Sunday Morning 10/18/2020: Oh, the Humidity!

We thought we’d get only one sunset this past week, but . . .

. . . then this happened yesterday evening!

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

While temperatures thankfully dropped some this past week, the humidity remained high and uncomfortable all week. We usually had a breeze through the apartment most of the time and the ceiling fans kept the air moving otherwise, but being outside was awful, and we came home after walking each day drenched in sweat. We heard thunder on Friday night, and rain finally arrived early yesterday morning. It lasted all day, and broke the humidity, but made for a gloomy day and kept us inside. Today is much nicer, thank goodness.

Hawaii has extended the quarantine until the end of November as they just can’t seem to get a handle on COVID-19; last week, for example, there were 60+ new cases in one day and four deaths. However, the new testing regime went into effect this past week – no quarantine if you test negative three days before arrival – and the number of visitors increased dramatically. YaYu will have to quarantine when she arrives before Thanksgiving because Bryn Mawr will test her four days before she departs, so she’ll be out of the range. Although Brett and I are not required to do so, we plan to quarantine with her for the most part, and will only go out to walk in the park (which is very, very socially distanced) and we’ll also probably do a quick in and out at the outdoor farmers’ market each week for fresh produce. But otherwise we’ll be at home, and plan to have enough groceries on hand that we don’t have to go to Costco, Walmart, or another supermarket for the duration of her quarantine. YaYu is terrified of bringing the virus home to us and already is making plans to protect herself as much as possible on her journey back. Speaking of which, one of her flights home has of course already gotten messed up. Hawaiian cancelled the flight we booked and put her on an earlier flight, which departs from Honolulu less than half an hour after her flight from Seattle arrives. That’s not enough time for her to get to the flight, and it’s also the last flight of the day which would leave her in the Honolulu airport overnight if she misses it. Southwest has a flight that leaves a couple of hours later, but I want to talk with Hawaiian first to find out if the flight she’s booked on happens to be a connecting flight for her flight from Seattle because if so they will hold the flight. If not, my plan is to take a credit for the Hawaiian flight (and use it to get her back to school at the end of January) and then book her on Southwest. I’m currently nervous about committing to anything though as Southwest could change their schedule as well.

Assembed now and ready to go except for some firewood.

This past week Brett and I headed to Home Depot for a couple of things, and while we were there we saw they had outdoor fire pits back in stock (they sell quickly here). We had been talking about getting one for a while, to enjoy out in the yard, and decided to buy the simplest and most affordable one, just under $50 with our discount. Now we have to find fire wood, not the easiest thing to do on the island. There is a local tree service that sells firewood, so we’re going to check out their prices, but our other idea is to take along a bag or two whenever we go to the beach and collect some driftwood. We’re excited about being able to sit outside in the evening under the stars (the fire should keep bugs at a distance), and to toast marshmallows and make s’mores with YaYu when she’s home.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost to the end of Sex and Vanity – it’s been so much fun to read and connect it to A Room With a View as I go along. Kevin Kwan even gave the characters the same first names (which took me a few pages to catch on): there’s Lucie, Charlotte, George, a Mr. Beebe, Cecil, Freddy, and so forth, and he also snuck in Merchant and Ivory! There’s even an elderly pair of sisters, although this time they’re from the Philippines. Kevin Kwan of course puts his own fun spin on the culture, spending habits, and decadence of the rich to add to the mix. Our copy of the new Ian Rankin book, A Song for the Dark Times, arrived mid-week and I’ve got that started as well – it’s my day book, with Sex and Vanity saved for at night.
  • Listening to: We woke up to a much nicer morning today than yesterday, when it was pouring rain. There are clouds today but blue skies as well, and yesterday’s storms broke the humidity. The birds are going nuts outside this morning – lots of chickens making lots of noise for a change, but also lots of happy birds singing. Brett made coffee and is reading, and it’s really just a lovely, perfect morning!
  • Watching: We’re still barreling through Homeland at three episodes each evening, with a break for The Great British Baking Show on Friday. The most exciting TV news this week was that Season 4 of The Crown will be out on Netflix in mid November and will cover the Princess Diana years.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re going food shopping on Tuesday! We’ve done very well these past three weeks if I do say so myself, and haven’t run out of ideas of what to fix, but supplies are getting low now. Tonight we’re having rice and beans (Cuban black beans), and during the rest of the week dinners will be grilled chicken and roasted cauliflower, egg roll in a bowl, hamburgers, and chicken coconut curry over jasmine rice, with leftovers filling in the blank spaces. I finally made the Bacardi rum cake last Friday – our neighbor gave us the last of his rum – and it turned out great in spite of not being baked in a Bundt pan (which was in our lost box). It will last through this coming week and into the next but I’ve already got a plan for the next cake: dark chocolate with coffee frosting.
    Yummy Bacardi rum cake – finally!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I filled out our ballots and turned them in to the election office in Lihue last Wednesday – now we wait. We got in only six days of walking this week as it rained all day yesterday. The humidity made walking difficult earlier in the week, especially on Thursday and Friday, but we persevered. It felt at times as if we were enveloped in a wet blanket. We’re now doing 3.5 miles in about 50 minutes which is a great workout. Otherwise all we accomplished was our errand to Home Depot and the regular stuff around here.
  • Looking forward to next week: I am having my annual mammogram done tomorrow, the last of my physical stuff for the year. It’s the one test I’m always most nervous about as there has been cancer on both sides of my family, so I always hold my breath until the results come back. I’m happy and grateful to get it done though. Thankfully the whole test experience is easy and less painful these days, and the clinic is somewhat luxurious and spa-like. We are also looking forward to trying out the fire pit, hopefully this coming week if the weather stays nice. We plan to go down to Barking Sands and start our driftwood hunt there as the beach usually has a good supply, but that trip will also depend on the weather.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a nice conversation with our son and grandkids yesterday, and got caught up. The empty Japanese hibachi that sits next to the kitchen finally got to me this past week and I decided it was time to find something to put in it, so we headed to Home Depot where I bought a big monstera plant which fits perfectly. I also bought another plant and ceramic pot to put in our giant bathroom. Our baby avocado tree continues to grow, and this past week we moved the seed into a larger jar as the tap root it’s sending down had reached the bottom of the small jar we started it in. The seed has split enough that we can see a tiny green sprout inside and the seed it sprouting more roots, but we think it’s still going to be a while before the actual plant emerges so we’ve still got our fingers and toes crossed that our little tree keeps moving in a positive direction!
    A little green tree is emerging in the center
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The fire pit was a splurge, but otherwise it was a very low-spend/no-spend week. Our trip to Home Depot and a quick trip to the farmers’ market were our only spending this week, and there was no change from either place so we didn’t have to put anything into the change/$1 bill jar. We used our military discount at Home Depot though – 10% off of everything. No food was thrown out this week, and all leftovers were finished. I earned 2,279 Swagbucks.
    Farmers’ market haul this week: bananas, big head of cauliflower, three BIG cucumbers, an avocado, green beans, and zucchini all for $15.
  • Grateful for: I’ve been feeling very thankful this week for our little apartment, for the fresh air that flows through it, the lovely yard out back, the sunset views, and the cozy, comfortable space it provides. It’s just the right size for Brett and I these days, and exactly what we hoped for when we came back to Kaua’i.
    I love how our living room came together – it’s a great place to relax.
  • Bonus question: What, in your opinion, is the most under-rated candy bar? This question popped up on Twitter the other day, and the replies were a lot of fun to read – people really do have their favorites! In my opinion, the two most underrated candy bars were/are the Milkshake Bar and the Zero bar, both of which are absolutely delicious when frozen. Zero bars are still around (I see them at Walmart) but Milkshake bars are sadly no longer being made, although they apparently still have a cult following. Many people also recommended freezing a Charleston Chew, something I’ve never tried. Another underrated candy bar in my opinion is the Heath Bar (or Skör Bar). Toffee covered with chocolate is just about perfection in my book. One last underrated candy is the Chunky chocolate bar, small but mighty, and filled with nuts and raisins – so rich and yummy! The most underrated candy combination in my book is a frozen Reese’s peanut butter cup enjoyed with a cold, frosty root beer. They make an unbelievably good pairing.

The upstairs neighbor departs tomorrow – no more stomping, yelling, etc. Some people came over to see him on Thursday when his quarantine ended – two big guys – and we never heard a thing while they were there, not even footsteps. Nothing, which made us more confused than ever as to why the neighbor causes so much noise. We briefly chatted with him on Thursday and were genuinely happy to hear that he has landed on his feet back on the mainland with a good job. He and our other neighbors held a garage sale yesterday to get rid of the last of his stuff, his car is on it’s way back, and quiet will return tomorrow. Now we just have to wait and see who our new neighbors will be, and keep our fingers crossed they’re not as noisy as this guy was.

Don’t throw away your shot! Plan your vote and then do it! There are only 16 more days until the election (thank goodness!). It’s been emotional for me to see so many vote early, and stand for hours in line for their right to do so. Those voters are heroes in my book.

That’s a wrap for another week! I hope it was as good for you as it was here (in spite of the humidity). Here’s to more good things happening, good food, things accomplished, and another great week coming up!

Sunday Morning 10/11/2020: Life In the Slow Lane

Our last sunset with the palm trees . . .
. . . the first without.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

We woke up Wednesday morning to the sound of saws and came out to the living room only to see that the two palm trees in the yard behind us were being cut down. What a sad thing that was! We have wondered for a while if the trees were diseased or not because although they were loaded with coconuts not one coconut ever dropped and they all looked dead as well. The rest of the trees looked healthy though, so who knows? But down they came, and they are missed. I loved how they helped frame the sunsets and how they always let us know that we were once again living in Hawaii.

The palm trees are greatly missed.

When someone is in quarantine here on Kaua’i, a member of the Hawaii National Guard comes by daily at random times to check whether the person is at home and staying inside. Our upstairs neighbor is currently under quarantine, and one day last week a police officer showed up at his door instead of the national guard. Due to the setup here any visitors for the upstairs apartment stand right outside our living room window to knock at our neighbor’s door (entrance is through a large foyer on our level and then up stairs to the apartment). The officer actually asked us through the window before he knocked if our neighbor was home (yes because he’d been stomping around all morning) and if we had ever seen him leave (no, because we hadn’t). Someone else in the neighborhood though had apparently reported Upstairs Neighbor for breaking quarantine, currently a criminal offense with an up to $5000 fine and it turned out the police officer was there to question him about it. The officer told Upstairs Neighbor why he was there, and began to read him his rights, but the neighbor didn’t want to answer the questions, at least not without a LOT of hesitation. The police officer was polite but firm, and kept going through the questions, and apparently at one point the neighbor started to cry for some reason. It was hard for us to ignore what was going on, and both Brett and I kept wondering why he wouldn’t answer the Miranda questions, especially if he hadn’t broken quarantine. The officer eventually told him that if he was denying breaking quarantine he wouldn’t charge him because apparently the witness/reporter couldn’t positively identify him. The officer left, and the neighbor stomped back upstairs, stomped around the apartment and yelled at things for a while, and we’ve only heard him go out the door once since then. We think there’s a good chance he did break his quarantine this past week, and was spotted leaving by one of the people living across the street as he sure seemed to have behaved toward the police officer like someone who knew he had been caught. It’s been a pain having him upstairs from us again as he’s so noisy, but he leaves for good next week.

She always comes and sits patiently by the front door now, without judgment.

Ally, the neighborhood cat, continues to visit us almost daily. We keep fresh water out for her, and after having a drink she often goes back to the deck to sleep in the shade under our lounge chair. Brett goes out now and again to give her back a scratch and let her know that it won’t be long before YaYu is back.

