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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lunch With Cousin Nonny

Aloha Everyone,

Southern California is experiencing unusually cold weather. According to a local TV channel, New Year's Eve will be rainy and cold where we are, and there will be snow in areas above 2,000 feet. Organizers and participants as well as spectators of the Pasadena Rose Parade are expressing their concerns about the weather.

J.J. and I will be setting off with my Mother on a small adventure on New Year's Day. We will keep our plans flexible in accordance with the weather.

Today, J.J. and I met Cousin Nonny and his wife Moira at the Szechuan restaurant located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita. Noted for their excellent choices of Dim Sum, we spent a couple of enjoyable hours catching up.

Here is Jill, the owner of the restaurant.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day of Shopping and Errands

Aloha Everyone,

Our day of shopping began by going to Wal-Mart and Costco.

ABC Pool & Patio where they sell spa related products was our next stop. My Mother has been enjoying her daily spa for the last 22 years. The spa is set up in her backyard protected from the elements. Rain or shine, she jumps in her spa prior to going to sleep. We are certain that taking daily spa also contributes to her great health.

Bryan and Cindi at ABC Pool & Patio

Barbara at Baskin Robbins took our order of a Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream birthday cake for one of our grand- nephews' 9th birthday which we will be celebrating on New Year's Eve.

Our final stop before stopping at a gas station was at Ralph's where we purchased a bundle of firewood for the New Year's Eve party.

It is sunny but a chilly 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature is expected to drop coming New Year's Day weekend. Perhaps our granddaughter might be able to enjoy snowfall when we go to the Palm Desert.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gobo (Burdock)

Aloha Everyone,

Gobo is the Japanese name for the root of the burdock plant. It is used as a vegetable in many traditional Japanese dishes.

The burdock roots have also been used in treating chronic diseases such as cancers and diabetes as a "blood purifier" to remove toxins. Likewise, extracts of burdock roots are used for skin problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis.

My Mother prepares Kimpira Gobo, stirred fried burdock root in olive oil. The root is then seasoned with brown sugar, mirin (cooking rice wine) soy sauce and Hichimi tougarsdhi (mixture of seven peppery spices).  As in most traditional Japanese dishes, the preparation of Kimpira Gobo is tedious and time consuming. Usually eaten as a side dish and can " dress-up" any bento boxes (traditional lunch boxes).

Whether or not eating gobo has a direct impact on my health, I enjoy the dish and request for it whenever we are at her home as it's one of my Mother's special dishes.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Falling Gas Prices

Aloha Everyone,

Gas prices have been falling and for J.J. and I, we receive  a direct benefit of the price differences from 8 months ago.

According to the recent CNN Money story,  there are 32 states where gas prices are less than $2.00.

Among the 50 states, Hawaii is the highest while Missouri  is the lowest.

Reasons for this dropping gas prices are due to the slowing down of economy in some parts of the world and over supply of oil.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Joy of Reading Books

Aloha Everyone,

I enjoy reading multiple books at a time. A small pocket book by Pema Chodron is always in my shoulder bag so I can turn to it when I have a few minutes. Classic books are for my night time reading. Jane Austin's "Pride & Prejudice" is one of my all time favorites. J.J. teases me that I've memorized the passages, but I enjoy re-reading nevertheless.

Irvin D. Krause's book, "You Will Never See Any God" is a collection of nine short stories. Titles: Spring Flood, The Metal Sky, The Witch may offer some ideas as to its content.  Characters in his stories are mean spirited, merciless, unforgiving yet real human brings, weak and strong, hopeful yet poignant. They represent the Mid-West independent, stubborn character and humanity. This may be traced to Irvin D. Krause's roots: Nebraska.

The book was a gift from his widow who is a good friend and our mentor. The stories are original and leaves you not feeling warm and fuzzy but thought provoking and contemplative suitable for reading on a sunny day sitting under the shade of a big tree.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, December 25, 2014

International Cuisine For Christmas Dinner

Aloha Everyone,

Today's Christmas dinner featured an extremely international spread.

