Sunday Morning 5/29/2022: Another Hot Week

Meeting the Senior Nomads was the highlight of the week!

We were out an about a bit more this past week, although we still tended to feel tired and worn out by early afternoon, both from the altitude and the heat. We would have normally considered Tuesday’s 30-minute walk over to Centro for hot chocolate and churros easy by any measure but by the time we arrived on Tuesday we were both very tired, overheated, and I was struggling to catch my breath. We followed our chocolate treat with a long visit to the big Tuesday market and completely wore ourselves out. We felt better on Wednesday when we met with the Senior Nomads, although once again the heat turned out to be our nemesis later in the day and we returned home exhausted once again. Thursday we did our weekly supermarket run but took a taxi back to our apartment and spent the rest of the day cooling off. On Friday we changed our brunch destination because we didn’t want to face another walk the heat, and yesterday we decided to skip a visit to the organic market in favor of staying home and staying cool. We still ended up having a fun and interesting week that included meeting the Senior Nomads, touring the Fabrica Aurora to enjoy the art, antiques, and other beautiful goods for sale there, and visiting the giant Tuesday municipal market.

A tiny fraction of what can be found at the Tuesday Market (plus the produce we bought).

I have been on a quest since we arrived to find a simple clay pot for cooking beans, an olla de barro or olla frijolera. They’re widely used in Mexican households, so you’d think they would be an easy thing to find, but locating one in SMA took some effort. Brett and I were sure someone would be selling them at the big Tuesday municipal market, the San Miguel Allende Tianguis, but even there they were not to be found. Although we came up empty-handed with the olla, our visit to the market was still quite an experience. First of all, the market was HUGE, set up in four giant halls under tarps, with quite literally everything for sale: clothing, tools, garden supplies, candy, spices, produce . . . everything and anything you could think of. I think the only things we didn’t see were live animals or bean pots. We visited all four halls and looked at everything, asked several people about where to find an olla and were pointed toward possible vendors, but a bean pot was not to be found. We did fill two shopping bags with produce while we were there that included two melons, a kilo (2.2 pounds) of fresh strawberries, a bag of onions, another of potatoes, four avocados, a giant head of garlic, and three mangos, all for less than $10 USD.

After a delightful visit with the Senior Nomads on Wednesday morning, Brett and I walked through the Fabrica Aurora for a while, enjoying all the art on display and for sale and the many other gorgeous items available, including fabrics, jewelry, ceramics, antiques, and more. We fell in love with and purchased a very small (4″ x 6″), affordable piece of original art that will easily fit into our suitcase and didn’t break the bank. We then headed back to the Mercado Artesanias as we’d been told that’s where we’d most likely find an olla, and at the very end of the market, in one of the very last stalls, there they were! The vendor had several beautiful painted ones that were unfortunately way too big for our needs, but we found a smaller, simple clay olla and for just $5 USD brought it home. I bought some Flor de Mayo beans on Friday and tonight I am going to cook up a first batch in my pot!

My olla frijolera is very simple. Most pots have a handle on each side but because this one is smaller it has just one. The pot can be used directly on a stovetop, either gas or electric.

This past week the Fiesta en honor a la Santa Cruz del Valle del Maíz passed right outside the gates of our complex. The group visits various neighborhoods around the city before their main fiesta and last week was our turn. The festival has not been held for the past two years because of COVID.

El Valle del Maiz is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. The majority of its inhabitants are of Chichimeca or Otomi origin, and during its festival, which takes place the last weekend of May, people venerate the Santa Cruz, in a mixture of Catholic and pre-Hispanic traditions.The celebration venerates a Catholic symbol, such as the cross, but also performs indigenous dances and rituals like the blessing to the four winds, part of the Chichimeca culture before the Spanish domination. The main objective of the festival is to give thanks for the blessings received during the past year and ask for a good rainy season and an abundant harvest.

The costumes were colorful, fascinating, and some were a bit scary. Almost everyone in the parade was dancing though and the participants threw candy to the audience. The whole event was incredibly noisy, and we were glad when the parade passed to another location.

Although she looks sort of benign in this photo, Brett said this woman “had the moves like she was going to make someone dead.” One neighbor said she was the scariest thing she’d ever seen.

The video was taken by a neighbor. The music was actually VERY loud, and there were also VERY, VERY loud mortars being repeatedly fired. Although the parade and costumes were interesting to watch, the whole complex was VERY happy when the parade had moved on and quiet returned.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished this past week: We did a lot of walking this past week even though it was hard at times – we still haven’t completely adjusted to the climate here although Brett is coming along faster than I am. I’m thrilled with my olla frijolera – it’s just the right size for the two of us. Fingers crossed I don’t burn the beans tonight!
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: We don’t have anything set on our calendar other than brunch on Friday. We’ll probably head into Centro or another neighborhood once or twice for something – we want to check out the organic market on Saturday, for example – but otherwise plan to stay home to rest, save money, and keep cool.

We’ll definitely be returning to this cafe again: two cups of creamy, spiced hot chocolate with freshly made churros (three each) for just $6.25 USD.

  • The ways we saved: We purchased a couple of things this week beyond groceries (the piece of original art and the bean pot), enjoyed a delicious brunch on Friday, drank Mexican hot chocolate and churros on Tuesday, and made a couple of stops for coffee, but still stayed within our spending limit. We ate leftovers most of the week and no food was thrown out or wasted.
  • Good things that happened: Meeting the Senior Nomads was the highlight of the week, and we wish we could have had a longer visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet again before they leave SMA in June. We found some new places to eat, I found a bean pot, and we tried out a great new supermarket (La Comer), which can best be described as a high-end cross between Target and Costco with prices like Aldi.

We may be in Mexico, but Brett and I have spent most of the week feeling sad, depressed, and incredibly angry following the horrific mass shooting event in Uvalde, Texas last Tuesday. What’s made the incident worse beyond the horror of the children’s and their teachers’ deaths is the constantly changing story of what happened that day, especially why it took anyone in law enforcement so long to confront the shooter. The United States has become the alcoholic who refuses to admit he or she has a drinking problem. I have to wonder what has happened to this country when an 18-year-old, who can’t buy alcohol (including beer) or a handgun or even a single bullet for a pistol, can’t rent a car or legally take on many other responsibilities, can still walk into a gun shop and purchase two high-powered, semiautomatic military-style rifles and a huge amount of ammunition in order to go shoot up an elementary school (58 magazines were discovered at the school, over 1,650 bullets). Why does anyone need to own a semiautomatic rifle such as an AR-15, guns whose design and sole purpose is to kill a lot of people in a very short period of time? I am not opposed to gun ownership for hunting, personal protection, or sport, but I draw the line at the easy purchase and open carry of these weapons of mass death. Last week’s tragedy has nothing to do with reinforced doors, or a good guy with a gun. Ten people were massacred at a grocery store in Buffalo the week before this, and the good guy with a gun, a former police officer, was killed by yet another 18-year-old shooter wearing body armor. Are we supposed put in place door control and bulletproof plate glass on every public building in USA? The Las Vegas shooter fired from a hotel window; do those need to be controlled as well? Last week’s tragedy may have been the result of a mental health issue, but every other country in the world has citizens suffering from mental health issues, and mass shootings happen extremely rarely if ever, and when they have occurred, laws are put into place to restrict further tragedies. What these countries have that the U.S. lacks are sensible, well-regulated, sane gun ownership standards and laws. The reason for repeated mass shootings in the U.S. is the enhanced availability of guns and a culture that venerates the ownership of them. Think of all the many things that require effort and registration in our country, from getting a driver’s license to buying Sudafed or having certain prescriptions filled to being allowed to vote, and compare those to how easy it is to buy a gun, especially a semiautomatic rifle, even if you’re only 18 years old and perhaps have some mental health issues. I pray that the beautiful children and their teachers who were slaughtered last Tuesday, and the 10 that were killed in Buffalo, will not be forgotten, that we as a country can finally admit we have a serious problem and the direction we’ve been traveling has to change. There has been sweeping legislation passed that has cut drunk driving deaths in half. There are penalties for underage drinking, overserving, and driving under the influence. Sellers are closely monitored & taxed. We can do the same with guns and stop this madness.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, when we honor those service men and women who gave their lives serving our country. Brett and I are planning to watch Saving Private Ryan on Netflix tomorrow evening, but there are other great movies to watch that honor the day and the sacrifices of those who died: Glory, Courage Under Fire (a personal favorite), Platoon, Gettysburg, The Hurt Locker, and many others. I hope everyone will at least take a moment to remember the service members who died in defense of our country and honor them in their own way.

