Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (11/7 – 11/13)

I came across a great article this past week written by the daughter of a woman raised in France but now working and living in England. She gave five lifestyle choices employed by the French as the reason so many French remain slim in spite of eating lots of high fat and high calorie foods, and it turns out two of them are ones we (unknowingly) started using last year: we’ve cut back on snacking and we practice mindful drinking and eating. Those were two things we paid absolutely no attention to last time we traveled. We wanted to try everything, from fresh croissants in France to small-batch gin in England to Italian cookies, and we tried them all . . . every day, and with abandon. Although we walked a lot, it was not enough to overcome the huge number of calories we were taking in. As someone once wrote, “if you are eating two croissants a day, it doesn’t matter how much you walk . . . you will gain weight.” We were consuming the calorie equivalent of far, far more than two croissants each day.

That does not mean we will not be enjoying fresh croissants, cheese, and wine in France, or having biscuits (cookies), scones with cream and jam, or gin in England. We most definitely will be having those things! Plenty of them, in fact. But, they will be enjoyed in smaller doses, (mostly) planned before eating, and definitely not consumed every day. We’ve hopefully learned our lesson this time. These days snacks are limited to once or maybe twice a day, portions for everything we eat are measured, and calories are recorded.

We missed our Friday evening cheese board this past week, but since both of our stomachs felt better for not eating so much cheese at one sitting we’re only going to only have them occasionally going forward. There’s no way we’re giving up cheese, but we have come to realize maybe we can no longer eat and enjoy cheese with the abandon we once did.

Sunday: Grilled vegetarian cheeseburgers (with brie for Brett, Irish cheddar for me); onion rings

Monday: Vegetable spring rolls; vegetable fried rice

Tuesday: Tofu patties; leftover fried rice; namasu

Wednesday: Pasta with marinara; roasted peppers

Thursday: Mini pizzas with roasted peppers

Friday: Chili shrimp; steamed rice; namasu

Saturday: Butternut squash ravioli with pesto; roasted cauliflower

We had cream puffs on Tuesday, finished our big apple pie on Wednesday, enjoyed campfire s’mores on Friday, and are now having a very small but satisfying slice of key lime pie each evening. We’re Big Shopping tomorrow but have no idea yet what we’ll find or want to buy for our next round of desserts.

There’s nothing new on the menu this week; we’re mostly eating what we already have in the freezer as we need to make room for all the meat we’ll be buying before the end of the month.

  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • Vegan mabo tofu
  • Soup with toasted cheese sandwich
  • Vegan corn dogs
  • Chick’n tikka masala mini pizzas
  • Vegetable yakisoba
  • Curry with tofu & vegetables

Last week was a great one for walking. We were at the park every day from Monday through Saturday, covering over four miles most days and over five miles out of a couple of those. Walking on the paths again is frankly not as enjoyable as walking out on the golf course, but we are moving at a quicker pace and getting in more hill climbs so know it’s better exercise. We got in over 10,000 steps on the two 5+ mile days, and were close (over 9,500) the other four. We even found a few golf balls last week, five of them on two different days. All of them were just sitting there beside the paths, and four of the five were in mint condition. They’ll be added to the boxes we’re currently selling.

Palm trees, sunshine, and blue skies: my favorite view when we walk out to the pavilion

Brett just had his annual cholesterol check and his levels are his best ever, thanks we think to our vegetarian/vegan diet and exercise. I can only hope mine will be as good when they’re tested next year. My weight is still right where I want it to be, although maybe with our once again increased amount of exercise I can drop a couple more pounds. As I wrote above, our greatest fear as we travel is that we will get lazy and start gaining weight again. We’re already talking about steps we need to take, signs we need to look out for, and things we need to stay away from so that we maintain the current shape we’re in.

Sunday Morning 11/14/2021: Sell, Save, Spend

The gloaming last Thursday evening. Gloaming is a poetic word for “twilight,” or the time of day immediately after the sun sets . . . a word with a strong Scottish heritage, adopted from Scottish dialect during the Middle Ages.

Good Morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Brett and I have been planning to spend our last week on Kaua’i living in one of the beach cottages at Barking Sands. Those plans got dashed this past week when Brett called to make reservations and learned the first available opening is May 16! We’ll be back in Pennsylvania then, and getting ready to depart for France! We discussed whether we should book a hotel here for our last week, or ask our landlord if we can pay a pro-rated daily amount and continue to camp in our empty apartment for our last few days on the island. A hotel stay, we know, would be expensive but give us a chance to decompress as we take care of last minute business on the island. Staying in the apartment would definitely save a lot of money but it would also be very uncomfortable, tiring, and most likely depressing. After finally deciding we really did not want to live here with just an air mattress, I started searching and found an affordable studio rental at the same complex in Princeville where we stayed when we arrived in 2020, and booked that. We’ll have a comfortable bed, a TV, and a small kitchenette for meals, all for less than a hotel, plus a somewhat poetic bookend to our two years on Kaua’i.

We still are a bit worried about a car for our last few days here, something that’s a whole different thing than it was before. Renting a car on Kaua’i is outrageously expensive these days, and costs are w-a-y outside of our budget. A 10-day economy car rental now is nearly $1100 where when we left in 2018 it was only around $400. We plan to sell our car mid-April of next year, but it looks like we will have to ask if we can continue to use it until we depart (which happens frequently here), or at least until we move up to Princeville. Friends have offered us the use of one of their cars, and it looks like we may have to take them up on their offer.

