Sunday Afternoon 10/22/2017

The view to the south from the Hanalei overlook

YaYu was not selected as a Questbridge finalist. After an initial bit of disappointment, by evening she was actually feeling somewhat relieved that she had not been chosen. While she would have welcomed the prestige that came with being named a finalist, all of us would have been scrambling to get things off to all her ranked schools in the coming 11 days, and even with that she knew there was almost zero chance for her to receive a match scholarship to one of those schools (there were over 15,600 Questbridge applicants this year; approximately 5,700 were chosen as finalists, and somewhere less than 800 will receive a match scholarship.). YaYu is planning to apply early decision to the top school on her list (application due November 15), then regular decision to several others that waive the application fee – those applications won’t be due until January 15. The toughest part of the application – the essay – is finished, so it will just be a matter of filling out the rest of the online application. Her “safe” school is the University of Hawaii, and she said she will be happy to go there if she’s not accepted at one of the other schools ahead of it on her list.

It’s been a busy week here at Casa Aloha. Brett and I had our lunch date in Hanalei on Tuesday, and on Wednesday and Thursday we did our monthly Big Shop.  YaYu has been as busy as ever with all her activities, and we’ve been doing extra cleaning around the house this past week. Our landlord is coming over this coming Thursday to do a “walk-through” before we sign a lease for next year. We’re not sure what that “walk-through” entails, or what he’s going to be looking for or at, if anything. We keep the house clean and well-maintained (well, the girls’ room is usually a dump), but we’ve been going over things carefully in the past few days to make sure everything is as perfect as can be. Our landlord’s been very hands off up to now and he gets his rent on time every month, so we’re also not sure why he wants to check on things now other than we had a plumbing issue last month and the problem with the oven the month before, so maybe he just wants to make sure we’re not trashing the place or something.

While last weekend’s humidity was brutal, we’ve had lots of lovely cool, breezy weather this week, and a couple of days have been downright blustery. It’s rained every night too, which means we haven’t had to turn on the sprinklers, and the dust has been tamped down (a bit). Everything is greening up again and looking fresh. Fall is here!

Yesterday YaYu ran her last HS cross country race, and she and other senior runners got were given lei and gifts afterwards Most of hers are candy lei, but she also received a couple of beautiful handmade maile lei as well (so fragrant!). The brown paper bag contains ramen – they know her so well!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: Because I was so busy this past week I got very little reading done, even at night. The second Inspector Rebus book, Hide and Seek, came off of hold though, so I’m going to have to step up my game to get them both it and Lilli de Jong done in time.
  • Listening to: We’re having a lovely day here so far: sunny but cool-ish and with a nice breeze. LOTS of people are out working in their yards, so we can hear plenty of weed trimmers and an a lawn mower. The roosters seem to be enjoying the weather as well. We sorted all our laundry last night and Brett got up early and started the washing machine, so we’ve also got that to listen to as well!
  • Watching: We didn’t watch a whole lot of TV this past week, but the past couple of nights we’ve started watching Travels With My Father, on Netflix, and are enjoying it immensely.
  • Cooking/baking: Costco had Kirkland semi-sweet chocolate chips in stock again (yeah! – they are so much better than the Nestle ones), so we bought a bag this past week and I’m going to make and freeze chocolate chip cookie dough for Brett and YaYu. We’ll be having the Shakshuka and couscous tonight that we missed having last week (although no couscous for me).
  • Happy I accomplished last week: I cleaned all the window blinds last week, a BIG chore because of all the dust we get here, and because the windows are big. Because our house is secluded enough, we’re keeping all the blinds raised to hopefully keep them from accumulating more dust for a while because I’m sick and tired of trying to keep them clean. I also got started on shoveling out the girls’ room with YaYu’s help. I don’t think either she or WenYu throws anything away, ever. Brett also washed off the outside of the house – another big chore. We got the college girls’ Halloween candy boxed up and sent off (and I didn’t sneak any!), and we put away a bag to give to YaYu. Brett and I walked for three miles on the beach path every day except for Wednesday, but after shopping at Costco and working in the girls’ room for a while I felt too tired to do much of anything that evening. I drank at least 64 ounces of water a day this week, and did my language study every day.
  • Looking forward to this week: There will be a big surprise in the blog tomorrow! Otherwise there’s nothing special on our calendars. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the walk-through with the landlord, although I’m very glad he’s feeling better and recovering.

    Whale season is starting!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I had a wonderful time on our lunch date up in Hanalei this past week. For the first time since we’ve been here, it didn’t rain while I was there! YaYu ran a terrific cross country race yesterday, her last as a high school harrier. After the meet she and other seniors were showered with lei and gifts from other teammates (team tradition). I was so excited to find a pair of shoes I wanted for our upcoming travels (gray slip-ons) and they were both in my size and on sale! The freezer has been working fine all week, so apparently the humidity was affecting the outlet. And the whales are back – a few have been spotted off of Maui, which means it won’t be long before we can see them here!
  • Grateful for: There’s nothing in particular today, but I’m feeling very blessed for our entire family’s good health, that we don’t have to worry about having enough to eat, that two of our girls are attending the college of their choice and that YaYu still has many opportunities awaiting her.
  • Bonus question: What’s the scariest story you’ve ever heard? Last Monday, the wind was very strong during Brett’s and my walk down by the beach. It was at our back the first half of the walk, but on the way back to the car it was blowing very hard against us. Brett said at one point, “Well, now you know what it feels like up on the deck of an aircraft carrier during flight ops!” We started talking about his navy days, and I told him that nothing in my life had scared me as much as some of the things he told me he did up on the flight deck. For example, running up to jets that had just caught and released the arresting cable and were still rolling, sending hand signals to the pilot, and then climbing up on the jet while it was still hot to get into the cockpit and start pulling gear for maintenance. Or, being blown down the flight deck on his back by hot jet blast, and only avoiding being blown overboard because he was able to grab one of the padeyes on the deck. Or, standing on the edge of the deck leaning backwards as far as he could go without falling over. BRETT!! It got to the point I told him I did not want to hear any more stories, that when I thought about him out at sea the only images I wanted in my mind were the opening scenes in Top Gun, where everything on the flight deck looks very controlled and smooth and safe (which the flight deck is not – there’s a reason it’s often referred to as “controlled chaos,” and people who work the flight deck get hazardous duty pay). The opening credits and scenes in the video above (action starts at 1:00) are still the best example I know though of what Brett did for a living for 22 years. The separations when he deployed were miserable, but he loved his job, and was very, very good at it.

That’s all for this week! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What are you cooking today? What good things happened for you?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements

Sunday Afternoon 10/15/2017

This horse came out to greet Brett and YaYu when they hiked past on the Wai Koa Plantation trail last Thursday. The trail is flat, so when it cools off and the humidity diminishes a bit, I’m going to give it a try! While they enjoyed good weather as they hiked it was pouring rain here, just 15 miles away!

