Sunday Morning 7/19/2020: Chaos and Calm

Only a couple of mildly interesting sunsets this past week . . . until yesterday’s. That was a stunner.

Good morning!

The week started out poorly, weather-wise, but eventually turned nicer on Thursday. We enjoyed sunshine and blue skies again for a few days but this morning it’s back to strong winds and rain again. We woke up last Monday morning to absolutely pouring rain, with the same on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, all accompanied by howling winds. By early afternoon each day the rain would stop and a tiny bit of blue sky would break out, and we would dash over to Kukuiolono and get our walk in. Then the clouds would eventually roll back in and by evening the rain would be back. One of our fellow walkers warned us though that when these storms stop that’s when the trade winds will stop as well and things will heat up, and we’re not looking forward to that again. Although there aren’t may visitors to the island these days, my thoughts when we have this kind of stormy weather are always that I’m glad we didn’t spend thousands to come vacation on Kaua’i. By the way, the quarantine in Hawaii has been extended until the first of September. Masks are still required on the island in all public locations except for when exercising outdoors or at the beach.

Morning weather at the beginning of the week and this morning.
When we saw the sun break through in the afternoon we headed out for our walks – hoping for the same today.
Some pretty weather on Wednesday afternoon unfortunately didn’t last very long but it returned the next day.

Friday was the first really hot and humid day we’ve had this summer. The movers arrived early in morning (like two hours earlier than expected – we were still in our pajamas when they called to say they were on their way!) and everything was off the truck was in our apartment in less than an hour. One box at first appeared to be missing but we eventually found it. We unpacked all day Friday, and surprisingly got almost everything put away. Saturday was spent finding places for the last few items, and getting all the boxes and paper out of the apartment so that the moving company can come pick them up for recycling. We didn’t think this move (including the pack-out from when we left in 2014) was as good as our earlier one with Royal Hawaiian – there were a few broken things this time (thankfully all repairable), including the pottery bowl made by my aunt and given to us as a wedding present, and the reproduction primitive clay horse I bought during our first tour in Japan. One of my jubako (porcelain stacking boxes) was also damaged, but again, all can be repaired.

YaYu has been rethinking her return to college this fall this past week. She got her bill last Thursday and NO financial aid had been applied, but the issue has been corrected and she should get an adjusted bill tomorrow. We about fainted though when we saw the amount without financial aid – yikes! YaYu’s main concern about going back is that she will catch the virus and bring it back with her when she comes home for Thanksgiving. Returning to school is still her first choice, but we have told her that she is welcome to stay here if she ultimately decides against going back – it’s her decision. We’ve told her that if she does stay we will have to reduce what we’re putting away for her as the cost of feeding her has been more than we expected (the girl can eat!), and we will also probably have to pay more rent for the time she’s with us. The landlord has been accommodating so far, but we don’t want to push our luck.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am almost done with the fourth Harry Potter book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s still a very good read and I’m enjoying it. The Blossom and the Firefly, by Sherri L. Smith, just came off of hold from the library – I’ve been waiting a long time for it so am excited to get started. I ordered the new Kevin Kwan book from Amazon, Sex and Vanity, as it looks like it may be a while for other holds to be released. I’ve enjoyed all of his other books (Crazy Rich Asians, etc.), and supposedly this is his best one yet.
  • Listening to: The wind is howling again outside, and rain is coming down (sideways) at intervals. It’s very cool though, almost like we have air-conditioning – such strange weather for summer. Brett is reading and YaYu is still sleeping, so it’s very quiet inside.
  • Watching: We will finish up Ozark this week and haven’t come up with anything to watch next. Suggestions are welcome!
  • Cooking/baking: I am thrilled to have my full contingent of cookware once again! Since we’ve lived here all we had is one 3-quart saucepan, a 10-inch skillet, a sauté pan, and five cooking utensils – it’s been a challenge at times to figure out how to get everything made and on the table. Brett is especially happy to have a can opener once again – he’s been opening things all this time with the tool on his pocket knife. Tonight we’re going to have curried chickpeas over rice and some grilled chicken (if the weather improves). Other main courses this week will be chicken adobo with bok choy (it didn’t get made last week), Cuban bowls (black beans, roasted sweet potato, fried banana or plantain if I can find it, and pico de Gallo, all over rice); pork, bean, and rice burritos; grilled monchong, one of our favorite local fish; and roast chicken with mashed potatoes, a request from YaYu. We’ll do leftovers for one meal. I’m planning to bake a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting this week for our dessert cake.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: I am glad we were able to walk as much as we did this past week considering both the weather and getting all our stuff unpacked and put away. It was touch and go almost every day, quite hot on a couple of days, but there is thankfully always a breeze up at Kukuiolono and we were always able to get ahead of the late afternoon rain. We took Friday off from walking to unpack and still managed to get in as many steps right in our small apartment. YaYu and I finally finished Level 2 of our daily Japanese lesson on Memrise and have moved on to Level 3, which actually feels easier for some reason. Brett got his hair cut (and looks like he is back in the navy again).
  • Looking forward to next week: Our pictures are the last thing remaining to be unpacked, and that will be finished tomorrow and everything hung by the end of the week. We’re hoping for some beach weather this week so we can get out of the apartment for at least a couple of days. And, maybe this will be the week the chair pads finally arrive, although I’ve pretty much given up on expecting them – they’ll get here when they get here. I actually think they’re in Honolulu, where packages seem to have to hang out for a (possibly long) while before finally being shipped over to Kaua’i. I’m also looking forward to getting my hair trimmed again this coming Saturday.
    The new coffee table is a much better fit for the space.
  • Thinking of good things that happen: The arrival of our stored items was like Christmas in July, and I’ve been enjoying using our things again. We had a wonderful, long phone call with our grandkids on Friday evening – always a lot of fun, and balm for my soul. We liked the bench-style coffee table we had, but it was not a good fit with our sofa so we ordered a new table (same style as our sofa table) and it arrived early this past week. The new coffee table is big and fits much better in the space (as well as giving us more room on top), and the old table is now serving as a bench at the end of our bed. We didn’t have any place to set things, or sit down, other than the bed so that’s now taken care of. But, we really are done buying furniture now.
    I love having my coffee again in our favorite mugs.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We went over budget some on our food shopping last week, but other than that and our weekly trip to the farmers’ market and a haircut for Brett it was a no-spend week. The leftovers continue to get eaten up, but this past week I had to throw away a small piece of cabbage that had gotten mushy, some kale that had turned, a couple of onions that had gone moldy, and a small amount of green-is Parmesan cheese that had gotten hidden in the back. I hate throwing away food, so this was a wakeup to make more of an effort to keep track of things in our small fridge, and make sure they get used. We put $4 and some coins into the change/$1 bill jar, and I earned 524 Swagbucks.
    So thankful our hibachi table made it in one piece.
  • Grateful for: I felt like I could finally exhale when I saw that our big antique hibachi had arrived in one piece (the moving company had actually built a special wooden crate to ship it), as did its stand and the antique plate that sits in the middle. The plate had only been lightly packed inside the hibachi and we consider it something of a miracle that it made it in one piece. We bought the hibachi and plate during our first tour in Japan, in 1982, and they have now moved back and forth across the Pacific Ocean five times, and across the mainland a few times as well. Brett had the wooden stand custom made in the Philippines during our second tour in Japan, and we had the legs added not long before we left Portland in 2014, as well as having a new piece of glass cut for the top so the hibachi could function as a side table (it had served as our coffee table before that for many years). Both Brett and I are extremely grateful for its safe arrival one last time as it’s the piece of furniture that grounds us and lets us know we’re home.
    Noodles Romanoff
  • Bonus question: What was your favorite food when you were a child? Your least favorite? My mother was not an inspired cook – it was always a chore for her – but she did make a couple of dishes that I absolutely loved when I was a kid: baked macaroni and cheese, and Noodles Romanoff (this recipe is closest to Mom’s, although she didn’t add the cream cheese or heavy cream, but increased the amount of sour cream). Both had pasta, lots of cheese, and were rich and creamy. Mom always made big pans of them, so there were always leftovers that were for me just as good or better when eaten cold the next day. Her macaroni and cheese was the dish I always asked for whenever I came home from college. I also loved her tapioca pudding – it was very fluffy and creamy with a wonderful vanilla flavor. My maternal grandmother was not a good cook, but she occasionally made dates stuffed with walnuts and peanut butter that I absolutely loved, and also the most amazing stewed apples. The recipe for the apples died along with her though – no one has been able to duplicate them. My paternal grandmother was a very good cook, and her yeast biscuits were from heaven. I have her recipe for them (written in her own hand), but they’ve never turned out as light and fluffy as hers were. My least favorite food growing up was salad (and still is). I have a fairly serious intolerance to most forms of lettuce (especially romaine) – it makes me very sick – but my parents always served me salad (mostly made with romaine) and expected me to eat it even though I told them over and over how it made me feel. I became an expert at hiding salad under the table and getting rid of it after a meal was over. Several years ago my mom was visiting and said when I explained why I wasn’t having salad, “You know, you never really liked salad when you were young.” Thanks, Mom. One of the great injustices of my childhood (in my mind) was watching my brother not have to eat tomatoes or squash because “he doesn’t like them” while I was expected to eat the salad on my plate no matter what.
The pottery bowls and plates we bought in 2019 in Kappabashi. Brett’s happy to have his “coffee bar” set up once again, although with only one cup of coffee each per day, our Chemex is sort of too big now.

