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

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

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

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

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

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

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

This morning I am:

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

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

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

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

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

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

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

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

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

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

This morning I am:

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

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

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

Sunday Morning 9/26/2021: Settling Into Fall

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

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Bringing the outside in: my view out our front door

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

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

A tiny slice of delicious, but expensive lilikoi cheesecake

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

This morning I am:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

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

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

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

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

This morning I am:

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

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

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

Sunday Morning: 9/12/2021: Time for A change

Sunst of the week was Friday evening. The rest of the week was meh.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Back in high school, my senior English teacher predicted I would some day write the Great American Novel, and for years I carried a dream of writing about the life of an ordinary American woman leading a somewhat ordinary life and making her ordinariness interesting. Well, the book never happened but for the past nearly 12 years I’ve been writing what I jokingly call the Great American Blog, about the life of an ordinary American woman’s life and adventures, and I think at least some of it has been interesting.

However, I spent most of this past week debating with myself whether it was time or not to close the blog. I have been posting five times a week since last March, and I had reached a point where I didn’t feel as if I had anything more to say about anything. I was starting to complain (to myself) almost daily about having to write so much. I thought about whether I should or even wanted to change the direction of the blog. I of course have opinions about lots of things that are going on these days, but decided I have no desire to convince anyone of anything, let along alienate anyone (the few mild political comments I have made always seem to bother someone). I still have loads of stories, but some I haven’t told are really no one else’s business. What, I kept asking myself all week, would, could, or should I write about?

Working on the Sunday post

I thought very deeply and honestly about whether I wanted to continue writing, and the answer in the end was yes, although I came very, very close to saying no. I am not ready yet to let it go. I enjoy writing, love interacting with readers, but I figured out I don’t need to write so often or so much. I can do shorter posts. I don’t have to keep to a schedule. I realized that’s the main reason I enjoy writing a blog: I’m the boss, I control the whole darn thing, and I can post what I feel like when I feel like it. Somehow though I had let this blog begin to control me and that needed to change.

We will be traveling again some day. That’s a given, in spite of COVID’s efforts. And, when we do eventually hit the road there will be lots more things to write about again. For the time being though there will be less. The Sunday post will continue as it’s the most fun to write and draws the most readers. To my surprise, what we’re eating and how many golf balls we find on our walks (another fun post to write) is also very popular. But otherwise? I’ve decided to post when I have something to write about or share, whether that’s a recipe, travel tip or memory, or something about life in general. I don’t want to be on any sort of schedule because a schedule eventually turns the blog into work, into an obligation that in my case was becoming more and more difficult to fulfill.

Anyway, I hope you all will stick around and see what happens.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished both Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and A Rule Against Murder last week, and reached my reading goal of 52 books finished this year. For now, I’m going to keep going with my mystery theme and see how many books I can finish by the end of year. I’ve already decided on my theme for next year but that’s for later. It took me a very long while to find something that didn’t have a long waiting list (mysteries are very popular), but I eventually found a highly rated Japanese mystery/thriller, Six-Four, and am already into it. It is SO Japanese, and very different from anything else I’ve read this year.
  • Listening to: There’s a fairly stiff breeze this morning, and lots of clouds, but nothing threatening for now, surprising because it rained hard last night. It’s quiet inside and out – Brett is putting away last night’s dishes and making his breakfast, but other than a few birds cheeping outside there’s nothing happening there to cause any noise. In other words, another perfect morning!
  • Watching: We have been enjoying the Whitechapel series so far – its premise is an updated twist on historical British murders and crime, and so far it’s covered Jack the Ripper and the Kray Twins, but the latest seems based on an American crime (Devil in the White City). Tuesday evenings we watched a new episode Only Murders In This Building, and Wednesday we the latest episode of Vera, but we’ll finish up Whitechapel early the coming week so are already looking for something new. Has anyone watched Billions (on Amazon Prime) and can recommend? I love watching Damian Lewis (he does American accents so well that it’s strange to hear him speak with his natural British accent), and wondered if this might be a good series for us.
Getting started on our first ball sort and grading
  • Happy I accomplished last week: We’ve almost got our first golf ball order put together for eBay: 100 balls in 4A or 5A condition, and a box of 50 mixed condition yellow balls. Brett and I sat down last Friday and went through everything to pick the balls in the best condition, and we’re still trying to figure out how much our opening bid should be. I also photographed and listed a mid-size Japanese hibachi on our local Buy & Sell and Craigslist as it’s too heavy to ship, but it was discouraging for a few day and then it sold yesterday. Otherwise we had another week with no big or special accomplishments, just making sure all the regular stuff got done.
  • Looking forward to next week: A long-time blogging friend, Bob Lowry (Satisfying Retirement In a Changing World), and his wife, Betty, will be visiting Kaua’i this week! We’re meeting for breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe on Tuesday morning, and then plan to meet up again for happy hour and dessert before their departure a week later, and hopefully a beach day at Barking Sands together as well if the weather cooperates. I can’t begin to say how much I’m looking forward to meeting them – we’ve talked about getting together several times and it’s finally going to happen. Also, this week we’ll be doing our “big” Big Shop for the month. We already have a good amount of food on hand so I’m not sure how big it’s actually going to be though. We had nice weather this past week on a couple of days, and fingers crossed for more this week so we can go back to Barking Sands.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We had an absolutely perfect beach day on Thursday at Barking Sands. I think we stayed out there for over three hours because it was so nice, and once again we had the entire beach to ourselves, which is what makes going there so great: all that space! 2) Our avocado tree has a new home! Our landlord asked us this past week if he could have it as he and his wife have been wanting to plant one in their yard, and after he stopped by last week to take care of a maintenance issue it left with him. 3) One of our fellow walkers at the park gave us a bag of three big avocados from her yard this past week besides enjoying the delicious fruit we’re starting another tree from one of those seeds 4) I had three Etsy sales, with one order coming all the way from France! I offer free shipping for U.S. orders but anything from overseas has to pay postage, and it was surprisingly less than I thought, thanks to Etsy. The packaging of the item required a bit more effort than usual though.
Our avocado tree has a new home . . .
. . . but a new one is getting started.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I stopped doing Swagbucks this past week except for a some easy tasks that only take a few minutes each day, and will provide enough SB for a $50 Amazon card sometime next year. I had earned enough SB for another $250 Delta card, and decided that was good enough for now because otherwise it was making me nuts. It’s wonderful being free of Swagbucks, and we still have $1750 total in Delta gift cards to put toward our flights to Pennsylvania next year. Our only spending this week was a trip to Costco on Wednesday to buy wine and sunscreen, and check for peanut butter, followed by a stop at Times Market to pick up two desserts (a matcha Swiss roll cake and a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake) and a jar of natural peanut butter – Costco has not had any natural/organic peanut butter for well over a month now. Brett saw the dentist on Friday afternoon for a new crown ($$$), but that expense was covered out of savings. We didn’t put anything into the change/$1 bill bag this past week because we used our debit cards at Costco and Times for a change. There was no food waste this week, and all the leftovers were eaten.
  • Adding up what we sold: Two hashioki, a Year of the Tiger clay bell, and a small jubako were sold on Etsy this past week (the jubako shipped to France!). The three sales were a nice surprise as I didn’t think I’d have any after having a week-long sale. I also sold one of our porcelain hibachis after several annoying requests from other interested parties. There were lots of views, good reviews, watchers, etc. on both eBay and Etsy, but no sales this week on eBay. The deposit to our travel account this week will be $190.87.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling grateful this week for all of my readers, for your support and conversation, your advice and ideas, for having my back, but most of all for coming back again and again to read what this very ordinary woman has to say.
  • Bonus question: Is there anything you won’t eat? I can’t eat most lettuces because of a food intolerance – they upset my stomach and cause other problems, so I avoid salads. I also greatly dislike olives in spite of repeated tries – the briny, salty flavor just doesn’t work for me (Brett loves them however). I hate fruit-flavored things, especially lime and cherry – I’d rather be sick than take a cherry-flavored medication – the only one I can tolerate is orange. I have no desire to ever try any bugs, grubs, or reptiles, things like rattlesnake or alligator – it makes my stomach turn just to think about eating any of them. The weirdest foods I have ever eaten were jellyfish and baby birds (not at the same time), and there is no way I’d eat either of those again. But otherwise, nothing is off limits.

