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!

Sunday Morning 3/28/2021: Sunny Days

In spite of better weather this week, there were only pastels one evening when it came to sunsets.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I dislike the new editor and that I didn’t get any warning it was coming.

I was dropped into Blogging Hell this past week. When I opened up the blog on Wednesday morning to do some writing, I discovered that WordPress had done away with the classic editor once again, and this time there seemed to be no easy way to get back to it – absolutely nothing worked, even the little classic editor button they provided. Also, everything I had been working on and saved was gone except for the first paragraph of each post and could not be restored (including backups). I eventually figured out that preview mode actually worked this time around so I was able to copy and paste from there and eventually got things recreated into the new editor. This took a l-o-n-g time though as I had been working on several posts. There is a classic editor button, but it’s connected to the new editor in a weird way that I haven’t quite figured out how to use it yet. Anyway, if pictures are out of alignment or there’s weird spacing for a while, that’s what’s going on. And, thanks for nothing, WordPress.

The view while I sipped my coffee on Tuesday morning – pure bliss!

After weeks of depressing rain, high winds, and generally lousy weather, we have had some very nice days this past week, enough to renew my hopes for better days ahead. Monday and Tuesday’s weather was absolutely perfect, and although we were supposed to see the return of rain and wind on Wednesday it never appeared, and we had another nice day before gloomy weather returned on Thursday. The warm weather apparently stirred things up though and I was laid low on Wednesday by allergies (sore throat, stuffy head, runny nose, watery eyes). Also, when I went to bed on Tuesday night I kept hearing water running outside and it took me a while to realize that because wind wasn’t roaring through the yard I could once again hear the water moving through the koi pond that sits outside our bedroom window. It had been so long since I heard it that I’d forgotten it was there.

While spring brings new blossoms to our yard . . .

. . . it also brought the return of things we’d rather not have in our home (props to Brett for getting this monster – easily four inches across – back outside where he belongs).

My new/old doctor was very happy with my overall general health, weight, and all when I saw him last week, but is still a bit concerned about my ongoing stomach issues so I’ve been scheduled for a consult with a gastroenterologist in early May. The issues are nowhere near as bad as they were earlier, but the fact that they continue to linger is something he feels needs to be looked at. All that may be needed is doing something as simple as changing my medication, but he wants to hear from the gastroenterologist before going forward. Otherwise all is very, very well!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I downloaded and read Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories and finished it this past week. I’m now reading (and almost done with) the second book in the series, One Good Turn. I will be ending March four books ahead (maybe five) of where I need to be to reach my goal of reading 52 books this year.
  • Listening to: I can’t really hear anything outside right now because Brett is making so much noise in the kitchen as he puts away the dishes (I had to use quite a few to make last night’s dinner)! It’s very windy outside once again, and all the trees being blown around, but at least it’s not raining like it was last night and earlier this morning. The coffee will soon be ready though, and Brett will be done putting away the dishes, and quiet will return, at least inside anyway.
  • Watching: We finished watching The Sinner last Monday evening, and started watching Wandavision the next day. It took us a few days to get into it, but now we’re hooked. I’m still watching the Olympic year episodes on Great British Menu, and have gotten through the teams from Scotland, Central Region, Northern Island, and the NW, and just got started with London and the SE, with Wales and the SW regions still to go before the finals. Some of the cooking this season hasn’t been as good as it seemed to be (in my opinion) during the first season I watched although some of it has been amazing. There was a bit of drama when a chef walked off the set and swore at the judge when he got a low score, and I’m also finding myself getting emotional from time to time when my preferred chef doesn’t win.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I drove up to Kilauea on Thursday for back-to-back appointments with our former physician and got prescriptions renewed and other things taken care of. We liked seeing him when we were here before, and decided the occasional drive up to the north side every few months was worth it to have him as our doctor again. We got started on a possible itinerary for the next Big Adventure by creating a list of places we haven’t visited yet and places we’d like to see again, but it’s going to be a while before that is firmed up. Otherwise I spent way too much time getting up to speed with the new blog editor.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I will celebrate our 42nd anniversary this coming week and we have planned an affordable “day of no cooking” to celebrate the occasion. Brett also will get his second dose of the vaccine this week, and will have his pre-op meetings with the surgeon and anesthesiologist. We will also do another food shop following that appointment.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: After our visits with the doctor on Thursday, we drove over to the Kilauea National Wildlife Preserve and walked out to see the lighthouse and views. We spotted two small whales frolicking right off the point, very exciting because we definitely were not expecting to see any whales this time of year. We had a couple of days of absolutely perfect weather at the beginning of the week, absolutely glorious and much appreciated. Because we walked on Monday, our usual day off, we were able to see a fellow walker and friend that hadn’t been up at the park in a while. She has changed to swimming at the YMCA everyday instead of walking but had decided to go back to the park that day, and we had a great time catching up. We (and all the other regular walkers that know and love her) asked her not to stay away so long again! The State Department finally cashed my check this week so they are now officially processing my passport – yeah! I rearranged a few things in the living room yesterday and can’t believe how less cluttered the room looks, especially since all that got taken out of the room were two houseplants that weren’t doing very well.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We used our National Park Senior Pass to get into the Wildlife Refuge at no cost. I bought two pairs of cropped denim pants from L.L. Bean this week – my old ones are completely too big now – because the L.L. Bean ones finally went on sale. My purchase earned $10 off a future purchase, which I plan to use to get something for Brett that he can use on our travels. Other than that purchase, and a trip to the farmers’ market, it was another no-spend week. We put $3.50 into the change/$1 bill bag, left over from the farmers’ market. I earned 1,934 Swagbucks and I am now over halfway toward earning another $500 Delta gift card. We also did all the other frugal, no waste things we usually do.
  • Grateful for: I’m very thankful for the better weather that showed up this week. All the rain, wind, and gloom was starting to get to me.
  • Bonus question: Do you have other allergies besides hay fever? Yes, although hay fever (can I call it hay fever here when there’s no hay?) only recently showed up – I was never bothered by plants, pollen, etc. at all when I was younger. I have always thought of myself as allergy free, but I am allergic to sulfa drugs. I have also had allergic reactions to red wine, but it’s never been consistent, and I drank red wine in France with no problems. Same with perfumes – I’ve had a reaction (rash and hives) to some but not others. Those reactions have caused me to go to the emergency room a couple of times with fast-spreading, full-body rashes but I’ve never figured out what actually caused the reactions. With wine, doctors think it might have something to do with the level of tannins in the wine. At first it was assumed to be sulfites that were causing the problem, but there are sulfites in white wines and I’ve never had a reaction when I drink them. Anyway, I only drink white wine these days (except in France) and don’t wear perfume just to be safe. Finally, I am not actually allergic to most lettuces, but I do have an intolerance to many of them and get a bad gastric reaction whenever I’ve tried to eat them. Romaine, endive, and arugula are the worst, butter lettuce at the other end of bad with everything else in the middle. Iceberg lettuce is OK though, and a wedge salad is my favorite for good reason!

You may have noticed there are now ads popping up on the blog. For the past couple of weeks I had been thinking about whether or not the time had come to monetize this blog and allow ads to appear in order to earn some income for our travel savings. The number of daily viewers coming to the blog has grown quite a bit over the past year, and I decided this was finally the time to take the leap and allow some ads. I don’t think I’m going to earn any great amount of money, but every little bit adds up.

During his solo walk on Wednesday, Brett snapped some pictures of some of the flowers he encountered in the woods. He is always entranced with the tiny ones.

What a week this has been, with everything it seems from the sublime to the ridiculous. Still, there was good weather, good books, several good things happened, and we have another week to look forward to. Here’s to it being a good one!

Sunday Morning 3/21/2021: Good Week, Bad Week

We had a somewhat pretty sunset on Monday evening, and another evening with a pretty afterglow, but otherwise it was nothing but gray clouds all week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I was a giddy as a child going to Disneyland for the first time as I waited for my turn to be vaccinated last Monday. The staff at the hospital was wonderful, everything moved along swiftly even though there were lots of people in line for the vaccine, and it didn’t hurt. Well, it didn’t hurt when I got the shot. However, by Monday evening my arm was sore, and I had trouble going to sleep because of that. Tuesday it was downright painful. We did our shopping on Tuesday and I’ve never felt so grateful for Brett’s help. I could push the cart along, but that was about it – he did all the heavy lifting otherwise. By Wednesday morning though the pain was gone although I had a runny nose and a bit of a sore throat, but that was due more to the weather we’ve been having than anything else, and was gone by Thursday. I will get my second dose on April 5.

It’s going to be a few weeks before we see our stimulus money – it was sent to our bank for direct deposit, but the bank screwed something up and THOUSANDS of accounts had their direct stimulus deposits rejected and sent back to the IRS, ours included. Some people only had half of their stimulus deposited, some were told the deposit was pending but it never showed up. Brett spent nearly an hour on hold waiting to talk to the bank on Thursday to try to find out what was going on and we knew something was up then because we usually get right through. The customer service rep wouldn’t tell him what exactly was wrong either other than it was something to do with our account number, and we learned later customers were getting all sorts of different reasons for the screw up (while others got their money with no problems). We haven’t changed anything with our account, there were no issues getting the last two stimulus payments or any previous refunds from the IRS, but for some reason this time it wasn’t going to happen. Anyway, the IRS has informed us a paper check will be mailed to us at the end of this week, so we’re hopeful we’ll get it within the next few weeks. Brett and I don’t need the money now, but it sure would be nice to have it sitting in our savings account.