We have just a few more things to do to finish up here and finally feel settled. What’s been most surprising has been discovering the extent of what we let go before we left Kaua’i in 2018. For example, I was sure we had kept our bathroom scale, but no. I also apparently didn’t keep any baking supplies other than my stand mixer, not even a measuring cup! It was fun to finally see the dishes we bought at Kappabashi during our first stay in Japan, in 2019. They had been wrapped at the store when we bought them so until they were unwrapped on Friday we had no idea what we would find – we had completely forgotten what we had chosen. We were able to put quite a bit away for YaYu to have for whenever she sets up her own place someday, things we had too many of or realized we just don’t need any more. Anyway, it’s so good to have our things back with us again, and know that what’s missing or broken can be replaced or fixed. We have more than enough.

That’s all for this week! All in all it was another good one here, even with the crazy weather, and I hope it was good for you as well, with lots of good things happening. Here’s to another good week coming up!

Enough Already: A Minimalist Wardrobe

Pretty much the extent of my island wardrobe, minus t-shirts and pants.

If nothing else, traveling for the past couple of years taught me I do not need a lot of things to be happy and comfortable. That includes clothes.

Before we left, I worried that I would become bored rather quickly with the clothes I was taking along. That didn’t happen, but what I discovered instead was that some pieces I had packed didn’t work well for life on the road. They either took up too much room in my suitcase or weren’t comfortable for getting around or I just didn’t like the way they looked on me. Last summer, while we were in Portland, I redid things, adding a few new pieces and subtracting a few others. Some things went into storage, others got packed up and taken to Goodwill. I enjoyed the second wardrobe iteration much more and everything was happily worn again and again.

My cold weather items in waiting include seven tops again, three sweaters, four t-shirts, two coats, and five pairs of pants as well as three pairs of shoes, several scarves, and two pairs of winter pajamas.

All of our cold weather travel clothes are now in storage in their own closet, where we keep a shop light burning around the clock in order to keep any mildew and/or mold from growing. Tea bags are scattered throughout the closet and placed in our shoes in order to keep things smelling fresh, an trick we learned back in our navy days during our many moves. These clothing items probably won’t get used again until the spring of 2023, when we plan to return to Japan for a few weeks and know the weather will still be cold. Hopefully I will discover by then that a few things are too big to take along!

I packed less warm weather clothes than those for cold weather because we spent less time in warm weather locations, but the few pieces I do own have turned out to be more than enough for our return to island life. My wardrobe these days consists of seven tops, one lightweight sweater, two sleeveless dresses, two t-shirts, and five pairs of capris and cropped pants. Besides underwear and socks, I also have one bathing suit, a pareo, two pairs of lightweight pajamas, one pair of sandals, two pairs of flip flops (one a cheap pair to wear down to the beach), and one pair of the Sketchers walking shoes I started out with back in 2018. Other than a breezy blue linen dress I spotted in a catalog, I haven’t been even tempted to purchase anything new (and haven’t bought the dress either). I also know there are a couple more summer tops that will arrive this week in our stored items, and maybe a pair of linen pants. With the addition of those I will be more than set for the next couple of years at the least.

This linen dress has been the only new thing I’ve considered buying. It has pockets and would be perfect for Kauai’s sunny/humid weather. (Sadly, since I wrote this post the blue dress has sold out. Oh well.)

I am more than satisfied with the few things I have now as they’re lightweight, comfortable, and easy to care for. I have also honestly been surprised about my lack of interest in adding to my wardrobe. However, as life on Kaua’i has shown over and over, less here really is more, and I have enough.

Sunday Morning 7/12/2022: Stormy Weather

Good morning!

