Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Things We Like About Living In Honu

Aloha Everyone,

During our most recent stay in La Jolla, our granddaughter asked me what do we like about living in a small house. She was of course referring to Honu. My response was, “If Honu is stationery and we live on a same street, in a same town or city with same neighbors and same views, I would not like it at all. For one thing, FarFar (J.J.) and I would feel too cramped and need more space. But what makes living in Honu exciting and a wonderful adventure is that the world is at our doorstep. Amazing sunrises and sunsets, open fields, ancient forests can be our backyard. We are also able to visit you more frequently because we have no house to tie us down.”

J.J. and I are often asked the question of when are we going to settle down. But our ability and flexibility to visit my Mother and the family, to visit his friends in the Philippines, make new friends and frequent renewals of friendships are incredible benefits of our current lifestyle.

Today we were able to get together with Jim and Kay in Temecula over a terrific seafood lunch at Bluewater Grill.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 18, 2019

Happy Birthday, J.J.!

Aloha Everyone,

I will let photos show the wonderful birthday celebration J.J. had today. Sorry no photos of our son’s family but they surrounded him with love, with hugs and kisses, the singing of Happy Birthday! The chocolate cake was decadent and delicious!!!

“Life isn't about your age. Life is about living. So when your birthday comes be thankful for the year that has just past and anticipate with a happy heart what the coming year will bring." 
—Catherine Pulsifer 

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Learning to Play Minecraft from my Granddaughter

Aloha Everyone,

Minecraft is a creative game.  It was created by Swedish programmer and designer Markus Persson. Since it’s launch in 2009, Minecraft has become one of the most widely played game in the world.  

There is no clear goals for Minecraft. Using blocky graphics, players create building, cities and virtual worlds by adding and destroying structures.

There are basically two modes: Creative and Survival. My granddaughter has been playing Minecraft for a few years but she progressed rapidly when Jeff, our younger son, agreed to create a world where the two of them can play online together. Although one can play solo, Minecraft encourages players to collaborate.  

My granddaughter wisely suggested that I stay in the creative mode.This means I have access to an unlimited supply of blocks. I can fly high in the air, dive in the ocean and never die. There are no enemies, wild animals or monsters to attack me. I don’t even have to eat to maintain my health :-)

As my initial practice, my granddaughter created some drills and obstacle courses for me. Learning to move to the right, to the left, forward and backward and learning Minecraft vocabulary such as Bedrock, Biome, Crafting, Smelting, Brewing, Redstone will keep me occupied. 

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2019 Middle School Instrumental Honor Concert

Aloha Everyone,

There are 24 middle schools in the San Diego Unified school district. The band teacher at our granddaughter’s school had announced to the class about the concert and upcoming auditions.

Based on the program we were given, 18 of the 24 schools were represented. 97 students in the Honor Orchestra and 65 students in the Honor Band were listed. The actual tally is less since some students, including our granddaughter, played for both Honor Orchestra and Honor Band.

What a wonderful experience for young musicians. Our granddaughter stated, “Most of the students in the honor band were seventh and eighth graders, probably more so eighth graders.

Each rehearsal was three hours and 30 minutes long with a 10 minute dinner break. (The length is because she had to practice with both the band and orchestra). At first it was once a week but then it increased to twice a week. There were four total weeks of practice.”

J.J. and I especially enjoyed listening to the band selections: Queen City March, Metric, Nostalgia, Falcon Fanfare, and Hymn & Fantasia. Perhaps we are partial. For band with a lesser number of instruments, we could clearly hear the flute played by our granddaughter.

It was a pleasurable evening spent with our family and friends.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” 
― Plato

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, March 15, 2019

Point Loma Nazarene University

Aloha Everyone,

The main campus of Point Loma Nazareno University in San Diego is located on a spectacular oceanfront property.

The school was founded in 1902 as a Bible college. Today it is a private Liberal Arts college with a total student population of approximately 3,480. 66% are undergraduate with the remainder pursuing graduate degrees.

This impressive campus will be the venue for the 2019 Middle School Instrumental Honor Concert in which our granddaughter will be participating tomorrow.  

