Sunday Morning 11/28/2021: Goodbye November, Hello December

Saturday evening’s sunset was really the only one of the week . . . because it was the only evening with clouds! The rest of the week the sky was clear so it just got dark. The color in the sky above disappeared in less than five minutes.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

(photo credit: Enrique Macias/Unsplash)

Happy Hanukkah! Chag sameach! Wishing all who celebrate a joyous eight days filled with love, happiness, and blessings, along with a lifetime of light.

Brett and I enjoyed a lovely, quiet Thanksgiving last week. We took a hike on the nearby Maha’ulepu trail in Poipu, had a simple but yummy dinner, and watched The Descendants. Thanksgiving was always the one holiday I could count on Brett being gone when he was in the navy, so I enjoy being together now even if it’s just the two of us and all we’re having is a vegetarian casserole. Back in the day, when Brett was gone, our son and I would often go with friends to the enlisted chow hall on base for our Thanksgiving meal – for around $2.50 we could enjoy an amazing turkey dinner from soup to nuts, with delicious appetizers, every side dish imaginable to choose from, an amazing array of desserts, and even ham or roast beef if turkey wasn’t your thing. Loads of people of every rank showed up for that meal!

Part of a Maha’ulepu Trail hike involves walking over an ancient lava flow.

It’s honestly a bit unbelievable to me that we will slide into December this week. There are less than three weeks left until the girls arrive for Christmas, and all of us are getting more and more excited about being together again. This week I’ll finalize the menu for when they’re here so when that Brett and I shop this week as well as the day before Meiling’s and WenYu’s arrival we don’t forget anything. I wish we had a bigger refrigerator and freezer, but we’ll manage somehow. We’ll be spending time while they’re here sorting through their things and deciding what to keep and what to let go of or throw away, and also figuring out how to get everything they’re keeping back east. Most of all though we want to relax with them and enjoy being together on Kaua’i one last time. We’ve already got all our fingers and toes crossed that the weather will cooperate so we can get to the beach at least a couple of times, enjoy an evening out by the fire pit, and take a couple of hikes.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: Another satisfying mystery, A Slow Fire Burning, was finished last Sunday afternoon, and afterwards I had to do some searching to find something new to read as none of the books I’ve got on hold are close to being available. The Scandinavian noir genre always seems to provide something new and different, and now about halfway through the Norwegian mystery, I’m Traveling Alone, by Samuel Bjork. It’s just as creepy as hoped for. I have just one more month to go in my year of reading mysteries, procedurals, suspense, etc. but there will be no theme next year – I have a stack a mile high now of other things I want/need to read.
  • Listening to: It’s quite breezy outside this morning (and also quite cool) so sort of noisy whenever the wind gusts. Not a whole lot going on otherwise though so it’s mostly quiet out there. Brett’s eating his breakfast and reading, so once again it’s also a perfectly quiet morning inside. I still can’t get over how calm and peaceful our neighborhood is here versus when we lived in Kapaa.
Thanksgiving 2019 was the only year we missed watching The Descendants; we were on a plane that day (that we caught by the skin of our teeth) flying back to the U.S. However, we had watched it earlier in the month in our Edinburgh Airbnb rental!
  • Watching: Our annual viewing of The Descendents on Thanksgiving was as special as always – we love the Kaua’i scenes even if they frequently get the geography wrong. We’ll finish the second season of Ted Lasso and Little Fires Everywhere tonight – both have been great. Friday evening we watched the Great British Bake Off finale, and my favorite baker this season, Giuseppe, won – I was so happy! We’re going to start watching The Morning Show tomorrow but are looking for a second show to go along with it.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) Brett and I got started organizing and assembling some of the things for the girls to go through when they’re here. We pulled stuff out of closets and off shelves, and we put together a packet for each girl with all their important paperwork (adoption, citizenship, birth certificates, etc.) They’re all adults now and there’s no reason for us to be responsible for these things any more. Each girl will also get a package with the clothes they were wearing on the day we met them. 2) We got started as well on putting together a box for our son, with his baby book and some of his paperwork we still have for some reason. 3) Brett and I studied French every day for 20 minutes – we’re getting better but of course the lessons are getting more difficult as well.
  • Looking forward to next week: There is nothing special on our calendar, but we’ll do a semi-Big Shop on Tuesday, and plan to continue getting things ready for the girls’ arrival. It feels good to sort through all these things we have. Another day at the beach is definitely a possibility, weather permitting.
Friday’s beach day at Shipwreck Beach was near flawless.
We watched all sorts of people, young and old, jump off the cliff at Shipwreck while we were there. This was a mom jumping in after all four of her kids had already made the leap (you can see them swimming below). The kids all jumped from halfway down the cliff, but mom did it from the top.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Last Friday, we enjoyed what we believe was the most perfect beach day we’ve ever had in Hawaii. The weather, temperature, breeze, number of people, etc. all came together for a wonderful, long afternoon at Shipwreck Beach in Poipu. There was lots of cliff jumping going on during the day and we had a birds’ eye view of it. The Maha’ulepu trail starts at the beach, after our hike on Thursday we decided to give the beach a try on Friday versus going to Barking Sands or Salt Pond. It turned out to be a very good decision! 2) I had seven Etsy orders this week, all hashioki. I love seeing which ones people choose and am happy the hashioki are heading to new owners. 3) I watched the Rick Steve’s Monday Night Travel show on England – he covered Oxford and the Cotswolds, with memory and anticipation coming together for me as we watched those sections of the show. We’re super excited to be going back to England next year. 4) Meiling sent photos on Thanksgiving of the traditional turkey dinner she prepared, with everything made from scratch – it was very impressive! All three girls have become very good cooks, with no thanks to me. Our son had to take a major licensing exam on Thanksgiving Day (which is obviously not a holiday in Japan), but our daughter-in-law and grandkids attended Thanksgiving at the American Club in Tokyo and enjoyed the full turkey dinner experience. 5) Our new avocado tree is ready to move from its jar into a pot with soil this week! 6) And, we got a new visitor last week – a kitten! He/She looks to be related to Allie Cat, is very shy and ran away anytime we got close, but did drink some of the water we put out. We’re hoping for a return visit!
So cute!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I ordered a pair of Duckfeet boots on Thanksgiving Day and received 20% off, a nice bit of savings on something I need/want for traveling. The boots I thought I would be purchasing were out of stock but I was able to find another pair in a color I liked. The price for the boots I got was slightly less than expected as well, so there were more savings. 2) We bought a much-needed roll of packing tape (between the past two weeks’ sales I went through an entire roll of tape), but otherwise we had a no-spend week. 3) We put 13 cents into the change/$1 bag (Brett found it on the ground yesterday), and our total saved so far this month from change/$1 bills is $12.59, although there may be more after Tuesday’s shopping trip (November 30). 4) We didn’t spend anything on eating out, ate all our leftovers, made a good start on emptying out the freezer, and didn’t throw away any food.
Three orders ready to go!
  • Adding up the things we sold: Thirteen hashioki (seven orders) left the house this week and we sold the last two boxes of golf balls, so $110.53 will be going into our travel account this week. Three of the five Etsy orders were just one hashioki. It takes me less than 10 minutes to get an order ready now as I’ve gotten the packaging down to a science. There are only seven of the small boxes left that I use for mailing hashioki orders (a box can hold up to five or six of them), and I think when they’re gone I will close the shop or turn it over to one of the girls. The total for all the golf balls we collected over the past few months and sold was just over $200. Not a huge amount, and we could have probably made more selling them on eBay, but local sales worked for us: everyone was happy, it was easy, and it was pure profit for us. We had a lot of fun hunting for all the lost balls and got in some good exercise as well. November was a good month for side hustles: total going into our account from sales was $889.40.
  • Grateful for: I am feeling both terribly sad about and thankful for the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial this past week. If not for a videotape that surfaced of his last moments and the police interacting with Arbery’s killers, there would have been no trial and the three men responsible for his death would have gone free. The horrific video showed that the police did nothing for Arbery when they were called to the scene (and he was still alive), and they even coached the murderers on how to behave and dress. While I am grateful justice was done with the murderers convicted and the first state prosecutor in jail for her abject failure to prosecute, I’m also terribly, terribly sad for the effort it took for the case to go to trial. I have to wonder how many other black men have been murdered for what seems to be basically sport, and the deaths and cases that never make the news let alone come to trial.
  • Bonus question: What’s been your worst travel experience? I’ve probably told this story before, but back in 1999, I traveled to China with a friend to adopt WenYu (Brett stayed home with Meiling). She and I flew into Hong Kong for a couple of days of sightseeing and then orientation before heading to China to meet WenYu. On the long drive from the Hong Kong airport to the city my suitcase fell out of the trunk of our taxi where it was run over by a bus and sent flying to the complete other side of the freeway (I was very lucky the suitcase did not fall out on a bridge and end up in the Hong Kong Harbor). While we were stopped at the side of the road to figure out how to get over and get the suitcase, we watched a car stop and take my suitcase! I remember the taxi driver, my friend, and I standing on the side of the freeway jumping up and down, waving our arms, and screaming at the man not to take the suitcase, but even though he saw us he put it in his car and drove off. The suitcase contained baby clothes, diapers, formula and baby food, as well as my clothes for the trip so it was a very, very depressing moment and an inauspicious start to our journey. It turned out though the man who picked up the suitcase was a police detective! Apparently through communication between the police and the taxi company, the driver was told to bring us to a police station where after answering a couple of questions I got my suitcase back. We learned later the driver was heavily fined for not properly securing the suitcase and for keeping the meter running while we were in the police station! The suitcase had been smashed flat, but once we got in our hotel room I was able to get it open and found everything inside had somehow survived, even the glass jars of baby food (shout out to Samsonite hard side luggage!). The only things damaged besides the suitcase itself were some granola bars. I bought a new suitcase later that afternoon and the rest of the trip came off without any issues.

Finally, we have a new neighbor upstairs, a German woman who has moved in with the doctor living there. Brett asked him if she was visiting but he said, no, this was something “more permanent.” The two of them met just a couple of weeks ago, so things apparently got serious very quickly. She seems to work on a beach somewhere because there’s been a lot of sand appearing almost daily on the stairs up to our apartments, and we can hear the vacuum running upstairs many evenings as well. We think she might be either a yoga instructor, tai chi instructor, or a massage therapist because they’re the only occupations we know other than lifeguards that work out on the beach. According to what the doctor told Brett the other day, she left everything behind in Germany to come live on Kaua’i several months ago (and gave herself a Chinese name when she arrived). She doesn’t look a day over 30, if that, while the doctor is somewhere closer to 80 years old, so we honestly hope things go well for them. He still clomps around upstairs as much as always, but she is thankfully quiet and doesn’t make a lot of noise. He’s also hinted they may not be staying in the apartment upstairs much longer, but he paid us for another three months of Internet access so we’ll see.

This week was a good end to the month, with great weather, a lovely holiday, a beach day, a hike, and more. It’s still somewhat hard to believe December and the end of this year will be here so soon, but we are ready or as ready as we can be. I hope everyone had as a lovely week as we did – here’s to the one coming up!

Sunday Morning 11/21/2021: Was That More Time Just Flying By?

We had a few pretty/interesting sunsets this week, but they all were over quickly.

Good Morning! ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒด Aloha kakahiaka! ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒด

We now officially have less than six months left until we depart Kaua’i for Pennsylvania and then France! Time is moving along very quickly, with the days flying past, which is actually getting bit concerning as we have much left to do. Lots has been accomplished already with things continuing to get sold, money going into our travel account, plans being made, research getting done, and so forth. I am trying to focus as much as I can on our girls’ upcoming visit and getting ready for that (less than a month to go until they arrive!) but I still feel like there are a lot of plates I need to keep spinning.