COVID cases are on the rise again in Europe, and experts are predicting another hard winter there. Much of the increase, it seems, is attributed to children not being vaccinated – COVID seems to be spreading like wildfire through schools, and then children bring it home as well or pass on to other family members. Also, some countries apparently let down their guards too early (Denmark and Austria, for example), even with high vaccination rates. Europe has much higher numbers for vaccinations than we do in the U.S., so we’re probably going to have an equally bad winter here, even with children now being vaccinated. Hopefully things will be better next spring, although we’ve read that as long as we’re vaccinated and have received the booster we will be good to go. Mask-wearing will most likely need to continue all the way through 2022 according to experts as COVID is not going away, at least for the time being. Daily COVID deaths continue in Hawaii; there were on two on Kauai this past week. Another person I know of who had been adamantly opposed to getting the vaccine and mask wearing, and has touted her “natural immunity” over and over, was diagnosed with COVID this past week (“it’s just a cold!”), got the ($$$$) antibody infusion, and is now grateful the government paid for it. If you haven’t already, please get vaccinated!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading both The Brutal Telling and Truth Be Told, but am almost finished with both. A Slow Fire Burning by Paul Hawkins came off of hold this week, was downloaded, and is ready to be read next. I also put four new (to me) mysteries on hold at the library, all having been recommended by Ian Rankin. I’m not sure if they’ll be available before the end of the year, but they’ll get read whenever they show up.
  • Listening to: There is currently not a leaf stirring outside and it’s humid. But, it’s still coolish, there are birds singing (some loudly), and I can see bits of blue sky peeking through the clouds in a few places, so who knows what’s going on out there today? It’s mostly lovely and quiet inside though. Our upstairs neighbor has turned into a clomper though. He was quiet when he moved in but these days stomps around upstairs with abandon. He currently has houseguests and we can barely tell they’re there, but with him it’s been thump, thump, thump all morning.
  • Watching: We finished Billions on Thursday evening (with a fitting ending for my least favorite TV character EVER), watched Inspector Morse and the Great British Bake Off on Friday, and went back to watching Squid Game yesterday. We’re down to the semi-finals on the GBBO, and almost done with Inspector Morse – just four episodes to go. After we finish we’ll start Ted Lasso. A new season of the Shetland series also became available this past week, with a new episode available weekly we watched the first one on Friday evening as well and will continue that each week until it’s done. Television is an embarrassment of riches these days.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We got seven boxes of golf balls sorted and listed, and sold two boxes right away. We know it will take a few weeks to get them all sold though, Our Big Shop list for next week is completed so we’re ready to go. Making a shopping list is beginning to get a tiny bit complicated though as we are trying to fit in things we’ll need when the girls are here but space is limited so we have to be careful what we buy, and when. We’re also trying to figure out the things we don’t need to buy at Costco any more, like laundry detergent. I got both my shingles vaccination and flu shot ordered, forms are filled out, and can hopefully get them done this week.
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) Our mid-month Big Shop is happening on Tuesday. We’ll get a few last things for the girls and then we’re done with their Christmas shopping. I almost can’t believe that Meiling and WenYu will arrive in a month from Tuesday, and YaYu the day after! 2) I have my semi-annual eye exam on Thursday and will be choosing new frames for the coming year. Fingers are already crossed that everything else is okay with my eyes. 3) Something we’re not looking forward to is the drive to both Costco and the eye doctor (and back home) because of road work going on between where we live and Puhi, where Costco and the eye doctor are located causing one-lane traffic for miles. We’re going to have to give ourselves at least an hour, if not more, to make the commute each way. 4) I think I am looking forward to finally getting my shingles and flu vaccines done, although I know the shingles one is going to be painful. 5) Brett and I studied French every day for 20 minutes. We’re not struggling . . . yet, but already has been challenging for us at times.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We got news this week from our vision insurance plan that we will have fewer co-pays coming up, and that our vision care will now be covered overseas! We’ll have to pay upfront for exams, lenses, frames, etc. but we will reimbursed for some of the cost. That means we have the trifecta though: health, dental, and vision insurance while we’re living on the road – yeah! 2) One of the hashioki I sold this past week actually completed a set for the buyer. The buyer had the same design in four other colors but was missing the yellow one I had. I’m still amazed at the odds of my having the missing piece to the set in my shop and her discovering it. 3) Although we didn’t make it to the beach last week as hoped, we did enjoy a lovely evening out by the fire pit on Friday – we ate dinner outside (the fire kept the bugs away), made s’mores for dessert, and enjoyed some nice weather and good conversation.
I waited a long time to get this top, but the wait was worth it.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I had desired and watched a certain 3/4-sleeve knit top for several months on the J. Jill site, patiently waiting for it to go on sale. However, when it finally did go on sale at the end of last month it wasn’t available in my size – sob! Last week though my size popped up again along with an additional 40% off the sale price, making it extremely affordable even with shipping and tax, and the top was ordered. I’m so happy I both waited and was able to catch it when I did as it is now completely sold out in every size. I’ll have to wait a few weeks for it to arrive though – J. Jill shipping is the absolute slowest when it comes to getting things over to Kaua’i. Anyway, other than ordering boots from Duckfeet in January, that’s it for clothing for me. 2) We bought gas for the car this week, picked up some wrapping supplies and a key lime pie at Target using our grand-opening coupon, and bought a container of Japanese namasu salad at Times supermarket. $12.46 went into the change/$1 bill bag. 3) Another $5 grand-opening Target coupon showed up in our mailbox to use later and we also somehow received three coupons for $10 off if we spend $50 or more at Safeway. It’s extremely easy to spend $50 at Safeway here, and the discount will be a big help when we purchase meat and a few other things we need for the girls’ visit in December. 4) All the leftovers were eaten, but we had to throw out an entire loaf of (expensive) Dave’s 21-Grain bread that went moldy. That was painful.
  • Adding up all the things that were sold last week: It started out as a slow week on Etsy with only two hashioki sold. But, I woke up on Saturday to a big order of seven items that included hashioki and some other things, and we sold two boxes of golf balls. eBay also finally released funds for items we sold a few weeks ago, so a total of $343.27 is going into our travel account tomorrow.
  • Grateful for: I am thankful for the income that my Etsy shop and other things have been consistently providing for our upcoming travels. Some weeks are better than others, but something always gets sold and there’s always money getting deposited into the travel account. Sometimes I worry (a lot) that we won’t be able to sell some things, or I get frustrated with the process here, but I remember that last time everything we wanted to sell eventually did, and remind myself it will happen again this time as well.
  • Bonus question: Do you play games on your phone? Yes, every day! Right now my #1 favorite game is Match Triple 3D. On my old phone the screen was so small that I could never get very far because I couldn’t see the little objects to north them out, but I can now see them more easily and have gotten much further along than ever before. It’s a very addicting game. I love word games and sudoku puzzles as well, and play a game called 7 Little Words every day, which I enjoy because I have to think carefully about meanings, synonyms, and how different words can be used in English before I can assemble them. I play Sudoku at the “evil” level which is always challenging, but if I’m patient I can usually solve the puzzle. Sudoku requires lots of logical thinking which I figure is good for my brain. Brett doesn’t play any games and has no interest in any of them, not even solitaire!

It’s almost hard for me to believe, but next month will the last for putting funds away for YaYu’s college expenses – she will make her final payment to the college the first week of January. After that she, like her siblings, is on her own (financially) except for her return ticket back to college, which we’ll purchase for her in January when she has a better idea of when she wants/needs to go back. This is a huge milestone for us – four kids raised and put through college, three graduating with no or very, very little debt (our son paid off his debt, both college and law school, within a year of graduation). All four have their feet firmly planted and are thriving, from our son in Japan to YaYu, who will be continuing on to grad school to earn a Ph.D. Meiling and YaYu are both working at jobs they enjoy and supporting themselves, and are in happy relationships. Over the years, we’ve been told how lucky our kids are, especially the girls, but Brett and I have always felt we are the lucky ones, to have had the privilege of parenting four such great kids. It hasn’t always been easy (a couple of times it’s been downright terrifying) but it’s the best and most satisfying thing we’ve ever done.

That’s it for another good week. I’m looking forward and hopefully ready for whatever comes next and hope everyone is as well. Cheers!

What We’re Not Getting Rid Of

Last week I went through the house, opened cupboards and drawers, took inventory and made a list of the things we plan to keep and store with one of our daughters when we depart Kaua’i. Compared to our last departure, the number of things we keeping is quite small, and everything can and will be sent through the mail.