The hibachi that was finally sold yesterday.

This past week we decided to contact an auction house next year when it’s time to sell our big hibachi table and a few other more valuable things. After this past week’s experience on Buy & Sell/Craigslist trying to sell the antique hibachi above, we realized neither of those is the right venue for some of the stuff we’re letting go. I got several messages: Is this still available?, I would responded yes, and then either hear nothing back or receive a request for a 25% discount (no), with offers of less than the cost of a similar-sized clay pot at Home Depot or Walmart. We had already priced it low because we knew it would be somewhat difficult to sell on the island. The woman who finally bought it yesterday also initially asked for a discount, but when she came over and looked at it she paid our full asking price without any hesitation. We’re happy it went to someone who will love it like we have over the years. Anyway, the auction house serves a whole different audience, and is seen statewide, so hopefully we’ll have better luck selling through them. We auctioned several Japanese woodblock prints before we left Portland and did very well, so we’re hoping for a similar experience here.

That’s a wrap for this week! It’s been a great one overall, with mostly nice weather, a wonderful day at the beach, books finished and a new one started, good food, staying connected with friends and family, and feeling pretty good for the most part. I’m looking forward to what the coming week brings, and hope everyone is as well.

Sunday Morning 8/29/2021: And August Comes To an End

This was the most exciting sunset of the week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

After a busy and rewarding month that seemed to speed by, August is sort of slouching out at the end. We had the remains of a hurricane pass by early last week, with lots of rain and wind and cooler temperatures which kept us inside all day Monday. The virus is running rampant through the islands, with most cases occurring with unvaccinated locals. Everyone is sort of holding their breath right now to see if and what restrictions may be put in place again.

Brett and I are apparently going into the used golf ball business. We’ve learned that what started out as a bit of fun for us can actually be turned into something quite lucrative. We have already found over 300 lost balls, and we spent this past week reading everything we could find about selling them, from which are the top brands to how to grade used balls to the best places to sell. We sorted some of our finds this past week based on brand, and will continue sorting as more come along, and will hopefully be ready to start selling by the end of the year. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look for balls on our walks and build up our stock, although I’m actually hoping the number we find sort of drops down for a while so we can catch our breath. The bags of balls we have already collected are beginning to take up a lot of space, so where we’ll store them is something else we’re going to have to figure out sooner rather than later.

A few of the coffee mugs that were listed this past week.

I had a very slow week with Etsy until yesterday when I had three sales. I kept busy during the week getting some other items listed on eBay, including ten coffee mugs and my old travel backpack, which is still in tip top shape. One of the coffee mugs sold within a couple of days! The prices that coffee mugs sell for surprised me, and because eBay sales can take a while we figured that getting them listed now rather than later would be to our benefit. I also cross listed a couple of items from the Etsy shop which immediately turned into a small problem when I got a scam offer from a bot, and had to remove the listing from Etsy until it gets resolved on eBay. I’ve got a week-long sale scheduled (20% off of everything in the shop) this coming week to see if I can get some more items sold. I’ve been getting LOTS of looks and favoriting, and some very good reviews this past month, so I’m hoping a sale will encourage more to buy and kickstart purchases again.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished the The Looking Glass War on Wednesday, and downloaded and started the next book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, An Advancement of Learning. Mysteries and such currently appear to be in high demand at the library, and almost everything I’d like to be reading has a long waiting list. I felt fortunate to find the D&P book available for checkout, especially since all the subsequent books in the series have a wait list. I miraculously discovered that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the next book in LeCarre’s George Smiley series, was available and also checked that out so I’m ready to go. I read it years ago, and loved the movie as well (starring Gary Oldham as George Smiley).
  • Listening to: Out the windows on one side of the house are blue skies and a few wispy clouds. Out the French doors its gray and overcast, Kauai’s weather in a nutshell all summer! There’s a slight breeze this morning and it’s cool, and I can hear someone using a saw in the distance. Brett’s putting away last night’s dishes in the kitchen and making a bit of noise, but overall a nice, peaceful, quiet Sunday morning.
  • Watching: We finished all the available episodes of Vera on Wednesday, and started a new series: McDonald & Dodds. The stories are good, the acting is good, and we’re enjoying all the location shots in the city of Bath, but sadly there aren’t many episodes available so we’ll be on to something else before the end of the week. Father Brown watching continues though. I love seeing scenes filmed around Blockley and remember so many of the places shown. The Blockley exterior scenes are all shot in August, when the crew apparently takes over the village.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting things listed on eBay was an accomplishment for me as I found it a far more difficult system to operate than Etsy. Selling stuff online is work! Otherwise it was another very quiet week with not a whole lot going on.
  • Looking forward next week: We don’t have much on our calendar next week but we’re hoping for a day or two of beach weather. I’m also looking forward to my Etsy sale hopefully bringing in some new customers, and maybe another sale on eBay. And, we will segue into September. Even though we’re in the land of perpetual sunshine, I’m still looking forward to fall beginning and being another month closer to our next adventure.