All of us here at Casa Aloha are biting our fingernails right now because YaYu will learn on Thursday whether she’s a finalist or not for a Questbridge scholarship. Brett and I are going to pick up cookies & cream ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream (YaYu’s request) on Thursday morning so we can either celebrate  or drown our sorrows with her that evening. Brett and I feel she has around a 50-50 chance to be selected: she wrote a terrific biographic essay and her other essays are very good as well; she’s taken rigorous courses all through high school and maintained a high GPA; she’s taken and passed several AP exams; and she has a strong slate of extracurriculars, several with leadership positions. Coming from a small, rural high school in Hawai’i is also a plus. On the down side, her standardized test scores aren’t as good as they should be, and we have no idea how much those will count. Questbridge applicants as a whole are a very sharp bunch of students, and we realize YaYu just might not make the cut.

I’m thinking positively though, and being proactive. When WenYu was named a Questbridge finalist two years ago we were woefully unprepared and had to scramble to get all her paperwork together to send off to the colleges she had ranked. Every school wants something different, so this last week I checked each school’s application requirements and make a chart so we can quickly check off each item as we get it sent. The chart may end up in the recycling if she’s not a finalist, but if she is we only have 12 days to get everything sent off, and we want to be ready, especially since it can take up to 10 days for mail to reach several of the schools.

The Questbridge application process has been long and hard, and even if YaYu does not make finalist or receive a match scholarship in the end, she has learned a lot and is well-prepared to move forward. IF she makes finalist but doesn’t get a match it will carry a lot of weight in the regular college application process and can still provide a BIG financial aid package. (WenYu’s scholarship from Wellesley is a Questbridge regular decision one). She can re-use her Questbridge essays for the common application, and several of the schools she wants to attend will still waive the application fee for her. She is prepared no matter the outcome.

Anyway, we hope you’ll keep your fingers crossed and think good thoughts for her this week.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished A Legacy of Spies on Friday night, and started LILLI de Jong, by Janet Benton, yesterday (per Reader Laurel’s recommendation!).
  • Listening to: There’s a strong breeze blowing this morning and it’s making a lot of noise in the trees around us. I hope it hangs around and keeps the humidity at bay, because the last few days here have been awful – we’ve had big, heavy, moist clouds hovering overhead. There are a few roosters doing their thing outside, but otherwise no outside noise. Brett is reading, and YaYu is fixing herself breakfast – it’s the last day of fall break, so she slept in.

    Stranger Things 2 is coming soon!

  • Watching: We finally got around to starting the new season of This is Us (love this show!), but otherwise we feel like we’ve seen just about everything we want for now on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. We’re pretty much just waiting for new episodes/seasons of our favorite shows to become available again. The second season of Stranger Things will be arriving on the 27th. Because of Mavis’s recommendation, we watched Dead Poet’s Society yesterday evening – still a wonderful film.
  • Cooking/baking: I’m probably not going to bake anything today because there’s still plenty of cookie dough in the freezer if Brett or YaYu want cookies. Last night’s fried rice didn’t get made because we were all too hot and tired, so we’re having that tonight instead of shakshuka (I’m having leftover steak pizzaiola).
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Besides getting a Questbridge paperwork chart set up (heavens, I hope we need it), I also made my shopping list for this coming week’s Big Shop. I did some more Christmas shopping (and saved some money!) – I’m about 3/4 of the way done now. Brett and I have walked several evenings down on the beach path – rain is the only thing that has kept us from doing that. I’ve ridden my bike in the evening a few days as well – when I haven’t it’s been because it’s just been too humid. I drank at least 64 ounces of water and did my language study every day. Finally, I had one silly accomplishment: I finally won the Neko Atsume (cat collecting) game! I have been playing for over two years now, but every time I would get close to having all the cats and all the mementos, the game would add new ones. Well, this past week I added the last available ones (for now) to my collection, so I am done for a while.

    Hanalei

  • Looking forward to this week: Besides looking forward to the Questbridge announcement, Brett and I are planning to head up to Hanalei on the north shore on Tuesday (weather permitting), to go out to lunch and just poke around for a while. On Wednesday we’ll be doing our monthly Big Shop, although it won’t be very big this time. Our freezer is being temperamental, and we’re just not comfortable with loading it full of stuff only to have it shut off again in the middle of the night.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Sluggy of Don’t Read This; It’s Boring fame has put up another great giveaway. The prize includes several things that would make great stocking stuffers here at Casa Aloha. Even though the weather has been beastly the past few days, the early evening walks with Brett down on the beach path have been wonderful. I’ve lost enough weight that the bursitis in my hip doesn’t bother me, my old shoes are working out OK, and the views as we walk are always breathtaking. The conversation has also been great! Brett’s new running shoes arrived this week, so he’s got a bit more spring in his step too. YaYu bought me socks! I was planning to buy some next week when we shopped, but for the first couple of walks I had to borrow some of her (many pairs of) ankle socks. When she was out shopping for a friend’s birthday gift she picked me up my own bundle, just because, so I am set!

    One of the many gorgeous views we get to see on our walks.

  • Grateful for: I’m so thankful for all the beauty of this island. I complain bitterly about the humidity, but walking on the beach path, or seeing the pictures from Brett and YaYu’s hike, or driving past the ocean all remind me of how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place.
  • Bonus question: Is there one place you’ve visited more than any other? Would you go back again? For me, that would be Hong Kong – I’ve visited eight times (stayed in different hotel every time) and would go back in a heartbeat! The city has grown and changed so much since we were last there, and I would love to see what’s new and what hasn’t changed. When we were stationed in Japan, and Brett was with the air wing on the USS Midway, the ship always stopped in Hong Kong on its way back from a long cruise and  I and other wives would fly down and meet the ship. The wives would gather at Fenwick Pier and wait as the launches arrived one by one with our spouses. The most exciting visit was when the ship was on its way home from Desert Storm because that’s the longest the ship had ever been away. I thought I’d have to wait for several launches to see Brett, but he was on the first one (still not sure how he managed it)! Anyway, we had four wonderful, romantic reunions in Hong Kong, I went on a shopping trip with a friend once, and our son and I went for Christmas in 1991, when the Midway was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Desert Storm (the only Christmas Brett wasn’t home). We also did two of our three adoption orientations in Hong Kong – Brett and I went in 1997 for Meiling’s adoption (Brett had broken his leg and was in a cast!), and my good friend Kris accompanied me in 1999 to get WenYu while Brett stayed home with Meiling. All of those eight trips were shopping extravaganzas (it’s what you did), but we also had a great time eating our way through Hong Kong. One reason I want to go back because I still haven’t had afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel!

One more gratuitous photo of my granddaughter, from her first birthday photo session. I love this girl! (and the poor thing got my ears)

That’s a wrap for this week at Casa Aloha! How was your week? What good things happened for you? What are you reading? What did you accomplish?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 10/8/2017

“The Destroyer” helped mommy organize her purse

Someone had their first birthday this past week! For such a little thing she sure is a pistol (my son calls her “The Destroyer”). According to the photos and videos we received, the board books we left for her present were a big hit – yeah!

Happy birthday!

I did not make it to my dermatology appointment last Wednesday, but not because we didn’t try. Brett and I set out with what we thought was plenty of time, but there was traffic and construction almost the whole way. Plus, when we got to where the office was located, we couldn’t find it – there were no numbers on the buildings and it was very poorly marked, so we spent an additional five minutes driving around the parking lot trying to find the office. I was nearly in tears by the time I finally found the place, but since I was over 10 minutes late at that point my appointment had gone to someone else (the Dr. is the only dermatologist on the island, so he is booked solid). Traffic on the east side of Kaua’i has grown progressively worse since we’ve been here. What used to be an easy 20 – 30 minute trip from Kapaa down to Lihue now typically takes 45 minutes or longer, even using the bypass. Anyway, I got a new appointment for next month, and even if I end up reading a book in the waiting room we’ll give ourselves an hour to get there.