What a week we’ve had, weather wise, that is. We had several storms pass through with strong winds, lots of rain, and cooler than normal temperatures. It was raining again just a few minutes ago. When I woke up on Thursday I was hard pressed to know I was in Hawaii . . . in July . . . because it was raining so hard, and the winds were so strong. Blue skies eventually showed up, but it didn’t get a whole lot warmer throughout the day. This was not a week for going to the beach or trying to set up an umbrella! The cooler temperatures have actually been a blessing in some ways though, especially making our walks in the late afternoon much more pleasant because there’s always a good breeze up at Kukuiolono. Sunsets this week have been hit or miss, but we enjoyed a few good ones.

Typical daytime view this week: clouds, clouds, and more clouds, and lots of wind to go with them. Rain too.

We got a full refund of our Aeromexico tickets this past week from our bank! I’m so glad we stuck with it and didn’t give in to Aeromexico’s stubbornness and refusal to refund. In the end we got our money returned for all of our flights except for the ones we had on Alaska. I’m glad we took credits for those flights because it looks to be enough to cover YaYu’s roundtrip trip to Pennsylvania in late August and her return home for Thanksgiving! She is definitely going back to school – Brett attended a webinar hosted by the college this past week and we are satisfied with all the precautions the college is putting into place to keep students safe. We are still waiting on the bill for the fall term though – that should come through this week – and news of her dorm assignment. 

Aloha masks

We are now considered “regulars” at Kukuiolono, and we chat and joke almost every day with other regular walkers (and everyone we pass exchanges a greeting). A couple of weeks ago we got to talking with one woman that we see every day, and somehow mentioned we had a big rosemary bush growing in our back yard. She said she loved to make focaccia with rosemary, so the next day we brought her a few sprigs from the bush. A couple of days after that she brought us a beautiful loaf of rosemary focaccia! We had also talked about mask wearing one day with her, and had mentioned we were going to buy a few more, especially for YaYu to take back to school, and this week she gave us four masks she had made for us – two for YaYu, one for Brett, and one for me. Over and over people here have reached out to us, and made it easy for us to connect and share as well. When I think I couldn’t love Kaua’i more, all I have to do is think about the aloha here, and how freely it is given, and my love for this place grows even more.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am still waiting on books to come off of hold at the library, so in the meantime I’m reading the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I finished Citizens of London this past week, as well as the last book in the Inspector Morse series, The Remorseful Day (and got a little weepy at the end). I’m genuinely sad that series is over, but grateful for the advice I got when we were in Oxford to reread the entire Morse books again – so many things made more sense this time, and I could picture locations and other settings as I read.
  • Listening to: It’s quiet inside (Brett is reading, YaYu is still sleeping), but the wind is fairly strong outside, and I can hear water dripping from the recent rain. Lots of blue sky is peeping out here and there so we’ll just wait and see what happens.
  • Watching: We started the third season of Ozark last night – what a wild ride it’s turning out to be!
    Just a tiny piece of peach upside down cake for me last night, without ice cream :(.
  • Cooking/baking: Lots of cooking going on this week! Dinner tonight will be chili pork sauce served over rice, and other dinners this week will be chicken risotto; chicken adobo with bok choy; CookDo mabo dofu; Snake Alley noodles; a Mississippi pot roast: and French dip sandwiches with the leftover roast. The Instant Pot is going to be getting a workout! I made a small peach upside down cake yesterday, and after we finish that in a few more days I’ll make a chocolate-raspberry poke cake topped with white chocolate ganache. We have discovered that a 1/24 piece of a 9″ x 13″ cake after dinner each evening is enough sweet for the day and doesn’t provide too many calories.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I walked six days this week (Brett walked seven) because I took Friday off. I intend to make this schedule a pattern: walk five days, rest one, walk five, rest one, etc. Otherwise, all we’ve accomplished are the usual chores and tasks around here.
  • Looking forward to next week: Our stored items have arrived on Kaua’i and will be delivered this coming Friday afternoon! It will be a mess for a while while we get things sorted and put away, but we are looking forward to it. We’re hoping for better weather next week so we can get to the beach at least once before Friday.

Our yard is blooming!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Getting those airplane tickets refunded was the best thing that happened all week. It had been a frustrating issue to deal with, so I’m very happy it’s finally been resolved. It was also such good news to get an actual date and time for the delivery of our stuff. Our yard got its “haircut” this past week and is looking lovely (as always) – we’re especially enjoying all the flowers in bloom right now. I’m actually very thankful for all the rain we got last week – it keeps everything green and lush, not only in our yard, but everywhere else around here. The winds, although noisy, have kept the apartment cool as well.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The ticket refund covered nearly half of the cost of my new computer, so the timing actually worked out well. My old computer was sent back this past week, so fingers are crossed I get something back for it, although at this point I doubt I will get what was originally offered. Other than the farmers’ market, a trip to Costco for another flat of peaches, and a regularly budgeted food shop yesterday we had a no spend week, and we put $9.83 into the change/$1 bill jar. I earned 651 Swagbucks this past week.
  • Grateful for: I am very thankful that giving up Diet Coke has gone easier than I imagined. I honestly haven’t missed it at all, which was a huge surprise for me as I had been anticipating some serious withdrawal pangs. One evening this past week I did a Swagbucks survey that was all about Diet Coke – I was a bit afraid when it started that I might start craving the stuff, but it ended up having no effect at all (and I earned 75 Swagbucks).
    I showed YaYu a few minutes of the show on YouTube – she was too stunned to say anything.
  • Bonus question: What are the top five things you had in the past that you think your kids would not understand at all? YaYu is someone who has grown up with technology and could probably program the space shuttle back to earth on her phone, so it wasn’t too hard to come up with a list of things that would make no sense to her. My top five were 1) The Princess phone, with its illuminated dial. It was the iPhoneX of its time. 2) Train cases. 3) White go-go boots. 4) The technological marvel that was the IBM Selectric typewriter, and 5) The Lawrence Welk show (there is no way to explain this one). Brett and I were laughing so hard while we talked about all these things, and YaYu was confused and skeptical that such items/shows were popular or desirable. Other things we came up with that were a “thing” in the past were Spalding saddle shoes as a fashion statement, Wang computers, floppy disks, skate keys, and Gilbert chemistry sets that had real and sometimes dangerous chemicals. We decided not to get into all the ins and outs of TV watching back in the day including getting up to change the channel, having only three stations, B&W versus color, etc., all of which are completely unimaginable for her.

So far things have been going well with the lifestyle changes I’ve made and my new eating plan – it hasn’t been too difficult to stick to 1200 calories a day, and I haven’t had to resort to special foods or dishes. It’s all just been a question of eating less, using the MyFitnessPal food diary to keep track of things, and walking five to six days a week. Is it making a difference and have I lost any weight? Who knows? Our scale is coming in our shipment and so maybe next week I’ll have a better idea if weight loss is one of the things I’m accomplishing. The most difficult part of all of this has been living on one cup of half-caff coffee a day. I thankfully haven’t had to deal with headaches, but I do feel like I have less pep than I did before. I am sleeping better though, so that’s been a positive change, if nothing else. Brett has pretty much given up coffee as well. It has taken him a little longer to get adjusted, but he’s living with one cup of half-caff as well. 