Brunch in Hanapepe

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I had planned to have a nice brunch at the Midnight Bear bakery in Hapapepe on Wednesday morning. They don’t make pastries any more, so we went later in the morning and were going to each order a big sandwich along with some coffee. However, when we got there it was closed! We walked around for a bit trying to decide what to do, and as we got back to our car we noticed there was a sweet little cafe, Ku’ulei’s Gourmet, located next to the bakery and it was open. Not sure how we missed it before, but Ku’ulei’s had several vegetarian options on their menu, the prices were extremely reasonable, and the portions were HUGE. I got an order of eggplant lasagna, and Brett had an ahi tuna melt. We will definitely be going back! I had three sales on Etsy yesterday and woke up to another this morning, always a good thing. I also made my first sale on eBay: a Starbucks Hawaii coffee mug we bought on the island on our first visit in December 2012. The antique Japanese charcoal basket I cross listed from Etsy “sold” in less than 30 minutes to a bot and really messed things up. eBay cancelled the sale in less than two days but I still can’t relist the item until Tuesday. On the plus side, the antique iron teapot I also cross-listed is getting lots of views and has attracted my first watcher.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We made one trip to Big Save for produce, and I bought a used J. Jill denim jacket on eBay for $24. It arrived in three days and is exactly what I hoped for (in beautiful condition and fits perfectly), especially since a new jacket from J. Jill is currently $98. Our lunch orders on Wednesday were only $10 each but they were so big they also provided dinner for us on Thursday and lunch on Friday! We put $3.95 into the change/$1 bill bag, and saved $12.31 this month. That’s the least amount we’ve ever put away in a month, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re not spending much. I earned 1,729 Swagbucks, putting me that much closer to my goal. In other frugal happenings, all the leftovers were eaten or used up in one way or another, and we threw nothing away.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: It was a very slow week on Etsy and eBay, but yesterday’s three sales meant that nine hashioki left the house and that there will be more funds into savings next week. However, $18.94 was released from my reserve fund, but that’s the only side hustle income as earnings from the eBay sale won’t be released for more than another week.
  • Grateful for: I am beyond grateful for all the hospital staff – doctors, nurses, and others – who are working endlessly and tirelessly to help those suffering from COVID. It seems a pretty thankless job right now. I am also extremely grateful for Brett’s and my free vaccinations, and that there will be upcoming free boosters to help keep us safe.
  • Bonus question: How much time do you spend on social media? I’m not really active much on any form of social media these days. I took myself off of Facebook before the election last year and although I have gone back, I’ve found I’m less interested in getting involved than I was before. Most of my feed these days is advertising. I post somewhat regularly on Instagram, both on my personal account and the Occasional Nomads account (which are pretty much the same, truth be told). I read Twitter every day to keep up with what’s happening in the world, but rarely if ever post there. My Twitter feed is highly curated and I never read comments, so it remains a fairly safe place, although I find it discouraging at times. I also have a Pinterest account, but can’t remember the last time I visited. Otherwise, there’s no TikTok (unless the girls send me one), no Snapchat, or anything else other than the blog.

We had a conversation with one of our neighbors the other day, a nurse, who told us Wilcox Hospital is currently filled with COVID patients, a sharp contrast to the situation a month ago when I had my procedure, when the nurse said things were OK here and although prepared, the hospital hadn’t experienced any increase in patients. Kaua’i still has the fewest cases of all the islands, with the west side doing best as far as infections, and Kapaa and Lihue the island hotspots. Nothing has been shut down or restricted yet, but the governor is asking for visitors not to come to Hawaii right now, and we’ve heard there will be some restrictions starting on Oahu, especially regulating gathering and group sizes. Dr. Fauci said the Delta variant would run through the unvaccinated like a wildfire, and it looks like he got that right. Nearly 99 percent of the hospitalized in Hawaii were unvaccinated. Don’t get me started on the horse wormer or sheep drench.

That’s it for this week, another peaceful quiet one with things getting done that needed to get done, but time as well for rest, reading, walks in the park, and all sorts of other good things. Here’s hoping that COVID cases and deaths begin to decrease all over, that there is no more bloodshed and loss of life in Afganistan, everyone that wants and needs to get out is able to do so, and that life is gentle with us all.

Sunday Morning 8/22/2021: A Somewhat Unexciting Week

(I have absolutely NO idea why WordPress decided to place this post before Thursday and Friday’s posts on Sunday. My sincerest apologies.)

Sunsets this past week were all of the “glowing horizon” genre

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

What a sad title for today’s post! It honestly has been a very quiet, uneventful week for us though, with our trip to Puhi/Lihue for a Big Shop and a return trip the next day for the packing supplies I had forgotten to buy at Walmart some of our only “excitement” for the week. Both days we had to deal with lots of tourists, some of them annoying, but it looks like we can pretty much stay out of the stores for another month except for a couple of quick stops at the farm stand and Buy & Save for produce (Costco’s produce selection has been very meager lately). We accept that this is the new normal for us these days, but we’ve decided we need a breakfast or coffee date to liven things up.

