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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Activities With Our Granddaughter

Aloha Everyone,

Time is especially precious when we are with our granddaughter. There are things she and I continue to engage in such as pillow fights. Then there are times for conversation, catching up with each other’s lives since our last visit. I usually have some new things to share with her, whether it be new yoga exercises, new mantra, a style of art or new places J.J. and I’ve been to. My granddaughter in turn shares with me new books she has been reading, a new short story she has written (school assignment), her latest art work, new Tang Soo Do teachings and new music pieces.

The two of us also enjoyed “Moana”, the 2016 hit from Walt Disney animation. An adventure story set in Hawaii about the demigod Maui joining forces in an ancient quest with Moana, a teenage heroine. Auli’i Cravalho, who did the voice of Moana is a native Hawaiian. It had a good storyline, catchy Hawaiian music, dance and beautiful graphics and definitely entertaining.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, September 29, 2017

Anti-Theft Backpack

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. ordered a small backpack from Pacsafe. The bag has several features that are anti theft. The material used 
Is slash-resistant. There are slash guards built into the fabric so the bag cannot be cut by a razor blade. The adjustable straps are enforced with stainless steel wire.  his prevents thieves from cutting the strap to steal your bag. You can loop the strap around a leg chair. A special weave prevents stealing microchip data from your credit cards.

I’ve had my Pacsafe shoulder bag for nearly 10 years. I use it everyday and as my granddaughters says, “You carry everything in it. If I need a pencil and paper, you have them. If I need a snack, hand wipe or water, you also carry them.”

I believe J.J.’s new backpack will serve him well, too.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Music in the Air at Millikan High School

Aloha Everyone,

The Music in the Air is a semi-annual outdoor concert presented by the Music Department of Millikan High School. Located in the Long Beach School district, Millikan High is one of the magnet schools emphasizing smaller learning communities (SLCs) designed to promote academic excellence, personal integrity, and essential life skills. Out of the three specialized programs, Sean, the oldest son of my niece, Jennifer, is enrolled in COMPASS (Community of Musicians, Performers, Artists, and Social Scientists). Among the 3,816 total students in grades 9-12, 600 of them are enrolled in music programs.

The event began at 4:15 pm and ended promptly at 6:45 pm. All 14 groups, including marching band & color guard, bands, vocal ensemble, orchestras and choirs presented short selections.

Well organized and family-oriented, we estimated that there were more than 1,000 family and friends. My sister had lawn chairs for each of us. Others spectators sat on blankets or backpacks munching food eager to catch a glimpse of their love ones on stage.

There was a $5 entrance fee per individual and typical outdoor event food such as hot dog, nacho, French fries with chili con carne, soda and water were selling briskly. J.J. bought me a pastrami sandwich which I shared with my niece Jennifer. The money raised goes to the music department. The night air was balmy; music was enjoyable. It was a very pleasant evening.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Self-Service Society

Aloha Everyone,

Call it progress as we change to a do-it-yourself society.

For example, we carry our own reusable shopping bag to supermarkets, scan items, make credit card payments and bag the groceries. At our bank, we are greeted by a bank officer but after that, you “talk” with a computer and complete your transaction, unless of course you need a teller to make deposits or withdrawals. At gas stations, you can fill up your tank, pay and drive off without speaking to anyone.

So today when J.J. and I went to Lowe’s to have duplicate keys made, we learn to make them ourselves.

Personally, I enjoy the human contact of yesteryears and perhaps that Is one of the reasons why I especially enjoy small rural communities where people still have personal interactions in their daily lives.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Japanese Bento Box

Aloha Everyone,

Bento refers to single-serving Japanese lunch boxes either homemade or purchased. Some are placed in beautiful lacquerware while take-out portions are placed in disposable containers.

Traditional bento boxes contain rice or noodles, and a combination of meat or fish and side dishes tastefully arranged by colors and varieties. Some even have sweet beans or dessert.  

There are specialties such as regional bento, train bento, seasonal bento, ladies’ bento, children’s bento and vegetarian bento.

Most of these bento boxes are meant to be carried away thus served cold. However, some restaurants especially in Tokyo area make hot bento with daily menu changes that are delivered to offices.

Our bento boxes were purchased from a Japanese Supermarket located in Gardena City, CA. J.J.'s white rice is sprinkled with sesame seeds topped with a dried plum. It included salmon, shrimp, 1/2 vegetable croquet plus 6 different vegetables.

My bento, served with brown rice, also had salmon and shrimp plus 8 varieties of vegetables. They were healthy and satisfying and reasonable for $16 for two.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Disposable Society

Aloha Everyone,

Today we live in a disposable society. It is a consumer driven, throw-away society. When things get old or even out of fashion, dispose and replace. In manufacturing lingo, it is known as “planned obsolescence.”