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, March 14, 2019

New in California

Aloha Everyone,

There are agricultural inspection stations whenever we enter California. This morning, a young inspector approached Honu and asked, “Are you in possession of any out of state agricultural commodities?” With a straight face, J.J. replied, “Yes, fruits and vegetables we purchased in a supermarket.” Such a formal questioning was new to us. By the way, we are always stopped because of our South Dakota plates.

Valley Wells is the first rest stop located along the I-15 corridor after Nevada. Today, when I went out to stretch my legs, I was welcomed by newly renovated facilities. Attractive, informative signage, a couple of large binoculars and a sundial also kept me busy. Instead of a 10 minutes break, I extended to 30 minutes of a serious walk. Our stop gave J.J. time for a nap in Honu.

Golden-colored California poppies in the Lake Elsinore area covered the East side of hills. The bright, colorful, captivating flowers were arresting. So many motorists heading East bound stopped on the freeway shoulder to admire the super bloom. Some walked out and were climbing a nearby hill to get a birds eye view.

Our drive to Temecula was extended by an hour because traffic in the bloom areas was slow, but it definitely was worth it.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

College Admission Scandals

Aloha Everyone,

The story is nothing new. J.J. and I recall an exceptional scholar and football player who was admitted to an Ivy League school on scholarship. After his first year, he was back for the summer. He truly sounded perplexed and said, “I never had so many unprepared and unmotivated classmates. I guess some of them were admitted as legacy kids and waiting around to receive their diplomas because they already have a job with their parents’ company.”

Another person J.J. and I know wrote the admission essay for her daughter. We will call her Betty. Betty then spent the next four years doing the daughter’s home works, term papers and take-home exams. I recall Betty’s sister telling us that it’s as if Betty went back to college to earn another degree.

Cheating is wrong. Living one’s life in a falsehood is wrong. We should look at the bigger picture of the college admissions scandals. One should go back to the basics of being a good individual and a good citizen.

One should live one’s life honestly.
One should respect yourself and others.
One should take responsibility to one’s conduct. 
One should be fair to one’s self and to others.
One should be kind and caring to one’s self and to others.
One should be trustworthy to one’s self and to others.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Making of Blockbuster Films

Aloha Everyone,

When we hear the word “blockbuster” we usually associate it with Hollywood produced movies with large budgets. They can also win big at the box office. Often these movies feature one or more “stars” who could typically generate their own followings as a guarantee to attract audiences.

The average cost to produce a feature film range from $90 to $150 million. But James Cameron’s Avatar, the highest grossing films of all time internationally had a $425 million budget.

The latest Marvel film, Captain Marvel had its world premiere in London on February 27, 2019. On March 8th, the movie was theatrically released in the United States. This $175 million film has grossed over $595 million worldwide, making it the second highest grossing film so far this year. While it is based on comic strip characters, J.J. and I found all the hype disappointing. The story line was weak and obvious. The ending is a preparation for a sequel.

With 8 of the 18 Sam’s Town theaters showing Captain Marcel, the advertising, marketing and promotion and availability has a strong influence on the box office sales.  The only thing missing was the production of a quality film.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ethnic Culinary Delights

Aloha Everyone,

During our sojourn in Las Vegas, J.J. and I revisited familiar restaurants but also discovered two new ones.  

Burritos - Mexican

Pho - Vietnamese soup dish 

Roast Duck - Chinese

Bulalo - Filipino soup made by cooking beef shanks and bone marrow

Pansit Bihon - Filipino rice noodle dish with shrimp & vegetables

Salads ala Cathi

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, March 8, 2019

Movie Dates: How to Train a Dragon, The Upside, and Green Book

Aloha Everyone,

Over three consecutive days, J.J. and I were able to watch films in movie theaters. All are worth mentioning.

How To Train A Dragon: The Hidden World ( Fantasy/Action) is a movie which my granddaughter and I will enjoy discussing. The last of a trilogy, it has a solid storyline and a plausible plot. This computer-generated animated film is stunning, breathtaking and mesmerizing. I caught myself holding my breathe as I sailed through the hidden world. For those of you who have not yet seen this film, do stay to the very end for the animation used to illustrate the credits. I give this film 2 thumbs up!

The Upside is based on a true story about a former convict who worked for a quadriplegic millionaire as a caregiver. They eventually become friends. I don’t know how much is faction as some situations portrayed in the film seemed far fetched and exaggerated. J.J. liked the film.  