We had a somewhat weird experience during the past two weeks selling our antique ranma (carved Japanese transom), but it finally left the house yesterday. I had not one but four people, three on Buy & Sell and one from Craigslist, message me and ask if the ranma was still available, usually a good sign that they are seriously interested in the item. But no, after all these queries I then heard nothing back. Nothing. I had several requests from the Craigslist ad though, and a man made an appointment to come and get last weekend. He ended up not being able to come until Monday and then didn’t have the full amount of payment with him, usually a ploy to get the item for less. But no, he gave me what he had AND left the ranma with us and said he would be back with the rest of the money on Tuesday. He didn’t come back until yesterday! He was a very nice local guy and we talked story with him for a long time. In the end, that’s the best part about selling things here: the local people we meet and get to interact with.

The ranma has sat up against the wall almost the entire week, waiting to go to its new home.

It’s been another week here of strange, unpredictable weather, with everything from heat and humidity to overcast, wind, and rain. We’d be complaining about the heat one day and the next remarking that it felt like a fall day back east. I keep reminding myself of the oppressive summers we experienced when we lived here before, where the trade winds didn’t blow for weeks, and know things could be far, far worse. The weather has honestly been great for walking and other exercise, and perfect at night for sleeping, but overall it’s still been a very weird summer, at least in our little microclimate.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I almost went back to reading two books again but in the end decided to push through the one I had started (A Clubbable Woman), and then start the second book, John Le Carré’s The Looking Glass War: A George Smiley Novel. I can read two books at once but I don’t enjoy it so this may be the better solution. I finished A Clubbable Woman on Thursday and am now reading the LeCarré. His writing is near perfection.
  • Watching: Britbox put up more seasons of Vera so that will continue on for a few more weeks. I’m enjoying Father Brown again – the stories are sort of corny, but I love getting to see so much of Blockley again and all the memories they brings.
  • Listening to: There is currently a chicken outside somewhere nearby that is having none of it, and is screaming her head off, but otherwise all is quiet, inside and out. There’s only a slight breeze right now, but lots of clouds, and there’s a flash flood watch on all islands now as the remains of a tropical storm Linda will be passing by and bringing lots of rain and strong beginning later tonight.
The final Etsy order for the week arrived late Friday night; a surprise. I packaged it up while we watched TV and it was on its way the next morning!
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Not my accomplishment, but Brett got both his annual skin check and biannual eye exam done this past week. Everything is great with his skin, and his vision hadn’t changed since the last check so no new glasses necessary this time around. Brett also helped our landlord get all the koi out of the pond and to their new owners this past week (the pump for the pond was failing and the landlord decided he didn’t want to buy a new one). That took a couple of days as some of the koi were very good at hiding. Brett and I spent the past week tweaking our future plans and getting them solidified, and I’ll have a post up about the updated plan on Wednesday. Five Etsy orders were packaged and sent out.
  • Looking forward to next week: Mostly these days we look forward to getting a little closer to our goal, both time-wise, health-wise, and financially. Circumstances (like weather and the number of tourists currently on the island) keep us from getting out as much as we’d like, but we always look forward to the simple things we do, like our daily walks and seeing how many golf balls we can find, trips to the beach whenever the weather agrees, and the other small things that make up our days. We are living a very relaxing life, the one both of us dreamed of. We have decided to go out for breakfast next week, but aren’t sure whether that will be pancakes at the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue, or pastry and coffee at the Midnight Bear Bakery in Hanapepe.
We got a second chance for an outdoor fire this past week, and made and enjoyed s’mores and a long stay outside talking about the future.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Orders from Etsy are always a good thing and I had five of them this past week, three on one day creating a busy morning getting everything sorted, packed, and ready for shipment. The weather cooperated on Wednesday evening and we enjoyed some quality time out by the fire pit, made s’mores, and watched the sun set. We had long conversations with all the girls and our son and family this past week.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We came in under budget during our big shop which is getting easier to do now that we’re no long buying meat. I had arborio rice on our shopping list, but at $14.95 at Big Save for a two pound container I passed ($14.95 was the sale price; regular price is $16.95. Last year it was $9.95). After we got home I checked Amazon and bought four two-pound containers for $23.95 with free shipping. They are scheduled to arrive next week. We put $5.08 into the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 1,629 Swagbucks. All of the leftovers were finished before we shopped, and nothing was thrown out.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: Fourteen more hashioki left the house this past week, and the man who bought the ranma came and picked it up yesterday and paid the rest of what he owed. Brett was never paid for his eBay order (when something seems too good to be true it probably is), but eBay stepped in, it’s been re-listed, and he’s going to go through with an auction this time. Total side hustle income for this week was $199.01.
  • Grateful for: Although life is currently much calmer and seems less interesting than it has been in the past, I am grateful for having peace and time to think more deeply about things, the choices we make, and how we want our life to be lived going forward. I’m also grateful for the time to focus on getting in in better shape and improving our health; saving as much as we can, and downsizing as much as possible before it’s time to move on.
  • Bonus question: What are the top three favorite places you’ve visited? I am blessed to have so many places to choose from to answer this question. We enjoyed every place we visited on our Big Adventure, and Brett and I can still easily have a long conversation about any of them at the drop of a hat. Our top three favorites though are clear: 1) Tokyo, Japan; 2) Strasbourg, France; and 3) Blockley in the UK. Stays in all three weren’t just fun and interesting, but turned out to be the three locations we know we could happily, although not necessarily easily, make a life for ourselves (learning the language in France and Japan would not be easy, for example). We enjoyed our time in so many different places but when it comes down to it. unlike the three cities named above we could not imagine living in those places for a variety of different reasons.

Cases of the virus continue to rise in the state, and on Kaua’i – as of yesterday there were 359 active cases on the island! I read on Friday that Portland area hospitals are filling up or are full – one man had to be taken by ambulance to three different hospitals in a fairly wide circle following a stroke before they couldn’t find one that had room to take him, and even the one that finally accepted him couldn’t admit him because there weren’t any beds available; the man went home and a family member that’s a nurse stayed with him. On the plus side, vaccination numbers are going up – the combination of rising cases, hospitalizations, and death seems to be having an effect. Still, it’s not enough and something has to give, although I no longer have any idea what that something might be. We really are living in the stupidest time.

That’s a wrap for this week, a good one even without very much happening or going on. The things that needed to happen, happened, and stuff that didn’t, didn’t, so that’s a win for me. We continue to look forward to the coming weeks in spite of our inactivity – we are moving forward, albeit slowly. I raise my virtual glass to toast the coming week, filled with hope that it’s another good one!