That’s a wrap for this week! Here’s hoping it was a good one for all, that lots of good things happened for you, and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up!

I Can Barely Think About Travel

(photo credit: Outside Magazine)

I’m sure glad we like where we are right now because I currently can’t even imagine getting on a plane and going anywhere. I don’t even know if it’s safe or healthy these days to even think about going anywhere.

When we first arrived back in Hawaii, all I could think about was getting back on the road again even though I knew it might be a while. But these days I wonder how long that while might be, and wonder if travel will ever be truly safe again. Because of our country’s initial and continuing mismanagement of the disease from the top on down, Americans are now persona non grata all over the world, including Japan, where our family lives. How long? I wonder now, will it be until we can see our grandchildren again?

For a while after we got here I had fun planning “big” trips, things like long driving trips through New Zealand and Ireland, but the fun wore off of that pretty quickly. They were just too far out there, almost beyond reality. I also began to realize that I didn’t want to be away from home for so long. I’m enjoying being settled again, and so is Brett. We loved our two years on the road and weren’t ready for it to end how and when it did, but we love being back on Kaua’i, with our suitcases fully unpacked and living with our own stuff again. We’re not as eager to hit the road again as we initially thought we would be. For now our primary goal is to stay safe and healthy, and Kaua’i is a great place to accomplish those things. When we left the island in 2018, we weren’t sure if Kaua’i was our forever home, but now we know it is.

We have our sights set on 2022 for our first venture off the island, to YaYu’s graduation in Pennsylvania in the spring. We also hope to do a six-week visit to Japan in the fall, and then go back again in the spring of 2023, with a short visit to one of the other islands in-between.

That’s as much as I can dream about now. Two trips to Japan each year, beginning two years from now, is enough for me to mentally and emotionally handle. Even those seem like a huge reach at present, but they give me something to work toward, financially and health-wise. We want to see our grandchildren.

In the meantime we will work at staying safe, and hope and pray our country can get it together to overcome this scourge.

Sunday Morning 7/5/2020: What I Did On My Vacation

Most of the sunsets were uninspiring, to be honest, but we did get a few good ones these past couple of weeks.

It is good to be back!

I enjoyed my time off, and managed to keep busy the past couple of weeks. We walked almost every day over at Kukuiolono and went to the beach a few times. We walked, usually at Kukuiolono, but one day we drove up to Kapaa and hiked out to the Pineapple Dump, always a beautiful place. We did our food shopping and went to the farmers’ market on Wednesdays. I read. I cooked. I played games on my phone. We occasionally watched TV, and greatly enjoyed Hamilton this past Friday, a bit bittersweet as we didn’t get to see it on Broadway in May. I did some thinking about whether I wanted to continue blogging, but the answer was always yes. I may not be writing these days as much as I did in the past, but I missed it and am glad to be back at it again.

We started off week before last with news from our bank that our chargeback claim with Aeromexico had been denied, supposedly because it was simply a “billing error” on Aeromexico’s part. The letter gave me a number to call for details, and after speaking with someone from the dispute department it turned out they had never gotten an actual receipt for the tickets, so all they saw was the cancellation letter from Aeromexico and figured I had gotten another flight (or that’s what Aeromexico told them). I still have the receipt for the tickets though, and what we paid, so the bank agreed to reopen the claim and we submitted the receipt along with all the other original paperwork. So, we are waiting again, and hopefully we will finally get those tickets refunded.

Our storage shipment is scheduled to arrive on Kauai on Friday, July 10!! That means we should get delivery sometime the week after – so exciting! And, my new glasses were finally ready for pickup this past Thursday. I don’t know what the problem was, but getting them took nearly five weeks from my exam. The prescription is much stronger than the previous pair, and it’s going to take a while to fully adjust to them (I was warned about this). The only unknown left is when the dining chair pads I ordered through Etsy will arrive. They were supposed to be finished and shipped by June 9, but I got a message from the store owner that she was swamped and they would be shipped on the 16th. The actual shipment date ended up being June 25, but at least they are now on their way. The pottery bowls I ordered arrived last week, and are beautiful and getting plenty of use.

This shallow bowl size and shape is very useful, and these ones will fit in perfectly with the other dishes we kept.

Finally, this morning as I write I am enjoying my final Diet Coke. I feel a bit sad, and am going to miss them, but I am also ready to let them go.

The last one

Anyway, this morning I am:

  • Reading: I am slowly working my way through Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour. I somehow had the impression that this was a less dense book, but I can read for an hour an only get through a few percentage points on my Kindle. Thankfully it’s well-written and very readable, and interesting as well. I put several other books on hold at the library, but will have to wait for most of them.
  • Listening to: It’s kind of a noisy morning outside here. Lots of birds singing and there’s a strong (and cool) breeze blowing through the trees. A few roosters are doing their thing as well. YaYu is still sleeping, and Brett’s reading. One thing I realized this morning is that there is no barking! Constant barking, nearly 24 hours a day it seemed, was always in the background when we lived here before, but I don’t think I’ve heard even one dog bark in this neighborhood since we’ve been here (and many of our neighbors have dogs).
  • Watching: We are still watching Ozark, and are close to finishing up the second season. We took a break last Friday to watch Hamilton, which was better than hoped for.
  • Cooking: Costco currently has big tubs of marinated mozzarella on sale, so we picked one up last week and tonight we’re using some of them in a Caprese-style salad which we’ll have with grilled Italian sausages and rosemary-garlic focaccia (made by YaYu). Also appearing on the menu this week will be chili pork sauce over rice; Costco’s enchilada casserole (two nights); breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, and toast); butter chicken and rice; and spaghetti with homemade marinara.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got my annual fasting blood work done this past week and everything was good so my prescriptions have been ordered for another year. We also got all our paperwork (HIPAA Permits Disclosures and Advance Health Care Directives) ready to be turned in to the clinic. Brett walked every day these past two weeks but I only got in four days this past week (six the week before). I got all of my activity cards filled in for the past two week, and charted my eating every day on MyFitnessPal (and stayed within my calorie/macro allotments too!). We had bought YaYu a case of ramen when she arrived back in March, but she said it was too much so we mailed off what was left to WenYu and Meiling this week – they are looking forward to it because it’s the “good” stuff, Sapporo Ichiban, which is supposedly difficult to find and expensive where they are.
  • Looking forward to next week: The chair pads should be delivered this coming week although the way things have been going I’m not entirely counting on it. We’re especially looking forward to some good weather, another couple of days at the beach, and some more good walks.
    Finally: a short haircut (that’s already trying to curl), new glasses (with special blue screen lenses), and lots of freckles once again – I’m happy and back to living my best life on Kaua’i!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Getting my new computer, getting my new glasses, and learning that our stuff will be here soon were all very good things, and they all happened on the same day! I’m glad that we were able to reopen our claim again Aeromexico – fingers are doubly crossed this time that we get our refund. Summer fruit season has “officially” started: dragonfruit appeared at the farmers’ market for the first time this year – it’s one of our favorites – and Costco now has ripe peaches and nectarines. Watermelon and pineapple are also available at the farmers’ market, but they are expensive, so we’ll wait until later this month to get them at Costco.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We spent about $35 over our food budget last week, but we’re OK with it as we somehow had ended up with a LOT of non-food items on our list (shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, probiotic, aspirin, contact cleaner, and so forth – it added up quickly). We put just 50¢ in the change/$1 bill jar these past two weeks, but our travel account now has $673.97 in it! I earned an additional 1075 Swagbucks during the past two weeks and am growing ever closer to our first $100 Southwest gift card. We have done a phenomenal job finishing our leftovers if I do say so – no food has been thrown out!
    This past week’s bounty from the farmers’ market: kale, ginger, two cucumbers, two dragonfruit, basil, limes, eggplant, four papayas, and a big bunch of bananas, all for $25.
  • Grateful for: We are beyond thankful, as always, for the abundance of produce grown on Kaua’i year-round, and the ease of procuring it at the weekly farmers’ market for an affordable price. We have always been good about including fruits and vegetables into our diet, but we are able to have so much more here.
  • Bonus question: How has the humidity been so far? As of now I am happy to report that it hasn’t been bad at all! Those of you who read this blog in the past know that humidity was my chief nemesis when we lived here before (and it was pretty bad when we visited last January), and I suffered mightily from it. Our new location though has made a world of difference – we get wonderful breezes through the apartment all day which keep it cool and don’t give the humidity much of a chance to settle like it did in our former place. The only thing that moved the air there was the ceiling fans – the house had hills on two sides, and its windows were not placed to catch any breeze at all keeping it continually humid, sticky, and hot inside. I also think it just may be less humid down on the south side of the island where we are now. We have had only a couple of days with high humidity, like yesterday and one the week before last. Both times big, heavy clouds settled over the area, but both times it eventually rained, the clouds passed, and the breezes came through again and all was well. If the trade winds die off again this summer though things could get sticky here, but so far it’s been very pleasant and a world of difference from what we experienced last time.

Hawaii is now planning to open to visitors on August 1st if they can get a testing regime in place even though the virus has already returned to the islands. Visitors with proof of a negative Covid-19 test from an approved tester (CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, Kaiser for now) can avoid quarantine, but without test results they will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine with no car rentals, etc. No one is sure how this is going to work or even if it will work, especially since in most places on the mainland tests aren’t available unless you have symptoms – you can’t get one just because you want to go on vacation to Hawaii. Things are continuing to slowly open up though in anticipation of visitors coming back. Our upstairs neighbors just finished their 14-day quarantine this past week – the police and/or national guard were by every day to check on them so the quarantine enforcement is still taken seriously here. We also watched security approach a few people at the farmers’ market and remind them that masks are still required outside as well unless you are exercising. Kaua’i now has 36 active cases of the virus, all within three families – those seem to have come from inter-island travel and then spread within the families and their friends. All contacts are being monitored and known positive cases have been isolated. They appear to be contained (for now) but it is still unnerving, especially with the thought of visitors returning to the islands in possibly significant numbers.

YaYu continues to look for work but has almost given up hope, especially since she will probably only be here for another couple of months. Her college still plans to open, and she has already filled out a request for a private dorm room. The fall semester bill will arrive within the next couple of weeks (ugh) and she will re-register again for classes (the entire previous schedule that she register for last spring has been changed and upended in order that social distancing can be maintained).  WenYu is also looking for employment back in Massachusetts, and Meiling is up for a promotion at her job in New York! We are tentatively planning to gather here for Christmas this year if things are better and travel is possible, but we all realize it may not happen, and we’ll have to postpone any reunion until next year.

How was your Fourth of July holiday? We got together with our neighbors and another couple yesterday evening for a barbecue, with Cary the chef manning the grill, and then did fireworks out in front of the house afterwards. We supplied the dessert, a peach cobbler and ice cream.

That’s a wrap for my two weeks away! I hope the past couple of weeks have provided lots of good things for you all, including good books and good food, and that you accomplished a lot and are looking forward to the week coming up.

Technical Issues

I am going to be taking the next ten or so days off from blogging (and many other computer-related activities) while I wait for a new laptop to arrive from Apple. Beginning last Saturday, I started having multiple issues with my current Macbook, such as it shutting down for no reason and also refusing to start up at times. At one point on Sunday it took nine tries to get it to boot up, and this morning it finally flat out refused to start. YaYu spent well over an hour with Apple Help on Sunday trying to resolve the issues, but the end result was the recommendation I take it to the Genius Bar. 

There’s no Genius Bar on Kaua’i, just a small Apple retail store that sends Macs somewhere off island for repairs. After some discussion about the best way forward, Brett went ahead and ordered a new Macbook Air for me. It is scheduled to arrive at the end of next week, between July 1st and the 3rd. YaYu is already excited about setting up the new arrival, but she has been an invaluable help in keeping this one going as long as possible so we could get as much as possible off of it before it died.

Blogging on my phone doesn’t work for me, but I can answer comments. I’ll be back in a short while, as soon as everything is set up again. Thanks for understanding!

Sunday Morning 6/21/2020: Father’s Day!

The last pretty sunset this past week was on Monday.

Here’s wishing all the dads, both those with us and those in our hearts, a happy Father’s Day! YaYu got up this morning and is baking two kinds of scones for Brett’s breakfast: cranberry-white chocolate and blueberry, and I’m fixing a special seafood dinner tonight of panko-crusted fish (a gift from our downstairs neighbor, who goes fishing every evening), jasmine rice, and coleslaw with miso dressing. YaYu and I are also baking him a triple chocolate cake topped with ganache. She and I went together on his gift: Two bottles of gin, Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray Rangpur, and two four-packs of Fever-Tree elderflower tonic, which we found at a local market. Brett enjoyed it when we were in England, so this was a no-brainer once we had decided to give him gin. We were also going to give him a Day of Doing Nothing, but he was up ahead of both of us and already doing things. Meiling and WenYu sent him a box of fancy biscotti but unfortunately, it won’t arrive until next week.

Father’s Day libations! We now are pretty well set for G&Ts for the next several months.