We’ve had lots of rain this past week, and for the most part it’s been delightful, with cooler temperatures and less humidity (sometimes – at other times it’s been like living in a wet blanket).  More please!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: Why do all the books have to come off hold at the same time? I finished It on Friday (and wasn’t all the crazy about the ending), but the day before both The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld, and A Legacy of Spies, by John Le Carré, came off of hold. I finished The Child Finder in a day in a half – I couldn’t put it down – and just started the Le Carré. I’ve enjoyed all of his books, and am looking forward to this one.
  • Listening to: Lots of weed trimmers are going outside. The laundry is all sorted and that will be starting up soon. YaYu is away volunteering again this morning, and Brett’s fixing himself something in the kitchen.
  • Watching: I thought I was going to watch Vietnam again, and tried, but it’s just too sad and difficult. So, maybe later. Brett and I watched the second season of Top of the Lake, starring Elizabeth Moss (Nicole Kidman is also in the cast). It was just as compelling as the first season. We finished all of it though in a couple of days, and now are re-watching Ken Burn’s The Civil War (our third time). It was very sobering (and disturbing) to listen to the state of things in the U.S. before the start of the war, and see the headlines in the papers, and realize we are hearing many of the same themes now.
  • Cooking/baking: No baking today – I made white chocolate chip-macadamia nut cookie dough the other day and froze it in portions so Brett or YaYu can pull some out and make cookies whenever they feel like it, or Brett can bake some in the morning for YaYu’s lunch. Dinner tonight will be egg foo yung, and YaYu is going to make egg drop soup. Yum!
  • Happy we accomplished last week: It was a very quiet week, other than the attempt to make my dermatology appointment on Wednesday there was nothing much going on. I think I need to finally accept that because we’re retired now that not a whole lot is going to be happening every week. I drank at least 64 ounces of water every day, did my language study every day, and rode my exercise bike at least once every day, but on a couple of days got in two rides, and on one day I was able to ride three times!
  • Looking forward to next week: It’s Fall Break week, so no one has to get up early except for YaYu on Wednesday for a cross country practice. Brett and I are going to begin walking together in the afternoons this week. We’re going to start small, with short, flat walks on the beach path, and will work ourselves up to longer walks to be ready for all the walking we’ll be doing on our Big Adventure.

    The laundry basket derby! (The video of this was hilarious!).

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our daughter-in-law and son sent so many photos and videos this week, with lots of our granddaughter celebrating her first birthday. It was wonderful to see so much of her and our grandson (and our son). Because it was cooler all week I was able to ride my bike more than once on some days, a very good thing!
  • Grateful for: After the hot, sticky summer, I have been exceedingly thankful for the rain and cooler temperatures we’ve enjoyed this past week. The heat and humidity will be back, but this past week was just the break I needed.
  • Bonus question: What’s the best treat you ever gave yourself? During our first tour in Japan (1980-1983), for the last year and a half I splurged and hired a housekeeper to come once a week to clean the house and do the ironing. The cost for this luxury was just $14 per week, the going rate at the time. Tomoko, who was in her 60s, less than five feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds, came every Thursday and cleaned in the morning and ironed in the afternoon. I would pick her up at the station at 9:00 a.m., take her to our house, and then our son and I would disappear for the day, arriving home in time to take her back to the station at 3:00 p.m. It was an unbelievable luxury, and a once-in-a-lifetime treat. Although $14 seems like a pittance now, for us the nearly $60 a month was a lot – Brett’s take-home pay then was less than $700 a month. I paid Tomoko out of what I earned teaching English (which was about half of what I earned) and provided her lunch on the day she came – her favorite meal was tuna casserole! When we returned to the house in the afternoon it was spotless, and it glowed. Tomoko was a wonder, and we all adored her. One day our son, instead of taking his nap, drew all over his bedroom wall with a tiny piece of red crayon he had discovered. I worked for two days trying to get it off, but the crayon wouldn’t budge. Tomoko got it all off in less than a day and still did everything else, and I still have no idea what she used or how she did it. Anyway, it’s the only time I’ve had someone clean my house, and it was a luxurious treat at the time.

That’s our week here at Casa Aloha – how was your week? What good things happened for you? What did you accomplish? What are you reading?

P.S. I’m not sure how or why or when this post got published. I was working on it late last night (like almost midnight), it disappeared and then I wake up this morning, ready to do write it all again and discover it was published! Something weird is going on with my WordPress account.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 10/1/2017

The rainbow shower tree is as close as we get to “fall color” in Hawai’i (and those aren’t leaves – they’re flowers).

And it’s October! This year feels like it’s flying past. Big things coming up for us this month include fall break for YaYu (and a chance for her to catch her breath) and signing a new lease for the house. It feels like “fall” is finally arriving here, although it’s still summertime hot and humid during the afternoons, and Wednesdays have stayed the worst day of the week. After a very dry summer it’s been raining a bit more, and mornings and nights have been cooler and more comfortable. Yesterday we had a long, cool, soaking rain which we have really needed – it was wonderful.

We had a wonderful and much-needed soaking rain yesterday.

YaYu sent off her Questbridge application on Tuesday evening although it went down to the wire (like only 5 1/2 hours remaining) because of the counselor’s recommendation and other forms she had to submit. The counselor told YaYu she would have it done on Monday, but when YaYu passed her in the hall that day she threw up her hands and told YaYa, “Don’t even ask!” At noon on Tuesday, when YaYu still had heard nothing from her, I emailed the principal and told him the situation and that it was unacceptable, that the counselor had known about this recommendation for several weeks, and we did not want to see YaYu’s chances harmed by the counselor’s inaction. The principal got right back to us, contacted the vice-principals and the counselor and by 2:00 everything had been uploaded and the application was ready to go. In Hawaii there’s a cultural ideal of “go along to get along” and not complaining, which is generally a good thing, but sometimes you need to step in and call someone out when something is just not right. Anyway, YaYu submitted a strong application (although we have no way of knowing how good the counselor’s recommendation was) and she’ll know on the 19th of this month if she’s in the finalist round. I’m already nervous!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, and especially loved reading about the author’s experiences and the food in Hunan province, which is where all three of our girls are from. It’s no wonder YaYu loves spicy food! I’m still reading Stephen King’s It (and yes, it is getting scary), and also just downloaded The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld, so will start reading that during the day and sticking with It for my nighttime reading.
  • Listening to: We started the laundry early today, so the sound of that is overpowering everything else. But, it will all be finished and put away earlier rather than later today, which is a good thing. YaYu is also catching up on one of her favorite TV shows. LOTS of roosters are making LOTS of noise outside – they are so tiresome. Yesterday’s rain will bring out the bugs, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing/hearing plenty of poultry around the yard in the next few of days.
  • Watching: I don’t know what we’re going to watch tonight, although there’s a movie on Netflix called The Hippopotamus that we think might be interesting. Vietnam was an intensely powerful documentary, and I’m grateful our local PBS station is going to show it again beginning on Tuesday. I’m going to re-watch it all because I felt somewhat overwhelmed the first time with it all and know I missed a lot.
  • Cooking/baking: I baked a pan of brownies (with pecans) this morning, so that will take care of baking for the week. We’re having breakfast for dinner again this evening: omelets (cheese for Brett and me, barbecued pork for YaYu), roasted tomatoes, toast for Brett and YaYu, and cut up watermelon for “dessert.”
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got started on my Christmas shopping, and found everything I wanted for Meiling and YaYu, but WenYu is going to be the difficult one to shop for this year. I know what I want to get Brett, but will get it next month or early December. I drank my daily water allotment and studied my language every day, and rode my exercise bike six out of seven days (and twice yesterday because of the rain). I made at least the lower goal on Swagbucks every day, so I should get a nice bonus next week.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to it or not, but I see the island’s one dermatologist this week for my annual skin check – with Medicare and our military insurance there should be no out-of-pocket expenses. I’m hoping for a clean bill – I’m very careful here about sun exposure, but did a lot of stupid things when I was young, and it catches up to you.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu getting her Questbridge application off before the deadline was the #1 good thing – we honestly thought she was going to have to submit it incomplete. Next thing to go off is her partner college rankings – she picks the top 12 that she’d like to be matched with. We hosted some of YaYu’s cross-country team on Friday evening for the weekly pre-meet “carb fest” (also known as a spaghetti dinner). It was a very nice group of kids, but we ended up with a ton of leftover pasta. I was happy to learn my cataracts are not progressing, and that other than my vision slightly worsening my eyes are in good shape.
  • Grateful for: I was impressed by and very thankful for YaYu’s principal’s swift response to my email last Tuesday. He was off campus, in meetings all day, and yet he took care of the problem immediately as well as got back with me to let me know what he was doing. We have always liked him, but feel more thankful now for his caring and leadership.