Sunday Morning 8/15/2021: Keeping Busy

There were several pretty sunsets last week, but Tuesday’s stole the show!

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

We went to the beach last week! It seems like it’s been months since we’d last been able to go because of the weather, but Monday was a nice enough day that we headed down to Barking Sands for a hike on the Waiokapua Trail and then some time resting on the beach. It was partly cloudy there, and there was a breeze, so the hike was easier than it could have been in that respect, and we followed up with nearly two and a half hours sitting in our chairs under an umbrella enjoying a small picnic we brought along, reading, and just generally relaxing. The weather was back to full overcast the next day so we were happy we made the effort to go.

Beach day at Barking Sands last Monday. We had the whole place to ourselves.

COVID cases keep ramping up in Hawaii. Kaua’i is currently the least affected of the islands, but it’s very still bad here (up to 50 new cases a day right now) and how long and if the island can manage this is anyone’s guess. Brett and I keep talking about our future plans and wonder how everything’s going to play out. We hopefully will be able to get to Pennsylvania next year for YaYu’s graduation, but our planned trip to Japan, almost a year out from now, is no longer a solid yes. And after that, who knows? Travelers are beginning to return to Europe and a few other locations, but what the future holds remains a giant unknown especially with other variants popping up (there is now apparently a Gamma variant starting to make its move). We still plan to leave Kaua’i by April 2023, but what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be going is starting to look a bit fuzzier.

I’m adding another section to the Sunday post starting this week: Stuff we sold. We have so many things that we need to find new homes for before we depart, and this is a good way for me to not only track our progress but stay motivated to make sure something leaves our stash of stuff every week.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ve spent the entire week slowly reading The Survivors by Jane Harper, and finished it on Friday. After the last book set in the Australian outback, it took me awhile to adjust myself to a story set in a beach town in Tasmania, but the story was good, the writing excellent, and the mystery kept me going the whole time. I checked out A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill yesterday, the first in the Dalziel & Pasco Series. I read it years ago and loved the series but remember nothing about any of the books, so am looking forward to reading it again (hate the title though). However, as soon as that book was downloaded the library informed me that another book I had on hold was available, so it’s back to reading two books at the same time again.
  • Listening to: Brett is fixing his breakfast indoors and opening and shutting cabinets in the kitchen – kind of noisy! Outside though there’s a gentle breeze blowing through the trees. Some chickens have settled in one of the yards behind us and they’ve been making a bit of noise this morning but that thankfully didn’t last long (fingers crossed they will only be here temporarily too). Otherwise it’s another quiet morning, and I’ve got a hot, fresh cup of coffee in front of me so all’s right with my world. The sky is partly cloudy but we’re going to pack a picnic and head back down to Barking Sands in a little while for some more time on the beach.
  • Watching: Our Vera watching continues but we’ll finish all the available episodes this week and start something new. I am finally done rewatching Great British Menu (and will sort of miss it) and instead of another cooking show I’m watching old Father Brown episodes while I do Swagbucks so I can enjoy memories of Blockley.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: I had four Etsy sales this past week and had each order in the mail the next day. I had to get creative with a box for one order but eventually found something that worked. I also got one new listing for the shop done this past week, and got my business license ordered and paid for online, although I’m still waiting for my tax license (I have to pay Hawaii’s GET tax). I took photos and listed another item, an antique Japanese cedar transom (ranma), on our local buy & sell yesterday as well as Craigslist. It got a lot of looks on Buy & Sell, but no bites. Craigslist yielded several interested buyers though and the ranma should be leaving the house this afternoon! Brett finally opened an eBay account and listed the vintage navy cloth patches he used to collect – those were sold in a day for three times what he thought he would get for them (he set up an auction but really didn’t have the patience for it and since the offer was so large he took it). I have our Big Shop list done for this coming week; we’ll go over it once more tomorrow and remove a couple of items (we hope).
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re hoping the Big Shop on Tuesday will be enough to cover our needs for the rest of the month, or most of them anyway so we can stay out of the stores. I really do enjoy food shopping and meal planning although it’s become more effort than usual these days as we try to stay out of stores and not interact with the public as much as possible. Fingers are crossed we also get another day or two of good beach weather. We’re also hoping to pick up some more dragonfruit at the farm stand this week. Affordable, tasty dragonfruit are one of the best things about summer here.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides going to the beach, getting a short time by the fire pit outside (before getting unexpectedly rained out), and enjoying some comfortable and cool-ish temperatures all week, there were no real standout good things. It was just a very nice week overall!
Our famstand purchases were just $9: Two dragonfruit, a daikon radish, mint, and a bunch of bananas.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The OTC medication I take every day as part of my stomach regimen has been coming through our regular prescription service at $10 for 90 days of medication (two pills per day). I discovered this past week that I can get the same medication at Costco for just $10.99 for 250 tablets, so I won’t be renewing that prescription! It’s not a huge savings, but it will help, and it will be easier to carry plenty along when we travel. We had a bunch of leftover mint after making a couple of salads last week, and thought we’d get some rum and club soda and use the rest to make mojitos. We realized however that the more frugal choice was composting the leftover mint (mint had cost $2; rum & soda would be $18.99 + tax, and that’s with rum on sale). We had another nearly no-spend week, with just two quick trips for produce at Big Save and the farm stand. Not a big week for change and $1 bills: we put just $.56 into the bag this past week ($.10 was a dime I found at the golf course). I earned 1,884 Swagbucks, but can feel myself approaching burnout once again so am going to throttle back and not push myself so hard for a while as I’m currently ahead with my earnings. Nothing was thrown out and all leftovers were eaten or used in some way, including making some very tasty lemonade from a dozen lemons that needed to be used up quickly.
Homemade lemonade is far superior to anything else out there.
  • Adding up what we sold this past week: Nine hashioki were sold and shipped this week as well as a set of wooden Japanese soup bowls. I’ve now sold approximately 20% of the hashioki, but that means there are still around four hundred left to go versus five hundred LOL. They are thankfully getting lots of views, with many of them favorited, so hopefully there will more sales happening in the future. Brett was thrilled to get so much for the cloth patches so quickly. Total downsizing income earned this week: $255
  • Grateful for: I am so thankful we were able to get to the beach this past week. In spite of getting out almost daily for long walks at the park, we had almost forgotten how nice it is to enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting outside and doing nothing except reading, looking out across the water, and listening to the sound of the waves.
  • Bonus question: What do you hope to leave as your legacy? It’s fairly simple, really: One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in my bank account, or what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.