This morning I am: 

  • Reading: I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this past week, and thereby accomplished two of my reading goals this year: finishing the entire Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter, and re-reading all the Harry Potter books. I’m finally reading Sex & Vanity by Kevin Kwan and enjoying every word of it as it seems to be an updated version of E. M. Forster’s A Room With a View, a favorite book which also happens to also be my all-time favorite film!
  • Listening to: I’ve been enjoying a very quiet morning – I woke up first and have enjoyed doing some reading in the peace and quiet. No dogs barking, no chickens screaming, no lawn mowers, just the breeze through the trees and the birds singing. It’s a lovely morning temperature-wise as well, cool with a constant gentle breeze. Brett’s up now though, putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee for both of us.
  • Watching: We’re still power-binging Homeland on Showtime, three episodes a night. Even with that I don’t think we’ll get through everything before our free trial period ends on October 29. We squeezed in Bread Week on the Great British Baking Show on Friday, but thought it was pretty lackluster. The show seems to be having a lot of trouble coming up with original ideas for the bakers, especially for the technicals. This week it was rainbow bagels(?). I miss the days when they had to make something difficult but still recognizable.
  • Cooking/baking: Tonight I’m going to make burritos for our dinner using A Dozen Cousins Mexican beans along with leftover grilled chicken, shredded cabbage, and salsa and will use the two remaining flour tortillas we have on hand to wrap everything up. Other dinners on the menu this week are grilled smoked chicken sausages with roasted mixed vegetables; Instant Pot chicken adobo with bok choy; and grilled ribeye steaks with vegetable kabobs. We still have pumpkin pie, but I’ll finally be making the Bacardi rum cake at the end of the week.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: It was another good week for walking, even with the weather being all over the place. Even on the hottest and most humid days we got in at least two miles, but we had good days as well and got in nearly four miles one day. I’ve mostly enjoyed staying isolated at home though and have gotten a lot of small chores taken care of as well as a lot of reading. We got our Christmas shopping lists made so we’re ready to go at the end of this month, and also got signed up on our family’s annual Secret Santa exchange and know who we’re shopping for.
  • Looking forward to next week: We have absolutely nothing on the calendar except for our weekly trip to the farmers’ market on Wednesday. Hopefully we’ll be able to get to the beach too.

We had a great day on Monday in spite of the heat and humidity.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a fun and fruitful day last Monday. I got my hair cut, always a good thing, and then Brett and I stopped at Java Kai in Kapaa and shared a Kaua’i Cubano sandwich (ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, homemade pickles, and tangy mustard on a toasted ciabatta) and some purple potato salad (just a bite for me). Then we headed down to Kealia for a long walk on the beach path. It was very hot and humid, but we started out in the direction of the Pineapple Dump with plans to walk back past our car and onward for a longer distance. That didn’t pan out though – by the time we got back to our car we were whipped from the heat/humidity and decided against going further. We drove back into Kappa and had a small shave ice, and then went over to Alan and Cheryl’s for some good conversation and dinner. Otherwise it’s been a pretty uneventful week, although Brett got in a hike on Thursday on the Kuilau trail back in Kapaa. It was also a very hot and humid experience for him.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We put $5 into the change/$1 bill jar this week, leftover from the farmers’ market. Our only other spending this past week was for our sandwich and shave ice on Monday. Our travel savings balance is now up to $985.27. I set a goal of reaching $1000 by the end of this year, but it looks like we’ll be able to surpass that. I earned 2,984 Swagbucks this past week, which includes a 686 SB bonus that I earned from reaching my daily goal every day in September. I’m now over halfway to earning my first $500 Delta Airlines gift card. We had another good week of finishing up leftovers, and the only food thrown out was a head of iceberg lettuce that started rotting from the inside out (yuk).
    I named this eucalyptus tree The Old Man of the Woods. We’ve still got a ways to go at this point, but when we pass we know the rest of the path is downhill.
  • Grateful for: We’re thankful this week for getting to spend some time with friends, for having a great venue for daily walks, for the new friends we’ve made at the park during our walks, and for the return of the trade winds!
  • Bonus question: What is the most useless thing you ever had to memorize? Well, the list is very long and it’s hard to pick one thing. We were always having to memorize things, and frankly every bit of it other than some of the math stuff (multiplication tables, some basic algebra, even long division) has turned out to be pretty useless now. I memorized more phone numbers than I can count – no contacts lists back then – and have forgotten them all because no one needs or uses them anymore. In middle school we had to memorize long poems as well as the Gettysburg address, which I can still recite. I also learned The Night Before Christmas at some point and can still get through that too although there’s no one to hear it these days. I can only remember the openings of the several long poems we had to memorize (“Aye, tear her tattered ensigns down, long have they waved on high, and many an eye has danced to see that banner in the sky” from Old Ironsides by Oliver Wendell Holmes and “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas . . .” from The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. Brett had to memorize The Highwayman too, and we still will say to each other, “the moon was a ghostly galleon” whenever we see a full moon among the clouds – it’s like a code for the torture we both went through having to memorize that poem. Anyway, pretty much everything I had to memorize is now useless. Do kids still have to memorize things in school, or has that gone the way of cursive penmanship? I don’t remember our kids memorizing anything other than the multiplication tables.
It doesn’t look like much but I’ve never gotten this far growing a tree from an avocado seed. There should be a seedling appearing soon.

I grew up in Southern California, in the land of avocado trees. My grandmother had a HUGE tree in her backyard, and one of the houses in I lived in had one in front of the house (the avocados the dropped could unfortunately draw skunks). I have absolutely loved all things avocado for as long as I can remember, but I have never been able to grow a plant from a seed . . . and I have tried so many times. I prepared the seed above from an avocado we bought at the farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago but also prepared myself for nothing to happen once again. However . . . the seed is sprouting roots from the bottom and the top has split in preparation for the plant to emerge!! To say I am excited (and nervous) would be a gross understatement. I’ve got my fingers crossed on both hands, and toes on both feet that I may finally end up with an actual avocado tree.

Have you voted yet? Do you have a plan? Only 23 more days until the election! Our ballots arrived yesterday (Hawaii is a mail-only state) – we’re filling ours out this week and will drop them off at the election office in Lihue.

Life here is slow these days, but never boring. I honestly miss our traveling days, but at the same time am still so very happy we landed back on Kaua’i. I hope everyone had a good, productive week, and that good things happened for all. Here’s to the week coming up, may it be another good one!

Sunday Morning 10/4/2020: Hot Time On the South Side

Wednesday’s sunset was very pretty.

Last night was pretty as well.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka! I forgot to hit the post button this morning – sorry!

We had a very soggy Monday morning. The rain eventually went away but left behind big clouds and oppressive humidity.

I am so glad to have gotten through this past week – it was a tough one weather wise. We started off on Monday morning with biblical amounts of rain that thankfully departed by late afternoon. However, they ushered in higher temperatures and high humidity. A front then parked itself offshore and blocked the trade winds for most of the week which made things close to unbearable. We still went to the park each afternoon to walk, but the heat, humidity, and giant swarms of gnats kept us off our usual path and we instead had to walk on a cooler but more challenging loop through the woods instead. There were thankfully no gnats in the woods, but it was just as humid as everywhere else and we left the park each day soaked in sweat. We almost gave it up yesterday as there were storm clouds threatening rain and the humidity was at its worse, but in the end we felt funny sitting at home and ended up getting in a good walk after all (and again left drenched in sweat). Even the beach gave no relief on Friday, and was just as hot and humid as everywhere else, with little to no breeze. With our ceiling fans going full time on high we stayed comfortable in the apartment. We woke up this morning though to the trade winds blowing once again around the house and through the yard, and the humidity level has dropped back so all is well once again.

We were the only ones at the Barking Sands beach on Friday. It was hot and very humid, and while the ocean looked deceptively calm, the waves that broke at the shore were anything but.

The second of our upstairs neighbors came back this past week to clear his stuff out of the apartment and get it and his car shipped back to the mainland. It didn’t take us long to figure out that he had been the one who used to make all the noise upstairs – he literally pounds across the floor when he walks, drags things around, yells, etc. He’s quarantined for the next two weeks, although we’ve heard him coming and going over to our other neighbor’s apartment (they had a barbecue last night). There have been several showings of the upstairs apartment over the past few weeks, but until this guy moves his stuff out no one else can move in. Fingers are crossed that our eventual new neighbors will be quieter.

Covid-19 cases are increasing again on Oahu, and there continue to be visitors who don’t think the rules apply to them. One couple arrived in Honolulu last week, and immediately broke quarantine and were fined $2000 bail and released. They immediately broke quarantine a second time to go surfing and are now sitting in jail (and have been fined a second $2000). It’s just nuts, and they’re not the only ones thinking the rules don’t apply to them. It’s also maddening that it appears Trump had the coronavirus for a few days before the news of his condition was released, including during debate prep and at the debate, and he possibly infected all sorts of people (and refused testing before the debate and his family refused to wear masks there even though they were required). I have been feeling especially frustrated and angry with those who have been consistently calling the virus a hoax, swearing that masks are not necessary, the “China virus,” and that the 210,000+ deaths were from something other than the virus. We have all deserved better than that.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am well into the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’ve been reading two to three chapters every evening, but remembering that I read it overnight when it first came out so that I could get it to WenYu right away. She and I went to a release party at a local bookstore (fun!), and bought the book at midnight and I won the draw to read it first. Brett and I had a great time checking out Inspector Rebus settings during our visit to Edinburgh last year so we pre-ordered the newest Ian Rankin book this past week, A Song for the Dark Times, which will arrive in my Kindle on October 13 – I can’t wait!
  • Listening to: The sound of the wind blowing through the trees is heavenly – it was sorely missed this past week. Brett is currently reading something as he waits for breakfast (he’s heading out for a hike afterwards), and there’s a rooster doing his thing outside, but otherwise it’s a lovely, cool, peaceful morning.
  • Watching: We signed up for a free month’s trial of Showtime on Monday so we could watch The Comey Rule. It was outstanding, and added a lot to what we knew about what had been going on before and after the 2016 election. We’re going to binge watch as much as we can on Showtime before our trial runs out at the end of the month, and we started with Homeland, with Bordertown and One Foot In the Grave on hold for the time being. We tried to watch the Presidential debate on Tuesday and gave up in less than seven minutes. We also watched the second episode of the Great British Bake Off on Friday evening and are looking forward to this week’s episode. I’m not sure I like the new host, but maybe he’ll grow on me.

    We are hooked on A Dozen Cousin ready-to-eat beans!
  • Cooking/baking: No cooking today other than heating some A Dozen Cousins curried chickpeas and having those over jasmine rice along with some tasty Kaua’i cucumber. I was so happy this week to discover that the A Dozen Cousins six-pack of seasoned beans were back in stock on Amazon, and I signed up for Subscribe ‘n’ Save and will be getting a case every six weeks – we love them! Also, I tried The Hawaii Plan’s recipe for Egg Roll in a Bowl this past week and we loved that too. It will be put into the rotation here, and I can’t wait for YaYu to put her spin on it when she’s home for the holidays. Anyway, on the menu this week will be grilled teriyaki chicken sandwiches; beef polish sausages with sauerkraut; CookDo pork & pepper stir fry, and leftovers. We’re well-stocked for the coming weeks and with a weekly stop at the farmers’ market for produce we should easily make it through until the 21st. I also scored some dark rum – our neighbor bought some and offered me whatever I need for the rum cake (they also gave me some tequila last week for the Guadalara quesadillas, which were awesome by the way)! We bought a big pumpkin pie at Costco and are having a small slice of that after dinner for now, but when it’s done the rum cake will finally get made.

The path through the woods

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: In spite of the awful heat and humidity, we managed to walk every day again, although it was too hot to do our increased distance as planned. We’ve decided to wait on that until things cool down a bit again. We went to Barking Sands on Friday, and did a long beach walk when we were there (I burned my toes). We drove over and checked out the old Koloa sugar mill yesterday, something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. We’ve often see the mill off in the distance and wanted to take a close up look, or as least as close as we could get. I finally filed our claim with the moving company, but we are not expecting much back from them. The replacement cost of the antique banner that was lost is now $1200 to $1500 (I definitely paid a LOT less than that), but the most we could claim was $500. I frankly think we’ll be lucky to get $50 back for our lost items.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re heading up to Kapaa tomorrow: I am getting a much-needed haircut, and we’re having dinner with Alan and Cheryl. In between we plan to take a long walk on the beach path for a change of pace. There’s nothing planned for the rest of the week though.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) While I had to have four very small to tiny pre-cancerous lesions frozen off at the dermatologist’s (a result of all the sun exposure and bad sunburns I got as a child), my skin is otherwise in very good condition, “especially for your age.” 2) Our yard got another trim, including the hedges, and is looking especially nice. On a sad note though, our lilikoi vine was mistakenly trimmed (destroyed) along with all its ripening fruit. 3) The guava harvest has finally ended. 4) We stopped one day to chat with one of the other regular walkers, Jim, a realtor, and discussed home buying vs. renting here for a few minutes. When we told him what we were paying for rent (with utilities and yard service included) he told us he wouldn’t consider buying – what we have for the price is amazing. It was nice to hear as Brett and I have been feeling these days like it will take a crowbar to get us out of this place – we love it here. 5) Jim also told us that on very clear days we should be able to see Oahu off in the distance from the end of the path we walk, something we did not think was possible.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We put $15.55 into the change/$1 bill jar this past week. Two of those dollars were a gift from our bank – we stopped by a new branch that opened this past week and is located less than 10 minutes away from us, and they had just had a traditional Hawaiian blessing that morning and were giving everyone who came in a crisp, new $2 bill along with some other goodies (face masks and disinfecting wipes) as part of the blessing! Such a lovely surprise, and we’re thrilled to finally have a branch that’s closer to us. 2) We somehow managed to stay under budget with our food shopping this week and got everything we needed, although it took effort and restraint. 3) We needed to order paper filters for our Chemex coffee maker this past week, but I discovered that for less than the cost of two boxes (which would only last for six months) we could get a stainless steel filter that will last for years and save us a bundle. The metal filters are a new thing, for us anyway – we’ve had our Chemex for years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen them. 4) No food was thrown away, and we enjoyed all the leftovers we created. 5) I earned 2155 Swagbucks this past week from taking several high-paying surveys.
  • Grateful for: This past week we felt beyond grateful for the wooded path option in the park, as it was cool(er) and gnat-free, and allowed us to still get in our daily walks. Unfortunately it was still very humid, but having two out of three made walking a whole lot easier. By doing two loops on the path we were able to get in our regular 3+ miles, and also get in some hill climbing.