This week started out with great promise and then sort of went downhill from there. We drove down to the Barking Sands base on Monday and enjoyed having the entire beach to ourselves for over two hours. Brett stopped at the exchange on the way in and purchased the beach chair of his dreams, complete with a side table for his drink and book, and all of us took long walks in the sand (did you know that walking in sand increases the calories burned by anywhere from 20% to 50%? I do now!). On Tuesday we woke to high winds and rain, both of which hung around for the rest of the week, most of the time anyway (Friday and Saturday were especially miserable, although it did clear enough in the afternoon for us to walk on Tuesday and Friday). The sunsets started off nicely but then turned fairly insipid as well. I have been having a tough time reconciling the weather we’ve been having with the fact that we’re approaching the end of June! Usually, by now it is hot, sunny, and humid, but it’s been unseasonably cool instead – great for sleeping, but less than ideal for going out.

YaYu has been out pounding the pavement this past week looking for a job, even if it’s only a for minimum wage. She is bored hanging out at home all the time, and would like to earn something this summer to contribute to her upcoming college expenses – that bill is coming up in a couple of weeks. She went to a job fair on Wednesday and then visited several other places on Thursday asking if they were hiring. Nothing has turned up so far, but there are jobs available and she plans to go out again this week.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading The Daughters of ErieTown, by Connie Schultz, although I’m almost finished. It’s very good, very well written, but not really my style. Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour, by Lynne Olson, came off of hold at the library yesterday and was downloaded – I am eager to get started on it.
  • Listening to: Brett is rustling around in the kitchen making coffee, while YaYu is anxiously awaiting her turn to get in there to make scones. Since it’s not raining, there are lots of birds singing in the trees outside, but one noisy rooster is trying to get into the act as well. While we have woken up to wild winds the past few mornings, this morning’s gentle breeze through the trees this morning is a nice (and less noisy) change.
  • Watching: Same old, same old again this past week, but we finished Line of Duty and Dead to Me and started Ozark. We haven’t watched enough to have much of an opinion, but so far it’s got our attention.
  • Cooking: Fish dinner tonight, and then we’ll be having Snake Alley noodles (although we’re all having it with zoodles instead of pasta), California roll salad, Vietnamese-style salad rolls, chicken tacos, Instant Pot mushroom risotto, and beef Polish sausages with a three-bean salad during the rest of the week.

Things I saw on our walks this week.

  • Happy I accomplished last week: In spite of the not-very-good weather, we got in five days of good walks. I also finished up my first set of tracking cards, and got every day filled in – those five weeks went by quickly. My next five weeks’ set is ready to go!
  • Looking forward to next week: Hopefully, I will finally be getting my new glasses! I called this past week to see what was up, and was told “they didn’t pass the final inspection” but I think that really meant they forgot to send in the order – oops! Packages are due from Etsy as well – our seat cushions as well as some handmade pottery salad bowls I almost forgot I ordered, but I checked the tracking information and both are moving through the system very slowly. Fingers are crossed that we get another couple of beach days this coming week!
    K’s first harvest of green beans from her garden!
    M & C checking whose hair is longer. M hasn’t shaved or gotten his hair cut since he started working from home in February.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I have short (very short) hair again and that is a very good thing! I did love wearing my hair longer and curlier earlier in the year, but it’s a style that does not work for me here (an understatement). We had a long video call with our son and family on Friday. Boy, have the grandkids grown in the last few months! K chatted right along with us in English too. She attends a nearby international school where she speaks English full time, and that has made all the difference. We miss them all terribly. I bought yet another Oxo hand-held spiralizer, our fourth, found on sale for a ridiculously low price at Macy’s. I thought our third one was the charm, but no, we left it in the cupboard back in Japan.
    This one is not leaving the apartment.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not a particularly frugal week. Not a crazy week, but we spent more than usual (haircut, spiralizer, beach chair, Father’s Day gifts). We put $10.74 into the change/$1 bill fund (recycling week). We didn’t throw away any food, and all the leftovers were eaten. I earned an additional 565 Swagbucks.
  • Grateful for: I’ve said it before, but I am continually grateful for the companionship and help of my partner-in-crime, best friend, and the love of my life, Brett. Beyond being thankful for his daily help at home, and his willingness to do many of the tasks that I dislike or don’t feel like doing, he has been and is a wonderful, loving, involved father with our children, rising above his own less than ideal upbringing. He has always made sure we have what we need, and has been the steady hand on the tiller through all the ups and downs we faced over the years. 
  • Bonus question: Do you have, or have you ever had a nickname? When I was very little I was called Laurie, but apparently, when I was three years old someone called me “Laurie” and I announced my name was Laura, not Laurie, and I’ve been Laura ever since, with two exceptions. One of my high school math teachers was a good friend of my mom (she was also a math teacher) – he had known me since I was little and still called me Laurie; I let it slide. My childhood next-door neighbor always called me “LR.” I was sort of afraid of her, so I let that one go as well. My older brother and sister had nicknames for me, but I don’t acknowledge either of those anymore. My brother’s nickname started out as a putdown and I’ve always disliked it, and I am no longer am close with my sister so that doesn’t get used either.

Kaua’i recorded its first active case of Covid-19 in nearly two months this past week. There has been an uptick in new cases in the state as inter-island travel has reopened, but almost everyone here continues to practice social distancing, mask-wearing, and so forth. A few more visitors seem to be coming to the islands these days as well, and we have seen a few people out and about without masks and assume they are visitors. Most venues however have someone there to remind people to wear a mask, places like stores or farmers’ markets. Fifty-seven percent of the households on Kaua’i now have someone who has lost a job because of the virus, and it is affecting the overall mental health of island residents, especially as businesses are only slowly reopening here, and the visitor quarantine has been extended until the end of July. Our upstairs neighbors returned from the mainland this past week and both are worried that they will soon be laid off permanently; both are already applying for jobs back on the mainland. They are currently under quarantine here, getting regular, but unscheduled visits from the police or National Guard to make sure they are staying home. As with many places, things are currently stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Open the state and there’s a high risk of a catastrophic infection rate, overwhelming the islands’ health care system. Stay closed and the state’s economy craters, maybe beyond ever reviving again.

Once again, that’s all for this week! I hope it was a good one for everyone, with good weather, good food, good books, and lots of good things happening. Happy Father’s Day as well to all who are celebrating today, and here’s to a good week coming up!

Not a Poodle

bigstock-Standard-Poodle-7733433-Bigstock-Danielkz

(I’m still no longer trying to be a poodle, but I continue to find the message of the video below inspirational. I want to lose weight (again) because I want to feel better, and that’s all. I have accepted I will never be thin, but in spite of my average height I have a very small frame, and carrying around 25 extra pounds gets difficult, and can be painful at times, hence the doctor’s recommendation. This was originally posted on April 25, 2016.)