I’ve collected pottery since before Brett and I got married, and each piece gets used regularly. Some of the pottery items are big (and heavy) and will be mailed in their own boxes, others are smaller and can be grouped and mailed together. The Japanese items, other than the sake jug lamp, are all small items this time around. Most of the art will come out of their frames for shipment and be reframed whenever we settle. None of it is valuable to anyone but us (the valuable art pieces have either already been sold or are going home with the girls in December).

The miscellaneous items are just that: miscellaneous. They’re mostly kitchen items we love and will be happy to see again, and they run the gamut from the stainless cutlery we’ve had for nearly thirty years to an inexpensive melamine coffee tray from IKEA. My 30-year-old, 14-piece All Clad cookware set did not make the cut – too expensive to ship and easy to replace – it will be sold after the first of the year.

The list below is not set in stone . . . yet. Although there is a good possibility of items being deleted in the next few months, it’s very unlikely anything will be added – we’re pretty good at talking ourselves out of making the lists any longer. For the time being we’re feeling committed to the lists as they are now.

All the pottery

Pottery

  • Vase
  • Gray & blue platter
  • Large green & gray bowl
  • Coffee mug
  • Blue-green bowl
  • Pie dish
  • Three small to medium serving bowls
  • Five rice bowls
  • Three pasta plates/salad bowls
  • Three rectangular plates
  • Cream pitcher & sugar bowl
  • Blue & white tea bowl
  • Haniwa horse
  • Pitcher
Not fine art, but most treasured: silhouette of our son, age five, made by his kindergarten teacher, and B&W photo of the girls done one month after YaYu joined our family.

Art

  • Japanese train & subway map
  • Antique Japanese fabric banner
  • Three antique Japanese book prints
  • Antique 19th century Japanese woodblock print
  • Small watercolor of Hong Kong harbor
  • Gyotaku (fish print) I made
  • Black & white photograph of the girls
  • Silhouette of our son, age five
The sake jug lamp and some of the Japanese things we’re keeping. Other than the lamp, all the other items will fit into one large flat-rate box for shipment.

Japanese things

  • Porcelain sake jug lamp (without the lampshade)
  • Cranes & waves jubako
  • 5 Japanese bells
  • 3 hashioki
  • Japan provinces tea cup/Brett’s O-tou san (“dad”) cup
  • Blue & white small plates
  • Blue & white soba choko cups
  • Blue & white “Arabesque” rectangular plates
  • Stoneware tea cups
  • Four wood trivets
The IKEA coffee tray & trivia, and the blue ceramic coffee canister, bought in 1981 at Motomachi in Yokohama. The electric tea kettle, coffee grinder, and our Chemex coffee pot that also sit on the tray will be sold before we go.

Miscellaneous items

  • 6 Christmas ornaments & 6 wooden Santas
  • Two throw pillow covers
  • Inflatable queen mattress
  • Assorted cooking utensils
  • Stainless cutlery set
  • Shun Ken chef’s knife
  • Henkel’s bread knife
  • Henkel’s serrated utility knife
  • Blue ceramic-handled pie & cake servers
  • IKEA melamine coffee tray & silicone trivet
  • Blue porcelain coffee cannister
  • Pittock Mansion coffee mugs
  • Dash mini waffle maker

Our total estimate when we started was no more than 60 items, and the total number of items listed above is right there (with some sets counting as one item). Looking it over I think we can get it all into around 10 – 12 boxes, which will be sent back to Massachusetts for storage. Many items will be packed together and sent in flat rate boxes, but others will have to be packaged and sent individually. Outside of the sake jug lamp, the pottery will be the heaviest and most expensive to mail. Most of the art will be removed from frames and placed in padded envelopes between foam board (to prevent bending) for shipment. We think that by starting in January and sending at least one box per week everything should be on its way before we depart Kaua’i.

Every item we are keeping carries a piece of our story. It’s definitely not the whole story, but enough memories and utility for us these days. When I look at the lists above they still seems like an awful lot of stuff, and I ask myself if maybe we could trim it down some more, but for now everything has been thought about carefully and are things want to see and use again in the future. We don’t want to start our story completely from scratch whenever we settle down, and we also know having some of these things will also save us a bundle. Everything will help make wherever we live feel like “home” once again.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/31 – 11/6)

I am already dreaming about the foods we will get to eat again when we begin traveling again next year: tarte flambée, charcroute, and paté in Strasbourg; scones or cake with tea, sticky toffee pudding, and custard tarts in England; and meat pies with flaky crusts and shortbread in Scotland among other delicious items. We ate with abandon the last time we traveled and we gained a lot of weight, a whole lot of weight. We are bound and determined not to let this happen again and are already plotting strategies to keep us from overindulging and overeating as well as sticking to healthier food choices.

Some of the strategies we’ve come up so far are:

  • Continue to measure food portions and weights when possible.
  • Limit local treats to one day per week
  • Avoid bringing sweets and other high carb foods into our homes (we had a big problem with this last time)
  • Limit our dining out
  • If possible, share dishes when we dine out versus each getting our own
  • Make sure we get in a good walk every day, weather permitting

We enjoyed ourselves immensely when it came to food the last time around, but it’s taken a lot of work to lose the pounds we packed on and get ourselves back into shape. We’ve practiced more mindful eating here in Hawaii and developed new habits, and we’re hopeful these new habits will overcome the lure of so many delicious options at all the places we live and visit.

We enjoyed the chick’n and squash casserole this past week and will have it again. It was easy to make and very sastisfying – we couldn’t remember the last time we’d had a casserole. The split pea soup we had (Amay’s organic) was also very good – I don’t think I could have made it better. The meatball pizzas looked weird but were tasty.

Sunday: Chick’n and butternut squash casserole; steamed broccoli

Monday: Vegan chili dogs; coleslaw

Tuesday: Split pea soup; toasted cheese sandwiches

Wednesday: Risotto with peas; roasted butternut squash

Thursday: Plant-based meatball mini pizzas

Friday: Cheese board: Irish cheddar, Brie, Manchego, Boursin with garlic & herbs; crackers, apple, sweet pickles, marinated artichoke hearts; dried apricots

Saturday: Spanakopita; falafel; pickled cucumber & tomato salad

Dessert this past week has again been a small but satisfying slice of apple pie each evening except for last Tuesday when we ate cream puffs. Just one night of those thankfully did not cause any stomach issues.

