Sunday Morning 6/13/2021: Sunsets, Rising Prices, and Reunions

The whole week was a sunset art installation.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Every week now we see prices are going up everywhere, and Kaua’i has certainly not been spared. Gasoline is now close to $4/gallon at Costco, the cheapest place on the island; other places on the island it’s over $4. Food costs are climbing, and restaurant prices are getting crazy. I know last year had a profound effect on the economy here, but I was frankly shocked by what was being charged for a simple fish sandwich at the restaurant where we had lunch with our niece on Friday. The restaurant caters to visitors, and we ended up sharing a sandwich instead of ordering individually (we frankly also didn’t need the calories). We usually stick to more “local” places on the island because the prices tend to be lower, but they’re not immune to price hikes either. With housing prices on the island at stratospheric levels and very few affordable rentals available we feel extremely lucky to have found our place when we did and at the price we did – there’s nothing available now that wouldn’t kill our budget or just be downright unaffordable for us. I have no idea how young families can afford to live here, at least without family support and parents working two to three jobs each. We have enough income to cover the price increases (so far), and we love Kaua’i and love living here, but saving for our next Big Adventure is beginning to turn into a challenge, and for the first time I’m feeling a little bit bittersweet that we have plans for the future that will take us off the island.

I put our three Japanese hibachis up on Craigslist and our local Buy & Sell group this past week, mainly to see what sort of interest they generated, if any. The ads have gotten lots of views, but no takers (yet), probably because while the hibachis are pretty, they’re purely decorative, and those sorts of things sell slowly. However, when I talked with Meiling this week, she suggested I create a shop on either Etsy or eBay for all the Japanese items we’ll be selling, and that she and WenYu could help me set one up when they’re here in December, taking the photos, writing copy, etc. In the meantime, I can research and come up with prices for various items as well what shipping costs back to the mainland would be. I’m going to keep the current ads up for another week or so, but her idea is a good one and will give me something to do until they get here – we have a LOT of Japanese things we need to sell.

Brett’s beach chair was emblematic of the windy week we had. If he wasn’t sitting in it, the chair immediately blew over (and it’s not light). Forget putting up an umbrella.

We have been living in the center of a vortex this past week, or at least that’s what it’s felt like – the winds have been blowing loud and hard around our house almost every day. There have thankfully been lots of blue skies, but the clouds don’t hang around and have been racing across the sky like they need to get somewhere in a hurry. Brett has had to clean the koi pond in the yard a couple of times every day (usually he does it once a week or so) because of all the leaves and such that are being knocked down by the wind. The temperature has remained cooler than usual too – by this time in the year we should be starting to complain about the heat and humidity, but not this year. It’s been great for walking though, and I’m going to enjoy it as long as it lasts because I know the heat is coming.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ve had two books going again this past week and finished both, A Fatal Grace and A Murder of Quality, by John leCarre, yesterday. Blue Sky, the fifth book in the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson, has been downloaded and started.
  • Listening to: For the first time in days, the wind this morning is a gentle breeze once again instead of a freight train roaring through the yard and trees. There’s nothing else going on out there either so it’s deliciously quiet except for some birds singing their hearts out. Brett is reading so it’s quiet inside as well, but he’s already set up everything in kitchen for me to make pancakes. Coffee first though.
  • Watching: We started the second season of The Unforgotten this past week. It’s such a good series and so well done (which explains why it was on Masterpiece Theater). I’m finishing up the last available season of Great British Menu – the chefs are cooking for a summer banquet celebrating the 140th anniversary of Wimbledon. This past week I also watched Tora! Tora! Tora!, the 1968 film about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, on YouTube. It’s historically accurate (mostly), and starred many great actors, both American and Japanese. I had a somewhat surreal experience the first time saw this film in 1971: I was the only American in a theater in Hiroshima watching Pearl Harbor being attacked. Anyway, one day this week I’m going to settle in and watch The Longest Day (over three hours long), and the week after I want to watch Midway. Both are also available for free on YouTube. These films let me geek out on history for a while.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: So glad to have that filling replacement over and done with because an afternoon at the dentist is not my idea of a good time! It was actually the least painful procedure I have ever had done, including the shots . . . until the Novocaine wore off, that is. It took two full days for my jaw and gums to return to normal. I also got my annual lab work done this past week and all is well for the next year. Otherwise, we enjoyed a very relaxing week with just the usual things accomplished.
  • Looking forward to next week: Other than a big food shop this Tuesday, we have another week coming up with nothing on the calendar, so we’re again looking forward to a relaxing week, with maybe a trip or two to the beach if the weather allows. The daughter of one of my dearest Portland friends is visiting Kaua’i right now, and we’re getting together for dinner tonight and looking forward to that. Finding a reservation somewhere was a bit of an accomplishment – every restaurant on the island seems to be booked solid for days – but we’re heading down to Hanapepe for an early dinner at Japanese Grandma’s Cafe, where Brett and I had lunch on our anniversary last March.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a great reunion with our niece and her family, visiting from Colorado. They were in Maui last week and on Kaua’i this week, and I don’t think I’d be wrong to say Kaua’i has been their favorite of the two. We enjoyed lunch at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu and had a good long catch-up – fun! Afterwards they headed across the street to spend the afternoon at Poipu Beach Park, and Brett and I headed home, changed into our swimsuits and went ever to Salt Pond for some beach time. It was an exciting visit for us as there was a BIG monk seal swimming in the pond, and at one point I nearly had a close encounter with it when it passed just three feet in front of me. Eventually it found a safe space to get out, bask in the sun, and sleep.

There was a very big seal out there somewhere!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We only had a small amount of spending this past week: bought gas for the car and mailed a package to the mainland (our niece treated us for lunch). We put $1.83 in the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 1,851 Swagbucks. I am finally on my way to earning a fourth Delta gift card, two weeks ahead of schedule! Lots of leftovers were eaten and enjoyed this past week, and nothing got thrown out.
  • Grateful for: We grow more and more thankful every month that Brett stayed on active duty and retired from the navy, and that we now have a reliable source of income and good benefits that provide a very good quality of life for us in spite of rising costs. We know how fortunate we are for what we have and receive, and we are grateful for it every day.
  • Bonus question: If you could live someplace other than the U.S., where would you choose? Japan remains our top choice, for obvious reasons. It would be difficult place to live for a variety of reasons, primarily because of the language, but it’s also a country and system we understand and can adapt to. Because of the U.S. military bases there it’s also a place we can get medical treatment and use the commissaries and exchanges, both which would make life easier for us. There are several places we know we could live in Europe, but our first choice would be Strasbourg with Lisbon not far behind (even with all the hills and cobblestones, and being sick for almost our entire visit we loved it). We felt both of those cities were ones where we could live comfortably. We could also happy live in England, although the late fall and winter weather could be a bit of a problem for us. It got very gloomy when we were there, but otherwise we enjoyed everything about it other than we would probably have to own a car there as well.

Once again time seems to be both moving quickly and not fast enough. We’re entering the second half of June this week – that sure came up fast – but July and the rest of summer still seems very far away, let along December and the girls’ visit. When I think of getting ready for them though there seems to be very little time to get ready (buying presents, stocking up on food, etc.) while at the same time I know their time here will be over in a blink of the eye or at least seem that way. I’m trying hard to be more mindful and enjoy the present here on Kaua’i because when we leave next time it will be for good. At the same time, I’m ready to start traveling again now so it’s a difficult balance to maintain, and one I think will only get harder going forward.

That’s a wrap for this week! We had a very, very nice week overall, and I hope it was the same for everyone. Here’s to the week coming up – may it be another great one (raising my virtual glass)!

Sunday Morning 6/6/2021: Summer Has Arrived!

No spectacular sunsets this week, just a pretty glow as the sun went down.

Good Morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Summer has officially arrived it seems. We started off the week with lovely warm/hot weather (finally) but rain returned on Thursday and Friday mornings before the good (better) weather returned. The island is crowded with tourists once again though – numbers arriving on the island each day have been over 2,000 for several days. The traffic is awful again, stores are crowded again, gas lines are long, and so forth. We were up in Kapaa this past week and were reminded once again of how grateful we are to be living on the south side versus having to deal with the traffic up there. There are changes coming though – work has started to another lane to the highway in the Wailua area, one of the biggest traffic bottlenecks on the island. And, it looks like the old, ugly remains of Coco Palms may finally be coming down – time will tell.

This past week was a busy but very productive one. I finally have a new ID card, and along with getting that taken care of we also got in a hike on the Waiokapua Trail as well as some time on the beach when we were at Barking Sands. It was the perfect day to be there too – hot and barely a cloud in the sky but with a nice breeze. On Wednesday we drove up to Kapaa for my haircut, then took a walk on the eastside beach path before coming home, another hot but beautiful day. Thursday Brett went up to Kilauea for a doctor’s appointment, and while he was on the road I had a tele-appointment with the doctor! In between all our activities we got the meals cooked, the dishes washed, the laundry done, the house cleaned, books read, etc. One great thing about being so busy: the week went by very quickly!