This past December, as Brett, the girls, and I were heading out to dinner with our son and his family, I made my usual obligatory remarks about my weight, that I had gained too much, that I was changing shape again, yada, yada, yada. The girls replied, “Mom. Stop trying to be a poodle.”

A what?

A poodle. Why, they asked, was I trying or wanting to become a poodle all of the time? We don’t expect dogs to change their breed’s characteristics, even though they’re all dogs, so why do we expect to be able to change our own?

I was not born to be tall or lean. I do not have long legs or slim hips and have always erred on the side of being overweight. I have small, wide feet. I have thinnish curly hair that grayed prematurely. I have blue eyes, fair skin with freckles, and I sunburn easily. Why couldn’t I be happy with who I am? the girls asked. They thought I looked terrific, and Brett agreed with them.

When we got home that night, WenYu shared the following video with me. She had used it as part of a presentation she gave on body image, and women’s seemingly unceasing need to make ourselves over into something we are not, pushed along by both science and society.

The video was a genuine attitude-changer for me and has helped me look at myself in a whole new light. I eat a wide variety of healthy foods, limit my alcohol intake, and get enough exercise. I am not obese. I am in good health, both physically and mentally. I have a loving family and good friends and am living where and how I want, with little to no stress. And that should be good enough.

It is these days. No more diet plans, no more scales, no more worrying about my size. It’s been positively freeing. I am not a poodle, I don’t want to be a poodle, and I am not trying to be a poodle anymore.

Recently, there’s also been some icing on the metaphorical cake (so to speak). Scientists now think that being overweight, or slightly obese, can actually protect your health.

Staying Healthy: New Rules

I’m grateful for views like these – they make walking a joy these days!

I had a great visit with my new doctor last week. She spent quite a bit of time with me going over my three biggest health concerns: my continuing stomach issues, beginning osteoporosis, and my weight. Together we came up with plans for managing all three, meaning some big changes in how I do things going forward.

I’m basically in very good shape for my age (68). My blood pressure and other vital signs are right where they need to be; my blood pressure is low. I am overweight though, and although my stomach issues have improved they are not doing as well as I would like. I am doing the right things to manage my beginning osteoporosis, but the doctor added a couple more things I can do so that the condition doesn’t deteriorate further.

Here are the new rules:

Weight

  • Aim to lose 25 pounds . . . again. Sigh. This is going to be the most difficult thing to accomplish of all the things the doctor and I talked about, but I am going to give it my all. Since losing weight takes forever these days, my goal is to reach my new weight by the time YaYu graduates in 2022.
  • Take in no more than 1200 calories a day, and pay more attention to the macros (carbs, protein, fat, etc.). I was previously eating around 1500/day (or a bit more), so I’m having to find ways to eliminate those extra 300 or so calories. I signed up (again) with MyFitnessPal – it’s free and does a great job of tracking everything.
  • Drink lots of water. I am already doing this, so easy-peasy. 
  • Walk at least two miles five days a week. We’re already doing this as well.

Osteoporosis

  • Add calcium, at least 1200 mg additional a day. I am making sure to take at least two Tums/day – each tablet has 650 mg.
  • Continue to take a Vitamin D supplement along with my daily vitamin. Even in sunny Hawaii, I need the extra now for bone strength.
  • Add a strength training routine to my day, and carry weights when I walk.
  • Continue taking medication to help increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. For some reason, taking this weekly pill is a real pain for me but it matters.

Stomach issues

  • I have developed a highly acidic stomach for some reason and probably also have a hiatal hernia. Keeping a food diary will help me figure out what foods seem to increase the production of acid (cookies, crackers, chocolate, and wine all seem to be triggers right now, for example).
  • Cut back coffee (half-caff at that) to one cup a day. SOB!!
  • Add a daily probiotic and prebiotic in order to regulate my gut flora.
  • Work to reduce my current prescription acid blocker through diet change to “as needed” rather than taking it twice a day.
  • GIVE UP DIET COKE COMPLETELY! Nooooooooo! I almost cried when she said I had to do this. I currently only have one can a day, in the morning, but it now has to go completely. We still have one and a half cases on hand and she said we could use those up (Brett is helping) but then NO MORE. She also noted that getting rid of it should also help me lose weight. I am heartbroken. I love Diet Coke (and am probably addicted to it) – it’s been my only “vice.”

So far MyFitnessPal is working well, and although I don’t enjoy planning in advance everything I’m going to eat every day, it does a very good job of helping me track not only calories but those macros as well. I just ordered a set of hand weights from Amazon and will start with one pound in each hand, increasing the weight as soon as they no longer provide resistance. The pre- and probiotics already seem to be making a difference, so I am happy with that, and I’ve gotten the acid blocker down to one almost every day, taking it in the evening before bed. My daughter-in-law is sending me a case of mugicha (roasted barley tea) tea bags from Japan – it will make a decent substitute for Diet Coke, and contains beneficial minerals, but no caffeine nor calories.

Grower older is no tea party, but I am determined to not only stay healthy but improve my health. Brett and I plan to travel again and we want to be in the best shape possible when we set out again. Coming back to Kaua’i was a good move for us in that respect – it’s easier for us to exercise year-round, we eat better here, especially adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, and our health just seems to improve overall. 

So . . . onward, new rules and all!

Sunday Morning 6/14/2020: Stormy Weather

Nothing spectacular, but we still had several satisfying sunsets this week in spite of the weather.

This past week was not one for going to the beach. There’s been rain, high winds, lots of clouds, and cool temperatures. It’s been hard at times to believe it’s June. On the plus side, we’ve been enjoying the cool breezes flowing through the house (such a change from where we lived before) and walking has been more pleasant in the cooler temperatures. We only got rained out of a walk once this past week, but otherwise have managed to fit them, sometimes between downpours. The Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course has turned out to be a great walking venue, and we’ve met many nice people there and are already being recognized as “regulars.”

YaYu learned this past week that her college will re-open in the fall, but with several changes to ensure student safety. Some students will continue distance learning, and student arrivals to the campus will be staggered so that they and their families will be able to stay distanced from others while students move in. Mealtimes in the dining halls will also be staggered to allow for social distancing, and classes will be spread out longer during the day to avoid crowding. Along with handwashing, masks will be required at all times, and every student will be required to maintain a contact journal. Even with all the new restrictions and some fear, YaYu is excited about going back. She is now eligible for a private dorm room and has her fingers crossed that happens, but most of all she wants to be with her friends again, and learn in a real classroom. She understands that all the above may not happen depending on conditions at the time, but for now, we are all hopeful things work out. The term has also been shortened – fall break will be eliminated, and instead of returning home close to Christmas, she will instead be back here right before Thanksgiving.