    A Pizzacato pie

  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite kind of pizza? I love pizza – it’s always been my #1 favorite food, and although I cannot eat it now it’s been on my mind. My all-time favorite pizza is a simple margherita, with just tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese (no sauce). I also love a good, classic pepperoni slice. When we lived in Portland there was a wonderful local pizza chain called Pizzacato that made the best pizzas with the best crust. Besides their margherita I loved their Thai chicken pizza, and one called the Squisita, made with roasted peppers, lamb sausage and feta cheese. Both were amazing.  Before we left Portland we ate at Apizza Scholls, in the Hawthorne neighbornood – I thought I had died and gone to pizza heaven. I will eat almost anything on a pizza, but am not a fan of pineapple and ham. Brett makes a very good pizza – he worked in a pizza shop when he was young and can still toss his dough like a pro! OK, good job, Laura – now I’m really hungry for pizza!!

That’s a wrap for this week at Casa Aloha! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 9/24/2017

Brett caught some beautiful mountain views from the parking lot before the start of this week’s cross country meet. Kawakini is to the far left, and Wai’ale’ale is in the middle.

It’s been another quiet, but busy, week here at Casa Aloha. We’ve settled into our regular fall schedules and routines, but this was the week for our monthly Big Shop and some other appointments so we kept busy. Brett and I had hoped to get to the beach a couple of times this past week, but it rained on Tuesday and YaYu had a special cross country practice on Thursday that messed with our day. The weather has been lovely though for the most part, and it’s definitely cooling off. I actually felt cold for a while on Friday morning, and was glad for my nice, warm cup of coffee. Even though the change is barely noticeable here, fall is coming!

After a couple of days off we’ll be watching more of the Vietnam documentary again tonight. The show is excellent, and very thought provoking. On the second night last week I heard a familiar name: Lt. Ken Good, who served as an army advisor in Vietnam and was killed in January, 1963. He was from my hometown of San Marino, and I clearly remember our pastor announcing his death in church one Sunday. I had never heard of Vietnam before – I was only 10 – but apparently it made an impression on me because I’ve never forgotten the announcement or his name.

YaYu’s Questbridge scholarship application will finally go off this coming week (deadline is Wednesday). All of us will be so glad when it’s finally submitted. The application is quite long, with several essays, and requires all sorts of other information and references, and YaYu has been working on it since early July. Her teachers have been great about doing their part and getting things in on time, but her counselor, who is required to not only provide a reference but other key information (like transcripts) has dragged her heels. She has known about the application for nearly two months, and YaYu stops by her office every week to check on the status of things, yet the counselor still has done nothing (although she reassures YaYu the information will be there on time). We’re biting our nails at this point that no problems arise. YaYu has also been the most difficult of all our children to work with on her essays. I taught writing for many years, and coached all three of our others kids on their essays, providing suggestions and editing, but it’s been a very different situation with YaYu. She has asked me for help/critique several times but then rejected almost every suggestion I’ve made, to the point that I finally asked her not to ask me but her teachers instead.  Her final biographical essay is good though, and after Wednesday we will have our fingers crossed that she makes it to the Finalist round for the scholarship (decisions will be announced November 1).

  • Reading: I’m still reading both of the books I currently have checked out: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, and Stephen King’s It. I read one in the daytime, and one at night. It must be a big book – I read page after page after page, for a long while, but when I check the percentage finished it turns out my reading progress has barely moved. Both are still good reads.
  • Listening to: We’ve enjoyed a lovely, cool, mostly quiet morning. There have been a few roosters out there making some noise, and I can hear a weed trimmer in the distance but otherwise there’s only the sound of the breeze through the trees. Brett is out for a run, and YaYu is sleeping in so it’s nice and quiet inside.
  • Watching: Besides watching Vietnam, we finished the final season of Ripper Street – all the main characters either died, were killed, or moved away in the last episode. It’s time to find something else, but we’re not sure what at this point. I’m still watching The Mindy Project at night while I do Swagbucks, and still loving it.
  • Cooking/baking: I baked a yellow cake this morning, and will ice with vanilla buttercream in a little while – simple but tasty (and none for me, thank you). Tonight we’re having breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fruit.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I got the Big Shop done for the month, although it was a challenge. We noticed especially this past week how much more food is costing now than it did when we arrived here three years ago. I did a five mile ride on my bike six of the last seven days, drank more than 64 ounces of water every day, and did my language study every day. I know I accomplished other things, but can’t remember any of them.
  • Looking forward to next week: Besides YaYu getting her scholarship application submitted, we’re looking forward to a relaxing week with a couple of trips to the beach. I see the eye doctor again on Wednesday to check whether my (beginning) cataracts are getting worse or holding steady – fingers are crossed for holding steady.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: One of my younger brother’s sons was married yesterday to his longtime girlfriend in a lovely, small ceremony. He’s had some rough times, especially following my brother’s death, so it’s especially gratifying to see things finally going well for him, and to see him so happy. We had a plumbing issue in the house last week (which will affect our water bill) but we texted our landlord, he contacted the plumber and in less than two days the problem was resolved and we didn’t have to pay anything – it would have been an expensive fix otherwise! We also learned that our landlord’s health is improving, and that his cancer is now moving toward remission rather than getting worse!
  • Reporting losses and gains: It’s the last Sunday of September, so I weighed myself this morning and was very surprised to discover I lost three more pounds this past month, for a total loss of 28 pounds so far since February. I’m just going to keep doing and eating how I have been, and if I lose some more, great! If not, that’s OK too. We put a whopping $1490.33 into our travel savings this past month! Our savings total for the year is now $6801.55, so we’re less than $200 away from our original goal of $7000. We’ve decided to raise the goal to $8500 in our travel account by the end of the year.
  • Grateful for: I’m grateful to live in a country that guarantees the right to protest. Both Brett and I served in the military to protect that right for everyone, whether we agree with them or not. We did not serve to make sure people honored a flag or stood for a song, but to defend our constitution and the rights enshrined within.