We are entering a very long stretch of not being able to do much related to future plans and such; that is, there are only a very few things we can do now, like save as much as possible, but not a lot of activity that otherwise seems directly related to our future plans. It’s too early to make reservations for anything, or to even guess what things will cost when it’s finally time to do those things, let alone what the situation will be with the virus. All we can do now is get our minds wrapped even tighter around saving for the future, continue to exercise and stay in shape, and get started on the things we can do now, like learning the basics of another language, none of which frankly seem very exciting or motiving. Everything we dream of doing seems so far off, but I’m glad we at least have a plan, and live in a beautiful place while we wait to bring that plan to fruition.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished one book this past week, Deception Cove, and am almost one with a second, The Chestnut Man. Both were/are good, but The Chestnut Man is the better of the two, in my opinion. Two cookbooks became available this week and I’ve been looking through them, but neither seem to be very easy to navigate through on the Kindle, so I’m going to have to rethink this. Another book I’ve been waiting for, A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny, has been downloaded. It’s the first in the long series of her Inspector Armand Gamache books, set in Quebec. I read the last book in the series earlier this year and want to read them all, starting at the beginning. I’m looking forward to starting it in another day or so.
  • Listening to: Right now there’s a quiet breeze blowing outside, but it’s been off and on all morning. The sky is somewhat overcast, and it’s sort of cool, so not sure what the rest of the day will be like – will it rain or will it burn off? Birds are singing in the background though, always a good thing to get to listen to. Brett’s reading and finishing his oatmeal (I can hear him scraping the bowl). It’s a lovely morning to read, write, and relax with my coffee.
  • Watching: We discovered that we’d already watched most of Silent Witness when the theme music changed for the second season – we recognized it immediately! So, we switched over to The Unforgotten, which has three seasons for us to watch. So far so good. I am getting close to finishing Great British Menu and will start the final available season this week (starting the finals for the penultimate season tonight). I have no idea what I’ll watch when it’s over, but I’ve enjoyed it so much, especially while I work on Swagbucks in the evening.
  • Happy we accomplished last week: We got a LOT done last week. It was a busy one but great overall.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re honestly looking forward to a less hectic week but still hope to get to the beach one day, probably Salt Pond versus driving all the way over to Barking Sands again. Our niece will be visiting Kaua’i this week with her family (they’ve been on Maui this past week). They’ll be staying right down the road from us in Poipu, but we’re going to try and get together later in the week so we can hear about everything they’ve been doing while visiting Hawai’i. I am not looking forward to visiting the dentist this week to get my old filling redone, but needs must.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: My new ID card is good for five years versus four as they were in the past. That will push me up to 74 years when it expires, and the card I get then will have no expiration date. We got to see two monk seals basking on the beach while we were at Barking Sands, always a good thing. We saw them when we were hiking on the Waiokapua Trail and initially thought they were big pieces of driftwood, but then noticed the driftwood had changed positions on our way back! Guards arrived as we walked to the beach to set up perimeters around the seals as they are an endangered species. Meiling gifted us with an Airbnb certificate that she received as an award from her work but can’t use! We’re going to put it toward an overnight staycation on the island later this year.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than getting my hair cut, buying gas for the car, and picking up a bunch of cilantro from the farm stand we had a no-spend week. We put $9.32 into the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 2,300 Swagbucks, which includes my 659 bonus for the month of May. I now have just slightly over 1000 SB to go to earn to get another $500 Delta gift card which I should accomplish this week! We had to throw out two more zucchini last week – we bought them at Costco but they spoiled quickly so won’t buy them there again. I also threw out a can of coconut milk that I had planned to use for whipped coconut cream. It had frozen in the refrigerator and ruined the consistency needed to make the cream. I hate throwing out food – such a waste!
  • Grateful for: I’m grateful that we’re able to put away more for travel this year from our income. Last year it seemed there was barely anything left over in the budget to set aside, but that’s changed this year and our travel savings are growing again, providing lots of motivation and an incentive to do even better.

Looking out from the old Pineapple Dump pier always puts everything about living in Hawaii into perspective for me. The beautiful but powerful ocean and skies go on forever – the next land reached straight ahead is 3,600+ miles away. It’s always a reminder of how isolated we are out here.

  • Bonus question: Have you done everything on Kaua’i you wanted or are there still things you want to do? We have had so many wonderful experiences on the island, and have done and seen pretty much everything we wanted to see and do outside of daily living. We’ve done a couple of “tourist experiences” and enjoyed them, like the ATV tour at Kipu Ranch, and the tubing experience, but we still would like to take a boat tour out to see the Na Pali Coast and plan to do that before we leave. We have absolutely no desire to do any zip lining or take a helicopter tour of the island though. There are some beaches we will be fine with never having visited, although we were talking this week of maybe going back up to Haena and Ke’e beach on the north side this fall after the tourist numbers have hopefully quieted back down (a pass is required to enter the park, ordered online before your visit), and we’d also like to visit to the Limahuli Garden and Preserve up there. We’ve also never visited the Allerton Gardens and would like to do that before we leave although tickets are quite expensive, even for island residents. Otherwise just living here is enough.

I posted about language learning last week, which got me thinking about my own plans to learn another language, and how I want to accomplish that. I’ve done some reading and searching this past week about effective online programs, and have found a couple that offer a free trial that I want to try out this week. I’ve used Memrise before, and Duolingo, and learned from both of them, but they only go so far. I have heard about the Pimsleur programs for years and how effective they are, and wonder if maybe it would be worthwhile to invest in one of them (they’re not free but not horribly expensive either). They focus not only on conversational speaking and listening, but also writing and pronunciation and might be a better fit than the free programs I’ve tried. I really need something more interactive than what I’ve used before, and as classroom instruction is not an option here, something like the Pimsleur program may be the next best thing. Decisions, decisions.

That’s all for this week, a busy but great one nonetheless filled with good books, good weather, good food, good friends, and lots of good things happening and getting accomplished. I’m looking forward to the week coming up (well, except the trip to the dentist) and hope everyone is as well!

Sunday Morning 5/30/2021: Memorial Day Weekend

Pretty evening skies this week.

Good Morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Ads for Memorial Day sales have been popping up all week on the Internet, and as another veteran we know said this last week, we’re being thanked again and again for their service. We appreciate the sentiment (we do!), but this is not the holiday for that – Memorial Day is for our country to remember those who gave their lives in service to America. It’s a day to have a picnic, spend time with family and friends, and reflect on all of those whose goals went unrealized and dreams unfulfilled, and the sons, daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and friends that sacrificed all for our country.

On Sunday evening the weather was perfect, the wind was only a soft breeze, and we were finally able to build and enjoy a fire in our fire pit! We got out our s’more ingredients, had one each for our dessert that evening, then sat out and talked while we enjoyed the sunset and warmer temperature for a while. It was wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that we did it again on Wednesday and Saturday!

What we were hoping to see at the Koke’e Overlook . . .

Brett and I finally headed out to visit Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park last Monday, on what was supposed to be the best day of the week. Hah! It was sunny on the drive to Waimea and as we started up into the canyon, but the higher we climbed the denser the clouds became and it eventually started raining. We drove all the way up to the Koke’e Overlook hoping that there would a break in the clouds but instead we ended up in the middle of a giant, misty cloud. We stopped at lookouts all the way back down and walked around a bit, and were able to enjoy some great views of the canyon in spite of the weather. The sun came out just as we left Waimea State Park and shone all the way home until we got within a mile or so of our house where the rain started up again. We had a great time though, and it’s always renewing to see Waimea Canyon, which Mark Twain called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Both state parks were packed with tourists the day we went, and reminded us again of how spoiled we were during the pandemic when we had the island to ourselves. It was disturbing to see visitors already doing stupid and dangerous things – at one lookout the lower viewing platform was closed due to unstable and dangerous conditions, with the paths to the platform closed off with barriers, but it was still crowded with tourists who had climbed over and under the barriers, or created their own paths down the hillside from the upper platform, including a family group of over 25 people who were all leaning against the railings for group photos!

. . . and what we saw. There is a view there somewhere under that cloud LOL.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Lady In the Lake on Tuesday (good book with somewhat of a surprise ending), and also finished The Bitterroots, by C.J. Box, a mystery/procedural set in Montana. The book opened with a 39-word run-on sentence and I was worried how the writing would go after that but thankfully things got much better and it was a good read. I started The Chestnut Man on Friday, a Danish thriller/procedural by Søren Sveistrup, and another book, Deception Cove, by Owen Laukkanen, came off hold yesterday, so I’ll be reading two books at the same time once again. Fingers are crossed also that some of the vegetarian cookbooks I put on hold will be available next week.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying a very quiet morning today – the skies are blue this morning with a few clouds, but the leaves are barely stirring on any of the trees or plants outside, nothing is going on in the neighborhood, and Brett is reading while I write. The only sound I’m hearing is the birds singing. I wonder how long the the calm will last?
  • Watching: Brett and I watched Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence for three nights last week – very good but a bit confusing and hard to follow at times as well. Bill Nighy was one of the stars though and he’s always fun to watch. We’ve started a series called Silent Witness, about a pathologist who helps solves crimes (sort of an updated, British version of that old show, Quincy). Amazon did not have The Great British Menu season with the Women’s Institute that I was expecting for some reason, but instead skipped to next season where the chefs are competing to cook for a banquet celebrating Outstanding Britons (those who have won awards from the Queen). This is the penultimate season of Great British Menu that’s available on Amazon Prime and I can already feel I’m going to go through withdrawal when I finish the last season this coming month.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Besides getting up to Waimea Canyon, being able to enjoy not one but three evenings out by the fire pit feels like a huge accomplishment after waiting so long. Our main accomplishment otherwise this past week was getting our car inspected and registered for another year. It’s a nine-year-old car, but it still runs great. We’re glad that’s over though, at least for another year, but we can’t wait not to own a car again!

A rainy day up in the canyon, but a beautiful drive up and back nonetheless.