We made a couple of positive financial discoveries this past week. One. our little car is apparently worth quite a bit more than we imagined, more than double what we thought we’d ask for it. With the current shortage of cars on the island, both new and used, we now may be able to get a couple of thousand dollars more than planned, although we’re not going to get greedy as the point will be to sell the car quickly. And, we had planned to take the train from Paris to Strasbourg, but discovered we can save $$$ by flying. Taking the train would require taking a taxi over to Gare L’Est (60 Euros) from the Paris airport and although the train is non-stop to Strasbourg tickets cost more than flying with the travel time the same. The wonderful and affordable Strasbourg tram system runs out to the airport, so by flying in it will be just as easy to get into the city after our arrival. Anyway, I am always happy when I find a way to make money as well as save on travel expenses! However, as of November 1 France is no longer providing their health pass online for free; we will now have to pay (36 Euros each) to get one at a pharmacy after we arrive Strasbourg. You win some, you lose some.

My Etsy shop now fits into the blue box and the plastic box on top. Everything else is packing materials. The fish plates sitting in the bottom of the blue crate were sold yesterday.

My Etsy shop has now shrunk to one box of hashioki, an antique basket and a small jubako. Although selling online has had it moments, I am so grateful to have been able to downsize through Etsy sales, and be able to sell so much of my hashioki collection (close to half of it has now been sold). We have earned far, far more selling this way than we could have otherwise. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to keep the shop open though, or what I’ll do with the remaining hashioki. WenYu had said in the past she would take it over but she’s very busy these days so not sure that will be possible any more. We are done with eBay though. We sold a few things, but for the most part it was a very unsatisfying experience for us.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished both Truth Be Told and The Brutal Telling last Sunday, and have been reading A Slow Fire Burning this week. All three are so different from each other, and transitioning from one author to another required a major adjustment.
  • Watching: Two of our three favorite bakers on Great British Bake Off are going to the finals! We were positively shocked when Jurgen was eliminated after the semi-finals last Friday, but unsurprised that Chrystelle was sent through to the final. She’s photogenic but an inconsistent baker (she has done poorly on every technical challenge), but I sensed the fix was in with her from the beginning and she is indeed going to the finals next week as expected. Oh well – fingers are crossed that either Guiseppe or Chigs wins next week. We finished Inspector Morse on Tuesday evening – the final episode, “The Remorseful Day,” still remains hard to watch and as always, I got choked up at the end. Our time with Inspector Lewis will begin after the new year and then we will be on to Endeavour before we leave so we will be well-prepared for the Morse tour when we’re in Oxford. And what can I say about Squid Game? It was crazy, violent, and yet very thought provoking – I’m glad we watched. We also watched another episode of Shetland, we absolutely love Ted Lasso, and we just started Little Fires Everywhere (on Hulu).
A beautiful Kaua’i morning! Lots of hibiscus are in bloom behind the fence. And, just to show how fast things grow here, a little over 18 months ago there was a house visible behind the trees on the right.
  • Listening to: I was curious what the weather would be like this morning because it was very humid yesterday, rainy and cloudy at times, but there’s not a cloud in the sky this morning, and a lovely cool breeze blowing. Brett’s already made his breakfast, I’m enjoying a hot cup of coffee, so it’s a perfect, quiet morning inside and out.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Big Shop done: check. Eye exam done, new glasses ordered: check. French studied every day: check. Christmas shopping finished and gifts wrapped: check. My shingles and flu vaccines done: check. Everything that needed to be accomplished this week: done! (P.S. The shingles vaccine knocked me out! I was tired and sore by Thursday evening, but I felt truly awful all day Friday. I was mostly fine again yesterday though, thank goodness. Still glad I got it done, because who wants shingles? I will be better prepared for Round II.)
The Descendants has been our traditional Thanksgiving viewing for the past nine years.
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year as it centers on family and food without all the hoopla about presents, decorations, and so forth. Once again this year it will be just Brett and me, but we’re planning to take a long walk, watch The Descendents, and enjoy a simple but tasty meal that ends with some pumpkin pie. 3) Hopefully we’ll get another beach day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) A day at the beach is always a good thing. We headed out to Barking Sands on Tuesday and enjoyed relaxing under the umbrella with the whole beach practically to ourselves again (we also walked the 2+ mile Waioukapua Trail before getting set up on the beach). 2) Our daughter-in-law sent us another huge batch of photos and videos of the grandkids’ fall activities. I think I’ve looked at them more than 100 times now. 3) I enjoyed this week’s episode of Rick Steve’s Monday Night Travels and learned a lot about the current state of travel in Europe and how we can be better prepared. We also got some ideas for future travel destinations. 4) I had six sales from my Etsy shop, something that’s always a good thing. 5) My vision had only very slightly deteriorated from last year and it will be a while before I need cataract surgery – yeah!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Our upstairs neighbor finally paid us for another three months of Internet sharing, and that went right into our travel account this week. We asked him if he wanted to pay for six months, up until we left, but he said he might be moving on in another three months. 2) Because of the cost of gas and known delays due to highway maintenance, we combined all of our errands in Lihue into one this past Thursday. We first shopped at Costco, then went for my eye appointment, and followed that with a small shop at Safeway, where we used one of our $10 off $50 coupons. I also got both my shingles and flu vaccines done at Safeway while we were there and received a 10% off any purchase coupon (and, I’ll get a second coupon when I got back for the second shingles shot in a few months). 3) Although we put $0 into the change/$1 bill jar last week (we used our debit card), we ate all of our leftovers. and didn’t throw away any food. 4) Between Costco and Safeway we went approximately $45 over our shopping budget, but that’s because we picked up two instead of one of a few items where stock was low. For example, I bought two bottles of the wine I drink because that’s all that was left in Costco: two bottles. The apples we usually buy were gone so we bought a larger package that cost more. On the other hand, a couple of items we had planned to buy this trip had completely sold out since our last time there, and Costco still didn’t have their organic peanut butter in stock – it’s been missing for months. Overall though we found what we needed. We know things can disappear quickly here though, but lots of floor space at Costco these days is being used for non-food items with the area for food items shrinking.
Just two boxes of golf balls left to sell!
  • Adding up what we sold last week: Fourteen hashioki (five orders), a book, two sets of blue fish plates, and three more boxes of golf balls left the house for a total of $152.91 into the travel account. We have two more boxes of golf balls left to sell (whenever) but from now on the only potential sales happening until next year will be on Etsy. The fish plates were a challenge to get ready to ship (we had to build our own box). Packaging and postage ending up taking a good portion of my profits, but I still made more than we would have selling them at a yard sale, the buyer is thrilled to be getting them, and they’re something else now out of the house.
  • Grateful for: We grow more thankful all the time for Medicare and that Brett stayed in the navy to retire and receive continuing healthcare insurance. Our savings this week for two health-related tasks were considerable. I was told my shingles vaccine might cost up to $250, even with Medicare, but the entire cost of the vaccine was covered by Medicare and Tricare For Life so there was nothing out of pocket. Same for my eyeglasses – I paid less than 25% of the total cost for both the exam and new glasses that have all the bells and whistles, much less than expected. When Brett was serving we gave no thought at all about having insurance later in life, but this benefit alone has provided us a quality of life that was unimagined back then.
  • Bonus question: What’s been the most influential change in your lifetime (so far)? We memorized phone numbers. We memorized driving directions. No one knew what we looked like. No one could reach us. We were gods. (from a tweet I read this past week). I honestly wonder sometimes though how we ever managed without the Internet, Google, etc. in the past. Actually, I do remember how we managed but I am much, much happier with the technology we have available today. If I need or want to know something it takes just moments to search and find the information I’m looking for whether it’s the definition or spelling of a word, comparing flight schedules, the cost of something, and so forth. I can buy food, clothing, airline tickets, a car . . . anything but the actual experience of being somewhere online now (and I guess that could happen with virtual reality, but no thanks). It’s beyond amazing when I think about what we can do now, something our children and grandchildren take for granted. I love my cell phone, and use it constantly, but still have mixed feelings about its (potential) intrusiveness. And, also the impatience it engenders. Still, a (good) camera in my phone? Amazing and absolutely wonderful. And, the best part about technology? It’s maybe the only thing gets cheaper as it gets better, unlike cars, houses, and other items.

With the holiday season starting up, the number of visitors to the island is already starting to increase again. Traffic is getting worse, there are more shoppers in Costco, Walmart, and Target, but thankfully the changes are fairly subtle for us so far as we tend to stay down in our little un-touristy neck of the woods. We noticed several retired couples on the beach at Barking Sands the other day, far more than usual, but we are guessing the beach cottages are probably fully booked through the summer by now. We avoid going anywhere near Poipu, or driving up beyond Lihue because of the crowds and traffic. We are starting to wonder how crowded it will be in Europe next year. Rick Steves said it will be something of a “transitional” year for both tourism and businesses that serve them, and he feels the crowds will be less than pre-COVID times but building again. I read this week that there is yet another version of the Delta variant now in England, more infectious than the current variant but apparently less deadly, but vaccines are holding their ground against it. COVID, like the flu, is always going be with us going forward, but people want and are going to travel and will make adjustments. I think though most countries are going to require a vaccination for entry, or at least a negative test at the barest minimum, and require mask wearing for a long time going forward. Fine by me!

And, there goes another week! It was a lovely one, with mostly good weather, lots accomplished, a beach day, and more. I hope it was as lovely for everyone else. I’m looking forward to the coming week and Thanksgiving, and wishing the best for all!

Sunday Morning 11/14/2021: Sell, Save, Spend

The gloaming last Thursday evening. Gloaming is a poetic word for “twilight,” or the time of day immediately after the sun sets . . . a word with a strong Scottish heritage, adopted from Scottish dialect during the Middle Ages.

Good Morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Brett and I have been planning to spend our last week on Kaua’i living in one of the beach cottages at Barking Sands. Those plans got dashed this past week when Brett called to make reservations and learned the first available opening is May 16! We’ll be back in Pennsylvania then, and getting ready to depart for France! We discussed whether we should book a hotel here for our last week, or ask our landlord if we can pay a pro-rated daily amount and continue to camp in our empty apartment for our last few days on the island. A hotel stay, we know, would be expensive but give us a chance to decompress as we take care of last minute business on the island. Staying in the apartment would definitely save a lot of money but it would also be very uncomfortable, tiring, and most likely depressing. After finally deciding we really did not want to live here with just an air mattress, I started searching and found an affordable studio rental at the same complex in Princeville where we stayed when we arrived in 2020, and booked that. We’ll have a comfortable bed, a TV, and a small kitchenette for meals, all for less than a hotel, plus a somewhat poetic bookend to our two years on Kaua’i.

We still are a bit worried about a car for our last few days here, something that’s a whole different thing than it was before. Renting a car on Kaua’i is outrageously expensive these days, and costs are w-a-y outside of our budget. A 10-day economy car rental now is nearly $1100 where when we left in 2018 it was only around $400. We plan to sell our car mid-April of next year, but it looks like we will have to ask if we can continue to use it until we depart (which happens frequently here), or at least until we move up to Princeville. Friends have offered us the use of one of their cars, and it looks like we may have to take them up on their offer.