For the first time in ages a cheese board won’t be appearing on our menu because . . . we don’t have any cheese, or at least enough for a meal, and we don’t want to go to the store (next week it’s time for a Big Shop again). We begin work in earnest this week on getting the freezer cleared out so we’ll have room for things we’ll need when the girls are here for Christmas :

  • Butternut squash ravioli with pesto
  • Vegetable spring rolls; fried rice
  • Chili shrimp
  • Tofu patties
  • Mini pizzas
  • Pasta with marinara
  • Grilled vegetarian cheeseburgers

We went back to our old walking routine last week, but it felt weird (and difficult) at first, because besides walking on pavement almost the entire time we also didn’t return to the car with our pockets full of balls. We took our last perimeter walk last Sunday but took Monday off from walking when the humidity was at 88% and it was miserable. We walked 4.2 miles on Tuesday in slightly less humidity, but it was still starting to rain by the time we got back to the car. Wednesday was lovely and we walked 4.8 miles, but it rained all day Thursday so once again no walk. We did 4.8 miles again on Friday, but only got in 2.6 on Saturday before rain showed up again. We’re off to a good start though, and this should stay our routine until we leave – the goal is to depart Kaua’i in the best shape possible!

We enjoyed walking through the woods again.

Besides feeling a bit more sore, the biggest difference this week has been the increase in calories burned. Because we’re not slowing down to look for golf balls, we’re walking at a faster sustained rate once again and using more energy. We know as we get back into it we’ll be able to do these longer distances without feeling so worn out and with less soreness. We’re also glad to be finishing our walks earlier in the day.

It’s been a long time since there have been any unique/beautiful chickens up at the park, but we’re starting to see some standouts again. We’ve named this guy “Rusty.” He’s huge, beautiful, and he knows it.

Sunday Morning 11/7/2021: It’s November Already?

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I almost can’t believe we’ve arrived in November. It felt like we flew through October with rockets on our feet, and I think this month is going to go by just as quickly if not more so. Six months from now we’ll be on our way to Pennsylvania for YaYu’s graduation, and then on our way to France. Six months!! We have lots to do before then, but if the months coming up go by as quickly as these past few have been, May is going to be here before we know it. We’re going to take break from selling our things for the next couple of months (other than golf balls), but then pick that back up in earnest in January. Anyway, I love November, especially Thanksgiving. We’ll be on our own for the holiday again this year, and haven’t even thought about what we’ll do or what we’ll eat (other than there won’t be any turkey).

The wool rug’s bespoke carton for shipment to Oahu.

All’s well that ends well, and the wool Bokhara rug is now with its new owner on Oahu. I went to pull the ad from Buy & Sell last Saturday evening and was surprised to find a request asking if it was available. I hesitated for a few moments wondering if I should even respond, but eventually hit the available button. The buyer turned out to be legitimate (owns a well-known clothing company on Oahu) and she paid upfront for the rug to be flown over to Oahu via Hawaiian Air Cargo. Although I don’t regret the sale, I think the rug may be one of the very few, if only, items we will miss as it’s been a part of our home for over 30 years. I enjoyed dealing with the buyer though and feel very, very good about where it’s going.

We were sort of expecting this past week to be a gloomy one, and while there was some rain and cloud-filled skies, we also enjoyed some absolutely lovely days with light breezes, cool (but not cold) temperatures, and more sunshine than we thought we’d get. The heavier summer air has “popped” and feels different from how it did just a couple of weeks ago, and the sun is once again setting quickly (if we blink the sunset is over) and in a slightly different direction due to the earth’s seasonal tilt. We’ve definitely moved into fall.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished Apples Don’t Fall on Wednesday, but am still reading Truth Be Told – both stories got very interesting this past week so I started reading more quickly through both. The next book in the Inspector Gamanche series, The Brutal Telling, came off hold and I began it as soon as I finished Apples Don’t Fall.
  • Listening to: I slept late this morning (until almost 11:00! Strange, but I must have needed the sleep), and woke up to strong, noisy winds blowing outside once again, and the sound of Brett making pancakes in the kitchen. The coffee was already made so I’m set, and otherwise it’s a peaceful morning.
  • Watching: We watched The Exorcist last Sunday evening for Halloween, but the movie has never scared me as much as the book did when it came out – I read the entire thing in one night because I was too frightened to put it down! We have just a few episodes of Billions left to go and will finish this week, and I think we’re over halfway through Inspector Morse, and on to the quarter-finals with The Great British Bake Off. I am officially sick to death of Bobby Axelrod on Billions though; I haven’t disliked a character so much in I don’t know how long, but appreciate Damien Lewis’s good acting. We finally found Inspector Lewis available on PBS but are planning to get back to Squid Game followed by Ted Lasso and The Morning Show first. I’ve been informed by the girls that we’ll be binging the new Dexter series when they’re here – I’m looking forward to it!
We’re off to a good start – tags & ribbon will come later. And, yeah for free paper!
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) Getting the rug sold, packaged, and shipped off to Honolulu was a big job. It took us just under an hour, but Brett and I rolled it up and created a shipping container out of a large, sturdy Amazon box we were holding on to, apparently for just this sort of thing. Hawaiian Air Cargo was very easy to deal with and the rug left Kaua’i on Thursday. 2) After finishing that errand we headed to the T-Mobile store and I got a new phone! Buying a phone these days is getting close to buying a car with all the side deals, accessories, etc. but it’s another pre-departure task taken care of. 3) We got some of the girls’ Christmas gifts wrapped, and still have plenty of paper left for more. 4) Brett and I got the last of the golf balls we found washed and somewhat sorted but there’s more to do this week before we can get them listed. We currently have nearly 1,000 golf balls sitting in our bathtub. 5) Brett and I started French lessons this past week, Brett took a test before beginning and we started further along than we thought. We’re doing 15 minutes a day and hope to have some basic skills in place before arriving in Strasbourg.
  • Looking forward to next week: We have yet another week with nothing special on our calendar. You would think the days would drag by but they don’t – between our daily walks and other things we have to take care of the time goes by quickly.
This second avocado tree is growing at a crazy pace!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) A highlight of my week was receiving a tweet back from one of my favorite authors, Ian Rankin, author of the Rebus detective novels. He tweets lovely photos of Edinburgh almost daily, and I commented on one and he wrote back! His photos make me wish we were there now (next year, Laura!). 2) I had three Etsy sales this week, always a good thing. I have sold well over one-third of my hashioki collection, much better than I ever thought it would go. 3) Our avocado tree has leaves! The “trunk” has grown like a vine this week – very different from the last one. 4) The new curl cream I bought last month really makes my hair curl! I love it.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Because my phone trade-in was more than expected, I was able to afford an iPhone 13 for less than what I had expected to pay for the 12 and with more memory. 2) Other than the phone purchase, we had a no-spend week. 3) We put $2.63 into the change/$1 bill bag (leftover from the upfront phone costs), ate all our leftovers, and didn’t throw out any food. 4) I have now earned enough in additional Swagbucks – doing just two searches a day, answering the daily poll, and playing 10 games of solitaire – for a $25 Amazon gift card. My goal is to earn another $25 before the end of next March, and then we’ll use the cards to buy books for our Kindles before we depart. 5) Rather than buying flowers, Brett cut and arranged leaves from our yard to place in our bathroom. After nearly 45 years together he can still surprise me. 6) We got a $5 coupon from Target for the grand opening; we will use it to purchase ribbon and tags for the Christmas presents.
Married nearly 43 years and Brett can still surprise me.
  • Adding up what we sold this past week: Besides the rug I sold 12 more hashioki this week. The total going into our travel account tomorrow will be $282.69.
  • Grateful for: I’m thankful for all the positive, kind, and helpful people that I dealt with last week, from the rug buyer in Honolulu to the crew at Hawaiian Air Cargo to the young man that helped me with my phone purchase. Every encounter was made easier and more pleasant because of them. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged, and wonder if kindness and professionalism has gone the way of the dial telephone, but it’s still out there if you look for it. Not everyone has a chip on their shoulder these days.
  • Bonus question: Can you describe where you grew up with four pictures of food? I had to think carefully about what choose, but the four below are definitely associated with growing up in the Los Angeles area, and were all things we ate regularly. See’s still makes the best chocolates ever, and you still get a free sample when you visit their stores. I have no idea if Van de Kamps exists any more, but their bakery items were always fantastic. One of our family’s favorite items was the half layer cake (9″ cake cut in half) – we had one for dessert about every other week, affordable but unfortunately no leftovers with our family of six (German chocolate was my favorite). Their pecan tarts were to die for. Tacos and In-n-Out were/are LA staples.