  • Looking forward to next week: We have a busy week coming up with four appointments Tuesday through Thursday: 1) a new ID card appointment on Tuesday at Barking Sands because last week’s appointment was cancelled again, and hopefully a beach day and hike can be included; 2) a much needed hair cut appointment for me on Wednesday and hopefully a walk on the eastside beach path; 3) Brett sees our Dr. in person on Thursday morning while 4) I have a tele-appointment with him on the same day at home. All these are necessary things and I’m looking forward to getting them done! We’re also hoping to enjoy at least one fire outdoors next week as well, s’mores included.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our three evenings out by a fire, and Monday’s trip to the canyon were the best things! The weather cooperating most of the rest of the week was also a good thing, although some afternoons were quite humid and a real taste of what we’ll be up again this summer. The full yard crew came in and gave us a “deep cleaning” this past week versus the usual “haircut.” The yard always looks nice to me but the difference after a big clean-up is so noticeable. And, Alley the cat came back! We had not seen her for well over a month, but this past week she showed up again looking fatter than ever. We had been worried she had gotten sick or even died because she had been coming so regularly and then stopped so abruptly, and we were thrilled to see her again looking well. We sent loads of pictures to YaYu.
Alley the cat was well fed during her absence!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a very good week, spending-wise. Besides getting the car registered and buying a tank of gas, the only other spending we did was our grocery shopping for the next two weeks (yesterday) and just $5 at the farmers’ market last week for a giant bunch of bananas. Swagbucks was a chore all week, but I was still able to earn 1,991. We put $1.37 into the change/$1 bill bag. Our change/$1 bill earnings for May were $15.43, and our total for the year so far is $126.55. We ate all the leftovers created this past week, but had to throw out a zucchini that had gotten buried and forgotten in the bottom of the produce drawer. Our former neighbors left us a new-ish tower fan that we’re going to use in the bathroom on humid days. They also left behind several rolls of Christmas paper and a brand new queen-size fitted sheet that we snapped up.
Our farmstand purchase: 14 tasty apple bananas for $5.
  • Grateful for: Memorial Day always is a time of reflection for me. I am in awe of the men and women who have gone into battle without hesitation even when knowing the danger and risk. I know they have been scared but relied on their training and sense of duty to their comrades to go forward and do what they had to do, risking everything. I think of the men heading on to the beaches of Normandy or in the trenches of Europe, of those in firefights in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq, or those who fought in the Civil War, and give thanks for what they did that I have never had to experience. I know I could not have done it. My gratitude for what they risked for our country and what so many gave is unending.
The view the Germans had of Omaha Beach in Normandy as the Americans landed. The fire from the Germans was terrifying and unrelenting, but the Americans kept coming and were at the top by the end of the day. We owe them all so much.
  • Bonus question: How many hours do you sleep at night? I’m sleeping very well these days, much better than I did in the past. I’m generally not awake past midnight, and am usually awake a little after 8:00 in the morning. After two cups of half-caff coffee in the morning I go all day now without feeling tired – I can’t remember the last time I needed or took a nap. Our daily walks have made a big difference in how soundly I sleep as does having a very, very good mattress. I almost always read before I go to sleep, but even checking my phone doesn’t keep me awake any more. I still wear a sleep mask and use earplugs every night, a habit I picked up when we lived here before, and the dark and quiet also make big difference in the quality of sleep I get. I took me a few days to adjust to wearing a mouth guard at night this past week, but it’s no longer an issue. I also have to sleep with my head elevated, and a few months ago I bought a wedge pillow which helped but also turned out to be extremely uncomfortable. I slid down the pillow all night, and would wake up each morning in a lump at the bottom, so I went back to sleeping with two regular pillows and so far that’s been working out alright.

WenYu and Meiling have purchased their tickets to come in December! They found a great price for a flight this past week and snapped them up. They initially didn’t think they’d be able to come until January because ticket prices around the holidays are so high, but they found an affordable flight that will give them 10 days here. The catch is that they have to depart on Christmas Day. We’re all fine with that though, and will have our big family celebration and present opening on Christmas Eve, and a brunch on Christmas morning before taking the girls to the airport. It’s going to be crowded in our little apartment, but with the yard and lanai area outside, I think we’ll manage. Two of the girls will sleep on the sofa, and we’re going to buy an Airbed (twin) for the third girl – they can figure out who sleeps where, but it will be a nightly slumber party for them. Brett and I are so excited and happy they’re coming – we have missed them terribly, and can’t wait to have all our girls together with us again. We’re already planning to get together again for YaYu’s graduation in 2022, and before we head out on Big Adventure II, but this year’s Christmas will be special.

This hibiscus is a “trespasser” – it found its way from the neighbor’s into our yard through the back fence. No charges will be filed.

That’s a wrap for this week, another great one for us. Wishing everyone a safe holiday tomorrow, and that all sorts of good things come your way. Here’s to another good week coming up!

Sunday Morning 5/23/2021: A Mostly Gentle Week

A gentle sunset on Wednesday evening . . .

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

After nearly two years away, no thanks to the pandemic, both Brett and I finally saw the dentist last week for exams and cleanings. Mostly it was good news, but Brett is going to need three new crowns ($$$$). We’re thinking he may only get the most urgent one taken care of here, and the rest done overseas (where you can get equally good dental care at a much, much lower price, even without insurance). I fared somewhat better with just one old filling needing to be replaced (it had cracked), but I also need to start wearing a mouth guard at night because I apparently am now clenching my teeth when I sleep. We picked one up yesterday and I did OK with it last night. I’ve also been instructed to start using a Waterpik-type device along with my flossing. There are portable ones for travel so we’re investigating those.

Our neighbors on the other side of the building are moving off the island next week in order to become full-time travel nomads! They have been selling everything they own for a month or so and held a final, big two-day yard sale this past week. I was frankly amazed by the amount of stuff they had, but know that the longer you’ve stayed in a place, the more you accumulate, and they’d been here for several years. They asked us if we wanted anything, but we honestly don’t need another thing and quite literally have no room for one more thing anyway. They also suggested we ask to move over into their apartment after they’re gone as it’s the same rent but a bigger space. Although having a bigger kitchen with full-size appliances is tempting the apartment lacks the sunshine we get in our apartment, and also does not get the air flow we have here – they had lots of fans for sale. Plus, the front door on their place opens directly out to the yard which means a bigger potential for bugs. Our apartment is up off the ground, and bugs don’t like to climb stairs.

A s’more is almost too sweet for me these days, but once in a while it’s a fun treat for dessert, and not too indulgent. Fingers are crossed on both hands that the weather will allow us use our fire pit so we can actually make one!

We bought graham crackers, Hershey bars, and marshmallows this week to make s’mores now and again with our fire pit in the coming weeks, figuring maybe the weather might finally cooperate one of these evenings and we should be ready. We thought yesterday evening was going to be our big chance, or at least it looked the way until mid-afternoon when heavy clouds and rain rolled in. Sigh. Seriously, since we bought that fire pit we’ve had all of two or three evenings that were suitable for a fire – it’s either been too windy or too wet to sit outside. Neither of us can remember a spring like this when we lived here before. In the meantime, our s’mores ingredients are stored in the back of the pantry so we’re not tempted, although I told Brett if we don’t get to have a fire in the next couple of weeks I’m going to go ahead and roast marshmallows over the stove!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished two books this week, The Devotion of Suspect X, and Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. The latter was one of those books that kept me up at night, but I finished it in two and half days. I’m still waiting for a book to come off of hold, so in the meantime I downloaded The Lady In the Lake, by Laura Lippman, which has gotten rave reviews and was to my surprise actually available for checkout. So far, so good.
  • Listening to: It’s very, very quiet both inside and out. There’s no wind at all this morning, no noise other than birds singing, just blue sky sky and quiet. Brett’s making his breakfast, and I’ve got a freshly made, hot cup of coffee in front of me – perfection. I know, I know, we should go light a fire!
  • Watching: We finished all the available episodes of Tennison (which was great) and watched Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse on Friday and yesterday. We’ll have to look for something else to sink our teeth into tonight. Great British Menu marches on, and some of my favorite chefs from the season are in the running for the D-Day commemorative banquet – the winners will be announced tonight. After the banquet show tomorrow, another new season will begin on Tuesday, with the next banquet celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Institute.
  • Happy we accomplished last week: Besides getting those dental visits done I was also scheduled to get my ID card renewed on Tuesday, but the computers at the base went down that morning so I got my appointment rescheduled for this coming week instead. Otherwise, other than doing our food shopping last Sunday there were no major accomplishments, just the regular stuff we try to accomplish each week. However, I can’t tell you how much I love having a week with only “regular stuff” to do. We got our shopping done last Sunday afternoon, and initially thought we might make Sunday our shopping day going forward as Costco was almost empty, a pleasant surprise. Walmart was a madhouse though so that idea got scratched. We can deal with crazy at Costco, but less so at Walmart.
  • Looking forward to next week: Hopefully this will be the week the weather gives us a break and we get up to Kokee State Park. We’re also going to try to get in another beach day and a hike at Barking Sands when we’re there to my ID renewed, weather permitting.

In spite of the clouds it was actually very sunny at Salt Pond, and quite hot too. It was too windy though to set up our umbrella.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: We spent a lovely afternoon at the beach on Friday. We almost didn’t go because it was so windy, and it looked quite cloudy in that direction as well, but when we got there it was delightful. It was hot enough that we even spent some time in the water to cool off! Otherwise, there were no standout good things during the week, just a nice week overall.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Well, we went (slightly) over budget with our food shopping last week which was frustrating. Several necessary non-food items put us over, but on the positive side they will not need to replaced or restocked for a l-o-n-g time, like over a year in a couple of cases. Our big case of toilet paper (80 rolls) arrived last Friday. The price was a slightly lower than we paid last time (still less than 60 cents per roll), and far less than anything we could find on the island, even with a coupon. Also arriving this week will be a case (12 containers) of my favorite roasted red pepper & tomato soup, with individual boxes at least $1 less than what we’d pay out in town. We put $5.63 into the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 1,872 Swagbucks. I completed two surveys last week totaling 500 SB which did not pay out, but I filed a claim for each of them and hope to see at least some of those points this week (I always take screen shots of the completion pages so I have proof to include with any claim). I am so close to earning the next Delta gift card! We did a good job of finishing up all of the leftovers that were produced last week and nothing was thrown out.
We had half a bunch of basil left over from another recipe, but I remembered we had a big can of San Marzano tomatoes in the back of the pantry and I made some marinara which was frozen for later. Nothing wasted!
  • Grateful for: This was another week for feeling thankful for having dental insurance, especially considering all the work we’ve had done in the past few years. Dental care is appallingly expensive, and the insurance has made it possible for us to afford some expensive, but necessary work.
  • Bonus questionWhat is a character quality about yourself you need to work on? I am a continual work in progress about always wanting to have everything perfect. I even annoy myself sometimes! I sometimes have a hard time knowing the difference between when detail is necessary and when it’s not, although I think I’m getting better and more relaxed as I grow older (for example, I no longer refold towels so they look perfect on the shelf). There’s nothing wrong with liking order, but I can still get too wrapped up in the little stuff and miss the bigger picture. I can also be judgmental but I’m more mindful of when I’m doing that these days and letting it go as it really doesn’t matter most of the time nor push the story forward. Like the perfectionism, it’s still a work in progress though.
Gardenias have always been a favorite of mine, a good memory from my childhood when we had a row of bushes running down the side of our driveway.