When JJ and I were students at the Art Center College, there was a light bulb that hung above an exit sign. It was made for lower wattage with thicker filaments. The lightbulb has lasted over a quarter of century. Invented by the custodian, he tried to license the product to manufacturing companies, but was rejected by all. Who wants a light bulb that lasts and lasts?

Most of us are guilty. Just look around your kitchen. There maybe: disposable napkins, baking pans, plates, food containers, water bottles, spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks, etc.

Whenever J.J. and I travelled with our then infant aged sons, we resorted to using disposable diapers and disposable bottles.

The sad thing about becoming accustomed to disposing old and replacing with new is that some people carry that to their personal issues. Thus when a relationship does not work, rather than try to mend it, it is discarded and replaced. When that is carried onto marriages involving small children, the outcome can be tragic.

There are doable solutions. Instead of throwing away, you can recycle, donate, or trade-in. Purchase durable quality goods. Europeans purchase one good coat and a handbag to last for years. Costs of goods are higher but they go for quality and classic styles which can stand the passage of time. Downsize your home and cars.  It can be done as tiny house has many merits and allows one to live a simpler and fuller life.

“I’m beginning to recognize that real happiness isn’t something large and looming on the horizon ahead but something small, numerous and already here. The smile of someone you love. A decent breakfast. The warm sunset, your little everyday joys all lined up in a row.”
—Beau Taplin/Little Everyday Joys

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Aloha Everyone,

My Mother has two types of persimmon trees in her backyard. This year she has a bountiful harvest. The oriental persimmon, aka Kaki, is native to China, Korea and Japan. They have been cultivated for centuries. The persimmon plant was introduced to California in the mid 1800's.

The bright vermillion colored acorn shaped variety is very attractive. Called Hachiya, the fruits are astringent even if they appear ripe. The fruit is also extremely tannic and it leaves an unpleasant sensation in the mouth. If you wait until the fruit is very soft, the meat should be sweet. The other way, much more labor intensive, is to peel the skin then hang them in the sun to dry.

Fuyu Kaki, round and squat variety is ready to eat when its skin is orange In color. The meat is crunchy with subtle sweetness. Fuyu Kaki is low in fats and calories, and it is delicious in salads. In some cultures, Fuyu Kaki is consider as the “King of all fruits” because of its health benefits such as: flavonoids, antioxidants, phytonutrients, gallocatechins and betulinic acid, a tumor inhibitor.

In Italy, I tried wonderful tasting Kaki, acorn shaped type, but cultivated so it was no longer astringent. In Spain, the fruits is called Caqui and grown in the Valencia region. I am looking forward to enjoying them.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Spain, Our Next Destination

Aloha Everyone,

Our next international travel destination is Spain. The two of us will be leaving for Barcelona on October 3rd and returning to California on November  25th.  

One of the major items on our "pre-departure things to do list" was to secure a place to park Honu for 2 months. Over the phone, all prospective RV storage places informed us that they have no vacancy. The solution J.J. and I came up was to visit Marina Boat & RV Storage in person.

Manuel (left) and Nery's response when we walked into their office was the same. No vacancy, call us next Saturday and maybe somebody has moved their boat or RV. Not to be easily dismissed, we engaged them in small talks. We mentioned about our coming trip to Spain. Nery told us that they would like a T-Shirt of the Barcelona Soccer Team. I  asked their sizes and we promised to bring back T-shirts if they could find space for Honu. Another computer search and a vacant space was quickly located. The cost for 2 months storage is $400.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, September 22, 2017

Reunited With Honu

Aloha Everyone,

Truly delighted to be reunited with Honu. The good news is that Honu has a new inverter and the cabin AC unit SHOULD work. The not-so-good news is that the owner at Sunrise RV Repair claims that other parts required to finish the requested work are not available in the USA. The RV was manufactured in Canada so parts have to be imported.  

Greg was busy doing touch up with acrylic paints and a brush. The pet grooming shop had commissioned him to do their windows for Christmas. With the sun and other harmful elements, Greg lamented that the paints faded and chipped off.

He was very happy to show off his "masterpieces" and said he learned his craft from a friend. His studio was the back of his truck with ladders, buckets, old rags, paint cans, paint brushes and other tools of his trade.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Back to California

Aloha Everyone,

Our Hawaiian Airline flight left Honolulu at 8:30 pm. Having a tailwind shortened our flight to 4 hours 45 minutes. Smooth landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). We had to wait for our Super Shuttle ride, but there was no freeway traffic at 5:00 am.

All is well. We hope to be reunited with Honu tomorrow.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Last Day in Honolulu

Aloha Everyone,

John and his wife Pat are both retired United States postmasters. Since their retirement, the two have been doing extensive overseas traveling. Some of their destinations are also on our Bucket List. This morning, over a leisurely breakfast, the three of us enjoyed an animated conversation mostly about healthcare and retirement.