COVID cases are on the rise again in Europe, and experts are predicting another hard winter there. Much of the increase, it seems, is attributed to children not being vaccinated – COVID seems to be spreading like wildfire through schools, and then children bring it home as well or pass on to other family members. Also, some countries apparently let down their guards too early (Denmark and Austria, for example), even with high vaccination rates. Europe has much higher numbers for vaccinations than we do in the U.S., so we’re probably going to have an equally bad winter here, even with children now being vaccinated. Hopefully things will be better next spring, although we’ve read that as long as we’re vaccinated and have received the booster we will be good to go. Mask-wearing will most likely need to continue all the way through 2022 according to experts as COVID is not going away, at least for the time being. Daily COVID deaths continue in Hawaii; there were on two on Kauai this past week. Another person I know of who had been adamantly opposed to getting the vaccine and mask wearing, and has touted her “natural immunity” over and over, was diagnosed with COVID this past week (“it’s just a cold!”), got the ($$$$) antibody infusion, and is now grateful the government paid for it. If you haven’t already, please get vaccinated!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading both The Brutal Telling and Truth Be Told, but am almost finished with both. A Slow Fire Burning by Paul Hawkins came off of hold this week, was downloaded, and is ready to be read next. I also put four new (to me) mysteries on hold at the library, all having been recommended by Ian Rankin. I’m not sure if they’ll be available before the end of the year, but they’ll get read whenever they show up.
  • Listening to: There is currently not a leaf stirring outside and it’s humid. But, it’s still coolish, there are birds singing (some loudly), and I can see bits of blue sky peeking through the clouds in a few places, so who knows what’s going on out there today? It’s mostly lovely and quiet inside though. Our upstairs neighbor has turned into a clomper though. He was quiet when he moved in but these days stomps around upstairs with abandon. He currently has houseguests and we can barely tell they’re there, but with him it’s been thump, thump, thump all morning.
  • Watching: We finished Billions on Thursday evening (with a fitting ending for my least favorite TV character EVER), watched Inspector Morse and the Great British Bake Off on Friday, and went back to watching Squid Game yesterday. We’re down to the semi-finals on the GBBO, and almost done with Inspector Morse – just four episodes to go. After we finish we’ll start Ted Lasso. A new season of the Shetland series also became available this past week, with a new episode available weekly we watched the first one on Friday evening as well and will continue that each week until it’s done. Television is an embarrassment of riches these days.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We got seven boxes of golf balls sorted and listed, and sold two boxes right away. We know it will take a few weeks to get them all sold though, Our Big Shop list for next week is completed so we’re ready to go. Making a shopping list is beginning to get a tiny bit complicated though as we are trying to fit in things we’ll need when the girls are here but space is limited so we have to be careful what we buy, and when. We’re also trying to figure out the things we don’t need to buy at Costco any more, like laundry detergent. I got both my shingles vaccination and flu shot ordered, forms are filled out, and can hopefully get them done this week.
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) Our mid-month Big Shop is happening on Tuesday. We’ll get a few last things for the girls and then we’re done with their Christmas shopping. I almost can’t believe that Meiling and WenYu will arrive in a month from Tuesday, and YaYu the day after! 2) I have my semi-annual eye exam on Thursday and will be choosing new frames for the coming year. Fingers are already crossed that everything else is okay with my eyes. 3) Something we’re not looking forward to is the drive to both Costco and the eye doctor (and back home) because of road work going on between where we live and Puhi, where Costco and the eye doctor are located causing one-lane traffic for miles. We’re going to have to give ourselves at least an hour, if not more, to make the commute each way. 4) I think I am looking forward to finally getting my shingles and flu vaccines done, although I know the shingles one is going to be painful. 5) Brett and I studied French every day for 20 minutes. We’re not struggling . . . yet, but already has been challenging for us at times.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We got news this week from our vision insurance plan that we will have fewer co-pays coming up, and that our vision care will now be covered overseas! We’ll have to pay upfront for exams, lenses, frames, etc. but we will reimbursed for some of the cost. That means we have the trifecta though: health, dental, and vision insurance while we’re living on the road – yeah! 2) One of the hashioki I sold this past week actually completed a set for the buyer. The buyer had the same design in four other colors but was missing the yellow one I had. I’m still amazed at the odds of my having the missing piece to the set in my shop and her discovering it. 3) Although we didn’t make it to the beach last week as hoped, we did enjoy a lovely evening out by the fire pit on Friday – we ate dinner outside (the fire kept the bugs away), made s’mores for dessert, and enjoyed some nice weather and good conversation.
I waited a long time to get this top, but the wait was worth it.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I had desired and watched a certain 3/4-sleeve knit top for several months on the J. Jill site, patiently waiting for it to go on sale. However, when it finally did go on sale at the end of last month it wasn’t available in my size – sob! Last week though my size popped up again along with an additional 40% off the sale price, making it extremely affordable even with shipping and tax, and the top was ordered. I’m so happy I both waited and was able to catch it when I did as it is now completely sold out in every size. I’ll have to wait a few weeks for it to arrive though – J. Jill shipping is the absolute slowest when it comes to getting things over to Kaua’i. Anyway, other than ordering boots from Duckfeet in January, that’s it for clothing for me. 2) We bought gas for the car this week, picked up some wrapping supplies and a key lime pie at Target using our grand-opening coupon, and bought a container of Japanese namasu salad at Times supermarket. $12.46 went into the change/$1 bill bag. 3) Another $5 grand-opening Target coupon showed up in our mailbox to use later and we also somehow received three coupons for $10 off if we spend $50 or more at Safeway. It’s extremely easy to spend $50 at Safeway here, and the discount will be a big help when we purchase meat and a few other things we need for the girls’ visit in December. 4) All the leftovers were eaten, but we had to throw out an entire loaf of (expensive) Dave’s 21-Grain bread that went moldy. That was painful.
  • Adding up all the things that were sold last week: It started out as a slow week on Etsy with only two hashioki sold. But, I woke up on Saturday to a big order of seven items that included hashioki and some other things, and we sold two boxes of golf balls. eBay also finally released funds for items we sold a few weeks ago, so a total of $343.27 is going into our travel account tomorrow.
  • Grateful for: I am thankful for the income that my Etsy shop and other things have been consistently providing for our upcoming travels. Some weeks are better than others, but something always gets sold and there’s always money getting deposited into the travel account. Sometimes I worry (a lot) that we won’t be able to sell some things, or I get frustrated with the process here, but I remember that last time everything we wanted to sell eventually did, and remind myself it will happen again this time as well.
  • Bonus question: Do you play games on your phone? Yes, every day! Right now my #1 favorite game is Match Triple 3D. On my old phone the screen was so small that I could never get very far because I couldn’t see the little objects to north them out, but I can now see them more easily and have gotten much further along than ever before. It’s a very addicting game. I love word games and sudoku puzzles as well, and play a game called 7 Little Words every day, which I enjoy because I have to think carefully about meanings, synonyms, and how different words can be used in English before I can assemble them. I play Sudoku at the “evil” level which is always challenging, but if I’m patient I can usually solve the puzzle. Sudoku requires lots of logical thinking which I figure is good for my brain. Brett doesn’t play any games and has no interest in any of them, not even solitaire!

It’s almost hard for me to believe, but next month will the last for putting funds away for YaYu’s college expenses – she will make her final payment to the college the first week of January. After that she, like her siblings, is on her own (financially) except for her return ticket back to college, which we’ll purchase for her in January when she has a better idea of when she wants/needs to go back. This is a huge milestone for us – four kids raised and put through college, three graduating with no or very, very little debt (our son paid off his debt, both college and law school, within a year of graduation). All four have their feet firmly planted and are thriving, from our son in Japan to YaYu, who will be continuing on to grad school to earn a Ph.D. Meiling and YaYu are both working at jobs they enjoy and supporting themselves, and are in happy relationships. Over the years, we’ve been told how lucky our kids are, especially the girls, but Brett and I have always felt we are the lucky ones, to have had the privilege of parenting four such great kids. It hasn’t always been easy (a couple of times it’s been downright terrifying) but it’s the best and most satisfying thing we’ve ever done.

That’s it for another good week. I’m looking forward and hopefully ready for whatever comes next and hope everyone is as well. Cheers!

Sunday Morning 11/7/2021: It’s November Already?

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I almost can’t believe we’ve arrived in November. It felt like we flew through October with rockets on our feet, and I think this month is going to go by just as quickly if not more so. Six months from now we’ll be on our way to Pennsylvania for YaYu’s graduation, and then on our way to France. Six months!! We have lots to do before then, but if the months coming up go by as quickly as these past few have been, May is going to be here before we know it. We’re going to take break from selling our things for the next couple of months (other than golf balls), but then pick that back up in earnest in January. Anyway, I love November, especially Thanksgiving. We’ll be on our own for the holiday again this year, and haven’t even thought about what we’ll do or what we’ll eat (other than there won’t be any turkey).

The wool rug’s bespoke carton for shipment to Oahu.

All’s well that ends well, and the wool Bokhara rug is now with its new owner on Oahu. I went to pull the ad from Buy & Sell last Saturday evening and was surprised to find a request asking if it was available. I hesitated for a few moments wondering if I should even respond, but eventually hit the available button. The buyer turned out to be legitimate (owns a well-known clothing company on Oahu) and she paid upfront for the rug to be flown over to Oahu via Hawaiian Air Cargo. Although I don’t regret the sale, I think the rug may be one of the very few, if only, items we will miss as it’s been a part of our home for over 30 years. I enjoyed dealing with the buyer though and feel very, very good about where it’s going.