    Having Royal Hawaiian pack us for our move here was worth every penny – not one thing was damaged, and they removed all the packing material when we finished unpacking.

  • Bonus question: Which is worse, packing up a house to move or unpacking it all when you arrive? To be honest, both are equally hellish. When Brett was on active duty the unpacking was actually worse because  the movers hired by the navy packed up everything for the move – we didn’t have to do anything other than provide cold drinks and snacks for the movers (which meant they usually treated our stuff very nicely). When we arrived at our new destination however, we had to unpack everything on our own which took forever. Now that the navy is not paying for our moves, we do almost all of the pack-up on our own and it’s been a lot of work (and very motivating when it came to downsizing the amount of our possessions). On our move over to Kaua’i Royal Hawaiian did a superb job of packing every thing on the mainland end and unpacking everything here as well as taking away all packing materials (we still had to put all our stuff away though) – they were worth every penny we paid them. The easiest move we ever did was moving to the house we’re in now from our other house – we overlapped in both houses for about three weeks, so we’d bring just a carload or two over here every day and put things away. Brett brought a couple of van-loads of furniture over one day, and we paid a mover for about five heavy pieces but when that arrived we were fully moved in and ready to go! (And no, we’re not moving anywhere, at least as far as I know right now.)

That’s the wrap-up from here for the week. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you? Have you been watching Vietnam?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 9/17/2017

 

Both Brett and I are looking forward to the start of the new Ken Burns’ documentary tonight on Vietnam. We think it will be excellent, and present both the good and bad of that time as a cohesive whole. Brett did not serve in Vietnam, although he was in the navy and knew many who did serve. He started working for Black & Decker as a draftsman right out of high school in 1968, and joined the Army National Guard (like Dan Quayle) to avoid being drafted. However, he became very ill during his service (almost died) and was medically discharged from the Guard. But lo and behold, someone on his local draft board thought he should still be eligible, and one Monday in early 1970 he received his draft notice ordering him to report the following Monday. He had been a helicopter door gunner in the reserves, and when they told him he could possibly serve overseas he knew they didn’t mean Germany (and door gunners in Vietnam had a very poor rate of survival). So, on Tuesday he called the local navy recruiter and on Thursday he was at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center reporting for boot camp. He was only going to stay in the navy for one enlistment, but ended up liking his job and decided to make it a career. He spent the Vietnam years on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. For my part, I remember the demonstrations, the craziness of 1968, and all the arguments with my parents about the war. It was a sad, bitter but defining time in our nation’s history, and in my opinion, everyone lost.

I think summer may be trying to turn into fall here. Although the days are still very warm, the mornings have been cool, and I’ve found myself snuggling into the comforter on a few days to keep warm. Most evenings are cooler as well. Wednesdays have become known as Hell Day around here though – for the last several weeks they’ve all been the most unbearably hot day of all, with zero air moving and horrible humidity that lasts well into the night.

Also, there is a great giveaway going on over at Don’t Read This; It’s Boring which includes lots of fun things that would make great stocking stuffers, or can be used or eaten now (I’m talking about chocolate!).

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, by Fuschia Dunlop, came off of hold this week and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. She includes recipes in the book! Stephen King’s It became available two days later, so now I’m reading about Chinese food during the day, and a creepy, scary clown at night.
  • Listening to: There are lots of birds singing outside this morning, and lots of baby chicks peeping too. It’s a lovely, cool, breezy morning and it’s wonderful hearing the palm trees rustling again. Inside it’s quiet . . . for now.
  • Watching: In the hour before Vietnam we’ll be watching another episode of Bletchley Circle – PBS Hawai’i is showing it again, and it’s a terrific show. We finished all the available episodes of Catastrophe and started a new season of Ripper Street. We wish some of our other favorite shows (Broadchurch, Happy Valley, etc.) would also have new seasons up for streaming. For a long time we didn’t watch any TV, but these days Brett and I are enjoying watching in the evenings, and catching up on shows we missed in the past. I’ve been binge watching The Mindy Project at night while I work on Swagbucks – fun show!
  • Cooking/baking: There’s still a little bit left of the chocolate cake I made last week, so it will be a few days more before I bake something else. Brett’s making Scotch eggs for our dinner tonight. He and YaYu will have toast with theirs, and we’ll all share a big bowl of cut watermelon.

    Our overcast day at the beach was still lovely

  • Happy I accomplished this week: Even though it was overcast and looked like it would rain at any moment, Brett and I enjoyed our one afternoon at the beach on Thursday. Usually we read, but we chatted the whole time we were there which was fun. I drank my daily 64 ounces of water (and more) every day, did my language study, and rode my bike five days out of seven. YaYu let me help her with one of her college essays and actually accepted some of my suggestions! Brett and I both signed up for credit check and identity monitoring through USAA this week. We’ve always been careful, but feel a need to take some further precautions to protect our credit/money following the Equifax hack.
  • Looking forward to next week: I almost can’t believe it’s time again for our monthly Big Shop. Our shopping list seems quite short this month compared to others. Fingers are crossed that we make it to the beach another couple of times.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu ran a good race yesterday morning, and her time was a new personal record. The girls’ team from her school came in first. I was happy to get paid for my jury duty, although receiving the check brought back some unpleasant memories. But, I heard from someone on the island this week who knows the case well, and they thanked me for my vote to acquit, so that made me feel better.

    Two youngsters bringing their four-day old baby home from the hospital. Brett was taking advantage of the navy’s rule allowing beards, and I have a very fat post-pregnancy face (and can’t believe how much I look like my dad)!

  • Grateful for: Thirty-nine years ago this coming week, our wonderful son was born. What a joy he has been, and I am so proud and thankful to be the mom of such a kind and generous man, husband, father, brother, son and friend. He is smart, a good provider, very, very funny and witty, and is living his dream. My only regret is that we don’t get to see him or his family more.
  • Bonus question: What do you enjoy most about blogging? What do you like the least? Easily, the best part of blogging is the personal connections I’ve made, both online and in real life. I absolutely love the feedback, and the give-and-take, I get from my readers (I’ve only had one negative commenter, who ended up getting herself banned). I’ve also had the good fortune to meet several readers and their spouses in person, and have formed lasting friendships with them. Another upside to blogging is that I enjoy writing and expressing myself. Our son once told me that people blog because they love the sound of their own voice, which is true, but I’ve always enjoyed writing and this gives me an outlet (sorry though Mr. Burdine, there is no “great American novel” in me). The downside of maintaining a blog is that I have to come up with things to write about! Sometimes the muse is with me and I have lots of ideas and things to say, but other times it’s a real struggle to find a topic that interests me and that I think might interest readers. This year in particular has been a challenge at times because I gave myself a goal at the beginning of the year of posting five times a week. Other downsides? I can’t think of any.