On a brighter note, Brett and I have made a decision about our future plans! We realized this past week that none of the places we were looking at were sparking any joy whatsoever even though they met many of the criteria we had set. The whole experience was becoming very depressing, to be honest. But we eventually came up with an idea that not only met a few of our wants but also gives us great joy and excitement. All will be revealed soon!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Now You See Me in just three days – I could not put it down – and then planned to get through Interior Chinatown in a few days as well, but yet another book came off of hold on Monday: The Woman In Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware. It was another page-turner, and I finished it before the end of the week. I finished Interior Chinatown on Friday(which turned out to have a murder in the story that had to be solved but was the not the central focus of the book), and then dedicated myself to The Woman In White and finished it yesterday. I will be spending part of the afternoon today finding new things to read at the library.
  • Listening to: The wind is blowing loudly outside again but at least it’s not as loud as it has been this past week. The wind has been intense. There’s also some blue sky out there as well for a change. We’ve gone to bed every night listening to the wind blowing and rain falling and dripping off the house, and it’s beginning to get to us – we’re getting anxious for some quiet. And it’s been cold! Except for the noise from outside it’s quiet inside – Brett’s working on his bookkeeping and our upstairs neighbor isn’t moving around too much.
  • Watching: We’re finishing up the last season of The Sinner, and it’s just as compelling as the first two seasons but very weird this time. We still wish there were more seasons to watch! Bill Pullman is the star and he has been great in his role as the older police detective. I’m now watching the third season available of the Great British Menu (the second season was unavailable for some reason). My least favorite chef from the previous season was advanced to the final, but so was my favorite chef, who did not make it to the final in the first season I watched. He’s also the first chef so far to be awarded a perfect score for one of his dishes. The theme for this season is “the Olympics” as it was filmed in 2012, when London hosted the them. I’m so glad I discovered this series!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting my first dose of the vaccine was #1. Coming to a decision on our future plans was also a big accomplishment, and we’re very happy about it. There is lots to do going forward, but at least we now know what we’re working toward.
  • Looking forward to next week: Better weather? Is that too much to ask? Please?
    The little jade plant that could.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Padma Lakshmi – PADMA LAKSHMI! – liked a tweet of mine this past week. I respect her so much, so this was like reaching the top of the mountain for me. 2) We learned the income tax deadline has been extended until May 17, a good thing as we have to pay taxes this year and we like to hold onto our money for as long as possible before we send it off. 3) We also learned that Bob Lowry (Satisfying Retirement) and his wife will be coming to Kaua’i this fall! We are looking forward to finally meeting them and have been planning a couple of outings with them that we can do together. 4) A small thing, but early in the week I pinched back a jade plant that was getting leggy, stuck the piece I took off into the dirt, and crossed my fingers . . . and it has taken hold! 

This past week’s food shop: Everything in the two carts for just under $225 – not bad!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We managed to stay under budget by a few dollars this week when we did our food shopping, and other than that trip and the farmers’ market we had another no-spend week. We had taken a few things off our shopping list before we started out, but also decided not to buy a couple of things while we were at the stores because of the price (like parchment paper, which is now nearly $8 for a roll at Walmart. At that price I can figure out a workaround). We put $7.34 into the change/$1 bill bag this week, I earned 2,024 Swagbucks, we ate all the leftovers, and I did have to throw out a few mushy green onions that had gotten buried under everything else in the produce drawer but thankfully nothing else.
  • Grateful for: I’ve been feeling very grateful this week for every thing we have and the realization that we neither want nor need more. Enough is a very good feeling.
  • Bonus question: What’s your greatest fear? I am very afraid of heights. My legs will literally stop working if I climb too high, like on a ladder. I hate going up above the eighth floor in any building. I learned a few years ago people fear heights for two reasons: fear of falling or fear of jumping. I have a little of both, depending on the situation. I get very anxious watching people approach things like the edge of a cliff (I can barely get close), especially children, afraid they might fall while at the same time wondering what it might feel like to fall through the air. I’ve thought about doing a bungee jump just to get that urge out of my head once and for all, but not sure my legs would get me out to the place to do the jump. I also have great fears of something happening to my children, but I keep that those pushed well into the back of my brain.

This Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of our return to Kaua’i. The whole experience of Japan shutting down, our abrupt departure from Japan with empty airports and planes on the way back; getting YaYu over here when her college closed, and setting up a household again with everything shut down on the island almost seems like a (bad) dream now, but we got through it, got ourselves settled again, and have been happy that we came back to the island. It’s been a very safe place for us to be and given us the chance to reevaluate our lives and goals as well as get in shape again.

Big yellow hibiscus always make me happy.

We have accepted that normal we knew before is not coming back, but we have hopes that we will be able to carve out a new normal that allows us to travel and see our family now and again. We didn’t see a lot of flowers this week, but the hibiscus at the Kukui’ula Marketplace are in bloom again and a bush full of the yellow beauty above (the Hawaii state flower) was right in front of our car on Wednesday to go along with the blue skies.

That’s a wrap for this week! Lots got done, some things didn’t, and it was a mix of good and bad. But no sense dwelling in what was – here’s a great week coming up!

Sunday Morning 3/14/2021: Stormy Weather Pt. 2

We thought we’d have a good sunset on Thursday evening, but a big rain cloud spoiled it.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I have an appointment tomorrow to get the vaccine! Hawaii opened up for ages 65 and above beginning Monday and I just happened to catch the appointment website just after it went live so I picked tomorrow afternoon. I am so excited to get this started!

Confined to our neighborhood in Tokyo last year, we happily discovered there were several temples and shrines located within walking distance, and we had a wonderful time discovering ones we might have missed otherwise.

We’re coming up on our one year anniversary of returning to Kauai, and Brett and I have been reminiscing about how little we understood about what was coming and what we were doing a year ago. We were as up-to-date about the virus as we could be and had been taking precautions in Japan for several weeks although it was impossible to find masks and hand sanitizer in Japan – even hand soap was a difficult-to-find commodity. Toilet paper, tissues, and other paper products were impossible to find as well. Our outings had become limited to where we could walk in our own neighborhood, and once busy streets were mostly deserted. Schools in Japan had been closed down nationwide, and we spent our weekdays over at our son’s home helping our our grandson adjust to online learning while our son worked upstairs from his office. Our granddaughter still went to her hokuen (preschool/daycare) but our son and DIL had made adjustments to their schedules to pick her up so there were no more bus or train rides. We had no idea how bad things would get and that we’d soon be returning to the U.S. and hunkering down for a year on Kaua’i. 

Our view for most of this week  . . .
. . . but we got some welcome sunshine and blue skies on Thursday.

We’ve had another cool, (very) wet week here, with everything from high winds, thunderstorms, incredible amounts of rain and flash floods and mudslides to sunshine and blue skies. I had to break out my cold weather pajamas and slippers again to get through a couple of nights, as well as some of my cool weather clothes just to stay warm. We’ve gotten out when we could, but walks have been shorter or didn’t happen at all because of the rain (and the park is currently a muddy, wet mess in many places). There was no farmers’ market on Wednesday because of the weather, but on Thursday it was sunny, hot, and humid. That didn’t last long though and storms were back that night, and Friday was literally a washout, with rain and winds so strong it was coming in under the weather stripping on the front door. Brett and I gave up on going anywhere, and stayed in our pajamas all day. Before we moved here I naively thought Hawaii was always sunny and balmy but I know better now, especially that spring comes in like a lion and can be downright tumultuous when it comes to the weather. I refuse to complain too much about it though because I know when August arrives I am going to be wishing temperatures were this cool again and that we were getting a bit more rain.

Brett’s parathyroid surgery has been scheduled for Monday, April 5. I woke up last Wednesday morning with a knot in my stomach, full of worry about it, but we had a long visit with the surgeon that afternoon and both of us left feeling better about what would be happening. The surgery is thankfully outpatient surgery these days, and I will be allowed to stay with Brett until he goes to the operating room, and then after he gets out of recovery until he’s ready to come home. Otherwise I will have to wait at home or somewhere else – no hanging out and waiting at the hospital these days. Our appointment with the surgeon went on long enough that we barely had time to grab a sandwich at Safeway before Brett had to be back for his first COVID vaccine appointment. He’ll go back for the second does on March 31, and I will get my second dose the day of his surgery (something to do while he’s in the OR).

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Trial On Mt. Koya on Tuesday and finally started reading The Woman In White again. I was hoping that nothing else would come off of hold at the library until I could get it finished, but it was not to be because two books came off hold on the same day. I’ve set The Woman In White aside once again and I’m now reading Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton. I can’t remember if Interior Chinatown is a mystery or not, but I will make an exception for it however that turns out. I should be ahead of schedule with this year’s reading goal by the end of the month!
  • Listening to: I woke up to the sound of water dripping off the eaves, but the rain’s stopped (for now) and currently I’m listening to the sound of some fairly strong winds whipping around the house and through the yard and trees. The sky looks fairly bright and almost blue in places, but it’s scheduled to be a mess once again (rain, wind, etc.) by early afternoon. I’ve got a couple of good books to read and some warm pajamas on, so I’m ready. We did get a lovely surprise this morning out the front windows though.
    We’ve never seen a rainbow out this direction before. It only lasted a minute or so.
  • Watching: We’re into the second season of The Sinner and it’s just as great as the first. I’m starting the next season of the Great British Menu tonight – the first one got me hooked and there are several seasons to go (each season has 45 half-hour episodes – I watch two every evening). It was was gratifying to see who made it to the final and cooked for the big banquet at the end (hosted by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall). My favorite chef from the season cooked the main dish, and my second favorite chef’s recipe was chosen for the starter.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: This past week’s cool weather was the perfect time to try on and reassess all of my cool/cold weather travel clothes and figure out what to keep and what to let go. I have a big bag ready to go to the local thrift store.
  • Looking forward to next week: Of course getting my first dose of the vaccine tomorrow is #1! We will also be doing a semi-Big Shop on Tuesday, much needed as it feels like we are running low on or out of so many things. Otherwise, we still are staying optimistic and hoping for some good weather and that things improve around the the island (everything from Hanalei and north has been cut off because of mudslides, but there were slides all over and it’s very, very soggy everywhere).
    When we were in England in 2019 I could not zip up this raincoat because my hips were too big. I’ve got room to spare now and could actually wear the next size down.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Brett’s getting his first dose of the vaccine under his belt was the best thing and my being able to get an appointment so soon after his was the second best thing. 2) I was very happily surprised by how my travel clothes fit now. For example, I have a couple of jackets that I was previously unable to zip up around my hips that now fit with room to spare! Other things I was squeezing into fit the way they’re supposed to, but a few other things are way too big now and look very frumpy. 3) The past several months we’ve had to wait until 10:00 p.m. to start our Swagbucks day, but the start of Daylight Savings today means we can once again start at 9:00 p.m.. Having to wait until 10:00 for the past few months has been a massive pain, but we’ll both be able to finish up now before we go to bed most of the time. 4) The relief bill being passed is a very good thing. Our stimulus money will go into our down payment fund. 5) The sun came once this week, which helped my mood.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than a trip to Big Save for some produce because we couldn’t go to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, and picking up a sandwich from Safeway for our lunch that day as well (we shared it), we had a no-spend week. Not spending money is the easiest way to save! We put $3.53 into the change/$1 bill bag, I earned 1,994 Swagbucks in spite of two 100+SB completed surveys not paying out (I submitted claims through the Help Desk); we ate all our leftovers; didn’t throw away any food; and had two no-drive days (mainly because of the weather), saving gas and wear & tear on the car.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are very grateful that the COVID vaccine is finally happening for both of us. We’re grateful to all who made this happen, from the scientists who worked to create the vaccine to the transportation who made sure it to the islands to our government who facilitated the disbursement to the health care workers administering the vaccine. Getting my vaccinations started tomorrow is much, much sooner than I expected it to happen. Most of our behaviors won’t change once we’re vaccinated, but we will definitely be feeling safer when we do go out.
  • Bonus question: Can you think of a food that is beloved by most/many people that you don’t care for? I can think of two right off the top of my head: olives and French fries. I have tried to like olives and just don’t care for them although I do like olive oil. Olives are just too briny for me in a way I can’t get around. I don’t care for potatoes all that much overall, but I’m really am not a fan of French fries. There are a few places where I have had them and enjoyed them (I enjoy the ones at Street Burger up in Wailua mainly because they’re very crisp and the perfect vehicle for their homemade ketchup which I can never get enough of) but for the most part I can happily and easily leave them alone. I also don’t like green salads but that’s more because I know the lettuce is going to cause problems, and I don’t care for things that are cherry or lime flavored although I like the actual fruit. I used to not like pimento, but like it now, so I can still change. Otherwise, for now I’ll eat anything else, although I’m still not sure about bugs (I tend to gag when I watch people eat them).

In spite of the crazy weather, spring is starting to appear, with plants blossoming all over the place. I am eager to start searching out hibiscus again, and I spotted the three plants above in the parking lot of a church we drive by on our way to and from the park. The larger blossom looks a little bit worse for the wear thanks to all the storms, but I could still get a sense of its loveliness, and I loved the delicate colors of the other two. Lots of blossoms had been knocked down off of the plants though. I am also someone who never liked cutting flowers out of our yards, preferring to enjoy them in their natural setting, but lately I’ve been cutting some of the heliconia and ferns from the yard here to put in our bathroom – they last for over two weeks.

I’m no flower arranger, but these are cheerful, beautiful, and free!

That’s all for this week! In spite of the awful weather we’ve had a good week with good news and good things happening, and I hope the same is true for everyone. Here’s to a good/better week coming up!

Sunday Morning 3/7/2021: Cool Kaua’i

Just one pretty sunset this past week, on Thursday.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

We had hoped after last week’s expensive car repairs that we would be done with that for a while, but it was not to be. A few days after we got the car back we began having trouble getting the car started; last Monday morning it took Brett eight tries. So, instead of running his other errands that morning he went directly to our mechanic and ended up having the starter replaced. Ugh. The car starts up nicely every time now so it was a needed repair but once again that was several hundreds of dollars we wished we hadn’t had to spend. Our car otherwise runs very well, gets great gas mileage, so both of us now have our fingers and toes crossed that this is it for awhile. 

There’s been some sunshine this week, but mostly cool, windy weather has continued. It’s been cold enough on a couple of nights that I had to break out my cold weather pajamas (which are now too big!). We were up in Kapaa this past week for my hair cut, and took our walk that day on the beach path. If the wind hadn’t been blowing at nearly 20 mph it would have been hot, but the wind kept it cool the entire time. The ocean was fierce though, and between the noise from the wind and the waves Brett and I could barely hear each other. The rain has mostly been at night, but we had a couple of stormy days that have kept up indoors as well. Our guava tree is starting to bud out, so we’re hopeful for another good harvest this year. Lots of flowers blooming around us as well, and I’m getting antsy to start hunting for new hibiscus colors.

Brett has an appointment for his COVID vaccination this week! Slots for 70-75 year-olds opened up statewide on Friday, nearly two weeks ahead of what had been predicted. They expect to open up vaccinations for 65-70 in another couple of weeks, again ahead of schedule. Fingers are crossed! We have no plans to do anything differently than we are now once we’re both vaccinated, but are excited about having the extra security the vaccine will provide.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Tana French’s The Searcher last Monday so that it could be passed over to Brett before it has to be returned to the library. Death and the Chaste Apprentice was finished next, on Wednesday. I finished the Shirley Jackson classic, The Haunting of Hill House, on Friday night. I’ve seen the movie of The Haunting of Hill House (still scary) and there’s now a series based on the book on Netflix which has been added to our watch list. I’m going to read a book I’ve had on my Kindle for nearly two years, Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann, and then get to finishing The Woman In White. I have a whole list of new authors and books I want to download/reserve, but am holding off until I finish TWIW.
  • Listening to: I can barely hear anything outside this morning because all the doors and windows are closed up tight. It’s still too cold and windy to open things up even though the sun is shining. The wind is strong enough that it will probably stay cold/cool for most if not all of the day. It’s nice and quiet inside though – we’re both working at our computers, drinking our coffee, and getting our day started. 
  • Watching: I’m almost done with the first season of The Great British Menu and can’t wait for more. I honestly had no idea there were so many Michelin-starred chefs all over England, and I love that some of them, if they lose, come back to compete year after year, win or lose. Brett and I finished the first season of The Sinner on Friday and will start Season 2 tonight. It’s an interesting series that has grown on us. Yesterday evening we watched Nomadland. I read the book back in 2018 and the film does a very good job of capturing it all. I also love watching anything Frances McDormand is in.
    I love it when my hair is this short. In a month though it will be a bunch of curls because my hair grows so fast here. I’d love to keep the curls but they don’t really work or behave in the humidity.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got a much-needed hair cut on Tuesday, and Brett and I followed that with a lovely four-mile walk on the eastside beach path. Otherwise, all we accomplished was the usual day-to-day stuff. We did a LOT of talking about our future, and are sort of moving toward a decision about what we want to do and where we want to be. There is much still to be decided and figured out though.
  • Looking forward to next week: Besides getting his vaccine, Brett meets with the surgeon on Wednesday and should have a date for his surgery arranged then. We have nothing special planned for this coming week otherwise. There are always things to do around the apartment though, and we’re talking about driving up to Kilauea and hiking the Stone Dam trail if the weather permits. With the amount of rain we’ve been having though it may just be too muddy now. If we get a really nice day we’ll head down to Barking Sands and spend some time on the beach.
    Baby’s got new shoes!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: My new walking shoes arrived and they’re great! We talked with all the kids this week as well. We talked last night with our son, DIL, and granddaughter, and they sent loads of new pictures and videos. The grandkids are growing so fast, especially our granddaughter. The biggest change is that she is now English-dominant – it was great talking with her last night and hearing about all she’s doing at school. Meiling moved in to her new apartment and is doing well, and WenYu finally got her Massachusetts drivers license – a big accomplishment for her. She continues to crochet like crazy and hone her skills, and is even creating her own patterns now!
    Our change/$1 bill jar is actually a Ziploc bag, with pennies kept separately. When I there’s enough to roll the change, or bundle $25 in ones, it goes off to the bank.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Outside of another expensive but necessary repair on the car this was a very low-key spending week. We shopped at the farmers’ market and I got my hair cut (price of the haircut went up by $10 though), but otherwise there was no spending. We only put $2.00 into the change/$1 jar this past week, left over from the farmers’ market. I earned 2,572 Swagbucks, which includes my February bonus of 723 SB, and we did all the other usual frugal things.
  • Grateful for: I didn’t realize how much I had been missing them or how much they would cheer me up, but I am very thankful for the return of blue skies now and again this past week. It always makes a difference in our moods.
    Both Brett and I dream of returning to the village of Blockley.
  • Bonus question: If you could only go back to a place you have visited before, what would be your top three destinations? This turned out to be not an easy questions to answer for either Brett or me, and if I had asked myself this three months earlier I know I would have had three completely different places than I do now. In three months’ time I’ll probably have three new ones. Right now my number one choice would be to return to England, to the Cotswolds again. There is so much we didn’t see or do last time, and with a car we’d be able to get further afield than we did before. My second destination choice would be Buenos Aires. We were only there for 10 days in 2018, and regretted that we didn’t have more time to explore and get to know the city. Number Three on my list, after a great deal of thought is split: either more time in Bordeaux or Normandy. Again, we didn’t spend a lot of time in each place, but enough to discover that there was so much more we wanted to see and experience. As I said, three months ago my choices would have probably been Paris, Rome, and New Zealand (I would cheat and visit the South Island on a second visit), and who knows what they’ll be in another three months – as I think about our travels different memories come to the surface and I’m constantly reevaluating the places we visited. If we had to go back and live full time in one of the places we visited it would be Strasbourg – it remains our favorite. Second choice would the village of Blockley.

We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of being back on Kaua’i and have been thinking of the wild ride it’s been in many ways. It’s been an expensive ride too, as we set up housekeeping again and are dealing with higher prices. We learned a lot about living frugally in an expensive location during our previous residency, and those skills continue to guide us and help us navigate the cost of living here. The pandemic has kept us from doing many of the things we did before, but overall this was the right place for us to come, for now anyway. It’s been very safe, and the state, the county, and residents here have taken (and continue to take) the pandemic very seriously. You just don’t see anyone out here without a mask, for example (except for a few tourists who think the rules don’t apply to them). With the return of tourists, life will be returning to some type of crazy normal in the next few months but it’s time.

Ally continues to be upset with us because we haven’t made The Girl come back yet.

We didn’t have a bad week, but between the repairs and weather not the greatest of weeks either. Lots got done, we’re moving forward, and we’re looking forward to the new week, and excited about the changes that are coming, both Brett receiving the vaccine and the next stimulus arriving which will recoup what we’ve spent on car repairs and fatten our savings a bit. Here’s to good food, good books, good friends, good weather, and lots of good things happening in the coming week!

Sunday Morning 2/28/2021: Blowin’ In the Wind

The sky tried to have a sunset last Thursday, but the big gray clouds on top put an end to that.

.Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

What a week! Brett had scheduled an appointment on Tuesday to have a new battery installed in our car – we’d been having trouble getting the car started at times and knew the battery was starting to fail. When he went out to start the car Tuesday morning though the battery was DEAD. And, there was no one around in the neighborhood to help jump the car (which as it turned out would have been futile) and he ended up having to arrange for a tow to the garage. Ouch. The battery installation was easy but then it was discovered that some belt (I don’t know what it’s called) in the car was almost worn through and about to snap. The belt drives the air conditioner condenser, the steering pump, and a few other things so it was important. The new belt and other parts were not cheap and neither was the labor to get it installed – $$$. But, our little nine-year-old Honda is running great once again and starting right up. The car has over 100K miles on it now, but we want to squeeze a couple more years out of it so know keeping it maintained is importance and that maintenance issues will be probably be happening more frequently as it ages. There is no place at our apartment for Brett to work on the car or even change the oil which would save us a bunch, but we like our mechanic and his prices are fair (for the island) – he’s been our guy since 2014 and has a good reputation. This was not a fun way to start off our big save-a-thon but it needed doing. Sigh.

We’re in Phase 1C . . . and waiting. Teachers are getting vaccinated ahead of us, a good thing.

We also learned this past week that the timeline for our tier receiving the vaccine has been delayed from March until April. Apparently storms and bad weather back on the mainland delayed shipments of the vaccine to Hawaii, and now the state is behind on the second shots and needs to catch up with those before they move to our tier. They’ve also had difficulty getting the vaccine to some who live in very isolated areas. It’s very frustrating as we’d like to get this done and finished, but on the other hand we live in a safe area where people here practice social distancing, mask wearing, etc. (sadly, the same can’t be said of some visitors) and we don’t have any plans to change our behaviors for the time being. Brett may end up getting the vaccine before I do – our tier is supposed to cover age 65 and above, but we heard they may start with age 70 a couple of weeks ahead of the rest of the tier. We’ll continue to wait and stay patient.

The wind this past week has been something else, very loud and persistant, and bringing with it lots of clouds and heavy rain. It’s been difficult to read at times, or watch TV, because of the noise created by the wind blowing through the trees. Last Thursday night it was so loud it was difficult to sleep – I was up well into the middle of the night even though I wear earplugs. Temperatures have been cool as well, although not as low as earlier in the month. We are longing for some consistently sunnier weather, but have no idea when that will show up. Ever since we arrived, Hawaii’s weather has been a revelation, constantly changing and showing us things we didn’t think occurred here. I can’t believe how often I give thanks that I didn’t just spend a whole lot to come over for a short vacation. Speaking of which, visitors are starting to come back in in bigger and bigger numbers. The farmers’ market was somewhat crowded this past week, and we’ve seen an uptick in the amount of traffic even in our area.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: This past week not one, not two, but three books came off of hold at the library within a space of two days. Yikes! Two days before I got the notice I had checked where I was in line for some of the books, and while I was getting close for two books, I was still #150 on the wait list for the new Tana French book, The Searcher. Yet somehow two days later there was the notice that it was available for me to download. My guess is that lots of people probably did what I used to do: got tired of waiting and bought the book instead. Anyway, I finished Still Life and The Thursday Murder Club (both were great) and am now reading The Searcher and Robert Barnard’s Death of a Chaste Apprentice. The latter should be a quick read and then I’ll get started on the Shirley Jackson classic, The Haunting of Hill House. The Woman In White is just going to have to wait a little longer. Robert Barnard was a favorite British mystery writer in the past; I love his sly sense of humor. I’ve read all of his books and thought I’d see if I still liked them as much as I did in the past (plus I don’t remember anything about them). I am ending February with eight books finished and am already into my books for March, so in a good place for now to read 52 books this year
  • Listening to: The wind is absolutely howling outside and even with the doors and windows closed it’s very loud, like a freight train running through the yard. There are patches of blue sky out there, but they’re not predicted to last although these days it’s been hard to know how the day will turn out. Every day has been a surprise.
  • Watching: We started Crime Scene: The Cecil Hotel last Monday and watched that for four days. It was quite creepy and but eventually the mystery was (sadly) resolved. I thought the Cecil Hotel looked and sounded familiar and it turned out to be the inspiration for the fifth season of American Horror Story: Hotel. Brett and I are now watching The Sinner. Wandavision will be up next. I’m also still watching the Great British Menu and loving it. This is only the first season available so I have a while to get through it which makes me very happy.

This past week’s Big Shop

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: This was a good week for getting lots of things done. I applied for a new passport as my old one expires at the end of March (Brett renewed his earlier this month). It’s strange to think that the next time I apply I will be almost 79 years old and may have to think about whether it’s worth it to renew or not. I hope so as both Brett and I would still like to be traveling then (my mom still traveled internationally in her 80s). We did a Big Shop as we have a three-week stretch to get through until our next round of income arrives. We tried a new market (Times Market) that’s nearer to Costco and liked it and its prices much better than Safeway so will be shopping there going forward. Last month our current physician departed the island to care for her mother back on the mainland. After lots of discussion, Brett and I decided we wanted to return to our former physician even though his office is up on the north side of the island, and a good 45 minute drive away. We both liked seeing him before though, and decided that when we have to go up there for an appointment we will make a day of it and take advantage of the opportunity to do things on the north shore. Anyway, we got the process started this week to get reinstated in his practice.
  • Looking forward to next week: I have an appointment for a hair cut on Tuesday, and boy do I need it. Brett and I are looking forward to taking a long walk on the eastside beach path after my appointment, equipped with plenty of snacks and water this time.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Meiling made it up to Massachusetts early this past week and has been staying with WenYu. She has rented a studio apartment in Boston in a nice area and will move in this week. My new walking shoes have arrived! I will pick them up from the post office tomorrow and try them out for the first time tomorrow afternoon, weather permitting. A fellow walker we hadn’t seen for a while told us this week that she had been beginning to worry because it had been so long since we’d seen each other (we had been going earlier in the day), and another walker, an older woman, told us she liked the way we walked: “so energetic!”
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Although we had those expensive car repairs at the beginning of the week, and the price of gasoline rose by over 75¢ a gallon (!), overall it was a good week for being frugal. We put $10.53 into the change/$1 bill jar, leftover from the farmers’ market and our food shopping, and from recycling some cans. Our February change/$1 bills total is $36.52. Even though I took 12 things (!) off our shopping list this week we still spent a little more than we wanted to on groceries, but got everything we needed to get us through the next three weeks. The most expensive item was a package of three pot roasts from Costco, but at $10 each and us getting more than two meals from each roast they were a good buy. I will deduct this trip’s overage from our next shopping trip. I earned 2,069 Swagbucks this past week, and am currently over 1,000 SB ahead of where I need/want to be to make my goal of two $500 Delta gift cards this year. Leftovers were all eaten, no food was thrown away, and we had five no-spend days and two no-drive days.
    Green onions, green beans, 2 limes, a head of cabbage, apple bananas, and a kabocha squash, just $13 and all fresh picked the day we bought them.
  • Grateful for: I continue to be thankful for our weekly farmers’ market, and for all the local farmers who bring such a variety of wonderful things and sell them for such reasonable prices. Every week we not only find what we need, but also something new to mix things up a bit.
  • Bonus question: Do you enjoy going out to eat? Yes and no. I do enjoy eating dishes and foods that I wouldn’t normally fix at home, or ethnic foods that I don’t know how to make. I like that I don’t have to spend time in the kitchen, or wash dishes afterwards. I overall like the social experience (or at least I used to before COVID) and like that I am supporting the restaurant industry in our area. At the same time I greatly dislike what it costs to eat out these days. It’s gotten very expensive, no matter where you go or what you order. Even fast food is expensive or stopping for a cup of coffee somewhere. Every time we eat out I think of how much food we could have bought with that amount and how much we could have saved by preparing our meals at home. There are a few exceptions (can’t wait to have breakfast again at the TipTop Cafe, or saimin at Hamura’s here, for example), and we try to treat ourselves now and again, but it’s no longer as enjoyable an experience for me as it used to be.

That’s a wrap for this week and for February! It’s almost hard to believe now that there were three of us here when the month started, but the year is already bringing changes, and Brett and I have settled back into being just a couple again. I think we’ve put together a good plan for the year, we’re motivated, and we’re looking forward to what each month brings, especially since we’ve heard from both friends and family this past week that they may be visiting the island later in the year. March also is anniversary month for us – we’ve talked a little about what we might want to do to celebrate this year, but haven’t settled on anything yet. 

Anyway, it was a good week, in spite of some unexpected spending and the wacky weather. Here’s wishing everyone a great week coming up, filled with good food, good books, and lots of good things happening for all.

Sunday Morning 2/21/2021: A Tumultuous Week

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. We got quite a show on Friday evening as an all-day storm finished up and blew away.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

It’s been a somewhat tumultuous week. Last Sunday evening Meiling called us in tears to say she and her boyfriend had broken up. We talked with her for a long time, until we were sure she would be OK and that she would be able to move ahead. She is going to, as she says for now, spend time nurturing her relationship with herself. We are of course sad because we all thought her boyfriend was “the one.” They had been together for several years, but being cooped up together for the past year in a small apartment brought out things in both of them that they might have not discovered until much later, when things would have been far more complicated to get out of or fix. She went up to Massachusetts this weekend and is now staying with WenYu and her partner but is making appointments to view apartments in Boston next week and will relocate there as soon as it’s possible. We were very relieved to hear that she will be continuing with her current employer and working remotely. She loves her job, they love her, and she makes a very good income and has great benefits. She amassed an impressive amount in her savings account over the past year, so has a good cushion for her move and settling in. 

Many, many thanks to so many for the support and many suggestions I received following this past week’s Facing Reality post. It was very helpful to read others’ experiences and ideas, and gave us a lot more to think about, something we are thankful to have time to do. We are not leaving Hawaii any time soon, or at all if we can work things out here – we love our life here and it’s a good fit in so many ways for us. Plus, the thought of organizing another big move is overwhelming, and we’ve barely gotten ourselves settled again. It was an expensive operation too and we’d like to enjoy it for a while. However, the desire to be nearer to our children is a strong pull, and the housing situation here is discouraging, so for now we will keep investigating and saving and see where we end up. Our kids want us to stay here for now as it gives them all a reason to travel to Hawaii! Early 2023 is our target for making a firm decision on whether to stay or relocate, so we’re going to take our time and get it right.

From the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished files, Hawaii is still moving slowly with getting its population vaccinated, with only essential workers and those over 75 still eligible to get the shots, and new shipments of the vaccine going for second doses to those populations. When the vaccine first came out, Hawaii’s allotment was slashed nearly in half because of its successful efforts in keeping COVID levels down (“you don’t need so much”), with vaccines instead going to states who were experiencing excessive outbreaks (because of poor management decisions). Our tier (65 and above) is up next though and we’re hopefully things will start moving in the next couple of weeks. Brett and I are beyond ready to receive our jabs!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Searching for Sylvie Lee and The Ice Beneath Her this past week and was looking forward to only having one book to read but no . . . another book came off of hold at the library! So now The Thursday Murder Club is my evening book, and I’m reading Still Life by Louise Penney during the day. I’m hoping for a break after these two so I can finish The Woman in White before I forget everything I’ve already read.
  • Listening to: There’s a brisk wind blowing outside but we’ve got the windows and French doors closed for a change so it’s nice and quiet (and warm) except for the sound of the trees. Gray clouds are still hanging around but I can see a bit of blue as well so hopefully we’ll be able to get out for our walk today. Later on I’ll have the washing machine and dryer going but otherwise I think it’s going to be a very quiet day. Our upstairs neighbor came back last night after a week away – we hadn’t really noticed he was gone until we heard footsteps upstairs last night. He’s a pretty quiet guy so we hadn’t noticed he was gone. Quite a change from the previous tenant and his stomping!
  • Watching: We finished watching The Umbrella Academy and I immediately started watching The Great British Menu (via Amazon Prime), a cooking show where top British chefs compete to prepare a four-course banquet. It’s like a combination of The Great British Bake-Off and Top Chef, and I love it. Brett is not as enamored as I am with cooking shows, but he has other things to keep him busy while I watch. I’m thrilled there are several seasons to binge on as well. We’ve got Crime Scene: The Vanishing At the Cecil Hotel on tap for when we’re done with Call My Agent (final episode is tonight). A line in the preview caught our attention and made us want to check out the show: “Is there a room in this hotel where someone hasn’t died?” We’re also hearing good things about WandaVision so it’s been put on the list as well.
    Shopping list is done for this week. I have a new rule though: at least one thing has to come off the list before we shop. Not sure what that is yet though.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Not a big week for big accomplishments, although I did get everything filled in on my activity card which always makes me happy. I also prepared a big pot of meat sauce for pasta, and put seven servings for Brett and I into the freezer and one into the refrigerator for this week. I prepared our shopping list – fingers crossed we can find everything and fit it into our budget because we have a nearly three-week stretch coming up until we shop again. Brett got his scans done for the surgeon on Thursday – took the better part of a day – so now he’s waiting to hear when the surgery will be scheduled.
  • Looking forward to next week: Better weather? We’ve had everything from the sublime to the ridiculous this week. We’d love to get a beach-worthy day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We took a wonderful hike last Sunday down on the Barking Sands base, on the Waiokapua Trail and are looking forward to doing that again in the future. Our son and DIL closed on their house, and are now in the process of getting their remodeling projects going (new floors, kitchen remodel, and some other projects). Although the new house has fewer bedrooms than their current one (three versus five), it’s basically the same size overall so they have a lot of space. The living room looks positively massive, there’s a separate dining room, and the kitchen is big enough to have an island, very unusual for Japan. We’re excited to see it after everything gets done.
    Our four-year-old granddaughter took this commemorative photo of our son and DIL getting ready to enter their new home for the first time as owners.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We put $7.44 into the change/$1 bill jar, leftover from our grocery shopping and farmers’ market trips. We stuck to our shopping list, but Costco unexpectedly had six-pound packages of fresh ground pork available (they rarely put it out – it usually all goes to restaurants), so we bought one of those as we use ground pork in recipes fairly frequently and the price was much lower compared to what we pay out in town. I earned 1,830 Swagbucks, we ate all the leftovers, I made and froze 7 packages of meat sauce for pasta, and we didn’t throw away any food. In other words, a pretty normal week for frugality.
  • Grateful for: This was a week that could have gone off the rails very quickly for Meiling, but we’re grateful that 1) WenYu lives close by and has the space to for Meiling; 2) Meiling has a great employer that can work remotely and keep all her benefits; and 3) her foresight in building such a solid savings account this past year. While it remains an emotionally difficult time for her, we’re all thankful she has a solid foundation and plan, and we believe she’s going to land on her feet and start moving forward quickly. Something like this in the past would have completely devastated her but her maturity and ability to move herself through a big change like this now makes us proud (and yes, relieved).
    The girl Brett saw from the window.
  • Bonus question: How did you meet your spouse/partner? I met Brett on May 25, 1977, in Millington, Tennessee – he was one of my instructors for a two-week lab course on transistor theory. I can still close my eyes and distinctly remember what he looked like the first time I saw him. We talked with each other during the course – ethically he could not ask me out, but we had our first date (to a movie) right after I finished the course and moved on to the next one. It was pretty much love at first sight for both of us, and we knew in a couple of months that we were going to get married, although that took a bit longer to accomplish because I was sent to Pensacola for my first duty station and we did not want a long-distance marriage. I learned later that before I walked into Brett’s classroom that first day he had seen me out the window while I was taking a break from my previous class, and he told his friend and fellow teacher that I was the girl he was going to marry! He wasn’t sure how we would meet, but then I walked into his classroom and the rest, as they say, is history.

Not the weather we had hoped for this week.

When we see what the weather has been doing in other parts of the country we know we honestly have nothing to complain about, but the weather here has been nuts this past week, from the sublime (last Sunday) to the ridiculous (Friday) and everything in between. Spring has always had the potential to get pretty wild on the island (like the rain and flooding back in April of 2018), but we know things will eventually settle down and sunny, warm days will be back. I’ve been nursing a sinus headache most of this past week thanks to the weather, and am looking forward to that getting resolved. Brett’s sister and BIL live in Dallas, and had no power for a week but we just heard from them and they’re OK, thank goodness. There are just no words for what’s been happening in the Midwest and Texas, and suffering that’s occurred and the reasons for that.

Anyway, here’s looking forward to a better week coming up for all, no matter where you live or what’s been going on!

Sunday Morning 2/14/2021: Happy Valentine’s Day!

This was as exciting as it got for sunsets this past week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Gong xi fat cai 恭喜发财 (Cantonese)! Xi nian kaui le 新年快乐 (Mandarin)! Many wishes for prosperity, health, and Happiness in the year of the Ox. And, happy Valentine’s Day! Brett and I are hoping to head up north is a short while to hike the Stone Dam trail and enjoy a picnic when we get to the dam, but the weather is iffy so we’re not 100% sure we’ll make it today. Dinner tonight will be very romantic (LOL): breakfast sausages, buttermilk pancakes, and fresh papaya, with ice cream and cookies for dessert. Brett gave me a giant Hershey dark chocolate bar for my gift – if we hike we’ll take some along.

YaYu has been gone almost a week and we miss her. The first couple of days after she left the apartment felt too big and too empty, but Brett and I have been slowly adjusting and enjoying having more space again. The day after YaYu left we put things away, cleaned the apartment, and rearranged a some things, but both of us would have given anything to have our girl for a few more days. This is different than when she left last September – we were ready then for her to head back and eager to have our apartment to ourselves. Not this time though – her leaving hit me hard with the realization that it would be at least 10 months before I saw her or any of our children again. YaYu made it back to PA right on schedule though, and has quickly settled back into college life, including getting in some sledding because of all the snow they’ve had. Ally Cat has been by daily since she left, and we keep her water bowl filled and Brett tries to interact with her, but she misses The Girl and really doesn’t want anything to do with us. I think the only thing I’m happy about right now it not having to cook so much.

I. Want. The. Girl.

With YaYu back at school, Brett and I have been having a lot of conversations about our future, and where we see ourselves in a few years. We’ve been talking about traveling, financial goals, and lots of other things that will/might be happening in the next few years. Our first step though is to get our Covid vaccinations – still no word on when that might be happening here but we assume in the next month some time. We remain grateful that we live in such a safe spot, and where our state’s leadership has been willing to make difficult choices to keep the spread of the virus low. I noticed last week that the number of visitors in the area has been picking up once again, so things are going to be changing, maybe faster than we care for, but necessary none the less.

Looks can be deceiving: pretty mornings were still quite chilly for a few days. It warmed up though as the week progressed.

The weather has been beautiful for most of the week (Monday was a rainy mess) with clear skies and light breezes, perfect for walking, but very chilly at times, especially in the morning and at night. This coming week is predicted to bring lots of rain though, so on top of the cold it’s also going to be damp. Wonderful (not). I can’t wait for Hawaii to get this weather out of its system!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished A Perfect Spy just in time for two more books to come off of hold from the library, so my daytime reading is Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok, and my evening reading is The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe. Both are great, and I’m moving through them at a quicker pace than I did A Perfect Spy. A third book came off of hold yesterday, The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman, so as soon as I’m done with one of the other two I’ll get started on that.
  • Listening to: Not a very quiet morning today, at least outside. There’s a very loud rooster that won’t turn it off, and one of the neighbors is running their bandsaw off and on. The temperature is lovely though and although there are a few more clouds than usual I can still see quite a bit of blue sky. We’re debating whether it’s worth it to drive up to the Stone Dam – rain is now predicted up there for right about when we’d be in the middle of the hike, and it rained last night which most likely left most of the trail a muddy mess. We’ll see.
  • Watching: We’re into the third season of Call My Agent but are almost done with the available episodes of The Umbrella Academy – we should finish up in a few more days. We’ve made a list of new shows to check out and will look into those next week – stay tuned. I’ve been itching to watch Band of Brothers again though.  I miss watching cooking shows with YaYu – it’s not the same watching them on my own.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: As he finished up his quarantine, Brett also finished up his list of household chores this past week and now the apartment is in tip-top shape. We moved around some furniture and decorative items to open up the space a bit more and make the place seem less cluttered without actually giving up anything. I got a new set of activity cards ready for the next six weeks but I’ve dropped French study for the time being, and will pick it up another day. It was just too much. I’m enjoying my new Japanese activity: 15 to 20 minutes of daily kanji study using a multiple choice format. The program also gives me the percentage of correct answers and so far I’ve been averaging about 88% correct each day, so I’m happy with that. There are over 1500 kanji in the exercise,  but I do around 30-35 each day. They come up in a random order so the group I get is different every day, the ones I miss automatically show up again the next day, and others occasionally repeat themselves as well, so it’s a great practice. I learned more than I realized with Memrise, but there are plenty I’ve never seen before so it’s always a challenge.
  • Looking forward to next week: Well, we’re not looking forward to rain, but hopefully the afternoons will be dry enough to get up to the park and walk. After a somewhat long stretch we’ll make a food shopping trip on Tuesday – our list is ready. I’m looking forward to shopping for just the two of us again – our list is blissfully small for a change.
    We would have been crushed if YaYu’s gift had gotten lost. Those marshmallows are amazing, by the way – my favorite is the cinnamon churro with the mint chocolate chip right behind.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: WenYu’s birthday present safely arrived finally and she loved it, especially since she had been wanting hot cocoa (“And now I have the BEST cocoa!”). We had a few scary moments though when we learned this past week that the package had been delivered five days earlier but she hadn’t seen it. It turned out the mail carrier had put it in a plastic bag and left it by the mailbox, and no one had seen it in the snow even though they check the mail daily! All’s well that ends well though. We also got to see the house where WenYu and her partner live – absolutely gorgeous inside and out. YaYu and I had a great last walk together up on the eastside beach path last Sunday. We walked three miles, and were prepared to go further except for some big ugly clouds were rolling in and convinced us to turn around and head back to the car. I had my dental appointment on Friday and all is well – the chip that occurred was a small piece of porcelain that came off of an older crown, and the dentist said there is absolutely no reason to replace it, and everything is otherwise in good shape. I go back in May for a cleaning, full round of x-rays, and a full exam.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We put $11.20 into the change/$1 bill jar, a combination of some change I discovered in my wallet and left overs from the farmers’ market and a quick trip to Safeway to get some ice cream (which was all on sale). I took $65 of change/$1 bill savings to the bank this past week. I earned 1,921 Swagbucks last week, and I’m right where I want to be for the month. I used funds from our travel savings and bought a $500 Delta gift card from The Hawaii Plan for future travels – win-win for both of us. I have enough in gift cards now to pay for most of our flights to and from Pennsylvania for YaYu’s graduation in 2022; now it’s on to earning more cards to get us to Japan in the fall. We received our first rebate check from Costco after returning to an Executive account last summer – $48.49. An equal amount will come out of our grocery budget next week and into our travel savings. Other than my trips to Safeway and the farmers’ market it was a no-spend week, all the leftovers were eaten, and no food was thrown away.
  • Grateful for: Life is good right now. We miss our children and grandchildren and can’t wait to see them again, but otherwise we are enjoying being back in Hawaii, love our apartment and the location, we’re staying healthy, and are feeling very thankful we came back here nearly a year ago. We briefly debated going back to Portland when we had to leave Japan, but we made the right choice for us when we returned here.
  • Bonus question: What was your first job? From middle school on I did a LOT of babysitting, but in high school I also started working as a server/kitchen help at parties and did everything from serving at sit down dinner parties as well as plating and passing canapés and hors d’oeuvres to guests at cocktail parties. I also served as general kitchen help (picking up dirty dishes, washing dishes, putting things away, general clean-up, etc.). I made very good money doing this (for someone in high school) and built a good word-of-mouth reputation so got hired fairly frequently. My first “real” job happened the summer after my junior year of high school when I worked as a part-time kitchen aide at a psychiatric hospital. I served meals in the cafeteria there and washed pots and pans. The crew I worked with was very weird but it was a good experience for me overall. In college I picked up the server/kitchen help work again. My favorite position was when I lived in Tucson, AZ and worked as kitchen help for a doctor whose wife was in a wheelchair. A professional chef came in a few times a week and did the shopping and prepared meals (the husband cooked on the weekends), but my job was to heat and serve them and do kitchen clean-up in the evenings. I was definitely a servant, but was paid very well, and the wife always sent lots of leftovers home with me so I ate well too.

A house YaYu and I passed by on the beach path had these gorgeous hibiscus out front. The blossoms are all about six inches in diameter.

Almost all of the ubiquitous chickens up at the park are wild jungle fowl, although the variations we see from time to time can be amazing. Lately however we have seen some interesting breeds that are NOT jungle fowl – they come out of the woods now and again into the parking lot, although they are no where near as aggressive as the jungle fowl and don’t mix with them. We have been very curious about how they got there. Our main hypothesis is that someone was raising them but decided to let them go for some reason and brought them up to the park. Or maybe they all escaped from nearby and ended up at the park. We’ve spotted four different breeds so far, including the one below, with her big chest and fluffy feather.

We have no idea what breed this is, but she was lovely.

It’s been something of a bittersweet week for us, but mostly a good one, and we’re looking forward to the one coming up, even if it ends up doing nothing but rain every day. I hope everyone had a great week as well, with lots of good food, good books, and lots of good things happening. Here’s to a good week coming up!

Sunday Morning 2/7/2021: Just the Two of Us Again

A sunset tried to happen on Thursday evening, but this was as far as it got all week before fading to gray. 

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

YaYu heads back to school tomorrow evening, and we’re saying goodbye with mixed feelings. We’re ready to have our little apartment back to ourselves again and not have YaYu’s stuff all over the place (it’s really too small for three people), but also know we will greatly miss her and that it will many months before we see her again. This long, extended stay with us has not been easy for her and she’s pretty much been bored out of her mind for most of it, but she has also hasn’t seemed as prickly as she’s been in the past. I am looking forward to not having to cook so much so often, and pick up after her so often as well. Anyway, she’ll fly from here to Honolulu tomorrow evening where she has a couple of hours layover, then on to Seattle overnight to meet up with a good friend in the morning before heading back to Pennsylvania together. They’ll share an Uber ride out to the campus, and classes will begin toward the end of the week. YaYu has a heavy schedule, and a lot to decide this term – she’ll be hunting down a research internship and researching graduate programs. She has a few options if she does not nail down the internship, but she definitely won’t be coming back to Hawaii – once again there won’t be anything for her to do here.

Hangin’ out in the yard with Ally Cat.

Brett had to begin quarantining the minute he came back from Honolulu, and that doesn’t end until Thursday evening at 5:00 p.m. YaYu has been freaked out about him possibly having brought the virus back with him so he has been wearing a mask inside and even out in the yard (and she wears a mask inside), she’s been eating separately from him, and he has not been allowed to touch the dishes (washing, putting away, etc.) or anything she uses. He still makes the coffee in the morning, but that been OK with YaYu because she doesn’t drink coffee. Brett has spent most of his time reading, but he has been taking care of various tasks around the apartment so our windows now sparkle, light fixtures are spotless and bug free, everything is dusted, the refrigerator has been scrubbed out from top to bottom, and so forth. His appointment with the doctor in Honolulu went well, and he’ll have one more test done here before surgery, which will thankfully also be done at the hospital here. He’s not sure whether he’ll have to go back to Honolulu for a post-op exam or whether that can be done via tele-med, but if he does have to go we’ve decided I will tag along as well and we’ll give ourselves a little break there. We’ll see.

There were big, loud thunderstorms in the middle of Wednesday night as the cold front rolled in, and then a gloomy and cold Thursday morning. The sun eventually came out although it stayed cold.

We’ve had another week of crazy weather with rain, wind, thunderstorms, and unusually cold temperatures. We had a few days where temps dropped down into the mid-50s to low-60s in the morning and at night, and stayed in the upper 60s during the day – it was uncomfortable. Friends on the mainland have laughed and reminded me that they haven’t had temperatures in the 60s for weeks now, but we don’t have insulation or heaters here, so if it’s in the 50s or 60s outside it’s also 50 or 60 degrees inside as well and all we can do is bundle up and hope it eventually warms up (we would have turned on the heat back on the mainland if it was this cold inside). It’s sort of like a reverse heat wave for us when it gets this cold here, the opposite of a few days of weather at 107° or so with no air conditioning, no ceiling fans, no breeze, and insulation made to keep the cold out. Anyway, things finally appear to be moving back to normal – the temperature is noticeably warmer this morning.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m just about done with The Perfect Spy, and then will go back to The Woman In White again this week. Hopefully I can get that done before the next book comes off of hold at the library. I had hoped to finish four books in January, but because of library scheduling and book length and density, that didn’t happen.
    Not a cloud in the sky – it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
  • Listening to: The sun is out and the sky is blue, blue, blue. There is a normal amount of breeze, and it’s 10 degrees warmer than it’s been all week – I don’t have to put on a sweater for the first time in a few days. There are a few chickens/roosters out screaming in the distance, but otherwise it’s very quiet both inside and out. YaYu is outside with the cat, and Brett is reading so it’s very quiet inside. I’ve got a nice hot cup of coffee sitting in front of me – the morning couldn’t be more perfect!
  • Watching: We’re still watching Call My Agent and The Umbrella Academy – both are great. I can understand a few more words in French these days but most of it is way too fast for me in Call My Agent.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: Since he’s stuck at home, Brett has been taking care of loads of chores around the house: the windows have all been washed, inside and out, he cleaned the refrigerator, and several other things have been taken care of. I finally made a dental appointment for an exam and cleaning, but only because a small piece chipped off of one of my back teeth. I have sort of been avoiding the dentist because of the pandemic but can’t put it off any more. YaYu mailed two packages to herself, things that weren’t going to fit into her suitcase or backpack going back (including the yoga mat we gave her for Christmas and some of the snacks she got for herself). She was appalled by the cost of postage. She’ll get her packing done later today.
  • Looking forward to next week: Tomorrow will be my weekly day off from walking, and then I’ll be up at the park by myself for three days, so I am greatly looking forward to walking with Brett again beginning on Friday, once he’s out of quarantine. I’m also looking forward to preparing simpler meals once again next week, and not having to spend so much time in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to washing fewer dishes as well as Brett will be helping out again (he does the afternoon/evening dishes).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and YaYu hiked up Sleeping Giant last Sunday; it was one thing YaYu greatly wanted to do before she left, and the weather cooperated. I received a lovely email this past week from our host in Florence checking up on us and letting us know they were selling the apartment we stayed in there. It was one of our favorite homes during all of our travels – so charming and in such a great location. We were so cold on Friday morning that Brett started a small fire in outdoor firepit to help warm us up (it was too early in the day for s’mores though).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than Brett’s trip to Honolulu, the farmers’ market (where I only spent $8), and a quick trip to Big Save ($20.15), it was a no-spend week. We put $7.93 into the change/$1 bill jar this past week, leftover from Brett’s trip to Honolulu and the farmers’ market. Our total change/$1 bill amount saved in January was $28.94. I earned 2,430 Swagbucks, which includes a 632 SB bonus earned in January. As always, no food was thrown away and all the leftovers were consumed.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are very grateful for the time we’ve gotten to spend with YaYu and the chance we’ve had to spoil her a bit. We’re also grateful for the efforts her sisters have made to stay in contact with her while she’s been here as well. They have a strong relationship with each other, and it’s been a joy to see them support each other even though they can’t get together. 
  • Bonus question: How many places have you had a driver’s license? I counted these up the other day and was surprised to discover that I’ve been licensed at one time or another in eight different states: California, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Maryland, Florida, Oregon, and Hawaii. I learned to drive in California, but attended college in Arizona and needed a license there, then later lived in Colorado for a while before I joined the navy, and had licenses from Tennessee, Maryland, and Florida during Brett’s time in the navy. Oregon and Hawaii licenses came after, for obvious reasons. Other than my initial test in California, I’ve never had to take another driving test, only written exams for a new license. I also had a special driving license each time we were stationed in Japan, issued jointly from the navy and the Japanese government (again only a written test). That license was equivalent to one for a “professional driver,” such as a taxi driver, truck driver, chauffeur, etc. and if I’d ever had an accident there would have been assessed differently (i.e. stronger penalties) than a regular driver. By the way, in Japan we drove on the left side of the road, like in the UK, Australia or New Zealand. It was easy once I remembered to always keep the steering wheel to the center of the road. We lived in Japan long enough too that when I would watch American films or TV shows they were driving on the wrong side of the road!

Hawaii’s current visitor quarantine requirements are due to expire on February 20, but we heard rumors this past week that they may continue until more people/visitors have been vaccinated, especially with the relief bill coming with continued unemployment insurance, etc. Cases of the virus here have been dropping rapidly, but Hawaii is currently not getting enough of the vaccine, and what’s coming now is being used for the second dose of those who have been vaccinated instead of getting new people taken care of. Hopefully that will change soon. Everyone we talk to here admits to loving quiet and calm we’re enjoying now, the lack of traffic on the roads, etc. and is not looking forward to having hoards of visitors descend on the island once again once things improve. Hopefully some lessons have been learned, and tourism won’t reach the levels it was at back when we left in 2018 – it was overwhelming back then, and unsustainable. I am sorry though for all the businesses that weren’t able to make it without tourist dollars and won’t be coming back – peace and quiet has come with a price.

Even with the cold, there’s been lots going on in the yard this past week.

It’s been another quiet, low key (and cold) week but a good one and I’m looking forward to the week coming up and hope everyone is as well. Hopefully there will be more and better picture-taking opportunities. In the meantime, here’s to good food, good books, safe travels, frugal living, and good things happening for all!

Sunday Morning 1/31/2021: An Ordinary Week

There were no sunsets this week, just gray clouds and overcast skies, so I give you instead the most incredible sunset we’ve ever seen here, taken back in 2017. It looked like a literal pillar of fire.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Other than the weather being kind of wild this past week, with the wind sounding like a freight train moving through the yard most of the time, we’ve had a very simple, ordinary week. We did our food shopping, walked almost every day, took care of chores and such around the house, and did nothing out of the ordinary. I have worried all week about what I would write about today, but in hindsight it was great to have a week without a lot of stress or running around.

We will be glad to see the backside of January – it has been a very expensive month for us. Three birthdays, flights for both Brett and YaYu, over budget on food and supplies, and a few other expenses have rung us dry. The girls’ birthdays were an expected expense, as was YaYu’s flight, but Brett’s trip over to Honolulu and back sort of came up suddenly when there was a cancellation with the specialist there. Besides his ticket we also have to cover his ground transportation, meals, and such while he’s there. We honestly didn’t figure on running out of so many things at once either, especially items that we typically buy in bulk. Anyway, February is so far looking better – with YaYu’s return to school food costs will drop, we’re well-stocked with supplies, and there should be fewer surprises, or at least we hope so.

Spending some quality time with Ally on a cold, dreary day.

YaYu heads back to school a week from tomorrow. She is excited, but we will miss our girl. It has been a very boring stay for her as there hasn’t been anything for her to do here, and her remaining friend on the island headed back to school a few weeks ago and they were only able to get together once during her stay. Ally Cat is going to drive us crazy after YaYu is gone as well – she shows up two or more times a day to spend time with YaYu – the two of them love being together. Brett and I are honestly looking forward to having more space once again as our apartment really is too small for three, at least for a long-term stay, but we’re very much going to miss YaYu’s company and cooking. This year she won’t be coming back for the summer either – the next time we see her will be next winter, whether that’s here or elsewhere.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I was dividing my time between A Perfect Spy (daytime) and A Necessary Evil at night this past week, but finished A Necessary Evil last night as it moved along a more quickly. I will concentrate on A Perfect Spy for now (reading both day and night) and then get back to The Woman In White.
  • Listening to: This is the first morning all week where the wind isn’t howling out in the yard as it blows past. The sky is blue and the breeze is a normal level, although it’s still nicely cool. There’s a rooster screaming now again but otherwise it’s quite peaceful for a change. It’s quiet inside too – Brett is reading and YaYu is still sleeping – and I’ve got a nice fresh, hot cup of coffee in front of me so things are just about perfect as far as I’m concerned.
  • Watching: Brett and I finished watching both Dark and Ratched this past week, and have started Call My Agent and The Umbrella Academy. Call My Agent is French, and has subtitles, so I have to pay careful attention to catch what’s going on. I can understand about every 50th word but hopefully I will do better as it progresses – there are four seasons. Umbrella Academy is strange but promising. Last night we watched The Dig on Netflix, a lovely story and lovely movie. YaYu is watching a show called The Magicians, and I catch some of it from time to time – it’s a strange but interesting show as well. I have been thinking about how Brett and I rarely watched TV before we set out on our Big Adventure, but got into the habit when we were in Portland in the summer of 2019 and then in England, and now we look forward to watching together every evening after dinner.
  • Happy I accomplished: I got my activity card filled in this week, but don’t think we accomplished anything special this week although we did get our food shopping done including lots of snacks for YaYu to take back to school with her. Otherwise it was just our usual cleaning, laundry, walking, meal prep and clean up, etc.
  • Looking forward to next week: I am frankly not looking forward to next week as Brett will be quarantining for 10 days following his return from Honolulu tomorrow. That means I will be walking by myself each day, he will not be dining at the table with us, he will not be able to go to the airport to see YaYu off, and other precautions will be taken. He is going over to Honolulu with a KN95 mask and wearing a cloth mask over that, and bringing along loads of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, so hopefully all will go well but it’s still worrisome. I have my fingers crossed for continued better weather this week, with more sunshine, and that the temperatures will creep up a bit. It has been very chilly at night all week although the humidity has stayed low.
    A surprise gift from our neighbor, from her backyard! It lights up the entire room.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We were coming down the road to our house from our walk last Wednesday and passed a neighbor, who was on her way up to the park, and she stopped and gave us a gorgeous bouquet from her garden (she thought see would see us in the park)! It was such an unexpected and lovely gesture. We only met her a few weeks ago up at the park – Brett recognized her dog and car – and we ended up talking for a long time. Her husband is also retired navy, so after YaYu has gone back to school we’re having them over for cocktails and conversation. 2) We were able to get lilikoi at the farmers’ market this past week – such a treat! It’s hard to find these days.
    Quite a haul from the farmers’ market this past week for just $20: a bag of lilikoi, bananas, 2 limes, big carrots, a cucumber, green onions, a huge bunch of cilantro, a big bag of green beans, and bok choy.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We had slightly under $11 left over when we did our food shopping last Thursday, even after buying extra fruit and snacks for YaYu, and spending a full $20 at the farmers’ market. Some of that went into the change/$1 bill jar ($6.21) and the other $5 was put away for a future farmers’ market trip. 2) We finally received a $20 Costco card we earned when we signed up for automatic renewal last year, and used it at Costco this week but put $20 out of our regular shopping money into our travel account. 3) We also put $24.10 in credit card rewards into the travel account. 4) I earned 1,564 Swagbucks and will receive bonus SB later this week as I reached my goal every day in January. 5) I made a big pot of vegetable rice soup last Tuesday using up odds and ends from the vegetable drawer, some open containers of chicken stock, and a half-cup of rice, and enjoyed that for lunch for four days. 6) All other leftovers were used up and we didn’t throw away and food.
    My leftover vegetable soup contained green beans, spinach, cabbage, carrots, onions, celery, and broccoli.
  • Grateful for: I feel sometimes like I’ve hit a wall with this pandemic – I’m tired of not being able to go out other than to food shop, tired of wearing a mask when we do go out (but grateful that everyone here wears one without argument), tired that other than food shopping our only outing is a trip up to the park each day to walk or up to the Stone Dam trail. But then I remember that I am healthy and that my family is healthy, that I live in a very safe place, that I do not have to worry about losing my job or not being able to afford to eat or pay my rent, etc. and I am very grateful for all those things. Far too many others have not been as fortunate. I know we will get through this, although I am beginning to realize and accept that the world will not be the same, that there is no going back to what was “normal” before. Still, I can dream and I do, and I remain grateful for that as well.
  • Bonus question: What’s something you’re very good at but hate doing? This turned out to be another question I really had to think about for a while, and had a hard time coming up with a satisfactory answer. One of the joys of being retired is that I don’t have to do anything I hate these days whether I’m very good at it (or think I’m good at it) or not. Actually, I don’t think I’m very good at much of anything now. I was a very good academic writer back in the day but that’s something I would hate doing these days. I also used to be very good at embroidery, but while I don’t hate it I’m also not eager to pick it up again. Everything else I do very well these days I don’t hate doing. 
The prayer plant on the left is really surging but there are loads of new sprouts coming out on the right plant. Fingers crossed!

For someone who has prided themselves on have a green thumb with indoor plants, I have nearly killed three of them since we’ve lived here (four others are doing great though). I think the mostly likely problem was overwatering – because of the humidity the plants didn’t dry out as much as they should have between waterings and I nearly drowned them. Oops! We set all three outside and all are now sending up new leaves and shoots. For the time being we plan to leave them outside on the porch – they’ll get plenty of sun and water – and then will plant them in the yard later.

That’s a wrap for this week. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great – it was just very ordinary. I plan to savor this last week with YaYu, and help her get ready to head back to the mainland and will deal with Brett’s quarantine. I hope this past week was a good one for everyone, with good books, good food, lots of good things happening, and that everyone is looking forward to the week coming up!