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Friday, July 31, 2020

Staying in Touch via FaceTime

Aloha Everyone,

Richard and Terttu are one of our longest and closet friends. We exchange photos and emails on a regular basis. Throughout the years, we have gotten together on various occasions.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, our topic of online discussions have been how we are doing while sheltering-in place. We did something more exciting tonight which we should have done long ago. We chatted via FaceTime. The ease of getting hold of people to do video calls is so simple if both parties have iPhones.

After agreeing on a mutually convenient time, we managed to get together. Fortunately, we agreed on an early time, for them at 9:00 am and for us 6:00 pm as our call lasted nearly an hour.

Just asking about each other’s children and grandchildren — they have 3 and 6, while J.J. and I have 2 and 1, took awhile.

From our experience not everyone likes to do video calls, but seeing faces with voices gives more intimacy and makes it so much more personal.

J.J. and I already do FaceTime calls with  some of our friends on a regular basis, but perhaps we should expand to others who also have iPhones.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Online Banking

Aloha Everyone,

Gone are the days when we drove to a bank to conduct our financial transactions.

It has taken J.J. a total of 5 hours over two days to settle about getting a cashiers check issued from our bank account.

Simply stated:
  1. We need to renew Honu’s vehicle registration.
  2. Our South Dakota representative, America’s Mailbox, requires that a cashiers check to be made out to Pennington County Treasurer, but mailed to America’s Mailbox so that the check can be physically delivered to Pennington County Treasurer.
  3. South Dakota is not under lockdown. Therefore, it is difficult for the clerk at America’s Mailbox to comprehend why we do not want to just run to our bank.
  4. After talking to 5 different representatives at Wells Fargo and a couple of “supervisors” J.J. thinks that the situation has been resolved.

We will find out when we receive the cashier’s check in the mail.  

I won’t subject you to the full details of steps 5-9 but one thing for certain, Coronavirus-19 pandemic is teaching us to remain calm and be patient.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Uncommon Vegetable & Fruit

Aloha Everyone,

The weekly farmers vegetable box order usually contains, for us, one or two uncommon items. Today, we prepared artichokes and Heirloom tomatoes. To be honest, the Heirloom tomato became just an ordinary looking tomato when sliced and the artichokes lost their interesting appearance when we finished boiling and cutting it in half for serving.

At any rate, we appreciate the farmers who are sorting out to fulfill our orders making sure that we get freshest items, including less common but locally grown vegetables and fruits to enjoy.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Love in the Times of Cholera

Aloha Everyone,

Love in the Times of Cholera immediately captivates your attention.

Gabriel García Márquez, a Colombian writer, won the Nobel prize in literature in 1982.  His novels and short stories, translated into English, are easy to read. You can appreciate why he is considered to be one of the most important writers of Spanish language writers of the 20th Century.

Since the onset of COVID-19, we have seen a number of online articles, commentaries and even personal blogs which references this unprecedented and challenging period we are living as “Life in the Times of COVID-19.”

Actually any similarities ends at the title. The entire book is available for free download along with One Hundred Years of Solitude, also by the same writer. Here are a couple of links to download free books onto your devices. Enjoy!

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Category 3 Hurricane Douglas - Stay Safe Hawaii

Aloha Everyone,

Category 3 Hurricane Douglas is heading towards Hilo, Hawaii on the southern most island of Hawaii (Big Island).

This morning during our morning conversation, Jeff was contemplating a COSTCO run to purchase additional drinking water. In addition to ongoing concerns over the Coronavirus-19 Pandemic, uncertainty of school opening for the Fall semester, having natural disaster to contend with adds more stress.

Stay safe Hawaii!

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, July 20, 2020

5 Hours of Daily Commitments

Aloha Everyone,

100 minutes of walking before breakfast. If I can finish 5.5 to 6.5 miles a day, it is an excellent day for me.

100 minutes of language studies. As of now, Duolingo is my preferred platform. I start by reading stories in Spanish for 50 minutes.  Then 20 minutes of reading stories in French. The remaining 30 minutes is devoted to Italian and Latin. New to the last two languages, I am focused in learning grammar and vocabularies.

I think of it as a personal achievement when I am able to watch and enjoy Tosca, an opera by Giacomo Puccini in Italian.

100 minutes of yoga, Tai Chi, Dao Ying, meditation and Tang Soo Do practice is somewhat less rigid. For example, I employ walking meditation techniques during my morning walk. I read books while doing some yoga poses.  Learning Tang Soo Do from my granddaughter is one of the highlights of my day. She is now teaching me the Second Form. Trying to learn the side kick with a quote in my head by Bruce Lee who said, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times."

This schedule still leaves me plenty of time for preparing meals and eating, gardening, drawing, enjoy family time, talk to friends, and stay in touch with family and friends online.  

Keep your mind and body busy and let us all get through this pandemic healthy and happy.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, July 17, 2020

Yasu Kochi Family Farm

Aloha Everyone,

Yasu Kochi Family Farm is a family owned business selling locally produced vegetables and fruits. A huge advantage with this company is that they do home delivery.  

Their CSA Program is intended for consumers to develop healthier eating habits while supporting local community farmers. Going online the CSA program gives preview of the contents of weekly boxes. While items are subject to change based on availability, we were impressed with the freshness and quantity of our order.

A large box came with about 15 different vegetables and 10 different fruits. In addition to the pre-packed box, our daughter-in-law also made an additional order of berries and seasonal fruits. All of them are healthy and delicious.

Our dinner menus for this week have been enhanced by asparagus, sweet corn and zucchini.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, July 16, 2020


Aloha Everyone,

For the most recent 4 years of our retirement, J.J. and I have been going to St George, Utah for our healthcare. We had selected a primary care provider and he in turn had referred us to specialists when necessary.

Well, the pandemic has ceased our traveling plans for the time being — including driving 2 days from California for our medical appointments.

A Special Report by AARP outlines “how to guide” to telemedicine. For a starter, J.J. and I selected the provider, in our case, Scripps Health in San Diego, California. After a lengthy but efficient and friendly interview with a staff in New Patients Welcome Team, we received an email with possible doctors names and contact information.

The next step is for us to go to their website and watch videos done by individual doctors. Once J.J. and I make our preliminary selection, then we will go back to the New Patients Welcome Team.

To get started on this new adventure, J.J. and I took the opportunity of driving Honu to recharge its batteries and passed by Scripps Torrey Pine in La Jolla. Will write an update regarding our first telemedicine appointment.

The photo of the two of us was taken in July of 2014 in St George, Utah.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, July 13, 2020

48 Days Biking from Scotland to Greece

Aloha Everyone,

This is a fascinating true adventure tale of a young man who biked from Scotland to Athens, Greece during the pandemic.

Kleon Papadimitriou is 20 years old and he has been studying at the University of Aberdeen. When COVID-19 shut down all flights, Kleon found himself stuck in Scotland.

He decided to ride a bike home. To prepare for the approximately 2,500+ miles journey, Kleon purchased a bike, informed his family and friends, and planned his route. His provisions including canned sardines sustained him. Except for infrequent bed and shower from generous friends and acquaintances, Kleon slept in his tent in the woods.

J.J. and I have driven several road segments and traversed the cities and countries where Kleon biked. However, trying to imagine using a bicycle, with weather and spreading COVID-19 to contend with, it must have been a daunting endeavor.

Kleon mentioned in the interview that he had to get out of his comfort zone. Completing this trip gave him more confidence in himself and confidence in his abilities.  

I imagine that Klein’s family and friends would be interested to see how his young life has been impacted by this extraordinary experience and how he would use this 7 weeks of biking adventures to chart his future activities.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Porto’s Bakery

Aloha Everyone,

Our daughter-in-law has been raving about the pastries from Porto’s Bakery. After one bite of Porto’s Cheese & Spicy Pepper Potato Ball, J.J. and I were convinced that they are excellent.

Founded by Rosa, who migrated from Cuba, this very successful family bakery business first opened its door in Echo Park, California. Today, the business has expanded to 5 bakeries plus a nationwide delivery service.  According to the company homepage, Rosa used the recipes her mother brought to Cuba from the Galicia region of Spain.