We were sort of expecting this past week to be a gloomy one, and while there was some rain and cloud-filled skies, we also enjoyed some absolutely lovely days with light breezes, cool (but not cold) temperatures, and more sunshine than we thought we’d get. The heavier summer air has “popped” and feels different from how it did just a couple of weeks ago, and the sun is once again setting quickly (if we blink the sunset is over) and in a slightly different direction due to the earth’s seasonal tilt. We’ve definitely moved into fall.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Apples Don’t Fall on Wednesday, but am still reading Truth Be Told – both stories got very interesting this past week so I started reading more quickly through both. The next book in the Inspector Gamanche series, The Brutal Telling, came off hold and I began it as soon as I finished Apples Don’t Fall.
  • Listening to: I slept late this morning (until almost 11:00! Strange, but I must have needed the sleep), and woke up to strong, noisy winds blowing outside once again, and the sound of Brett making pancakes in the kitchen. The coffee was already made so I’m set, and otherwise it’s a peaceful morning.
  • Watching: We watched The Exorcist last Sunday evening for Halloween, but the movie has never scared me as much as the book did when it came out – I read the entire thing in one night because I was too frightened to put it down! We have just a few episodes of Billions left to go and will finish this week, and I think we’re over halfway through Inspector Morse, and on to the quarter-finals with The Great British Bake Off. I am officially sick to death of Bobby Axelrod on Billions though; I haven’t disliked a character so much in I don’t know how long, but appreciate Damien Lewis’s good acting. We finally found Inspector Lewis available on PBS but are planning to get back to Squid Game followed by Ted Lasso and The Morning Show first. I’ve been informed by the girls that we’ll be binging the new Dexter series when they’re here – I’m looking forward to it!
We’re off to a good start – tags & ribbon will come later. And, yeah for free paper!
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) Getting the rug sold, packaged, and shipped off to Honolulu was a big job. It took us just under an hour, but Brett and I rolled it up and created a shipping container out of a large, sturdy Amazon box we were holding on to, apparently for just this sort of thing. Hawaiian Air Cargo was very easy to deal with and the rug left Kaua’i on Thursday. 2) After finishing that errand we headed to the T-Mobile store and I got a new phone! Buying a phone these days is getting close to buying a car with all the side deals, accessories, etc. but it’s another pre-departure task taken care of. 3) We got some of the girls’ Christmas gifts wrapped, and still have plenty of paper left for more. 4) Brett and I got the last of the golf balls we found washed and somewhat sorted but there’s more to do this week before we can get them listed. We currently have nearly 1,000 golf balls sitting in our bathtub. 5) Brett and I started French lessons this past week, Brett took a test before beginning and we started further along than we thought. We’re doing 15 minutes a day and hope to have some basic skills in place before arriving in Strasbourg.
  • Looking forward to next week: We have yet another week with nothing special on our calendar. You would think the days would drag by but they don’t – between our daily walks and other things we have to take care of the time goes by quickly.
This second avocado tree is growing at a crazy pace!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) A highlight of my week was receiving a tweet back from one of my favorite authors, Ian Rankin, author of the Rebus detective novels. He tweets lovely photos of Edinburgh almost daily, and I commented on one and he wrote back! His photos make me wish we were there now (next year, Laura!). 2) I had three Etsy sales this week, always a good thing. I have sold well over one-third of my hashioki collection, much better than I ever thought it would go. 3) Our avocado tree has leaves! The “trunk” has grown like a vine this week – very different from the last one. 4) The new curl cream I bought last month really makes my hair curl! I love it.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Because my phone trade-in was more than expected, I was able to afford an iPhone 13 for less than what I had expected to pay for the 12 and with more memory. 2) Other than the phone purchase, we had a no-spend week. 3) We put $2.63 into the change/$1 bill bag (leftover from the upfront phone costs), ate all our leftovers, and didn’t throw out any food. 4) I have now earned enough in additional Swagbucks – doing just two searches a day, answering the daily poll, and playing 10 games of solitaire – for a $25 Amazon gift card. My goal is to earn another $25 before the end of next March, and then we’ll use the cards to buy books for our Kindles before we depart. 5) Rather than buying flowers, Brett cut and arranged leaves from our yard to place in our bathroom. After nearly 45 years together he can still surprise me. 6) We got a $5 coupon from Target for the grand opening; we will use it to purchase ribbon and tags for the Christmas presents.
Married nearly 43 years and Brett can still surprise me.
  • Adding up what we sold this past week: Besides the rug I sold 12 more hashioki this week. The total going into our travel account tomorrow will be $282.69.
  • Grateful for: I’m thankful for all the positive, kind, and helpful people that I dealt with last week, from the rug buyer in Honolulu to the crew at Hawaiian Air Cargo to the young man that helped me with my phone purchase. Every encounter was made easier and more pleasant because of them. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged, and wonder if kindness and professionalism has gone the way of the dial telephone, but it’s still out there if you look for it. Not everyone has a chip on their shoulder these days.
  • Bonus question: Can you describe where you grew up with four pictures of food? I had to think carefully about what choose, but the four below are definitely associated with growing up in the Los Angeles area, and were all things we ate regularly. See’s still makes the best chocolates ever, and you still get a free sample when you visit their stores. I have no idea if Van de Kamps exists any more, but their bakery items were always fantastic. One of our family’s favorite items was the half layer cake (9″ cake cut in half) – we had one for dessert about every other week, affordable but unfortunately no leftovers with our family of six (German chocolate was my favorite). Their pecan tarts were to die for. Tacos and In-n-Out were/are LA staples.

Every month. like clockwork, Delta Airlines sends Brett the same offer: 70,000 miles into his FF account if he gets a Delta American Express card and spends $2000 in the first three months (My mistake: I originally posted it was 700,000 – no way would they give that much for just $2000!! Sorry!). It’s very tempting as that is a LOT of miles , and we know we’ll have at least $2000 of expenses coming up early next year that we could put on the card and pay off immediately. However, since we plan to be outside of the U.S. for a few years, we have no way to use those miles because while Delta flies to overseas locations they do not fly between overseas locations, and the miles can’t be used to purchase fares on partner airlines. Having all those miles would be helpful if we ever have to come back to the U.S. for some reason but otherwise we don’t see ourselves needing or using them. We also don’t really need or want another credit card, so we remain tempted but undecided. I’d love to know what you all think – worth getting or not?

That’s a wrap for the first week of November 2021! It’s was a good week with lots accomplished, read, eaten, saved, and more. Here’s to all of us enjoying the week coming up – may it be another great one!

Sunday Morning 10/31/2021: Happy Halloween!

Wednesday’s sunset at the golf course. Rain was on the way.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka! And . . . BOO!

I was feeling sort of melancholy yesterday as I thought about how Halloween has turned into one of those holidays we just don’t celebrate any more. We didn’t even send candy to the girls this year! I used to go all out for Halloween, collected Fitz & Floyd pieces that I decorated with, and I loved, loved, loved trick-or-treating, both my own when I was young, and our children’s years of going out. I trick-or-treated with friends every year until the ninth grade; that was our kids’ cut-off year as well. Trick-or-treating was a big enough deal that my friends and I used to carry and fill entire pillowcases with candy during our middle school years. I looked forward to helping our kids carve their pumpkins, pick their costumes, and go out with them to trick-or-treat, helping them practice what to say at the door and reminding them to say “thank you” when they were toddlers. Anyway, I have lots of good memories associated with Halloween, but these days we’re at the end of a dead end street, located at the back of a building, so no visitors and no candy here. Brett and I will dim the lights this evening and watch The Exorcist for our little celebration (no candy for us this year either).

Christmas shopping got underway this past week and I’m already about halfway done. Amazon Prime literally had everything here in two days as did a couple of other places I ordered from. Meiling sets up our family’s annual Secret Santa exchange every fall, and everyone finally got their wish list up so it was easy picking gifts, and everyone is going to get things they want. I ordered a few non-gift items as well that I can’t get here, things like Cadbury’s drinking chocolate to enjoy while the girls are here, and Fisher scone mix for our Christmas morning brunch. We scored some leftover Christmas paper when our neighbors on the other side of the building moved out earlier this year, so I’ll be getting things wrapped, labeled, and tucked away this coming week. This will be our last Christmas with the girls for a couple of years as (fingers crossed) we plan to celebrate in Japan next year and the year after. I also ordered an inflatable queen mattress to use when the girls are here, and then Brett and I will use it next year after we sell our mattress and frame.

Weird stuff continued with Buy & Sell this week but ended on a high note. Ghosting B&S listings seems to a problem everywhere but I think part of the blame this last time may go to Facebook. I added another listing to Buy & Sell last week, a mid-century modern bench, and immediately got two “is this still available” messages, in less than a minute of the listing being posted, a new record. One of these people lives in Seattle and the other is on Maui, both outside the supposed 100-mile selling distance! Facebook hadn’t been loading correctly anyway, so I deleted its cookie, reloaded, and changed my password. From that point forward everything worked like it should, and I received only local requests for the bench and sold it immediately. We’re otherwise going to take a break from selling anything else (other than golf balls) until after the holidays, but starting in January we’ll have something for sale most weeks until we leave. The car will be listed for sale in early April, and we’ll hold our garage sale mid-April. We plan to close down our eBay sales at the end of the year, but I’ll most likely keep the Etsy shop open for a couple of months into next year.

And, for those who were baffled by or curious about American washcloths, above is what they look like, and how they sometimes come packaged. They’re very useful, easy to wash and dry, and great to have along when we travel.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: Apples Don’t Fall, set in Australia, got off to a slow start, but it’s building and I’m enjoying it. Truth Be Told: A Novel also came off hold early last week, so I’m again having to read two books at the same time so they both get finished in time.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying blue skies and a quiet cool morning with nothing but birds singing outside, much appreciated after two days of overcast and rain. I’m hoping the good weather lasts all day so we can get our walk this afternoon – we couldn’t go Friday or yesterday because of bad weather. Brett was already up and had the coffee made when I got up, so it’s perfectly quiet inside as well with me writing and him reading. In other words, it’s another perfect Sunday morning, one I’m hoping I can stretch out for as long as possible.
  • Watching: We’re still watching Great British Bake Off, Billions, and Inspector Morse, although we’ll finish Billions this week and we’re getting close to finishing Inspector Morse. Hopefully we can segue from Morse right into Lewis, but we haven’t found where it’s streaming yet. We love watching Guiseppe and Jurgen on GBBO, and it’s sort of fun that the two top contenders this year (and great contestants) are not British (born)! We watched the first episode of Squid Game this past week and all I can say is whoa!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: 1) Besides getting some of Christmas shopping done and the inflatable bed ordered, I also starting work on a menu for when the girls are here. There are things Meiling likes but YaYu doesn’t and vice versa so I’m trying to make sure I get those dishes fixed at the right times (before one arrives and after someone leaves). I’m also trying to make sure we have everything we need on hand before the girls arrive so that we’re not stuck with a big, expensive shopping trip right before their arrival. WenYu thankfully likes everything and will eat anything. 2) We got our end of the month shopping done last Friday, came in under budget, and have plenty to get us through until the middle of November! 3) The only other things accomplished were all the regular stuff we have to do.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again, there’s nothing we have to do next week, but we’re hoping for another beach day. If we make it down to Barking Sands, we’ll stop at the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) office and reserve one of the beach cottages for our last few days on the island, after we move out of the apartment. Otherwise, our calendar is open once again – the days still seem to go pretty quickly though.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Etsy sales are always a good thing. 2) So was getting Facebook sorted out, and another thing out of the apartment. 3) We enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather the first part the week, although rain finally showed up at the end (gotta keep things green though). 4) Meiling is having a wonderful time in Paris and has been sending lots of pictures (including some from a 19-course vegetarian meal at a 3-star Michelin restaurant. I can’t even imagine doing that, but she’s a foodie and it’s one of the things she saved for). 5) Our new avocado tree is having a growth spurt of some kind and has more than doubled in size – leaves should appear this week.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I used some of our credit card rewards to pay for the inflatable bed, so it cost us nothing. We’re going to keep it; it will be mailed back to Massachusetts after we move out of the apartment. 2) We noticed gasoline had climbed to $4.16 this week at Costco, so we’re strategizing on how we can cut back even more on our driving. 3) We were $58.92 under budget on our shop this past week, and that’s after buying some more items for the girls’ that were not on our list!. 4) We put $8.92 into the change/$1 bill bag this week, making our total for the month $13.54, not bad for the small amount of shopping we did in October. 5) All our leftovers were eaten this past week, and there was no food waste.
We loved this bench, but it had to go to make room for the inflatable mattress when the girls are here.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: I sold 15 hashioki this past week, and the mid-century modern bench in a day once I got FB straightened out. $193.53 will be going into our travel account tomorrow. I was ready to pull the rug off B&S last night, but then got a last minute legitimate request from Honolulu! The potential buyer and I are both working on an affordable solution to getting it over there, so it’s not a done deal yet but getting there. I also sold another hashioki this morning so will be packing that up in a little while; I won’t see the funds from that until next week.
  • Grateful for: I’m always thankful for the occasional days when we can’t go out to walk. I thoroughly enjoy our walks and look forward to them, but I also enjoy having a day off now and again where I can curl up with a book and a cup of coffee and not have to watch the clock and be ready to go. Days off don’t happen often, and although we’ll walk in almost any weather other than rain, they’re always appreciated and I try to make the most of them.
  • Bonus question: Do you have an all-time favorite book? The one book that has affected me more than any other was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which I read in the late 1980s. I’ve never had such an emotional reaction to a book before or since, and although I’ve wanted to read it again I haven’t as I’ve never felt ready to face those emotions again. It was that good. The book I’ve actually read more than any other is Joe McGinness’s Fatal Vision, about the murders of his wife and children Dr. Jeffrey McDonald committed at Fort Bragg in 1970. I had never read a true crime book before, and boy did I get hooked. I think I’ve read Fatal Vision five or six times now and I always find something new to think about. The Jeffrey McDonald case is one of the most litigated murder cases ever, but he’s still in prison where he belongs (and still claiming he’s not guilty).