Brett picked a small bouquet of gardenias this past week to bring a little spring into the apartment – the scent has been lovely. The big bush in the yard is almost bloomed out though. The guava tree on the side of the apartment is apparently not going to produce much of anything this year. We were hoping for another big crop (although not as crazy as last year) so we could make jam again, but it seems like the tree exhausted itself last year and has to rest this season. There are a few more oranges left to pick and lots of other blooms going on, but I can tell we’re moving into warmer weather even if it doesn’t always feel that way. The beauty of our yard is one of the biggest reasons we don’t want to move from our apartment, along with the gorgeous sunset views. We couldn’t have found a better place for the two of us to live here if we had tried – the grass is greener here.

That’s all this week, a fairly quiet, easy one, all things considered. Writing this post always helps me reflect on the good things that have happened and what we’ve accomplished even if it doesn’t seem like much. It also helps me focus on what’s coming up and the areas where we/I can do better. I hope it was a gentle week for everyone as well and that the week coming up will be a good/better one for all.

Sunday Morning 5/16/2021: Older, Better, Wiser

Nothing spectacular this week, but lots of pretty evenings nonetheless.

Good Morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Just what I wanted!

Last week was absolutely wonderful, better than I could have dreamed. I ended it another year older, but in the grand scheme of things also better than ever, and somewhat wiser too. My Day of Doing Nothing on Mother’s Day was supremely relaxing, and Brett also spoiled me on my birthday. I received the beautiful earrings on my list from him for Mother’s Day; mid-week a package arrived from the girls arrived containing a red slate cheeseboard and the mini-waffle maker I wanted; and on my birthday I woke up to find a $50 Amazon gift card in my email, a gift from our son and DIL! The waffle maker is positively adorable, makes delicious waffles, and it’s also light enough that we’ve already decided it will go along with us on our travels. I’m still thinking about how to use the gift card but leaning toward purchasing another pair of earrings. Anyway, I had a wonderful week and it a great entrance to the last year of my 60s.

All the above was spread throughout the drawer in my bedside table.

Brett and I started a push this past week to use up all sorts of little odds and ends we either brought back from our travels or have accumulated since we returned here. For example, I cleaned out the drawer in my bedside table and discovered three containers/tubes of lip balm, one tub of cuticle cream, and two tubes of papaw ointment (for dry heels). We have other jars and tubes of stuff in the bathroom that we can use up rather than toss. We also have some medications left over but most of those will get thrown out and we’ll start from scratch again when we get ready to go next time. We need to rethink our first aid kit for the next round of travel as we took too many things that never got used (like bug repellent wipes) and not enough of other things (sinus and cold medicine). A couple of other items we didn’t take the last time that will definitely be going this next time will be masks and bigger packets of disinfectant wipes. Hopefully the masks won’t be needed by the time we get ready to go, but I don’t think we’ll ever go anywhere without them again.

This past week was a semi-bad one for allergies, but so many things are in bloom right now all over the place and all sorts of things are popping out on the trees, so I’m not really surprised. The weather and barometric pressure swings have given me off-and-on sinus headaches during the week as well, and the humidity is starting to creep up at times too, although thankfully that hasn’t been consistent either. Mostly it’s still breezy and cool, and it rains every night.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: John Le Carré’s Call For the Dead came off hold from the library on Tuesday, the day before I finished Jo Nesbø’s The Bat so I segued right into that. Call For the Dead is the first in Le Carré’s George Smiley series, and was a fairly short book as well (they get longer as they go along, sort of like the Harry Potter books), so I quickly finished it. Le Carré’s prose is such a pleasure to read and I’m looking forward to the next in the series. The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino came off of hold just as I was finishing Call For the Dead so that’s what I’m reading now. I read it several years ago but remember absolutely nothing about it other than it’s set in modern-day Japan.
Crazy windy out there this morning!
  • Listening to: The wind roaring through our yard is crazy loud this morning, like a freight switching yard at times. It started early in the morning and woke me up because it was so loud (and I wear ear plugs!). The temperature is lovely though and the sky is blue, so no complaints. Indoors Brett is fixing his breakfast but otherwise it’s calm and quiet in the neighborhood.
  • Watching: We finally finished all of the DCI Banks episodes this past week and have started Tennyson, the “prequel” series to the Prime Suspect series, which starred Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennyson. I’m still working my way through Great British Menu, and the D-Day banquet contest will be coming to a close this week. We enjoyed watching The Woman In the Window on Friday (on Netflix) – the suspense and tension were well done, but it was different from the book. Still a good film though.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: 1) I had a good discussion with the gastroenterologist this past week, but even though I am doing all the right things my GERD remains enough of an issue that I have been scheduled for an EDG procedure at the end of July. I was surprised to learn it may be hereditary – my dad had a very acidic stomach and I might have inherited the same from him. 2) Brett and I got in a good hike and a quality beach day at Barking Sands on Thursday, with the whole place to ourselves once again. It was sunny and warm there with a gentle breeze and very peaceful. 3) I put several more books on hold at the library and added quite a few to my “for later” list as well. 4) I made a shopping list, but hope to take at least two things off of it before we go later today.
  • Looking forward to next week: It’s time for another food shopping trip, but this one should be fairly small as we still have many things on hand. We have a busy week coming up so are going to take care of that errand today. Shopping is one of our few “public” outings these days, so I look forward to it and have fun trying to stay at or under our budget. I’m excited about putting together my first charcuterie board for one of our dinners next week, and I’ve put some things for that on our shopping list. Both Brett and I have dental appointments this week (cleanings and exams), and we also have to go out to Barking Sands on Tuesday afternoon to renew my ID card, so will try to fit in another beach day as well (if possible). We’ll also try again for a trip up to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park this week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I had an absolutely wonderful week, and felt spoiled every day. Receiving everything on my gift list and more was icing on the cake, and I loved talking with all of our kids and grandkids during the week. Brunch with Brett on Mother’s Day was fun and delicious, and for my birthday he picked up Puka Dogs and a bottle of Diet Coke for my birthday lunch. I haven’t had a Diet Coke in nearly a year and it was a fun treat. Both Meiling and WenYu received their first dose of the vaccine this past week, very good news that left Brett and I feeling very relieved. Oh, and our grandchildren got a puppy yesterday, an adorable Boston Terrier they’ve named Oreo!
Best pals already.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Our monthly Internet payment went up by $15/month in April because our one-year introductory price ended but with our upstairs neighbor now paying half, we’re in good shape. The cost of two meals eaten out this week (Sunday brunch and birthday Puka Dogs) came in under $50, pretty good for Kaua’i, and overall we had another pretty low spend week. We skipped a trip to the farm stand on Wednesday as we had lots of produce on hand and want to get it used up, but we bought two tubs of ice cream (Dreyer’s, 2 for $7.50 with coupon at Big Save) for desserts when half of our beautiful lemon cake had to be thrown out on Wednesday when we discovered mold – ugh! We made a planned stop in Waimea on our way to Barking Sands to pick up some Auntie Lilikoi jam and lilikoi butter, and were going to buy a jar of lilikoi mustard but they gave it to us as a thank you! Nothing other than the cake was tossed last week, and all leftovers were eaten. We put $5.00 into the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 2,037 Swagbucks.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling thankful these days for all the great mysteries, thrillers and detective stories that are still out there for me to discover and for the wonderful books I’ve enjoyed so far this year. I am having so much fun that I’m already thinking about continuing the theme next year.
I still love this movie – so romantic! – but couldn’t they have found an Asian actress for the lead? Jennifer Jones was so obviously not Asian or even half-Asian. William Holden was a hottie though. The theme song for this movie is burned into my brain to this day.
  • Bonus question: What were your favorite TV shows as a child? Boy, am I going to date myself with the answer to this. We only had three channels for as long as I remember (there wasn’t even PBS) and I didn’t watch all that much TV, but when I was young I always loved the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz – it was “must watch” TV every year from elementary school all the way through middle school. The Million Dollar Movie was also a favorite, where a local station showed a different movie each week and played it every day, twice on Saturday and Sunday. My all-time favorite was Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing with William Holden and Jennifer Jones. They played it every year, usually in the summer, and I would watch every showing if possible. It was so romantic! My favorite TV shows back in the day were Sgt. Bilko (still a favorite and still very funny), Get Smart (I still laugh every time I think of the Cone of Silence), The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission Impossible, and the original Hawaii 5-0 (“Book em, Dan-o!”). My favorite made for TV movie of all time remains Dracula, with Jack Palance in the starring role. It was very creepy at the time but in a good way and I’d love to see it again. And, I absolutely loved seeing the Beatles for the first time on The Ed Sullivan show – my siblings and I parked ourselves in front of the TV early in the day so we wouldn’t miss a moment LOL. As children we weren’t allowed to watch Westerns or crime or detective shows (my mother considered them too violent because they used guns) but I occasionally snuck out and sat with my Dad and watched with him. Thinking about it, I never got in the habit of watching a lot of TV – a couple of hours in the evening has always been plenty for me.

This past week has been one of reflection, on all the good things that are going on for Brett and me right now. Our marriage is strong, we love where we live and our current lifestyle, we’ve got some big, exciting goals that have us very motivated, we’re in good physical shape and getting stronger, and we are financially comfortable. Life isn’t perfect because it never is, but we seem to be able to ride the ups and downs easier than we did in the past. We also know from experience that life changes, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly, so we are working hard at being more mindful of all the good things we have now. We feel very, very blessed.

I hope that everyone enjoyed a great week filled with good friends, good books, good food, and lots of good things happening. Best news this week is no masks necessary if you’ve been vaccinated – we really are putting this virus behind us! Anyway, I’m looking forward to the week coming up and hope everyone is as well. Here’s to another week of good things!

Sunday Morning 5/9/2021: Happy Mother’s Day!

There was some big sunset action with lots of color on Wednesday night following a stormy day.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

( photo credit: Kelsey Curtis/Unsplash)

Hau`oli La Makuahine! Happy Mother’s Day! Brett’s giving me my all-time favorite gift of the year today: the Day of Doing Nothing. He’s taking over all my chores today from bed making to cooking so I can enjoy an entire day of relaxation, but we’re also going out to brunch at the Kalaheo Cafe later this morning (eggs Benedict!). All the kids have checked in from all over, so I’m a happy mom!

I have felt myself starting to burn out with doing Swagbucks, so I’m purposely going slower this month as I still want to reach the goals I set for myself this year (two more $500 Delta gift cards), and I’d rather go slower and earn them than push myself too hard and give up early. This month I’m concentrating on reaching my daily goal and not worrying about earning more or getting to the higher second daily goal (which was getting ridiculously high). So far, so good, and I’m feeling less frustrated when yet another survey rejects me. Whenever I feel discouraged though I stop and imagine myself in Japan or at YaYu’s graduation next year, and that helps me continue. I’d been trying to decide whether to continue with Swagbucks into next year as well, maybe even earning yet another card, but right now quitting at the end of this year seems a better goal.

Will it or won’t it? It will and it did – rain started about five minutes after I took this picture.

I woke up to pouring rain this morning. We are beginning to wonder if the weather here is ever going to calm down this year. It’s been another week of extremes, from beautiful, sunny skies to pouring rain and wind. Brett comes from the “weather report is always right” school of thought, and says things like “there’s only a 10% chance of rain at 4:00 p.m. so we can get out and walk.” I adhere to the “look out the window and see what’s happening” school of weather prediction. We both get it right about 50% of the time. Kaua’i has so many different microclimates operating though, so while it may be miserable at our home it can be sunny and breezy a couple of miles away up at the park or other places, and vice versa, no matter what the weather report says or the sky looks like here. The weather can also change in a very short period of time. I can’t count the times we’ve gone for a walk, skies have been blue with few clouds, and then a big cloud rolls in and rain arrives before we’re done (or the opposite happening). Anyway, I’d love to have some more consistently sunny weather than what we’ve been dealing with this spring. It will be here, but I’m feeling impatient!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished two books this week: The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley, and The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Both were great page turners and fun reads. One of the things I love about the mystery genre is that while they can sometimes be dense and full of detail, backstories, etc. and require a lot of concentration, they can also be full of action and suspense, like the two above, and move along quickly. You can have your choice of a fabulous, several-course gourmet meal when you read a mystery, or dip into an exquisite box of chocolates: quicker but equally as satisfying. I’m currently reading The Bat by Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian mystery writer.
  • Listening to: It was pouring rain when I got up but that’s stopped and I can see blue sky off to the west. Birds are singing again, so there’s hope for a nice day coming up. Otherwise it’s a lovely, quiet morning inside and out!
  • Watching: DCI Bates and Great British Menu continue. We were planning to watch The Woman in the Window on Friday (on Netflix), but discovered it won’t be available until this coming Friday. I’ve read the book and know the story, but am greatly looking forward to seeing the film version and hope it’s as good as the book was.
We somehow managed to finish this big bowl of guacamole last week.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: Getting through the ton of leftovers we produced this past week was a huge challenge, but we were determined and got creative and there are none left now. Along with the leftovers from our meals we also had an entire bag of avocados ripen at the same time at the beginning of the week, and getting those eaten before they spoiled added to the challenge (there was lots of avocado toast eaten for breakfast). You’d think I would have figured out by now how to cook less or put leftovers on the evening menu, but no. I also finished up another six weeks of activity cards and have another set ready to go. I am always so surprised when I come to the end of a set – can’t believe the time has gone that fast.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m supposed have a phone consult with a gastroenterologist this week, and am looking forward to maybe getting to the bottom of my stomach issues, or at least getting a better handle on them. My birthday also happens this week and Brett is going to take me out to lunch. Nothing fancy – I’d like to have Puka Dogs again – but it will be a nice change. We’ve also been talking about taking a drive up through Waimea Canyon to Kokee State Park and the overlook, but that will depend on the weather.
We’re well prepared now to get fires started in our fire pit – all we need is some good weather!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I got good news from the eye doctor on Friday: there has been no change in my cataracts during the last six months and I will not need surgery this year. Yeah! I will return in November for another assessment, but otherwise all is well for now, and a new prescription is not needed either which made me very happy. Our neighbors on the other side of our building are leaving Kaua’i at the end of this month (not really a good thing), but they are slowly divesting themselves of their things and brought over a large box of kindling and a small ax for us to cut more for our fire pit! We had been planning to purchase a small ax this month for just this chore, but we’re now set for the summer. We will miss them – they generously helped us as we moved in last year, and have been good neighbors over the past year.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than a quick trip to the farmstand for produce, we had a no-spend week. We put $2.00 in the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 1,752 Swagbucks. I have less than 10,000 Swagbucks to go in order to earn another $500 Delta gift card.
  • Grateful for: This past week Brett got the bill for last month’s surgery: over $22,000, which stopped our breathing for a couple of seconds. However, between Medicare and our military insurance we owe nothing out of pocket. Brett’s staying in the navy to retire has turned out to be the best, most frugal investment we’ve made even though getting there was difficult at the time. Any expression of how grateful we are now for that decision would be an understatement.

My birthday gift list

  • Bonus question: What would you like for your birthday this year? I usually don’t ask for or expect anything for my birthday (for the past several years it’s often ended up being an exhausting travel day!), but this year the girls and Brett asked for a list so after some thought I came up with three items: a slate cheeseboard for charcuterie, a Dash mini-waffle maker (practical for us), and a pair of earrings I spotted on Novica. The earrings were sort of an add-on, but I lost several pairs during our travels, and in the past two months I have had more pairs break, and I am down to just two pairs now and would really, really like some more! I’ve already told Brett that I think the only items on my Christmas list this year will be earrings as I enjoy having a variety to wear, but otherwise I’m good with stuff for now. It remains a mystery whether or not I will receive any of the above items, but at least I produced a list to work from.

The amount of visitors arriving on Kaua’i each day has grown to over 1,000. It’s good for the local economy, but I already miss the peace and quiet we enjoyed during the pandemic. The virus has also been making its presence known again on the island as well, with the largest case numbers ever, even more than last year. Most seem to only require home quarantine thankfully, but it’s still worrying. Both Brett and I are grateful to be vaccinated, but we have no plans to change any of our behaviors and plan to continue to limit our outings along with social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing. We’ve also started talking a little more about our Plan B, as with the rise in cases around the world we are starting to wonder if there will ever really be an end to the pandemic, or how safe it will be to travel in the future. We remain hopeful and optimistic, but there are still so many unknowns right now. Tokyo just set another state of emergency this past week to try and tamp down their increasing numbers and so the Olympics can go on this summer. Although our grandkids will continue to attend their schools, both our son and daughter-in-law are once again working from home, and businesses have had their hours shortened, and other measures have taken to curb the spread of the virus. India and other places in Europe are still struggling as well, and hot spots remain on the mainland.

That’s all for this week! I hope it was a good one for all. We’re looking forward to the week coming up, and for more good things happening, good weather, and all sorts of other good things coming along as well. And to all the moms: enjoy your day today!

Sunday Morning 5/2/2021: May, the Best Month

Tuesday’s sunset was flat-out gorgeous.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Is it really May already? The time really is speeding by even though our days seem so slow and relaxed. Besides being outright one of the best months of the year, May is a special month for me, with both Mother’s Day and my birthday happening within a few days of each other. My favorite treat for Mother’s Day has always been A Day of Doing Nothing, where the girls and Brett used to (and now just Brett) take care of all the chores, from bed making to cooking to laundry – whatever I normally do that day. My upcoming 69th birthday is giving me quite the pause for reflection, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got where I am today and all that I still have to look forward to. I clearly remember relatives at this age seeming positively ancient, and yet here I am and I still don’t feel old for the most part, both mentally and physically. My body tells me otherwise from time to time though, and it’s honestly become more difficult to keep up with all the technological changes, memes, and other cultural bits that are happening all around. I haven’t given up trying though, and am in a great place overall, looking forward to what’s to come.

We did a massive (for us) food shopping this past week as we had run out of so many things, from pantry staples to bread, protein, and produce. It was exhausting too but we have lots of variety on hand now and will be eating well in the coming month! The pantry, fridge, and freezer are stuffed. Costco had a big selection of lovely produce so we stocked up: loads of peppers, locally grown cucumbers because there haven’t been any at the farm stand lately, big, luscious artichokes (yum!), organic bananas, organic apples, melons, and avocados. Ripe strawberries are a treat here and aren’t in the markets very long, and Costco had organic berries at a very good price (almost better than non-organic) so we enjoyed those for a few days as well. Costco is the best place on the island to buy protein and we stocked up in that area as well because our freezer was near empty. No cleaning supplies or pharmacy items were purchased, nor were prepared or convenience items, and the only three non-consumable items in our carts on Tuesday were sunscreen and a pair of shorts, both on sale/special at Costco and on the list, and a 2-pack of paper towels at Walmart. Otherwise, it was all basic food items, building blocks for future meals. Prices are climbing here like everywhere, but Costco and Walmart continue to keep things affordable so we can stay on or under our budget.

It was overcast at our place when we left to go to the beach, but gorgeous and warm when we got there.

Although the weather at beginning of the week started off kind of sketchy, with a storm on Tuesday and rain all day Wednesday, the rest of the week has been very nice, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the beach yesterday. Our apartment is in a poor location for determining the weather in other parts of the island, so we always set off to the beach, for example, with our fingers crossed. It might look sunny over that direction, but the winds could be howling – we won’t know until we get there. Likewise, it can be overcast and windy here, but beautiful up at the park or at the beaches out west. Kaua’i has many microclimates operating over the island, actually one of the things we love about it here, but you can only guess sometimes about what you’ll find when you head off to another location. I am so happy May has arrived though! I’m hoping it will be full of beautiful Hawaii weather: warm temperatures, sunny skies, and just enough rain to keep things green and blooming.

This morning I am:

Sandra Pankhurst, the trauma cleaner.
  • Reading: I read and finished The Trauma Cleaner in four days, an absolutely wonderful book about a most remarkable woman. The book turned out not to be directly about crime (her service does clean up crime scenes or after deaths and suicides) but more about her life and what she has overcome to be the woman she is today. I enjoyed every minute of reading it. The Trauma Cleaner was also my 26th book of the year, so I’m now at the halfway point of my goal to read 52 books this year. My current book is Last Rituals, a novel of murder and suspense originally published in Iceland. It shouldn’t take long to finish, and hopefully by then something else will have come off hold from the library.
  • Watching: Nightly viewing of an episode of DCI Banks continues, and I’m now into the fourth (available) season of Great British Menu. This year the contest benefits the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and winning chefs will cook for a banquet for veterans of that day (the actual banquet was held on June 6, 2014). It will be interesting as always to see which chefs return this year, and what the new chefs bring to the competition. I’ve also come to enjoy the judges as much as the contestants – it’s always a surprise to see who gets assigned to each area (judges are selected from former banquet finalists).
  • Listening to: Although our upstairs neighbor is sort of thumping around this morning, it’s otherwise pretty quiet so far. It’s overcast outside, and there’s a soft breeze and a few birds singing, but much nicer than last night when the winds were howling through the yard and it was pouring rain. It’s actually warm enough that we’ve got the French door open. Rain is also predicted for much of today, but we’re hoping it will be missing this afternoon so we can get up to the park. We usually don’t go for a walk on Sundays, but if we’ll go today if possible because we missed walking yesterday (a beach visit got in the way). Brett just finished putting away all of last night’s dishes and is settling in with his reading, so it’s quiet once again inside.
The John Alden House in Duxbury, MA, is still maintained by his descendants. It looks a bit more weathered these days though than it does in this old postcard.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Another week with small accomplishments, but I did discover where in the UK two more of my family lines (my father’s paternal line, and my grandmother’s maternal line) came from: Barrow-in-Furness, near the Lake District, and Southampton on the southern coast. Three of my maternal grandmother’s lines came to America on the Mayflower (John Alden and Priscilla Mullins being the most famous), and my father’s paternal line came to South Carolina in 1762. That ancestor was apparently quite athletic, and before he left for the colonies had been captured by pirates off the coast of England, but jumped off the ship one night and successfully swam to shore and escaped (the other young man who jumped with him unfortunately drowned). What I found fascinating from that search was all the names that have been passed down and used again and again through the generations in my father’s family, both for men and women. So many Williams, Roberts, Isaacs, Johns, Esthers, Alvas, Sarahs, etc. over and over. My (maternal) grandmother’s father’s line has proved to be the difficult one, and I could only find information going back a couple of generations from her father but know he has Scots heritage. Other than learning more about my family and where we came from in England, all the other things needing to be done got done during the week.
  • Looking forward to next week: Although I’m not entirely looking forward to it, I have an appointment with the eye doctor this week and will most likely learn whether or not I’m going to need cataract surgery this year. My vision has been getting worse, so something is going on. I’m also hoping for more good weather so we can get to the beach again. Our goal for this year is to get to the beach 26 times, and we have LOT of catching up to do!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a lovely, relaxing afternoon at the beach again yesterday, our fourth beach day this year. There were lots of family groups at the beach park while we were there, and kids swimming – it felt good to see those happening again. On the way back from the beach we stopped in to see if the ReStore in Hanapepe still had some silk plants we had spotted before. They did, and we scored a big leafy palm tree in excellent condition for just $38. When we arrived last year, silk plants this size in the furniture stores were selling for over $500 (some online are going for $800) so we decided it was a worthwhile purchase, and we can sell it when we leave. We love the way it adds to the living room, and best of all, I can’t kill it!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We knew before we set out on our food shopping trip that we would be spending more than usual and budgeted accordingly. Because of what we bought now we’ll need very little in the middle of the month so the monthly food budget should balance out. Because we basically live in the same house, we’re going to share our Internet connection with our upstairs neighbor; he will pay half of the bill each month, and that money will go into our travel savings. We put $2.00 into the change/$1 bill bag this week, and saved a total of $21.18 in April. I earned 2,038 Swagbucks this past week, and 784 bonus Swagbucks for April!
I’m at an age now where balloons may be better than candles (photo credit: Caterina Berger/Unsplash)
  • Grateful for: This month I will celebrate the final year of my 7th decade, and I am very, very thankful to have gotten this far in what I think is very good shape and good health, all things considered, and in pretty good financial shape as well. I’m looking forward to the future and enjoying several more active years and adventures!
  • Bonus question: What is your favorite board game? Scrabble! Brett and I still play with the set that he and I bought when we first started dating, over 44 years ago. He usually wins (better letter draws at the beginning for some reason) but the games are still fun and thought provoking. I don’t know if it counts as an actual board game, but I love to play Yahtzee. Our original red plastic cup from 1980 (which had been fortified several times with duct tape) finally gave up the ghost right before we left Kaua’i in 2018, but we carried along a new cup and scorecards with us. Our family created our own version of the game, playing across the scorecard to fill the squares versus down each row one at a time. Our way goes faster, is more exciting, and involves more strategy as well. I also love playing Cards Against Humanity, and the old Trivial Pursuit (when the questions were harder). Otherwise, I am not a huge fan of board games although some of the ones available these days are amazing. I have a friend in Portland that’s deeply into them and her collection is fascinating as are the game themes. Still not my thing though – I prefer card games because they move faster than a board game.

In case you’ve ever been curious (but probably aren’t), this Sunday post does not actually get written on Sunday morning, or at least much of it doesn’t. I used to write the whole thing on Sunday, but it became such an effort that I decided there had to be a better way. These days I typically put up the template for the post on Tuesday, and as things happen throughout the week (books finished, things accomplished, good things, etc.) I make notes in the template. The actual writing doesn’t usually start until Friday and continues into Saturday, with pictures added on Saturday evening. I worry every week about not having enough pictures, but always seem to find them in the end. The most difficult part of the post is coming up with a bonus question, followed by what I’m grateful for, only because I am grateful for too many things to have to pick just one. On Sunday morning I go through everything one last time, add in what I’m listening to at the moment, and then hit “publish.” Hopefully the truth of how this post gets done has not destroyed anyone’s image of me sitting with my computer and just pulling this thing together effortlessly. I am not and have never been in any way, shape, or form an effortless writer. Writing is real work for me, but I love doing it.

All in all it was another quiet, but great week. Money was well spent, books were finished and started, good things happened, and I have much to be grateful for. I’m looking forward to the week coming up, and hope everyone out there is as well!

Sunday Morning 4/18/2021: Good Things Happening All Week

We enjoyed pretty skies most evenings this week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Lots and lots of good things happened this past week, but the best was YaYu learning that the research project she was hired for at the college has received full funding, and that she will be getting paid enough to support herself back in Pennsylvania for the summer. We are beyond excited for her because a) she will be getting paid enough to support herself, and b) research experience is required for admission into graduate programs in her field, and she will begin applying to those in the fall. She has mapped out what she needs to do in the future to accomplish her goals, and that includes attending graduate school and earning a Ph.D., and plans to continue and go straight through for that following her graduation from Bryn Mawr. We’re so proud of this girl!

On Wednesday morning we visited Ned’s farm stand in Kalaheo for the first time, recommended last week by Jane (who lives nearby). He had a nice selection of produce, although not everything we were looking for, but his prices were good and we will be returning in the future rather than dealing with all the visitors that are back at the weekly Kukui’ula market. Some of our favorite farmers sell at the market, but it was growing more and more unpleasant dealing with increasingly pushy customers and the lack of social distancing. After our visit to the farm stand we headed west to Hanapepe to drop off some clothes and finally check out the big resale store there. Although it’s called the Habitat for Humanity Re-store, the center is about one-third traditional thrift store with the other two-thirds building supplies. We had fun walking around the store – they did have some very nice stuff – and found a pair of Tori Richard shorts for Brett in the color he wanted for $6 (new pairs of Tori Richard shorts go for around $100 and up). I found a cute woman’s sleeveless aloha shirt with vintage coconut shell buttons that fit perfectly, but then discovered several stains down the front that we weren’t sure we could get out. Boo hoo! We also found a great little Chinese cookbook in like-new condition for $1 that we’ll put away for YaYu. On the way back home we stopped at Big Save in Eleele, where we picked up some Hawaii-grown green beans, broccoli, and butternut squash to give us enough vegetables for the week.

It was clear enough last Monday afternoon that we could see the tops of the mountains over on Oahu from Kukuiolono Park. I’d love to see as much as is shown in this picture, but I’m not a morning person.

The weather this week has been a vast improvement of what we’ve been experiencing since the first of the year. The first few days of the week were absolutely gorgeous, with blue skies, warmer temperatures, and soft breezes from the trade winds. We really should have headed to the beach as things started getting sketchy again on Thursday. Friday was just sort of meh though and couldn’t seem to make up its mind about what kind of day it wanted to be. I can’t get over these days how much my mood and sense of well-being improves when the sun comes out – I’ve had enough of clouds and cool temperatures! We got our first ripe guavas off the tree this week, and Brett added a couple to his morning oatmeal one day – they made the whole apartment smell so good. Our fingers are crossed for another good harvest this year so we can make another batch or two of guava jam for the year.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished both Moonstone Murders and Started Early, Took My Dog (I greatly enjoyed both), and the day before I finished Home Before Dark, by Riley Sager, became available for download from the library! It’s very eerie, and I’m hoping the answer to what’s been going on will have a logical explanation.
  • Listening to: Brett got up ahead of me this morning for a change and is making coffee and putting last night’s dishes away. We haven’t opened the windows or doors yet as there a fairly stiff breeze blowing this morning (loudly at times) and know it will be better to do that a little later. I can’t tell yet what kind of day it’s going to be though – it looks almost overcast but I can also see plenty of blue sky and the sun is shining through now and again. I was awakened this morning by a bird singing right outside the window, but otherwise it’s a perfecty quiet Sunday morning, and quiet mornings are one of the best things about being retired.
  • Watching: There were only three episodes of Endeavour in the 2020 season so we finished that quickly, and then started DCI Banks, It’s OK but not the most gripping series we’ve ever watched. They all seem to yell a lot. It has several seasons though so maybe we’ll get more into it as it goes along. Great British Menu continues, but I’m still not feeling as engaged with or as excited about this season as the previous two although a couple of chefs that I enjoy watching are back again and doing well. I also watched (streamed online) Frontline: American Insurrection, covering militias and other white supremacist groups operating in the U.S., and their part in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The show was both enlightening and very scary.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Other than getting our Hawaii taxes filed there weren’t any big accomplishments, just the usual stuff. Federal taxes aren’t due until next month and since we have to pay this year we’ll wait until almost the last moment to send those off.
The Tip Top Cafe’s very yummy banana-macadamia nut pancakes – it’s been a while, but they’re worth waiting for.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett’s 71st birthday is coming up this week and we’re both looking forward to breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe that morning (banana-macadamia pancakes – yum!). I also have a much-needed hair appointment that day, so after breakfast we’ll drive up to Kapaa to for that and then take a long walk on the eastside beach path before coming home. It’s also time this week for another food shopping trip, but we won’t be buying much because it’s such a short time until we go again, and we don’t need much. We’re hoping to fit in another beach day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: With YaYu’s news, new places to get our produce, thrift store finds, fruit from our guava tree, seeing Oahu, and good weather, the only other good thing that could have happened this week was getting to the beach, but we should be able to go this week. We’d love to see our stimulus check arrive, but it’s still been somewhat early for that. Next week we can realistically start to anticipate its arrival.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We put $3.67 into the change/$1 bill bag this week, and I earned a whopping’ 2,544 Swagbucks. I’m right where I need to be to earn another $500 Delta card before the end of June. We had been planning to buy a new pair of shorts for Brett at Costco this week, but the shorts we found at the resale store saved us more than half of what we would have paid for new, and besides being in great condition they fit and look great. We ended up spending slightly less than $19 for our farm stand produce and the vegetables we picked up at Big Save, the same or less than we would have paid for similar items at the farmers’ market (and there would have been no butternut squash). We were very happy about that and will continue with those two places for produce going forward. And, after a slow start, the blog is bringing in income! It’s not a lot but a good start nonetheless. Thank you so much for continuing to read.
  • Grateful for: Although we plan to become full-time nomads again, Brett and I are both thankful for the many options we have come up with going forward, that for now we’re not locked into any one thing. We have a preferred path, but there are others we can take if for any reason our first choice doesn’t work out.
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite ethnic “fast food?” Number one for me would be sushi. Most big supermarkets seem to have a sushi bar these days and it’s so easy to pick up a pack or two (usually inari sushi and/or kappamaki for me) for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner. I also love tacos, especially from food trucks or little stands – they’re inexpensive and always taste so good. My favorite style are tacos al pastor, second would be fish tacos, but I’ll eat just about anything in a taco other than tripe or other offal. I don’t know if it counts as “ethnic fast food” if you’re in the country of origin, but when we’re in Japan we love to eat karaage, Japanese fried chicken, especially bought just-fried from a stand, as well as other quick meals like takoyaki (octopus dumplings), yakisoba (grilled noodles), onigiri (seaweed wrapped rice balls) and the prepared Japanese meals from convenience stores. The quality there is very high, especially compared to the U.S. and Japanese fast food is very affordable compared to U.S. as well. We only eat sushi at restaurants there, never as fast food! Pushing the boundaries of “ethnic,” I wonder if Kauai’s Puka Dogs would count as ethnic fast food – we love the sausages stuffed into the special buns made with a hole along with the locally made relishes and sauces that go along with the sausage. They’re only found here on the island!

Lots of things are blooming in the yard right now, and buds are very close to opening on the gardenia bush. The yard is one of the best things about living in our apartment, and I appreciate it every day, whether that’s looking out the French doors in the living room, or sitting out on the deck. It provides a constant reminder that we live in beautiful Hawaii. The yard crew did their thing this past week so it’s looking especially nice right now, and we’re thankful we’re not responsible for the upkeep. Brett continues to take care of the koi, keeping them fed and the pond clean. The pond is located outside one of our bedroom windows, and sometimes late at night I hear one of them leaping up out of the water!

I hope last week was as good a week for everyone else as it was here. We’re looking forward to the week coming up now, hoping for more good things happening, and hope you are as well!

Sunday Morning 4/11/2021: Rest & Recovery

There were some nice sunsets this week, but other evenings all the sun provided was a glow over the horizon.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Happy Laura getting her second dose of the COVID vaccine. This one was easier than the first.

We had Brett at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, he was into surgery by 8:00, and ready for pick-up at noon! Everything went according to plan, and his post-op bloodwork showed the results all were hoping for. I left Brett at the hospital before 8:00 a.m. – the anesthesiologist gave Brett something to help “relax” him but it knocked him right out – so it was a good time for me to go. I drove home and took care of things here (sleep was impossible though) until I got the word a little before noon that he was ready to be picked up. On the back way into town I stopped and picked up a prescription for him, and then went to the vaccine clinic to see if they would take me earlier than my appointment for my second dose. The answer was “sure,” and other than a very slightly sore arm for a couple of hours that day I had no side effects from the second dose. Brett has spent the week resting and relaxing – the surgery knocked him for a bigger loop than he imagined it would – but he’s pretty much back to a normal level of activity now. We’re back to our daily walks, but still don’t have any desire to get back out in the thick of things here. Visitor numbers are ticking up every day – we’re sort of dreading the farmers’ market this coming week.

It looks warm and inviting, but it’s actually quite chilly out there.

The week started off cold and very windy and it stayed cool all week. The pattern for the week was rain still dripping off the house when we woke up, but with surprisingly blue skies and sunshine with cool temperatures outside. By late morning clouds would roll in to a point where we started to wonder if we’d be able to walk that day because it could be raining. With fingers crossed we would go up to the park every day to discover that it was mostly sunny and beautiful up there with a cool breeze – perfect walking weather! Yeah! After sunset though the temperature would start dropping again, and by the time we go to bed it was downright chilly and often raining once again. I don’t remember it ever feeling this cold when we were here before, but I think the house we lived in previously was better insulated, and it was also designed in a way that air did not move through the house (no breeze flowing through the house to cool things off). We experience much more wind where we live now (the other house sat on a lot with hills on two sides that blocked any wind), and the windows in our apartment are arranged for maximum airflow. I’m trying to appreciate the cold as much as I can because I know hot and humid weather is coming and I’ll be wishing then for cooler and breezier days.

We’ve missed the old school local vibe of the Tip Top Cafe.