Every month. like clockwork, Delta Airlines sends Brett the same offer: 70,000 miles into his FF account if he gets a Delta American Express card and spends $2000 in the first three months (My mistake: I originally posted it was 700,000 – no way would they give that much for just $2000!! Sorry!). It’s very tempting as that is a LOT of miles , and we know we’ll have at least $2000 of expenses coming up early next year that we could put on the card and pay off immediately. However, since we plan to be outside of the U.S. for a few years, we have no way to use those miles because while Delta flies to overseas locations they do not fly between overseas locations, and the miles can’t be used to purchase fares on partner airlines. Having all those miles would be helpful if we ever have to come back to the U.S. for some reason but otherwise we don’t see ourselves needing or using them. We also don’t really need or want another credit card, so we remain tempted but undecided. I’d love to know what you all think – worth getting or not?

That’s a wrap for the first week of November 2021! It’s was a good week with lots accomplished, read, eaten, saved, and more. Here’s to all of us enjoying the week coming up – may it be another great one!

Leaving the U.S. (for a While): Positives & Negatives

Photo credit: Rob Wicks/Unsplash

When we depart for France in May of next year, we have no plans to return to the United States for at least a couple of years, and may be outside the U.S. for as long as four or five years, depending on what’s going on with our family, how we feel, and if we are continuing to enjoy full-time travel. It sounds very exciting, but we are at the beginning stages of figuring out the positives and negatives of leaving the U.S. for a long time without a permanent overseas address. We will maintain an address in Hawaii for tax and other purposes, but otherwise will have nothing left to tie us down here.

There are both positives and negatives to being full-time nomads. I’ll start by getting the negatives (so far) out of the way first:

  • We will not see our family for long stretches. While we plan to visit Japan and see our son and his family at least once a year, spending time with the girls is going to be a bit more difficult. Meiling and YaYu are able to afford to travel and have said they will try to visit us once a year in one of our locations, but it will be much harder, if not impossible, for YaYu, who will be attending grad school. We’re going to set aside a little each month so if necessary we can help with the girls’ transportation costs if they’re able and want to come and see us overseas, especially YaYu (maybe a good reason to get that Delta card and miles?).
  • Our driver’s licenses will expire during our travels. This was one of the main things that was going to keep us on Kaua’i until the end of 2022 – we just could not imagine existing without a driver’s license. Without licenses we would not be able to rent a car overseas for short road trips. However, we finally realized we lived successfully for months on end while we were traveling before without a car and were fine, and that we will be okay again with or without driver’s licenses. Will we want licenses again when we eventually return to the U.S.? After a lot of discussion the best answer we can come up with is maybe. Another problem: without having license (or a car) when we return, how would we go about getting a license again if we do want one? That has turned out to be pretty easy to overcome though. We can sign up for a day or two of practice with a driving school, then use one of their cars and insurance to take the driving test, if necessary. People do it all the time.
  • We’re still responsible for paying U.S. taxes no matter where we go. All I can say is thank goodness for online tax preparation. Brett took care of our taxes while we were on the road before and he can do it again. They were very simple while we were traveling.
  • We will be unable to vote, or at the least it will be very difficult. As two people who have always voted, in every election, this has the potential to be a big negative for us, but we’re also thinking with everything going on right now it might be time for us to be able to observe things from a distance. We’re already looking foward to being outside of the U.S. for next year’s midterm elections.

There are positives to being outside of the U.S. for a while, for us anyway:

  • We can get necessary dental work done for less overseas. We both have major dental procedures coming up that would cost us a small fortune in the U.S. At first, the thought of having to have dental work done overseas was a huge negative, but the more we’ve learned it’s turned into a positive. There are locations overseas where we can get high quality dental work done for far less than it costs in the U.S., and our dental insurance will still cover some of it. So, the big question has become, “Where should we spend some time and see the dentist? Spain? Prague? Malta?” Medical care, if necessary, will also be less expensive.
  • We will be living car free. Brett and I have dreamed about living without a car for a long, long time, but we will have a big opportunity to put it into practice and develop strategies to see if living completely car free actually works for us. We figure if we were able to live without a car in the rural Cotswolds for three months, we can adapt the skills we used then to living car free almost anywhere, although urban settings will obviously be the easiest. We know we may still end up wanting a car once back in the U.S. – that will depend on where we eventually decide to settle – but we may learn we can live without one for good.
  • We will continue to see, explore, and learn new things about the bigger world. It’s not that we wouldn’t or couldn’t learn new things if we were staying in the U.S., and it felt comfortable coming back to the U.S. after being outside of it for several months, but this time around we are looking forward to being “uncomfortable” a bit longer and having to see and adapt to things with different eyes, not only to find what we need to get things done but to understand how others think and see the world. We enjoy learning more about the rhythms and culture of each place we visit and hope longer stays in each place will open our eyes and minds even more.
  • We’ll be putting some distance between ourselves and the current negativity and political polarization in the U.S. This, we feel, will be a very good thing. Sometimes we honestly can’t believe or get over some of the things happening these days, and the anger – the rage – and violence we read about in the news. Although we are still doing well in spite of the current inflation and other changes, there are times when we feel like we can’t recognize our country, while at the same time recognizing the current situation seems the logical end to so many things that happened in the past. We are looking forward to looking at our country from a distance for a while.

Both the pros and cons of living outside of the U.S. are of course highly personal, and particular to our situation. With a permanent overseas residence some of these things would not be an issue or occur, but there would of course be other issues popping up that we’ll be avoiding because we’re nomads. We’re also sure other issues are going to pop up that we haven’t even considered yet. But that is one of the things we found we loved about being nomads before: facing new situations, sometimes difficult ones, and finding strengths we didn’t know we had as well as challenging ourselves to figure things out, all the while learning more about not only ourselves but others as well.

The Other things We Carry Part 2: Electronics, Kitchen Needs, and Miscellaneous

Our Japanese coasters help make any rental feel a little more like home

Beyond health and safety, and personal items and toiletries. we carry several other things, most of them small, that make our stays easier and allow us to settle in and feel “at home.” Many of these things we carry along came about through trial and error, or were things that were missing from the homes we stayed in and were frustrating not to have available.

Electronics: We are fortunate these days that electronics are compact and lightweight, and only a few devices are necessary to cover many functions. Brett usually carries his iPad and my laptop in his backpack, so that only one of us has to empty things out when we go through airport security. The voltage adapter from our last adventure still works well, but we figured a back-up wouldn’t be a bad idea this time. Same for a the wireless chargers, dongles, etc. All of our devices are made by Apple, and one of the tasks we perform soon after arrival is figuring out where the nearest Apple store is (or if there even is one), or where we can get our Apple products repaired, if necessary!

  • Laptop (Laura)
  • Tablet w/keyboard (Brett)
  • 2 phones
  • 2 Kindles
  • 2 wireless chargers
  • 2 voltage adapters
  • 2 laptop to USB dongles
  • 2 electric toothbrushes & chargers
  • Digital fish scale (for weighing luggage)
  • Hearing aid batteries (Brett)
Seems like so much when they’re all together, but each piece is easy to tuck in somewhere on its own

Cooking utensils: The below items are ones that we found to be sometimes either lacking in rentals and that we missed having, or in poor condition and unusable (there was nothing worse than discovering a vegetable peeler that wouldn’t peel!), and as we went along we began to carry a few of our own things. Our little spiralizer will not be traveling with us this time for an obvious reason – no sense tempting fate again.

  • Kitchen shears
  • 2 vegetable peelers (regular & julienne)
  • 2 paring knives
  • bamboo spatula
  • small pair of tongs
  • silicone spatula
  • measuring spoons
  • small whisk
  • wine opener
  • cooking chopsticks
More items that are easy to tuck in among our clothes but make a long stay easier and more comfortable

Kitchen accessories: All of these items are lightweight and can easily tuck into our suitcases and carryons. The soba choko cups are immensely versatile, and are exactly a half cup, so can be used for measuring. Some rentals have a coffee maker; others may only have an electric kettle, and we discovered that coffee filters can be difficult to find at times. We’re taking along two coffee cups out of our former collection, the ones we would miss least if anything happened to them. The small melamine plates are wonderful for corralling items and keeping things organized in both the kitchen and bathroom, especially during long stays; they weigh next to nothing and take up next to no space. The microfiber clothes are indispensable for a variety of tasks in the kitchen and bathroom.

  • 4 soba choko cups
  • 8-ounce plastic pour-through coffee filter basket
  • Size 4 paper coffee filters
  • 2 coffee mugs
  • 2 8″ melamine plates
  • Microfiber cloths

Miscellaneous items: We never used our sewing kit during our last round of travel, but know if we hadn’t carried one we would have needed one. We also accumulated quite a collection of shopping bags during our earlier travels but this time we’re taking along just two large L.L. Bean canvas bags and our beloved Japanese bag for grocery and other shopping. One of the Bean bags will double as my under-the-seat carry-on when we fly. The coasters were ones we bought in Japan during our 2019 stay, and setting them out (along with using our own coffee mugs) helps us personalize our rentals and make it feel like home.

  • Small sewing kit
  • Cloth shopping bags
  • Japanese ceramic coasters

All of these items are again fairly small and can be tucked in amount our clothing, or into our carry-on bags. Put together they seem like a lot of added weight, but we have learned a long stay in one place is a very different beast than a shorter one. What we can go without or muddle through in a couple of weeks is not as much fun during three months. We also did not enjoy having to buy things along the way and we learned to carry things from one location to another.

By the way, we carried more than I’ve listed in Parts 1 and 2 when we carried Christmas gifts back to the mainland during previous travels, so we know we can make all of these things fit and still not be overweight. We did it before and we can do it again!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/24 – 10/30)

I have always been someone who could pretty much eat anything I wanted. There are a few things I don’t care for, but otherwise I have never suffered from eating anything other than lettuce. I have no food allergies, no other intolerances.

That all seem to have changed this past week. Both Brett and I suffered from wonky tummies, and had other digestive issues. We’re weren’t sick, but we definitely didn’t feel good, and by the end of last week we were concerned about what could be causing the problems. We gave it a lot of thought and discussion, and decided the only thing that had changed was that we had been eating cream puffs and tiramisu for dessert, both new additions and filled with dairy. We each only had been having five of the mini puffs for dessert, less than the recommended serving, but along with the tiramisu they appeared to have stirred things up. We knew Brett was already slightly lactose intolerant, but after going months without any dairy other than cheese (which doesn’t bother us), it looks like I may have possibly developed a bit of lactose intolerance as well. As soon as we dropped the cream puffs for dessert, everything settled back down.

We still have about six evenings worth of cream puffs left to eat though, but will space them out between other non-dairy desserts going forward and see if we can avoid the issues we had last week. If not, we’ll have to start at zero again and try to figure out what’s going on. Growing older and stay healthy is indeed an adventure, and I honestly did not have another possible food intolerance on my scorecard.

Below is what we ate for dinner last week. Everything was easy to fix and delicious (as were the leftovers).

Sunday: Chick’n patty sandwiches; three-bean salad

Monday: Tikka masala with tofu & peas; steamed rice

Tuesday: Chick’n nuggets; onion rings; 3-bean salad

Wednesday: Vegetarian lasagna; roasted peppers

Thursday: Mini pizzas with roasted peppers and onion

Friday: Cheese board: Manchego, Brie, Irish Cheddar, and Boursin; crackers; apple slices; dried apricots; marinated artichoke hearts; sweet pickles

Saturday: CookDo tofu & pepper stir fry; steamed rice

We enjoyed both the mini cream puffs and the tiramisu cups last week (up until we figured out they were probably the cause of our stomach issues). We’d have a couple nights with the cream puffs, then a tiramisu, then back to cream puffs, but that won’t be happening again. We picked up a (vegan) apple pie at Costco on our shopping trip last week. They had a whole two of them out and we grabbed one, so this coming week’s dessert will be pie, pie, and more pie with one evening of cream puffs in there somewhere. We had honestly come to believe though that we’d never see those apple pies again.

In spite of the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying, temperatures have cooled off a bit so we’re enjoying what goes for fall dishes this next week: soup and toasted cheese sandwiches, chili dogs, and risotto. A new thing we’re going to try this week is a chicken and butternut squash casserole, vegetarian style. Mavis posted the recipe on the 100 Dollars a Month blog week before last and I decided I would try it IF I could keep it vegetarian. Costco finally got butternut squash in, and we found grilled chick’n strips at Walmart. The Great Value chicken flavored stuffing mix has chicken flavor listed as its absolute last ingredient so we figured we were pretty safe with that as well so the casserole was on! We’ve still got a lot of spanakopita and falafel on hand that we’re going to enjoy that again as well.