That’s a wrap for this week! Hope everyone reading had a lovely week, and have another good one coming up!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 9/10/2017

The Eagle Creek fire burns out of control outside of the town of Cascade Locks on the Columbia River.

Out of control fires. Hurricanes. Major earthquakes. It seems like the earth is very, very angry right now, and I keep wondering, what’s going to happen next? Although our eyes are currently on Irma as she churns her way up Florida, and our thoughts and prayers with everyone hunkered down there, the fires in the Columbia Gorge, just outside of Portland, have been the most painful to follow this past week. We spent many happy times in the Gorge, visiting the many waterfalls, hiking, taking in the glorious views, dining at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge (which was thankfully spared), so to see the pictures of what much of it looks like now has hit us hard. It’s even more difficult to comprehend because all the destruction was caused by the completely thoughtless, careless actions of one teenage boy, who thought it would be fun to light firecrackers and throw them down into the (dry) forest off the trail.

A hiking trail through a formerly lush wooded area of the Columbia Gorge. When the rains start later in the fall, massive landslides are expected.

We’ve had a fairly nice week here though with mostly cooler temperatures, although last Wednesday was as hot as ever. Kaua’i has been having much warmer weather this year than in the past, and a much drier summer. There haven’t been any temperature records broken, but more consecutive days at the high temperatures which is why it feels hotter than previous summers.

We seem to back into the swing of things here as we get into the school year, although we are already seeing YaYu’s hand stretched out for things required for graduation and such. We just paid for her senior pictures (flat rate for everyone) and we have her grad night celebration fee coming up soon as well. We’ve also had to buy her cross country team shirt, and there have been a few more things. I complain about it all, but it really is much, much less than we had to pay for all of this back in Portland. Meiling and WenYu are settling in for their school years as well. Meiling has moved into her new apartment, and WenYu and her roommate got a nice, big room this year versus the cozy one they had last year (no lake view though). WenYu got a job working part-time at the dining hall in her dormitory. Finally, my son and family moved into a new condo at the end of last month – they wanted to live closer to our grandson’s school (he just started first grade at an international school), and this location is also next to a big park so he can get outside more. The condo is a bit bigger than their last one, and has a traditional tatami room! They’re still unpacking and getting settled, and both Brett and I looking forward to seeing pictures when they’re done.

Somebody loves her new house (and she’s a climber!)

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir mid-week, but had nothing on my hold list come available so I am rereading Your Keys, Our House by Michael and Debbie Campbell, the Senior Nomads. There’s so much good information in this book, and I’m already picking up things I missed the first time. Michael and Debbie, by the way, just began a 10-week internship with AirBNB in San Francisco!
  • Listening to: I’m enjoying another quiet morning here at Casa Aloha. There’s a lovely breeze outside, and lots of birds making noise – thankfully none are chickens. The weekly laundry will be starting soon though, and there will go the quiet..
  • Watching: Tonight Brett and I will be watching the last episode of Endeavour – such a great series – but otherwise we watched Wolf Hall on Amazon about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. The Tudor period has never been all that interesting to me, but the show was superb. Is there anything Damien Lewis is in that isn’t top quality? We just started watching the series Catastrophe on Amazon and are enjoying it so far. I binge watched Master of None on Netflix, starring Asiz Anasi, and loved every episode and wish there were more!
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having one of our favorites tonight: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs, along with steamed rice for Brett and YaYu and cucumbers for all of us. I baked a triple chocolate bunds cake this morning by request.

    We had the beach to ourselves on Tuesday . . .

  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett and I fulfilled our goal of going to the beach twice – both times were delightful and a nice break from the heat. Brett took the car in for its semi-annual service, so that’s done until next year. I did my language study every day, made my daily water intake goal every day (and then some), and rode my exercise bike five miles every day except Wednesday (it was just too hot, even in the evening). I Can’t wait to get back to riding more, but it’s just going to have to cool down some before that happens.

    . . . and on Thursday (the ocean was much rougher that day).

  • Looking forward to next week: There’s nothing on the calendar for us so we’re hoping to get back to the beach another couple of times. It’s so relaxing there, and with the summer tourists gone we practically have the whole place to ourselves.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu retook her ACT test yesterday morning and feels like she did a little better. She was miserably sick when she took the test last spring (running a fever, couldn’t concentrate, came home and went to bed for two full days, etc.) so fingers are crossed for a better score this time. Getting that first Southwest gift card was a big accomplishment, and will help with travel expenses when we begin the Big Mystery Adventure.™ My goal is to earn at least three more before the end of next summer.

    Fire creeps down the slope behind the Multnomah Falls Lodge. A whole crew sucessfully worked to save the Lodge from burning.

  • Grateful for: Firefghters and search and rescue crews did a fantastic job in Oregon of getting people living in the fire zone evacuated, and keeping homes and other landmarks, like the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge, safe from burning. It’s going to take a while for the Gorge to heal, but I’m so very thankful no lives or homes were lost.
  • Bonus question: Have you ever been through a hurricane? Yes! We lived in Key West in the late 1980s, and were there for Floyd in 1987, a Category 1 storm. Brett was one of the hurricane readiness coordinators for NAS Key West, and helped prepared the evacuation shelters, among other jobs. Thankfully we didn’t end up needing to evacuate, but it was still a frightening experience to go through, so I can only imagine how terrifying a Category 4 storm is, and the damage it has caused. We went through two Category 3 typhoons in Japan. Japan’s forecasting for the storms was nothing short of amazing. If they said the storm would arrive at 9:04, it arrived at 9:04, on the nose. I remember one of the storms literally stripping all the leaves from the trees, among other damage it caused, and then seeing the trees budding out again and the cherry blossoms blooming a second time in the summer – very weird. The most difficult part of the storms to go through for me was the sound of the howling wind – it was relentless, like banshees shrieking, whether it was Floyd or one of the typhoons in Japan. We also experienced two tornados when we were stationed at NAS Memphis. Again, very scary, but thankfully no damage to where we lived (there was damage nearby though). I am praying and thinking all good thoughts for everyone in Florida as Irma passes through.

That’s a wrap for this week at Casa Aloha. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 9/3/2017

This is how I want to see the palm trees, with the breeze/wind blowing through them.

It’s September already? I sure wish we had cooler weather to look forward to as the month progresses, but it’s not going to arrive here for another couple of months. The mornings have been lovely all week, but by afternoon it is H-O-T, and the humidity builds, The biggest problem for me is that the winds die down in the evening and without any breeze the humidity settles in making things very uncomfortable. Our house really is settled the wrong direction on the lot to catch the breezes when they are around, so the heat builds and then stays throughout the day. I know it will get cooler, but we’ve still got a couple of months to go.

I like to actually write the Sunday Afternoon post on Sunday, but usually set out an outline for the post on Friday, which this week turned out have been a very good thing to do as I became very, very sick early Saturday morning with either food poisoning or an attack of Norovirus. Let’s just say that yesterday was not a very pleasant day . . . at all. I am feeling somewhat better this morning but it will still take another day or two before I’m fully myself again.

On the plus side, YaYu was named as one of the captains of her cross country team, and we are so incredibly proud of her we could burst! When she started high school three years ago, she wanted to run cross country because WenYu did, but she could barely make it around the track. She has stuck with it though and improved her times every year and now is one of the better runners on the team. Cross country practices and meets start at the absolutely worst time of the year, when the weather is at its hottest and most humid, but she gets out there every day and works hard.