Less than two years from now we will, God willing, be on the road once again. Sometimes it seems like such a long way off, but then I remind myself we’re already into April of this year and how did we get here so quickly? There seems to always be something happening or coming up that moves the calendar along faster than we imagined. Brett celebrates his birthday toward the end of this month, and now that we’re vaccinated we’re planning to celebrate with breakfast at the TipTop Cafe in Lihue. We’ve missed being able to eat there, but it just didn’t feel safe before (and they were closed when when we arrived and for several months afterwards). Anyway, his birthday will be here before we know it, April will finish, and then we’ll be on to the next month. I want to lose an additional six pounds this year, but am beginning to wonder if I can to accomplish that goal – the year seems to be speeding by while the weight loss has slowed to a crawl. While we have much to look forward to in the next two years, I know time is going to go faster than we can imagine now, and before we know it it will be YaYu’s graduation, for our fall trip to Japan, and finally to pack up and move on to our next Big Adventure.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: Just as I finished When Will There Be Good News?, the third book in the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson, two more books came available from the library at the same time. So, I’m reading two books again, with my daytime book The Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, and my nighttime reading the fourth Jackson Brodie book, Started Early, Took My Dog (which I think is the last book of the series). Yet another book came off of hold mid-week, but I was able to have it held for another week or so until I can get one of the other books finished.
  • Listening to: For all my ranting above about how cold it’s been this past week, this morning is lovely! The loud winds of this past week are soft breezes, and it’s actually warm enough that instead of wanting a blanket, we’ve opened the French doors. Brett’s knocking around in the kitchen putting last night’s dishes away and making coffee, and our upstairs neighbor just left for the day so the footsteps upstairs have stopped. It’s a quiet, warm morning with lovely weather but I feel like we’ve earned it.
  • Watching: We finished watching Case Histories this past week. We loved all the Edinburgh scenery and sites we recognized as we watched. We began watching Season 7 of Endeavour last night – it’s always well done. The Olympic banquet finale on Great British Menu was great, although lots of things kept going wrong. The chefs were still able to overcome it all and get out their dishes. I feel like the current season has started off sort of meh compared to the two past seasons so hopefully things will pick up as it goes along. In this season the chefs need to create dishes with a comedy or “fun” theme, but it’s just not as interesting for me as the past seasons’ requirements.
  • Happy I accomplished: On the day of Brett’s surgery, it took a wild bit of scheduling to fit everything in, and having to operate on a limited amount of sleep didn’t help, but everything got done and turned out the way it was supposed to. Otherwise we’ve had a very quiet week at home as Brett recovers. I’ve semi-successfully weaned myself off of Twitter (I’m only reading it for a few minutes at night) and am enjoying having more time for other things.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m looking forward to Brett feeling good enough to walk our regular route with me up the park again – I’ve missed my walking companion. We’ve don’t have anything on the calendar for this coming week, but if we get a nice day we want to go to Barking Sands for a picnic and walk there.
Proof of life
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides Brett’s surgery going well, and getting my second dose of the vaccine – both very, very good things – our neighbor brought over a large, beautiful bouquet of flowers from their yard for Brett. She works at the hospital and met us going into the surgery entrance the other morning. Bryn Mawr announced all students and staff will be receiving the vaccine on April 19 and we’re hoping it won’t be too long before WenYu and Meiling will get theirs as well. My new passport arrived in the mail so I’m officially ready to travel the world again for the next 10 years! Both Brett and I are saving our old passports this time for sentimental reasons.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had some milk going sour so I made a double batch of pancakes to use it up and froze them for later. The weather was sketchy enough on Wednesday afternoon that we decided to skip the farmers’ market and instead picked up a few items at Big Save and spent less than $5.00. Other than that and picking up a prescription for Brett we had a no-spend week. $3.81 went into the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 2,206 Swagbucks this past week. The leftovers are once again manageable and being eaten quickly, and nothing needed to be thrown away this week.
  • Grateful for: We are very thankful for the good outcome from Brett’s surgery, and that his recovery this past week has gone well. He has felt tired most of the week, which was expected, but he’s almost back to normal and ready to get on with things. Both of us are also grateful for our COVID vaccinations, and to all those who made it possible.
  • Bonus question: Would you rather be busier or have less to do than you do now? This requires a very subjective answer because what many would consider being busy others could see as not having much or enough to do at all. Some might look at my current life and find it boring, or think that I don’t do much of anything, but my days are full for me, with projects always being started, worked on, or completed. After years of having a daily schedule loaded with activities and responsibilities from work and the girls’ schedules, and always having to fit in the things I wanted or needed to do where and when I could, I love being able to fill (or not fill) my days when and as I wish. There are several things I work to accomplish every day and I keep weekly activity cards to make sure those things get done (reading, writing, exercise, and so forth) but I love the ability to do them at my own pace these days rather than trying to arrange them around what everyone else is doing. Anyway, I guess the answer to this is I like being busy but in a relaxed way, and prefer the happy medium of having plenty of things to do on my own schedule.

Although we stayed close to home this week, we did get out in the neighborhood to look at some of the hibiscus flowers that are blooming around us. The yellow ones in the lower right are absolutely huge, each about the size of a large dessert plate! I keep meaning to ask our neighbor if we can come over and take a peek at their yard, where they grow the beautiful flowers that are in Brett’s bouquet. The garden is large enough to be able to provide flowers for hotels in the area, so I can only imagine how glorious it looks (the husband is retired and growing flowers and other tropical plants is his hobby). More and more plants are blooming in our yard as well, the orange tree is still blossoming, and the guava tree is beginning to set fruit – we’re hoping for as good a harvest as we had last year. We can almost no longer see the little house behind us because the trees have grown so much. It turns out they’re durian trees and there are now two giant fruits hanging in among the branches and leaves.

The large brown football-shaped fruit hanging in the tree are durians. I’m happy not to be around whenever one of those is opened!

That’s a wrap to a quiet but successful week where everything happened as it should. Wishing all a good week coming up, filled with good things happening, good food, good books, and enough to keep you all busy without wearing you out.

Sunday Morning 4/4/2021: Happy Easter!

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Wishing all who celebrate a very happy and blessed Easter! I think this is the first year I can remember where I haven’t had a Cadbury Creme Egg (or several of them). They are my favorite chocolate, but are definitely something I can do without these days.

Brett has to be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. so we’ll be having a very, very early wake-up, something I’m not looking forward to. I’ll stay with him until he goes to the operating room, and then I will head over to get my second dose of the COVID vaccination before coming home to wait (and maybe sleep). There’s a two-hour break during the surgery while tests are done to make sure that none of the other parathyroid glands need to be removed, and if they don’t he’ll be done, and I will be called then to come back to bring him home. Everything looks good though according to all the pre-op tests and stuff, so fingers are crossed for tomorrow. Full recovery should take about four weeks.

There was a BIG increase in the number of tourists when we went to the farmers’ market this week, and we saw several who were wearing masks but pulled down so it wasn’t covering their noses. Grrrrrrr. Several were also crowding and pushing in lines versus staying socially distanced. Resorts and such are officially reopening state-wide tomorrow, but with new resident cases of the virus in the state averaging over 100/day, the governor has said that if those numbers aren’t brought under control soon he will put the state under a complete lockdown once again. The uptick in cases isn’t just because of tourists returning, but also because locals are no longer being careful or following safe procedures (although locals on Kaua’i continue to be fanatic about mask wearing). Brett and I are glad to be vaccinated, but know we still have to follow protocols for a while longer to stay safe.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished One Good Turn early in the week, my 18th book for the year, and was all ready to download the next in the series, When Will There Be Good News, but One By One, by Ruth Ware, suddenly became available for download. I finished it in three days (another great page turner!) and then I got started on When Will There Be Good News. I am greatly enjoying the Kate Atkinson series – so happy I discovered them!
  • Listening to: Although the sky is blue it is LOUD outside this morning with the wind just whipping through the trees and other plants. It’s too noisy to know if anything else is happening out there. The temperature is thankfully nice and warm though – it should be a good afternoon for walking. If this keeps up though I can see having to shut the door so that I can concentrate.
  • Watching: We finished Wandavision last Wednesday evening, and what seemed very quirky and fun at the beginning ended up being quite melancholy and thought provoking at the finish. One of the greatest lines ever written for a movie or TV show, in my opinion, came in the next to the last episode: What is grief, if not love persevering? There’s no forgetting that. We’re now watching Case Histories, the series made from the Kate Atkinson books. So far it’s good and sticks close enough to the books. Tonight I’ll be watching the main and dessert course finals of the Olympics season of Great British Menu and will find out who is going to the banquet (and will watch the banquet episode tomorrow evening).
  • Happy we accomplished last week: Our food shopping trip last week was a bit of a challenge because we had to shop for a three-week stretch versus the usual two weeks (due to the timing of when my SS income shows up), but we stayed disciplined and along with upcoming farmers’ market trips we will have enough on hand now to get us through until it’s time to shop again (I think the only thing we’ll have to buy from the store in-between is another half-gallon of milk). Brett got his second dose of the vaccine last Wednesday, and also got tested for the virus on Friday (negative, but required before surgery).
  • Looking forward to next week: About the only thing I’m looking forward to besides Brett’s surgery going well is getting my second dose of the vaccine. Otherwise we’ll be having a quiet week at home while Brett recuperates, and I’ll be walking on my own for a few days.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We had a very fun day for our anniversary in spite of the rotten weather. The rest of the week was low-key and enjoyable, we had some great weather on a couple of days, and everything pretty much went the way it should.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We came in under budget with our Day of No Cooking last Monday and gave ourselves not only a new but a more frugal and fun way of celebrating our anniversary. We also managed to somehow stay under budget with our food shopping, a definite challenge this time. We put $8.41 into the change/$1 bill bag this past week, and saved a total of $24.78 in March from change and $1 bills. I earned 2,095 Swagbucks this past week, and a 728 bonus for the month of March, putting me 3,000 SB ahead of where I wanted to be at the end of the month, so it was a good one. Finishing up our leftovers has also been a challenge this past week because eating out all day Monday threw everything off, but we’ve worked hard at getting them finished, finding ways to use them, and nothing has been wasted or thrown out.
  • Grateful for: Once again we’re feeling very grateful for our military health insurance. Between Medicare and Tricare For Life, there will be no out-of-pocket expenses attached to Brett’s surgery.
  • Bonus question: Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test? I sure hope I could, but I don’t know because I’ve never taken the full test. I’ve taken the practice tests and done well, but I’ve taken a lot of American history and government courses over the years, read the news every day, and do other things to understand our government so I hope I would do well. None of the questions on the test are “trick questions,”, but studies have shown that only around 36% of U.S. citizens could pass the test these days, something I find very, very sad and discouraging. I think a couple of my children would fall into the 64% that couldn’t pass the test – U.S. history was not required, or at least not much of it, and they chose to study other things instead. Again, that’s something I find sad as I think American history and civics should be a requirement for high school graduation, with courses also required in elementary and middle school.
The “plant hospital” – all four have revived and are growing again since going outdoors.

I have always had something of a green thumb when it comes to houseplants, but have had nothing but bad luck here, with all of the plants we’ve gotten almost dying indoors. They’re currently on the porch outside the front door – the “plant hospital” – and are reviving and growing again, so I guess that’s where they’ll stay. We’re in a great location for light and such but I think if I were a plant in Hawaii outside is where I’d rather be too. My little jade plant and an orchid we got when we arrived are both doing well inside though, so there’s still a little bit of green going on in here. Our avocado tree continues to increase in size, and now has branches and is developing bark on its trunk.

Our tree may be big enough to be transplanted into the ground by the end of the year.

Can I say how much I still thoroughly HATE the new WP editor? So many tasks that were easy to accomplish before aren’t any more.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for this past week, overall a pretty nice one. Here’s to another good week coming up!