had to be scraped off by hand. There was less dirt/grease on the tops of the cabinets in our Portland kitchen where we lived and cooked daily for nine years than what was on top of these cabinets – it was nasty. The landlord had also insisted that the tops of the ceiling fan blades should be sprayed with Pledge because “then the dust just flies fight off.” Uh no – Brett had been scraping off Pledge sludge for over two years because of all the dust that had stuck to the melting Pledge on the fans (which of course all had a grooved design in the blades). He put a very light coat of Pledge on the tops of the fan blades for the inspection but did not put any on the top of the cabinets – he said he just could not do that to the next tenants. My toughest cleaning job was getting the fabric tapes on the blinds clean and white again. It took several days of work and I ruined two pair of pants because of bleach splatters and stains. The smell was awful too, but that’s gone now and the tapes were clean and white and ready for inspection.

That’s it for this week. I am still exhausted from the cleaning and inspection, but the worst of this move is over and we are moving forward again. How did your week go? What good things happened for you? What did you accomplish?

Sunday Afternoon 7/22/2018

After a long absence, Pensive Cat was back in the yard again this week.

Less than a week to go until we move to condo, and less than a month to go before we begin the Big Adventure! Time is really starting to fly now, almost too fast at times. We will be ready for both happenings, but we know we’ve got to stay focused so that everything that needs to be done gets done and we don’t forget anything.

One very clean stove

We’ve been steadily plugging along with the house cleaning and are closing in on finishing it up. The inspection with the landlord will be next Sunday morning between 7:00 & 7:30 a.m. He was upset with us the other day because in spite of what we’d told him, in his mind he had decided he was going to get the keys the morning of the 28th, that we were going to give him back four days! Nope – we don’t move over to the condo until the evening of the 28th and will be working that whole day to finish up.  For all the work we’ve already put into cleaning this place, I still have a bad feeling about the final meeting with him and am expecting him to be a total jerk, but once it’s done we can move on, no matter the outcome. To strengthen our hand we are going to have a friend with us during the inspection as a witness so the landlord cannot claim damages/dirt later. We finished cleaning the stove this past week, and I’m working on the refrigerator and freezer today. One of the biggest challenges this past week was cleaning the white fabric tapes on the blinds. Because half of each blind sits in front of an open window, and because of the amount of dust, dirt and moisture that comes through the windows, the tapes in those areas of the blinds developed stains that I wasn’t sure we could get out. I discovered though that some judiciously applied bleach and some time out in the sun got them looking like new. The beautiful, clean blinds are now lying across the floor in the girls’ former room and will be hung up again right before we leave the house on the 28th to go to the condo. Another thing Brett and I have both noticed this past week is that there are absolutely no smooth surfaces anywhere in this house (except maybe the mirrors in the bathrooms). From the baseboards to the doors to the window blinds to floors to the faucets, every piece of this house has grooves or ledges or borders or some design feature which invites dirt or mildew to accumulate. It’s a lovely house, but has required a lot of extra work to keep it clean these past 33 months and now we know why.

It’s been the perfect island car

The auto detailer came over to the house last Monday and did a superb job on getting out all of the red dirt stains we had accumulated in the past four years. The result was worth every penny we paid and the car looks fantastic. We began advertising it last Tuesday but have only had one person ask questions so far. The detailer told us Civics are a popular car here, and ours is in very good condition and is priced right so we’ll see. We pick up our rental car this coming Friday – I can’t believe that date is arriving so quickly. I also admit to being a bit hopeful the car doesn’t sell before Saturday so we have two cars to take our things over to the condo – otherwise it will mean at least two trips.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost done with Standard Deviation, and have also started The Child Catchers:  Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce. The book is about how international and domestic adoption by evangelical Christians has become “a new front” in the culture wars. I’m just getting started and it’s already a very interesting read.
  • Listening to: It’s been quiet here all morning – YaYu left for work early, and Brett has been quietly plugging away at cleaning the tops of the kitchen cabinets. The washing machine is doing its thing though, but this is the last Sunday we’ll do laundry here!
  • Watching: None of us is really watching much of anything now. I watched the latest episode of Great British Baking Show on Friday, will watch Endeavour tomorrow (I think the last episode for this season is tonight), but that’s all.

    Brett and I shared this deliciously monstrous slice of Kauai Pie for dessert when we ate at the Olympic Cafe in Kapaa. We were shocked at the size of this “dessert for two” but we somehow finished it (and then didn’t feel like eating for another 24 hours).

  • Cooking/baking: Once we got the stove cleaned we decided that we’d also had enough of processed microwave-heated meals and are now getting take-out or going out for meals. The refrigerator/freezer is currently turned off so I can clean it, but once that’s done we’ll turn it back on so we can keep cold drinks and YaYu’s hot sauces in there (but nothing more). We still have our toaster and are having bagels and fruit for breakfast now, but otherwise we’ve been trying out affordable eateries in Kapaa for lunch and dinner. Thankfully YaYu gets most of her meals at work, so we haven’t been spending a fortune on eating out. Once we’re in the condo I will start cooking again.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I reserved all of our train tickets for the France part of our journey (Paris to Caen; Caen to Strasbourg; and Strasbourg to Bordeaux) and reserved cars for our four days in Normandy and to drive down to Lucerne, Switzerland in October. Other than pre-booking some museum visits, everything we planned to get done ahead of time has now been taken care of. Brett and I are going to make the museum reservations after we’re at the condo and have time to sit and talk about what we definitely want to see. I got the rice cooker and a few goodies packed up and sent off to YaYu, and a box of odds and ends that didn’t get into our shipment sent off to our friend on the mainland to go in with our other stuff. It has been much too humid, and we’ve been too busy, to walk this past week, but we’ve been getting LOTS of exercise in the house and will go back to walking again next week.
  • Looking forward to next week: Finishing up this damn house and moving over to the condo!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Pensive Cat, so called because he comes to our yard to sit and think, was back this week after a somewhat long absence. He’s a stray, and has been visiting us ever since we moved to this house in 2015. The tip of his left ear has been snipped which indicates he was caught and spayed at one point. Brett ordered and received the leather chukka boots he’s been wanting (Red Wings) this week and has been wearing them around the house to break them in a bit. They look good, are comfortable, and will be great for hiking around on our travels. Otherwise, nothing else really stands out this week – we’ve gotten a lot done but it’s been nothing but work, work, work.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We got a rebate of $28 from the electric company which will be enough to cover a couple more lunches out this week. Other than our meals, the only things we bought were bagels, cream cheese and ice cream – Safeway has been running a BOGO sale on ice cream this month: 2 Safeway Select 1/2 gallons for $5.99, and 2 Breyer containers for $6.99. But with the freezer off that pleasure will disappear for a while.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are very thankful that our friend Alan has agreed be here during our inspection next Sunday. The landlord has been giving off vibes that he is going to try to use double talk, intimidation, or maybe even threats with us but we think he may be less likely to do so when he sees we have a witness with us. We don’t want him able to say one thing to us and then something else later if we have to take him to court, and it will be harder for him to complain that something is not clean when there’s another person who can see that it obviously is.

    My secret cleaning weapons!

  • Bonus question: Do you have any special tools that you’ve used for cleaning? I’m not sure if these are unusual or secret, but the Sharpie pen, some felt-tipped pens, a pedicure sponge and baby wipes have all been proving useful. For example, I was stumped about how to get the metal burner ports on the stove cleaned but discovered that a disposable pedicure sponge, along with a little elbow grease, made the ports look like they’re brand new! The abrasive side of the sponge is handy because it’s small and flexible enough to get into tight places, and with just enough abrasion to get things clean without scratching them. Unscented baby wipes have been another great cleaning tool. We are running out of rags, but the wipes don’t contain lotion and have made cleaning dirty window blinds and other surfaces easy. The black Sharpie pen and the colored felt-tipped pen have been useful for small touch-ups in the kitchen (small nicks on the cabinets, a scratch on the stove top).

That’s a wrap for this week! What good things happened for you? What did you accomplish? What are you reading these days? Do you use any unusual items for cleaning?

I’m thinking next Sunday’s post will probably be short, and really not more than a check-in, but I should be back to regular posting after that. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we get our deposit back and our car sells!

Sunday Afternoon 7/15/2018

This is pretty close to the view we’ll have from our condo – we’ll be a couple of floors down though, looking out over the roofs of the pavilions at the pool and the beach.

Less than two weeks to go before condo time! Sometimes the thought of being there in another couple of weeks seems like the only thing keeping me sane.

Yesterday when we were out on our walk we ran into a woman who we met back in April when the landlord first advertised the house. She was interested then, but he just contacted her this past Friday and told her she had been “chosen” (while at the same time renewing the ad on Craigslist). We have heard him say some very unkind and untrue things about her over the past few months, and while we were talking with her we also learned he has been sort of trash-talking us. He was also hinting to her that we won’t be getting our deposit back because of all the “damage” we’ve done to the house. The reality is the house will be as clean as (or cleaner than) it was when we moved in, and I think he’s going to be quite surprised when he discovers he’s dealing with me over the inspection and the security deposit. He’s going to find out pretty quickly that I know Hawai’i law and our rights as tenants, I’m not a pushover, and that he can either deal honestly with us or see us in small claims court – we have up to a year to file against him. No matter what happens though, we’ll still be out on the 28th, and I can’t wait.

The girls’ room is clean and ready for inspection (minus the last of our hanging clothes)

Things are moving along with the cleaning though. The girls’ room and bathroom have both been deep cleaned and except for cleaning the ceiling fan both are ready for inspection. Brett’s going to do all the fans in the house a couple of days before we leave so they are super clean for the walk-through inspection (dust accumulates quickly in this weather). I got our bedroom closet cleaned out and freshened up this past week, and we’ve started cleaning our bedroom and in the kitchen – all the cabinets have been emptied and the insides wiped down. The oven was supposed to be repaired this past week but that didn’t happen and it’s looking more and more like it won’t be done before we move out. I’m going to go ahead and finish cleaning the stove this week (we’re not really cooking on it any more) so it’s ready whether the oven is or not. We’ll be emptying out the refrigerator and freezer this week so that I can turn them off for a while next weekend to deep clean it as well. After it’s empty (or nearly empty) and clean we’ll be getting take-out for our meals.

On top of all this turmoil though we got a surprising piece of good fortune dropped into our laps this past week. On Wednesday evening I received an email from Airbnb suggesting that we cancel our 2019 Tokyo reservation because our host still had not obtained licensing for the rental. We communicated with the host, and will be working directly with her versus booking another Airbnb rental, staying in the same apartment at the same price. However,  Airbnb gave us a gift certificate for the entire amount of our three-month stay even though we had only paid for the first month (which was refunded in full). The certificate is worth several thousands of dollars, and can be used for any Airbnb rental anywhere in the world if we book before July of next year. They also gave us a gift certificate for $100 to use toward any Airbnb experience! We’ll have to think about that one, but right now it looks like we’ll be traveling again after we finish up next summer’s stay in Portland – stay tuned!

I won’t be posting this week until next Sunday – there is so much to do around here and I need to focus on that. It’s been busy enough that even if we don’t get out for a walk both Brett and I usually get all our steps/miles just from working in the house!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve tried to read more of Standard Deviation this week but haven’t gotten through much – a few pages and I’m ready to fall asleep.
  • Listening to: Apparently a whole lot of babies hatched at the same time this past week because the yard is filled with the sound of peeping baby chicks! They are making enough noise to drown out just about everything else. The washer and dryer are doing their thing too – we have to get YaYu’s uniforms ready before she goes to work this afternoon. So far the neighbors are quiet, but we’re expecting the neighbor above us to turn on his wood chipper or whatever other noisy piece of equipment he’s using any moment now.
  • Watching: I caught up with another episode of the Great British Baking Show, and we’ll watch another episode of Endeavour tomorrow after it posts online. Otherwise, I’ve been watching an episode or two at a time of Victory at Sea (Amazon Prime) and the Ken Burns’ documentary about World War II (The War, on Netflix) when I can find time to squeeze them in. I’ve watched both series before (a couple of times actually), but the second world war era is my favorite historical period to study (followed by the Civil War) and the film clips, photos and stories from then still fascinate me even though I’ve seen most of them before. The narration for Victory at Sea is a bit over the top now, to the point where it can make me laugh out loud at times, but I get that it was a different time when the series was made (1952), and the war and the Allied victory were still fresh in everyone’s minds.

    Nothing says fine dining like eating a microwaved chicken pot pie on a paper plate.

  • Cooking/baking: With the oven still not repaired, the party pan of Stouffer’s chicken enchiladas I had planned to fix tonight won’t be happening – it will instead be going over to the condo with us. Brett and I are having steak sandwiches tonight, and chicken pot pies, quiche, macaroni & cheese, and pork tacos this week in our effort to completely clean out the fridge and freezer. I’m actually looking forward to doing some cooking and eating “real” food – all this processed food is starting to wear me down.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I finally got all of the touch-up painting done. It was nothing that particularly needed to be done, but I’m not giving this landlord an inch (and he did leave paint for us if we ever needed it). Getting the girls’ room finished was a big accomplishment, especially getting the blinds cleaned, and the closet freshened up. The room was not really dirty, more like cluttered, but it looks really, really good now and is move-in ready. Brett took a full carload of items to the thrift store last week – we should only have a bag or two left to go, if that, when we leave the house. I finally remembered to order locks for our luggage and luggage tags from Amazon – they should arrive next week. Brett and I got in a few walks last week, but usually we were too busy in the house and/or the weather was awful (rain or oppressive humidity). I booked the last two flights inside Europe with RyanAir, and reserved our hotel stay in the Cinque Terre.
  • Looking forward to next week: The car detailer is coming to the house tomorrow to get that job done, and once the car is spiffed up we will get it listed for sale. Fingers are crossed that sale goes quickly. I am also going to begin researching and reserving our train travel in France, reserve our rental cars, and Brett and I are going to discuss what museums we want to visit and pre-book those.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Because of the humidity, mildew is a constant issue here. We had some in the showers that was very stubborn but I researched online and found two ways to treat it and both methods worked perfectly (although the whole house smelled strongly of bleach for a couple of days). YaYu paid for her first semester at Bryn Mawr – no loans! She has enough in the bank now to cover the rest of this year’s expenses and most of next year, and she’ll be working right up until we leave so she can fatten her bank account even more. The generous gifts from Airbnb were a complete surprise, and are a game changer as far as future plans are concerned.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We sold a few more small things and I’m setting all that money aside for now for our final week in the house when we’ll be going out or getting take-out for our meals most of the time. So far though our monthly food bill has been less than half of what we usually spend, even it if it mostly prepared foods. Including fees for our luggage, reserved seats, and carry-ons, the total for the two RyanAir flights for both of us were less than $300.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling more and more grateful each day for the time we have to clean and get ready to move out of our house, especially with the summer heat and humidity we’re having to deal with now. I cannot imagine only having a week or less to get this house ready for our crazy landlord. We may end up getting screwed over by him, but we know we will be leaving the house in superb condition.

    Clean and tidy has a different meaning now that we’re sharing our bathroom with YaYu.

  • Bonus question: Which would you rather clean, the kitchen or the bathroom? Neither really – sometimes I wish we could afford someone to come in and do it for us. But, since that’s not happening, the bathroom is actually the easier of the two in my opinion. Although it sometimes seems like it takes a bit more elbow grease (the tub and shower stalls), kitchens actually have a whole lot more places for dirt to hide and require near constant upkeep. We learned lots of cleaning tricks back in the day when we had to clean our navy housing for inspection, and learned quickly that keeping up with the cleaning in both the bathroom or kitchen and not let it slide (however, it turned out that every house we lived in had either the bathroom or kitchen remodeled when we moved out). Here’s one cleaning trick we learned: to clean oven racks or a cast iron grill, double-bag two large trash bags. Place the racks or grill in the bag, set outside (on a patio, or rocks – just not on grass or near plants) and add a generous amount of ammonia. Tie up the bags and let them sit overnight. You will see some ammonia leaking from the bottom of the bags, but it’s the fumes inside that are doing all the work. The next day wash racks or grill with steel wool, or even just a magic sponge. The grease and dirt will come right off with light to no scrubbing, and the racks will look good as new! If your oven is not too dirty, you can also set a glass measuring cup of ammonia inside the oven overnight with the door shut. Grease and dirt in the oven should easily wash out with little to no scrubbing. A magic sponge works great to clean and keep your oven glass door clean and grease free between oven cleanings.

That’s all for this week – hope you all had a good one. What did you accomplish this last week? What good things happened for you? What is your least favorite room to clean?

I’ll be back next Sunday!

Sunday Afternoon 7/8/2018

The living room is now YaYu’s room until we move out. I like a clean and orderly house so this is keeping me on edge a bit, but we’ll be out of here before we know it.

We are “living rough” around here these days. We’ve still got the Aerobed and our queen-size bed until right before we move out which is helping us stay more comfortable than we imagined we would be at this point. Also, because the landlord bought our washer and dryer and they’re staying in the house we don’t have to deal with the using or paying for the laundromat. But otherwise things have gotten somewhat basic around here. We’re eating on paper plates with plastic utensils these day, and have few to no cooking tools. I will say that living this simply really helps to focus the mind on efforts to get stuff done and moving along.

The pantry these days (baking soda and vinegar are for cleaning)

As I wrote last week we ended up not having to hold our garage sale this weekend because everyone who came to pick up the items we had listed on the Buy & Sell “shopped” all the stuff we were going to put out at the sale and pretty much all of it got snapped up. We put the last few big items on Buy & Sell on Thursday and all sold in a day. Brett will take the few remaining items to the thrift store this week. Next up on our to-do list will be getting the car detailed and listed for sale.

I had a bit of a dental scare this past week when some of the glue on the bridge I have on my lower front teeth fell out. Our dentist was on vacation, and I had visions of needing to have the whole bridge replaced before we leave, costing us $$$, maybe $$$$. But I called the dentist the day he got back and he said it just needs re-gluing, everything else is fine. He said if it comes unglued while we’re traveling that I should see a local dentist about it. I guess that could end up being an interesting “cultural experience” if it happens. Our dental insurance covers us worldwide, and thankfully we’re visiting countries where good dental care is offered but fingers are crossed that after the re-glue this week I’ll be good to go for a while.

YaYu’s final scholarship check arrived in the mail yesterday . . . and was $500 more than she was expecting! The organization first emailed her last April that she was being awarded a $1000 scholarship. A couple of days later though she received a second email from them with an apology and note that she would only be getting $500. Oh well. But, when she opened the envelope today the check was for $1000 after all, bringing her total scholarship amount from local Kaua’i organizations to $5500. She continues to earn lots from her job, and will be leaving the island with a very healthy bank account.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished both the Donna Leon and Elizabeth George mysteries, and have started Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. It’s a fun read – perfect for now when everything around us is craziness. I am also #1 on the waitlist for another book at the library, and hoping it becomes available this week.
  • Listening to: We’ve had a cool morning, with heavy rain at times. But now the neighborhood roosters are screaming, and dogs are barking, so maybe all we’re going to be stuck with for the rest of the day is overcast. We’ve got the laundry going right now but otherwise it’s quiet inside – I’m writing and Brett and YaYu are reading.
  • Watching: Without a TV, Brett and I haven’t been really watching much of anything. I did catch another episode of The Great British Baking Show online, and we’re going to watch Endeavour tonight on my computer.
  • Cooking/baking: Alan & Cheryl bought our grill, and another person who came to pick up something asked about and ended up buying our slow cooker (!) so all we have now is a rice cooker, microwave oven and the stovetop for cooking – the oven still isn’t fixed and no word when that’s happening. So, it’s been interesting, to put it mildly, trying to come up with things to fix for meals. Stouffer’s entrees have helped us fill in some gaps. but tonight for dinner I’m making Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs. The pantry is empty except for some rice, a jar of peanut butter and some Diet Snapples.

    When teenagers move out of their room . . . sigh. We eventually got everything out and are ready to begin deep cleaning the room beginning tomorrow.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I am thrilled with how much we sold this past week, and that it has gone to people who were so happy to get it. YaYu got her stuff packed and we cleaned everything out of her room so the deep clean in there can begin next week. We didn’t get to walk much last week because of the humidity, rain, and because we were sometimes busy with customers. Somehow though we still managed to get in our steps and miles most days. I’ve been keeping up with my liquid intake – the humidity earlier in the week was brutal and staying hydrated has been a necessity.

    Friday afternoon was cooler and quite breezy for a change so we finally got out for a walk. Lots of heavy wave action was going on.

  • Looking forward to next week:  I’m not exactly looking forward to it but we’ll get YaYu’s room AND bathroom deep cleaned next week, and then move into the kitchen and get started in there as the cabinets are all empty now. Getting these two areas done will take us that much closer to getting out of here and moving over to the condo.

    Costco’s haupia cake . . . so good it should be illegal.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Both Brett and I are so, so happy that  friends Alan and Cheryl are finally here on Kaua’i (but sad too that we’ll only be able to see them for a couple of months before we take off). Costco had haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes again so we are enjoying one of those – they’re big so they last for a little over a week between the three of us. For the past couple of years I have had a terrible time getting anyone to cut my hair as short as I want it (like super short), but yesterday I finally got a great cut and I love it! Along with the humidity there has been rain every day, a good thing because it means we don’t have to water the lawn and run up our final water bill. And of course, the amount of YaYu’s scholarship check was a very good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We “stocked up” on frozen meals (as much as our little freezer would hold), fruit, and produce from the farmers’ market, but otherwise we didn’t spend anything else this week. We made a nice bit of money from selling our stuff, half again what we thought we’d make! Most of it went into the bank but we’re holding on to some to cover the car being detailed.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very grateful the fix on my bridge will be an easy and inexpensive one versus having to spend a big amount right now on having a new bridge made. I’m also thankful and blessed that I was able to meet and talk with so many wonderful people this week when they came to buy stuff from us. The aloha is so strong here.
  • Bonus question: What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at a garage sale? What’s the best free thing you’ve ever found? Brett and I talked about this and agreed that our best garage sale find was the Cassette Feu butane cookstove that we found at Portland yard sale a few years ago. We already had one that we bought in Japan when we lived there (with all the instructions, labels, etc. in Japanese), and had been wanting to buy a second one so we were beyond thrilled to find a brand new, never-opened one at the sale for just $10. The price was amazing considering that retail price for the cooker model we got is anywhere from $70 to $90. These cookstoves are great for camping, for tabletop cooking, or to use if power is lost and the stove and appliances won’t work. The best free thing we ever found was a white KitchenAid stand mixer, complete with all the attachments. We were walking home from Trader Joe’s in Portland one day, and spotted the mixer in a free pile in front of a house. We took it home, cleaned it up, and sold it on Craigslist – the money we made went toward our move over here to Kaua’i!

That’s it for this week – I hope you had a great week too. What good things happened for you? What are you cooking or baking? What are you looking forward to next week?

Sunday Afternoon 7/01/2018

Everything ready to be loaded into the small container – all of this didn’t even cover one side of it though.

July is here! This is going to be a busy month for us, although after this coming week things should calm down and it will be all about the cleaning. But, we’ll be out of the house on the 28th and into our condo at the beautiful Waipouli Beach Resort for a final “Kaua’i vacation” before we go. Right now though it feels like Crazyland around here. The house has been something of a mess as we had things organized and staged for the movers last Friday and now we’re now getting things ready to go to Alan and Cheryl this week and for our garage sale on Friday. We were able to sell a few more pieces of furniture through our local Buy & Sell group this past week – those things thankfully went very quickly. The only furniture that’s left to sell now are our sofa and living room chair, and the two wicker chair that were out on the lanai, but we’ll put them out at the garage sale and hopefully they will go. Whatever is left over from the garage sale though will go to the thrift store.

I scored an amazing deal this past week for the car rental for our last 24 days on the island. We are going to have our car detailed and listed for sale on the 20th of this month, and want to have a rental we can use on the chance the car sells quickly. I started checking the deals Costco had (we have always found the lowest price through their site) and the best I found there was $57/day through Budget. Brett had also checked with two local car rental businesses, where you can get a “less than new” car for supposedly less than regular car rentals, but their prices, once we added in fees and taxes, weren’t any better. When I showed Brett the Costco price he thought it was OK, but suggested I call the local Budget office and see if they would give us a kamaaina discount. However, the price I was quoted was more than the Costco price (!) so I said “thanks but no thanks, I’ll go ahead and rent from Costco.” I was asked to wait for a moment and then the agent I was speaking came back and offered me the same car for $38/day, all taxes and fees included! So, one more thing taken care of – I just hope though we can fit all of our luggage in the car when it’s time to head to the airport.

Brett level (on the right) is keeping the oven light off for now. So classy.

The repairman came as scheduled this past week to replace the oven door glass, but he could not finish the repair because the landlord had failed to order an additional part needed. Sigh. So, the repair guy ordered the part but no one has any idea how long it will take for it to show up or when the repair guy can come back. It also turns out that the landlord would have been better off ordering a whole new door versus just the glass – the door costs $146 and Brett could have put it on. By ordering just the glass but paying the repairman’s service fees for installing it the landlord is paying twice that. In the meantime, without a door the oven light was staying on all the time which was super annoying, but Brett jury-rigged the light switch with his level. I also figured the lack of a door on the oven, and the fact we probably won’t be using it again before we go (and can’t anyway until the door is repaired), made it a good time to clean it for our move out, so I got that job done.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost done with the Donna Leon mystery and have been enjoying it, but the new Inspector Lynley mystery, The Punishment She Deserves, also came off of hold this week so I’m reading that too (Inspector Lynley during the day, Donna Leon at night). Elizabeth George’s Lynley mysteries are always great to read, but always require just a bit more concentration to catch everything (which has sort of been hard to do this week).
  • Listening to: It’s overcast and cool-ish today (but still a bit humid) so everybody and their brother is out working on their lawn – lots and lots of weed trimmers and lawnmowers are in operation outside and it’s noisy. Inside it’s quiet though – YaYu is at work (double shift today), and Brett is reading. I’m getting ready to start the laundry though so the inner quiet will stop for a while. With YaYu wearing a uniform to work the amount of laundry we have to do has been cut in half versus what we washed while she was in school (three changes a day: school, sports, and evening).
  • Watching: Brett and I have watched a few more episodes of Bailey & Scott, another episode of The Great British Baking Show, and we’re going to watch another episode of Endeavour tonight. We’re taking a break from Parts Unknown – it’s just too much to try to binge watch. The TV will come down off the wall tomorrow to be boxed up for its move. Anything we’re watching from here on out, until we get to the condo, will be done on our computers or tablets.

    We didn’t move very much this time, but it still seemed like we had So. Much. Stuff.  (there were also a few things in the kitchen besides what’s in this picture)

  • Cooking/baking: The cookware went into our shipment on Friday so all we have to cook with now is our wok and a frying pan. Add this to YaYu’s crazy schedule and her decision to give up meat and it’s difficult to know what to have. Brett and I are going to have Stouffer’s stuffed peppers for dinner tonight, and all I know that we’ll be having next week are Italian sausages and marina fixed in the slow cooker, and kalua pork in the slow cooker. I’m putting the slow cooker out at the garage sale though so this may be the last week we’ll have it. If it doesn’t sell though we’ll take it along to the condo and use it there before taking it to the thrift store. Brett is going to clean up the grill this week and we’ll see if we can get someone to take it off our hands.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting everything organized for the movers was a chore – we kept going through the house and finding things we’d missed before on each round (and still found a couple of things we missed after they left). To us it still looks like we have way too much stuff, but it’s less than a quarter of what we shipped over here. I finished painting the pantry closet, and have started on the other closets. It was difficult to find time to walk this week – it rained quite a bit, and was very humid in between – but we managed to get four walks in. It was cool and windy enough on a couple of days that we were able to walk out to the Pineapple Dump.

    Fierce seas out at the Pineapple Dump

  • Looking forward to next week: We’ll be getting everything staged to go over to Alan and Cheryl’s house this week, and then setting up for the garage sale. It’s going to take some work, but it means we will be that much closer to getting ready to go. I’m not sure though what we’ll be displaying things on – we have one 6-foot table (that will be for sale) but that’s it. I’m looking forward though to getting rid of more stuff – that’s the important thing. 
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu took Brett and I out on Thursday to see Incredibles 2 – very fun! It was especially nice to get out of the house for a while – we didn’t realize how much we needed a break until we had one.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We’re still pinching ourselves over huge savings on the car rental because the best we thought we might save with the kamaaina discount was around $150, tops. We also took the last of our change/$1 bill savings to the bank this past week. It was an easy way to put away a little extra every month, and it added up more quickly than we imagined. Brett and I plan to set up a new jar once the Big Adventure is over, to save for our next adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling thankful right now for the time we’ve had and will have to pull all the parts of our move together. Although this coming week is going to be hectic and busy, after this we’ll have lots of time to wrap up things up here and get ourselves relaxed and ready to travel.
  • Bonus question: Do you like any weird or strange food combinations? This question came from YaYu, who puts sriracha, other hot sauces, red chili flakes or chili powder on everything. She also likes marinara sauce on salad instead of salad dressing. No thanks! I don’t think I eat any weird combinations now, but when I was young I liked sour cream with ketchup sandwiches because they were so tangy. I can’t imagine eating that now – ugh! Also, I went through a thankfully short phase where I liked peanut butter and mustard sandwiches. I have no idea where that combination came from but I’m sure glad it didn’t last long. I never had any weird cravings when I was pregnant either – just tasty Memphis barbecue.

I had to boil eggs in the wok yesterday because all the saucepans went with our shipment. I’m going to try to boil spaghetti in it this week – wish me luck!

That’s all for this week from the shrinking Casa Aloha – I hope you all had a good and productive week as well. What good things happened for you? Did you or do you eat any “strange” food combinations? Do you have special plans for the Fourth of July?

Sunday Afternoon 6/24/2018

We spent some of Father’s Day at the beach – it was a beautiful day!

After a few weeks of feeling like nothing much was happening around here, things are about to get busy, at least for the next few weeks. This coming Friday morning Royal Hawaiian will arrive to pack up the items we are shipping back to the mainland, then the following week our friends Alan and Cheryl arrive on the island and we’ll be moving the furniture and items they purchased from us over to their house, and the week after that will be our big garage sale. I’m going to try to keep to my regular writing schedule, but will not make any guarantees. If nothing else, I want to at least do the Sunday Afternoon post to catch up. I hope readers will hang in there with me until all these things get taken care of and we can sort of stand down again..

The glassy water on Tuesday should have been a warning about how still the air was.

This past Tuesday evening I had a scary run-in with heat exhaustion while Brett and I were on our walk. We are walking later in the day now in order to give the sun time to go down a bit more and the breeze to pick up a bit, but that evening there was absolutely NO breeze when we got to the beach path – I’ve never felt the air so still. It didn’t seem all that humid though, or overly hot, so we started off at our usual brisk pace. We always carry water, and always stop to drink at our turn-around point before starting back, which we did. The return trip to the car is mostly downhill and there’s usually a breeze in our face to cool us off, but if anything the air was even more dead this time on the way back, and about halfway to the car I started to feel strange. I stopped and drank some more water but by the time we got down to the bottom of the hill I knew something was wrong – I was sweating profusely, my legs were cramping, I was starting to get a headache, and felt like if I went further I was going to pass out. I stopped and sat down at one of the shaded picnic tables and Brett went off to get the car. I must have looked awful because a woman who was walking her dogs stopped and stayed with me until he came back. I took a long, cold shower and drank a lot of water after we got home, but it took several hours before I felt normal and not overheated. Anyway, lesson learned – we can still walk if it’s hot, humid and there’s no breeze, but not at our usual pace, and we need to turn around sooner.

We’ve decided our landlord is just plain nuts. He brought some potential renters over this past week, a lovely retired couple, but after showing them around he made himself at home in our living room and proceeded to rant about his expectations, what someone could and couldn’t do in the house, how much he charges for minor things, etc. pretty much effectively talking them out of ever wanting to have to deal with him. Plus, he slipped in a few racist remarks and gossiped about other potential renters including making up stuff about them. It was appalling. We’ve pretty much decided he’s setting us up to give us back very little if any of our security deposit – he was looking over everything while he was showing the house, and told us while he’ll do a walk-through with us the “real” inspection happens after we move out and that’s when “finds” things (which is illegal under Hawaii landlord-tenant law). We will be glad though to be finished with this guy – but it’s sad because up until the last few months he has been very easy to work with.

Some of the “river of debris” that currently runs the entire length of Kealia Beach, made up of small pieces of driftwood left over from April storms and flooding. Clean-up crews will eventually get to it, but it’s not a priority for now.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Grant – such a good biography and for a couple of days after it was done I felt a bit lost not having it to read. I had two more books come off of hold at the same time though which worked out well. I read The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In a Store by Cait Flanders in three days and am now reading The Temptation of Forgiveness: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon.
  • Listening to: Another quiet day at Casa Aloha. YaYu is working the breakfast and lunch shift today, and Brett is reading. It was raining earlier this morning, and there’s a nice, cool-ish breeze now. No one for now is working on their lawn or power-washing anything, and the chickens are quiet, so it’s all very peaceful and I love it!
  • Watching: We finished up the second season of Goliath – great acting all around – but didn’t enjoy it as much as the first season. We’re currently watching Scott & Bailey, a British series about two female police detectives in Manchester. So far it’s been good, and we’re glad there are a few seasons of it as well. We continue to watch an episode or two of Parts Unknown a few evenings a week. The new season of the Great British Baking Show is back on PBS too – I love that show!
  • Cooking/baking: Not sure what we’re having for dinner tonight but we have several choices. Quiche maybe? The oven door is supposed to be repaired on Tuesday, so it will be nice to have that option available for cooking again. On the dinner menu this week will be pork and eggplant stir fry, macaroni and cheese, pepperoni pizza, and noodles with pork sauce. My KA mixer is going into our shipment on Friday, so I’m going to try to bake one more cake before it goes.

    My favorite view on Kaua’i shows the power of the ocean, and how far away we are from every other place out here in the ocean.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got the last of the pictures down and nail holes filled, but the landlord not so subtly let us know the other day that in his opinion we were in violation of our lease by hanging any pictures at all (even though I dare him to find any of the holes), so I’m not sure at this point why I’m putting all this effort into it. I’m still working on the pantry shelves because the shelf liner we used stuck to the paint so I’m having to sand and then repaint the shelves. YaYu did a great job of cleaning out her room, closet and dressers the other day so things are moving along in there as well. We had hoped to walk five days this past week, but only got in four – we didn’t get to walk on Friday because it rained most of the day. On Saturday though it was cool and breezy enough for us to walk out to the Pineapple Dump to check out my favorite view on the island.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m greatly looking forward to getting the first round of our upcoming move out of the way on Friday. We’ve got lots of work to do this week to get ready for that, but it will mean things are starting to move along again. Hopefully Brett and I can also fit in another trip to the beach.

    Duke came a relaxed with us for a while – such a good little pug!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I went to the beach not once, but twice this week – so nice! Last Tuesday the sweet little pug in the picture above came and sat with us while his “mom” went swimming – he had come up to say hello and then made himself at home on my beach mat, and the young woman asked if we would keep an eye on him while she went out in the water. No problem – he must have known we were “pug people!” YaYu worked lots of hours (and got overtime) and made lots of tips this past week. She is getting ready to pay her first bill at Bryn Mawr in the next couple of weeks so this helped calm her down a bit. We found haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes at Costco and  bought one – Brett is in heaven as he hasn’t had any for over two years and it’s one of his favorites.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: It was just a so-so frugal week for – we skipped the farmers’ market again but stopped at Safeway for a few things so it evened out, and we bought peaches and another watermelon (and a cake) at Costco when we went to get gas for the car. I also ordered a replacement screen from Amazon to hang in the doorway between the house and the garage – the one that was here when we moved in is on its last legs. We put $3.46 into the change/$1 bill jar, the change we got back at Safeway.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I didn’t gain or lose any weight this month, and we put $2775 toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling sort of thankful right now for all those times we had to clean our navy housing for white-glove inspections – we know how to deep clean and we’re going to hold the landlord’s feet to the fire to get as much of our deposit back as possible!
  • Bonus question: How did you learn to cook? I am for the most part a self-taught cook. My grandmother on my mom’s side was not a good cook – the only thing she made that was memorable were her stewed apples. They were divine, but she never passed on how to make them so they’re only a memory now. My dad’s mom was a wonderful cook, but she lived far away so I only got to observe her and eat her cooking during the times I visited Indiana (same for my dad’s sister and his sister-in-law – they were both amazing cooks). My dad didn’t cook, and mom was frankly mediocre. Cooking was more of a chore for her because she had never really learned from her mom, plus she worked full time and was heavily into convenience foods which were very salty and not very healthy. Growing up I paid attention when my friends’ moms cooked and picked up some of their techniques, ideas and flavors, and I also noticed things that tasted good whenever I went out and often tried to replicate them. I consider myself a “journeyman” cook though – I have solid basic skills, know how to follow a recipe and when and how to adapt or change it, and the things I make turn out well and taste good, but cooking is not a passion for me. I’m also at a stage in my life right now where I’m ready for a break from regular cooking and meal planning.

The grands – this cracks me up!

That’s all for this week! I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to post this week – we have a lot going on. How did your week go? What are you reading? What frugal things did you do? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 6/17/2018

We call this section of the beach path we’re walking now the “Pass of Doom” – each side of the cut is high enough that the breeze stops, the sound of the waves disappears, the temperature climbs by 10 – 15 degrees, and the humidity concentrates.

Happy Father’s Day to any and all dads who are reading today! YaYu is working, but here at Casa Aloha Brett is enjoying a Day of Doing Nothing (although he still got up and made the coffee this morning). We bought a beautiful fresh fruit tart at Costco the other day and will having that this evening as part of our celebration.

Pass of Doom II – thankfully not as long as the other one, but all the same oppressive features (this was in the early evening, when it was in the shade – still hot and muggy though).

Summer has arrived . . . and so has the humidity. We’re not to the stage yet where it’s a constant, miserable presence, but it’s getting there. The heat and humidity has been hardest to deal with when Brett and I go for our walk. There’s thankfully almost always a cool breeze down by the beach, but we still seem to always come back soaked in sweat. We recently changed where we walk on the beach path because we wanted more hills to help continue our “strength training,” and are enjoying all the different views and vistas.

This view is our reward at the turn-around point of our walk. Note how the waves arrive out past the rocks and their directions as they approach the shore!

One of the things I will miss the most about Kaua’i is our year-round local farmers’ market. The weekly Kapaa market is always been bursting with affordable, beautiful produce, and it’s made it possible for us to eat far more fruits and vegetables than we would be otherwise. I also will miss several of the farmers that we’ve gotten to know. Below is what we bought this last week, all for $24.50. We got the two big bags of lychee for just $5, less than we usually pay for half that amount. They’re also very sweet and juicy.

This week’s haul from the farmers’ market.

We were supposed to be heading to the Big Island next weekend to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but because the park and Camp Kilauea (where we were going to stay) are both closed due to volcanic activity we’ve decided to cancel the trip. We had thought about driving up from Hilo over the north side of the island and spending the night in the Kona area, but just are not feeling it and were not thrilled about incurring the extra expense for gas, meals, and a hotel room (our cabin at Camp Kilauea had a kitchen). Plus, our flight times conflict with YaYu’s work schedule which would have made things tricky, so we’ve decided to save our money and put it toward the Big Adventure. Our airline tickets were purchased with miles I had accumulated, and while I’m sad to give those up it’s not as painful as if I had paid cash (although realistically if I’d paid cash we’d still be going)

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Cooking Gene this week and am making good progress getting through Grant. Using food and Southern cooking as the central theme, The Cooking Gene gives an in-depth view of the lasting influence of slavery. It’s an interesting, but a tough read at times. I’m thoroughly enjoying Grant – it’s well-written and has added lots of detail and nuance to things I already knew about him. I had no idea though when I started that the book has 1104 pages! I’ve been reading three to four chapters a day, and hopefully I can finish it before it goes back. I’ve started Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman. I loved every one of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, but this is the first one by his daughter that I’ve read and so far it’s great.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet around here today. YaYu is at work, Brett is reading and I guess all the dads are taking a day off from yard work and other chores because there’s not one weed trimmer or lawn mower being operated in our neighborhood (yeah!). There’s just the buzz of the ceiling fan right now and a few birds singing in the trees outside. The laundry awaits, but I’m not in any hurry to get it started – I prefer the quiet.
  • Watching: We’re still watching two or three episodes of Parts Unknown each evening – we’re now in Season Three. We’ve also started watching the new season of Goliath, with Billy Bob Thornton. Loved Season 1 and so far Season 2 is keeping up.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having curry with chicken and vegetables for our dinner tonight, one of Brett’s favorites. We were hoping for the oven to be repaired last week, but parts are on order and it’s anyone’s guess when they will arrive from the mainland – they could arrive this week or it might take a while. This week’s dinner menu includes panzanella (bread salad) with chickpeas and feta cheese, mabo nasu with steamed rice, chicken noodle soup, and pizza (which can be cooked out on the grill).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve got almost all the pictures down and nail holes repaired along with lots of other small tasks that keep moving us forward. Brett and YaYu got her passport/eye exam/college lab work all done last Tuesday – it was a very busy day. Brett and I did our not-so-Big Shop on Friday and went to our election training on Saturday but otherwise it’s been a fairly slow week.
  • Looking forward to next week: There’s really nothing on the calendar this week. YaYu will be working but otherwise Brett’s and my time will be our own. Maybe, just maybe, the stars will align and we can get down to the beach for a while.

    So proud of our son! (not sure what lap he’s on here)

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our son completed his annual fundraising event in Japan yesterday, the “Imperial Challenge.” He collects pledges, and then walks around the Imperial Palace for as many laps as he can (one lap is just over three miles) – this year he walked over 27 miles in almost nine hours, and raised almost $4500 (¥498,900). He created this event three years ago, and has now raised a total of $11,500 for Nanbyo Network, an organization that assists children suffering from incurable conditions as well as their families. We are so proud of him! We also learned that we don’t have to strip and wax the floors when we move out! YEAH!! The landlord brought in a masonry specialist this past week and as we suspected the entire floor needs to be cleaned with a special solvent and then re-sealed, and it will be a major job. The landlord will take care of everything including the stripping, so we are completely off the hook. This is the best news ever for us because we have absolutely been dreading getting the floors done to the landlord’s satisfaction. We’re still planning to turn over the keys three days early though as the condo will be available and we’d rather be over there than staying in an empty house.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had another fairly low-spend week, but we did take care of our monthly food shop, visited the farmers’ market, and we paid our electric and water bills (with cash).  Brett did bring home some tasty items from the Kilauea Bakery last Tuesday, including lilikoi cream puffs. We almost completely emptied our refrigerator and freezer this week, and were able to get everything cleaned out of the pantry and moved into the kitchen. I’m proud of the nutritious meals I was still able to pull together using the very little we had on hand. We put $8.95 into the change/$1 bill jar, $3.88 in change back from the bills, $3.07 from recycling and $2.00 change from the bakery.
  • Grateful for: I look at travel blogs, articles and forums that are available online almost every day in preparation for our travels. Any angle of travel I want to know about or figure out, I can find something about it online. While we’ve bought guidebooks (they still have their place and function) and and will take them with us, these days it’s easy to read others’ experiences and advice to figure out what we might want to do in any location, where and what are the best things to eat, what we maybe want to avoid, how we can save, etc. Every day I learn something new.
  • Bonus question: What do you like best about summer? Well, it’s definitely not the humidity here! When I was a child I loved summer: no school, swimming, barefoot days outside, our library’s summer reading challenge (yes, I was a nerd), barbecues, and summer fruit. Summer is no longer my favorite season except for the fruit. These days you can get summer fruits (melons, berries, etc.) year round, but there’s still something special about summer fruits picked in season. Ripe peaches, juicy melons, sweet plums – it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. We get tropical fruits here year round, and I will miss papayas, lilikoi, mangoes, lychee, etc. but I admit I’m already looking forward to Oregon berries, melons, plums and peaches next summer. One of my favorite summer desserts is Peach Melba: a perfectly ripe peach half topped with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberry sauce poured over it. YUM!

Another pretty view along the stretch of the beach path we’re walking now.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was yours? What good things happened for you? What are you reading and eating? How’s the weather where you are? What’s your favorite thing about summer?

Sunday Afternoon 6/10/2018

Looking west from Barking Sands – next landfall is Japan!

Brett and I both felt that our getaway to the west side was too short. It was a very relaxing time for both of us, and we wanted to stay a few more days before coming home. Both of us also wished we had gone out there earlier, and that YaYu (and the other girls) had been able to come with us as well.

The almost-end of another pretty sunset. The island of Niihau can be seen on the left horizon.

But, we are back into the thick of things. If we thought YaYu’s school and volunteer schedule was nuts, her work schedule is almost crazier with her working day shift one day, evenings the next, or having it changed at the last minute. She is working her tail off, bless her heart, and making lots of money, but she’s also exhausted and having a hard time fitting in other tasks that need to be taken care of, such as applying for her new passport (she has to appear in person) and getting some more medical stuff taken care of for Bryn Mawr.

Brett and I are taking care of things around the house, trying to get something done every day so we’re not overloaded with a ton of work right before we move out. The people who were supposed to look at the place before we left last weekend never showed up, and there’s been no other interest. The landlord claims he still has the other two interested parties from a couple of months ago on the line, but Brett and I would be very surprised if they haven’t moved on to other opportunities. It’s kind of sad because the house is actually a very nice place in a great location.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading The Cooking Gene, and enjoying how the author links together history, race, genealogy and food. I’m learning a lot as I go along as well as having to think more deeply about some things (and rethink a few things I thought I knew). My copy of Ron Chernow’s Grant came off of hold from the library at the same time as another book, so I’m reading Grant during the day on my computer and The Cooking Gene at night. Hopefully I can get one or both finished in time to get to the third book before it has to go back. Two of Brett’s and my favorite mystery authors, Ian Rankin and Tana French, both have new books being released in October. I’ve already pre-purchased both of them from Amazon.
  • Listening to: It’s pretty quiet around here right now. Brett is reading, and YaYu is still sleeping – she doesn’t go into work until later this afternoon – and we haven’t started the laundry. A few birds are singing outside, a couple of roosters are crowing off in the distance, but there’s thankfully no noisy yard work going on (for now, anyway). Yesterday our next door neighbor ran his pressure washer for over three hours non-stop, even when he wasn’t doing anything, and I thought I was going lose my mind! In the meantime I’m mainly listening to the sound of the ceiling fan overhead – summer is here, the humidity is back and the fans are on almost all the time now.
  • Watching: Brett and I finally finished Indian Summers, and are now watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, which is proving to be a bittersweet experience. The series is supposed to leave Netflix on June 16, so we’re trying to squeeze in as many episodes as we can between now and then.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having kalua pork tonight versus fried rice because we currently have to avoid using our range as much as possible – the outer oven door spontaneously shattered in the early morning hours on Thursday while we were asleep (it hadn’t been used in five days either). The glass thankfully has not fallen out of the door (yet), but there’s no guarantee that won’t happen at any moment. According to the landlord, repairs are “in the queue.” In the meantime, everything we cook has to be prepared in the slow cooker, the microwave or out on the grill, and baking is obviously out of the question. I’ve put grilled pork chops and grilled teriyaki chicken on the menu this week, and we’ll fill in with leftovers as necessary, but I am going to have to almost completely redo the Big Shop list.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve been steadily working on getting items on our monthly goals list taken care of. I removed all the pictures from the hallway, and some from the girls’ room and filled the nail holes – the landlord will be hard pressed to find them because I can barely find where they were! I’ve also been working on getting things out of the pantry and have three shelves cleaned off so far, but I’m going to have to do a bit of touch-up painting because the shelf liner stuck to the paint and has had to be sanded off. It’s been a good week for walking and other exercise too. Instead of studying French online, I’ve gone back to studying my phrase book and practicing how to order, or buy something, etc. – things I will actually need to use.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I will be working at the polls in August for the Hawaii primary and we have our training session this coming week. YaYu has worked the elections for the past two years, and was asked if she would do it once more, but she can’t because of her job so Brett and I stepped up. Otherwise, there’s nothing special on the calendar other than our Not-So-Big-Anymore Shop on Friday. We’re looking forward to a relaxing week – the weather is getting better so we may actually get to the beach.

    Sweet, juicy lychee are only in at the farmers’ market for a very short time.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Lychee were back in the farmers’ market again this week – so happy for the chance to enjoy them once more before they disappear for another year. We also enjoyed a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi’s in Waimea that we bought on our way down to the PMRF last weekend and brought home to share with YaYu – so delicious! It had been too long since we last had one. We all had a lovely luncheon at the Nawliwili Yacht Club yesterday with the Zonta Club of Hanalei, where YaYu and others received their scholarships.

    Lilikoi chiffon pie – YUM!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Brett got a very nice free haircut from a Supercuts trainee (although the guy next to Brett didn’t fare so well with his cut). 2) Other than a trip to the farmers’ market we had a no-spend week, and ate from the pantry, fridge and freezer, all of which are getting exceedingly empty. 3) Our water and electric bills were both once again lower than they were the month before. 4) I did some research, and was happily surprised to figure out that we won’t need to purchase travel insurance, a savings for us of over $900. Our credit card insures lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc. – everything but medical – and our medical and dental insurance cover us worldwide. 5) We put just $3.00 into the change/$1 bill jar, our change from the farmers’ market.
  • Grateful for: What a sorrowful week this past one was. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and others whose names most of us will never know, gave up their struggles with their demons. Once upon a time someone reached out to me when I was at my lowest, and let me know that I was valuable and that I was needed in the world. Because of that person’s intervention I was able to go on and eventually met Brett, had four amazing children and now two beautiful grandchildren, and I have had a wonderful life. My demon hasn’t been around for a long, long time, but I know it still exists – I can still hear it pacing just out of sight now and again. If you know someone who is suffering from depression, reach out to them because they might not be able to reach out to you to ask for help. You don’t have to be a therapist; just be available and let that person know you care and are there for them. Don’t wait for someone to ask – make the first move. It can make a difference.
  • Bonus question: What is your favorite song opening (because I need to think about something happy)? There are two song openings that always, always draw me in no matter what I’m doing: Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones (1969), and Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down (2000). Both are at the top of my list The Rolling Stones have had loads of great song openings, but I think what gets me with these two songs are that the openings are quirky enough for some reason to always make me stop whatever I’m doing to listen. I heard Monkey Man this past week, which got me thinking about other openings that have caught my attention in the same way, but after a lot of thought, besides Kryptonite I couldn’t come up with anything else. The opening to Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky is high on my list of favorite openings but mainly because it triggers nostalgic feelings more than anything else, immediately taking me back to my senior year, driving around San Diego in my little red ’63 VW bug. Brett said his favorite song opening is the guitar riff at the beginning of Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools.

Anthony Bourdain’s death has affected me deeply, and it will take me a long while to come to terms with it. He was one of the most honest people around, seemed to lead a charmed life, and yet we now know carried demons along with him that eventually overtook him. He had such a pure interest in the world and a genuine affinity for the unpretentious, especially for the common man or woman, viewing their lives and contributions as an integral part of a good and just society. And, he embraced the unknown and was always curious, always wanting to know and learn more. Ian Sinclair said it best for me in a tweet I read on Friday, about how to mourn the loss of this man: I feel we should mourn Anthony Bourdain in the way he would have wanted. Eat something cooked with love. Drink a cold beer. Book a trip somewhere you’ve never been. Try a new food. Tell your friends and loved ones that they are loved. Pour a bottle of truffle oil on the ground.