Several things that were supposed to arrive this week didn’t, like my new glasses, and the chair cushions I ordered. I noticed on Etsy that the order for the cushions didn’t actually occur until nine days after I was charged for the goods and wasn’t sure if that was normal or not since I have never ordered anything through Etsy before (love to look though!). I wrote to the store owner and she got right back to me to apologize and let me know she had gotten snowed under but was finishing my order and it will be shipped on Tuesday. Yeah! Anyway, I’m especially hoping my new glasses are ready this week – I need them!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: The new book from Connie Shultz, The Daughters of Erietown, arrived in my Kindle this week, but I’m still reading Just Mercy, although I’m getting to close to the end. It’s a gutting read and completely lays bare how the justice system (actually lack of justice) works for black versus white citizens in this country, as well as other marginalized people. I finished The Prisoner of Azkaban earlier in the week, and after I finished decided to go back to reading one book at a time versus two, even if it means I don’t reach my goal of 52 books this year (then again, is anything in 2020 turning out the way we thought it would?).
  • Listening to: The wind has died down some – last night it was wild – but it’s still a very cool morning and softer breezes are moving through the house. It’s quiet outside too – I can hear the birds singing this morning (I hadn’t been able to hear them all week because of the wind). YaYu is sleeping, and Brett is reading, so it’s still quiet inside. I was hoping for blue skies, but the sky is mostly filled with clouds so I’m not entirely sure how the day is going to go other than we’ll get out for a walk in the late afternoon.
  • Watching: No changes from last week – Brett and I have two more seasons of Line of Duty to go (they’re only six episodes each though) and YaYu and I are finishing up the second season of Dead to Me.
  • Cooking: YaYu has been baking to keep busy these days –  this past week she made some fantastic focaccia bread and on another day a batch of tasty pizza bites. She is excited to try making no-knead artisan bread, but we have to wait for our stored items to arrive in order to have a pan for baking it. In the meantime, she says she’s going to try a chocolate cake. I’ve gone back to cooking in the evening, most of the time anyway. Tonight I’m fixing carnitas in the Instant Pot, which will be used to make burritos. I’m going to make a few extra as well to freeze for later meals. This week we’ll also be having a chili relleno casserole along with leftover carnitas; pork & pepper stir fry, chili shrimp, potstickers, and rice; Instant Pot butter chicken with basmati rice (I am super excited to try this!); chicken adobo with bok choy; and stuffed peppers.
    The surf was rough on the east side from all the big winds this past week.
  • Happy I accomplished: We’ve taken advantage of the weather to get lots of reading done, and other chores around the apartment. We did manage to get out and walk every day except for one, including one walk on the eastside beach path. One day we literally closed the car doors to come home just as the rain started coming down in torrents! I got everything else filled in on my weekly tracking card. We ended up doing our food shopping on Thursday – we had been planning to go this coming week but ran out of too many things. I wish we could do “big shops” again, but we no longer have room to store much, especially in the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Looking forward to next week: I am getting my hair cut on Wednesday! Finally! Otherwise, there’s nothing special on the calendar, but we’re hoping the weather will improve so we can get back to the beach a couple of times. 
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu finding out she will be able to return to school in the fall was very good news. We love having her with us, but we know it’s difficult for her here with no job (although she’s always looking) and nothing much else to do. We’re of course worried about her possibly contracting the coronavirus, but weighed against everything it’s better for her to be there than here (for now, anyway). In other good news (for us), karma showed up for our former landlord and he lost in court this past week – big time. He had pulled the same stunts on the tenants who lived in the house after us as he had with us, and wouldn’t return their deposit claiming they damaged everything, so they sued him in small claims and not only got their entire deposit back ($2400) but also an additional $700 for the hassle he put them through and all court costs! The house is now also registered with the county as a commercial property, but because he had been claiming it as a personal residence versus a rental property he will owe years of back taxes (county tax rates are different for residences and rentals).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a no-spend week except for our trip to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, where we spent just $19, and our food shopping on Thursday. We put $270.70 into our travel account (phone payment from WenYu and credit card reward), and $1 into the change/$1 bill jar. I earned 623 Swagbucks last week, and am now nearly halfway to earning my first $100 Southwest Airlines gift card.
    Kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, bananas, zucchini, fresh basil: every week we fill our shopping basket with freshly harvested local produce for less than $20.
  • Grateful for: I am thankful for the wonderful abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available each week at the farmers market, and how affordable they are. I think if I had had to pick the one thing I missed most about Kaua’i while we traveled, it would have been the ease of acquiring great produce, the huge variety available, and how many more fruits and vegetables we ate because of those things.
  • Bonus question: Do you enjoy gardening? Sadly, no. I have had gardens, great ones, but my work and enjoyment of them has been minimal. Growing up, my Dad always made gardening pure drudgery for me (and my siblings, as far I could tell). We pulled all the weeds (he didn’t), hoed furrows for planting (he didn’t, but complained if they weren’t right), and were assigned mundane, boring tasks like pulling leaves out of decorative wood chips. Choosing which plants to grow, watering, harvesting, etc., were all jobs reserved for adults only. Anyway, I came to intensely dislike anything having to do with outdoor gardening and refused to learn more about it once I was on my own and could have had fun with it, cutting off my own nose to spite my face, in other words. These days both Brett and I especially appreciate having someone come and do cleanup and other garden chores (it’s included in our rent). I always think our yard here looks great, but after it gets a “manicure” I can’t get over how much better it looks.

It took a bit of research to figure out this variety of palm trees. They line the road to the clubhouse at the Kukuiolono golf course.

As much as I dislike gardening and working outside, I do love plants and learning more about them. Thankfully, Hawaii has an abundance of interesting plants, many new to us, to keep us busy for a long time. For example, in the past couple of weeks, I became a bit obsessed with the variety of palms that line part of our walk in the golf course, and after some research, I figured out they are mature bottle palms (because of the sort of bulbous nature of their trunks). I’m still on the hunt for more hibiscus varieties, and I also want to know more about these pine trees that fill a wooded area we walk through on the golf course – their soft needles cushion the path. Thinking about plants also makes me remember my mother as well – she was a botany major and would have loved the great variety of plants and flowers here as much if not more than I do (I don’t think she ever came to Hawaii though).

My new mission is to learn more about this wispy pine tree. It’s found all over the island, but I don’t know what it’s called, and I’d like to know where it came from and when.

That’s all for this week! I apologize for the lack of hibiscus pictures, but I sadly didn’t spot anything new this week. I hope you all had a great week, with great weather, that lots of good things happened for you, and that you’re looking forward to the week that’s coming up.