This past week was fun but busy, and also somewhat exhausting, so we are planning to slow down this coming week and keep outings to a minimum and enjoy our surroundings at the complex. Temperatures will be in the 90s again this coming week, and as has become obvious these past two weeks, I don’t do well in this kind of heat (especially when altitude is added to the mix). I’m grateful we’re staying in a place where we can retreat, relax, and stay cool and comfortable. I hope everyone had a good week as well, got a lot accomplished, and are looking forward to a great week coming up!

Sunday Morning 5/22/2022: Beginning in Mexico

We are slowly settling into our life in San Miguel de Allende. We continue to recover from the long journey to get here as well as the altitude and climate. It is very dry here, especially so for us after living in always-humid Hawaii, and Brett and I have both been drinking lots and lots of (bottled) water since our arrival. It has also been very hot here so far (in the 90s every day all week), another big change for us, so we’re also trying to adapt to that. Our apartment has thick stucco walls, good fans, and heavy drapes that block out the afternoon sun when it’s at its peak so we stay comfortable indoors and only go out mornings or evenings. Altitude adjustment will happen gradually and there’s really nothing much we can do to speed it up, but we’ve basically come from being at sea level to an elevation of over a mile and think it will take a few more days before the drowsiness and sluggishness completely fade away (we’ve been told it can take around two weeks to fully adjust).

The meat case and charcuterie island at City Market, just a 15-minute walk from our apartment. While we love the little shops that line the streets, this is the most beautiful and impressive supermarket I have ever seen in my life. It’s like entering a fantasy store with everything and anything one could possibly want. The aisle full of nothing but olive oils alone is worth a visit.

We’ve spent the past few days discovering what’s available nearby and so far we’ve found a nearby supermarket that can only be described as Whole Foods on steroids (but with prices like Aldi); a smaller, less expensive, but equally nice supermarket; a couple of lovely little organic markets that sell wonderful breads, produce, and other good things; a nearby tortilla shop; and lots of great little restaurants and cafes. We’ve just started our exploration of the center of SMA and other neighborhoods, and we’re looking forward to discovering more about the city. Brett and I try to use Spanish as much as possible, but frankly we’re pathetic (yesterday I answered the taxi driver in Japanese). I’m hoping more of what I learned in the past will come back during our stay.

Last day in Philadelphia

We had a great final day in Philadelphia last Sunday afternoon. Meiling was on her way back to Boston before 6:00 a.m., but WenYu didn’t have to be at the train station until 4:30 in the afternoon, and YaYu needed to move out of her dorm room by noon. So, Brett, WenYu, and I went over to Bryn Mawr in the morning to help get everything out of YaYu’s room and over to a temporary room in another dorm where she’ll live until the end of the month. After we were done with that chore (more like chaos) we headed downtown to the Reading Street Market for cheesesteaks. We each got a traditional with grilled onions and Cheez Whiz at Spataros, and boy was that sandwich tender, juicy, flavorful, and downright DELICIOUS! We wolfed them down. While we were eating I asked YaYu how far we were from the Liberty Bell and it turned out to be just a 15 minute walk away so as soon as we were done with lunch off we went! None of us had ever seen the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall before, so we enjoyed a brief look at both before taking WenYu to the station. Following that we took YaYu back to Bryn Mawr and said our goodbyes to her, then went back to our hotel to finish packing and get a good night’s sleep before departing for Baltimore in the morning. By the way, after living on quiet little Kaua’i for the past several years, driving in Philadelphia gave all of us heart palpitations!

A special note to commenter Libby: I found your most recent comment in my spam folder this past week, maybe because you’re posting from overseas? I thought I had rescued it and was planning to read and answer but instead the comment vaporized and can’t be found anywhere. I’m so sorry.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished: 1) Getting to San Miguel de Allende provided a difficult travel experience once again, but we stayed calm, persevered, and eventually arrived. 2) In spite of everything we were completely unpacked and settled in on our second day, our pantry and refrigerator are now stocked for the rest of the month, and we’ve started venturing out of our neighborhood into other parts of the city.

Clockwise from the top left: a colorful street in our neighborhood; a design shop along the Ancha; Parque Benito Juarez; the Parroquia San Miguel Archangel; the entrance to El Encanto restaurant; traditional pottery in the Mercado de Artesanias;.

  • What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) Besides getting out more, we’re going to finally meet Debbie and Michael Campbell, the Senior Nomads, on Wednesday! They were the inspiration for our nomadic life, and Brett and I have long hoped our paths would cross someday and . . . here we are! They have been to SMA several times and we’re looking forward to learning more about things we can do and see while we’re here. 2) We’re planning to go to the big SMA organic market for the first time this coming week. Besides loads of fresh organic produce for sale there are also vendors selling homemade enchiladas, tamales, tacos, and other good things – we want to try some vegetable tamales!
  • Ways we saved: 1) Parking in a downtown Philadelphia lot last Sunday came to $33 (!!!) for two hours and five minutes but Brett remembered to get our ticket validated and we only had to pay $11, still expensive but much, much better than what it could have been (after we couldn’t find any street parking). 2) There may be some potential savings: because our flight from Baltimore to Toronto was over four hours late in arriving and completely the fault of Air Canada (not the weather), we qualify for a refund and were told we may get as much as $400 (CAD) each. We’ve filed for the refund and will see what happens. 3) We have found food to be very inexpensive in SMA so far – we’ll probably spend less than half of what we used to spend on Kaua’i for the two of us.
Waiting for brunch in the back courtyard at Rustica, a lovely little restaurant right around the corner from us.
  • Good things that happened: 1) On our first morning in SMA, we had a delicious brunch at a restaurant down the street and around the corner that our host had recommended. We got sticker shock when we saw the menu, and our entire meal plus tip ended up being around what we use to pay for one breakfast entree on Kaua’i! 2) Because of the great organic and natural food stores near our apartment, we have been eating healthy vegan and vegetarian foods once again. We were getting very tired of airport, fast, and other unhealthy food options. 3) Fresh tortillas in Mexico are mind-blowing if all you’ve ever had are ones from the supermarket in the U.S.

Both Brett and I have high hopes that another week here will find us feeling back to normal. After all the interruptions and ups and downs and changes we’ve been through over the past month or so, we’re looking forward to being settled for a while. Both of us are done with feeling tired, having our sleep interrupted or not getting to sleep at all, and not eating as well as we should. I’m looking forward to being alert enough to read again without immediately falling asleep! San Miguel de Allende seems like it will be an ideal location to pull ourselves back together.

Although this was a somewhat crazy week for us, I hope everyone else had a good one and got lots accomplished. I also hope everyone is looking forward to the week coming up as much as we are!

Sunday Morning 5/15/2022: Graduation!

Taking a moment to brag: YaYu graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors.

And then there were four . . . college graduates, that is! What a great day we had yesterday, even though it rained all day. The graduation ceremony was lovely, and afterwards we enjoyed tea sandwiches and cookies back at YaYu’s dorm along with her friends/roommates and their parents. With YaYu’s commencement, all four of our children are now college graduates and have officially flown out of our nest. We are so very proud of ALL of them.

Meiling and WenYu arrived in Philadelphia on Friday afternoon and we spent a fun evening with YaYu beginning with a celebratory dinner at the White Dog Cafe (which serves local, sustainable foods) and then went for some house-made ice cream from a nearby shop – the available flavors were creative and incredibly tasty. Afterwards we walked over to a combination Japanese restaurant and small grocery store and found prices lower than what we paid in Kaua’i! Brett got me another reusable shopping bag for my birthday, this one with a Japan theme (the bags are turning into my favorite souvenir – they’re low cost and very useful). We dropped YaYu back at her dorm with a box of Covid self-tests, and she texted us back shortly with a picture of her negative test: she had cleared the virus in time for graduation!

We enjoyed a fabulous celebration meal on Friday with some very yummy food followed by artisanal ice cream, and a small birthday gift for me – a lovely evening! (we were not actually seated in a parking lot at dinner)

The day after our arrival in Pennsylvania Brett and I headed over to Whole Foods, the closest market to our hotel, to pick up food for the week. We have been committed to eating as many meals as possible in our room, so we shopped with that in mind. We were stunned when our bill for a cart full of food came to a full $65 (and some change) less than expected, at Whole Foods of all places, but I guess our brains were still figuring everything according to what it would cost on Kaua’i. We took YaYu out for pizza on Thursday, celebrated YaYu’s graduation and my birthday at our dinner on Friday but otherwise we’ve eaten in our room. I sure hope food prices in Nashville are similar to those we’ve experienced here – so very much lower than what we’re accustomed to.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished: 1) Getting to Philadelphia from Hawaii was THE major accomplishment, but we survived (even though we continue are still suffering a bit from jet lag). 2) On Thursday we took YaYu to IKEA to find a bed for her new living quarters, and on Friday we picked up Meiling and WenYu and have been having a grand time together. Meiling left early this morning; WenYu is heading to NYC later this afternoon for a short reunion there with Wellesley and Portland friends. 3) Brett got our admission forms completed for our entry into Canada, including proof of vaccination and other information. We are ready to go!
We were able to watch YaYu ring the Bryn Mawr’s Taylor Bell to announce she had finished her coursework and was ready to graduate
  • Good things that happened: We have had a wonderful time with the girls, and YaYu’s graduation was great from start to finish.
  • Ways we saved: 1) We have somehow miraculously stayed close to our budget for our time in Pennsylvania. Our car rental is paid in full, our hotel is paid in full (and we were not charged extra to have Meiling and WenYu stay with us in our room), and we did not go crazy on our food spending. I hope Nashville is as affordable as Philadelphia has been (compared to Hawaii). 2) I was able to chose another billing plan for my new direct loan and my monthly payment will now be one-third less than what I’ve been paying for the past 22+ years, and I will save nearly $14K in interest over what I would have with the old loan.
  • What we’re looking forward to: This time next week we’ll be in Mexico! I’m actually looking forward to our flights as I had forgotten we’ll be in business class this time. We booked a direct shuttle service to San Miguel de Allende from the Mexico City airport, recommended by our Airbnb host, when Brett received a very unexpected refund from the dentist he saw three years ago in Portland. The amount of the refund exactly covers the cost of the shuttle, and it will deliver us directly to the door of our apartment in SMA.

We head back to Baltimore early tomorrow morning (using toll roads this time!) to turn in our rental car and head first to Toronto. We’ll spend the night there and then catch an early morning flight down to Mexico City. We’re looking forward to getting together with long-time reader Natalie in Toronto at our hotel tomorrow evening. It’s hard for us to believe that we left Kaua’i a week ago tomorrow, but even harder to accept sometimes that we’re not going back after this trip is over. Our time so far on the mainland has almost seemed at times like we’re visiting a foreign country because it’s so different in so many ways, from prices to traffic to the weather to the stores and shops available. We’re a bit sad we were not able to visit either Gettysburg or Valley Forge, but there wasn’t enough time and we were honestly much too tired to do any sightseeing. Those visits will be a good excuse to return to Pennsylvania in the future.

Our baby graduated! We’ll have one more graduation to attend for YaYu (her goal is a Ph.D.), but that won’t be for a few more years.

We’ve had a great, busy, but tiring week in Philadelphia but wouldn’t have had it any other way (other than that horrid trip up from Baltimore). We’re looking forward to the week coming up, with hopefully a more relaxing travel experience than the one last week, and starting our long stay in San Miguel de Allende. Wishing all a very good week filled with lots of good things!

Sunday Morning 5/8/2022: Mother’s Day/Last Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Wishing you all a day of peace, calm, and getting a bit spoiled.

Today is also Brett’s and my last day on Kaua’i, and our day will be spent finishing up our packing and cleaning out the refrigerator so we’re ready to go tomorrow. Brett already spoils me every day but I know he’ll put in a little extra effort today.

We’ll be up bright and early tomorrow morning to start our journey back to the mainland. Our flight leaves Kaua’i at 1:30 in the afternoon but we want to be at the airport by 11:30 to turn in the rental car and get all our bags checked (two for us and two full of YaYu’s stuff). Traffic heading south can be bottlenecked in Kapaa in the mornings, especially on Mondays, so we want to give ourselves plenty of time to get through that mess as well.

We made a last visit to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse on Wednesday. The views never disappoint. Brett got a new lighthouse t-shirt to take back to the mainland (he’s worn out two others).

We’ve enjoyed a quiet week in Princeville. We were thoroughly exhausted when we arrived last Sunday, more than we realized, and then had to turn around on Monday and head back down to Lihue to run a bunch of errands. We felt as if we were bleeding money at every stop: fees to get our wills witnessed and notarized; postage costs to send said wills to our son in Japan and the inflatable mattress back to YaYu; another lock for one of YaYu’s suitcases purchased from Target; gas at $4.99/gallon at Costco (cheapest on the island); food for the week from Walmart; and lunch from Konohiki Seafood. On Wednesday we headed back down the road to Kilauea to pick up my prescription from our doctor and visit the lighthouse once more, and on Thursday we did laundry, but other than going out for a walk most days we rested and read in our little condo. It’s been gloomy and rained a great deal this past week and we never got a chance to go to the pool.

This last Sunday morning on Kaua’i I am thinking about:

  • Things we accomplished this past week: All of our last minute moving stuff got done: we used up things, donated things, threw away things, and got all of our last minute business taken care of, including address changes and picking up my prescription from our doctor. We’ve done everything we ever wanted to do on Kaua’i, eaten at every place we ever wanted to dine, and we’re in good shape to go tomorrow. I’m thankful that between downpours Brett and I were able to get some walks in this week.
  • Good things that happened: We had a call from YaYu on Tuesday evening that she had been hired for a research position at Drexel University! She had been worried she wouldn’t find a job but then got three good offers this past week and picked the best fit. Along with finding a great place to live with her best friends, and having amassed a tidy amount of savings, she is in a very good place to begin her post-college life. On the not-so-good side of things though she caught COVID this past week from a visitor to her dorm floor who was sick and came up unmasked. YaYu is currently quarantined and missing out on several special activities for seniors, but she should be able to march in her graduation ceremony on the 14th. Brett and I are not sure how much time we’ll be able to spend with her, although we’ll all be masked the entire time.
Hawaii is the most isolated inhabited place on Earth. When you spot Hawaii in the picture above, the cost of living and supply chain issues here make a little more sense.
  • How we saved: All of our Monday expenses were necessary and planned for, and other than getting Brett a new Kilauea Lighthouse t-shirt, a reusable lighthouse shopping bag and another one for me from Foodland (they make the best reusable bags) we had a no-spend week. Our food for the week cost $109 (from Walmart and Konohiki Seafood), not bad for a bunch of (mostly) microwavable convenience foods that kept us out of restaurants. Every last bit will be gone by tomorrow morning with nothing wasted.

We didn’t eat the healthiest of foods last week, but we measured everything, kept our portions small, and were able to stay out of restaurants. The dinner plates in the condo are HUGE, so sometimes we put everything on one plate and shared.

  • Looking forward to next week: We thought we’d be helping YaYu get settled in her new place in Philadelphia, but it turns out she’ll be staying on campus until June 1 so we’ll be doing some other things for/with her instead. Meiling and WenYu arrive in PA on Friday morning and we’ll all be going out for a celebratory family meal that evening to celebrate YaYu’s graduation and my 70th birthday which both happen on Saturday. Brett and I are looking forward to visiting the Gettysburg battlefield on Thursday and we may try to also visit the Valley Forge historical site. We are not looking forward to our long flights tomorrow and will stay double masked the entire time.

Nene grazing on the golf course and Princeville’s mountain view. The pale white streaks on the face of the mountains are waterfalls, which form whenever it rains.

Princeville is a very lovely, manicured community filled with big, beautiful houses and condominiums situated around two championship golf courses (one of which hasn’t been open since 2015!). We enjoyed walking on paths around the golf course closest to our condo, seeing the all the nene, and waterfalls coming down the mountains, but will remain forever thankful for our funky little apartment with its beautiful yard in such a great neighborhood and location on the other side of the island. Princeville is just not our style.

Here’s to the wonderful additional two years we’ve spent on Kaua’i and to new adventures beginning this coming week! So lucky and thankful we got to live Kaua’i, not once but twice.

Sunday Morning 4/10/2022: Temporarily Grounded

Wednesday’s break in the rain provided the only sunset of the week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I joke that we live in a vortex, but last Sunday afternoon the wind was blowing into yard from different directions and swirling through the middle (which is why the ti plants in back are standing up straight versus bent by the wind)

We have had an absolutely crappy week weather wise. Rain, rain, wind, rain, more rain, more wind . . . along with one beautiful day that didn’t last long enough. Thankfully we’ve had loads to do to keep busy, especially with the yard sale coming up in just a couple of weeks. We’re in the process of getting everything out into the living room right now, and will then spend the next couple of weeks getting things organized, arranged, and priced. We’re going to hold the sale in our living room and kitchen rather than move everything up and down the stairs to and from the back yard every day. We’ll close off the back of the apartment to keep things we’re not selling off limits.

We found more rolls of paper towels and bags of hand soap in the back than we thought we had. Hopefully there’ll be a buyer at the yard sale looking for a bargain.

We spent last Wednesday getting our car cleaned up and ready to sell, and listed it for sale late that afternoon. We figured it might take a week or so to sell, but the ad got over 300 views in less than 24 hours. There were the usual ghosts, and although the price was at the low end for the model, age, and condition, two people immediately asked if we would lower it by one-third for them; soon after another asked if we would discount the price by 20%. Anyway, in no time we had four people ready to test drive the car on Friday, and the first person who came offered the full asking price in cash. The papers were signed, the money deposited in the bank, and the car was gone by noon, but the buyer was nice enough to take us to Big Save before bringing us home so we could top off our groceries for the next couple of weeks. We are now pretty much stuck in the apartment until the 22nd, when we’ll pick up the rental car for the rest of our time on the island. If we absolutely have to go anywhere between now and then we’ll use Uber or take the bus.

Brett and I joke that we keep getting signs that it’s time for us to go. The latest was the arrival of some new, noisy neighbors this past week. If the weather is good, even for a moment, or the rain stops, they are outside and having a party. For just two people they are incredibly loud – we can clearly hear everything they are saying, and sometimes it feels like they are standing right out in our yard. They stay up late too – on some nights they’ve been outside whooping it up until midnight. One of the things we’ve loved about our apartment and its location is how very quiet it’s been but between our clompy upstairs neighbor (who has become increasingly annoying in other ways as well) and these new additions to the neighborhood we’re feeling much better about moving on.

This morning I am thinking about:

Our Honda Civic still looked pretty good for its age (11 years) and ran well too – we’ll miss it. It was the perfect island car.

  • What we accomplished: 1) Getting the car detailed for sale took some effort, but sold it in less than 36 hours for the full asking price. 2) We cleaned out the back storage area of the apartment and got the stainless steel shelves moved into the living room for the yard sale (the shelves will be for sale too). 3) We took a big bag of food to the Kaua’i Food Bank with things we had in the pantry that we won’t be able to use before we go. It was a crazy mix of stuff, from canned beans to arborio rice to dried apple chips, but we were glad we could pass it on to those who can use the items.
I can’t get over how curly my hair is these days. Or how much I take after my dad.
  • Good things that happened: 1) I got a great hair cut last Tuesday and feel so, so much better. 2) Selling our car so quickly and getting the full asking price was a very good thing, even if we are going to be stuck at home for the next couple of weeks.
  • How we saved: 1) We had the car exterior professionally washed and waxed, but detailed the interior car ourselves for a total of $31, the price of a bottle of ArmorAll for the interior and cost of the wash and wax. 2) We put $3 more dollars into the sandwich fund. 3) We haven’t thrown out any food (yet) and we managed to use up several condiments and odds and ends of other things from the refrigerator and pantry.
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) Better weather! 2) We’re going to start packing our suitcases this week. We’ll be washing all of the clothes that have been stored for the past two years and then both of us will begin the process of filling our suitcases. 3) We’re hoping to get almost all the yard sale items sorted and arranged in the living room for the yard sale, and maybe get started on pricing.

We now have less than a month left to go on Kaua’i. I am finding myself feeling a little verklempt when I think about leaving, or go through my pictures. Although it’s time to move on we have made so many wonderful memories during our time here and it’s going to take a while for it not to feel like home. Our decision in 2012 to move here was a good one and we all thrived here. We have much to look forward to in the coming days, but we know we’ll always be looking back as well to our time on Kaua’i.

I still pinch myself when I think about our time on Kaua’i.

That’s a wrap for this week. Other than being stuck at home, next week should be another good, productive week. I hope everyone had a good week as well and that you’re looking forward to one that’s coming up.

Sunday Morning 4/3/2022: One More Month To Go

Monday’s sunset built slowly but put on a beautiful show. The clouds were actually a deeper red than they appear in the photos.

Time is moving along quickly, and just four weeks from today we’ll leave our beloved apartment. There will be a new renter moving in on May 1, so we’ll pack up the car that morning, meet our landlord at around 10:00 or so for a walkthrough, hand over the keys and get our deposit back before leaving to head for the north shore for our final eight days on Kaua’i. We’re expecting an entirely different experience with this landlord than the one we had moving out of our house in 2018.

Thank you for all the lovely comments about our upcoming move to Nashville. We are excited about the transition, which will truly be another Big Adventure, and know what a blessing it will be to have M and K so close to us for a couple of years. We’ll also be seeing our son and grandson more as well versus just once a year in Japan. Brett and I met at the naval air station in Millington, just north of Memphis, forty-five years ago (he was my instructor for a two-week course on transistor theory). We were married in Memphis, and our son was born in Millington, so we’ve spent some time in Tennessee and are familiar with the western part of the state. However, we’ve only driven through Nashville, to stop and see The Hermitage, so we’re looking forward to experiencing and learning about the city and the surrounding area as well.

Our top choice for a new car is the Subaru Outback, perfect for either an extended road trip after Nashville or surviving New England winters.

So many things remain to be figured out for our move. The biggest issue we will face is finding housing but our daughter-in-law doesn’t think she’ll know more for another month or so, or maybe not even until she arrives in Nashville. The consulate apparently contracts with certain apartments, and if M takes one of those, her housing stipend is a tax free benefit. We’re of course encouraging her to go that route. Which apartment buildings are on their list remains a mystery for now, and whether we could possibly share an apartment with her also remains unknown. We think at this point though the best solution may be for Brett and me to rent our own, separate apartment but in the same building/complex as hers, if possible. We’re going to purchase a car online before we arrive but otherwise we have no idea about anything else. We plan to arrive in Nashville mid-July and hopefully by then will know enough to secure an apartment and get started settling in.

This morning I am thinking about:

Scrubbed and clean, oiled and buffed. I wish I had taken a before shot – the table was a mess but cleaned up nicely!

  • What we accomplished last week: 1) We did our last Big Shop here last Tuesday, and ended up pretty much shopping for the rest of the month. Our usual mid-month shop will be very, very small, which is as it should be. 2) I stopped procrastinating and cleaned up a teak bathroom table we’ve been using in our shower so it’s ready for the yard sale. Lots of elbow grease was involved but it looks almost new again and I can double the asking price. I learned how to clean and restore natural (unfinished) wood pieces years ago rejuvenating old tansu in Japan. 3) We took two more bags of stuff to the thrift store, bought another suitcase there for $12, and finished packing YaYu’s things to take back with us to Pennsylvania. 4) We survived our first week living with patio furniture and an inflatable mattress and it wasn’t as awful as we thought it would be – the mattress is more comfortable than we had anticipated. 5) Brett and I moved up to Level II with our Spanish lessons. My high school Spanish and Brett’s background with Latin has helped us understand and acquire things far more quickly than we did with French. Also, Spanish pronunciation is far easier.
Besides all the delicious food we enjoyed on Wednesday, I had fun experiencing some new-to-me locations on our hike. This is Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue, where the big cruise ships dock. The dark mountain in the the middle background is Haupu (Black Mountain) – we usually only see the other side of it.
  • Good things that happened: 1) We had a wonderful anniversary celebration this year even though we had to make changes to our original dining plans and ended up going a bit over budget. 2) Brett’s sister asked if she could join us for a week or two when we are in Mexico – yes! 3) We watched the Academy Award winning movie Coda on Thursday evening – it was sublime. 4) Brett and I both got our second COVID boosters on Friday, so along with masks and plenty of hand sanitizer we’re as prepared as we can possibly be for avoiding the virus during our upcoming travels.
We treated ourselves with one last trip to Lappert’s Ice Cream after getting our second COVID booster.
  • Ways we saved: 1) Even though we bought food for the entire month, we stayed under our bi-monthly food budget. We just don’t need much these days. 2) We added an additional $5.39 to our sandwich fund and are about set for meals during our final week in the apartment. 3) Although we went over budget a bit on Wednesday, we felt we got very good value (food and experience) for what we spent so no regrets.
The sunset views alone made our meal at The Beach House worth the expense
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) I have an appointment to get my hair cut on Thursday morning with a stylist who specializes in curly hair! My hair’s getting long enough to drive me crazy so I’m excited to get it shortened and shaped up. 2) The weather didn’t cooperate for any beach days this past week, so we’re once again hoping for better weather this coming week.

Other than selling our car, we are finally done with our local Buy & Sell. We listed our last item this past week, a rug, and got several requests for it over the span of three days . . . but not one person followed up, including a woman who said she was coming right over to get it and then never showed up. We were just going to roll up the rug and donate it to the Habitat for Humanity thrift store on Friday rather than deal further with Buy & Sell, but just before I took the ad down another woman contacted me, asked if the rug was still available, and she did come right over and buy it! The car will be listed for sale toward the end of this week, and the yard sale will be held the weekend before we move out.

That’s all for this week! Good things happened, much was accomplished, books were read, and good food was eaten. I hope it was as good for everyone else as it was for us and that you all are looking forward to the week coming up as much as we are.

Sunday Morning 3/27/2022: Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Sunsets were all over the place this past week.

We had a return trip to airline hell once again this past week, this time with our Delta flights back to the mainland. I had just checked our itinerary at end of the week before and all was well, and then last Sunday afternoon Brett received a notification that changes had been made (I made the reservation but he got the notification . . . hmmm). While the route hadn’t changed, long layovers had been added and we would now be arriving in Baltimore eight hours later then planned, in the middle of the night! Also, all of our seating had been changed – we had booked and paid for Comfort+ seats, but on two of the three legs of the journey we had been moved to Economy with all Comfort+ seats on those flights sold out. Finally, beyond the time and seating changes made, we had scheduled a rental car pickup for the short drive to Philadelphia but now the car rental agency would be closed and not open for several hours later, and we’d lose the first night of our hotel reservation. Grrrrrrr.

I fortunately found a new flight schedule that works for us. The original flight was Lihue-Seattle-Minneapolis-Baltimore; the new itinerary is Lihue-Honolulu-Atlanta-Baltimore. We’ll leave Kaua’i earlier in the day and arrive in Baltimore several hours earlier as well. While making the change I received repeated invitations to upgrade to first class, and we had the miles to do so, but every time I tried . . . nothing. I ended up spending 80 minutes on hold to message with a representative only to learn first class was sold out (then why are you offering me an upgrade?). We were able to get the last two seats in Comfort+ for the Honolulu to Atlanta to Baltimore parts of our trip, but for that long flight to Atlanta those are possibly the least ideal seats in the section (in the middle of a row). Funny thing though – when I checked our reservation again a couple of days later there was another invitation to upgrade to first class, but this time for more than twice the amount of miles that were required earlier, and now only for the Atlanta-Baltimore leg of the flight, a less than two hour flight. No thanks.

We are of course worried because our odds for catching COVID are going to go way up, especially with the new sub-variant making the rounds. We’re vaccinated, boosted, will be wearing masks the entire time, but it’s going to be a crap shoot whether or not we can remain virus free by the time we’re due to depart for Mexico. Canada has dropped their testing requirement for entry but we’re in the process of working up a plan for what to do if one or both of us tests positive before then.

Anyway, this morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished: 1) The last box for storage was sent on Friday. It was the largest box we shipped (not the heaviest though) and is due to arrive in Massachusetts this Wednesday. All our other boxes have arrived safely and been put away. 2) The buyers picked up all the furniture yesterday so the apartment is empty. Getting everything out of the apartment was a chore, but Brett and the other guy somehow got it done. We of course miss our sofa and bed but are glad to have them sold. All that’s left to go now are one rug, the car, and the yard sale stuff. 3) With YaYu’s input I made dining reservations for her graduation and my 70th birthday. We’ll be eating earlier in the evening than we had hoped for because reservation times are already full due to all the graduation celebrations in the area that will be going on. I’m looking forward to eating at the restaurant we decided on together.
Our living room decor for the next month
  • Good things that happened: 1) A BIG family issue that was up in the air has been settled. Stay tuned for exciting news! 2) The weather was pretty awful on some days this past week with high winds and lots of rain. Even when the sun came out it’s still been very windy. However, we got a treat on Thursday when we woke up to a rainbow on one side of the apartment and then saw another giant rainbow on the other side of the building as the sun started to go down (with rain in between all day)! We are going to miss Kauai’s rainbows.
  • What we saved: 1) We needed another roll of packing tape and more rice from Walmart last week, but returned an unused roll of bubble wrap which covered the cost of those items, so we ended up with a completely no-spend week. 2) We were invited to again participate in a one-week Nielsen survey – they sent us two crisp $1 bills to join the survey (which went right into the sandwich fund), and we’ll each receive $10 when the survey is over. When we received our survey kits five days later there were six more crisp $1 bills for us! 3) The large box we just sent to Massachusetts had enough extra room in it for our comforter, comforter cover, and pillow shams. We’re glad we won’t have to buy those items again later.
  • What we’re looking forward to: 1) Brett and I will celebrate our 43rd anniversary on Wednesday, and we’ve scheduled another Day of No Cooking. We have three great dining locations planned, and will be getting together with friends for one of our meals. The challenge will be to stay at or under our budget! 2) We’re doing another Not-So-Big Shop on Tuesday which will be our penultimate trip to the Kaua’i Costco. That store has been a lifesaver for us. 3) We’re hoping good weather shows up again and that we can get back to the beach at least one day this coming week.

There’s been some family stuff going on the past couple of weeks or so, burbling under the surface, and a decision was made this past week! It’s something unexpected but good . . . and change is coming. Everyone is healthy and doing well, and everything else is moving along as it should so there are no complaints, and all of us are excited about what’s going to happen. In the meantime Brett and I are still in a holding pattern here although things will be picking up again in the next couple of weeks. I have a feeling we’re going to go through April very quickly.

That wraps up another week! In spite of being under the weather one day, and having some bad weather on other days, it was a good week and what needed to be done got done. We segue into April this week, our last full month on Kaua’i, and are looking forward to getting more done to get us ready for our next Big Adventure. I hope it was a good week for everyone, and that you’re looking forward to the one coming up as much as we are!

Sunday Morning 3/20/2022: Like A Couple of Ducks

A few pastel wisps last Monday were the only evening color all week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

It’s almost hard for me to believe that this week it’s been two years since Brett and I found ourselves scrambling to leave Japan to return to Kaua’i. The State Department had asked Americans who were overseas to return home because of the pandemic, and in the matter of a couple of days we changed our plane tickets, found an Airbnb rental on the north shore, and flew back to Kaua’i with absolutely nothing but the clothes in our suitcases and a bag with 31 different flavors of KitKats. While Japan hadn’t yet been put into shutdown, the circle around our lives and where we could go there had tightened considerably. There were no masks, hand sanitizers, or toilet paper to be found anywhere. We arrived on Kaua’i to a complete shutdown and again no masks, toilet paper, or hand sanitizer to be found anywhere, and no tourists either. Slowly, with the help of friends and others on the island, we found a place to live, bought a car and basic necessities, and began a second round of island life. We will always treasure the quiet life we experienced back then, but after two years of lying low, it’s time again to spread our wings and see the world.

One year ago: out to see the cherry blossoms on our last day in Japan; an eerily deserted Narita Airport; an empty plane from Honolulu to Kaua’i; all the KitKats

Brett discovered this past week that I had gotten our departure date from San Miguel de Allende wrong leaving us with a full week before we’re scheduled to be in England (oops). So, we booked a week in Mexico City! I found a great apartment in a great location, and we’ll spend our last week in Mexico touring and experiencing the capital city. I’d also been watching prices carefully on flights between Mexico City and London and this past week I got the notification that this was the time to buy so we now have that flight reserved.

We’ve entered what feels like a pause in our departure activity: stored items have been sent and have arrived in Massachusetts, we’re waiting for the furniture to be picked up but it’s too early to sell the car or start cleaning the apartment, and so forth. The apartment is finally starting to feel empty, although we appreciate having our furniture for a bit longer than expected versus having to use our patio furniture. The pantry and refrigerator continue to empty out as well. When our neighbors on the other side of the building left last year they filled two trash cans with their leftover condiments and such. We’ll barely fill a small trash bag. We still feel like a couple of ducks at times these days, appearing to be calmly floating around on the surface but underneath we’re paddling like mad!

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished last week: Besides booking our flights to the UK and finding an Airbnb in Mexico City, 1) we did a Not-So-Big Shop on Monday and found everything we needed/wanted. 2) Six more packages were mailed to Massachusetts. We have just one (big) package left to send but it won’t go for another week or so as it will contain a couple of things we want/need to use before then. 3) We informed our landlord of our departure and set up our move-out walkthrough for May 1. It’s almost hard to accept we have just six weeks left here.

Hot and humid on Wednesday, breezy and warm yesterday – two great beach days!

  • Good things that happened: 1) Our upstairs neighbor shocked us by paying for his Internet share on Monday after only one reminder. Previous payments have required four to five reminders over several weeks. 2) Tuesday was hot, humid, and hazy, the worst sort of day for a hike, so we headed to the beach for a few hours instead. While we were there we spotted a shark in the waves, fairly close to the beach but in a rocky area where people don’t go in to swim. The shark was about four feet long so not a monster but still eerie to watch (there were people in the water but not anywhere near the shark). I’m not sure the shark was a good thing, but it was still interesting. 3) Yesterday was somewhat overcast and windy at our place, but we still thought we’d give the beach a try. It was the right choice and we enjoyed a near-perfect afternoon. 4) WenYu let us know she is going to come for a visit when we’re in Oxford!
  • The ways we saved: 1) We shopped at Costco, Walmart, and Times market last Monday, stuck to our list, and came in right on budget. 2) We filled the gas tank (@$5/gallon – ouch!) but otherwise didn’t spend on anything else this past week. 3) We’re continuing to save $1 bills and change (and $5 bills as well) into what we call “the sandwich fund,” to cover a few takeout meals toward the end of our last week in the apartment. So far we have about three days covered.
  • What I’m looking forward to this week: We have another (outwardly) quiet week coming up but I hope the weather will provide a beach day or two. Some might think it’s boring not having much of anything planned or scheduled, but I dreamed of this back when my days were over-full with the girls’ comings and goings and I almost lived in our car, let alone dealing with all there was to do at home. Having nothing on the calendar is every bit as wonderful as I imagined it would be.

Since the middle of February I’ve been using the 1SE (1 Second Everyday) app on my phone to take a short video of something I’m doing or experiencing that day. At the end of a year the short videos can be combined into a larger film showing your life for the year. I found out about the app because a friend’s daughter (and a friend of WenYu’s) died suddenly last month, and her mom shared her 1SE compilation from the year preceding her death. It was a wonderful, moving film, showing the beauty of life that can be found in the everyday and even mundane. It’s become a great little project for me and I’m having fun deciding what to film each day.

That’s a wrap for another week! Outwardly it didn’t seem very busy, but there’s been some family things going on in the background that have been keeping Brett and I on our toes (nothing bad). We still got a lot done, but mainly relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. We’re looking forward to the week coming up and hope you all are as well!

Sunday Morning 3/13/2022: Down Mexico Way

Colorful skies appeared out our front door once again this past week!

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

As if things weren’t already complicated enough, our flight to Paris changed once again this past week, this time to an absolute nightmare of a schedule. What had started as a simple flight from Baltimore to Montreal and then on to Paris when we bought the tickets last October had now morphed into impossibility: fly to Toronto from Baltimore, then take another flight to Montreal to catch a flight to Paris . . . except the Paris flight departs 15 minutes before the flight from Toronto lands in Montreal! The notice from the airline added a sentence at the bottom saying there might be problems with our schedule and we were welcome to choose another from four schedule options located further down the page. Each of those options were just as awful: all included 12-14 hour layovers in both Toronto and Montreal before finally departing for France nearly two days later than originally scheduled. Insanity! Ticket prices seemed to have gone mad as well as we noticed our affordable seats were now priced at over $3990 per person!

San Miguel de Allende (photo credit: Miranda Garside/Unsplash)

We took this as a sign we maybe shouldn’t go to France at this time. We’d been feeling somewhat uncomfortable about it as it were, and Tuesday we made a decision to go to Mexico instead. We changed our flight destination to Mexico City at no cost, and I cancelled our Strasbourg Airbnb reservation and booked a place in San Miguel de Allende. If all goes according to plan we’ll fly to Toronto, spend the night at a hotel near the airport, then depart the next morning for Mexico City where we’ll catch a bus for San Miguel de Allende after arriving around noon. What we’d paid for tickets to Paris covered business class seats (!!) on our flights to Mexico (two days later prices for the seats had increased to where this wouldn’t have been possible), and we’ll also receive a gift card from the airline for $290, the refund of taxes we paid from the Paris flight. Heaven knows what we’ll do if this new flight gets changed, but I guess we’ll just cross that bridge if and when we get to it.

Our lodgings in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

We’re going to come out ahead by going to Mexico. The cost of living is much, much, much less than Strasbourg (especially with costs expected to rise on everything, everywhere in Europe this summer). Our flight to London from Mexico City in August will be more than it would be from Strasbourg, but we won’t be paying for two expensive train tickets (another surprise) to get to Strasbourg from Paris, so the difference hopefully won’t be too horrible. We’re feeling sad about not going to France but think for now it’s best to wait and try again later. We’re quite excited that we’ll finally get to experience Mexico and spend time in San Miguel de Allende.

Anyway, this morning I am:

  • Thinking of what we accomplished: 1) I had to wait on hold for over 45 minutes to talk with an airline representative (in the middle of their night), but the ticket change was accomplished easily once we finally connected. Likewise, it was easy to make the lodging change with Airbnb, and a hotel reservation in Toronto for the night. 2) Seven more packages were mailed back to Massachusetts and we have just seven left to go. Eleven of the original fourteen sent have been received and put away. The remaining three are larger boxes and aren’t expected to arrive until the end of the month. 3) I listed our TV, sake jug lamp, and hibachi table on Buy & Sell last Sunday afternoon. The lamp and TV sold in less then two hours, and when the couple came to pick up the lamp, they also bought the hibachi table on the spot! I was so worried it wouldn’t get sold, but they were thrilled to get it and we were thrilled to get what we wanted for it. We got a good feeling from them as well, that the hibachi and lamp will be appreciated and with them for a very long time. Everything now has pretty much been sold except for the car and smaller things that will go out at the yard sale next month. 4) Brett and I switched our language study to Spanish last Thursday.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) The airline representative I spoke with was extremely patient and helpful. Her reaction to our last flight schedule was priceless: “What? You mean you can’t transcend time and space?” She was actually horrified we had been sent that schedule and was very apologetic. 2) Wednesday’s weather was predicted to be somewhat gloomy, but we woke to beautiful blue skies so we headed out for a perfect afternoon at the beach. Thursday was almost as nice so back we went for another lovely afternoon of sunshine and relaxation. 3) The woman who has been staying in the apartment above us while our neighbor’s been away has very curly hair like mine, and she gave me the name of the woman on the island who cuts her hair. I am so happy that I can get my hair cut by someone who knows curly hair before we leave the island rather than have to find a stylist back in Pennsylvania.
$13.17 for blueberries and bananas was the extent of our spending last week.
  • Thinking of ways we saved: 1) We bought a bag of frozen blueberries and organic bananas at Costco on Monday; otherwise we had a no-spend week (postage was again paid from our travel account). 2) We had to forfeit what we’d paid for the first 30 days of our Strasbourg rental and the accompanying Airbnb service fee (ouch!), but the apartment we’ve reserved in Mexico costs so much less that including the forfeiture we’ll still end up paying $1500+ less than we would have for the same time period in Strasbourg.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again there’s nothing scheduled on the calendar for next week. We plan to mail six more packages to Massachusetts, and do a Not-So-Big Shop on Tuesday, but otherwise the week is ours to do as we please (fingers crossed there will be good beach weather!).

Our upstairs neighbor, J, returned this past week after a long absence and once again he’s noisily thumping around his apartment. We had almost forgotten how much noise he makes, but it’s possible K, who’s been staying in the apartment while he was away, may have spoken to him because for the past few days he’s been much quieter up there, at least when she’s there (we had mentioned to her how quiet she was and how clumpy he was). If it’s just J though he makes a lot of noise. K will apparently be staying with him for a little while longer while she looks for a more permanent place to live. We believe she’d love to move into our apartment after we leave but isn’t sure she can wait that long living with J. Brett has been put in charge of collecting what J owes us for his share of the Internet because it’s always an effort to collect from him (he’s a check’s in the mail kind of guy).

We had a delightful week here, busy but not too busy. Books were read, tasks completed, hikes were taken and the beach was visited. Time is moving along at a nice pace: quickly, but not too quickly, giving us time to enjoy our remaining days on Kaua’i and reflect on our time here. I hope everyone is looking forward to the week coming up as much as we are!

Sunday Morning: 3/6/2022: Getting It Done

No clouds, no sunset. They have been very few and far between since the beginning of the year. Usually all we’ve been seeing is a soft glow along the horizon and a darkening sky above.

The Sunday Morning post is back! I’ve dropped a few things to streamline it a bit which I hope will keep it from becoming overwhelming, which was what was happening back in January. Most of the news will still be here, but in a more compact format.

Things are moving along as we get closer to our departure. We’ve sold almost all of our furniture . . . to one family! They are moving to Kaua’i at the end of this month (the house they bought is currently being refurbished) and it will basically be furnished with our stuff – the buyers’ and our style match up pretty well and it’s a win-win situation for both of us. We’re also happy to be able to keep our furniture a little longer than we expected before having to live with our patio furniture and sleep on the inflatable mattress. There are only three items left to list on Buy & Sell (which will get done this coming week), and we’ll hold a yard sale at the end of April to get rid of the rest of our stuff. The car will be listed for sale the second week of April, giving us a month to get it sold. Used car prices on the island are high right now, and we’ll be able to ask what we paid for it two years ago! We have rented a car beginning April 22 to use until we leave in May. Rentals are crazy expensive here now and we got the best deal we could using our military discount with Budget, but we’re still paying around five times what we paid before we left in 2018. Friends have offered to loan us a car to get through to the 22nd if we need it, but hopefully we can work out the timing with a buyer.

We’re closely following the situation in Ukraine and will make a call on whether we should to go to France or to Mexico around the end of this month. We very much want to go to France, but also are feeling a bit uncomfortable, and that this may not be the best time to travel to Europe. For now we’re more concerned about the people in Ukraine and all their suffering than our travels. What’s going on there makes whining about wearing a mask or inflation seem very petty. The destruction of the nuclear power plant this past Thursday is especially concerning as are the citizens fleeing, and the destruction of Mariupol. The entire situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking and tension-inducing, and like most of the world, we hope it can be resolved but for now it’s hard to know the direction things will go. We continue to pray for an end to conflict and for peace.

Thinking about this past week, this morning I am:

  • Thinking of what we accomplished: 1) We sold our barbecue in less than an hour after it was listed last Sunday. Used barbecue grills typically take a while to sell here but we had nine full price offers in less than 30 minutes! I spent all day last Saturday cleaning the grill so it looked almost new (a truly awful, messy chore) and we included the gas we had left in our tank as well as our barbecue tools so maybe that’s what did the trick. 2) At our suggestion, the woman who bought the grill also bought our fire pit as well! 3) I’ve been reading like a house afire every day, and am currently having to read two books thanks to the library sending them out at the same time. 4) I play Wordle every day, and Brett and I continue to study French every day as well. 5) We dumped Duolingo last month and are now working with Memrise every day, which is providing some good listening practice. Neither program is really very good, but they’re what’s available to us here.
We spent two days in a row at the Shipwreck Beach last week. The whales put on a show each day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Learning I didn’t have to get a root canal last week was the best news of all. The pain I had been having turned out to be from the temporary crown and once the permanent crown was attached the pain disappeared. 2) Selling the grill and fire pit was also a good thing – we’re glad to see things go these days as it means less of a scramble as we prepare to move out. 3) We enjoyed two long days in a row at the beach, and saw whales breaching and then got to watch one whale roll and whack the water with its fin 10 times in a row! These animals are absolutely magnificent – watching a Hawaiian humpback whale breach is like watching a bus come up out of the ocean; they’re that big.
Round 1 of our storage items are on their way to Massachusetts, for slightly less than we estimated.
  • Thinking of ways we saved: 1) We kept our food spending at $48 under budget this past week and have enough food to get us through until the middle of the month when it will be time to shop again. 2) We’re on a quest to use up as much of the food as possible out of the pantry and freezer, and especially as many condiments as possible before we leave and we’re making good progress which is also saving us $. 3) Once the grill was cleaned (so. much. work!) I raised the asking price by $50. 4) Other than our food shopping trip and a tank of gas for the car we had a no-spend week. 5) Using funds from our travel savings, the first round of packages (14 of them) were sent to Massachusetts for a little less than estimated and another seven are ready to go this coming week. 6) We received a surprise $20 gift card from Costco – apparently they had renegotiated the price of the laptop Brett bought and sent him the difference between what he paid and the new price. Sweet!
Condiments-B-Gone: I made a dipping sauce for our potstickers from chili crisp & soy sauce from the fridge, and sesame oil & mirin from the pantry. It was delicious with just the right amount of heat.
  • Looking forward to next week: We don’t have any appointments on the calendar for next week and are hopeful for more good beach weather although the forecast is not looking good. I’m going to list the TV, the hibachi table, and our sake jug lamp for sale on Buy & Sell and see what happens, and we’ll get a few more packages mailed off to the mainland. Otherwise there’s nothing much exciting happening next week.
  • Sharing family news: All is well or better than well. Meiling is getting ready to move out of her tiny studio in downtown Boston and into a lovely apartment in Cambridge with her long-time boyfriend. After a year+ stretch apart they are ready to live together again. I believe marriage is also being discussed. WenYu and her partner both caught COVID last month (both vaxxed and boosted) but they recovered quickly. She said she’s had worse colds, but COVID left them feeling very, very tired. YaYu is feeling somewhat overwhelmed as she finishes things up before graduation. She has a job interview for a research position at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital coming up, so we’ve all got our fingers crossed for her. And, our son and family are all well, and the grandkids thriving. Brett and our grandson had a Zoom conference yesterday – C is writing a paper for school about aircraft carriers and he wanted to get some information from Grandpa. Hopes are high that we’ll be able to see them all in Japan at the end of the year.
My favorite baby photo of all time: our grandson at age one. He looks like he’s just finished plotting world domination.

The sections I took out from the old Sunday posts were mostly ones that were either boring, difficult, or a chore to write (i.e. the bonus question). We’re not watching much TV these days, the books I’m reading can be found in the 2022 Reading List at the top of the page, and it seems all we’re listening to now are the feral chickens who have made a home in the far back corner of the yard, under the orange tree. They’re obnoxious, and I told Brett that once we had noisy chickens in the yard again I knew it was time to go. The most difficult section to let go of was Grateful For, but it always felt sort of strange to pull one thing out each week as we feel thankful for so many things. Anyway, for now it will be a shorter post overall, but all the news will still be there!

It was a great week here and we’re looking forward to the one coming up. We hope to get more accomplished, more packages mailed, more things sold, and more reading done. I hope everyone had a great week as well!