One of the best things I’ve discovered recently on Twitter is the daily tweet from Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon (@GurdeepPandher) doing a 55-second dance. Gurdeep is Indian, a Sikh, who moved to the Yukon Wilderness in Canada a few years ago. He lives full-time in a cabin (with electricity but no running water). Every day he posts a short video of himself, dancing Bhangra, a joyful style of Indian dance. He shares his dances to build cross cultural bridges, to illustrate the power of joy and positivity at the center of one’s life, and to show the beauty of the natural world as well. For some reason that tweet and video always shows up early in my Twitter feed each day, and in the middle of what is often pretty much nothing but glum news, his minute of happy dancing always brings a smile to my face and a reset to my thinking for the day. Being joyful and positive, he reminds me, does not mean I can’t feel sadness, or anger, or frustration, but that those are places I should only visit before returning to a joyful, positive center.

That’s all for this week, and for October, too! Six months from today will be our last in this apartment, and time seems to be speeding up with each month we reach. We still have so much to do to get ready. Cheers to finishing another good, productive week, and here’s to another good one coming up!

Sunday Morning 10/24/2021: I’m Over It (or at least trying)

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Our rug listing on Buy & Sell has been an exercise in frustration and patience.

Something in me snapped this week, and although I love Kaua’i for so many reasons, right now I am feeling somewhat done with it. Every single time we have listed an item on our local Buy & Sell it goes something like this: For a couple of days I will get a message or messages asking if the item is still available. I answer yes, and then never hear back from 99.9% of these people again. Sometimes there’ll be a ridiculous low-ball offer or two that I have to refuse, but usually I hear nothing back. I’m a patient person, and the .01% of the requests eventually messages back and a sale gets set up, but then sometimes that person doesn’t show up, and doesn’t reply to further messages and I have to start the cycle all over again. If this had happened maybe once or twice I wouldn’t think much of it, but it has honestly happened with every item we’ve listed and it’s gone beyond just being annoying. It has happened seven times this week with our rug listing, and the last person who messaged about it lives on the Big Island! Why ask if an item is available if you have no intention of buying it? It’s like being trolled over and over and over again. So far we’ve thankfully ended up selling the items we’ve listed but it’s been a frustrating, discouraging experience each time. I don’t know if this current situation is related to a the pandemic economy or if something else is going on but when we sold our stuff in 2018 nothing like this happened even once, and no one quibbled about prices. People would ask if an item was available, come over and buy it, and talk story for a while. We have our items priced well below market value, and I never expect a quick sale for anything, but this current situation of mystery requests, no shows, and low-ball offers has gotten very, very old. I know I’m like an old lady screaming “get off my lawn!” for writing this but I am feeling so frustrated these days, especially since we have more to sell locally over the coming months. Our eBay items are getting lots of looks and watchers, and I made a sale this past week. Etsy sales have slowed way down although I had two good sales from the shop the past week as well. But the Buy & Sell situation has gotten ridiculous.

Although it’s over a year away, Brett and I spent several days this past week talking about where we’d like to go after we finish our stay in Japan in February 2023. We toggle between going back to Europe or maybe back to Australia for a long stay. It’s all academic at this point, especially since both Japan and Australia are still closed to visitors, but it’s been fun thinking about where we’d like to go. The UK is currently seeing a big spike in COVID cases again, apparently because of their recent reopening and for a variety of other reasons including limited mask wearing, lack of vaccinations in young people, low numbers for boosters, and a few other things. So, we will be watching how things go there, but hopefully by August of next year the situation will be under control once again. We’ve also talked a lot about a possible future landing spot in the U.S., from the standpoint of knowing we should have a game plan or framework for that set up before we depart and as we travel. We have a preference for where we’d like to go, but want to have a couple of back-up locations as well.

After all the wind, rain, and other weird weather we’d been experiencing, this past week was very pleasant. The winds died down to mostly gently breezes, the sun shone without being too hot on most days, and we didn’t have to worry each time we went for a walk whether or not we would get wet or not before we finished. Ally the cat even showed up on a couple of days to let us know she was okay – we hadn’t seen her in a while and were sort of worried. We assume she takes shelter under someone’s house during bad weather but she must still get fed as she didn’t look any worse for the wear.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished the The Perfect Nanny on Friday evening. It was a pleasure having just one book to read even though this book was creepy (and sad) one. With perfect timing, Apples Never Fall, by Lianne Moriarty, came off of hold yesterday so I segued right into that. I am waiting to see if someone will give me a new Kindle for Christmas (there have been hints not to buy one now). My current one, purchased in early 2015, can barely hold a charge these days so I’m nursing it along. If I don’t get one for Christmas I’ll get one in January.
  • Listening to: The wind was howling again when I got up this morning, but it seems to have gotten itself under control so now all I’m hearing is a gentle breeze. I really love how quiet this location is from all the other neighborhood noises we put up with before. Anyway, it should be a lovely day. We woke up later than usual this morning, so Brett is in the kitchen putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee. After I have a cup it will be my turn to make some noise in there, fixing pumpkin apple pancakes for our breakfast this morning.
  • Watching: We finished Season 1 of Only Murders in the Building this week, but The Great British Bake-Off, Inspector Morse, and Billions continue. Squid Game with be up next as will Ted Lasso and The Morning Show. There are also some other detective procedural series on Britbox we want to check out as well. So much to see, so little time!
  • Happy I accomplished: 1) Our Big Shop on Tuesday went well, although as always it made for a tiring day, and we went slightly over our budget picking up another Christmas item for the girls. 2) I got a couple more things listed on Etsy including the blue fish plates we use when we have pizza, and got Etsy orders packaged and sent out as well as an eBay order that’s going to Hong Kong! 3) We organized some more golf balls for local sale as well; they’ll get listed in early November. 4) I got another six weeks of activity cards set up too – by the time I get through those we’ll have finished Thanksgiving and be into December. Time is going by swiftly these days.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again there’s nothing special on the calendar, so we’ll take each day as it comes and take care of our regular chores and activities.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Tuesday was our scheduled Big Shop day but we went to Barking Sands instead. We were expecting clouds and some wind, but instead enjoyed a long, perfect beach day, with a light breeze and blue skies. Brett and I needed to be there more than we realized, and we left to come home feeling rejuvenated and better than we had in a while. 2) The weather was calm enough on Wednesday that we were able to get a fire going in the fire pit in the evening and make s’mores as well as enjoy some conversation and time outside. 3) Our new avocado tree has sprouted – the tap root has developed branches and the new tree popped out this week. 4) Meiling is on her way to Paris! She had tickets and reservation to go in the spring of 2020, but those were cancelled for obvious reasons. Things have opened up again there (if you’re vaccinated, that is) and she’s finally on her way. 4) I rarely comment on Twitter, but one I made the other day about a cake went somewhat viral – it’s been fun reading the replies for the past couple of days (all positive).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Gas is now up to $4/gallon at Costco, the highest it’s ever been since we came to the island in 2014 (at gas stations out in town it’s going for $4.59 or higher). We’ve tamped down our driving as much as we can (Tuesday’s beach trip was a splurge) and other than going to the park almost every day we try not to drive or at least combine as many trips as we can. We also aim for one full no-drive day per week and have been meeting that goal for the past several weeks. 2) I stopped by our credit union branch on Friday to make a deposit and it turned out to be the one-year anniversary of the branch’s opening, and I was given another crisp $2 bill as a thank-you! I got one last year because I happened to go in during their grand opening. 3) We went $20 over our budget on our Big Shop, but we picked up another item for the girls’ Christmas presents and now have a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer. We’ll take $20 off of our end-of-the-month shop. Both Costco and Walmart had lots of vegetarian/vegan choices this time, including some things we love but haven’t seen in a while, like spanakopita. 4) Our final case of toilet paper arrived yesterday from Amazon and should see us through until next April. After that we’ll buy what we need until we leave at Target or Walmart. The price for the case was still less per roll than anything we can find on the island. We had just two rolls left from our last case, so the timing on this one was perfect. 5) We put $2.72 in the change/$1 bill bag and finished all our leftovers. We had to throw out a head of lettuce that was rotting from the inside out – ugh. 6) Other than our Big Ship it was a low spend week with, a quick stop at Big Save for four items we couldn’t find at Costco or Walmart, and an extra trip to Walmart for a mailing box (84 cents).
  • Adding up what we sold last week: I sold one hashioki and two temari from my Etsy shop, and the Japanese antique iron teakettle on eBay to a buyer in Hong Kong. The total going into our travel account when the dust settles and after eBay collects their fees will be $139.87 (it would have been more but I still owed Etsy because of the broken jubako). We’re going to keep the rug listing up for another week, but we will be more than okay if it doesn’t sell because otherwise we will send it back on the plane with WenYu and Meiling.
  • Grateful for: We’re feeling thankful these days for our little Honda Civic and the good gas mileage it gets (30+ mpg on the highway). We only need to fill up every 10-12 days, and with our decreased amount of driving we’re still keeping those costs are under $25.
A nice, crisp fall day on Kaua’i
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite season? That would be fall (if we were any place other than Kaua’i)! I have loved fall since I was a small child. Septembers in Southern California were always brutally hot, but then toward the end of the month and into October the temperatures would cool, the leaves would change (mostly just die and fall off the trees from the heat in September). I remember a favorite activity when I was very young was picking a day to sit on the curb and watch the fallen leaves swirl down the street in the cool air because I could imagine Halloween coming, and then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. I loved having to put on a sweater for the first time in the season, and also loved the change from salads, barbecues and other hot weather foods to soups, stews, and casseroles. Although I do like spring, I still prefer autumn and the feeling of things cooling down rather than warming up. When we lived in Key West there was always a day in October when the hot, steamy summer weather would “pop,’ for lack of a better word. It was still warm, but the blue of the sky became more brilliant and the air felt different. There are similar seasonal changes here in Hawaii, but they are even more subtle – our first couple of years here we didn’t notice anything, but these days I can feel the changes as they show up (although we’re currently having a different sort of year as far as weather and temperatures go).

In what passes for excitement on Kaua’i, our new Target store had their “soft opening” this past week. The opening had been delayed for weeks while remodeling of the old Kmart building went on (Hawaii time). The “grand opening” is actually today, whatever that means, but Brett and I went yesterday to see if we could find an appropriately-sized mailing box for the teakettle I just sold, and to check it out and see what they have versus Walmart and what prices were like. We would prefer to shop at Target, but we ended up going to Walmart afterwards as Target didn’t have a box that was the right size, and Walmart still has better prices, especially on food items, as well as a definitely better Asian food section. Anyway, we had to wait in line to get into Target, and the store is beautiful and bright, and will bring some much-needed options and choices to the island. When we got home I packed up the teakettle, and then discovered the printer was out of ink so I couldn’t print the mailing label. Brett will have to go back up to either Target or Walmart later today or tomorrow to get a new ink cartridge – grrrr.

That’s all for this great week – it really was close to perfect for us with good books, good food, frugal finds, a beach trip, s’more by the fire pit, and everything else that went on. Can we have another please? Here’s hoping it was a good week for all, and that the week coming up is as good or better!

Sunday Morning 10/10/2021: We Got a Lot Done

Sunsets have been practically non-existent this past week. The sky tried hard on Wednesday, but the above was as good as it got.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

*** If Linda Denton is reading will you please leave a comment so I can get back to you? Your Messenger posts appeared in my feed but disappeared quickly for some reason before I could capture all the information. Thanks! ***

This past week felt discouraging for some reason, at least the beginning of the week, and it put me in mood. Although good things happened during the week, and we were busy and got a lot done, overall the feeling seemed to be one of time standing still, and nothing happening that moved us forward. I’m not sure why I felt so down though as I’m not usually a glum person. Maybe it’s just that I’m just feeling restless and ready to go now. The mood has passed for now but I’m afraid of its return as we move toward our departure.

