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Friday, March 31, 2017

Income Tax Filing

Aloha Everyone,

It's tax season again. I believe that there is an adage that says, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes."

Until last year, we always relied on a CPA in Hawaii to file our state and federal income taxes for both business and personal. Now that we are retired and our home state South Dakota has no state income tax, J.J. took it upon himself to do the tax filing using Turbo Tax. Being a first time Turbo Tax user, J.J. was cautious and double checked his entries. Finally, with a simple click of a finger, the electronic filing to the IRS was accomplished. We will await to celebrate if we get the tax refund as indicated on our filing.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Mother's Luncheon

Aloha Everyone,

An invitation from the Vice Consul of the Consulate General of Japan, Los Angeles came about a week ago. The event was to welcome visiting members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Tokyo. There were 6 invitees who represented the dignitaries of local communities. A friend came to pick up my Mother. She was excited, but at the same time apprehensive. As you can see from the souvenir photo taken at the Santa Monica oceanfront restaurant, I think my Mother enjoyed herself.  

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer

Aloha Everyone,

Atlas Obscura, An Explorer's  Guide To The World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton was recommended to us by Joe, a friend of our son.

Three years ago, when J.J. and I were at the cusp of our retirement and embarking on our RV adventure in Honu, Joe taught me how to juggle using juggling balls. So when he said, "This is a book that you would definitely enjoy..." we went to Barnes & Noble to purchase a copy.  

The book is sectioned into 8 areas including Europe, Asia. Africa, Oceania, Canada, USA, Latin America and Antarctica.

In the USA segment, the country is divided into West Coast, Four Corners and Southwest, Gteat Plains, The Midwest, The Southwest, The Mid-Atlantic, New England and finally Alaska and Hawaii.

It is a huge book about the size of my yoga reference book and I estimate it's weigh to be nearly 2 lbs. Fortunately, unlike other travel guides, I will not be lugging this along. Will keep you informed whenever J.J. and I discover an obscure destination mentioned in this Atlas.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Everywhere is Super Bloom

Aloha Everyone,

Amazing awe-inspiring, once in a decade Super Bloom is not just limited to the Anza-Barrego Desert State Park.  

Today we bid adieu to our family in La Jolla and returned to my Mother's home in the South Bay Area. All along Interstate 405 to 5, we enjoyed spring weather, clear blue sky and yes, the endless tapestry of wildflowers. Some says that this "super bloom" is unlike anything seen in the area since 2005.

In my Mother's garden, wisteria blossoms with a sweet yet subtle fragrance.

Dramatic and bold African Adventure Jungle Trail of the Cymbidium orchid is currently dominating her backyard flower garden.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mission Trails Regional Park

Aloha Everyone,

It is always a great pleasure for me to be outdoors especially to go walking or hiking. After dropping off our granddaughter at her school, my daughter-in-law and I headed to the Mission Trails Regional Park.  

This park is the sixth-largest municipally owned park in the nation and the largest in California. The 5,800-acre open space preserve is located within the city of San Diego, but a world apart from the large metropolis.

The two of us followed the river trail to Old Mission Dam, then took another trail through meadows with abundance of wildflowers surrounded by mountain peaks.  

There's so much to see and do.

My daughter-in-law and I reluctantly hurried through the Visitor Center completing our 3 hours walk to meet J.J. for lunch.

Our son's family completed the Five Peaks Challenge last year and I am tempted to challenge myself perhaps next spring when the weather is perfect for hiking.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Full Day Of Activities With Our Granddaughter

Aloha Everyone,

The first order of the day was to attend our granddaughter's flute recital. The piece she played was Handel's Sonata #5, Opus 1#7. She gave a short speech about Handel, confirmed the tuning with the pianist, then played with passion, poise and confidence.

My son and I were able to get some walking this morning while waiting for the recital to commence. The road which ran adjacent to the Museum of Making Music overlooks the Flower Fields of the Carlsbad Ranch. This year, the field is open to the public from March 1 to May 10. One of the attractions, which is easier to view from the higher ground, is a 300-by-170-foot American flag made out of red, white, and blue petunias.

Tonight as we were drawing sunflowers, my granddaughter asked if I could teach her Japanese. At her school, she had studied basic Mandarin for a year and for the past 2 years or so, she has Spanish classes. Foreign languages, if learned at a young age, has tremendous benefits  including faster, easier and better fluency without accent. Young children absorb new concepts like a sponge. Eager to take advantage of her initiative and curiosity,  I decided to incorporate learning Japanese into our pillow fights. For example, I said "head" and she would say "atama" and swings the pillow. I hope to continue our Japanese lesson via FaceTime while J.J. and I are traveling with Honu.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Metal Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Aloha Everyone,

My day of adventure to view wildflowers gave me enough photos and stories for 3 consecutive blogs. This is the final installment.

Spring wildflowers viewing is one of the top visitor attractions of Anza-Barrett Desert Park. But when the flowers are gone, another attraction remain year around. There are 130 full-sized metal sculptures of creatures that roamed this desert millions of years ago.

The sculptures are scattered around a large open area. It is easy to imagine that on a rainy day, or in a misty morning fog, these prehistoric mammals and creatures may appear to come to life.

It seems that many visitors were attracted to the 350-foot-long serpent. On the day when wildflower viewing seemed to superseded the sculptures, a long line of cars and people on foot were surrounding the serpent trying to get a closer look at the monster's face.

The sculptures are the creation  of artist/welder/owner Ricardo Breceda, known as, "Perris Jurassic Park' in Perris, California. 

This free standing sculpture art collection was the fulfillment of a dream by the late Dennis Avery, landowner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs. For additional info, please go to:

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, March 24, 2017

Spring Wildflowers of Borrego Spring

Aloha Everyone,

Wildflower viewing is serious business. There is a wildflower hotline and website where one can track when the flowers bloom. 54 different species of wildflowers found in the Borrego Spring area are featured in the Anzac-Borrego Dessert State Park's official brochure.

Not all wildflowers are bright colored and easy to see. Many are minute or hiding in the shades of other plants. Some, according to the brochure, are called belly flowers because you have to get down on your belly to appreciate them.

On a normal year, these wildflowers bloom from late February through March. Certain amount of rain and warm days are factors that can affect when they blossom.

This year with all the right elements in place, we have a super bloom.

For additional information, please go to:

Aloha -- Cathi