Sunday Morning 8/9/2020: Walk, Walk, Walk

It was usually raining at sunset, but we still caught a couple of good ones this past week.

Good morning!

It’s been another wacky weather week on the south shore of Kaua’i – every morning we’ve awoken up to clouds, and it’s rained off and on most of the week making it a crapshoot every day whether we would get to walk or not (we did). Even if things looked good, as we headed to the park we knew there was often a strong chance of getting rained out once we were there. This morning is more of the same. This is so not the summer I imagined, but on the plus side the temperatures have stayed lower than usual and the humidity hasn’t been bad at all. Our apartment stays nice and cool from the breezes that blow through all day, and sleeping weather at night has been ideal. I’m just to a point that I’d rather it would just rain if it’s going to rain rather than this off-and-on, will-it-won’t-it? we’ve been experiencing. I’d also love to get back to the beach one of these days as well.

The Kukui’ula farmers’ market moved back into the marketplace from the parking lot. Everyone local wears a mask, but we’ve spotted tourists without even though mask-wearing is mandated in Hawaii.

We continue to self-isolate as much as possible, but there have been triple-digit increases in the number of cases the past few weeks over on Oahu, and the governor has hinted that he may order another state-wide shutdown to get things under control again. Oahu parks and beaches will close again this coming week, and the inter-island 14-day quarantine will also be reinstated. We have sadly seen up close this past week the effects of the shutdowns and the quarantine as our upstairs neighbors have gone back to the mainland in order to find work, and the couple that lives on the other side of the building is hurting as well. They ran a big garage sale this past weekend, and when I asked them how they did the answer was “pretty good, but not enough to buy groceries.” I’m not sure what’s going to happen with them, but they have lived on Kaua’i for many years and have many friends and connections so know they will stay on the island. The husband also frequently goes fishing so that will help as well. Even our landlord has said he’s worried about losing his position, although he continues to generates income for the resort and hopes that keeps him safe.

The moving company still hasn’t located our missing box, and we pretty much think at this point they won’t. We’re going to give it another two to three weeks and will file a claim after that if the box doesn’t show up. It won’t come close to replacing what was lost, but it’s all we can do. 

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am almost finished with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; it’s been another fun book to reread, and I have only two more to go in the series to complete my goal. I gave up on The Vapors – it got less and less interesting as I went along and I began to dread picking it up which is when it’s time to let a book go in my opinion. I postponed getting They Were Her Property from the library, so I’m going to read Kevin Kwan’s Sex and Vanity next.
  • Listening to: The weather is nice enough this morning that we can open the French doors, and I can listen to the breeze and the birds while I write and drink my coffee. Last night though the wind was howling as a big storm blew through – we have a big tree near our bedroom and it got noisy as the wind blew through the yard. It’s all quiet inside this morning though – YaYu is still sleeping, and Brett is reading
  • Watching: Brett and I are still watching and enjoying Silent Witness – each episode has two parts – but we finished up A Confession, which was excellent, with an outstanding cast. We’ve now started watching a British comedy call Mum, about a widow and her ditzy family. It’s very gentle though (like the mum) and enjoyable. The newest season of Endeavour starts tonight on PBS, but since we don’t have cable we’ll have to wait and watch it online tomorrow.
  • Cooking/baking: We’ll be putting more meals together from the freezer and pantry this week – the only shopping will be our weekly trip to the farmers’ market. We still have leftovers to deal with as well this week. Tonight I’m going to fix a zucchini frittata to go with grilled Italian sausages, and other meals this week will be Mississippi Pot Roast along with roasted vegetables; French dip sandwiches using leftover roast; mabo nasu; Japanese-style chicken and vegetable curry; and leftovers on a couple of nights. This week’s cake (to be baked on Wednesday probably) will be a plain yellow cake with vanilla buttercream – simple and delicious.

An eastside beach path walk never disappoints. Heavy clouds to the south and the west created lots of humidity, but thankfully it didn’t rain while we walked. There was a strong breeze from the northeast for most of the walk.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I walked all seven days this past week, over 17 miles, although we got rained out at two-thirds of the way on Tuesday. We saw rainbows almost every day when we were at the park too thanks to the rain and clouds. We developed a long-term walking plan for the next two years, to increase our distance and endurance, and started that this week. I finally got my hair trimmed up yesterday  – two weeks ago it was still too short and I had the appointment postponed to this past weekend. Otherwise nothing major was accomplished, just the usual daily chores.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again, better weather? The missing box? Possibly a beach day or two?
    Litchis have a very short season so we’re always happy when they show up at the market.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Litchis finally showed up at the farmers’ market! Yesterday we were up in Kapaa for my haircut so we walked the beach path again for a change of pace. Kapaa was very hot and humid compared to our area, but as long as we could catch the breeze we did OK. I love that my hair is short-short again – so comfortable and easy to take care of. My daughter-in-law sent a boatload of photos from their recent vacation in Nagano, which is located in the mountains on the west side, and was home to the 1998 Winter Olympics.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The only spending we did this past week was at the farmers’ market. We put $2 into the change/$1 bill jar. I earned 977 Swagbucks this past week as I’ve added an additional 30 minutes of searching or doing a survey in the mornings. I discovered I can earn Delta Airlines gift cards as well as Southwest ones at Swagbucks, so after I finish with my Southwest cards goal I’ll move over to earning Delta cards. We did a pretty good job of eating leftovers this past week, but there were an awful lot of them and we still have plenty to get through. Thankfully we didn’t have to throw out any food. I always remind myself that the most expensive food we buy is the food we throw away, and that keeps me motivated to find ways to finish things up.
  • Grateful for: We’re feeling especially thankful now that we have a steady, dependable retirement income. It isn’t a huge amount, and our budget is pushed to the limit right now because of YaYu’s college expenses, but at least we know we will get paid and when, and that it won’t be reduced.
  • Bonus question: Are you having issues with slow mail delivery? Oh my goodness, yes. And, it’s getting worse. I used to get my prescription-by-mail orders in five days; they now take nearly three weeks to arrive (all of our prescriptions are by mail only too). Thank goodness both Brett and I have enough back-up that we can get through another couple of months – hopefully we’ll get our refills before then. My primary ballot has never arrived, and we’re all waiting on a bunch of other stuff as well. Our address is at a small local post office, but this has been going on all over the country, it’s getting worse by the week, and most upsetting of all is that this is being done deliberately, to mess with the election and mail-in and absentee ballots. Rural residents are especially having a rough time of it, as are veterans waiting on their by-mail-only prescriptions, but I heard today from someone who lives in a big city, and she hasn’t received any mail for a week, so the problems are everywhere.

The walking plan Brett and I have developed to increase our distance and endurance over the next two years is very simple. Since we have almost two years to get ready, we want to take it slowly and build ourselves up gradually (and avoid aggravating my bursitis). Basically, we will add 10-15 minutes to our daily walk (currently around 45-50 minutes, averaging around 2.5 miles) starting with one day a week. The following week we will walk two days with the additional time, the third week three days, and so forth until we are walking the new time and distance every day. We’ll do that for two or three weeks or so and then start the process over again, adding 10-15 minutes to our new route. We think we can work up to around five miles per day walking at the park, but after that we’ll have to branch out to other trails around the island. Anyway, we’re hoping that by taking it slowly and patiently we can get ourselves conditioned for long distances by the time we head over to England without adding any trauma to our bodies. I’ve also been investigating long walks we can do when we’re in Tokyo when we’re there next. We generally walk about four miles per day when we’re there, but want to increase that and do at least one long walk per week while we’re there to stay in shape.

A house located next to the beach path in Kapaa had some beautiful hibiscus.

YaYu’s laptop died on Friday afternoon. Because she just finished paying her tuition bill she has very little left in her account for anything new, but she’s hoping it’s only a dead battery. We have nothing left for her either as we had just given her what we had to help with the tuition and for her flights. The little we do have left will go toward her flight back to Pennsylvania in January and spring tuition. She is currently communicating with her dean to see if she can borrow a laptop from the school until she can (hopefully) replace the battery in hers. She hates to spend her money on anything though so this is like a major trauma for her. 2020: It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week! Some ups, some downs, but overall it was another good one and we’re looking forward to the week coming up. It’s almost hard to believe but YaYu only has two and a half weeks left here before heading back to college – really, where has the time gone? I hope it was a good week for everyone, and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up.

Sunday Morning 8/2/2020: Is It Summer Yet?

In spite of some not-so-good weather, we still got a few pretty sunsets this past week.

Good morning!

August has arrived, but we’re still wondering if summer will ever get here. Temperatures are still cooler than expected, it’s still plenty windy, humidity is low (yeah!), and on and on. We thought it might be warmer down here on the south side, but it’s actually been cooler and breezier than it ever was when we lived up in Kapaa. It’s to the point that visitors comment on how windy/breezy it is at our place – it’s that noticeable. To be honest though, I’m mostly enjoying the weather (so far) and know it could be a LOT worse. August, September, and October are typically the hottest and most humid months of year, especially as the trade winds die down or disappear, but I’m kind of hoping things will continue as they are (with a few beach days thrown in). It’s just been . . . different.

We woke up every morning this past week to cloudy skies, wind, and cool temperatures. Most afternoons and evening there was rain, sometimes lots and lots of rain. It seemed to thankfully always clear enough in the late afternoon that we could go for a walk.

Speaking of August, I realized this past week that we’ve passed the four month anniversary of our return to Hawaii. It sure has seemed like we’ve been here much longer, but I think that’s because of all that we’ve accomplished in the past few months, from finding a place to live, getting it furnished, and getting ourselves resettled. Things on the island have loosened up some since we arrived and are very slowly returning to some semblance of normal, but masks are still de rigeur everywhere, many businesses and restaurants remain closed or have gone out of business, and visitors are still few and far between due to the quarantine. Things are still on edge though as cases rise, especially on Oahu (Kaua’i currently has just two active cases). We read this past week that Japan may open back up to visitors from Hawaii only, and vice versa, but cases in Tokyo are rising again as well so probably not.

YaYu received her updated financial aid information this past week, and it turned out to be much better than all of us expected. All of her aid comes from the college this year – the only federal aid she was offered were loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized, but she turned them down. Her fall term has now been paid for, and a round-trip plane ticket to and from Philadelphia has been purchased. She will leave here and fly to Honolulu, then on to Seattle where she will meet her friend and roommate from last year to fly together on to Philadelphia. She’s nervous about the flight, but otherwise excited to be going back. Only a few seats have been sold on each of the flights though, and Alaska Airlines is keeping the middle row empty on all their flights, so maintaining a good distance from others should not be a problem. We picked up extra disinfecting wipes for her to take back, and she has masks as well so hopefully will be OK on her trip back and in her room at the college. We also got her extra hand sanitizer as well, but discovered it’s not allowed on planes because of the alcohol content (it’s very flammable), so that’s the one thing she’ll have to find back there and that they hopefully will offer on the planes. YaYu is excited and happy about going back to school, even with all the restrictions put in place. She and her friends got their room assignments this week, and they will all be in the same dorm on the same floor (in single rooms). She’s very happy about that, but we’re not sure that’s such a good thing. YaYu has also been hired for two on-campus jobs this year, but thinks one may be eliminated. Her other job will be at the campus library.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m back to reading two books, one during the day and one at night, because another book I’ve been waiting for just came off of hold (They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers). So, The Vapors is my evening book, and I just started Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix during the day. I didn’t think the first three books in the Harry Potter series were as good as remembered, but the Goblet of Fire was excellent and The Order of the Phoenix is as well so far.
  • Listening to: There’s some blue sky showing through the clouds this morning, but still a fairly stiff breeze can be heard blowing through the trees outside, and it’s comfortable cool. Brett’s rustling around in the kitchen making his breakfast, and YaYu is still trying to sleep out here in the living room. Otherwise it’s quiet, although that will change I a short while as our downstairs neighbors are holding a garage sale today, beginning in around an hour.
  • Watching: We finished watching Father Brown and Taste the Nation last Thursday, and are now watching A Confession (starring Martin Freeman) on Britbox. YaYu sadly does not share Brett’s and my love of British crime drama and/or mysteries.
    The carrot cake I made last week has been delicious but has way too many calories, 350 for a 2-inch square. I have had to be VERY disciplined to fit it into my daily calorie allotment. The cake I’m baking this week will have less than half the calories, and still provide a sweet treat every day.
     
  • Cooking/baking: We are beginning a two-and-a-half week break between food shopping trips which required me to make a list of all the dinners we could have based on what was already in the pantry and freezer and what we could pick up at the farmers’ market each week. It took some effort, but I think we now have everything needed to get through until the middle of the month. Tonight we’re having Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs over rice, a long-time favorite. The rest of the week’s menus include subuta (Japanese-style sweet and sour pork); InstantPot carnitas for burritos and tacos; grilled fish tacos with fresh peach salsa; InstantPot chicken risotto; and hamburgers from the grill. I was planning to buy pre-made burgers patties at Costco last week until I saw both the price and the calories – yikes! – and ended up buying ground beef instead to make them myself. This week’s baking will be a fresh orange cake with orange buttercream frosting.
    Looking out from Hole 6 at Kukuiolono on a rare sunny afternoon.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We got in some good walks again this week once Douglas had passed, although each day we wondered if we would be able to go because the weather was that dicey. We’re getting ready to add a bit more to our walks this week. Finding flights to get YaYu back to Pennsylvania was not an easy task, but we were finally able to find a schedule that works for her and allows her to fly the Seattle to Philadelphia leg of the trip with her good friend.
  • Looking forward to next week: Better weather? Royal Hawaiian locating our missing box? I can dream.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides YaYu’s financial aid award arriving it’s been a rather low key week with not a lot happening, but almost everything was good. We were excited to discover a lilikoi (passionfruit) vine in our back yard, hidden among some other plants on the wall. One fruit has already set and other blossoms are starting to open, so hopefully we’ll be getting a few more. The guava tree on the side of the yard is loaded with fruit. Guava is not a favorite, but Brett and I do like guava jam so we’re already planning to make some of that once things start ripening. And, the orange tree is also already loaded with little green, golf ball-size fruits – there’ll be lots of sweet oranges probably around December and into early next year.
    The best granola in the world (IMO)!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The Living Foods Market in the Kukui’ula Marketplace sadly permanently closed this past week. We never really shopped there as their prices were always kind of outrageous – they seemed to primarily cater to rich tourists staying in Poipu – but on Wednesday, their last day, everything in the store was 50% off and we picked up three bags of our favorite Anahola Granola (best granola ever). It typically sells for $8-$9 for a 12-ounce bag, so at half off it was a steal at $4.68/bag (tax included), and will last us for over three months as we only have a tablespoon or two at a time. The Alaska Airlines credits we took back in March covered almost the entire cost of YaYu’s round-trip flight to school and back. We had a very frugal week at the farmers’ market, and spent only $17 for a lot of produce, and put $3 into the change/$1 bill jar (our budget every week is $20). We did a good job eating up the leftovers, but had to toss half of a head of cauliflower as it froze and turned to mush when it defrosted. Our travel savings is now up to $809.11, so we’re making good progress! I earned 543 Swagbucks last week.
    This week’s farmer’s market haul: two huge bunches of bananas, a papaya, two dragonfruit, six Meyer lemons, two limes, three cucumbers, a 1# bag of cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of green onions for only $17!
  • Grateful for: We’re all feeling very, very grateful this week for the generosity of YaYu’s college as we had been very worried about whether or not we had saved enough to help her get through another year. We’re already a bit worried about next year as our experience with senior year levels of aid is that they drop, as colleges know they have a “captive audience” and less is awarded. However, the amount she received this year will give all of us a breather and allow Brett and I to hopefully add enough to our savings to get YaYu through her final year.
  • Bonus question: Do you buy/eat mostly organic food? While we are not fanatics about it, we do try to buy organic as much as possible, but it’s probably only about a quarter or less of what we eat. Costco offers many organic options, and given the choice between organic and non-organic, we’ll always choose the former even if it does cost slightly more. I don’t think there’s any taste or nutritional difference between organic and non-organic, but believe that organic provides an extra layer of protection so to speak, even though organic farming does rely on chemicals and such (made from things like beetles and other natural sources however). Current organic items in our home are eggs, ground beef, milk, butter, peanut butter, pasta, summer squash, frozen strawberries and blueberries, oats, pizza crusts and sauce, spices, and olive oil. None of the farmers at the weekly market sell organic produce, but none of them spray their crops either. We only buy fresh, wild caught local fish and try to buy other locally-produced or raised food as much as possible if we can’t get organic.

I’m going to call Royal Hawaiian tomorrow morning for an update on our missing box. Every day it seems I recall or need something that was in that box: the cake stand the girls found at Goodwill and gave me for my birthday one year and the glass cover I found for it, my citrus juicer, the cake pans and pie plates, the salad spinner, the bathroom scale, and Brett’s blood pressure monitor all have been missed and mourned this past week. I thought I’d only feel badly about the wall hanging and cookbooks, but it turns out we both miss all that other stuff too – there was a reason it was kept. We know if the box went into someone else’s crate we’ll never see any of it again, but we continue to hope it was left somewhere in the storage facility and can be found. That hope diminishes day by day though. The only upside, if there is one to be found, is that right now we have no idea where we would put all that stuff as storage is already pretty full-up.

And that’s the week that was! It wasn’t the best week ever, but not the worst either by a long shot. Overall I’d say it was pretty good. I hope it was a good week for you all as well, and that you had lots of good things happen for you, good food to eat, good books to read, and that you’re staying healthy and busy during all the current madness. Here’s to the week coming up!

Sunday Morning 7/26/2020: Waiting for Douglas

Just one glowing sunset this past week, and it was gorgeous!

Good morning!

Douglas is now a Category 1 hurricane and is still on a direct path to Hawaii. From the way things look outside this morning though you’d never guess there was a hurricane coming. However, as of 11:00 p.m. HST last night we’ve been under a hurricane warning. Kaua’i is not expected to get hit until late this evening but for now it’s sunny, cool, and breezy. This morning’s sunshine was quite a surprise as yesterday was miserable with lots of wind and rain all day, and last week we endured more clouds, rain, and wind, with temperatures moving between cool and very hot and very humid. We were able to get out and walk most days, although we barely made it out of the park last Wednesday without getting soaked. Anyway, we’re prepared for Douglas’s arrival: we have lots of bottled water, extra toilet paper, fuel for our butane camping stove, and a full gas tank in the car. All batteries on our phones and computers are fully charged, and our portable chargers are full as well. If we need to, we’ll fill our giant bathtub with water later today.

Friday, with Douglas two days away, was breezy, with intermittent squalls. It was also extremely humid moisture was pushed forward ahead of the storm’s arrival. We were thankful to be able to get out for a walk.
The “phony hurricane” arrived yesterday morning with heavy clouds and lots of rain. Winds started picking up at around 9:00 in the morning and continued throughout the day, although they were more gusty than sustained.
You’d never know from this morning’s weather that a hurricane is bearing down on Hawaii.
Douglas’s location this morning as of 8:00 a.m. HST. The full force of the storm should be over Kauai tonight and early tomorrow morning.

This past week started off with quite a few unknowns and a feeling of dread. I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday feeling a bit scared because so many things seemed to be off and I didn’t know if they could or would be resolved. A box had indeed gone missing out of our shipment, one that contained among other things my recipe books, our two Japanese breadboards, all the bakeware, and an antique hand-painted Japanese banner that we used as a wall hanging (it was when the banner never appeared out of all the other boxes that we knew one hadn’t made it because we had definitely included the it in our shipment). Apple had had plenty of time to receive my old computer, but there had been no word from them, and no way to track whether they had received it or not. The chair pads I ordered back at the beginning of June were still missing and the last tracking update had been July 8. And on and on it went. However, I woke up on Monday determined to turn things around so I called the moving company first thing – they started the process to find the box (somewhere back on the mainland). On Tuesday I got an email from Apple saying that they had finished inspecting my old computer and I would be receiving the full credit I had been quoted, a miracle considering its condition. Although USPS tracking had said the chair cushions were still lost on Tuesday evening, they arrived out of the blue on Wednesday morning, right as I was getting ready to write the shop owner! Brett had all our pictures hung on by the end of the week. The only unknown now is the update on YaYu’s financial aid; hopefully that will show up this week (especially since the mistake was theirs, not ours).

In the meantime, our apartment is finally put together, and with the pictures hung and everything put away it feels like home. After living in a somewhat empty space for so long it almost seems like there’s a bit too much stuff again, but it’s also wonderful to have our things as we kept just the items that were truly important to us when we left Kaua’i two years ago. The only things we have left to do is to hang some sheer linen curtains in the living room and patiently wait to see if our lost box comes back to us – the antique Japanese banner is definitely missed, and will go on the wall behind the television if and when it shows up.

 

I have once again given up commenting on Blogger, for the time being anyway. I’ve tried again and again and everything I write disappears into the Internet ether, including choosing Anonymous and signing my name. I am not willing to install Chrome on this computer as it caused several problems on my old computer, and I don’t use my Google account as it links to all my personal email, etc. I’m going to keep trying to see if I can find a workaround, but it’s been very frustrating not being able to comment.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Blossom and the Firefly last Wednesday. It turned out to be a work of young adult fiction, so was a quick read, but very enjoyable as it had been very well researched. The story was about young “special-attack” (kamikaze) pilots toward the end of WWII; the young girls that supported them by doing their cooking, cleaning, and waving them off on an attack day; and the relationship that formed between two of them. I am now reading The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice, by David Hill. So far, so good – it’s very interesting, and all about a place I’ve heard of but never thought about much. I had no idea there was so much sin and iniquity going on there for so long.
  • Listening to: A couple of roosters are out this morning and doing their thing, but otherwise the only sound is the breeze blowing through the palm trees. Brett is puttering around in the kitchen fixing his breakfast, and YaYu is trying to sleep. As I said, it’s hard to know there’s a big storm bearing down.
  • Watching: Well, Ozark finished with a bang (literally), and we can’t wait for next season! Brett and I are now watching the most recent season of Father Brown and YaYu and I are watching Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi. That show is every bit as wonderful as we heard it would be. In the very first episode of Father Brown, in the very first few minutes, we spotted a clear shot of our Blockley cottage which of course flooded us with lots of happy memories, and we’ve seen it a time or two since. The filming for this season had taken place just a month before we arrived.
  • Cooking/baking: There will be lots of grilling going on this week once the storm passes. Tonight though we’re having fried rice, as it can be cooked on our butane stove if we lose power. Later this week we’ll have California roll salad; grilled lemon chicken and vegetable kabobs; barbecued ribs with three-bean salad; pasta with pesto, grilled Italian sausages, and roasted squash; and beef Polish sausages with coleslaw and macaroni and cheese for the sides. I’m making the carrot cake later this morning.
    The crazy weather this past week produced several beautiful rainbows!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: For a week that seemed to start off on the wrong foot, we got a lot done. Besides calling the moving company and beginning the hunt for our missing box, I also contacted my doctor and got a referral for a mammogram and got that appointment scheduled, as well as an appointment with the dermatologist for a skin check. The earliest available dates for both of those appointments was in October! We found a place everything, got the last of the boxes and paper out of the apartment, and Brett got all the pictures hung. We walked five days this week in spite of some not-so-good weather, and got our food shopping done for the week.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m hoping for a somewhat relaxing week after Douglas finally passes, especially since we have no special chores this week, and the apartment finally pulled together. All I want to do is get out in the afternoon and walk, go to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, hit the beach if possible, and read, read, read.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The chair pads finally arriving was a highlight this week as their arrival was w-a-y overdue. According to the post office website, on Tuesday evening they were still lost somewhere, and I was planning to write the Etsy shop owner on Wednesday to let her know they had never arrived, but lo and behold, they showed up Wednesday morning! They are just what I hoped for and they look great. The much-desired blue dress that had been sold out last week was shortly back in stock in a couple of sizes, one of them mine, so that got ordered and is on its way. Our landlord came and installed a new screen door in front – the old one was on its last legs and sometimes refused to open or shut (plus it had a lot of holes). 
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The credit from Apple for my old computer along with the refund from Aeromexico meant that I ended up paying less than half of the retail price for my new computer, a very nice bit of savings. I put $60 into our travel savings account from change and $1 bills I had been putting away, and we started a new bundle by putting $11.17 into the jar. All leftovers were eaten this past week, and no food was thrown away either. The only two days we spent anything were Tuesday and Wednesday (food shopping, the blue dress at 30% off, and the farmers’ market). I earned 484 Swagbucks this past week – I hope to have enough for my first $100 Southwest Airlines gift card by the end of August, or early September at the latest.
  • Grateful for: I’m thankful for all the things that showed up or were taken care of this week, even if some of them were late. I know the post office has currently been dealing with issues like having their hours cut back (no overtime allowed any more for example), but they get eventually get the job done and I’m grateful for all they do, under some pretty miserable conditions sometimes. We depend on them so much for so many things, and try and do our part to keep them from going under.
  • Bonus question: Have you ever experienced a hurricane before? We went through two BIG typhoons (Category 3 & 4) during our two tours in Japan, and one Category 1 hurricane (Floyd) when we were stationed in Key West. The two in Japan were very powerful, and very scary as they hit the Tokyo area directly. The second one was in early autumn, and stripped the leaves off of the trees, which caused the cherry trees to blossom a second time that year! Floyd was scary as well – we were especially worried about flooding – but we never lost power and the sound of the howling wind for so many hours about drove me mad, especially from the back side after the eye had passed over. We’ve also been through a few tropical storms as well, that while not as bad as a hurricane are still nothing to sneeze at. We’re glad Douglas’s strength had diminished by the time it got to Kaua’i, and hopefully it will quickly move on without too much damage.

While I’m enjoying being finally settled in the apartment, I am mourning the loss of that one box. We’ll give the moving company a month and if nothing turns up we’ll file a claim. While nothing in the box is especially valuable, some of the things that are missing are not replaceable and carry considerable memories of place and time. With all of our moves, we have only once had a mover lose something once before: when Brett retired from the navy in 1992 our express shipment (small shipment with basic items to get started with before the main shipment arrives) showed up but instead of our boxes there was a small (ugly) cast iron pot-belly stove on the truck! It was very weird, and we never learned what happened to our things. I read once that every couple of moves was the equivalent of a small house fire in terms of damage and loss, but for as many moves as we made then and since, we’ve done pretty well. We’ll probably move once more here, but that will be the last one for us.

YaYu baked white chocolate chip-cranberry cookies to welcome Hurricane Douglas.

I sincerely hope your week started off better than ours did, and that it continued upward and ended on a high note (versus the arrival of a hurricane/tropical storm!). Here’s to more good things happening this week, good books to read, good health to celebrate, and a great week overall coming up!

Sunday Morning 7/19/2020: Chaos and Calm

Only a couple of mildly interesting sunsets this past week . . . until yesterday’s. That was a stunner.

Good morning!

The week started out poorly, weather-wise, but eventually turned nicer on Thursday. We enjoyed sunshine and blue skies again for a few days but this morning it’s back to strong winds and rain again. We woke up last Monday morning to absolutely pouring rain, with the same on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, all accompanied by howling winds. By early afternoon each day the rain would stop and a tiny bit of blue sky would break out, and we would dash over to Kukuiolono and get our walk in. Then the clouds would eventually roll back in and by evening the rain would be back. One of our fellow walkers warned us though that when these storms stop that’s when the trade winds will stop as well and things will heat up, and we’re not looking forward to that again. Although there aren’t may visitors to the island these days, my thoughts when we have this kind of stormy weather are always that I’m glad we didn’t spend thousands to come vacation on Kaua’i. By the way, the quarantine in Hawaii has been extended until the first of September. Masks are still required on the island in all public locations except for when exercising outdoors or at the beach.

Morning weather at the beginning of the week and this morning.
When we saw the sun break through in the afternoon we headed out for our walks – hoping for the same today.
Some pretty weather on Wednesday afternoon unfortunately didn’t last very long but it returned the next day.

Friday was the first really hot and humid day we’ve had this summer. The movers arrived early in morning (like two hours earlier than expected – we were still in our pajamas when they called to say they were on their way!) and everything was off the truck was in our apartment in less than an hour. One box at first appeared to be missing but we eventually found it. We unpacked all day Friday, and surprisingly got almost everything put away. Saturday was spent finding places for the last few items, and getting all the boxes and paper out of the apartment so that the moving company can come pick them up for recycling. We didn’t think this move (including the pack-out from when we left in 2014) was as good as our earlier one with Royal Hawaiian – there were a few broken things this time (thankfully all repairable), including the pottery bowl made by my aunt and given to us as a wedding present, and the reproduction primitive clay horse I bought during our first tour in Japan. One of my jubako (porcelain stacking boxes) was also damaged, but again, all can be repaired.

YaYu has been rethinking her return to college this fall this past week. She got her bill last Thursday and NO financial aid had been applied, but the issue has been corrected and she should get an adjusted bill tomorrow. We about fainted though when we saw the amount without financial aid – yikes! YaYu’s main concern about going back is that she will catch the virus and bring it back with her when she comes home for Thanksgiving. Returning to school is still her first choice, but we have told her that she is welcome to stay here if she ultimately decides against going back – it’s her decision. We’ve told her that if she does stay we will have to reduce what we’re putting away for her as the cost of feeding her has been more than we expected (the girl can eat!), and we will also probably have to pay more rent for the time she’s with us. The landlord has been accommodating so far, but we don’t want to push our luck.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am almost done with the fourth Harry Potter book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s still a very good read and I’m enjoying it. The Blossom and the Firefly, by Sherri L. Smith, just came off of hold from the library – I’ve been waiting a long time for it so am excited to get started. I ordered the new Kevin Kwan book from Amazon, Sex and Vanity, as it looks like it may be a while for other holds to be released. I’ve enjoyed all of his other books (Crazy Rich Asians, etc.), and supposedly this is his best one yet.
  • Listening to: The wind is howling again outside, and rain is coming down (sideways) at intervals. It’s very cool though, almost like we have air-conditioning – such strange weather for summer. Brett is reading and YaYu is still sleeping, so it’s very quiet inside.
  • Watching: We will finish up Ozark this week and haven’t come up with anything to watch next. Suggestions are welcome!
  • Cooking/baking: I am thrilled to have my full contingent of cookware once again! Since we’ve lived here all we had is one 3-quart saucepan, a 10-inch skillet, a sauté pan, and five cooking utensils – it’s been a challenge at times to figure out how to get everything made and on the table. Brett is especially happy to have a can opener once again – he’s been opening things all this time with the tool on his pocket knife. Tonight we’re going to have curried chickpeas over rice and some grilled chicken (if the weather improves). Other main courses this week will be chicken adobo with bok choy (it didn’t get made last week), Cuban bowls (black beans, roasted sweet potato, fried banana or plantain if I can find it, and pico de Gallo, all over rice); pork, bean, and rice burritos; grilled monchong, one of our favorite local fish; and roast chicken with mashed potatoes, a request from YaYu. We’ll do leftovers for one meal. I’m planning to bake a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting this week for our dessert cake.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: I am glad we were able to walk as much as we did this past week considering both the weather and getting all our stuff unpacked and put away. It was touch and go almost every day, quite hot on a couple of days, but there is thankfully always a breeze up at Kukuiolono and we were always able to get ahead of the late afternoon rain. We took Friday off from walking to unpack and still managed to get in as many steps right in our small apartment. YaYu and I finally finished Level 2 of our daily Japanese lesson on Memrise and have moved on to Level 3, which actually feels easier for some reason. Brett got his hair cut (and looks like he is back in the navy again).
  • Looking forward to next week: Our pictures are the last thing remaining to be unpacked, and that will be finished tomorrow and everything hung by the end of the week. We’re hoping for some beach weather this week so we can get out of the apartment for at least a couple of days. And, maybe this will be the week the chair pads finally arrive, although I’ve pretty much given up on expecting them – they’ll get here when they get here. I actually think they’re in Honolulu, where packages seem to have to hang out for a (possibly long) while before finally being shipped over to Kaua’i. I’m also looking forward to getting my hair trimmed again this coming Saturday.
    The new coffee table is a much better fit for the space.
  • Thinking of good things that happen: The arrival of our stored items was like Christmas in July, and I’ve been enjoying using our things again. We had a wonderful, long phone call with our grandkids on Friday evening – always a lot of fun, and balm for my soul. We liked the bench-style coffee table we had, but it was not a good fit with our sofa so we ordered a new table (same style as our sofa table) and it arrived early this past week. The new coffee table is big and fits much better in the space (as well as giving us more room on top), and the old table is now serving as a bench at the end of our bed. We didn’t have any place to set things, or sit down, other than the bed so that’s now taken care of. But, we really are done buying furniture now.
    I love having my coffee again in our favorite mugs.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We went over budget some on our food shopping last week, but other than that and our weekly trip to the farmers’ market and a haircut for Brett it was a no-spend week. The leftovers continue to get eaten up, but this past week I had to throw away a small piece of cabbage that had gotten mushy, some kale that had turned, a couple of onions that had gone moldy, and a small amount of green-is Parmesan cheese that had gotten hidden in the back. I hate throwing away food, so this was a wakeup to make more of an effort to keep track of things in our small fridge, and make sure they get used. We put $4 and some coins into the change/$1 bill jar, and I earned 524 Swagbucks.
    So thankful our hibachi table made it in one piece.
  • Grateful for: I felt like I could finally exhale when I saw that our big antique hibachi had arrived in one piece (the moving company had actually built a special wooden crate to ship it), as did its stand and the antique plate that sits in the middle. The plate had only been lightly packed inside the hibachi and we consider it something of a miracle that it made it in one piece. We bought the hibachi and plate during our first tour in Japan, in 1982, and they have now moved back and forth across the Pacific Ocean five times, and across the mainland a few times as well. Brett had the wooden stand custom made in the Philippines during our second tour in Japan, and we had the legs added not long before we left Portland in 2014, as well as having a new piece of glass cut for the top so the hibachi could function as a side table (it had served as our coffee table before that for many years). Both Brett and I are extremely grateful for its safe arrival one last time as it’s the piece of furniture that grounds us and lets us know we’re home.
    Noodles Romanoff
  • Bonus question: What was your favorite food when you were a child? Your least favorite? My mother was not an inspired cook – it was always a chore for her – but she did make a couple of dishes that I absolutely loved when I was a kid: baked macaroni and cheese, and Noodles Romanoff (this recipe is closest to Mom’s, although she didn’t add the cream cheese or heavy cream, but increased the amount of sour cream). Both had pasta, lots of cheese, and were rich and creamy. Mom always made big pans of them, so there were always leftovers that were for me just as good or better when eaten cold the next day. Her macaroni and cheese was the dish I always asked for whenever I came home from college. I also loved her tapioca pudding – it was very fluffy and creamy with a wonderful vanilla flavor. My maternal grandmother was not a good cook, but she occasionally made dates stuffed with walnuts and peanut butter that I absolutely loved, and also the most amazing stewed apples. The recipe for the apples died along with her though – no one has been able to duplicate them. My paternal grandmother was a very good cook, and her yeast biscuits were from heaven. I have her recipe for them (written in her own hand), but they’ve never turned out as light and fluffy as hers were. My least favorite food growing up was salad (and still is). I have a fairly serious intolerance to most forms of lettuce (especially romaine) – it makes me very sick – but my parents always served me salad (mostly made with romaine) and expected me to eat it even though I told them over and over how it made me feel. I became an expert at hiding salad under the table and getting rid of it after a meal was over. Several years ago my mom was visiting and said when I explained why I wasn’t having salad, “You know, you never really liked salad when you were young.” Thanks, Mom. One of the great injustices of my childhood (in my mind) was watching my brother not have to eat tomatoes or squash because “he doesn’t like them” while I was expected to eat the salad on my plate no matter what.
The pottery bowls and plates we bought in 2019 in Kappabashi. Brett’s happy to have his “coffee bar” set up once again, although with only one cup of coffee each per day, our Chemex is sort of too big now.

We have just a few more things to do to finish up here and finally feel settled. What’s been most surprising has been discovering the extent of what we let go before we left Kaua’i in 2018. For example, I was sure we had kept our bathroom scale, but no. I also apparently didn’t keep any baking supplies other than my stand mixer, not even a measuring cup! It was fun to finally see the dishes we bought at Kappabashi during our first stay in Japan, in 2019. They had been wrapped at the store when we bought them so until they were unwrapped on Friday we had no idea what we would find – we had completely forgotten what we had chosen. We were able to put quite a bit away for YaYu to have for whenever she sets up her own place someday, things we had too many of or realized we just don’t need any more. Anyway, it’s so good to have our things back with us again, and know that what’s missing or broken can be replaced or fixed. We have more than enough.

That’s all for this week! All in all it was another good one here, even with the crazy weather, and I hope it was good for you as well, with lots of good things happening. Here’s to another good week coming up!

Sunday Morning 7/12/2022: Stormy Weather

Good morning!

What a week we’ve had, weather wise, that is. We had several storms pass through with strong winds, lots of rain, and cooler than normal temperatures. It was raining again just a few minutes ago. When I woke up on Thursday I was hard pressed to know I was in Hawaii . . . in July . . . because it was raining so hard, and the winds were so strong. Blue skies eventually showed up, but it didn’t get a whole lot warmer throughout the day. This was not a week for going to the beach or trying to set up an umbrella! The cooler temperatures have actually been a blessing in some ways though, especially making our walks in the late afternoon much more pleasant because there’s always a good breeze up at Kukuiolono. Sunsets this week have been hit or miss, but we enjoyed a few good ones.

Typical daytime view this week: clouds, clouds, and more clouds, and lots of wind to go with them. Rain too.

We got a full refund of our Aeromexico tickets this past week from our bank! I’m so glad we stuck with it and didn’t give in to Aeromexico’s stubbornness and refusal to refund. In the end we got our money returned for all of our flights except for the ones we had on Alaska. I’m glad we took credits for those flights because it looks to be enough to cover YaYu’s roundtrip trip to Pennsylvania in late August and her return home for Thanksgiving! She is definitely going back to school – Brett attended a webinar hosted by the college this past week and we are satisfied with all the precautions the college is putting into place to keep students safe. We are still waiting on the bill for the fall term though – that should come through this week – and news of her dorm assignment. 

Aloha masks

We are now considered “regulars” at Kukuiolono, and we chat and joke almost every day with other regular walkers (and everyone we pass exchanges a greeting). A couple of weeks ago we got to talking with one woman that we see every day, and somehow mentioned we had a big rosemary bush growing in our back yard. She said she loved to make focaccia with rosemary, so the next day we brought her a few sprigs from the bush. A couple of days after that she brought us a beautiful loaf of rosemary focaccia! We had also talked about mask wearing one day with her, and had mentioned we were going to buy a few more, especially for YaYu to take back to school, and this week she gave us four masks she had made for us – two for YaYu, one for Brett, and one for me. Over and over people here have reached out to us, and made it easy for us to connect and share as well. When I think I couldn’t love Kaua’i more, all I have to do is think about the aloha here, and how freely it is given, and my love for this place grows even more.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am still waiting on books to come off of hold at the library, so in the meantime I’m reading the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I finished Citizens of London this past week, as well as the last book in the Inspector Morse series, The Remorseful Day (and got a little weepy at the end). I’m genuinely sad that series is over, but grateful for the advice I got when we were in Oxford to reread the entire Morse books again – so many things made more sense this time, and I could picture locations and other settings as I read.
  • Listening to: It’s quiet inside (Brett is reading, YaYu is still sleeping), but the wind is fairly strong outside, and I can hear water dripping from the recent rain. Lots of blue sky is peeping out here and there so we’ll just wait and see what happens.
  • Watching: We started the third season of Ozark last night – what a wild ride it’s turning out to be!
    Just a tiny piece of peach upside down cake for me last night, without ice cream :(.
  • Cooking/baking: Lots of cooking going on this week! Dinner tonight will be chili pork sauce served over rice, and other dinners this week will be chicken risotto; chicken adobo with bok choy; CookDo mabo dofu; Snake Alley noodles; a Mississippi pot roast: and French dip sandwiches with the leftover roast. The Instant Pot is going to be getting a workout! I made a small peach upside down cake yesterday, and after we finish that in a few more days I’ll make a chocolate-raspberry poke cake topped with white chocolate ganache. We have discovered that a 1/24 piece of a 9″ x 13″ cake after dinner each evening is enough sweet for the day and doesn’t provide too many calories.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I walked six days this week (Brett walked seven) because I took Friday off. I intend to make this schedule a pattern: walk five days, rest one, walk five, rest one, etc. Otherwise, all we’ve accomplished are the usual chores and tasks around here.
  • Looking forward to next week: Our stored items have arrived on Kaua’i and will be delivered this coming Friday afternoon! It will be a mess for a while while we get things sorted and put away, but we are looking forward to it. We’re hoping for better weather next week so we can get to the beach at least once before Friday.

Our yard is blooming!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Getting those airplane tickets refunded was the best thing that happened all week. It had been a frustrating issue to deal with, so I’m very happy it’s finally been resolved. It was also such good news to get an actual date and time for the delivery of our stuff. Our yard got its “haircut” this past week and is looking lovely (as always) – we’re especially enjoying all the flowers in bloom right now. I’m actually very thankful for all the rain we got last week – it keeps everything green and lush, not only in our yard, but everywhere else around here. The winds, although noisy, have kept the apartment cool as well.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The ticket refund covered nearly half of the cost of my new computer, so the timing actually worked out well. My old computer was sent back this past week, so fingers are crossed I get something back for it, although at this point I doubt I will get what was originally offered. Other than the farmers’ market, a trip to Costco for another flat of peaches, and a regularly budgeted food shop yesterday we had a no spend week, and we put $9.83 into the change/$1 bill jar. I earned 651 Swagbucks this past week.
  • Grateful for: I am very thankful that giving up Diet Coke has gone easier than I imagined. I honestly haven’t missed it at all, which was a huge surprise for me as I had been anticipating some serious withdrawal pangs. One evening this past week I did a Swagbucks survey that was all about Diet Coke – I was a bit afraid when it started that I might start craving the stuff, but it ended up having no effect at all (and I earned 75 Swagbucks).
    I showed YaYu a few minutes of the show on YouTube – she was too stunned to say anything.
  • Bonus question: What are the top five things you had in the past that you think your kids would not understand at all? YaYu is someone who has grown up with technology and could probably program the space shuttle back to earth on her phone, so it wasn’t too hard to come up with a list of things that would make no sense to her. My top five were 1) The Princess phone, with its illuminated dial. It was the iPhoneX of its time. 2) Train cases. 3) White go-go boots. 4) The technological marvel that was the IBM Selectric typewriter, and 5) The Lawrence Welk show (there is no way to explain this one). Brett and I were laughing so hard while we talked about all these things, and YaYu was confused and skeptical that such items/shows were popular or desirable. Other things we came up with that were a “thing” in the past were Spalding saddle shoes as a fashion statement, Wang computers, floppy disks, skate keys, and Gilbert chemistry sets that had real and sometimes dangerous chemicals. We decided not to get into all the ins and outs of TV watching back in the day including getting up to change the channel, having only three stations, B&W versus color, etc., all of which are completely unimaginable for her.

So far things have been going well with the lifestyle changes I’ve made and my new eating plan – it hasn’t been too difficult to stick to 1200 calories a day, and I haven’t had to resort to special foods or dishes. It’s all just been a question of eating less, using the MyFitnessPal food diary to keep track of things, and walking five to six days a week. Is it making a difference and have I lost any weight? Who knows? Our scale is coming in our shipment and so maybe next week I’ll have a better idea if weight loss is one of the things I’m accomplishing. The most difficult part of all of this has been living on one cup of half-caff coffee a day. I thankfully haven’t had to deal with headaches, but I do feel like I have less pep than I did before. I am sleeping better though, so that’s been a positive change, if nothing else. Brett has pretty much given up coffee as well. It has taken him a little longer to get adjusted, but he’s living with one cup of half-caff as well. 

That’s a wrap for this week! Here’s hoping it was a good one for all, that lots of good things happened for you, and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up!

Sunday Morning 7/5/2020: What I Did On My Vacation

Most of the sunsets were uninspiring, to be honest, but we did get a few good ones these past couple of weeks.

It is good to be back!

I enjoyed my time off, and managed to keep busy the past couple of weeks. We walked almost every day over at Kukuiolono and went to the beach a few times. We walked, usually at Kukuiolono, but one day we drove up to Kapaa and hiked out to the Pineapple Dump, always a beautiful place. We did our food shopping and went to the farmers’ market on Wednesdays. I read. I cooked. I played games on my phone. We occasionally watched TV, and greatly enjoyed Hamilton this past Friday, a bit bittersweet as we didn’t get to see it on Broadway in May. I did some thinking about whether I wanted to continue blogging, but the answer was always yes. I may not be writing these days as much as I did in the past, but I missed it and am glad to be back at it again.

We started off week before last with news from our bank that our chargeback claim with Aeromexico had been denied, supposedly because it was simply a “billing error” on Aeromexico’s part. The letter gave me a number to call for details, and after speaking with someone from the dispute department it turned out they had never gotten an actual receipt for the tickets, so all they saw was the cancellation letter from Aeromexico and figured I had gotten another flight (or that’s what Aeromexico told them). I still have the receipt for the tickets though, and what we paid, so the bank agreed to reopen the claim and we submitted the receipt along with all the other original paperwork. So, we are waiting again, and hopefully we will finally get those tickets refunded.

Our storage shipment is scheduled to arrive on Kauai on Friday, July 10!! That means we should get delivery sometime the week after – so exciting! And, my new glasses were finally ready for pickup this past Thursday. I don’t know what the problem was, but getting them took nearly five weeks from my exam. The prescription is much stronger than the previous pair, and it’s going to take a while to fully adjust to them (I was warned about this). The only unknown left is when the dining chair pads I ordered through Etsy will arrive. They were supposed to be finished and shipped by June 9, but I got a message from the store owner that she was swamped and they would be shipped on the 16th. The actual shipment date ended up being June 25, but at least they are now on their way. The pottery bowls I ordered arrived last week, and are beautiful and getting plenty of use.

This shallow bowl size and shape is very useful, and these ones will fit in perfectly with the other dishes we kept.

Finally, this morning as I write I am enjoying my final Diet Coke. I feel a bit sad, and am going to miss them, but I am also ready to let them go.

The last one

Anyway, this morning I am:

  • Reading: I am slowly working my way through Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour. I somehow had the impression that this was a less dense book, but I can read for an hour an only get through a few percentage points on my Kindle. Thankfully it’s well-written and very readable, and interesting as well. I put several other books on hold at the library, but will have to wait for most of them.
  • Listening to: It’s kind of a noisy morning outside here. Lots of birds singing and there’s a strong (and cool) breeze blowing through the trees. A few roosters are doing their thing as well. YaYu is still sleeping, and Brett’s reading. One thing I realized this morning is that there is no barking! Constant barking, nearly 24 hours a day it seemed, was always in the background when we lived here before, but I don’t think I’ve heard even one dog bark in this neighborhood since we’ve been here (and many of our neighbors have dogs).
  • Watching: We are still watching Ozark, and are close to finishing up the second season. We took a break last Friday to watch Hamilton, which was better than hoped for.
  • Cooking: Costco currently has big tubs of marinated mozzarella on sale, so we picked one up last week and tonight we’re using some of them in a Caprese-style salad which we’ll have with grilled Italian sausages and rosemary-garlic focaccia (made by YaYu). Also appearing on the menu this week will be chili pork sauce over rice; Costco’s enchilada casserole (two nights); breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, and toast); butter chicken and rice; and spaghetti with homemade marinara.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got my annual fasting blood work done this past week and everything was good so my prescriptions have been ordered for another year. We also got all our paperwork (HIPAA Permits Disclosures and Advance Health Care Directives) ready to be turned in to the clinic. Brett walked every day these past two weeks but I only got in four days this past week (six the week before). I got all of my activity cards filled in for the past two week, and charted my eating every day on MyFitnessPal (and stayed within my calorie/macro allotments too!). We had bought YaYu a case of ramen when she arrived back in March, but she said it was too much so we mailed off what was left to WenYu and Meiling this week – they are looking forward to it because it’s the “good” stuff, Sapporo Ichiban, which is supposedly difficult to find and expensive where they are.
  • Looking forward to next week: The chair pads should be delivered this coming week although the way things have been going I’m not entirely counting on it. We’re especially looking forward to some good weather, another couple of days at the beach, and some more good walks.
    Finally: a short haircut (that’s already trying to curl), new glasses (with special blue screen lenses), and lots of freckles once again – I’m happy and back to living my best life on Kaua’i!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Getting my new computer, getting my new glasses, and learning that our stuff will be here soon were all very good things, and they all happened on the same day! I’m glad that we were able to reopen our claim again Aeromexico – fingers are doubly crossed this time that we get our refund. Summer fruit season has “officially” started: dragonfruit appeared at the farmers’ market for the first time this year – it’s one of our favorites – and Costco now has ripe peaches and nectarines. Watermelon and pineapple are also available at the farmers’ market, but they are expensive, so we’ll wait until later this month to get them at Costco.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We spent about $35 over our food budget last week, but we’re OK with it as we somehow had ended up with a LOT of non-food items on our list (shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, probiotic, aspirin, contact cleaner, and so forth – it added up quickly). We put just 50¢ in the change/$1 bill jar these past two weeks, but our travel account now has $673.97 in it! I earned an additional 1075 Swagbucks during the past two weeks and am growing ever closer to our first $100 Southwest gift card. We have done a phenomenal job finishing our leftovers if I do say so – no food has been thrown out!
    This past week’s bounty from the farmers’ market: kale, ginger, two cucumbers, two dragonfruit, basil, limes, eggplant, four papayas, and a big bunch of bananas, all for $25.
  • Grateful for: We are beyond thankful, as always, for the abundance of produce grown on Kaua’i year-round, and the ease of procuring it at the weekly farmers’ market for an affordable price. We have always been good about including fruits and vegetables into our diet, but we are able to have so much more here.
  • Bonus question: How has the humidity been so far? As of now I am happy to report that it hasn’t been bad at all! Those of you who read this blog in the past know that humidity was my chief nemesis when we lived here before (and it was pretty bad when we visited last January), and I suffered mightily from it. Our new location though has made a world of difference – we get wonderful breezes through the apartment all day which keep it cool and don’t give the humidity much of a chance to settle like it did in our former place. The only thing that moved the air there was the ceiling fans – the house had hills on two sides, and its windows were not placed to catch any breeze at all keeping it continually humid, sticky, and hot inside. I also think it just may be less humid down on the south side of the island where we are now. We have had only a couple of days with high humidity, like yesterday and one the week before last. Both times big, heavy clouds settled over the area, but both times it eventually rained, the clouds passed, and the breezes came through again and all was well. If the trade winds die off again this summer though things could get sticky here, but so far it’s been very pleasant and a world of difference from what we experienced last time.

Hawaii is now planning to open to visitors on August 1st if they can get a testing regime in place even though the virus has already returned to the islands. Visitors with proof of a negative Covid-19 test from an approved tester (CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, Kaiser for now) can avoid quarantine, but without test results they will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine with no car rentals, etc. No one is sure how this is going to work or even if it will work, especially since in most places on the mainland tests aren’t available unless you have symptoms – you can’t get one just because you want to go on vacation to Hawaii. Things are continuing to slowly open up though in anticipation of visitors coming back. Our upstairs neighbors just finished their 14-day quarantine this past week – the police and/or national guard were by every day to check on them so the quarantine enforcement is still taken seriously here. We also watched security approach a few people at the farmers’ market and remind them that masks are still required outside as well unless you are exercising. Kaua’i now has 36 active cases of the virus, all within three families – those seem to have come from inter-island travel and then spread within the families and their friends. All contacts are being monitored and known positive cases have been isolated. They appear to be contained (for now) but it is still unnerving, especially with the thought of visitors returning to the islands in possibly significant numbers.

YaYu continues to look for work but has almost given up hope, especially since she will probably only be here for another couple of months. Her college still plans to open, and she has already filled out a request for a private dorm room. The fall semester bill will arrive within the next couple of weeks (ugh) and she will re-register again for classes (the entire previous schedule that she register for last spring has been changed and upended in order that social distancing can be maintained).  WenYu is also looking for employment back in Massachusetts, and Meiling is up for a promotion at her job in New York! We are tentatively planning to gather here for Christmas this year if things are better and travel is possible, but we all realize it may not happen, and we’ll have to postpone any reunion until next year.

How was your Fourth of July holiday? We got together with our neighbors and another couple yesterday evening for a barbecue, with Cary the chef manning the grill, and then did fireworks out in front of the house afterwards. We supplied the dessert, a peach cobbler and ice cream.