Definitely a first-world problem, but just a couple of weeks into growing out my hair and I’m going nuts! It’s already a giant white puffball most of the time now, curling up around my neck, etc. and driving me mad for the most part. Brett is also growing out his hair and it’s even wackier – it flips up over his ears and he sometimes looks like he’s wearing a Dutch cap. We keep telling ourselves to stay patient but we’re both currently miserable with our hair right now. And, can I also just say that after months of learning and working with this new WordPress editor it’s still driving me crazy? I find the whole thing to be very temperamental and non-intuitive. For example, I can be going along and doing an editing task without a problem, and then out of the blue the editor responds by eliminating the entire paragraph I’m working in (thank goodness for Command Z!). It just sets my teeth on edge every time I go in to use it. Definitely another first-world problem, but here I am. You go with the WordPress editor you have, not the one you wish you had, I guess.

That’s all for this week: the good, the bad, and the ugly (well, nothing was really ugly). We got a lot done, made some money, and enjoyed some better weather. Here’s hoping that next week is just as nice!

Sunday Morning 8/1/2021: The Summer Marches On

There were other pretty sunsets this past week, but this one on Wednesday was like a painting.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

August has arrived! The year is moving steadily along, and we are one month closer to making our travel dreams come true next year and in 2023. It’s become obvious, to me anyway, that COVID is going to continue to play a major role in any plans we make going forward, so at this point nothing is solid or a done deal, but hopefully we’ll have a better idea by this time next year. Our plans for now are to continue to hang tight here in Hawaii, and save, save, save as much as we can so when things do change for the positive (and I have faith that they will . . . eventually) we will be ready and able to go.

All went well with Monday’s procedure, and I finally have a definite answer to what’s been causing my GERD. As I thought, I have a small hiatal hernia and for now I’m to stick with my current medication and follow a hiatal hernia regime (avoid food triggers, keep head elevated, continue current medication, etc.). The examination also looked at my esophagus, stomach and the opening into the upper intestine and all those were in tip top shape and healthy. The only issue I had on Monday was with the anesthesia. I was supposed to follow orders from the doctor during the procedure, but fell asleep from almost the moment the medication went into the IV so have no idea how everything got done. I somehow woke up enough at the hospital that I could be discharged, get out to the car and home even though I was very wobbly and nauseated. I then slept several more hours after I got home. Anesthesia and I have never gotten along and this last outing was no exception.

The “shop.” Selling is fun, but Brett is working on the tax side of things and already pulling out his hair.

This last month was a great one for our side hustles. With the Etsy shop up and running and a month of fairly steady sales, income from the blog, the sale of a couple of things from the apartment, and a couple of other sources paying in we added an additional $803.43 to our travel fund on top of our regular allotment. I am excited to see how the Etsy shop does going forward: hashioki sales have been steady as have some other smaller items, but I have yet to sell any of the “big ticket” items. My gut feeling is that sales are going to slow down, but that’s OK because time is on my side. I have my fingers crossed for the upcoming month, but I’m very happy with how everything came together in July and hope we can keep some of this momentum going (although we don’t have much of any more household items that we can sell for the time being).

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Cruelest Month, the third in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, on Tuesday so I could focus entirely on The Magus, and finished it yesterday. As it did when I read it before, The Magus contained lots of twists and turns, and left me with unanswered questions or at least a lot to think about at the end. It was still a great book though and perfect for this year’s reading theme. I put the fourth Louise Penny book on hold and The Lost Man by Jane Harper became available again just as I finished The Magus – perfect timing (for a change)!
  • Listening to: Big winds are blowing outside this morning – very noisy! If nothing else though the wind is keeping the apartment nice and cool and there’s no need for the ceiling fans this morning. It’s also quite overcast outside, more than I expected anyway, but no rain. A little bit of blue sky shows itself now and again but quickly disappears. Brett is puttering away in the kitchen but other than the roar of the wind and one rooster screaming its lungs out in the distance it’s going to be a quiet morning. I love it.
  • Watching: We watched a wonderful movie last Sunday evening (on Amazon Prime): One Night in Miami, a fictional account of evening in 1964 following Mohammed Ali’s surprising win over Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title, where he, Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke, and football star Jim Brown get together. Amazing story, amazing dialog, and a fantastic movie. Things have changed since then, but sadly not that much and not enough. Otherwise we finished Clarkson’s Farm (a very fun and enjoyable show) and are currently watching Collateral, a four-part detective series set in London. I’m still watching GBM while I do Swagbucks – there are more episodes than I realized but I should finish this week.

Getting an Etsy hashioki order ready takes about 15 minutes, give or take: 1) locate the hashioki that were ordered; 2) wrap each hashioki individually in a foam sheet; 3) wrap bubblewrap around hashioki and fit into a box; and 4) print and add mailing label and then . . . off it goes! Depending on when I receive the order, they either go out the same day or the next.