Lunch at Auntie Pasto's was good. But J.J. said his Scampi Spaghetti tasted too lemony. I was a little disappointed with my Greek Salad. Chopped romaine lettuce with tomato slices, onions, olives and sprinkled Feta cheese resembled tossed green salad. Perhaps they lost their chef who used to make an authentic Greek salad with cubed cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and chunks of Feta cheese. Greek salad absolutely has no lettuce!

The week zipped by us. We had a fantastic time. As John was driving us to the airport, he asked if we were able to accomplished all we had planned. YES! We were able to spend some time with Jeff. We were able to see our friends, Jeff and Laura. We were able to catch up with Keoki and Alethea. And most of all, thanks to John and Pat, we had a restful stay in Waikiki.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Arrival of John

Aloha Everyone,

The Bus is an excellent means of transportation. With our Medicare card and $1 and a transfer, you can go to many places. This morning we took The Bus to the Ala Moana Center, one of the hubs, and then using a transfer, we took another bus to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The weather was absolutely beautiful and we didn't mind walking 6 blocks to the First Hawaiian Bank University Branch.

Shortly after our return to the condo, John arrived with suitcases packed with items he and his wife Pat would need for their wintering period in Hawaii. Pat is flying to Honolulu in two weeks. The last time we saw the two of them was at their home in Antioch, Illinois more than a year ago.  Though we stay in touch via phone calls, FaceTime and exchanges of  text messages, it is always wonderful to be in the same room.

For dinner, Jeff met us at the Island Burger Restaurant in Ala Moana Center where we enjoyed a lively conversation over sumptuous gourmet burgers.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fabulous Memorable Anniversary

Aloha Everyone,

Several joyful events occurred today. First our friends Connie and William from Ohio called to wish us a happy anniversary. We met this lovely couple on our last cruise to the Caribbean. We share the same anniversary date except it is a year apart. 

Our breakfasts in Hawaii are extra special due to the wonderful "Sunrise" papaya from Kauai. Their meat is firmer and taste superior than the more common yellow variety.

The two of us took a city Bus to Ala Moana Center, the largest shopping mall in Hawaii. This mall is also the 7th largest shopping mall in the United States and it is the largest open-air shopping center in the world. We had lunch at the Shirokiya Food Court.  

J.J. had a bowl of Tantan mein, a spicy noodle dish while I had healthy boiled vegetables.  

Josué and Justin replaced the battery of my old iPhone. With a new battery, the phone should last for another 2 years.

The highlight of this day was having dinner with our dear friends, Keoki and Alethea. Assagios Restaurant in Kahala was a perfect choice. Over an excellent meal, we had a chance to catch up with our lives since our last visit to the islands.

Our appetizer of fried calamari and my garlic sautéed opakapaka were excellent. Keoki ordered very rich desserts, but I was able to restrain myself  :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Day in Waikiki

Aloha Everyone,

Waikiki Beach is located on the south shore of the island of Oahu. Its length is about 2 miles. Along the beach are many hotels, restaurants, gift shops. The Shore Bird Restaurant at the Outrigger Reef Beach Resort has been one of our old favorites. When we learned that after 37 years, this popular oceanfront restaurant is facing imminent closure, we were curious to dine there perhaps for the last time.

At the end of an era, the restaurant had low energy. From the seating hostess to waitresses, we sensed a general feeling of despondence. The menu was all buffet items with a quality much to be desired. One can't help but wonder if Shore Bird is closing because the quality has deteriorated or if the quality is going down because it is closing. Either way, it was a sad swan song for a place that was once a popular gathering place for locals and tourists.

The bright spot in this rather gloomy atmosphere was sharing table with Will and Lucy from Pearl City. Engaging and fun loving, we exchanged contact info and promised to keep in touch.

Today was a perfect weather in paradise with trade winds blowing. We walked back to our condo enjoying the tropical banyan trees and fragrant flowers that lined the street.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Day With Jeff

Aloha Everyone,

Jeff, our younger son, is a Social Studies teacher. Driving a rental car, J.J. and I went to the Nanakuli High School located in the Leeward side of Oahu.

Nanakuli High and Intermediate School is a public school. It is on 60 acres of Hawaiian Home Land in a beautiful rural setting.

This has the largest Pacific-Islander population with approximately 68% of students claiming part Hawaiian ancestry.

Jeff schedules one Saturday each quarter for students to come and get extra credit. Each student must get their parents' written approval, and spend about 4 hours watching a film. It is usually a Bollywood production. Aside from being entertaining, the films have messages about family value, friendship, honesty, courage, hard work, etc.

By the time J.J. and I left Jeff at 4:00 pm, his classroom was packed with students. Maximum of 50, but Jeff said he always get a few last minutes requests. It was wonderful to spend a day with Jeff. It was also extremely gratifying to watch him interacting with his students. They seemed comfortable to joke around, but also showed immense love and respect.

Aloha -- Cathi