Overall though this was not the happiest of weeks, with WenYu leaving to return to college – I miss her so much! –  the miserable jury experience, getting sick, the ongoing catastrophe in Houston, and the complete lack of leadership our country is experiencing right now. I have felt all week like the jury experience snapped or broke something inside of me, and everything else going on hasn’t helped. I am a forward-looking person though and am hoping that turning myself toward what’s coming up – the holidays with the girls home, YaYu’s college search, her graduation next year, and the Big Mystery Adventure™ – will help get my head and heart back in a good place. I’m also going to focus on what’s good and beautiful about Kaua’i and hope it will help heal what’s wrong inside.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I am enjoying Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir. I had a uneasy relationship with my mother, and not sure I could have lived in the same house with her for longer than the periods I did. If nothing else I have a great deal of empathy for the author’s experience with her mother.
  • Listening to: It’s quiet now here except for the sound of the washing machine going. Brett is out on his run, and YaYu is studying in her room. The roosters were at it very early this morning. They haven’t been around for a while, but are back and louder than ever. There’s one that sounds like he’s crowing through a bullhorn he’s so loud!
  • Watching: Brett and I finished the the Rebus series last night so are looking for something new, although tonight we’ll be watching Endeavour on PBS. We were going to watch Game of Thrones but we’d have to subscribe to HBONow which we don’t want to do. We’ll find something. I watched  Design On A Dime this past week while I earned Swagbucks in the evening. It was pretty mindless, but entertaining enough. Friday evening, before I got sick, I watched all six episodes of The Tick on Amazon. All four of the kids and I loved the cartoon series, and the live version did not disappoint. I can’t wait for more – the lead actor is terrific.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having the Chinese three-color salad with chicken for dinner tonight. It was supposed to be our dinner last night, but that didn’t happen for obvious reasons (Brett and YaYu had macaroni and cheese). No baking today – with WenYu gone there’s a risk now that anything I bake will end up with Brett having to eat most of it – YaYu is not big on sweets.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: It was not a week for accomplishment on my side, but Brett finally got his eyes examined and will be getting new glasses this month. I was only able to ride my bike a couple of days this past week because it was just too hot, but I met my daily water goals (except for yesterday) and watched my food intake, and got my language study done every day. I am getting close to moving up to the next level! I can understand things when native speakers say them, put sentences together if I have the words in front of me, but still cannot speak it yet, but that’s very typical for this stage of language learning (speaking is the last skill to arrive). I really need to be in a language classroom, but that’s not happening here.

    We need to get back here this week

  • Looking forward to next week: We don’t have anything on our schedule, but with both WenYu and YaYu back at school Brett’s and my schedule is freed up, so we’re hoping for at least a couple of relaxing days at the beach.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides YaYu’s good news, WenYu had a successful and easy (albeit long) journey back to Massachusetts and is moved into her dorm (same roommate as last year) and ready to start her second year. Brett got his new iPad ordered and it arrived in just two days – he’s been having fun setting it up and getting used to it instead of his old PC. The back earnings coming from Social Security was a nice surprise, and will beef up our travel savings total this month. Brett and I have had some good discussions this week about our big trip, and got a few more things settled, mostly about budgeting and tracking our funds, before and during travel. We did a fruit run to Costco last week, and they still had ripe peaches available – the best ones we’ve had yet – as well as big ripe pineapples from Maui for just $2.99.
  • Grateful for: I want to thank everyone for their supportive comments on my jury post earlier in the week. I think that was the lowest I’ve felt in a long time, and your support and kindness helped keep me from sinking even further.
  • Bonus question: What did your parents almost name you? My mom was a tiny woman, and I was a big baby (9 pounds, 13 ounces) so throughout her pregnancy they thought there was a real possibility she was having twins. Mom and Dad were ready and picked out two names, but interestingly just for girls – for some reason they assumed that if they were having twins both babies would be girls. So, the other name chosen to go along with Laura was Paula Jean. My middle name begins with R, and was given to honor the woman who rented them their first apartment after they were married, and who became a good friend and mentor. Anyway, I could have ended up being Paula Jean when it was just me that arrived, but I’m thankful they decided to go with Laura. They did have a boy’s name chosen, but just one: James Mason. My father’s name was James, and at the time I was born he was in the navy serving in the Korean War, on the USS Mason. The day the message arrived from the Red Cross that I had been born he was the Officer of the Day, and he said he was busy signing all sorts of papers when he realized that one of the things he had signed a few pages back was the telegram announcing he had a new daughter! He did have cigars ready though, and said he spent a happy day passing them out to the other officers. He got another message from the Red Cross six days after I was born though, that his father was dying, so he was flown home for that and got to meet me when I was 10 days old, versus several months later.

That’s all for this week. I’m looking forward to getting back to my regular posting schedule tomorrow. Hope everyone reading had a lovely week, and is looking forward to the one coming up!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 8/27/2017

I would like this to be over now.

I will try to keep this short and sweet today as I’m tired, stressed and just don’t feel at my best today. Jury duty will continue tomorrow – we are now deliberating, but it’s not going to be quick or easy. I believe we may have a few more days to go before we can reach a verdict, so I’m not sure when things will return to normal on the blog.

My thoughts and prayers this morning are with Texas, and especially Houston and the Texas gulf coast. Hurricane Harvey was/is worse right now than what was predicted, and getting worse by the hour. Every time I check for updates it takes my breath away. I encourage everyone to help however they can – currently donations of money to relief organizations is what’s needed most; other donations, and volunteering can come later. Clean-up and recovery is going to be a long, long process after this catastrophe.

We’ve received other bad news as well this morning: Brett’s younger brother’s son, who is just two months older than our son, died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage while he was at work. He has a wife and 10 year-old son. While Brett and his brother are not estranged, they’re not close either, but this still comes as huge, sad shock. And, to add insult to injury we got a message from Meiling this morning right about the same time that during the night someone had cut the brake lines on her bike. Because she doesn’t drive, she depends on her bike to get to work and classes. Who does these things and why?

I’m feeling sad today as well because WenYu leaves this coming week, and with the trial going on I really haven’t prepared myself for her departure. I have loved having her home this summer, and will miss her greatly, but I’m also so proud of her and what she is doing with her life, a part of which is going to college.

My bedroom was the upstairs room on the right – I had my own door to the balcony!

In a not very fun week I discovered one fun thing. I think I wrote on the blog year before last about finding online that my childhood home was for sale, and how other than some cosmetics and the addition of a swimming pool nothing had really been done to it since we lived there in the 1960s. Well, it’s on the market again, this time for over $3 million (My parents sold the house in 1968 for less than $60K), and it’s been completely renovated, remodeled and redone since the sale. It looks amazing! I wonder if there’s a for-sale sign out in front this time – back when we lived there no realty signs ever went up, and houses were sold by word-of-mouth; there was a waiting list to buy something on the street. My parents heard about our house before it was listed because friends were being transferred, and they decided to snap it up.