    My favorite sandwich: the reuben. Brett and I shared this one when we ate at Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill in Hong Kong.
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite sandwich? Mmmmmm – sandwiches. I’m hard pressed to think of a sandwich I don’t like (other than the chopped olive ones my mom made once for our school lunches – YUK!) but I do have three favorites, all hot sandwiches. Number one is a reuben, next is a French dip, and in third place is the patty melt. I have a personal rule that if any one of these appears on a menu I have to order it, even if there are other dishes I might prefer. If two or more appear on the same menu, the reuben will almost always take precedence, but sometimes I’ll do rock/paper/scissors with Brett or someone else to eliminate one of them. Other favorite sandwiches are barbecue pulled pork with coleslaw, a tuna melt, roasted or grilled vegetables and cheese panini, and a good hamburger. A big thick pastrami on rye bread is also well-liked. My favorite fast food hamburger would be one from Five Guys, with (iceberg) lettuce, tomato, onion, dill pickles, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup, but Street Burger‘s bacon & barbecue burger is my hands down favorite burger here on the island (and I love their house made ketchup too).

Brett’s and my drive out past Koloa and Poipu yesterday gave us an opportunity to see what we could of the old sugar mill and what else there outside of town. The remaining old mill buildings were behind a gate and couldn’t be approached (too dangerous anyway). After stopping outside the mill, we drove out as far as we could into the countryside to see what was out there, if anything. Once we passed the gorgeous grounds of the Grand Hyatt resort, the road turned to unpaved and bumpy, and the landscape to mostly scrub (including cactus), but we did come across some beautiful views now and again. It was surprising how hot it was out there too. Hawaii is usually thought of as being purely tropical, but yesterday was a good reminder that there are desert-like areas on the leeward sides of the islands. As we drove around, thunderheads began forming and the humidity began climbing, and we eventually decided it would be best to turn around a come back home before we got stuck in a storm on a dirt path. The sky turned dark with clouds yesterday afternoon, and although temperatures dropped a little bit the rain never arrived and the humidity didn’t decrease either. It was still a nice outing and we were glad we went.

Another reminder from me to make a plan and make sure to vote! The election is less than a month away now, and I know for me it’s the most consequential election of my lifetime.

This was one of those weeks where I greatly missed fall and its cooler temperatures. However, I know things will improve here soon and this miserable weather will be but a distant memory. Here’s hoping that everyone had a good week, that lots of good things happened, lots got accomplished, and that the week coming up will be a better one!

Sunday Morning 9/27/2020: Socially Distanced and Enjoying It

Only a couple of picture-worthy sunsets this week – usually the clouds had cleared out by that time of day and nothing happened.

Good morning!

This past week was a reminder in some ways that we are deep into “Sweatember” (as our friend Alan has named it) here on the island. Although we got quite a bit of rain this past week it’s also been hot and humid, uncomfortably so at times, and we’ve often walked with the sun beating down on us the entire time. September always seemed to be the worst month humidity-wise, especially when we lived here earlier, but we seem to be faring a bit better down here on the south side of the island. There were some days this past week when we wondered if we would be able to go for a walk either because of rain or the heat and humidity, but we always got ourselves up to the park and got it done (and were glad we did when we finished). We remain grateful for our apartment’s location because the wind/a breeze continues to blow daily, and along with our ceiling fans we’re staying cool and comfortable inside.

That cut through the hills in the distance funnels the wind and breezes directly down to our address, keeping things cool.

Rainbows appeared several days this week, from small pieces to full arcs. 

I wasn’t going to weigh myself until the end of the year, but MyFitnessPal kept asking me to update my weight, so I climbed on the scale yesterday and discovered I have lost an additional three pounds. That’s 17 total so far, so I now have less than 10 to go to reach the doctor’s recommendation of 25 pounds gone. The walking is really making a difference, but I have also been consistent and honest about tracking my eating with MyFitnessPal, both what I eat and how much, and have had no problems with keeping to 1200 calories per day. I used to get discouraged quickly when I would track my eating, and get tired of measuring or weighing everything, but these days I plan my next day’s meals and snacks the evening before and then stick with it, keep up with the measuring, and so far that’s been working well. I’ve decided I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing now (walking and portion control) for the next several months and into next year and will see where it takes me. In the meantime I’ll continue to stay away from the scale, except for a once-a-month check to keep MyFitnessPal from bugging me.

I spoke with all three of the girls this past week, and their lives all seem to offer a snapshot of the “new normal” so many are experiencing now. We were sad to learn that WenYu quit the waitressing job she was so excited about. She liked the work and coworkers, but quickly discovered it made her and her boyfriend (and his family) very nervous for her to be interacting so closely with the public, even if she was wearing a mask. She is once again looking for something full-time in her field, but in the meantime is doing graphic design projects for her boyfriend and also working part-time as a personal assistant to another artist. Her boyfriend has an extra car, and has offered it to her to get into Boston more easily once she finds work. I also spoke with Meiling a couple of times last week, and she confessed that she is bored and hasn’t been out of her apartment in six months other than to move to their new apartment (in the same building) and to go for a couple of long hikes with friends in the mountains. She and her boyfriend use a meal kit service for many of their dinners, and her boyfriend does the food shopping once a week as she just doesn’t want to be around other people yet. Her job keeps her busy though and she is saving, with goals for the future so she is putting up with all of it. YaYu is doing well at school – it seems that after a bit of a shaky start Bryn Mawr students are doing a very good job of keeping up with the new protocols and precautions. After two rounds of testing only two cases have been discovered and both those students are currently in quarantine. 

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ll finish Love and Other Consolation Prizes today and will start Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as soon as I’m done as it came off hold at the library yesterday. Brett just finished reading our friend Susan Spann’s recently published book, Climb, about climbing 100 of Japan’s mountains following her recovery from breast cancer, and I’ll start that after I finish Harry Potter. I keep telling myself that I’ll eventually get to read Sex and Vanity, hopefully by the end of the year.
  • Listening to: I got up early again this morning, although not unreasonably so. The wind is blowing outside and making a bit of noise, a couple of roosters are doing their thing, and Brett is putting around in the kitchen making coffee and putting away last night’s dishes. The sky is blue but there are clouds to the north, so we’ll just have to see how the day turns out!
    Looking foward to watching Ratched starring the wonderful Sara Paulson.
  • Watching: We have just a few more episodes of Bordertown to watch, and we’re almost at the end of One Foot In the Grave as well. We watched the first episode of the Great British Baking Show on Friday evening though. At the top of our watch-next list are two “prequels” currently available on Netflix: Young Wallender and Ratched, about who the nurse was before she appeared in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ratched is said to be pretty wild and very colorful. We also want to check out Cobra Kai for something different – we’ve heard good things about it (and are still fans of the original Karate Kid).
  • Cooking/baking: Instead of beans over rice, tonight I’m putting together burritos with Mexican cowboy beans, some leftover pot roast, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and salsa for our dinner. We have been enjoying the A Dozen Cousins beans so much that we’ve decided to get them regularly through Amazon’s Subscribe ‘n’ Save (which will also save us a little bit). Also on the dinner menu this week will be Guadalajara quesadillas; grilled ahi with guacamole salad; grilled Italian sausages with sautéed peppers and onions; and of course, leftovers. The rum cake did not get made last week because we couldn’t find dark rum! It’s not that there isn’t any on the island, but we only want a pint and not a full bottle because that’s too much, too expensive, and we don’t drink rum. The Koloa Rum store is scheduled to reopen on October 1, and whether that will happen remains to be seen, but we can get miniatures there which would be ideal so are holding out for that. Anyway, I baked a coffee walnut cake for us last week instead, and we plan to pick up a Costco pumpkin pie next week to have after we finish the cake. By the time we finish the pie we will have hopefully have a solution to the rum issue!
    Another five-week set of cards is ready to go! They are instrumental in helping me stay on track and reach my goals.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week (and two fails): 1) We made a small food shopping trip on Wednesday and once again stayed within our budget. 2) I filled in the last card of my last five-week daily activity cards, and made a new set for the next five weeks, which will see me all the way through until the end of October. It’s still amazing to me how quickly five weeks passes when I use these cards (plus, I know I’m getting everything done I need to do). 3) In spite of the hot and humid days, and rain some days as well, we walked 3+ miles every day again this week. 4) Not my accomplishment, but Brett got the car washed and all spiffed up. It’s hard to keep a car clean here because of all the red dirt, but it will hopefully stay nice for a couple of weeks. 5) Fail: We still have not gotten the windows washed, but it will happen one of these days. 6) Fail: We decided to postpone our Waimea Canyon visit for a while as all the overlooks are currently closed, and the views are the main reason for going!
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m seeing the dermatologist on Wednesday for a skin check – I’m always glad to get that done. We will begin adding some more distance to our walk this week, starting with just one day a week and adding a day each subsequent week until we’re walking the new distance daily. We’ve got our route picked and we’re ready!
    The guava tree is still producing, but the harvest is thankfully slowing down.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The guava harvest has continued, but has been nowhere near what it was last week. Brett only had a half bag fruit for Monkeypod this past week. Pretty much everything else that happened this week was a good thing as well, including getting to talk with all the girls and our son walking 29 miles (in the rain!) during the Komazawa Challenge yesterday and raising nearly $8,000 this year!
    M’s walk this year included a few changes of wet clothes, but he still walked nearly 30 miles!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) After comparing prices, we ordered a case of Scott’s toilet paper from Amazon at $42.22 (including tax) for 80 rolls, or 53¢ per roll. I’m not sure right now where we will put all of it, but we’ll manage somehow at that price. If the price stays low we’ll sign up for Subscribe ‘n’ Save for it as well 2) We put $3.03 into the change/$1 bill jar, left over from this past week’s shopping trip. We actually ended up with $8.03, but decided to spend an extra $5 at the farmers’ market as we found some great bargains. 3) Other than our grocery shopping, the farmers’ market, and a gas fill-up on Wednesday we had a no-spend week. We also had three no-drive days, which saves on gas and wear and tear on the car. 4) I earned 2,085 Swagbucks and am getting close to the halfway mark for a $500 Delta gift card! 4)It was another good week for finishing leftovers, and once again no food was thrown away or wasted.
    This week’s haul from the farmers’ market: bananas, avocados, baby zucchini, papayas, limes, cucumbers, dragonfruit, green beans, and cilantro.
  • Grateful for: We continue to be exceedingly thankful to be living on Kaua’i, in our little COVID-free bubble here. The state has extended the quarantine again until the end of October, but will be offering testing options for visitors beginning mid month. We’ve seen fewer visitors around these days though. We feel very safe here, but like the rest of the island, take nothing for granted and continue to take precautions like mask-wearing (required in any public area except when exercising outdoors), social distancing, and hand washing. We know this pandemic is not over by a long shot.
  • Bonus question: Was there some perfectly normal activity or thing that terrified you as a child? I was always abnormally terrified during Fire Prevention Week, held every fall in our city’s elementary schools. We had five days of drills, a visit from the fire department, lessons on fire prevention, etc. culminating in a fire prevention film on Friday. The film always scared me out of my wits, and I was never able to get out of watching it. Fifth grade was the worst – the film was about a fire starting in a school, but little Bobby was goofing around and decided he didn’t need to go out when the alarm went off because it was just a drill. After all the other kids were out his teacher went back in to look for him, and at the end of the film a fireman found them dead from smoke inhalation in a stairwell. It was horrifying. That film stayed with me for nearly a year, even though none of our schools had stairs. Every year the films made it impossible for me to fall asleep at night for months because I believed the minute I nodded off our house would burst into flames (there were no smoke alarms then), and when I did fall asleep I would frequently have nightmares about fires. So, I would lay in bed, my heart pounding for what seemed like hours, and tell myself over and over that Dad was still awake downstairs (thankfully he was a night owl) and would get us all up if a fire started. If for some reason though he came to bed earlier then usual all bets were off as to when or if I would fall asleep. Ironically, the most likely way for a fire to have started in our house back then would have been from one of my dad’s cigarettes! Anyway, when I moved up to sixth grade in the middle school, no more Fire Prevention Weeks, no more sleep problems, and no more nightmares. Also, listening to Prokofieff’s Peter and the Wolf gave me nightmares (those French horns!), and had me imagining wolves were waiting for me right outside my bedroom door (the absurdness of wolves living in urban Southern California, let alone inside our home didn’t occur to me at age five).