  • Happy I accomplished: I finally got a large Japanese serving bowl listed on our local Buy & Sell on Thursday, and although there have been quite a few views there hasn’t been a sale (yet). I love the bowl, but haven’t used it even once since we’ve lived here. I was going to list it on Etsy, but when I figured out the shipping cost would be four times any profit I got for it I dropped that idea like a hot potato. The bowl is selling for $85+ on eBay and along with postage is over $100; I am asking considerably less. Anyway, if it doesn’t sell online, it will be put away for our pre-departure garage sale. I also got some other items photographed for future Etsy listings, and Meiling sent an item she photoshopped for me so I got one new listing done. We did a very quick shop at Costco on Thursday for a few things that were unavailable last week and we did not overbuy. I finished up another six-week set of activity cards and got a new set ready to get me into the middle of September. Otherwise, all that ended up being accomplished were the usual household chores and tasks.
The blue dragon bowl is big and heavy. I discovered it in a pottery village in Japan, in a shop where seconds were sold. The bowl was made for export to the U.S., to be sold in an organization’s gift catalog. I’ve gotten a lot of use from it but haven’t gotten it out since we’ve been here. It somehow miraculously avoided damage during our last move.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’d love to have another easygoing week like this past one. It was very relaxing and enjoyable (hospital procedures notwithstanding). A day or two at the beach this week would be much appreciated, but no guarantees on that.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: My procedure going well was the best thing – done and done! We rarely get chickens in our yard, but this past week a few showed up, and even climbed the steps up to our front door to check us out – funny (they ran away when I tried to take their picture)! Otherwise, there were no big standout good things – it was just a very nice week overall.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We bought just the five things on our list at Costco on Thursday, and left the store with $25 out of our shopping funds. We’re now good to go for the next two weeks, until it’s time to again shop big. I had two Etsy orders this past week so will have a little money going into the savings account next week. Other than what we spent at Costco and $20 for gasoline, we had a no-spend week. We put $6.50 into the change/$1 bill bag and sent a total of $33.56 into savings from this in July. I earned 2,337 Swagbucks, including a 592 bonus for July. We had a lot of leftovers, but stayed on task, were creative, and finished all of them, and didn’t throw out any food.
  • Grateful for: I’m thankful that I now have a definitive answer for my stomach issues. They’re not going to go away, but I now have tools and knowledge to make living with the condition easier going forward. I’m also grateful for all that Brett did for me last Monday (a lot, much of it above and beyond the call of duty) so I didn’t have to worry about anything and could rest and get through the day.
  • Bonus question: After your next big travel adventure, what then? This is the BIG unknown for us, one we are still working on and talk about all the time. The two big parts we don’t know right now are how long we’ll be able to continue to travel (that is, IF we can do nomadic travel again), and if we do eventually settle down, where would that be? We’re having a very difficult time imagining living in any one place. We think about different places for a while, discuss the pros and cons, but after a short time realize we will most likely be miserable . . . and stuck . . . and we can’t imagine or deal with that now. The decision on where to end up is the one thing we need to get right so we’re willing to spend the time on this. It’s something we continue to hammer out between us, both personally and financially, but we have faith the right place at right time will come to us.

Some of the damage we have found from our move: cracked and chipped jubako; a broken leg on our beloved Japanese Haniwa horse; Sharpie written directly on an item; and tape damage on a washi-paper covered tea box. All of these things had survived numerous moves without damage beginning in the 1980s, from cross country to across the ocean, until this last crew got their hands on them.

As I go through things that I had hoped to sell on Etsy, I grow more and more frustrated by the number of things I find that were damaged when we sent the items for storage in 2018. We used Royal Hawaiian to move our things over in 2014, and everything arrived perfectly – it was the best move we ever had. So, when we wanted to put things into storage before our Big Adventure we didn’t hesitate to use them again. However, the crew they sent packed things very poorly (an understatement), causing numerous chips and/or breakages of irreplaceable and sentimental items, and of course they also lost a full box of goods when everything was shipped back last year. Four out of seven of my antique stacking boxes (jubako), which were in perfect condition before being packed this last time, came back cracked and damaged to the point that they have lost almost all value. We had beautiful tea boxes I had covered with washi paper when we lived in Japan but the crew applied packing tape directly to the boxes to close them versus covering first in paper, thereby causing the washi paper to be ripped and destroyed when we opened them. They wrote directly on items, including the Japanese tea boxes, with a Sharpie. Over a year later we’re still discovering damage. The only thing I’m relieved about these days is that they did not actually lose our Boy’s Day Banner, just hid it very well. That had been the most painful loss.

That’s all for this week! I wish sometimes I had more exciting things to write about, as I did when we were traveling, but I’m also thankful for the peaceful days we are enjoying now. We eat well, there’s time to read and exercise . . . it’s all good. So, raising my virtual glass, here’s to another week of good food, good books, time outdoors, things accomplished, and good things happening!

Sunday Morning 7/25/2021: Gloomy Weather, Beautiful Sunsets, Busy Week

Gloomy weather during the day created some beautiful sunsets in the evening.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Tomorrow morning at 9:10 I will be checking in at the hospital for an upper endoscopy to hopefully determine for good the reason for my ongoing stomach issues. I personally think all that’s going to come of it will be confirmation that I do indeed have a hiatal hernia but it will good to have things settled. I’ve had every other test performed and nothing else that could be causing the GERD has been found so this procedure is all that’s left to do (i.e. cancer, ulcers, bacteria, and so forth have been ruled out). I can have no water, food, etc. after at midnight tonight, and Brett will drive me to the outpatient surgery clinic in the morning and bring me home later. I was scheduled to have this procedure done in 2018, before we left on our adventure, but it was before I had Medicare coverage and we would have paid a hefty amount out-of-pocket. Today, between Medicare and our military insurance, 100% is covered.

After a busy previous week with Etsy, this week has been blissfully peaceful with just three small orders and I’m fine with that. It’s given me time to get better organized and redo, update, and add some listings. One big project was corralling and organizing all the for sale goods and shipping materials into one convenient space. We sold our sofa table at the beginning of the week, and put the slatted bench that had sat at the foot of our bed in its place, which works much better for us and gave me room to organize everything. Another Etsy project accomplished was cleaning up and re-photographing the antique Japanese cast iron tea kettle that’s for sale. I sort of quickly threw pictures of it up on the site when I first got started, but after some serious cleaning and new photographs it looks much better and will hopefully have a better chance of being sold. I went through the house again and pulled out a couple more Japanese things, got them photographed and listed, and got some photoshopped items back from Meiling and have one of them listed as well. There are still more things to be photographed and photoshopped, but I’m going to wait a couple of weeks to get to those. I expect sales to go more slowly now after an initial burst of interest, but for now time is on my side. Brett is still working on getting his eBay site going.

The yard is nice and green, but otherwise it’s been mostly wet and overcast this week with lots of rain.