That’s a wrap for my two weeks away! I hope the past couple of weeks have provided lots of good things for you all, including good books and good food, and that you accomplished a lot and are looking forward to the week coming up.

Sunday Morning 6/21/2020: Father’s Day!

The last pretty sunset this past week was on Monday.

Here’s wishing all the dads, both those with us and those in our hearts, a happy Father’s Day! YaYu got up this morning and is baking two kinds of scones for Brett’s breakfast: cranberry-white chocolate and blueberry, and I’m fixing a special seafood dinner tonight of panko-crusted fish (a gift from our downstairs neighbor, who goes fishing every evening), jasmine rice, and coleslaw with miso dressing. YaYu and I are also baking him a triple chocolate cake topped with ganache. She and I went together on his gift: Two bottles of gin, Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray Rangpur, and two four-packs of Fever-Tree elderflower tonic, which we found at a local market. Brett enjoyed it when we were in England, so this was a no-brainer once we had decided to give him gin. We were also going to give him a Day of Doing Nothing, but he was up ahead of both of us and already doing things. Meiling and WenYu sent him a box of fancy biscotti but unfortunately, it won’t arrive until next week.

Father’s Day libations! We now are pretty well set for G&Ts for the next several months.

This week started out with great promise and then sort of went downhill from there. We drove down to the Barking Sands base on Monday and enjoyed having the entire beach to ourselves for over two hours. Brett stopped at the exchange on the way in and purchased the beach chair of his dreams, complete with a side table for his drink and book, and all of us took long walks in the sand (did you know that walking in sand increases the calories burned by anywhere from 20% to 50%? I do now!). On Tuesday we woke to high winds and rain, both of which hung around for the rest of the week, most of the time anyway (Friday and Saturday were especially miserable, although it did clear enough in the afternoon for us to walk on Tuesday and Friday). The sunsets started off nicely but then turned fairly insipid as well. I have been having a tough time reconciling the weather we’ve been having with the fact that we’re approaching the end of June! Usually, by now it is hot, sunny, and humid, but it’s been unseasonably cool instead – great for sleeping, but less than ideal for going out.

YaYu has been out pounding the pavement this past week looking for a job, even if it’s only a for minimum wage. She is bored hanging out at home all the time, and would like to earn something this summer to contribute to her upcoming college expenses – that bill is coming up in a couple of weeks. She went to a job fair on Wednesday and then visited several other places on Thursday asking if they were hiring. Nothing has turned up so far, but there are jobs available and she plans to go out again this week.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading The Daughters of ErieTown, by Connie Schultz, although I’m almost finished. It’s very good, very well written, but not really my style. Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour, by Lynne Olson, came off of hold at the library yesterday and was downloaded – I am eager to get started on it.
  • Listening to: Brett is rustling around in the kitchen making coffee, while YaYu is anxiously awaiting her turn to get in there to make scones. Since it’s not raining, there are lots of birds singing in the trees outside, but one noisy rooster is trying to get into the act as well. While we have woken up to wild winds the past few mornings, this morning’s gentle breeze through the trees this morning is a nice (and less noisy) change.
  • Watching: Same old, same old again this past week, but we finished Line of Duty and Dead to Me and started Ozark. We haven’t watched enough to have much of an opinion, but so far it’s got our attention.
  • Cooking: Fish dinner tonight, and then we’ll be having Snake Alley noodles (although we’re all having it with zoodles instead of pasta), California roll salad, Vietnamese-style salad rolls, chicken tacos, Instant Pot mushroom risotto, and beef Polish sausages with a three-bean salad during the rest of the week.

Things I saw on our walks this week.

  • Happy I accomplished last week: In spite of the not-very-good weather, we got in five days of good walks. I also finished up my first set of tracking cards, and got every day filled in – those five weeks went by quickly. My next five weeks’ set is ready to go!
  • Looking forward to next week: Hopefully, I will finally be getting my new glasses! I called this past week to see what was up, and was told “they didn’t pass the final inspection” but I think that really meant they forgot to send in the order – oops! Packages are due from Etsy as well – our seat cushions as well as some handmade pottery salad bowls I almost forgot I ordered, but I checked the tracking information and both are moving through the system very slowly. Fingers are crossed that we get another couple of beach days this coming week!
    K’s first harvest of green beans from her garden!
    M & C checking whose hair is longer. M hasn’t shaved or gotten his hair cut since he started working from home in February.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I have short (very short) hair again and that is a very good thing! I did love wearing my hair longer and curlier earlier in the year, but it’s a style that does not work for me here (an understatement). We had a long video call with our son and family on Friday. Boy, have the grandkids grown in the last few months! K chatted right along with us in English too. She attends a nearby international school where she speaks English full time, and that has made all the difference. We miss them all terribly. I bought yet another Oxo hand-held spiralizer, our fourth, found on sale for a ridiculously low price at Macy’s. I thought our third one was the charm, but no, we left it in the cupboard back in Japan.
    This one is not leaving the apartment.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not a particularly frugal week. Not a crazy week, but we spent more than usual (haircut, spiralizer, beach chair, Father’s Day gifts). We put $10.74 into the change/$1 bill fund (recycling week). We didn’t throw away any food, and all the leftovers were eaten. I earned an additional 565 Swagbucks.
  • Grateful for: I’ve said it before, but I am continually grateful for the companionship and help of my partner-in-crime, best friend, and the love of my life, Brett. Beyond being thankful for his daily help at home, and his willingness to do many of the tasks that I dislike or don’t feel like doing, he has been and is a wonderful, loving, involved father with our children, rising above his own less than ideal upbringing. He has always made sure we have what we need, and has been the steady hand on the tiller through all the ups and downs we faced over the years. 
  • Bonus question: Do you have, or have you ever had a nickname? When I was very little I was called Laurie, but apparently, when I was three years old someone called me “Laurie” and I announced my name was Laura, not Laurie, and I’ve been Laura ever since, with two exceptions. One of my high school math teachers was a good friend of my mom (she was also a math teacher) – he had known me since I was little and still called me Laurie; I let it slide. My childhood next-door neighbor always called me “LR.” I was sort of afraid of her, so I let that one go as well. My older brother and sister had nicknames for me, but I don’t acknowledge either of those anymore. My brother’s nickname started out as a putdown and I’ve always disliked it, and I am no longer am close with my sister so that doesn’t get used either.

Kaua’i recorded its first active case of Covid-19 in nearly two months this past week. There has been an uptick in new cases in the state as inter-island travel has reopened, but almost everyone here continues to practice social distancing, mask-wearing, and so forth. A few more visitors seem to be coming to the islands these days as well, and we have seen a few people out and about without masks and assume they are visitors. Most venues however have someone there to remind people to wear a mask, places like stores or farmers’ markets. Fifty-seven percent of the households on Kaua’i now have someone who has lost a job because of the virus, and it is affecting the overall mental health of island residents, especially as businesses are only slowly reopening here, and the visitor quarantine has been extended until the end of July. Our upstairs neighbors returned from the mainland this past week and both are worried that they will soon be laid off permanently; both are already applying for jobs back on the mainland. They are currently under quarantine here, getting regular, but unscheduled visits from the police or National Guard to make sure they are staying home. As with many places, things are currently stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Open the state and there’s a high risk of a catastrophic infection rate, overwhelming the islands’ health care system. Stay closed and the state’s economy craters, maybe beyond ever reviving again.

Once again, that’s all for this week! I hope it was a good one for everyone, with good weather, good food, good books, and lots of good things happening. Happy Father’s Day as well to all who are celebrating today, and here’s to a good week coming up!

Sunday Morning 6/14/2020: Stormy Weather

Nothing spectacular, but we still had several satisfying sunsets this week in spite of the weather.

This past week was not one for going to the beach. There’s been rain, high winds, lots of clouds, and cool temperatures. It’s been hard at times to believe it’s June. On the plus side, we’ve been enjoying the cool breezes flowing through the house (such a change from where we lived before) and walking has been more pleasant in the cooler temperatures. We only got rained out of a walk once this past week, but otherwise have managed to fit them, sometimes between downpours. The Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course has turned out to be a great walking venue, and we’ve met many nice people there and are already being recognized as “regulars.”

YaYu learned this past week that her college will re-open in the fall, but with several changes to ensure student safety. Some students will continue distance learning, and student arrivals to the campus will be staggered so that they and their families will be able to stay distanced from others while students move in. Mealtimes in the dining halls will also be staggered to allow for social distancing, and classes will be spread out longer during the day to avoid crowding. Along with handwashing, masks will be required at all times, and every student will be required to maintain a contact journal. Even with all the new restrictions and some fear, YaYu is excited about going back. She is now eligible for a private dorm room and has her fingers crossed that happens, but most of all she wants to be with her friends again, and learn in a real classroom. She understands that all the above may not happen depending on conditions at the time, but for now, we are all hopeful things work out. The term has also been shortened – fall break will be eliminated, and instead of returning home close to Christmas, she will instead be back here right before Thanksgiving.

Several things that were supposed to arrive this week didn’t, like my new glasses, and the chair cushions I ordered. I noticed on Etsy that the order for the cushions didn’t actually occur until nine days after I was charged for the goods and wasn’t sure if that was normal or not since I have never ordered anything through Etsy before (love to look though!). I wrote to the store owner and she got right back to me to apologize and let me know she had gotten snowed under but was finishing my order and it will be shipped on Tuesday. Yeah! Anyway, I’m especially hoping my new glasses are ready this week – I need them!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: The new book from Connie Shultz, The Daughters of Erietown, arrived in my Kindle this week, but I’m still reading Just Mercy, although I’m getting to close to the end. It’s a gutting read and completely lays bare how the justice system (actually lack of justice) works for black versus white citizens in this country, as well as other marginalized people. I finished The Prisoner of Azkaban earlier in the week, and after I finished decided to go back to reading one book at a time versus two, even if it means I don’t reach my goal of 52 books this year (then again, is anything in 2020 turning out the way we thought it would?).
  • Listening to: The wind has died down some – last night it was wild – but it’s still a very cool morning and softer breezes are moving through the house. It’s quiet outside too – I can hear the birds singing this morning (I hadn’t been able to hear them all week because of the wind). YaYu is sleeping, and Brett is reading, so it’s still quiet inside. I was hoping for blue skies, but the sky is mostly filled with clouds so I’m not entirely sure how the day is going to go other than we’ll get out for a walk in the late afternoon.
  • Watching: No changes from last week – Brett and I have two more seasons of Line of Duty to go (they’re only six episodes each though) and YaYu and I are finishing up the second season of Dead to Me.
  • Cooking: YaYu has been baking to keep busy these days –  this past week she made some fantastic focaccia bread and on another day a batch of tasty pizza bites. She is excited to try making no-knead artisan bread, but we have to wait for our stored items to arrive in order to have a pan for baking it. In the meantime, she says she’s going to try a chocolate cake. I’ve gone back to cooking in the evening, most of the time anyway. Tonight I’m fixing carnitas in the Instant Pot, which will be used to make burritos. I’m going to make a few extra as well to freeze for later meals. This week we’ll also be having a chili relleno casserole along with leftover carnitas; pork & pepper stir fry, chili shrimp, potstickers, and rice; Instant Pot butter chicken with basmati rice (I am super excited to try this!); chicken adobo with bok choy; and stuffed peppers.
    The surf was rough on the east side from all the big winds this past week.
  • Happy I accomplished: We’ve taken advantage of the weather to get lots of reading done, and other chores around the apartment. We did manage to get out and walk every day except for one, including one walk on the eastside beach path. One day we literally closed the car doors to come home just as the rain started coming down in torrents! I got everything else filled in on my weekly tracking card. We ended up doing our food shopping on Thursday – we had been planning to go this coming week but ran out of too many things. I wish we could do “big shops” again, but we no longer have room to store much, especially in the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Looking forward to next week: I am getting my hair cut on Wednesday! Finally! Otherwise, there’s nothing special on the calendar, but we’re hoping the weather will improve so we can get back to the beach a couple of times. 
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu finding out she will be able to return to school in the fall was very good news. We love having her with us, but we know it’s difficult for her here with no job (although she’s always looking) and nothing much else to do. We’re of course worried about her possibly contracting the coronavirus, but weighed against everything it’s better for her to be there than here (for now, anyway). In other good news (for us), karma showed up for our former landlord and he lost in court this past week – big time. He had pulled the same stunts on the tenants who lived in the house after us as he had with us, and wouldn’t return their deposit claiming they damaged everything, so they sued him in small claims and not only got their entire deposit back ($2400) but also an additional $700 for the hassle he put them through and all court costs! The house is now also registered with the county as a commercial property, but because he had been claiming it as a personal residence versus a rental property he will owe years of back taxes (county tax rates are different for residences and rentals).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a no-spend week except for our trip to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, where we spent just $19, and our food shopping on Thursday. We put $270.70 into our travel account (phone payment from WenYu and credit card reward), and $1 into the change/$1 bill jar. I earned 623 Swagbucks last week, and am now nearly halfway to earning my first $100 Southwest Airlines gift card.
    Kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, bananas, zucchini, fresh basil: every week we fill our shopping basket with freshly harvested local produce for less than $20.
  • Grateful for: I am thankful for the wonderful abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available each week at the farmers market, and how affordable they are. I think if I had had to pick the one thing I missed most about Kaua’i while we traveled, it would have been the ease of acquiring great produce, the huge variety available, and how many more fruits and vegetables we ate because of those things.
  • Bonus question: Do you enjoy gardening? Sadly, no. I have had gardens, great ones, but my work and enjoyment of them has been minimal. Growing up, my Dad always made gardening pure drudgery for me (and my siblings, as far I could tell). We pulled all the weeds (he didn’t), hoed furrows for planting (he didn’t, but complained if they weren’t right), and were assigned mundane, boring tasks like pulling leaves out of decorative wood chips. Choosing which plants to grow, watering, harvesting, etc., were all jobs reserved for adults only. Anyway, I came to intensely dislike anything having to do with outdoor gardening and refused to learn more about it once I was on my own and could have had fun with it, cutting off my own nose to spite my face, in other words. These days both Brett and I especially appreciate having someone come and do cleanup and other garden chores (it’s included in our rent). I always think our yard here looks great, but after it gets a “manicure” I can’t get over how much better it looks.

It took a bit of research to figure out this variety of palm trees. They line the road to the clubhouse at the Kukuiolono golf course.

As much as I dislike gardening and working outside, I do love plants and learning more about them. Thankfully, Hawaii has an abundance of interesting plants, many new to us, to keep us busy for a long time. For example, in the past couple of weeks, I became a bit obsessed with the variety of palms that line part of our walk in the golf course, and after some research, I figured out they are mature bottle palms (because of the sort of bulbous nature of their trunks). I’m still on the hunt for more hibiscus varieties, and I also want to know more about these pine trees that fill a wooded area we walk through on the golf course – their soft needles cushion the path. Thinking about plants also makes me remember my mother as well – she was a botany major and would have loved the great variety of plants and flowers here as much if not more than I do (I don’t think she ever came to Hawaii though).

My new mission is to learn more about this wispy pine tree. It’s found all over the island, but I don’t know what it’s called, and I’d like to know where it came from and when.

That’s all for this week! I apologize for the lack of hibiscus pictures, but I sadly didn’t spot anything new this week. I hope you all had a great week, with great weather, that lots of good things happened for you, and that you’re looking forward to the week that’s coming up.

Sunday Morning 6/7/2020: A Surreal Week

There were no pretty sunsets this week . . . except for Tuesday’s, which was a showstopper.

I wasn’t sure I was even going to write the Sunday post this week. I wrote two posts last week, but in light of what’s been happening back on the mainland, they both seemed very insignificant and unworthy compared to the bigger picture so I let them go. I re-published a former post instead, just to put something up, but my heart wasn’t much into doing that either. I apologize.

The best word to describe how this past week has felt for us is surreal. Here we are, out in the middle of the ocean, enjoying beautiful weather (most of the time), going to the beach, shopping at the farmers market, and so forth while over on the mainland what feels like a battle for the soul of our country is being waged. We have all been following closely what’s been happening and it’s frankly been shocking and discouraging at times – how did we ever let things go for so long to get to this? But, we’ve felt hope too, that the bandage has finally been ripped off and people are now seeing a very ugly wound that’s been festering for too long. Change is in the air, but whether it can overcome what exists now still remains a question. So much work needs to be done, and the rot is deep.

Hundreds showed up for the Kaua’i #BLM protest in Lihue yesterday – they stretched for a long distance up and down Rice Street. Brett said many were from churches around the island (photo credit: Hawaii News Now).

YaYu is a rock – she has researched and written to her friends and others of ways to get involved and contribute, even if they are stuck inside or living in the middle of nowhere. She and Brett made posters and participated in yesterday’s #BLM protest in Lihue. We’ve been having some good discussions these past few days about racism and of ways we can all go forward, do better, and change. We are not giving up – we love our country, and refuse to allow authoritarianism, violence, and hatred to gain an even greater foothold than they already have.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished American Dirt and am about half-way through The Prisoner of Azkaban. There is a lot of controversy surrounding American Dirt, and I understand the reasons for the complaints and empathize with them, but it was still a good read. I am greatly looking forward to getting my copy of The Daughters of Erietown, by Connie Shultz, on Tuesday (the book’s release day), and I just started Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson. I am also near the top of the waitlist for another couple of books I’ve had on hold at the library.
  • Listening to: So far this morning has been a super quiet – Brett is reading, YaYu is still sleeping, and instead of the strong winds we’ve had the past couple of days noisily blowing everything around outside, there’s just a quiet breeze. It’s rained recently, and the sky is overcast, so it may be mostly an indoor day. One rooster just started up, but otherwise, it’s very peaceful – my favorite kind of morning.
  • Watching: Brett and I are now in the middle of Line of Duty (Season 3 out of five), and YaYu and I started watching Dead to Me this past week. I have already watched the first season but have forgotten a lot of it, and I’m looking forward to the new season that’s now available. I think all three of us have decided to watch Ozark when we’re done with our current shows.
  • Cooking: We’re continuing to use what we have on hand this week as other than a trip to the farmers’ market, we’re not going food shopping until the week after next. YaYu is making pork and vegetable fried rice for our dinner tonight, and other things we plan to have this week are another Mississippi pot roast; leftover open-faced pot roast sandwiches along with coleslaw; zucchini frittata and Italian sausages; tuna melts (that didn’t get made last week) with crudités; and one-pan pasta. This past Thursday I baked a loaf of zucchini bread; we’ll finish that tonight and then I’m going to make a chocolate-orange poke cake. We’ve all gotten very good about only having one small piece of cake/bread after dinner for a daily sweets fix.

The surf was pounding at Brenneke this week, but there were still plenty of daring boogie boarders and body surfers. We also spotted several turtles again, totally unfazed by the pounding waves.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We kept busy this past week in spite of hot and humid weather on some days and rainy, windy weather on others. I filled in everything on my daily activity card, including walking 2 to 2.5 miles on six days. We made it to the beach twice, including an afternoon out at Barking Sands last Sunday afternoon.
    The beach at the Barking Sands base, looking out to the island of Niihau, was practically deserted, as usual.
  • Looking forward to next week: I have an appointment with my new doctor tomorrow and hope to get some ideas for dealing with my recurring stomach issues. My new glasses should be ready this week as well. We’re looking forward to more good walks and hopefully two trips to the beach (at least).

The views from the eastside beach path never disappoint.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our storage items were picked up from Joan’s basement last Tuesday and are on their way over to Hawaii, with a timeframe of four to six weeks before delivery. The invoice also arrived and the final cost is nearly $2000 less than the original estimate! Hallelujah!! We had two great trips to the beach this past week, and the beach on the base at Barking Sands was as beautiful as ever – we plan to go back soon as it’s only a 30-minute drive away now (versus well over an hour like it was previously). We also discovered a new (to us) walking path in Kalaheo, around the Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course. WenYu’s graduation package had been lost but was found and delivered on Friday. Our living room rug arrived on Friday as well and once in place pulled everything in the room together.
    The rug was a better fit than we expected! It’s much bluer than it appears in this photo.
    The view out to Poipu (in the distance) from the Kukuiolono golf course walk. Our place about halfway between Poipu and the houses in the foreground.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a spend-free week except for last Wednesday when I bought a new pair of slippers to replace the ones I wore out, we all got new cloth masks (our paper ones ran out), and we went to the farmers’ market. I was happy to see that the price of OluKai slippers hadn’t changed from when I bought my last pair four years ago. I still need to get a cheap pair of Locals slippers next time we’re at Walmart (to wear to the beach), but otherwise, both Brett and I are now set for footwear for the next several years. We put $2 into the change/$1 bill jar, and I earned 751 Swagbucks (from taking several high-point surveys).
  • Grateful for: We are beyond grateful that the cost of getting our stuff back over to Hawaii will be no more than what we paid sending it over to Portland in 2018. The original estimate scared us to death because it would have pushed us beyond our relocation savings. That account is now nearly empty, but that’s what it was there for.
  • Bonus question: What’s personally been the hardest part of settling back on Kaua’i? Honestly, we’ve had a very easy time of physically getting settled here, and with the arrival of our things from the mainland, we’ll be set. It’s been annoying at times not having our stuff, but we’ve managed – Brett and I learned a lot during our time on the road about improvising when things we needed were not available. The most difficult part of settling back here for me has been coming to terms with knowing we’re not going anywhere for the next couple of years. I’m definitely still not to the acceptance stage with that. I have a huge desire to continue to travel, and desperately want to see the grandkids again, but for the time being, I am going to have to be content with just dreaming and planning, and enjoying being on Kaua’i again. If I can’t go anywhere, this is a pretty nice place to be.

As much as we are enjoying having YaYu with us this summer, I did have to talk with her this past week about the number of clothes she has been putting into the wash each day – on Wednesday, I washed and hung up 24 pieces of clothing, and 18 of them were hers (I had just washed everything two days earlier)! Most laundry days have similar ratios of her clothes to ours. She seems to change her clothes two to three times a day, and I asked her to see if there were some things she could wear a couple of days in a row (like her nightwear and some of her exercise things). We have a small washer now, and a small drying rack, so I’m hoping she’ll help out a little more, at least by not creating so much that needs to be washed. I used to only have to do laundry once a week; these days I’ve been doing a load almost daily because the pile grows so quickly and I need to make sure I have enough room on the rack for everything. We do have a dryer, but I prefer line drying here.

Above are a few more hibiscus pictures from when we’ve been out and about. The one unfurling was located beside the beach path, and was very pale pink with slightly darker pink edges – I snapped a picture because I knew it would be gone by the time we got back. The pink changing to yellow on the outer petal is one we have seen before, but the one above was perhaps more stunning and very big. I have been reading about all the different colors and varieties of hibiscus this past week. They are a big thing in Florida and there are some amazing variations that have been created.

That’s a wrap! I hope it was a good if not a great week for all of you, with lots of good things happening in your lives, lots of things accomplished, good books to read, and things to look forward to this coming week. Have things opened up where you live? It’s still going slowly here, and masks for everyone remain de rigueur.

Sunday Morning 05/31/2020: Things Are Happening!

It was a good week for sunsets.

It’s the last day of May! We went back to the beach for the first time last Sunday afternoon and it was every bit as wonderful as we hoped it would be. We went a second time on Tuesday and again, it was perfect. We went to Brenneke, a small beach just east of the Poipu Beach Park, and only about a 10-minute drive from our apartment. Brenneke is known for its great body surfing and boogie boarding sets, and we had a good time watching both kids and adults out in the water. And, as an extra bonus, there were turtles! On both days we were there several large (huge, really) sea turtles swam in the waves near the shore and put on a show for us. The beach was practically empty and there was plenty of parking, an additional treat. As long as visitors aren’t coming to the island Brenneke will stay our beach, but once tourists return we’ll have to find somewhere else as everything in Poipu gets very crowded, very quickly.

Brenneke Beach

We FINALLY heard from the moving company this past week! Our boxes will be picked up this coming week and will be delivered here four to six weeks later. The cost however was quite a shock – the estimate was nearly half again what it cost to move our things over to Portland two years ago. Ouch! However, that estimate is based on a weight we know is too high (we know the weight of what we shipped back to Portland, haven’t added anything, and the estimate is over that). The higher cost overall is due to increases levied by the steamship lines – those costs go up every year (which we knew from shipping before) and I’m sure the current pandemic hasn’t helped any. Anyway, here’s hoping it won’t be too much longer and we’ll soon have our stuff with us again!

On the downside, I got some sobering news from my eye doctor this past week: when this last prescription is no longer strong enough, it will be time to have cataract surgery – they have grown over the past three years to nearly the point for removal. That was a genuine surprise – I knew my vision had gotten worse, but had no idea it was because cataracts had started growing again. This will also be the last pair of progressive lenses he will prescribe – after the surgery (in a couple of years) he wants me to instead have one pair of glasses for daily wear, a second pair for reading and computer work, and a pair of prescription sunglasses instead of the Transitions lenses I wear now. I’m feeling even more grateful than before though that we were able to add vision insurance to our plan a couple of years ago. It covered enough this past week that I paid nothing out of pocket for my exam, and my new glasses, with designer frames and every other add-on, were less than half of what I paid for my current pair at Costco two years ago.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading two books, and will most likely continue through June. My daytime/ beach read is American Dirt – I’m moving through it fairly quickly. My only impression so far is that I’m sort of glad we didn’t go to Mexico, although I know that’s too broad of a generalization. My evening book is the third in the Harry Potter series, The Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Listening to: It’s a quiet morning here: Brett is reading and YaYu is still sleeping. It’s quite breezy outside although the sky is blue with a few clouds. We’re thinking of heading down to Barking Sands this afternoon for some sunbathing and a long walk on the beach.
  • Watching: YaYu and I finished the Best British Home Cook – it was an easy-to-watch, enjoyable show, but still sort of meh in my opinion. There was none of the tension and excitement of The Great British Bake-Off, and not much of a chance to really get to know the contestants. She and I haven’t decided on something new to watch, but are leaning toward one of the true-crime series on BritBox. Brett and I started watching the British series Line of Duty this past week and it’s very good.
    Breakfast of champions: a banana, mango, papaya, and kale smoothie.
  • Cooking: The past week we worked hard at getting rid of odds and ends in our fridge and freezer so we could do our shopping at Walmart, Costco, and Safeway yesterday and have room to put everything away. For example, I had smoothies for breakfast a few days last week to use up fruit and some kale we had on hand. YaYu will be making spaghetti carbonara for dinner tonight to use up a few more things. Other meals this week will be grilled fish tacos with fresh mango salsa; pork & pepper stir fry; three-color Chinese salad; California roll salad; grilled Italian sausages with sauteed peppers and onions; and the chicken and rice casserole that didn’t get made this past week. No baking though – we bought a watermelon at Costco and until we finish that there’s no room for anything else. Also, the new rice cooker arrived and I am happy to have one again. I did figure out how to make good Japanese rice in the Instant Pot (thank you, Sheila!), and while the time was shorter overall it required several steps as well as watching the time for each carefully, difficult as I was getting other things ready at the same time. Also, we often prepare items in the Instant Pot that go along with rice and both can’t happen at the same time with one pot. Although it takes longer, I honestly prefer the fix-it-and-forget-it ease of the rice cooker.

Some things I saw on our walks.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: This past week started out as a terrible one for walking because of the weather – lots of rain – but we got in some good walks at the end of the week, including one on the beach path in Kapaa. We’ve increased the distance we walk as well. I got a doctor’s appointment set up for the week after next with a nearby physician and a hair appointment for the week after that! I’ve been able to check off almost everything on my card every day and earned 425 Swagbucks last week.
  • Looking forward to next week: We loved being back at the beach and are looking forward to going as many days as possible this summer. We’re also looking forward to getting in a couple of walks on the eastside beach path each week. Although I don’t look forward to the drive over to Kapaa, walking on the pathway makes it worthwhile. Finally, I can’t wait to hear that our storage items have been picked up and are on their way!
    The scones YaYu made were as light as the ones we had in England and just as delicious.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu surprised us yesterday while Brett and I were out doing the food shopping, and baked a batch of scones with two flavors: fresh mango and chocolate chip. They were still warm when we got home so we each had one – delicious! Getting back to the beach twice last week and walking again on the beach path in Kapaa were also very good things as was a visit and catch-up with friends Alan and Cheryl while we were in Kapaa. And, we found a lovely shaded path in Kalaheo for walking and figured out another new walking route over in Kukui’ula as well. 
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: There was nothing special we did this past week, just the usual stuff like eating all our leftovers and having as many no-spend days as possible (we ended up with four). We put $14.06 into the change/$1 bill jar this past week, and as of the end of this month, we have accumulated $404 in our travel savings account.
  • Grateful for: I am so thankful that in just a few more weeks we should have our stored items back with us. We’ve managed without them for this long, but at the same time, there have been items we have missed greatly and others that will make our lives easier. I have especially missed our art, as well as the Japanese items we kept, and I am looking forward to having those in our home again. Most of all though both Brett and I are beyond grateful for our friend Joan’s willingness to store those items for us while we traveled!
  • Bonus question: Is Hawaii open now? For local residents, things are moving along slowly but surely, but for visitors, no. The governor just extended the visitor quarantine past June 30 after new cases of the virus re-emerged this past week on the Big Island and Oahu. Most likely all those cases came along with visitors to the islands since the quarantine, some of who ignored it and went out and even bragged on social media about doing so. More shops have reopened on Kaua’i (incuding hair salons!) so things are slowly returning to normal, but social distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions are still strictly followed by all here. For example, for both my doctor and hair appointments next month, I have to call when I arrive and then wait outside in my car until they call and let me know they are ready for me as only a limited amount of people are allowed inside at a time. The only time we’ve seen someone without a mask and the only time we go without a mask is when we’re out walking or at the beach, but since nothing is crowded,  everyone keeps at least six if not 10 feet away from everyone else. Unemployment will run out for most people in the state at the end of July, and things are going to start getting very tough after that, but letting the virus get a hold here would be even worse for everyone.
We have a blue and gray theme going in the living room and think this rug will blend the two together very well.

I purchased two final items for the house this past week – a rug for the living room and a set of chair pads for our dining chairs. We have a rug in storage that unfortunately won’t work (it will probably go in the bedroom instead) and we’ve tried to rationalize going without a floor covering since we moved in, but have had to admit the room needs something on the floor. The rug we chose is nothing fancy or expensive, but it will work nicely with our stuff. The dining chairs have always been a bit too low and hard so pads were needed. As there’s nothing available on the island, I ordered them from an Etsy. The fabric is a blue Japanese-style design, and they will be custom made to fit our chairs. I am very glad to be finished with re-acquiring things though – we have enough now, especially so when our stored items get here.

As it’s the end of May, I’ve been reflecting more on what we would have been doing now, back in the Before Time. We’d be done with our five weeks in San Miguel de Allende, but have prepped ourselves for returning for a longer stay. We would have finished our five-day visit to New York City to spend time with Meiling and see Hamilton on Broadway, the experience of a lifetime. Today we’d be in Massachusetts, celebrating WenYu’s graduation from Wellesley, and tomorrow we’d be on our way for a six-day stay getaway with her in Vermont and Maine. Even in mid-March being back on Kaua’i had never even crossed our minds, and yet here we are, and glad of it. What a crazy and yet sobering time this has been.

Here are a few more hibiscus from around Kukui’ula. I’m going to have to broaden my sphere because I think I’ve now photographed all the ones there and in the nearby area.

That’s all for this week – I hope it’s been a good one for everyone out there. Wishing everyone a great week coming up, with lots of good things happening, good books to read, good food to eat and lots of things accomplished!