I have to admit I am enjoying our “new normal” these days – a weekly trip to Lihue for gas and supplies, our daily walk at the park, and an occasional trip to the beach. We get up when we want, have our meals when we want, and otherwise have to time to do many of the other little things that we didn’t before, all without pressure. As an introvert it’s been a dream come true for me. It’s all been very relaxing, but frankly I would rather this pandemic be done so we could be traveling again. I know my reality is very different from many if not most people, and am very aware that our comfortable life these days comes from having a steady income and not having to work, and not having to deal with the public in any meaningful way like so many others do. We are lucky and we know it.

American readers: are you registered and ready to vote? If not, I urge you to please get it done, and then vote early if you can in your state, or find out how to make sure your mail-in or absentee ballot gets in on time. Hawaii is now a mail-only state – our ballots will arrive in another three weeks, and we will be dropping ours off at the election office in Lihue. 

That’s a wrap for this week. I hope it was a good one for everyone, and that lots was accomplished and plenty of good things happened. Here’s looking forward to the week coming up!

Sunday Morning 9/20/2020: Hot Weather, Chickens, and Too Much Fruit

We had some pretty sunsets this past week!

Good morning!

M enjoying breakfast with his spunky little girl last year.

Happy birthday today to our son, M (his birthday is already over now in Japan though)! He has been a delight since the moment he was born, was pretty much the world’s easiest child to raise, and we couldn’t be prouder of him if we tried for all he has accomplished both personally and professionally, as well as for being such a great husband and father. One of the very cool things he does every year is walk the Komazawa Challenge to raise funds for a charity in Japan that supports and assists children with terminal or incurable diseases and their families. He believes this year he will go over $30,000 total that he’s personally raised for the charity during the five years since he founded the walk in 2017. He usually holds the event in June, but because of Covid-19 it was postponed until September this year (the walk is next Saturday). We’re not-so-secretly hoping he’ll do the same in 2022 when we’re in Japan so we can walk with him, for at least part of the distance anyway as the total walk is near marathon length.

I have now grown sick to death of the scent of guava, something I never believed could happen. Guava have a naturally sweet, perfumed aroma that I used to love, and in the past we’d set a bowl of ripe guava out on the counter in the kitchen (we had a guava tree in the back at our old house that produced about six to ten fruit per year) and it would perfume the whole house for a short period every year – it was lovely. With the daily bags of fruit now coming off our tree, the scent in the house is ever present and getting into everything, and the aroma now is overly cloying and overly sweet. Brett took two huge bags of fruit up to Monkeypod this past week, but the ripe fruit just keeps on coming. I love the jam we made, and Monkeypod is happy to receive all of our excess fruit, but the amount the tree keeps putting out has almost been overwhelming. Even the birds seem to have had enough.

One day’s guava pickings (and an almost-ripe lilikoi in his right hand)

Brett received a notice this week that beginning January 1 he will be charged $25/month for our Tricare Standard insurance, the same insurance that was guaranteed to be free for life when Brett enlisted in the navy in 1970 as well as when he retired in 1992. We have to have a Tricare Standard policy to cover YaYu until she graduates in 2022, but thankfully our separate Tricare for Life insurance remains no cost, for now anyway, but we expect that will soon change as well. While it’s frustrating to see our benefits erode, the $300 dollars/year will be thankfully much, much less than Bryn Mawr’s mandatory health insurance cost. This year was the first where students could opt out of that insurance if they could show proof that their personal insurance was as good or better than what the college offered. Health insurance in this country is a flat-out mess, and I am hoping in the next few years that something similar to our military plan will be made available for everyone. Having lived with “government insurance” for over forty years, I can attest that it works well and beats anything else currently out there. 

None of these guys wanted their picture taken – they never stopped moving!

It would be easy for us to take chickens for granted here on Kaua’i, and most of the time we do, but others times some will surprise and amuse us. We’ve been walking long enough up at Kukuiula Park now that we can recognize different roosters and chickens and have gotten to a point that we look for the ones we know. We’ve also started to give some of them names (perhaps an early sign of insanity?). One of our favorites these days is a rooster we’ve named Chatterbox, that will occasionally walk along the path with us for a while, singing/chatting the entire way, or if he doesn’t walk with us, will just come over and greet us and chatter a bit as we walk past. Another rooster we always look for is General Custer, named for the blonde feathers that cascade down his neck and gold feathers on the back of his body. Both Chatterbox and the General are wild jungle fowl and they hang out up in the park. The most stunning rooster I have ever seen though is one we’ve spotted in the parking lot at the bottom entrance to the park. We’ve named him Mr. Beautiful because he is simply gorgeous (and he knows it). He is large, and perfectly proportioned from the comb on his head to the tip of his beautiful brown tail feathers. His other feathers are in blocks of tan, rust, burgundy, and gold and are beautifully glossy – he’s just something else to look at. We don’t get to see him very often, but when we do he always has large harem milling around him. Several of the other regular walkers feed the chickens in the park from time to time with stale bread, but we haven’t gone that far yet (mainly because we never have leftover bread), but that doesn’t keep most of the chickens from running up to us almost daily to make sure.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Breasts and Eggs mid-week and got it back to the library on time, and am now reading Love and Other Consolation Prizes because of positive comments from two readers. It’s an interesting book, based on a true story, and a fairly quick read. I’ll be on to Sex and Vanity in a few more days.
  • Listening to: It’s deliciously cool this morning, and I’m listening to the drip, drip, drip of rain outside as I write and sip my coffee. The rain started last night and is supposed to continue throughout the day, and will most likely make this the first time in weeks that we don’t get to go out for a walk. Otherwise, it’s very quiet inside – Brett’s reading – but I’m going to get up in a short while and make us a bacon and eggs breakfast.
  • Watching: We’re still watching Bordertown and One Foot In the Grave. Bordertown has been “interesting” – the story lines are good and keep our interest, but the show comes from Finland and has been both dubbed and given close-captioning. Those two rarely match so it can get confusing at times as to just what’s really being said or inferred. Also, the dubbing is terrible – the voices for each character basically just read a script – there’s no emotion or “acting” whatsoever, or no real effort to match the words to the actors’ lips moving. It’s funny to listen to if I close my eyes for a moment as it sounds almost robotic at times and nothing like a television show.
  • Cooking/baking: We had a change of plans mid-week when we couldn’t find eggplant at the farmers’ market and therefore couldn’t make mabo nasu. I had some stuffed bell peppers in the freezer so we had those instead, and will keep our fingers crossed that we can find eggplants and have mabo nasu this week. Coming up later in the week will be a Mississippi pot roast and then French dip sandwiches made from the leftovers. Tonight we’re having Cuban beans and rice along with sautéed green beans, and we still have one serving left of ice cream for dessert. I’ll be making the Bacardi rum cake tomorrow. The ice cream has been a lovely treat though. I’m already thinking that after we finish the rum cake I should make a British coffee walnut cake – it was my favorite when we were in England – and then we’ll go for a pumpkin pie from Costco. Having a small, sweet treat after dinner each evening has been so nice to look forward to, and helped both of us each less during the day.

The most hellish part of our daily walk are these two sections where the sun beats down and the breeze/wind stops. Thankfully they don’t take too long to get through, but we do each of them three times and dread them.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I moved up to Level 4 Japanese in Memrise! I scored 100% on the review questions for Level 3 and got a notice that I had completed the course. Yeah me! I hope to see the kanji and grammar patterns I learned repeated from time to time in Level 4 so that I don’t forget them. Brett and I again walked over three miles every day this past week. It was difficult at times because temperatures were up this past week as was the humidity at times, especially yesterday as we walked right after some rain. The hand weights seem to get lighter every day.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I have been talking about visiting Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park this coming week but haven’t decided which day yet. We have another food shopping trip to make on Wednesday so will work around that. Otherwise it’s a pretty ho-hum week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1)WenYu finished her first paid commission, an amazing piece of animation to accompany a recording of a poem! Her animation is lovely, moving pencil sketches that highlight scenes and words in the poem, and gratifying to see because animation is what she loves and wants to do. We think this is how things are going to go for a while, that she’ll freelance and wait tables before finding something more permanent. 2) Our back yard got a trim this past week – it always looks good to me, but it’s still amazing what a difference a quick visit from the yard crew makes. 3) Although temperatures have been higher this week, the weather has mostly been lovely, although it was exceptionally windy on Friday morning and rained yesterday afternoon (and today).
    Finally: a frugal floral solution for the bathroom.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We put an amazing $31.20 into our travel savings this past week thanks to a successful and frugal food shopping trip last week. 2) I clipped two ferns from the back yard to put in a vase that sits on our bathroom sink. I had been thinking I was going to have to buy something artificial as nothing else I tried from the yard seemed to last more than a day, but the ferns have been holding their own for days now, are pretty and tropical, and of course were free (and there’s a HUGE supply in the yard). 3) I earned 2,206 Swagbucks, another very good week. 4) It’s been the same-old, same-old eating all the leftovers and not throwing away any food. One of my leftover creations this week was loco moco made with leftover hamburger patties – easy to put together and we loved it!  5) Other than our food shopping and the farmers’ market on Wednesday, it was a no-spend week.
  • Grateful for: I have been profoundly saddened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg but am beyond grateful for her many years of service to our country and her work for women’s equality. So many of the rights many women take for granted today are there because of her, including the right to sign a mortgage without a man; the right to have a bank account without a male co-signer; the right to have a job without being discriminated based on gender; and the right for women to be pregnant and/or have kids and work. The second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, RBG had a powerful legal mind and was a brilliant jurist who fought not just for gender equality but for equality, justice, and fairness for everyone. My favorite quote from the Notorious RBG was I’m sometimes asked: when will there be enough [women on the supreme court]? And I say, when there are nine. People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody raised a question about that. Justice Ginsberg wrote to her granddaughter shortly before her death, My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed, but it now remains to be seen if the Senate will follow the rule they imposed on President Obama and not push through the nomination of a new justice before either the election or next year’s inauguration.
  • Bonus question: What’s something you were expected to be good at but weren’t/aren’t? What’s something you were/are good at that was completely unexpected? From an early age I was told that I was “artistic” which is funny to me because I can barely draw a stick figure. Where the “artistic” came from, I think, is that I was quite good at a young age at coloring inside the lines, and using the “right” colors. Anyway, I am not artistic but I am good at arranging colors and things . . . Brett calls it “doing installations.” He, along with Meiling and WenYu are the true artists in our family. Something I turned out to do quite well that surprised both me and everyone else was that I actually had some musical talent. I learned to play the clarinet at age nine, played for just over four years, and entered and won several superior awards at solo festivals before I turned 14. However, I never came to love playing the clarinet or developed any real belief in my musical ability – my parents had chosen the instrument for me (I wanted to play the flute) and I absolutely hated having to play in the school’s marching band, which was a requirement if you played an instrument other than strings. I quit before I entered high school so I could take art classes (and did poorly at those). I finally learned to play the flute in my late 30s, and was told by my teacher then, a professional flutist, that I had genuine musical talent, but at that point I thought I was too old to pursue it and eventually quit that as well. I can still read music but that’s as far as it goes these days.

I seem to be entering another one of my biannual rounds of insomnia, but in a somewhat different way. This past week I have been waking up early, very early sometimes. In the past my insomnia caused an inability to fall asleep at night, but with all the walking we’re doing now I’m not having any trouble with that – these days I put my head on the pillow and I am out like a light, and I sleep deeply through the night. However, waking up at 6:00 in the morning like I have on a few mornings is definitely weird (and annoying). I wear earplugs and a sleep mask at night so I know it’s not the light coming through the windows in the morning nor noise from the birds or wind that’s waking me, so am not sure what’s going on. Hopefully this is something temporary because I dislike feeling sleepy in the afternoons, especially right before it’s time to head out for our daily walk.

Also, the past couple of weeks I’ve been able to comment on a couple of Blogger-platformed blogs using my phone, but with others comments from my still vanish into the Internet ether. I still have no idea why that is or how to fix it, but I keep trying!

What a year this week has been! Actually, we’ve personally had another good week, but it’s been a strange and sad one in other ways. Hopefully it was a positive week for all of you, and you had several good things happen for you. I glad we got through it, and I’m looking forward for all of us to the week coming up!

Sunday Morning 9/13/2020: Cloud Magnets

This week gave us one sunset with some color. Otherwise there were either dark gray clouds or nothing.

Good morning!

We’ve finished up another very nice week which included not only going out for breakfast one morning, but getting in two trips to the beach. We enjoyed ourselves both times, but seemed to be cloud magnets for some reason. Last Sunday, when the skies clouded over at the apartment, we decided to head down to the beach at Barking Sands for some sunshine. Hah! It was sunny the whole way down, but when we arrived at the beach it was dark and gloomy with heavy clouds overhead, squalls out at sea in front of us, and low, dark rain clouds behind us. It was also obvious there had been some less than ideal weather there recently as the high water mark from the waves was halfway up the beach and there were still large ponds of water in places on the beach. We didn’t even bother to take our umbrella out of the car, but set up our chairs and nibbled our lunches, then took a l-o-n-g walk down the beach and back before calling it quits. We got in our car just as the rain finally arrived. Ironically, there was barely a cloud in the sky the entire way home once we left Barking Sands!

Friday looked like another a perfect day for a beach visit so we headed back to Salt Pond Beach Park. We set up our umbrella, and had just settled ourselves in our beach chairs when a large, dark cloud moved overhead and parked itself right above us! There was sun to the left of us, and sun to the right, but our location was in shade the entire time (we took the umbrella down after a few minutes). There had been a brush fire burning on our way into Salt Pond that was producing a lot of smoke, and while we were on the beach we watched a helicopter fly in to pick up water from the ocean to help fight the fire – that was interesting to watch. After a while we couldn’t see any more smoke, but as we left to come home we noticed there were still plenty of fire and police personnel and trucks/cars around, and fire trucks were still arriving so apparently the fire was still burning or smoldering somewhere.

LOTS of ripe guava appear every day now – it’s a race to get them before the birds.

Our guava tree continues to produce amazing amounts of ripe fruit every day. Brett goes out and picks as much as he can, and has been taking at least a full shopping bag of the fruit up to Monkeypod Jam each week for the past three weeks (and will do the same probably for the next two, at least). MJ has been happy to take the guava as they use only local fruit for their jams, preserves, and baked goods. Our lilikoi are coming along but won’t be ready for another month or two, and we’ve noticed the oranges are starting to change color. They’re not close to orange yet, but have been turning a lighter shade of green getting ready to go in that direction. The orange tree is loaded with fruit as well, which makes us happy as it produces very sweet and juicy oranges. The first ones should be ripe by late November, and the tree will continue producing into spring.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: Breasts and Eggs has turned out to be a longer book that I initially thought. I have been reading lots every day but am just barely over 55% of the way through. I’m enjoying it though, especially since the protagonist lives in Sangenjaya, the same place we stayed on our past two visits, and I can recognize many of the places she visits and the train lines she rides on. Anyway, I’ve only got eight days left from the library so the push is on to get it finished before it has to go back.
  • Listening to: The usual cool morning breeze is blowing through the yard and the trees. Brett is making our morning coffee and taking care of his morning chores (putting away the dishes, getting the trash ready to go out) and making a bit more noise than usual for some reason! There were also blue skies when we got up, but in the last hour the sky has filled with clouds and now it’s raining! One of the things I love about living here is that we can always hear the rain arriving as it moves across from the mountains.
  • Watching: We finished both Mindhunter and Hinterland this past week and have started watching Bordertown, a Finnish detective show, and are (re)watching One Foot In the Grave on BritBox. We loved that show and how much it makes us laugh (still does). The actor who plays Victor Meldrew is a gem.
  • Cooking/baking: Although we’re going food shopping this week, it will be minimal as the freezer and fridge are still quite full. Tonight’s another beans and rice dinner though – we’re having A Dozen Cousins curried chickpeas (our favorite) over brown rice along with some cucumber. This week we’re also planning to have grilled burgers; fettuccini with pesto; and grilled teriyaki chicken and zaru soba, but otherwise it will be leftovers or whatever else we can pull together to use things up. I was going to get fancy and make a Bacardi rum cake this past week, but when we bought our gin last week we noticed Safeway was also having a big ice cream sale, so we went back and picked up two containers: Blue Bunny Banana Split and Tillamook Mountain Huckleberry. We’re enjoying a small scoop of each now for our after-dinner treat.
    “Give your tongue a sleigh ride” – what my grandmother always said when she served us ice cream.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’m not sure how long we walked on the beach last Sunday, but it was a workout. In some places our feet were sinking into the sand almost up to our knees! We walked 3+ miles every other day at the park last week and will be sticking with this distance for the next two weeks before pushing ourselves to do closer to four miles per day. I’d like to say that carrying the hand weights is getting easier, but at least it’s not getting more difficult. I found a great step-by-step guide for preparing for long-distance walks (10-16 miles) that we can use once we get our daily distance up to five miles, so we’re now very motivated to work toward that. We still have the window cleaning to look forward to – if it stays overcast this would be a good day for it – and nothing much else got accomplished either.
  • Looking forward to next week: We have no plans at all for next week. Every day will be a blank canvas for us to fill however we wish.

Breakfast date at the Kalaheo Cafe

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I had a lovely breakfast date on Thursday morning at the Kalaheo Cafe. We ate outside on the lanai because the weather was so nice and because there were hardly any people out there. Brett broke with tradition and ordered a Belgian waffle instead of French toast, and I enjoyed a smoked salmon Egg Benedict – very yummy. Brett picked up his new glasses on Thursday afternoon – a new look for him (and I like it!). This past week I discovered a company that offers great walking tours throughout Japan, both guided and self-guided, and we have been going through them wondering which one we should do first (whenever we can get back to Japan). Our DIL sent us loads of grandkid pictures again this week – we miss those two so much. They’re both enjoying being back at school. K loves her preschool, and C has moved over to the “big kids” building at his school this year.
    New clear-frame glasses for Brett
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not the most frugal of weeks, although we did keep our spending (ice cream, gasoline fill-up, Brita filters, and breakfast out) as low as possible. Having to buy the Brita filters was frustrating because we ended up having to get an expensive 10-pack at Costco as we couldn’t find them anywhere else (on the plus side we’re good for filters for at least the next two years, if not longer). We put $3.60 into the change/$1 bill jar this past week. We sure don’t seem to get much change these days as we haven’t amassed enough of any coins to roll since we’ve been here. I earned an amazing 1,912 Swagbucks this week (!!!) and have decided that rather than redeem for $100 gift cards I am going to work toward earning as many $250/$500 Delta and Southwest gift cards as I can before we travel in 2022 to help keep our costs down. I have a nice system now for earning Swagbucks, nothing that requires a lot of my time, and so far it’s been working better than expected. On the food front, we currently have a few leftovers to finish, but we’re keeping up with them, and no food has been thrown out. I recently discovered that I can fix just a half-cup of rice in our rice cooker, which is perfect for just Brett and I, and creates fewer leftovers.
  • Grateful for: I am very thankful right now that we stocked up our food supplies the last couple of months because this month we don’t need to purchase much. We have plenty of protein on hand and a good variety as well, so our focus this month will be more on fruits and vegetables from the farmers’ market and pantry staples. Anything we don’t spend out of our grocery budget will go into travel savings!
    These were the original kimekomi temari I made (the blue one on the right was the first). I do mono-chromatic temari as they have a very elegant (shibui) look to my Western eyes and taste; traditional Japanese temari are multi-colored.
  • Bonus question: Do you enjoy doing any sorts of arts or crafts? These days my answer would be no, but I used to enjoy doing artsy/craftsy things. I have done sewing, embroidery, tea box covering, quilting (by hand), knitting, and scrapbooking, well enough that I could use/wear/gift the things I made but these days I have no interest. My final fling with crafting was making kimekomi temari, or traditional hand balls, which I learned to do during our second tour in Japan. Kimekomi is the process of pushing and glueing fabric into grooves carved into a compressed wooden shape to create a smooth surface – it is most often used to make dolls. My daughter-in-law helped me get supplies from Japan, and I sold them through a Japanese goods shop in Seattle – they went for more than I imagined and also sold more quickly than I imagined they might. A few of my temari were also exhibited in Japan as my Western style and color choices are very different from traditional Japanese kimekomi, and besides using only traditional satin brocades I also had covered a few temari with vintage Japanese cotton indigo fabrics. I stopped making the balls when the girls’ schedules became so crazy that I had no time to make anything but dinner. It’s the one craft I’d love to go back to but I haven’t taken that last step yet to start it up again.
    Wearing my white linen capris in Sydney . . .

Finally, a goal I set for myself earlier this year was to get in shape enough to fit back into my white linen capris once again. The last time I had worn them was in January of 2019, when we visited the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. I faithfully carried them around with me after that, but couldn’t squeeze myself back into them last summer in Portland, and I was in even worse shape when we arrived back here in March. However, with all the walking we’ve been doing I’ve been changing shape, and along with 14 pounds lost I decided to give them a try again this past Friday and . . . voilà! They were actually easier to put on then they were in 2019! That gave me a happy feeling, and another goal has been met!

. . . and again this past week (finally).

Even with our less than perfect beach days, we had a very enjoyable week and accomplished (most) of what needed doing. Good things happened, we ate well, and I hope the same happened for everyone as well. Here’s to good weather this coming week to help to tamp down or eliminate the fires raging in the West – my goodness, it’s awful in California in Oregon, and my heart aches for all those affected in any way. I’m hoping for a good or better week for all.

Sunday Morning 9/6/2020: Another Very Nice Week

Most evenings the sky just went gray, then dark, but a couple of times . . . oh my!

Good morning!

It was quite hot when we visited Hanapepe but our masks stayed on the entire time.

We’ve had a lovely week with errands run, visited nearby Hanapepe, and had a beach day at Salt Pond. We did a small-ish food shopping at Walmart and Costco on Tuesday, went to Hanapepe on Wednesday afternoon, and spent Thursday afternoon on the beach. Several businesses have reopened in Hanapepe, but many still only open by appointment only. While it was quite hot there and not all that nice to be outside (especially wearing a mask), we still managed to look around the Talk Story Bookstore, stop in a couple of other shops and chat with the salespersons, look through windows at the art galleries (and learn paintings by our favorite local artist go for over $2000 – yikes!), and share a Meyer lemon danish at the Midnight Bear bakery. Before we left we took an obligatory walk over Hanapepe’s historic swinging bridge and back, always an enjoyable (but shaky) experience. There’s a walking path up on top of the levee that runs alongside the Hanapepe Stream, so we’re going to investigate and see how long that is and hopefully get out there for a long walk some day (when it’s cooler).

We also made a trip to my happy place this week. We went to Salt Pond Beach Park on Thursday. It was my first time to the Salt Pond beach, and in spite of some very strong winds I really liked it there and look forward to going back. It was nice enough that I even went out in the water for a while! Salt Pond has beautiful, clear water and a protected area that’s perfect for little kids, so I’m already looking forward to visiting there with the grandkids in the future. We had hoped to go over to Barking Sands yesterday, but the weather didn’t cooperate so we’re going to try and go today (although the weather still isn’t that great).

It was very windy the day we went to Salt Pond Beach Park, but still sunny and warm.

WenYu called early last week to let us know she had been hired as a waitress in a high-end Italian restaurant near where she lives. She had been looking for work since she graduated last May, but hadn’t been feeling all that enthusiastic as jobs in her field are pretty much all in Boston, over an hour’s commute for her each way. So, when this local position was advertised she decided to go for it as it’s close to where she lives, will provide her with a cash flow, and gives her time to work on her portfolio, figure out what she really wants to do, and spend time with her boyfriend. The wait staff position was apparently highly competitive, but we felt somewhat confident when we learned she was made the cut for an in-person interview. She’s that person everyone enjoys having around and wants to have on their team, the one who can always find the positive any situation (plus she has waitressing experience). She always interviews well, and she’s a hard worker who always puts in extra effort. Anyway, she’s happy and we’re happy for her. We know she’ll eventually find a place where she can use her considerable artistic talents, but for now this is a good place for her.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I almost halfway through Breasts and Eggs. I am enjoying it, but it’s very Japanese, both the topic and the writing, and it sometimes jumps around a bit. I’ve put Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on hold at the library – almost can’t believe I just have one more in the series to go. The books have gotten so much better, exciting, and enjoyable as the series goes along.
  • Listening to: Brett is puttering around in the kitchen (putting dishes away, making coffee), and outside there’s a soft breeze blowing through the palms, birds are singing, and a couple of roosters are doing their thing off in the distance now and again. In other words, it’s a lovely morning in spite of the sky being filled with clouds. Hopefully they’ll clear out in the new few hours so we can go to the beach!
  • Watching: We’ve had a few nights where we couldn’t get into Netflix because the girls were all watching something (Netflix is provided by our phone plan so they all can access it as well), so Brett and I watched some other shows on Amazon and Britbox (Wild Bill, with Rob Lowe) those evenings. One favorite was A Suitable Girl on Amazon, a documentary about three young women in India and their quests to find a suitable husband and get married. It was fascinating and we enjoyed seeing scenes of India again. WenYu has recommended Indian Matchmaking on Netflix as a complement to that show, as well as a couple of others we now have on our list. When we can get on Netflix we’re still watching Mindhunter and Hinterland, but we should finish those this week.
  • Cooking/baking: We’ll be having be another (A Dozen Cousins’) beans and brown rice dinner tonight – tonight it will be Mexican Cowboy pinto beans. Other dishes on the this week’s menu are chicken adobo with bok choy; grilled ribeye steaks one night; and chicken and vegetable curry. Leftovers will fill in the gaps. I didn’t end up making the lemon cake last week because there were no lemon cake mixes at Walmart, and I refuse to pay nearly $4 to buy one elsewhere. I would have made the lemon cake from scratch except that we unfortunately didn’t have any lemons! I instead made a vanilla cake which we’re topping with apple pie filling. It’s not as good as the cherries and chocolate cake, but still very tasty and a nice sweet treat to end the day. I’ve promised myself though that our next cake will be something a bit more spectacular.
    Watashi wa tomodachi to nomi ni dekakemasu – got it on the first try!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I feel like I turned a corner this week with Japanese. It was easier for some reason to read and remember kanji, and even though I still made mistakes, there were no where near as many of them as before. Before it often took me several tries for me to get things like the sentence above correct, but this past week I was able to get through review exercises without an error, a big step for me. We again walked every day (and got soaked on Monday – the rain started before we were able to get back to the car), and had five 3+-mile days. I’ve started carrying hand weights along when I walk. It’s been a bit of a challenge though as I thought I ordered two one-pound weights but instead ordered two two-pound weights. I know it won’t take long until they start to feel lighter. We didn’t get any of the windows washed this past week, so that job has been moved to this week, although we need to have a day when the sun is not shining brightly. We also did not get to see our friend on the north side as she was having a difficult week recovery-wise, so that’s been postponed until she’s feeling better.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I are planning to go out on a breakfast date this week, to the Kalaheo Cafe just down the road. They do several different Eggs Benedict variations, so I know I will find something I like (and Brett will no doubt have French toast). Weather permitting, we also plan to get back to the beach, starting today, and hopefully get to go more than once. Otherwise, we have no specific plans for the week.
    Heaven in a bowl for breakfast.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Costco got flats of peaches in once again, and we found one with ripe peaches (soft to the touch and smelled like peaches versus hard as a baseball and no aroma). My idea of heaven for breakfast is nonfat vanilla yogurt topped with a fresh peach and a sprinkle of Anahola Granola, so getting to have peaches one more time is a wonderful thing in my book. Ally the cat continues to come by each day for water and a little attention. I never thought I’d say this, but we actually got worried one day when she didn’t come until late afternoon.
    She has made her peace with us, and us with her.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We stayed right on budget with our food shopping this week – I actually put a few things back at Costco just so we wouldn’t go over. We put $15.27 into the change/$1 jar. Our only other spending this week was the farmers’ market, the shared pastry at the Midnight Bear Cafe in Hanapepe, and some gin. Brett and I are not big drinkers – we only have one gin & tonic three evenings a week – but Safeway recently remodeled their liquor department and currently have a big wine and liquor sale going on, so this past week we stocked up on some small batch/specialty gins we’ve been wanting to try: Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice, Roku Gin from Japan, and Aviation Gin, distilled in Portland. Safeway’s prices were good to begin with, but we saved an addition $40 on top of those! We have enough gin now to last us for months. Otherwise in frugality, our travel savings balance at the end of August was $853. I got lucky and did several high-SB surveys, and along with receiving my monthly bonus award, I earned 1,854 Swagbucks this past week! Without YaYu here the amount of leftovers has dropped considerably, and all were quickly eaten. No food was thrown away this week as well.
    Pretty nice gin joint we’ve got set up now. This is definitely a want sort of thing and not a need, but we enjoy good gin and aren’t doing much of anything or going much of anywhere else these days, so why not? The Midsummer Solstice we enjoyed yesterday evening was amazingly delicious.
  • Grateful for: We’re thankful that all three of our girls is settled and healthy. Meiling is working (still full time from home) and she and her boyfriend moved this past week into a larger apartment (still in Manhattan); WenYu is now employed, and is otherwise happy and doing well; and YaYu is back at school and ready to start classes tomorrow. We couldn’t ask for more.
  • Bonus question: Where do you get your news these days? We don’t have cable TV, nor receive any local channels, and don’t currently subscribe to any newspapers. These days I keep up with what’s going on via Twitter. It may be seen as a strange source, but I have a highly curated list of (trusted) people I follow and I skim though tweets from them a couple of times a day to see what people are talking about and what issues, if any, I want to find out more about. Some of the stuff being put up on Twitter is frankly silly, and not worth my time, but there are other issues appearing almost daily where a tip from someone posting on Twitter gets me digging deeper. I then try to read articles from a variety of sources, and hear and weigh different viewpoints. At the same time I almost always refuse to read comments on Twitter because those can easily devolve into a trip down the rabbit hole or a bunch of name-calling or worse. Almost nobody follows me on Twitter because I rarely if ever tweet anything myself. I actually had one tweet of mine go viral last year, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to keep trying for that again.

We are so accustomed now to seeing everyone here wearing a mask that when we spot someone who isn’t it’s both shocking and maddening. The other day at the farmers’ market a women with five kids (definitely visitors) was shopping without a mask but instead had it dangling around her wrist. I guess she couldn’t be bothered to put it on, or though masks were for suckers or something. There are tons of signs throughout the market too reminding people that mask wearing is mandatory. I’m hoping someone eventually stopped her and told her to put it on. We also received an email from Bryn Mawr letting us know that apparently last weekend there were indoor gatherings on campus with no one wearing a mask, and several people had left campus to head into Philadelphia and elsewhere. Both activities are in violation of the agreement that students were required to sign before being allowed to return to campus. Being that the Honor Code at Bryn Mawr is a BIG DEAL, apparently these students are being dealt with individually, but the campus has gone into serious shutdown mode as well with ALL classes now online for the next week or so. YaYu says that almost everyone is trying very hard to stay safe and healthy, and everyone she knows is pretty upset about the actions of the few who chose to break the agreement and possibly endanger other students. The campus is also having issues with outsiders (not wearing masks, of course) wanting to walk their dogs on campus, etc. even though there are lots of signs posted that no visitor are allowed

That’s a wrap for this week. It was a very nice one for us, and moved along fairly quickly. Hope all of your weeks were good ones as well, and that you’re looking forward to the one coming up!

Sunday Morning 8/30/2020: Just the Two of Us Again

Rain during the night, clouds in the morning, and clear skies at night has meant no sunsets most of this week. The sun usually went down without a show.

The best effort was Friday evening, but otherwise it’s been a rather dull for the most part. 

We did get to see a lovely sunrise on Wednesday morning though, as we were up very early to take YaYu to the airport.

Good morning!

After just one shift all I can say is Bryn Mawr students have no clue how much work has gone into completely redesigning all of Dining Services to keep you safe and well-fed like the amount of unseen work done on this is absolutely insane and I just want everyone to know that. This was the tweet YaYu forwarded us from one of her friends shortly after her arrival, who wrote after completing her first shift working for food service. YaYu wanted us to know she is safe, and how much work the college has done and is doing to keep students safe. After a long travel day, she arrived safely in Philadelphia early Thursday morning. It turned out that another Bryn Mawr family from Seattle was traveling on their flight with their first-year student to help her move in, and they took YaYu and friend along with them out to the campus, saving them the trouble and expense of having to use Uber. She went to the campus first to see her room and get started on setting it up, then moved over to the hotel. She will take her first Covid test tomorrow, and then will be tested again in another two weeks. Anyway, our girl is happy to be back and is ready to get the term started. She’s not sure when she will begin work – she also has a job with food service, and one at the library – but should find out this week. We sure miss her though – it’s been a different few days for us as we adjust to her not being here. Ally the Cat still comes by every morning to look for YaYu and leaves disappointed after a few minutes.

“Where is the girl?”

In the meantime, Brett and I are enjoying being able to spread out a bit more in the apartment, and not having to tiptoe around in the morning while YaYu is still asleep on the sofa. The apartment upstairs went back on the market this past week, and has been shown a few times. We are very, very happy with our apartment, but the one upstairs is positively gorgeous. It’s twice the size of ours (bigger than our old house in Kapaa), with a newly remodeled kitchen and luxury bathroom, two large bedrooms, a balcony with beautiful views, and an enclosed lanai in the back. As we thought though, the rent is also nearly double what we’re paying. Our neighbors on the other side of the building are hanging on, but are still out of work. We’ve noticed the husband has been doing a lot more fishing recently, but they otherwise are doing OK. After a burst of visitors to the island during the past couple of months, the numbers have tapered off again, most likely because summer is pretty much over. Most of the people arriving these days seem to be returnees, maybe coming back because they have lost work in another location and are coming home to stay with family until things improve. I read the other day that experts believe it will take at least two to three years for Hawaii’s economy to recover from the pandemic.

We bought a scale this past week. I really didn’t want one, but Brett did because he likes to track his weight. I got a lovely surprise though when I stepped on it: I have lost 14 pounds! I knew I was changing shape, but seeing the same weight week after week on MyFitnessPal and last summer’s experience of losing only a few pounds had me believing things once again hadn’t changed much. I still am not interested in tracking my weight, so Brett has put the scale away – he can get it out whenever he wants, but I don’t care to see it until the end of September or even longer than that. Besides the scale, I also got a set of hand weights to start carrying when we walk, for strength training.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost finished with both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and They Were Her Property, and will start Breasts and Eggs as soon as I’m finished with one of them as it just came off of hold again this morning.
  • Listening to: The winds were blowing pretty strongly (and loudly) when we went to bed last night, but have softened up a bit this morning. There are a few roosters out there doing their thing once in a while, but otherwise it’s very quiet inside and out – a lovely morning. There are quite a few clouds, especially to the north, but blue sky showing through everywhere else so it should be a pretty nice day!
  • Watching: We are still watching Mindhunter and looking forward to the second season coming up. I think we watched it last summer, but it’s been like watching a new series. We also are rewatching Hinterland (also on Netflix). We watched the available episodes a while ago (and don’t remember them either) and are finding it more dark (in a good way) than we remembered.
  • Cooking/baking: I miss YaYu’s help in the kitchen, but meals for just Brett and I going forward have been and will be more simple. Tonight we’re going to have Cuban-style black beans over brown rice along with sautéed green beans on the side. We’re doing another food shop again on Tuesday to pick up a few more things, and this week we’ll be having grilled ahi tacos with mango-peach salsa; basil and pepper chicken sausages along with grilled vegetables; and enchilada casserole for our evening meals with leftovers filling in the empty spots. Next week I’m going to bake a lemon cake that we’ll top with blueberry pie filling. The chocolate cake with cherry pie filling has been wonderful and we wanted to try another version. That little piece of cake at the end of the day has turned into the perfect treat, and has been enough that we don’t want or crave other sweets throughout the day.
    If I had added the sugar at the time the recipe called for it, I think we would have ended up with something way too sweet. My mistake made it just the right amount!
  • Happy we accomplished last week: We made guava jam! Using fruit from the guava tree in our yard, we ended up with seven half pints of low sugar (but still very sweet) jam. Since neither Brett nor I eat a lot of jam, it should last for a while. We walked all seven days again, and got in four three-mile days.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re planning to head to the north shore this week for a long but socially-distanced visit with a friend up in Princeville who is recovering from recent surgery. We also decided to go to Hanapepe one day for a stroll through Old Town and a visit to the Talk Story Bookstore (and maybe share a pastry at the Midnight Bear bakery). We might even go to the beach if the weather cooperates and we can get our act together. I want to attempt making my own nonfat vanilla yogurt in the Instant Pot and see how that goes. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to the task, but next week’s theme is going to be “window cleaning.” I wanted to do each room on three separate days; Brett wants to do them all in one day as we really don’t have many windows (five, a set of French doors, and one patio window). At least I can look forward to the results!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) YaYu cooked for us the last two evenings before she left – on Monday evening she made fresh fettuccini again and a pan of rosemary-garlic focaccia bread. On Tuesday she did a big pan of fried rice, making enough that Brett and I could enjoy the leftovers for a couple of days afterwards. She always does a good job of cleaning up after herself in the kitchen as well. 2) Because I added sugar to the jam-making process too early we ended up with a nice supply of guava juice, created during the jam-making process. It’s also a good thing we made jam as we’re now in serious competition from the birds in neighborhood over the fruit still left on the tree. 3) All of YaYu’s flights back to Pennsylvania departed and arrived on time, and she is happy with her hotel room although apparently the food leaves much to be desired in her opinion. After sleeping on our sofa since mid April, she definitely deserves the room’s big, luxurious king-size bed! Classes start in two weeks, after everyone has been tested and retested. 4) Brett ordered new glasses on Friday – he wanted me to go along to help him pick them out. The new ones are very different, but very attractive! 5) We had a long video chat with our son yesterday and of course got to talk with the grandkids. They both officially begin school this week although our granddaughter did two days of orientation at her preschool this past week. K’s English is amazing – our son said it’s pretty much her dominant language now. C begins tomorrow and will be attending his school on a rotating hybrid model with some instruction online at home and some in the classroom. It’s almost hard for us to believe he’s a fourth grader. Both kids wear/will wear masks full-time at their respective schools as well as take other precautions.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We put $6.65 into the change/$1 bill jar this week and we’ll probably go to the bank this coming week to make another deposit. I earned 1310 Swagbucks this past week, another very good total. All  leftovers were eaten and no food was thrown away. Other than the farmers’ market, our shopping trip on Thursday, and Brett glasses, it was a no-spend week for us.
  • Grateful for: I’m thankful this week that YaYu made it safely back to Pennsylvania and is being very cautious. She is already worried about whether she caught the virus on the plane, but said she wiped down everything and wore two masks the entire trip and did not eat or drink because she didn’t want to take off the masks. I’m also once again thankful for our new vision insurance as Brett’s new glasses were very affordable, half of what he paid for his last pair at Costco.
    One of Brett’s household chores is making cocktails three evenings each week. He makes a very tasty G&T and great mojitos!
  • Bonus question: How are household tasks divided in your home? Back when Brett was in the navy, and working afterward he retired, because of deployments and long hours I was pretty much responsible for everything. When he was home he took care of yard work and taking out the trash, but when he was deployed I did all that too. Since he left the navy, and especially after his retirement in 2013, we have worked out what we both believe is an equitable sharing of household chores these days. I primarily take care of the kitchen, including coming up with weekly menus, making the shopping list(s), and cooking the evening meal (we each fix our own breakfast and lunch). Brett does mix the cocktails though. I wash the dishes throughout the day; Brett washes them in the evening and puts things away in the morning before I get up (we both like to wake up to a clean kitchen). I take care of all other cleaning in the kitchen. In the rest of the house, I make the bed every day (and change the linens), do all of the laundry and folding, take care of the dusting (my least favorite chore of all, but thankfully this house doesn’t get anywhere as dusty as our previous places in Kapaa), and am generally in charge of keeping things picked up and put away so the house stays tidy. Brett does all of the vacuuming and keeps the floors otherwise picked up and cleaned, takes care of the recycling, and still does everything outdoors, although we have a yard service here so those chore are fairly minimal. We share bathroom cleaning, with Brett handling the scrubbing of the huge, tiled shower and the tub while I do the sink and counter, shelves, and toilet. When the girls were growing up, they each were assigned a major task to complete each week, and we rotated those so each got the experience. Those tasks were laundry, bathroom cleaning, and thorough sweeping/vacuuming of the entire house. Some of them did better than others – WenYu was always the most conscientious of the three – but they all know how to do these things well now. They also helped with cooking, setting the table, and cleaning up afterwards. Our son helped clean bathrooms and did the family laundry when he was young (he refused to learn how to cook although he’s a pretty decent cook these days). Anyway, for now the division of labor works for both of us, and there are no hard feelings about one or the other carrying too much of the load.

I have been a bit surprised (in a good way) by the reaction to the recipes I’ve been posting. I started posting them because I don’t have all that much to write about these days, so it’s very gratifying they have been enjoyed. I greatly appreciate the suggestions or adaptations I’ve gotten back as well. It’s almost time to segue into fall cooking, although it definitely is not going to feel like fall here for quite a while. Our friend Alan named September here “Sweatember” as it’s usually one of the hottest and most humid months of the year on the island. We’ve got our fingers crossed though that our breezy, cooler-than-normal temperatures here on the south side will persist. We’ve noticed on our walks that it’s been growing hotter in the afternoons though, with a lot more sun beating down on us while we walk. As long as there’s a breeze up at the park though we do OK, and I always wear a wet tenugui around my neck these days to help keep cool. Along with carrying weights I also now have a sun visor to help keep the sun off of my face – it really helps.

Our last walk together. for a while – we miss our girl!

That’s all for this week. It was a bittersweet one, with lots of good things happening, but also sadness over YaYu’s departure. We miss her presence. I sincerely hope the week was a good one for everyone, and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up!

Sunday Morning 8/20/2020: She’s Leaving Home

There were some very pretty sunsets this past week. Thursday’s was a showstopper!

Good morning!

When I sat down to start this post this past Thursday (I lay out the outline on Thursday, make some notes, and then gradually fill it in by Sunday morning) my first thought was What am I ever going to write about this week? We are living such a simple, low-key life these days, with outings constrained by both virus precautions in place and our budget. We spend most of our time at home, which I have to admit as an introvert I love, with our only outings once a week trips to Costco, Walmart, Big Save, and the farmers’ market and our daily walks up at the park. It’s definitely not exciting or different from out people’s lives these days, and I continue to wonder how much of interest it is to many any more. We hope that things will begin to change by the end of the year, but that remains to be seen, especially as cases of the virus are exploding in Honolulu. Brett and I have been talking about places here we want to visit again and things we can do after the first of October and have come up with a few ideas, but we’ll most likely continue to spend most of our time at home, especially if the virus gains a foothold here.

YaYu heads back to school this week. She will leave early Wednesday morning, and will eventually arrive in Philadelphia nearly 16 hours later. While she is excited to see her friends again, she is also concerned and worried about catching the virus, and knows she will have to stay vigilant with mask wearing, hand washing, and cleaning. She just learned this past Friday that she will be doing her initial quarantine in a hotel off campus as the floor she’s on in her dorm is the only one without A/C and is apparently beyond stifling in late August and early September. She’s especially excited that while she’s there the college will pay for room service so the she can remain inside her room, and that she will have a private bathroom. It will be strange for us at first for her not to be here as she moved into the apartment with us last April and has been a constant presence – we are going to miss her. For the most part we’ve gotten along well, but we have had our issues from time to time. YaYu has never complained, and we realize it’s been a difficult and mostly boring time for her, but she has also been mostly oblivious about the work it takes to keep even a small home running and the costs involved. In other words, she has enjoyed being taken care of. YaYu mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she was seriously thinking about not going back to school after the winter break, and staying here until fall 2021 while doing online classes and working, but we have told her that unless the college officially closes and/or she is sick we cannot afford to have her stay with us and continue to put away enough to help pay for her senior year. There will be no jobs here for her next year either, and our landlord, while tolerant of her being with us for the summer, will definitely charge us more rent if she moves back in for a 10-month stretch (especially since utilities are covered in our rent). The apartment is really too small for three people as well, and we don’t plan to move – we love this place, and also can’t take on the expense of relocating again. 

Following our hike last Monday, the rest of the week was one of research and reflection on how I can better manage my chronic bursitis. I’ve done a lot of research and reading to understand better what’s going on, how I developed the condition (most likely a hip injury all the way back in 1994) and have learned that exercises and stretches that were recommended in the past are no longer thought to be effective, that isometric exercises are the way to go these days. I should also be taking a regular anti-inflammatory, such as Aleve or Advil; however, those mess with my stomach so that will be a last-ditch response. Rough surfaces such as cobblestones and the trail we were on last Monday are definitely aggravators and should be avoided if at all possible. As reader JMac commented, walking sticks are a game changer as they help with hip balance, and while I was going to ask for a set for Christmas I am instead looking at finding some sooner than that. I plant to check at Costco this coming week, although our store is more likely to have boogie boards and beach towels than hiking gear. I have decided that I will most likely hat to get steroid therapy before setting off on a long walk/hike, such as our planned Cotswold Way walk, but in the meantime I have some good information to get this annoying but not life-threatening health issue under better control.

This morning I am: 

  • Reading: I finished The Chain quickly – I couldn’t put it down – and I’m now reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince during the day and They Were Her Property at night. I thought the latter would a dry-ish historical read, but it’s very well researched and quite interesting. Another book came off of hold too, Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, a novel examining modern womanhood in Japan. I was able to delay having to check it out by a few days, but really need to get through these other books as it won’t be too long before I have to accept it.
  • Listening to: Ally the cat is outside talking to (yelling at?) YaYu – it’s almost like she has a big story to tell her. Otherwise, the wind is gusting through the trees and making a lot of noise, but it’s also keeping things cool. There are lots of clouds out there this morning but we can see some blue sky as well so hopefully it won’t rain.
  • Watching: Brett and I finished all the available episodes of Silent Witness, and are just about done with Mum, which we will be sad to finish. It’s been a very sweet, gentle, but funny show and we have enjoyed it immensely (it’s a BritBox exclusive). We just got started with Mindhunter on Netflix. We’ve already seen the first season but are re-watching it to reacquaint ourselves before moving on to the second season.
    My best cake idea yet, I think.
  • Cooking/baking: With YaYu leaving, Brett and my meals are going to become much more simple, with less cooking for me, something I’m looking forward to. Tonight though we’re having the hamburgers that were on last week’s menu as we ended up making pad Thai last week instead – we got mung bean sprouts which needed to be eaten immediately after purchase. YaYu is making pasta again tomorrow which we’ll have with pesto along with grilled Italian sausages and roasted zucchini (we’ve eaten the sausages all summer as YaYu loves them, but I’m ready to give them a rest for a while). Tuesday evening we’ll have pork and vegetable fried rice. Brett and I plan to have beans and rice later in the week as well as stuffed peppers, and a pork and pepper stirfry. Peppers don’t agree with YaYu so we’ve kept them off the menu as much as possible this summer, but Brett and I love them, and are looking forward to eating them again. While not giving it up we’re also hoping to cut back on the amount of meat we consume – YaYu is definitely the carnivore in the family and it’s been reflected in our menus this summer. I baked a chocolate cake yesterday which we’re having topped with a little cherry pie filling – so yummy! Without YaYu’ helping us to eat them, each cake from now on will now last Brett and me for nearly two weeks. Bring it on, I say!
    We pretty much had the beach to ourselves again out at Barking Sands.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We made it to the beach yesterday! Finally! This past week saw another seven days of walking, and including our hike last Monday on the Moalepe Trail we got in four days of walking at least three miles. We’ll continue our current route at the park for another couple of weeks and then will kick it up again, up to four miles per day. Even though I always go out slathered in 50SPF sunscreen, I noticed this week that I have accomplished something of a tan, at least on my face, neck, and arms, and almost look like I live here or something. I give up on my legs though – they just don’t tan at all. I finished up five weeks of daily task cards yesterday and got a new set made so I’m ready for the next five weeks. When I get to the last card in the set I’m always a bit surprised that the five weeks have gone so quickly.
    A new set of tracking cards ready to be filled in: Every day I have a goal of drinking eight glasses of water, going for a walk, reading at least 45 minutes, studying Japanese for 20 minutes, trying to earn some Swagbucks, and filling out the next day’s food diary on MyFitnessPal.
  • Looking forward to next week: While we’re not happy about YaYu’s departure, at the same time Brett and I will admit to looking forward to “being on our own” again. Not sure what we’re going to do next week other than walking as it will depend on the weather. Right now I know we’ll be doing another small bit of grocery shopping, probably on Wednesday after YaYu has left. We should have enough ripe guava from our tree this coming week to make jam – we are planning to pick up some canning jars and pectin mid week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our Taco Tuesday night from Paco’s Tacos was fantastic – Brett and I shared an order of al pastor-style tacos and YaYu had carne asada fries. It was all very affordable and I appreciated not having to cook that evening. The movers finally called and arranged to pick up the empty packing boxes tomorrow morning – we’ll be glad to have all of that out of the way. Although they still haven’t located the missing box, they are continuing to search for it. They went ahead anyway though and sent the forms for filing a claim. Although I wasn’t able to complete our planned hike on Monday, I did learn some valuable things that I’ll be able to change and/or improve for the next time. My favorite afternoon snack these days is a pack of big, light senbei (Japanese-style rice cracker) basted with soy sauce and a little bit of nori (seaweed), and I to discover Big Save market has them in stock all the time (I had been getting them at Walmart but they kept running out). Less than 100 calories for two crackers, they’re just enough to keep my stomach happy for the time between lunch and dinner.
    Shelley Senbei crackers come in three different flavors. My favorite is “snow roasted with seaweed” and Brett and YaYu like “snow moon’ with a tiny bit of sweetness. The third flavor is spicy teriyaki.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had to have the front brake pads and rotors in our car replaced mid-week – ouch! That was a several hundred dollars repair. Otherwise, we came in under-budget with our food shopping, and put $5.24 into the change/$1 bill jar. I earned 1,182 Swagbucks this week and now hope to earn another $100 Southwest gift card by the end of October. We did a great job again with leftovers and had no food waste.
  • Grateful for: I continue to be so very thankful for the cooler weather we’ve experienced this summer, especially when I remember how miserable I was previously, when we lived in Kapaa. We’ve rarely experienced high humidity here, and if it does arrive it doesn’t seem to hang around. We have a constant breeze (sometimes it feels like we live inside of a vortex), and temperatures have not gone above 83°. I came to wonder in the past if Kaua’i really was paradise, but it sure feels like it where we are now.
  • Bonus question: What’s something you do on Kaua’i that you would never do elsewhere? The first thing that comes to mind is shopping at Walmart. I think I went to Walmart once back on the mainland and hated the experience, but it’s very different here. And, other than Costco there are no other mass-merchandise stores on the island. We actually do some of our food shopping there now as Walmart’s prices are definitely lower that island supermarkets, and they have a fantastic Asian foods section – we always go there before heading over to Costco. Walmart has started to get in some produce lately, some of it grown in Hawaii, so we always check that as well. I bought their cherry pie filling the other day as it does not contain high fructose corn syrup, but otherwise we usually stick to name brands (their chocolate chips and a few other Great Value products were mediocre). Walmart is also a great place here to get things like toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Costco has been out of stock of those items for ages, and we don’t have room to store such big packages anyway, and the larger size packages at Walmart are not overwhelming. Anyway, I never thought I would ever be a regular Walmart shopper, but it’s what you do on Kaua’i.