  • Vegan chili dogs
  • Vegetarian chick’n & butternut squash casserole
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas
  • Spanakopita & falafel
  • Risotto with peas
  • Split pea soup & toasted cheese sandwiches

Last week was our swan song for perimeter walks and golf ball hunting. We need/want to get rid of the golf balls we have, and want to get back to walking for exercise as our main focus versus hunting for golf balls, which sort of got in the way at times. One benefit of getting away from the perimeter walks is that we’ll once again be able to go to the park a bit earlier in the day, at 3:30 in the afternoon versus 4:30, and be home in time that I don’t have to segue right into fixing dinner. I can’t say we’ll never walk the perimeter again but we have other goals we need to focus on now. I know it’s going to feel strange not heading out onto the course but we’ll get back into our old routine in no time. Our walking total for October (66 miles) was our lowest for the year so far, but there were so many bad weather days where we either didn’t walk at all or had to shorten our walks.

The clouds were white when we started our walk, pink when we finished last Wednesday. We’ll once again be walking earlier in the day beginning this week.

We had a great final week for lost ball hunting though. We picked up 52 balls between Monday and Tuesday, then another 29 of them on Wednesday! We thought we’d picked the course clean when we started out on Thursday but found yet another 13 that day. The weather was too sketchy for us to walk on Friday and Saturday, but we went out again yesterday for one last round and found 42 (!!!) to give us our top weekly total ever: 136. We have quite a bit of sorting to do, but we hope to have everything listed by the second week of November and out of the house by the end of the month with some additional funds in our travel account!

The above is the most mysterious and creepy place we passed on our perimeter walks. These huge branches are near the top of a giant tree! Just past the small green plants at the bottom, the cliff suddenly drops off steeply into darkness and there’s no telling how far it goes down. Any balls that fall there can stay there, thank you.

Sunday Morning 10/31/2021: Happy Halloween!

Wednesday’s sunset at the golf course. Rain was on the way.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka! And . . . BOO!

I was feeling sort of melancholy yesterday as I thought about how Halloween has turned into one of those holidays we just don’t celebrate any more. We didn’t even send candy to the girls this year! I used to go all out for Halloween, collected Fitz & Floyd pieces that I decorated with, and I loved, loved, loved trick-or-treating, both my own when I was young, and our children’s years of going out. I trick-or-treated with friends every year until the ninth grade; that was our kids’ cut-off year as well. Trick-or-treating was a big enough deal that my friends and I used to carry and fill entire pillowcases with candy during our middle school years. I looked forward to helping our kids carve their pumpkins, pick their costumes, and go out with them to trick-or-treat, helping them practice what to say at the door and reminding them to say “thank you” when they were toddlers. Anyway, I have lots of good memories associated with Halloween, but these days we’re at the end of a dead end street, located at the back of a building, so no visitors and no candy here. Brett and I will dim the lights this evening and watch The Exorcist for our little celebration (no candy for us this year either).

Christmas shopping got underway this past week and I’m already about halfway done. Amazon Prime literally had everything here in two days as did a couple of other places I ordered from. Meiling sets up our family’s annual Secret Santa exchange every fall, and everyone finally got their wish list up so it was easy picking gifts, and everyone is going to get things they want. I ordered a few non-gift items as well that I can’t get here, things like Cadbury’s drinking chocolate to enjoy while the girls are here, and Fisher scone mix for our Christmas morning brunch. We scored some leftover Christmas paper when our neighbors on the other side of the building moved out earlier this year, so I’ll be getting things wrapped, labeled, and tucked away this coming week. This will be our last Christmas with the girls for a couple of years as (fingers crossed) we plan to celebrate in Japan next year and the year after. I also ordered an inflatable queen mattress to use when the girls are here, and then Brett and I will use it next year after we sell our mattress and frame.

Weird stuff continued with Buy & Sell this week but ended on a high note. Ghosting B&S listings seems to a problem everywhere but I think part of the blame this last time may go to Facebook. I added another listing to Buy & Sell last week, a mid-century modern bench, and immediately got two “is this still available” messages, in less than a minute of the listing being posted, a new record. One of these people lives in Seattle and the other is on Maui, both outside the supposed 100-mile selling distance! Facebook hadn’t been loading correctly anyway, so I deleted its cookie, reloaded, and changed my password. From that point forward everything worked like it should, and I received only local requests for the bench and sold it immediately. We’re otherwise going to take a break from selling anything else (other than golf balls) until after the holidays, but starting in January we’ll have something for sale most weeks until we leave. The car will be listed for sale in early April, and we’ll hold our garage sale mid-April. We plan to close down our eBay sales at the end of the year, but I’ll most likely keep the Etsy shop open for a couple of months into next year.