Green Book is presented as a biographical  comedy-drama but I saw more drama and less comedy. The title derives from The Negro Motorist Green Book authored by Victor Hugo Green for African-American travelers to help them find motels and restaurants that would accept them. Set in 1962, the film showed an oppressive dark period of our history. I was unaware of the existence of Green Book. It is a thought-provoking story and from murmurs we heard, for some in the audience, not a comfortable film to watch. J.J. and I are pleased that it had won three Oscars including The Best Picture.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Renewing Our Passports

Aloha Everyone,

US passports for adults are issued for 10 years. Some countries require that you have a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months remaining before expiration. While ours won’t expire until November, we decided on early renewal.

We downloaded the application; had passport photos taken at AAA; and then visited a regional Post Office.  

The passport fee is $110.00 a person. The additional charge is $30.00 for a passport card.  Expected processing time is 4-6 weeks. We also plan to apply for the Global Entry card through Homeland Security. Once we have the new passports in hand, J.J. and I can plan our next overseas trip.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hot Spring KOA/Outstanding After Service

Aloha Everyone,

KOA (Kanpground of America) has over 500 locations in North America. Some of them are company-owned while others are franchises. J.J. and I frequent KOA when visiting an unfamiliar area. In general, we receive very good service, but today J.J. and I experienced what can only be described as outstanding after service.

J.J.’s driver license expires on his birthday, March 18. South Dakota allows residents to renew online. J.J. gathered all required documents, had them notarized at AAA Torrance office and forwarded them via email to the Department of Motor Vehicle in South Dakota. The official response was prompt. The message informed him one document was missing, a copy of a receipt from a lodging establishment to confirm that we were in South Dakota within the last 12 months. The attached credit card statement was insufficient.

We normally do not keep receipts. The two of us were seriously considering other options including driving in wintry weather to South Dakota so that J.J. could renew his license in person.  

We telephoned and Suzanne from Hot Springs KOA returned the call. She found the information regarding our stay; prepared a receipt; emailed copies to JJ and to South Dakota DMV. The new license was mailed the same day and a printable temporary permit issued just in case there was a mail delivery delay.

Suzanne’s quick response helped us avoid driving more than 1,000 mile in wintry weather. Most KOA campgrounds offer good service. What makes Suzanne at Hot Springs KOA exceptional is her outstanding after service.

I plan to renew my license within 6 months of its expiration. J.J. and I would definitely stay at Hot Springs KOA and thank Suzanne again in person. This will be during the summer when South Dakota is absolutely beautiful.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reunion with Vita & Lenny

Aloha Everyone,

Lenny and Vita invited us for lunch at the Shadows Restaurant located within the Shadow Hills Golf Club. This golf course frontage setting restaurant offers an extensive menu for lunch. Monday being my meat or fish day, I couldn’t resist ordering the calamari appetizer as my main course. J.J. wanted the club sandwich which Lenny warned is very large.

This was our 4th get-together with Vita and Lenny, a very interesting couple from Schenectady, New York. The four of us reminded each other that it’s been almost 3 years from our very first meeting in the parking lot of the Zion National Park. Friendships can germinate and blossom from totally unexpected beginning.

The 2 1/2 hours the four of us spent together was barely adequate to catch up with our personal and family news. J.J. and I were under a tight timetable. We wanted to reach the campground before sunset.

Our destination for the night, Barstow-Calico KOA is actually located in the town of Yermo, Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County. The two of us really never paid much attention to this tiny and obscure town 13 miles east of a popular ghost town for visitors.

I learned that Yermo in Spanish means wasteland, badland, barren land, untillable land, and wild land. The KOA campground probably was one of the first to be established and not much has been done as to upkeep and upgrades. The only saving grace is the Santa Fe Railroad car parked in front of the establishment. Thankful for my reliable hiking boots, I walked past ant hills and small animal tracks to fulfill my daily 5 miles target.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Wrapping Up Our Visit With My Mother

Aloha Everyone,

We wrapped our visit with my Mother on a high note. For one thing, our son his wife and our granddaughter came for a visit. Our son brought his violin and with his daughter on her flute played duet of both popular and classical pieces. My Mother thoroughly enjoyed their visit, and the performances. She was awed in seeing her great-granddaughter now clearly a couple of inches taller than her.

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”

Aloha -- Cathi