Anyway, this afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I just downloaded Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir, by Katie Hafner onto my Kindle, and have barely started it, but so far it’s very engaging. The trial and all that has given me to think about has made it difficult to read most of the time – I have trouble concentrating.
  • Listening to: We had an absolutely beautiful morning, nice and cool and breezy, but know it’s going to get warm (hot) later on.  YaYu had to leave early to volunteer at the county fair, and WenYu drove her so she could go shopping on the way home for some thing she needs to take back to school. It should have been quiet around here but the washing machine is doing its thing. No rest for the wicked.
  • Watching: Brett and I are watching the Rebus series on Hulu right now. The show switched actors after the first season, and the second actor (the whole ensemble, really) is a much, much better fit for the character than the first, so we’re enjoying it more. We’ll watch another episode of Endeavour tonight on PBS, but otherwise I’m not watching anything else right now – there’s just nothing I want to see, and I haven’t had the time or inclination to look for anything this past week.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re going to have lumpia (Filipino spring rolls), rice and Asian-y coleslaw for dinner tonight. The lumpia is already made – I just have to fry it, and that won’t take long. It was cool-ish for a while this morning so I baked a pan of brownies for lunches/snacks next week.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Heading off to jury duty every day this week has been a chore, but I made it on time and got through each day. I was unable to ride my exercise bike several day because of exhaustion, but I did study my language every day, and drank more than my daily allotment of water. I also reached the first goal every day with Swagbucks, and I’ve almost reached my second Swagbucks earnings goal (first was for Christmas).
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m hoping we (the jury) can reach a verdict sooner rather than later.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and the girls really stepped in to make sure everything got done around the house while I was gone for the day, and put up with me collapsing into a ball on the sofa when I got home each evening.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I’ve lost another two pounds this month, which frankly surprised me, but maybe it’s because part of me melted – it’s been that hot on a few days. I’ve lost 25 pounds so fa since February, and am somewhat ashamed to admit that there’s more to go. We put $721.46 in our travel savings last month, and our total is now $5311.22. We’re well ahead of where we need to be at this point to reach our goal at the end of the year so we’re happy about that!
  • Grateful for: I’m so thankful for my supportive and understanding family right now. I can’t talk about the trial, and they don’t ask. They also let me have the time to compose myself every evening, to get my head out of the trial, and back into the “real world.”
  • Bonus question: Do you like going to your county or state fair? Well, my answer is no – they’re really not something I enjoy. We hadn’t been to one in a long time and went to the Kaua’i County Fair the first summer we were here. It was so expensive! We thought we had brought plenty of money, but by the time we paid admission for all of us, we had enough left for the girls to go on just one ride so we could afford something to eat (one plate lunch that all of us shared). I’m not sure how families afford it. Generally county and state fairs are too crowded for my taste, the rides sketchy, and everything is too expensive. I’d rather spend my money on just about anything else. That said, I do enjoy seeing the farm and other animals and all the contest entries (canning, quilting, etc.).

That’s it for this week. I promise  details from the trial once we arrive at a verdict, but like I said, it might take a few more days. Otherwise, I hope all of you have a wonderful week, and have another good one to look forward to!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 8/20/2017

This coming week will be WenYu’s last full week at home, before heading back to begin her second year at Wellesley. I have absolutely loved having her here with us this summer, and I know it will be hard to say goodbye next week. This coming Saturday will be her last day of work, and she’ll be pulling a double shift. Her job as a busser has been very lucrative, and she’s made enough that she can consider an internship or study abroad course next summer as well as cover her third-year expenses. Of all our children, she always was the quickest to spend her money, but these days she’s all about the saving.

Later this afternoon I’m sitting down with YaYu to go over her application essay again. Can I just say I will be so happy when this whole application business is all over? Of course, after this we get to go through the waiting, which equally tortuous.

And yes, tomorrow morning I’m heading to the courthouse for jury duty! It’s the second time I’ve been called here, but the first case was settled before trial last time so I didn’t have to report. I don’t know if I’ll actually be chosen for the jury this time or not, but I’m fine either way. The tiny amount I’ll get paid will go into the travel fund.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, came off hold last week, just as I finished Knots and Crosses. So far I am loving this book – I have gotten so caught up in the story that I can barely stand to put it down.
  • Listening to: A lovely, quiet morning here. There’s a nice breeze blowing through the trees outside, and a few birds singing, but otherwise everyone here is reading, and nothing noisy is going on outside. We’re going to start the laundry in a few minutes though, and there will go the quiet.

    Location, location, location – the city of Edinburgh is treated almost like a character in the Rebus stories.

  • Watching: Brett and I finished all the available episodes of Hinterland on Friday, and were planning to dip our toes into Game Of Thrones. However, we discovered that Hulu has the Rebus series, and since we’re both big Rebus fans (the books), we decided to watch this first. YaYu volunteered until late last night and Brett went along to help, so WenYu and I enjoyed watching some classic scary movies together (Sleepy Hollow, The Shining) because we love them!
  • Cooking/baking: It’s still too hot to bake, but I made a batch of white chocolate chip – macadamia nut cookie dough this morning and am freezing it in portions so that Brett can bake a few cookies some mornings for YaYu’s lunch. Dinner tonight will be baked chili rellenos with salsa verde, yellow rice and a cucumber salad.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: Staying within our budget on the big shop this past week was a huge chore, but we managed. We only bought what was on our list, but even then we had to put a few things back in order not to overspend, and we were only able to get two items on our stock-up list. I got all the sofa cushion covers washed yesterday and dried out in the sun. Taking them off is easy, but getting them back on is a chore. I rode five miles every evening on my bike, drank my daily water allotment (and then some), and did my language study every day. I made the Swagbucks first goal every day, although it was a challenge at times.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to jury duty or not. The last time I was on a jury it was interesting, and we’ve been warned to bring a sweater because the courtroom is cold. I can think of worse things right now than to be in a cool/cold environment all day. Brett is looking forward to getting an iPad Pro and keyboard this week! It’s a planned travel expense for next year (his current PC is too heavy and bulky to tote around), and we decided to go ahead and get it for him now.

    Favorite summer breakfast: Greek yogurt topped with fresh peaches and a sprinkle of granola

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Meiling was hired for the job she interviewed for last week – she now has three jobs but they all coordinate nicely and won’t interfere with her classes. Costco still had nice big, ripe peaches available this past week, so we bought another flat and will enjoy them for one more week.
  • Grateful for: Once again, this week I have been VERY thankful for the little fan YaYu brought me from China. It’s helped to keep me sane on more than one occasion this past week.
  • Bonus question: What do you do when you can’t sleep at night? I go through bouts of insomnia a couple of times a year – don’t know why – but my brain just can’t seem to slow itself down. I’ve learned not to fight it when it happens and just go with it. I’ll toss and turn a few times, but then usually get up and grab my book or write or search the web for a while, and when I’m tired enough I go back to bed and usually fall asleep quickly . Sometimes though that’s not until 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. I know experts say to stay away from computers, smartphones, etc. but they don’t seem to affect my ability to fall asleep or not. Brett falls asleep the minute he puts his head on the pillow, whether the light is on at night or people are talking or the TV is on in the next room (a skill he learned from serving for so many years on aircraft carriers, with jets launching and landing right overhead around the clock). I envy him – these days I have to wear a sleep mask and earplugs because I need it dark and quiet in order to fall asleep.

That’s a wrap for this week? How did your week go? What are you looking forward to? What good things happened for you?

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave