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Monday, December 31, 2018

Auld Lang Syne - Times Long Past

Aloha Everyone,

This has been an eventful, excellent year. J.J, and I are grateful that our immediate family is doing well. We are grateful that the two of us spent a week with Jeff and Jenny. Grateful for the times we were able to visit my Mother. Truly thankful that we were able to spend time with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in La Jolla.

As we drove across the desolate Arizona desert and celebrated the New Year’s Eve at Cracker Barrel’s In Casa Grande, our hearts are filled with love, appreciation and indebtedness to our family and friends who continue to be supportive regarding our unorthodox retirement.

Arrived in very cold Tucson just as the last sunset of 2018 was lightening the evening sky.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Visiting Cousin Ricky in Phoenix

Aloha Everyone,

Among J.J.’s first cousins, Cousin Ricky and J.J. are close. Because they are close in age and were classmates in high school and spent summers at J.J.’s father’s farm, which actually is a 45 acres mango plantation.

It is heartwarming to hear them reminisce their childhood and I enjoy listening to them compare updates on other cousins and their families from different clans.

Farah, Ricky’s wife, had prepared their guest bedroom for our use, but as in our previous visit, J.J. and I hooked up an electrical line from their house and slept in Honu.

Farah is an excellent cook. For breakfast, she made us ginataang mais (coconut milk with corn and a sprinkle of sugar).

Farah also showed me how to remove seeds from pomegranate fruits. Will write a blog when I actually try it myself.

The four of us went to a very popular Filipino restaurant tucked in a strip mall for lunch. Today was my vegetarian day. I enjoyed freshly stir fried vegetables. For dessert, Ricky and J.J. treated themselves to Halo Halo (tropical fruits mix with shaved ice, evaporated milk with ice cream on top).

And for dinner, Farah whipped up a feast consisted of seafood paella, stewed beef and for me, a large healthy fruits and veggie salad, and grilled tofu.

They are truly a special couple and J.J. and I are grateful that we were able to visit them to wrap up an amazing, adventurous year.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Retirees in Arizona

Aloha Everyone,

Based on data released by SmartAsset, the top four states where retirees are moving in 2018 remained unchanged from 2017. Florida leads the list followed by Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina. While Florida occupies a strong first place, Arizona came in second with about 28,600 retirees immigrating to the state.

While many retirees no longer work or only find part time work, they play an important part in the local economy. The Social Security Administration estimates that in 2018 it will pay out approximately $1 trillion in Social Security benefits, 72% of which will go to retirees. With that sort of money potentially infusing into the local economy, no wonder so many 55+ communities are being built along the sunbelt. Advertising example: “Live the good life. Walking, biking, golfing, hiking trails. Clubhouse with pools. Jacuzzi, hot tubs, gym & wellness center, yoga studio, theatre, library, restaurants. Quick move-in homes. Try before you buy!” Yes they sound tempting.

If one can have a choice of where to reside, many retirees seek for year-round warm weather, affordability and favorable tax structures.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, December 28, 2018

To Yuma, AZ

Aloha Everyone,

Clear, beautiful day for a new chapter of our RV adventure. We took I-8 East. The section I love and always take numerous photos is between Jacumba to Boulevard as we leave San Diego County and enter Imperial County. This is where you find several picturesque desert landscapes. I especially like the bare rocky hills and mountains. The two of us are always looking out for Big Horn Sheep.

From 4,000 plus feet altitude, the terrain drops to sea level desert, then sand dunes as we approached Winterhaven. Schools out and we saw numerous RVers camping in the sand dunes. People riding in the ATV did not seem to mind the gusty wind and sand that surely must be blowing on their face, clothes and vehicles.

Tonight we are staying at Western Sands RV Park in Yuma, Arizona. Wonderful hosts invited us to come attend a social at the club house but the temperature is going down fast. I think we will need to bring out our Alpaca blankets.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Our Granddaughter

 Aloha Everyone,

It seems that days go faster in La Jolla. Our one-week visit is coming to an end and we always seem to run out of time.

Our granddaughter is 11, a 6th grader. She loves her new school and the subjects that are being taught. She has made new friends. She is also in the school’s math team.