Our Big Shop on Tuesday completely wore us out and about midway through shopping we decided to go ahead and overbuy so we didn’t need to do it again at the end of the month. Costco was a three-ring circus with all the visitors in the store (the amount of liquor in their carts is always the big giveaway) and Walmart wasn’t any easier. Once the new Target finally opens the crowds at Walmart will hopefully dwindle, but that opening is already behind schedule and no one seems to know when that will happen. The traffic into Lihue was pretty unbelievable as well, one more reason for us not to go out any more than we have to. We did have to go back to Walmart yesterday to pick up more shipping supplies which they were out of on Tuesday but that were thankfully there the second trip. On top of everything else going on this past week else the weather has also been quite gloomy and unpleasant with very strong winds and/or rain every day and we’ve had to run around between storms to get things accomplished. There’s never a dull moment here, I tell you.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Witch Hunter but The Magus continues. The Witch Hunter was great, and very suspenseful, and I had forgotten what a pleasure The Magus is to read but also how strange it is. Of course two more books had to come off hold this past week, The Lost Man by Jane Harper and The Cruelest Month by Louise Penney. I downloaded the latter and am now reading it along with The Magus, but postponed receiving The Lost Man. I was hoping for break so I could enjoy reading one book instead of two, but it seems to always feast or famine when it comes to getting books from the library.
  • Listening to: This past week has been LOUD, with the wind blowing through our yard almost constantly and sounding like freight train moving through. Even wearing earplugs at night hasn’t been enough to cut the noise. Add in heavy rain, and it’s been a very noisy, wet week. This morning however is pleasant and quiet for a change, with only a gentle breeze blowing (for now). Birds are singing for a change, and I can even see some blue sky peeping over and through the clouds. Sadly, it’s not expected to last. Inside it’s quiet although Brett has already set up everything in the kitchen for me to fix mini-waffles so it won’t be long before I have to get up and make some noise.
  • Watching: We finally got to the end of Marcella which had quite the ending. We’ve been watching Clarkson’s Farm (thanks to a suggestion from reader Vicky) and and are really enjoying it, especially since we were in the Cotswolds when some of it was being filmed (we were there for the nonstop rains that affected his planting, for example). We didn’t realize at first that it was a documentary and thought it was a comedy show, but we’ve had fun seeing all the twists and turns Clarkson goes through trying to run his farm (how hard can it be? he thinks at the start). We’ve been surprised by how much money he seems to end up spending whether that’s buying farm equipment or a herd of sheep or fixing a stupid mistake he’s made. I’ve gotten through quite a bit more of Great British Menu but have a few more episodes to go before I’m done (for good). I’m definitely ready to watch something different.
The woman who bought our sofa table creates tables that look like this. She wants our coffee table as well whenever we’re ready to sell it.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’m happy to have my Etsy materials better organized, and my listings updated. All of that had been sort of overwhelming before. I was also glad to finally get the teakettle cleaned up and learning more about it so that I could write a more accurate listing. Hopefully it will sell soon as it’s the most looked at and favorited item in my shop. I listed and sold the sofa table in less than 30 minutes! The woman who bought it is a local artist who paints the top of tables with wave design in resin, and our table was perfect for her projects. She also asked us to contact her first whenever we decide to sell our coffee table! We did our big shop last Tuesday and are good to go for the next few weeks, with only produce needed to be purchased between now and next month.
  • Looking forward to next week: We didn’t get to either the beach or the Maha’ulepu trail because of this past week’s sketchy weather (especially in the mornings), so fingers are crossed both of those can happen this week. I’m hoping my procedure goes well tomorrow and that I have some better answers about what’s going on with with my upper digestive system. I am not looking forward to not even getting a drink of water, let alone any coffee, tomorrow morning when I get up. It will be hell.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: There were no real standout good things this week. We had some days that were harder than others, but things got done, good meals were enjoyed, good books were read, more things left the house, and money went into our bank account. Life continues to be pretty wonderful.
My sweet husband went out in the rain to the farm stand yesterday morning to get me a bouquet . . . of basil!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a very good week when it came to side hustle income. Besides selling our sofa table, Etsy paid out a nice piece of change into my savings account, and I even randomly found a $1 bill blowing around on the golf course one day! We put $27.06 into the change/$1 bill bag, and I earned 1,863 Swagbucks, although that was a bit of a slog this past week. We went well over budget with our Big Shop but it was intentional. We made a command decision while we were in Costco to go ahead and buy enough to get us through a month. After the craziness there we want avoid the crowds as much as possible going forward. For now, all we should need to buy at the end of the month is coffee, produce and oat milk (which Costco didn’t have this past week). Other than the big food shop, buying gasoline, a quick trip to the farmstead for basil, and having to purchase a few boxes for Etsy sales (less than $5), we had another no-spend week. We ate all our leftovers, used up odds and ends in the freezer, and didn’t throw any food away.
  • Grateful for: I am feeling very thankful these days for my daughters’ suggestion that I open an Etsy shop to sell our Japanese stuff. Sales have been slow but steady, and I feel happy that these things we have enjoyed for so long are now going to others who want them and will equally enjoy them. It has been a bit more work than I imagined, but I get better organized as I go along, and have earned more than I imagined – I had no idea the hashioki would be so popular!
  • Bonus question: This week the question is directed outward: what would you like to know? Bonus questions are the most difficult part of writing the Sunday post, mainly because at this point I feel like I’ve asked everything at least twice. But maybe you all have some good ideas or things you’d like to hear about or know? It doesn’t have to be anything major or earth shattering either. Maybe it’s time to change things up and instead of a question have Pet Peeve of the Week or something else? Anyway, I’m open to all and any ideas or questions you have. Please let me know!

I miss going to the farmers’ market every week, and almost went this past week but in the end neither of us were ready or willing to deal with the crowds of tourists that go now. With cases of the virus on the rise on the island and in the state, we prefer not to mingle. However, I miss the variety of produce, the low prices, and checking in with our favorite farmers. We’ve missed lychee season this year because we haven’t gone, but dragonfruit season is coming up and that will probably get me to go back if nothing else will. For things like cilantro or basil we can make a quick stop at the nearby farmstead, but otherwise I’m buying most of our produce at Costco these days (because they carry a lot of Hawaii-grown and organic items).

As much as the number of tourists can drive me crazy, this has been one of those weeks where I feel sorry for those who spent a lot of money to come here only to have to spend it indoors most of the time.

That’s all for this week. Supposedly this weather is going to continue through next week, but I hope we catch a break now and then. This has been the strangest summer we’ve experienced here, very cool and rainy. Usually by now we’re wilting from the heat and humidity. We know it’s coming though, just maybe a little later than expected. Anyway, here’s to another good week coming up and getting lots accomplished!