I found a message via Etsy first thing this past Monday morning that several pieces of the jubako I had sent the previous week had arrived broken. The jubako had been very well packaged for shipment (a box within a box with layer upon layer of bubble wrap around each piece and everything cushioned with loads of styrofoam peanuts), but the photos the buyer sent me showed a box that had been severely mishandled by the post office. The box was crumpled and looked like it had been dropped as well as punctured. I had to refund the purchase and lost what I paid for postage because I had foolishly forgotten to add insurance (I always do but forgot this time). It’s weird and very frustrating that the other jubako I sold and packed exactly the same and sent through the mail (uninsured as well) made it all the way to France in perfect condition but this one to the west coast ended up smashed. Between the movers who packed us out from here in 2018 and now the post office, only two of the seven beautiful jubako we once had have survived intact. Prior to this, all had been moved several times with no issues.

From what I could find out though, having the post office trash an item now and again is a given when selling through Etsy (or eBay), although most packages seem to arrive safely. I read a few threads where sellers told horror stories about the condition some of their packages arrived in (if they even ever arrived). I believe I pack things very securely, but I have to be careful about the package size as the postage from here can be prohibitive, more than the value of some of the items I’m selling! This past week Brett checked the UPS store’s prices for packing a plate I sold this past week: they quoted $34 and 24 hours for the packing, and for the size of the package the postage would have been an additional $90 (!!!) to ship to the mainland using the least expensive USPS option, w-a-y more than my asking price for the plate (which includes free shipping)! So, we strengthened the box we had, added heavy cardboard around the rim of the plate to protect it, wrapped it in two layers of heavy bubble wrap, packed it securely in styrofoam peanuts (hopefully), and shipped for less than half of the earlier quote. The package is insured, but I’ll be holding my breath until I know it’s arrived safely. Sometimes I don’t think I’m cut out for this though because it makes me so nervous.

Our granddaughter turned five this past week. She was still three, just coming out of the toddler stage the last time we saw her, and will be six when we see her again next year. She looks so grown up now, and her English is amazing. She had just a few words when we last saw her, but chatters away now and uses English more than Japanese these days. Our grandson is also growing and changing rapidly and it’s almost impossible to accept that he’ll be in middle school when we see him next. We miss them so much, and have lost so much of the little time we get with them. Next year can’t get here fast enough!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ve been reading Snow, by John Banville, a mystery set in Ireland. I love finding a new (to me) author who has a long list of titles under their name and I’m looking forward to checking out some of the author’s other work because this book is a good one, with a twist on the English “cozy” format (it’s also quite adult). What’s kind of weird though is that the library has no record of me checking out this book! It’s on my Kindle, I’m reading, and yet it doesn’t exist in my library files. Hmmmm.
  • Listening to: If I had to pick a word to describe this past week it would be windy. We have had strong, LOUD wind blowing across the island and around our building and through the yard all. week. long. Wind gusts on Friday and yesterday were in the 30 mph range and we could barely hear each other or the TV inside for all the noise outside. It felt very cool to cold most of he week as well and it’s still quite cool this morning, almost worthy of a sweater. Anyway, it’s still very windy outside but there are brief moments of quiet which are delightful (and almost surprising). Brett’s putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee, and our neighbor is stomping away upstairs (he has grown increasing loud up there over the months), so it’s kind of noisy overall this morning. And, the wind is picking up again . . . .
  • Watching: The new season of Great British Bake Off is underway on Netflix, but it started two weeks ago! So, we caught up with the first two episodes this past Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and then watched the newest episode on Friday. Until a new winner is crowned it will be our Friday viewing for the next few weeks. We’ve moved into Season 3 of Billions, and have been watching two episodes each evening, and we’re still enjoying Only Murders In the Building on Tuesday evenings although I think we only have a couple of episodes left to go for this season. The girls have recommended Squid Game (on Netflix) for our next show.
Boosters were quick and easy procedure for both of us. Brett had less residual pain than I did this time.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) Brett and I got our boosters on Wednesday. Both of our arms were more sore this time compared to when we got our initial vaccines, but that only lasted a couple of days. 2) I found a great flight schedule at a great price that will bring YaYu directly into Lihue without having to go through Honolulu, so purchased her ticket for December. This was the last flight we purchased for our children – after graduation they are responsible for their own tickets. 3) Brett and I did some downsizing last Sunday on our day off. He went through his things in the closet and put together a bag of Japanese items (books, calligraphy supplies, etc.) that he took to the Japanese teacher at WenYu’s and YaYu’s high school, and I packaged up our son’s collection of Christmas ornaments that we’ll send to him this week. 4) After a lot of thought and research, we figured out how to get a couple of some awkwardly shaped items back to WenYu’s for storage while we travel. They’ll go back on the plane when she and Meiling fly back to Massachusetts at the end of December. It was a relief to figure this out because sending it as baggage will save us a bundle versus other shipping methods. 5) I filed my quarterly Hawaii GET estimated taxes. It was super easy to do and the total due was just $3.52 (because all but two of my sales were out of state and are not taxed by Hawaii). 7) We made a reservation for Edinburgh!
  • Looking forward to next week: We have absolutely nothing on our calendar next week so all I’m hoping for is another Etsy or eBay sale and at least one more thing leaving the apartment, and hopefully good walking weather and maybe a beach day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We’re now set for all the girls to be here for Christmas with YaYu arriving the day after WenYu and YaYu! 2) After a few slow weeks with almost no sales, this week I had a sale on both eBay and Etsy; the Etsy sale was another bigger one. 3) We finally have another avocado tree on the way – the seed we have been soaking for over three weeks finally produced a tap root, so here we go again.
We were just to the point of tossing out this avocado seed when the tap root finally emerged.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We reserved our lodgings for our Edinburgh stay using our credit card (then paid it off), and since our card currently rewards rebate points 3X for any travel-related purchases we are looking forward to a BIG jump in our rewards balance at the end of the month. We’re thinking of using our rewards to load up our Kindles with books to take on the road. October is Brett’s month for provisioning and he has ordered a pair of pants and a rain jacket from LL Bean. He got 10% off his order, free shipping, and the order was made through Swagbucks so I will be receiving some extra bucks from the purchase in a couple of months! (Swagbucks has been so much more pleasant and stress free since I gave up doing surveys. I’m saving for a $50 gift card for more free books for our Kindles). We didn’t put anything into the change/$1 bill bag this past week but we ate all our leftovers and didn’t throw any food away except for a rotting sweet potato that had gotten lost in the back of our pantry.
The hand-painted plate that sold was from the famous pottery village of Mashiko. Fingers remain crossed that it arrives safely to its new owner.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: A coffee mug and a large Japanese pottery plate left the house this past week. The funds from those covered the amount lost in the jubako debacle with some to spare. The coffee mug made it safely, but I’m still waiting with fingers crossed on both hands to learn if the plate arrived in one piece. I have another box of golf balls up on our local Buy & Sell but no takers so far.
  • Grateful for: When I’m feeling discouraged I try to make sure to take time each day and remember all that I have to be thankful for: my good health, a loving husband and family, a comfortable and safe place to live in a wonderful location, an ample variety of healthy foods to eat, and a steady income and money in the bank. I have a blessed life.
  • Bonus question: Do you have a travel bucket list? Sort of is my best answer. These days my list is more about revisiting and learning more about places we just touched the surface of because we didn’t have time for more exploration, like Oxford, Strasbourg, and Edinburgh. For all the many visits and time we’ve spent in Tokyo, we never run out of places to see and new things to experience there and elsewhere in Japan – our visits are always an adventure which is one of the many reasons we love going there. Amsterdam and Venice are sort of bucket list destinations, and we are going to make an effort to see those places in the next couple of years. But otherwise, I’ve seen and what I wanted to see and do.
Note the gap across his chest and how blurry the fabric is!

The cool, midcentury modern aloha-style shirt Brett ordered months ago finally arrived this past week. He had had so much trouble communicating with the vendor when the shirt initially didn’t arrive when promised that he cancelled the sale in August and received a refund, but the shirt still somehow showed up this week. And what a joke it was! Although it was advertised as being made from cotton, the fabric was instead a sleazy, shiny man-made fabric of some kind, so thin it had to be lined (with the same sleazy fabric); the design was poorly photo printed onto the fabric and blurry; and although he ordered the size he usually wears, Brett could barely get the shirt buttoned around him! Not sure where the company is located or how they stay in business, but we were so glad Brett had gotten his money back! Returning for a refund would have been a nightmare.

That’s a wrap for another exiting week at Chez Aloha! Actually, it was pretty exciting, and although the week started off in a discouraging place, it ended with exciting things happening so everything is good. We’re looking forward to another busy week, and more good things happening – hope everyone else is too!

Sunday Morning 10/3/2021: Cooling Off, Heating Up

Wednesday’s sunset was as exciting as it got all week. The sunsets are arriving earlier these days and disappear more quickly.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

It’s October! Time to break out the pumpkin recipes! We zoomed through September but got a lot accomplished, and we are hoping for similar results this month. There will be more reservations made, and more savings will happen as will other things that get us ready for our next big adventure. This is Brett’s month to provision, but he hasn’t decided what he’ll get for himself.

Now that our departure from Kaua’i has been moved up, I find myself feeling nervous now and again about selling our things. How soon is too soon to let things go? How late will be too late? The local auction company, the one we thought we’d use to sell our big hibachi table, on close inspection does not seem to be a wise choice. It turns out they do not handle single auction items, and only do whole-house deals. That sounded like it could be a plan, but after reading reviews about the company I don’t think it’s for us, especially since we don’t have that much stuff. We would be responsible for creating our own catalog, photographing everything, getting it listed online using their software, and they would take 25%. No thanks. It looks like we will be sticking with Etsy and eBay, Buy & Sell, Craigslist, and a garage sale and hoping for the best.

A rare (these days) post-rain full arch rainbow. Lately when we see a rainbow or part of one up at the park it’s to announce that rain is imminent!