My brother made his famous clam chowder soup and what he calls a Korean-Mexican style beef BBQ.

J.J. made a Spanish Paella with quail eggs.

My niece prepared Asian salad and baked a healthy crusted pumpkin pie from scratch.

My Mother and sister prepared additional food and desserts that were all so tasty.

Our four grand-nephews ages 5, 7, 9 and 12 provided entertainment and laughter perfect for a family gathering.

We had dinner at my sister's house. Here are some pictures of her view:

Hope everyone had a wonderful and joyful Christmas.

Family faces are magic mirrors looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.
-- Gail Lumet Buckley

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas Eve Everyone!

Aloha Everyone,

One of the things I love about my Mother's house is the real old- fashioned fireplace in the living room.

J.J., utilizing his Boy Scout training, built a warm, large fire for us. It's almost spiritual and mesmerizing to sit by the fireplace and gaze into its dancing flames.

As we are waiting to celebrate Christmas tomorrow, we must not forget the real meaning of Christmas. Let's remind ourselves we are celebrating life. Live each day joyfully, fully and express your gratitude and love not just on Christmas but every day.

Aloha -- Cahti

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Family Reunion in Southern California

Aloha Everyone,

Christmas time becomes especially meaningful and joyful when we have a chance to spend with families and friends.

Today J.J. and I had a wonderful time getting together with one of his aunts' family in Southern California. There were five of her grown children, ( J.J.'s first cousins) their spouses, grandchildren and friends.

One of J.J.'s sisters and her daughter were also able to join. The event was 30 plus years reunion for some and establishing new relationships with others.

I greeted and were able to chat with at least a half of the 30 or so guests. Among them were Cousin Cory and her childhood friend, Willie.

Cousin Gadu flew in from Sydney, Australia with his wife. Here he is with Willie.

Cousin Gadu was too shy to have us sing him "Happy Birthday," but there were several distinctive and delicious cakes to celebrate his birthday.

Nonny and J.J.

Marie-Reine, daughter of Cousin Nonny was an impressive young lady. She is a theater producer focusing on Asian American theater in Los Angeles. Bright, energetic and good-hearted young woman, she told me that she has been involved in theater and performing arts for 12 years. When I asked her why she likes theater, she told me, "I do theater to give a voice to people who don't feel they have one."

Marie-Reine and Anna

Fabulous home-cooked dishes were the main stars of the evening.

What a blessing it is to belong to a large extended family whose younger generation kept on calling me "Tita Cathi" (Auntie Cathi) and gave me kisses but half of the time I had no idea who they are or to whom they belong to.

"Ohana means family.  No one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten."
Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlpis, Lilo & Stitch, Disney Movie

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 22, 2014

Angel the Plumber

Aloha Everyone,

Angel, pronounced Ahmh-hale, responded to our call when my Mother's kitchen sink backed up last Saturday. The minutes he stood at her front door, we felt at ease with him.

The dishwasher water came up the master bathroom shower and we had to call Angel back.

This reminded me of a funny story that Mr. D, the head of the art department at our son's high school once told us.  Mr. D was an "atypical" teacher.  While he wan a great teacher, and an exceptional potter and sculptor, what endeared him to his students was his own unique brand of philosophy and life lessons which he shared freely with his students.

Both of our sons excelled academically, but Mr. D told them to consider a career of air conditioner repairman. He further went to advise them that a certified air conditioning repairman in Hawaii would make more money than a white collared professional working in the air-conditioned office. Mr. D then would laugh whole-heartedly enjoying his own joke.

Licensed plumber like licensed air-conditioner repairman is a valued tradesman. My Mother said that she has been receiving the magnet refrigerator calendar for the past 10 years. Angel from Bestline Plumbing was very pleased to hear that their advertising is effective. We in turn were very happy to have found a reliable and professional plumber who stands by his advertised message.

Aloha -- Cathi