Over the decade, we have established deep relationships. The last time we saw each other was two months ago.
When I asked her “So, what’s new in your world?” she has a lot to share. Our granddaughter loves to read.  She always surrounds herself with books which her parents also enjoy reading.  

Aside from hiking, birding, drawing birds and dining out, our granddaughter and I pitched in to prepare zucchini noodles. Using hand crank equipment, the zucchini turns into curly noodles. They are fun to prepare and a wonderful low-carb substitute for spaghetti.

I watched her put finishing touches on the trophy she made with paper towel and toilet rolls which she painstakingly painted and glued together. Such a hand-made gift is priceless.

She worked on a tiny little puzzle which I started with her, but our daughter-in-law took it to the finish line, leaving 3 pieces for our granddaughter to complete.

Our granddaughter also comes up with word problem puzzles using algebraic formulas. Truly, I need to maintain alertness as my brain gets exercised.

Yes, we still engage in pillow fights but now that she has surpassed my height, I have to request her to give me “an elegant attacks” as not to get beaten pitifully. After all I have to maintain my dignity.

At present her favorite quote is:

“Let your smile change the world Don’t let the world change your smile” - No specific author is credited.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Pour Angelique, Proving the True Story of Oak Island

Aloha Everyone,

There are actually four facts which makes this an interesting reading for me.

1. This book was written by a mathematician. It took him 2 1/2 months from the time he had watched the “Curse of Oak Island” show on the History Channel to research, write and publish. Generally mathematicians are organized and focused. The book was recommended by our son who is also a mathematician.  

2. The mathematician in the book Is a good friend of our son and J.J. and I have met him on several occasions.  

3. Oak Island where this book is based is a tiny island located on the coast of Nova Scotia. While we did not actually go to Oak Island, J.J. had mentioned about the curse and the treasure of Oak Island. J.J. is not a mathematician but he is well-read and a history buff.

4. Some of the photographs used in the book was taken by our daughter-in-law. 

I found the book fascinating reading. At times there are so many names, places, dates and events that I needed a flow chart. No mathematical formulas, but there are lots of factual information. If you would like to stimulate your brain and be entertained, I highly recommend this book.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 24, 2018

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Hike

Aloha Everyone,

I decided to join a hike during our stay in La Jolla. My right ankle was accidentally twisted 3 days ago. It is healing well, but J.J. decided to wrap it up with sports tape to make sure the hike won’t exacerbate the sprain.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is one of the largest urban parks in the United States encompassing about 4,000 acres. The park is approximately 7 miles long and our son estimated that it would take us about 3 hours to cover the 7.5 mile trail.  

This was my second time to hike the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. It was a good choice because the terrain is flat. We left home at 8:30 am to enjoy the cool and crisp morning air. Clear sightings of Pileated woodpeckers with their distinctive red head, as depicted in the Woody Woodpecker comics, were exceptional. 

A quick rest at the waterfall before we headed back. I am happy to note that I ended the day with 18,968 steps or 8.8 miles total.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Din Tai Fung Taiwanese Restaurant

Aloha Everyone,

Din Tai Fung restaurant originated in Taiwan. It specializes in soup dumplings and noodles. This popular restaurant in La Jolla is located in the Westfield UTC Mall. Our daughter-in-law made reservations several weeks ago to make sure that we would get a chance to try traditional Taiwanese cuisine.

Upon being seated, a menu along with an order form is given to each table. Once you select appetizers, dumplings, noodles, rice dishes and dessert, the assigned waiter will place your order with the kitchen.

The dishes are served one or two at a time and the food is always piping hot or chilled depending on the item.

My favorites were cucumber salad, garlic spinach and vegetarian dumplings. Our granddaughter loved the desserts of sweet taro and red beans dumpling. She also loved the bite size chocolate dumpling. You pop it in your mouth, take a bite and let the hot chocolate fill your mouth. It is truly decadent. This is not a traditional Chinese dessert but it is a “must have” at Din Tai Fung to complete their special dining experience.

We must have ordered about twelve varieties with some dishes duplicated. I believe the popularity of the restaurant is the unique dishes, quality service and reasonable prices. The total bill inclusive of tax and a generous tip was $150.

Aloha -- Cathi