Can I just whine for a moment too that I wish the weather here would make up its mind!?! Seriously, it’s sunny in the morning, rains in the afternoon. Or, it rains in the morning and we spend the day chewing our nails wondering if it will clear. Or, we get a nice day . . . but just one and the next day it rains from morning to night. It’s been crazy windy more often than not. Everything around us is lush and green, but I would like to be able to go to the beach more frequently than once a month . . . maybe. I am very grateful the humidity has not been awful this year, but otherwise every day has been something of a crapshoot when it comes to the weather and it’s getting sort of old.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished the very creepy but very good Sixteen Horses at the beginning of the week – the ending was a shock. I’m about two-thirds of the way through Box 21 and will be hunting for something new today to start when that’s done.
  • Listening to: It’s currently pouring rain outside, and it’s expected to continue for most of the day. Good thing it’s our day off from walking! There’s a flock of chickens in the distance going nuts; they almost sound like geese honking! Brett’s making coffee and puttering around in the kitchen, so other than all the rain it’s a pretty normal, peaceful Sunday morning.
  • Watching: Besides watching Only Murders In the Building on Tuesday it was Billions every other evening, sometimes two episodes. It can be a frustrating show to watch at times because it seems that bad actions are too often rewarded. Money is always the ulterior motive and the foundation for everything in the show, and it does a good job of exposing that, whether the outcome is good or bad. The casting for this show has been superb, in my opinion.
  • Happy we accomplished last week: On top of reserving the apartment in Strasbourg, this past week we also reserved eight weeks of lodgings in Oxford following our stay in Strasbourg – this time next year we should be finishing up our time there and getting ready to head to Bath. It may seem premature to be booking so early but affordable long(er)-term lodgings are few and far between, especially in places like Oxford, so we wanted to book as soon as we found a nice place in a good location that came in under our budget. We’ve also found a wonderful apartment in Bath and one near to our son’s new home in Tokyo. We hope to reserve the Bath apartment in the next couple of weeks, and we communicated with the owner of the Tokyo apartment this past week with a few questions but that reservation won’t happen until sometime next year (Japan is getting ready to lift their emergency restrictions – yeah! – but full opening up will be a slow process). My other big accomplishment for the week was getting my Etsy order packed because of size and fragility, but it’s on its way!
  • Looking forward to next week: Both Brett and I are scheduled to receive our COVID boosters this coming Wednesday – yeah! Otherwise, we plan to take each day as it comes – we’ve given up trying to schedule anything because the weather has been so unpredictable.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: A big shoutout and big thank you to reader MaryAnn who purchased the six Starbucks architectural mugs from us this week! I also had only one sale on Etsy, but it was a big one. I also received a “Star Seller” designation from Etsy this month: This seller sets a shining example for providing a great customer experience, with a history of 5-star reviews, on-time shipping, and quick replies. Yeah me! Everything left in my Etsy shop is now down to one crate and my two hashioki boxes. Otherwise, we had some annoying weather but it was a very good week overall!
My Etsy shop is down to one small crate and the two boxes of hashioki. The upper box contains individual ones, the lower box has the remaining sets or parts of sets.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We put the two Airbnb reservations on our credit card and then paid them off, and earned a nice amount of rewards for doing so. We did a mid-size Big Shop on Thursday and did well, all things considered. We went over budget, but by less than $3 and would have been under except for the three items not on our list we picked up for part of the girls’ Christmas presents. $7.03 went into the change/$1 bill bag last Thursday, making the total saved for September $21.42. I made kale chips last week (yummy!) to use up some leftover kale, and all the other leftovers and odds and ends were finished up as well.
I had forgotten how riduculously easy it is to make kale chips and how good they are.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: Six Starbucks mugs and a large jubako left the apartment this past week, and $114.88 went into our travel account. LOL – the $12.88 I received from Etsy last week was my reserve fund thanks to a very slow couple of weeks! Things are still slow on Etsy and eBay, but I’m still getting lots of views, so hopefully things will pick up a bit this month. By the way, all Occasional Nomads readers can receive a 25% discount if purchasing from my Etsy shop, FuruiShibuiVintage (just let me know that you want to order and I will send you a discount code).
  • Grateful for: Once again we are feeling very thankful for our “socialized healthcare:” Medicare and Tricare for Life. I received the statements this past week for my July endoscopy: total costs for the procedure added up to $6,315.88, but Medicare paid most of it, and Tricare picked up what was remaining so we had no out-of-pocket costs. Everyone in the U.S. deserves to have insurance like this and not have to worry about what they’ll have to pay or if it will bankrupt them, either through monthly premiums or excessive co-pays (or whether they’ll be covered at all).
  • Bonus question: What shocks you these days? The older I get, the less shocked I am by most things that happen around me – times change, as they say – but I have to say I remain truly shocked and surprised these days by people who refuse to get vaccinated for COVID and their reasoning for not doing so. I know someone who has refused the vaccine for purely political reasons (the vaccine is Democratic, they’re Republican, so they’re not getting vaccinated – seriously). We learned this past week that the doctor that lives above us refuses to get vaccinated, and believes the vaccine is nothing but a way for the government to control everyone. He told us that he knows what’s going on and that we’re eventually going to figure this out as well – we’ll see, according to him, and regret getting vaccinated. He also doesn’t need the vaccine because he’s never gotten a flu shot and has never had the flu even though he worked in ERs for years (masked, gloved, and gowned of course). The chef and his wife that used to live on the other side of our building also apparently decided against the vaccine; they were supposed to be traveling through Europe right now but can’t get in because no vaccination; they instead have bought a camper van and are going to do a road trip on the mainland. I am honestly shocked by all of this because none of these people had any issues with being vaccinated in the past for smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, Hep A or B, etc. and yet suddenly, with over 700,000 people dead in the U.S. and people still dying in large numbers (mostly the unvaccinated) from this virus, the COVID vaccine is where they have drawn a line. I honestly don’t get it and continue to be shocked by the intransigence (and sometimes magical thinking) I’ve encountered.

I watched a Rick Steves program this past week, and during the show he talked about a recent trip he took to France this past month. Things are slowly returning to normal there, and he said Paris almost felt like before, but if you are not vaccinated, forget about going. Europe, he said, is not messing around about vaccinations – you either have gotten your shots and can enter their countries, eat in restaurants, visit museums, ride public transportations and trains, etc. or you don’t go. The world for the unvaccinated, as he said, is becoming very, very small (one article I read had only six countries listed where a vaccine is not required). Almost all of Rick Steves’ tours for next year are fully booked and they are looking forward to a somewhat return to normal. However, Hawaii had their worst month for COVID cases and deaths in September, with deaths occurring in some who had no underlying conditions, and COVID deaths nearly doubled in the U.S. from what they were in August. Although there’s a long ways to go, in the U.S. especially, I feel like the world is maybe starting to get this under control, and that the ship of recovery is finally beginning to make its turn, albeit slowly.

That’s all for this week. Not a lot going on here, and yet things are starting to heat up again as we work toward our departure next year. Much is done already, but there’s still much to do. Here’s to looking forward to another great, productive week with good things happening for all!

Sunday Morning 9/26/2021: Settling Into Fall

The best sunset last week happened Sunday evening at the close of a stormy day

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Bringing the outside in: my view out our front door

The other day I looked around and thought our apartment almost looks like an Airbnb rental because there are so few decorative things around now, things that used to somewhat define us and our homes. The place is just starting to feel empty, but Brett and I agree that’s a good thing. Everything is going to stay pretty much as it is now, for the time being at least, but more things will leave with the girls when they return to their homes/school, and we’ll have an even emptier space! The one great thing about our apartment is that we have such a wonderful view out the front that creates a close connection to the outside and makes our small space seem larger than it is. I’m pretty sure in a different place I might not feel as good about the results of our downsizing as I do now.

Last week ended up being very busy with lots of errands and a great get-together with Bob and Betty Lowry. It was another slow sales week though with just two small orders from Etsy going out. I got two different offers for the set of Starbucks coffee mugs I had listed on Buy & Sell, set up meet-ups for both, and both times the so-called buyers never showed and I never heard from them again! I’ve decided that no more will go on Buy & Sell except for golf balls until it’s time next year to sell our furniture. It’s just not worth it, and things from now on will be set aside for an eventual garage sale. I’d list the mugs on eBay except there is already a glut of them there, and with what postage costs from here I can’t price them low enough to compete.

A tiny slice of delicious, but expensive lilikoi cheesecake

This past week we bought two 8-inch pies at a local pie shop, to serve for dessert when Bob and Betty came over. I was a bit taken aback by the cost, but their pies are always good and we try to support local businesses. Once we had decided on the two pies we wanted, the woman took our choices out of the display case, put some plastic wrap over the top, and rang up the bill. We were not offered a box for the pies. The transaction was handled on an iPad, and I was very surprised when a tip was suggested (there and by the woman helping us) – the choices were 15%, 20%, or 25% – and for maybe the first time in my life I said no. I don’t know if I was being frugal or cheap, but suggesting at least 15% on top of the cost of the pies just for putting plastic wrap over them was a bridge too far for me. If pie had been cut and served, coffee poured, wrapped and boxed up, etc. I would have had no problem tipping. The pies were still delicious, but I sadly doubt we’ll be going back.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finally finished Six Four on Monday, and just as I did another book came off hold. I decided to finish one book at a time so I’m current reading Sixteen Horses. It’s very, very creepy. Box 21, by Anders Roslund, also came off of hold, but I’m not going to start it until I’ve finished Sixteen Horses.
  • Listening to: Stormy weather is our background noise this morning, mostly wind blowing through the trees but the rain that was coming down a little while ago has stopped and birds are beginning to sing again. It actually feel like fall this morning, although that still doesn’t transfer into “sweater weather” here. Anyway, I’m enjoying the cooler temperature this morning and am eagerly awaiting a cup of coffee. Brett is currently banging around in the kitchen, making the coffee and putting away last night’s dishes, but he’s almost done and then our usual Sunday morning peace and quiet will settle in.
  • Watching: Well, the HBO Max come-on turned out to be a lot of hype and all we got to watch was one episode of The Flight Attendant but then had to subscribe to see more (and Mare of Easttown wasn’t even included in the promotion as it turned out). No thanks. So, we started Billions this week and are enjoying it so far. I did not know Paul Giamatti starred in it as well – I love watching him act as much as Damien Lewis. I also did not know until this past week that Paul Giamatti’s father was the 7th commissioner of baseball! The name has always sounded familiar for some reason, and now I know why. Our Tuesday evening viewing of Only Murders In the Building continues – it’s a great show, and I was happy to learn they have been renewed for a second season.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Although we had a busy week with lots of errands, it was not a week for big accomplishments except for one very big thing which will be revealed next week. I had only two small sales on Etsy, and other than rearranging a few things in the apartment nothing much else got done except for the regular stuff. Brett got the car serviced yesterday, so that’s done for the year.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again there’s nothing special on the calendar, so our hopes are for good walking weather, a couple of Etsy sales, and maybe another day at the beach. I’m not sure we’re going to make our goal of 26 beach visits this year – the weather just hasn’t been cooperating.
We should have known better than to have the sun behind us! We absolutely loved getting to meet and spend time with Bob and Betty.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We had another great time with Bob and Betty Lowry last Tuesday. We picked them up at the airport after they had dropped off their rental car, and headed to Poipu where we enjoyed drinks, snacks, and lots of good conversation. We finished up with pie and coffee at our apartment before taking them back to the airport to catch their plane home to Phoenix. I can’t say how much we enjoyed meeting them! 2) Yesterday was our son’s annual fundraising walk, the “Komazawa Challenge.” Every year, rain or shine, he walks the length of a marathon in the Komazawa Olympic Park, joined throughout the day for a few laps by family and co-workers. His effort supports an organization in Japan that serves children who are terminally ill or have incurable diseases. Donations received this year totaled $7,450! 3) I received a lovely personal message from the woman in France who bought the jubako from me on Etsy, letting me know it arrived safely, thanking me for packing it so well, and that she loves the piece. I had been holding my breath hoping it would arrive safely.
M with some co-workers mid walk. They brought him refreshments throughout the day and kept him company (and donated a lot as well).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We bought two pies, got gas for the car, and had the annual car servicing done, all planned expenses. I ran out of the Neutrogena moisturizer I use (contains SPF 50) but Walmart didn’t have any, so I checked online at Amazon and Walmart.com and found it for less online at Walmart.com than it costs in the store and with free shipping included (I ordered three tubes)! It will be here by Wednesday. We put nothing in the change/$1 bill bag this week, ate all our leftovers, and we didn’t throw away any food.
  • Adding up the things we sold this week: Just one hashioki and a Japanese clay bell left the house this week. Side hustle income for the week was $12.88, but there should be more next week when Etsy releases the rest of my reserve funds.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling especially thankful this week for Brett’s constant support and encouragement. He and I are very different people, with different temperaments, interests, and so forth. Picking a TV show that we can both enjoy is a major challenge! No one can drive me crazy faster than he can (and vice versa), but we always agree, as we say, on the big stuff: money, child rearing, politics, and so forth. I’m thankful he not only reins me in when needed, but encourages me to think big as well and then go for it.
  • Bonus question: What film(s) have frightened you the most? Jaws was the last film I remember that really scared me, and Wait Until Dark almost turned me to jelly (especially the ending, even though I knew it was coming). That scene was absolutely terrifying. On the other hand, The Exorcist wasn’t at all scary nor was The Shining, although both books scared the living daylights out of me. The first time I watch The Ring I felt scared at times, but I watched it a couple of years later and couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I had a very vivid imagination when I was young though, and the most frightening films for me remain the ones we were shown in elementary and middle school each year for Fire Prevention week. All of them gave me nightmares and kept me awake at night for weeks on end. The most horrifying film was in fifth grade, where little Bobby was goofing around when the school fire alarm went off and didn’t leave the building with the other students. When the teacher realized he was missing she went back into the building to find him, and both died from smoke inhalation (the actors playing Bobby and the teacher were shown slumped dead in a stairwell at the end of the film, an awful scene that had many students in tears). I couldn’t fall asleep for weeks after those films unless my dad was still awake downstairs (and then still had nightmares after I fell asleep). Ironically, my Dad’s smoking was probably the most likely cause of a fire in our house.

I rarely watch YouTube videos, but one of my favorite channels is First Time Hearing, where two young black men (twins) listen to a song they wouldn’t normally ever play and evaluate it. They’ve listened to songs as diverse as Dolly Parton’s Jolene to Phil Collins In the Air Tonight to Pavaratti singing Nessum Dorma and their reactions are priceless. When they listened to Heard It Through the Grapevine Marvin Gaye was labeled “the master” but they were puzzled by the lyrics because “no one uses those words in songs any more.” This past week I watched one twin (the other was not there for some reason) listen to Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers sing Unchained Melody. He was struck speechless by his voice and how effortless he made singing seem, especially the falsetto, and said Hatfield looked like “he could do this lying in bed” (true). I watched a few other reaction videos for the Righteous Brothers and had fun seeing young people from all backgrounds blown away by them (some of the reactions were actually laugh-out-loud funny). The Righteous Brothers still sound just as fresh and relevant today as they did back in the early 60s – absolutely amazing vocals.

My all-time favorite Righteous Brothers song – it still gives me chills.

That’s all for another week that went by very quickly. September has just flown by, and I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that next Sunday will be in October! I hope everyone had a great and productive week with lots of good things happening, and is looking forward to the week that’s coming up.

Sunday Morning 9/19/2021: The Great, The Good, and The weird

Sunset of the Week: Thursday evening’s spectacular production followed a stormy afternoon.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

In what was a surprising twist to last week’s hibachi-selling frustration, the woman who bought the big one last week contacted me on Monday and made an acceptable offer on two smaller hibachis I had listed for sale on both Etsy and eBay. She said she would come by to pick them up later that day so I took the listings off those sites but then she didnโ€™t show up. I wrote her on Wednesday to check if she still wanted them and she apologized (she had been under the weather) and came and picked them up that afternoon! It is such a relief to have the hibachis sold. I knew when I listed the two smaller ones on online it would take a long while to sell them, and although I would have earned a bit more selling them online it would have been very difficult to pack them adequately for shipment (as well as costing a small fortune), so having someone local buy them was a happy and ideal solution.

The mugs are the only things that didn’t sell this past week but I got an offer for them this morning. And additional box of golf balls also were sold.

It was also a very quiet week on both eBay and Etsy with no orders from either site. We listed our first two boxes of golf balls on eBay early in the week but got very few views even though I had priced them well below what eBay suggested and what similar lots were going for. After a few days I decided to cross-list them and two other eBay items on our local Buy & Sell as well and in one day sold the two boxes of golf balls and my old travel daypack and made more than I would have on eBay after paying for postage! Brett took along another box of golf balls I was preparing to list when he delivered the yellow balls and the man bought that box as well! It ended up being a great week for sales, and we have decided to take more of our stuff off of eBay. A couple of coffee mugs (not the ones shown above) and some other Japanese stuff will stay there for the time being but otherwise we will focus on selling our stuff locally. Postage costs from Hawaii are high and I believe that has been a real deterrent to online buyers.

I did an in-depth look at monthly rental prices in both Blockley and Strasbourg this past week and a return to Blockley may be impossible. Monthly rentals are limited as it is, and rental prices are off the charts right now – the little cottage we rented in 2019 is now going for over $1,000 more per month than it was when we were there! I can understand why though – after everyone was cooped up for so long the Cotswolds must be an extremely popular getaway location right now. As it is, Brett and I are thinking again about whether we really want to do another three month stay there. Our time in 2019 was magical but we know it might feel less so on a second visit as we saw and did so much in the area the first time. We reminded ourselves it was also a location where we had to take a bus to get to an ATM let alone buy groceries, etc. and maybe there are other places in the UK we could visit, enjoy, and get to know that wouldn’t requires as much effort. Strasbourg, on the other hand, seems to have plenty of wonderful rentals in our price range, so hopefully we will have no problems finding something there when it’s time to make our reservations. Our former Strasbourg rental is currently not available, and as much as we loved staying there we know it’s probably too small for a three-month stay. I worry too that we might not find Strasbourg as special as we did the first visit but there are still loads of things in the area we didn’t get to see and do before and we are still feeling eager to visit again.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: Six Four, the Japanese detective story I inadvertently downloaded from the library when I couldn’t find anything else, has turned out to be a page-turner! Loaded with detail, it goes slowly but gives a deep understanding of the Japanese police hierarchy and relationships, as well as loads of other deep Japanese cultural insights (fascinating to me). The mystery itself is also a slow burn and good reading. I have been grateful for my background in Japanese though because I think I would otherwise go crazy trying to keep everyone’s names straight. Another book, Sixteen Horses, became available this week, but I’m going to stick with Six Four alone for the next week and hopefully finish before starting the second book.
  • Listening to: We woke up to a stormy morning with overcast skies and rain but not too much wind. It’s supposed to blow out by noon, but we’ll see. Several chickens in the area are sounding off though so it’s not all that quiet. Brett’s putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee, so there’s a little bit of noise inside the kitchen right now but the coffee will be finished soon, things will quiet down, and the rest of the morning should be peaceful and quiet.
  • Watching: We binged the final three episodes of Whitechapel on Thursday and watched the new episode of Only Murders In the Building on Tuesday. On Friday we watched two parts of the four-part documentary about LuLaRoe called LuLaRich, and finished it last night. I remember LuLaRoe being hot, hot, hot here before we left in 2018 but now there is nothing and now I know why. Sad that so many did so much and then lost so much. HBO Max is currently offering some of their shows for free, and since we’re not sure how long that’s going to last tonight we’re going to start watching Mare of Easttown.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: Besides getting our Big Shop done, our other big accomplishment was putting together the first boxes of golf balls for sale. The sorting and grading was a bit more difficult than we thought and we’re now trying to figure out how to sell the ones in less than great condition that have been accumulated. Brett and I talked a lot about our upcoming travel plan and came up with some possible ideas for a final itinerary, but other than heading to Japan first there still are no firm decisions yet about where we should go next (France or UK). I got another six-week set of activity cards ready, and all the regular stuff got accomplished once again.
  • Looking forward to next week: We getting together again with Bob and Betty Lowry on Tuesday for happy hour and puupuus (heavy appetizers) at a nearby restaurant, and then will have coffee/tea and dessert at our place before taking them to the airport for their flight back to the mainland. We’re looking forward to hearing about their Kaua’i adventures from this past week. The weather has behaved for them most of this past week, thank goodness.
Everyone’s happy after breakfast and conversation at the Tip Top!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The highlight of our week was breakfast with Bob and Betty at the Tip Top Cafe on Tuesday. We could have easily stayed at our table for a couple more hours to continue talking – it was like we had known each other for years. So thrilled to have finally met them – they’re just as down to earth as you would image from his writing on Satisfying Retirement (and, he’s got a new blog starting early October!). Also, what could have been a very disappointing week for our side hustles turned into something very good thanks to our local Buy & Sell.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We stayed under budget with our shopping on Wednesday but it was close: all we had leftover for the change/$1 bill bag was $1.58! Bargain of the month at Costco was a twin-pack of giant 20.35 oz. boxes of Cheerios for $3.96, or $1.73 per box. We also picked up a few things in preparation for the girls’ December visit and would have spent less if not for those (like a case of Izze sparkling juice, on sale this month at Costco). Hopefully by picking things up starting now we will be able to avoid being slammed with a huge food bill in December. We ate all our leftovers this past week and I’d love to say I didn’t throw any food away but I discovered several small bags of produce odds and ends way past their time that had gotten buried and forgotten and that had to be tossed. I gave myself a stern talking to about making sure things this doesn’t happen again.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: Although there were no Etsy orders nor eBay sales this past week, two hibachis, a daypack, and three boxes of golf balls left the apartment. Residual funds were released from Etsy and along with the other sales, $489.02 is going into our travel account tomorrow (more if the mugs sell)! I am mentally prepared however for a very quiet week coming up.
  • Grateful for: I have always enjoyed meeting readers, and finally getting to meet Bob and Betty last week was no exception. When I’ve meet readers it’s been like connecting with old friends again. I’m so very thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to get to know so many wonderful people because of this blog, for the friends we’ve made, and I hope it continues long into the future. I am also beyond grateful to Hawaii Planner for finding and sending some very valuable information that was lost this past week (see below).
I also like having an uncluttered desktop.
  • Bonus question: Is your email inbox full or empty? I don’t get a whole lot of email these days with so many other efficient ways to communicate, but mine is always empty or near empty because I organize my email daily. However, yesterday my Gmail account appeared to go crazy and not in a good way. I’m still trying to figure out what happened but it was very weird. Old email I had saved because it contained important information, including one of our $500 Delta gift cards, disappeared and couldn’t be located anywhere. The email with information on my leggings order of 9/14 from H&M also vanished. I found a few of the older saved emails on my phone, but neither the missing Delta card nor the H&M email were among them. I had a special Delta subfolder in saved email where I kept screenshots of the Delta card information as a safety measure, but yesterday only one gift card could be found there, and the Delta file on my phone was completely empty! To keep things even more interesting, during my search for the lost emails I checked my inbox at one point and found it filled with hundreds of old messages, all of which had been deleted months ago! Also weird was the appearance in my saved file of 10 chat messages from our son from 2009! My very tech-savvy daughters did everything they could to help me straighten things out and find the missing emails, but nothing we tried worked nor did any of Google’s tips, and there was no way to contact Google for help as they only have online help and none of it covered this situation. However, Hawaii Planner came to the rescue! I had bought one of the Delta cards from her last year, so in desperation I wrote and asked if she still possibly had any information about the card and she did! YEAH!!! I now have both the missing card number and the PIN, and that information has been saved in three different places so it hopefully doesn’t get lost again (she suggested I find out if I can put the gift cards in my online wallet so I’m going to check on that). I am absolutely sick though about all of this because for now there doesn’t appear to be any way to retrieve the other lost emails, and some were special ones from Brett that I wanted to save and remember, and others contained photos from friends and family that are now gone. Thanks, Google. My inbox however is clutter free again, so there’s that.
My reaction 10 years ago if you had told me we would someday move to Hawaii (also my all-time favorite Gary Larson cartoon).

The other morning, when I woke up and opened the French doors in the living room, I looked out at our yard, the blue sky and clouds, the breeze blowing through the palm trees, and realized how much I am going to miss living here. I thought about how very blessed and fortunate we have been to live on Kaua’i. Ten years ago I would have thought you were crazy if you had predicted we would move to Hawaii, and yet somehow we made it happen, not once but twice, and we’ve enjoyed/are enjoying a wonderful life here. I will be forever grateful that we were given this opportunity, and we will always carry a piece of Kaua’i in our hearts. I am resolved to make the most of all the time we have remaining.

That’s a wrap for another great and good week, and glad for the happy ending to the weird! We’re looking forward to the week coming up, and hope everyone is as well.