And, for those who were baffled by or curious about American washcloths, above is what they look like, and how they sometimes come packaged. They’re very useful, easy to wash and dry, and great to have along when we travel.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: Apples Don’t Fall, set in Australia, got off to a slow start, but it’s building and I’m enjoying it. Truth Be Told: A Novel also came off hold early last week, so I’m again having to read two books at the same time so they both get finished in time.
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying blue skies and a quiet cool morning with nothing but birds singing outside, much appreciated after two days of overcast and rain. I’m hoping the good weather lasts all day so we can get our walk this afternoon – we couldn’t go Friday or yesterday because of bad weather. Brett was already up and had the coffee made when I got up, so it’s perfectly quiet inside as well with me writing and him reading. In other words, it’s another perfect Sunday morning, one I’m hoping I can stretch out for as long as possible.
  • Watching: We’re still watching Great British Bake Off, Billions, and Inspector Morse, although we’ll finish Billions this week and we’re getting close to finishing Inspector Morse. Hopefully we can segue from Morse right into Lewis, but we haven’t found where it’s streaming yet. We love watching Guiseppe and Jurgen on GBBO, and it’s sort of fun that the two top contenders this year (and great contestants) are not British (born)! We watched the first episode of Squid Game this past week and all I can say is whoa!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: 1) Besides getting some of Christmas shopping done and the inflatable bed ordered, I also starting work on a menu for when the girls are here. There are things Meiling likes but YaYu doesn’t and vice versa so I’m trying to make sure I get those dishes fixed at the right times (before one arrives and after someone leaves). I’m also trying to make sure we have everything we need on hand before the girls arrive so that we’re not stuck with a big, expensive shopping trip right before their arrival. WenYu thankfully likes everything and will eat anything. 2) We got our end of the month shopping done last Friday, came in under budget, and have plenty to get us through until the middle of November! 3) The only other things accomplished were all the regular stuff we have to do.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again, there’s nothing we have to do next week, but we’re hoping for another beach day. If we make it down to Barking Sands, we’ll stop at the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) office and reserve one of the beach cottages for our last few days on the island, after we move out of the apartment. Otherwise, our calendar is open once again – the days still seem to go pretty quickly though.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Etsy sales are always a good thing. 2) So was getting Facebook sorted out, and another thing out of the apartment. 3) We enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather the first part the week, although rain finally showed up at the end (gotta keep things green though). 4) Meiling is having a wonderful time in Paris and has been sending lots of pictures (including some from a 19-course vegetarian meal at a 3-star Michelin restaurant. I can’t even imagine doing that, but she’s a foodie and it’s one of the things she saved for). 5) Our new avocado tree is having a growth spurt of some kind and has more than doubled in size – leaves should appear this week.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I used some of our credit card rewards to pay for the inflatable bed, so it cost us nothing. We’re going to keep it; it will be mailed back to Massachusetts after we move out of the apartment. 2) We noticed gasoline had climbed to $4.16 this week at Costco, so we’re strategizing on how we can cut back even more on our driving. 3) We were $58.92 under budget on our shop this past week, and that’s after buying some more items for the girls’ that were not on our list!. 4) We put $8.92 into the change/$1 bill bag this week, making our total for the month $13.54, not bad for the small amount of shopping we did in October. 5) All our leftovers were eaten this past week, and there was no food waste.
We loved this bench, but it had to go to make room for the inflatable mattress when the girls are here.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: I sold 15 hashioki this past week, and the mid-century modern bench in a day once I got FB straightened out. $193.53 will be going into our travel account tomorrow. I was ready to pull the rug off B&S last night, but then got a last minute legitimate request from Honolulu! The potential buyer and I are both working on an affordable solution to getting it over there, so it’s not a done deal yet but getting there. I also sold another hashioki this morning so will be packing that up in a little while; I won’t see the funds from that until next week.
  • Grateful for: I’m always thankful for the occasional days when we can’t go out to walk. I thoroughly enjoy our walks and look forward to them, but I also enjoy having a day off now and again where I can curl up with a book and a cup of coffee and not have to watch the clock and be ready to go. Days off don’t happen often, and although we’ll walk in almost any weather other than rain, they’re always appreciated and I try to make the most of them.
  • Bonus question: Do you have an all-time favorite book? The one book that has affected me more than any other was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which I read in the late 1980s. I’ve never had such an emotional reaction to a book before or since, and although I’ve wanted to read it again I haven’t as I’ve never felt ready to face those emotions again. It was that good. The book I’ve actually read more than any other is Joe McGinness’s Fatal Vision, about the murders of his wife and children Dr. Jeffrey McDonald committed at Fort Bragg in 1970. I had never read a true crime book before, and boy did I get hooked. I think I’ve read Fatal Vision five or six times now and I always find something new to think about. The Jeffrey McDonald case is one of the most litigated murder cases ever, but he’s still in prison where he belongs (and still claiming he’s not guilty).

One of the best things I’ve discovered recently on Twitter is the daily tweet from Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon (@GurdeepPandher) doing a 55-second dance. Gurdeep is Indian, a Sikh, who moved to the Yukon Wilderness in Canada a few years ago. He lives full-time in a cabin (with electricity but no running water). Every day he posts a short video of himself, dancing Bhangra, a joyful style of Indian dance. He shares his dances to build cross cultural bridges, to illustrate the power of joy and positivity at the center of one’s life, and to show the beauty of the natural world as well. For some reason that tweet and video always shows up early in my Twitter feed each day, and in the middle of what is often pretty much nothing but glum news, his minute of happy dancing always brings a smile to my face and a reset to my thinking for the day. Being joyful and positive, he reminds me, does not mean I can’t feel sadness, or anger, or frustration, but that those are places I should only visit before returning to a joyful, positive center.

That’s all for this week, and for October, too! Six months from today will be our last in this apartment, and time seems to be speeding up with each month we reach. We still have so much to do to get ready. Cheers to finishing another good, productive week, and here’s to another good one coming up!

The Other Things We Pack Part 1: Health, Safety, and Personal Items/Toiletries

Although he has nothing to do with health or safety, Little Guy will of course be traveling along with me again for good fortune, but this time he’ll have a companion: Big Brother, who’s older and slightly heavier than Little Guy. I’ve had BB since 1982, and both Inu Hariko came from the same shop in Tokyo.

Our travel luggage consists of two large rolling duffel bags, two rolling hard-sided carry-on bags, a backpack for Brett, and a large canvas tote for me. Between all of it, we are able to (and have to) pack all the things we need for clothing ourselves year-round, and ensuring a comfortable stay no matter where we go.

I’ve divided the non-clothing items we carry into two parts because there are lots of “other things” we carry. Almost all are small but necessary, to us anyway. Some items make our stays more comfortable and organized, others mean we don’t have to purchase something new at our destination, and others are things to get us started until we can find or replenish with local items and goods. Some miscellaneous items go along to make our temporary lodgings feel a little more like “home.”

All of these “other” things can be tucked into our suitcases or carry-ons without taking up much room. We try whenever possible to choose things we can share (like shampoo or vitamins, for example) rather than having one product for Brett, another for me. We will start out with a few big containers purchased at Costco (vitamins; pain relief), but those will eventually get swapped out for smaller packages that we purchase along the way. Those big bottles from Costco are very cost efficient, but some of the most difficult things to pack and we’re always glad when they run out.

This week’s post covers items we are packing for health and safety, and our personal toiletries:

Health & safety: Last go-around we carried way, way too many of some of these items, and not enough of others. For some reason, for example, we didn’t take any cold relief medicine, and we found it was quite difficult to find overseas when we needed it. We’ve also learned that we don’t need to carry much to get started because most things can be found locally (cold relief and antacids being the exception).

  • Prescription medications
  • Hydrocortisone cream; Lotrimin (for bug bites and other itchy things)
  • Anti-bacterial cream (i.e. Neosporin)
  • Bandaids; Leukotape (for cuts and blisters)
  • OTC products (antacids, pain relief, cold medication, anti-diarrheal, motion sickness)
  • Vitamins

Personal items/toiletries: We try to keep these as minimal as possible to start out, and we buy and replace as needed wherever we are. Bars of solid shampoo and conditioner work great and are big space savers and last longer than travel sizes of shampoo and conditioner. Products that come in tubes are preferred to other types of containers as they are the easiest to pack and cut down on waste. We found American-style washcloths difficult to locate when we were in Europe last time and swore to never travel again without our own supply. There’s also no makeup on the list as I no longer wear any other than lipstick so it’s one less thing for me to pack.

  • Mouthwash/toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Solid shampoo and conditioner bars
  • Curl cream (Laura)
  • Body lotion (Laura)
  • Facial moisturizer with sunscreen/night cream (Laura)
  • Shaving cream (Brett)
  • Razors (Henry’s + blades for Brett; disposables for me)
  • Washcloths
  • Manicure kit
  • Extra pairs of glasses

The above lists are fairly basic, but we’re mostly only bringing enough to get us started, and with only a few items travel sized, things like the mouthwash and toothpaste that we can later purchase at our destinations. We aim to shop local whenever possible.

Next week I’ll list the electronics we’re bringing, and some other items we started out not carrying but learned along the way were a good idea to have, just in case.