We finally made it back to the beach yesterday. YaYu very much wanted to go one more time before she left, and the stars aligned yesterday with the weather so we headed down to Barking Sands. We stopped at the Navy Exchange/Commissary on our way to the beach and picked up some sandwiches and cold drinks to take with us, and then spent three and a half glorious hours basking in the sun, reading, and taking long walks along the beach before packing up and heading for home. Every time I go back to the beach after a long time away I remember how much I love it. We all decided that we’d like to rent one of the beach cottages at Barking Sands when YaYu is home again for the winter break, and spend a couple of days right on the beach for a little local holoholo (getaway).

We’re going to miss our girl!

It was a quiet but good week for us, and I hope it was a good one overall for everyone else. We’re going to miss our girl, but we knew she couldn’t stay forever. Here’s to good things happening, good books, good food, and more in the coming week!

Sunday Morning 8/16/2020: Sunny Weather Returns (sort of)

Sunsets are all about the clouds. Most of the week there were no clouds in the evening, so . . . no beautiful sunsets.

Good Morning!

We could see where to find the pot of gold, right down in those trees!

It’s been another week of wacky weather for us although we have had more sunshine than in the previous two weeks and we’ve been able to get out and walk every day, with frequent rainbows appearing from recently finished to soon-to-arrive rains. Weather-wise, we’ve dealt with everything from vortex force winds spinning through our yard, rain every night and most mornings, high humidity, and everything in between. Thursday morning I went to hang the laundry outside in the bright hot sun and before I was even halfway through getting that done a massive rainstorm passed over – it arrived so quickly I barely got everything up to the deck and under the umbrella in time to avoid getting soaked. There are many different microclimates going on all over Kaua’i and a “one-size fits all” weather report does not cover the differences depending where you live or where you are. We gratefully have a near-constant breeze here in Lawai, and get heavy winds from time to time, while we heard from our friends Alan and Cheryl up in Kapaa that the trade winds have already slowed down to almost nothing there. Whatever the weather though, it’s still paradise (for the most part).

All Saints Church in Turnditch, Derbyshire. (photo credit: Mapcarta)

I have never been into genealogy at all, and although I know some information about my ancestors a great deal of information about my family, both on my mom’s and dad’s side of the family has been lost as their generation has passed on. However, this past week I had the pleasure of learning not only my great-grandmother’s name, Alice Houlgate, but where she was born. I knew on a very superficial level that she had been born in England and immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century, married a farmer and moved to Nebraska (my grandfather and two brothers were born in the sod house my great-grandparents built in Fairfield, Nebraska), but that was the extent of my knowledge – no one ever told me her name nor the name of my great-grandfather, and I never knew where she was from in England. It turns out Alice, one of nine siblings, was born in a small village in Derbyshire called Turnditch where the Houlgates had lived since the mid-18th century. Alice and her husband, and apparently many of her siblings, eventually moved to Pasadena, California – I know my grandfather was working in Pasadena when he was 14 – and I grew up hearing about the local Houlgates, and was occasionally dragged along to meet my “Houlgate relatives” (although I had no idea who they were or how we were related). Alice died two years before my mother was born and my mom was given the middle name of Alice, and one of our daughters now also has the middle name of Alice. A long-time dream of mine has been to see where my family came from in England, so I’m hoping I will be able to visit the village of Turnditch in the future and see if there are still Houlgates living there. I did find a Derbyshire walking tour that stops for the night in Belper, located less than two miles from Turnditch, so if we survive our Cotswold walking tour, maybe we’ll do that one next!

YaYu’s early morning flight over to Honolulu on Southwest was cancelled this past week and she was switched to a later flight that got her there just 10 minutes before her Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle took off! Nope. I contacted Southwest and got a credit to use later (credit is good through September of 2022), and booked her on an early morning Hawaiian airlines flight that will get her there in time to get her bags and recheck them on Alaska. The cost for the Hawaiian flight was the same as the Southwest one; however, she will now have to pay luggage fees to get her bags over to Honolulu (and also has to pay for her luggage on Alaska). 

Ally, the judgmental cat.

YaYu has befriended the judgmental cat that kept appearing at our door and the cat now appears like clockwork every morning to spend some time with YaYu. She (the cat) is going to be very disappointed though after YaYu leaves and when Brett and I won’t come out to sit with her and pet her. We have promised YaYu that we will keep the water bowl that she set out for the cat filled, but that’s it. SIGH again. The cat’s name is Ally, by the way – she was abandoned by a family in the neighborhood that moved away a couple of years ago, and now makes daily rounds to several houses in the neighborhood for food and affection. We’re not sure who is feeding her but she has refused food and treats from YaYu so someone is taking care of that.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on Thursday evening, just as three books came available at once from the library – yikes! ! am once again reading two books: The Chain, a recommended mystery-thriller, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Waiting on deck is They Were Her Property, about women who owned slaves in the antebellum south. The Chain is a good read, but I should have it finished this evening, and as soon as it’s done I’ll start They Were Her Property.
  • Listening to: Another quiet morning although it was raining not too long ago. It’s still cloudy, but that’s supposed to clear   out later. Brett is puttering around in the kitchen, and YaYu is checking her social media, so it’s quiet indoors and out. A perfect morning in my book!
  • Watching: With YaYu’s help we got our TV set up so we can watch PBS shows from the web there, which is much more enjoyable than watching on my computer screen. We watched the first episode of Endeavour this week and are looking forward to watching the current season’s second episode tomorrow. We’re still watching Silent Witness – I think we’re in the last season though – and Mum, which we’re really glad we found.
  • Cooking/baking: This will be YaYu’s last full week with us, so I will be fixing some of her favorites before she heads back to school. The day after tomorrow though we’re going out to one of her favorite restaurants on the island, Paco’s Tacos to pick up some tacos for a Taco Tuesday celebration. One of their locations is at the club house at Kukuiolono, we’ll just head over there as part of our walk. Tonight we’re having Chinese three-color salad (hiyashi chuka), and other dinners this week will be grilled pork, pineapple, and pepper kabobs;  shrimp tacos with pineapple salsa; chicken and vegetable curry (which didn’t get made this past week); hamburgers; and one leftover night. No baking this week – the yellow cake with vanilla buttercream didn’t get made until Friday, so it will get us through this week.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: It’s difficult to come up with accomplishments these days as we’ve settled in and most of our days are the same, filled with regular daily stuff like cooking, cleaning, reading, etc. – we’re not doing anything special. Even rearranging YaYu’s travel didn’t take much of an effort. I see our daily walks as my real accomplishment – a few weeks ago I felt like I needed a day off after five days, but for nearly three weeks now we’ve walked every day, and now I look forward to getting out. We did seven days again this week, upped our distance to a little over three miles on two of the days, and will add a third day of over three miles this week.
    Guava smell so good – their aroma perfumes the entire apartment. We get a few ripe ones every day.
    Lilikoi blossom number 10! Another fruit should set by next week.
  • Looking forward to next week: The weather improved this past week, and we are hoping for more next week. Brett and I want to do a four-mile hike on the Moalepe Trail if the weather permits and also get down to the beach at Barking Sands once more before YaYu leaves. We are looking forward to doing some food shopping next week as we have pretty much emptied the refrigerator and cupboards. The guava are starting to ripen, and if we get enough next week we’ll try and make jam.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: This past week YaYu got bored, so she got out her pasta machine and made a huge batch of handmade fettuccine for us, enough that we were able to enjoy it for two meals. It was delicious! I earned my first $100 Southwest gift card through Swagbucks, several weeks ahead of when I thought I would.
    Homemade fettuccini!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had another no-spend week except for our visit to the farmers’ market and the airline ticket change. We put $2 into the change/$1 bill jar. The Southwest credit will come in handy later though. It was a very good week on Swagbucks – I did several high-pay surveys and earned 1379 Swagbucks!! We did a fantastic job using up leftovers this week, and got the refrigerator cleaned out. Hopefully we can keep it from becoming so full again as so many things freeze when too much is crammed in there (one of the side effects of having a small, lower-quality refrigerator). This past week I had to throw out a whole package of celery (unused) as it had frozen and was ruined.
  • Grateful for: I am very, very thankful that we were able to find another early morning flight on Hawaiian to get YaYu over to Honolulu, one that gives her plenty of time to pick up and recheck her bags. We would have been in a real pickle otherwise, either having to change all of her flights, or send her over the day before and pay for an overnight at a hotel (and there is nothing affordable close by the airport in Honolulu). We’ll be able to use the Southwest flights in the future, most likely as soon as 2021 (to get her back to Pennsylvania for the spring term).
  • Bonus question: What is a place you loved going to in the past but can’t imagine visiting now? That would be either Walt Disney World or Disneyland. We took the girls to WDW four times, back when round-trip tickets from Portland to Orlando were very inexpensive for some reason – for a while it cost more to fly to Los Angeles from Portland! We usually went for a full seven days, stayed on property, and we always had a wonderful time. We had also been to WDW twice before the girls joined our family – we were there with our son for his 8th birthday. I grew up near Disneyland in California, and went many, many times when I was a child (my first trip was just three months after the park opened). We also went to Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland during our Big Adventure, interesting experiences but once was enough. The Disney parks always go out of their way to make the park experiences good ones – the parks are clean, workers are friendly, they do a good job of crowd control, and the attention to detail in the parks was amazing. I never went to a Disney park to see anything “authentic” as pretty much everything in a Disney park is ersatz, but that sort of got to me on my last couple of visits. These days I can’t imagine stepping foot in another Disney park as it’s gotten out-of-control expensive and there are other places I’d rather spend my money. The experience now is also very tiring. It was magical to go there with my children when they were young, and with my grandchildren, but been there, done that is how I feel about Disney now.

The number of virus cases continue to climb on Oahu, and there were two more deaths there this past week. The number of visitors to the islands continues to climb each week as well, and YaYu read the other day that many are registering with a phony address for the quarantine (probably some locals are as well upon return) so they can get out and about. Thanks so much. So far Kaua’i continues to do OK with only a couple of virus cases here, but this past week an average of 30 visitors per flight was arriving on the island. Also, an average of 12 people per week claim they are “relocating” here, although many may be locals returned to Kaua’i from other islands. We have seen tourists out and about, usually without masks – it’s very frustrating. Thankfully the stores we shop at and the farmers’ market – the only places we go to these days – require masks and won’t let anyone in without one. It’s very frustrating to watch other countries around the world making progress while knowing how much longer it’s going to be before our country gets a handle on this pandemic. We chatted with a man the other day at the park, a life-long resident of Kaua’i, and he said we couldn’t have picked a safer place to come to when we returned to the U.S. I sure hope it stays that way because if the virus ever gets a foothold on Kaua’i we are all doomed.

Everyone else has built a wall around us.

And on that happy note I will close. We did have a very nice week, and got lots of things done, books read, etc. and are looking forward the coming week and hope you are as well!