Just to list a few - Empanada de Gallega (Large Chicken Pie), Baked Ham & Cheese Croissant, Tres Leches— the menu is extensive and enticing. However, online orders are limited as products have to endure shipping time and be able to maintain the highest quality to satisfy customers when they bake them at home. So for now, we are grateful and happy even with the limited selection.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, July 10, 2020

Amazon Prime

Aloha Everyone,

Due to the recent surge of COVID-19 in California, our household is taking extra cautionary measures. This includes avoiding shopping trips which my daughter-in-law used to make twice a month to a nearby Trader Joe’s. The alternative method to purchase perishables is to use Whole Foods Market with Amazon Prime delivery services.

Granted the items are more costly and adding a minimum 20% delivery service fee can also be expensive.  However, how do you equate personal health with cost?

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods on August of last year, their publicly declared goal was “to pursue the vision of making Whole Foods Market's high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone.” What is affordable to everyone is debatable.

Our Whole Foods Market order was fulfilled and delivered within 3 hours.

Amazon Prime is a membership program. You pay an annual fee of $119. A long list of “free” benefits are listed on the Amazon’s website. I totally agree that their program is terrific if you use it regularly. For example, when my last pair of walking shoes needed replacement, I was able to find a pair and had them delivered the next day using my daughter-in-law’s Amazon Prime account. The cost for my New Balance shoes was about $50 less than if I had gone to a New Balance Store :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Face Masks

Aloha Everyone,

One of our daughter-in-law’s friends began sewing face masks to give away to First Responders as early as in April. This friend also gave our daughter-in-law about two dozen or so face masks. 

These face masks come in different colors and fabrics.  They are washable thus reusable.  Some face masks are secured with ribbons behind your head and others are worn with elastics either looped around your head or around your ears.  I tried different ones every day for the past seven days.  As you might have guessed, I chose the most comfortable face mask for today’s walk.

CDC recommends “all people 2 years age and older wear a cloth face covering in public setting and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

The latest news on COVID-19 cases in California is alarming with about 300,000 cases across the state.  We must be individually responsible and do our share in reversing the curve.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Hamilton, Broadway Musical

Aloha Everyone,

Alexander Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was the First Secretary of the US Treasury under President George Washington. Hamilton was a legal scholar, military commander, lawyer and banker. Born in the British West Indies circa 1755, Hamilton died from a gunshot wound received while dueling with Aaron Burr.

Ambitious, superbly intelligent and a quick learner, Alexander Hamilton rose from a very humble birth to become one of the most influential persons of his time.

Lin Manuel Miranda, the composer and star of the Broadway Musical, Hamilton, the Revolution is just as fascinating. Presenting such a historical figure and events using Hip Hop and multi-racial casts was a bold step to take. Since our daughter-in-law and granddaughter saw the Broadway Musical of Hamilton in New York last summer with her parents, I have been waiting to have a chance to see it.

With Disney+ releasing the filmed version of the actual play is truly remarkable. Now quality online entertainment is available to much wider audiences than before at a packaged cost of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.98 per month.

All I can say it, it was entertaining!!!

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, July 6, 2020

San Diego Farmer’s Markets

Aloha Everyone,

This week our daughter-in-law’s friend picked up some delicious fruits and vegetables for us from the San Diego Farmer’s Market.

Officially known as “San Diego Certified Farmers Markets, the produce are grown in California, meeting all California’s strict quality standards.

Among the more unusual fruits were Saturn peach, also known as donuts peach due to their flat shape.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, July 5, 2020

California Strawberries

Aloha Everyone,

We are coming to an end of this year’s strawberry season. While individual fruit size has diminished, they are still sweet. We are grateful, as all through the past three months of the COVID-19 pandemic’s sheltering-in-place, we were able to enjoy a steady supply of these delicious seasonal treats.

According to data provided by the California Strawberry Commission, each year, about 75% of the crop are harvested for the fresh market. The remainders are frozen for the processed market. While a majority of strawberries are consumed locally, about 15% of the fresh strawberries are exported.

Eating a cup of strawberries every morning gives a quick energy for the day. Strawberries are fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free. High in antioxidants, full of fiber and vitamins, they are, eaten purely as fresh fruits, is a guilt-free treat.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Movie Nights, Maleficent and Maleficent 2

Aloha Everyone,

Just by looking at the title, you know it has to do with something evil. The main character portrayed skillfully by Angelina Jolie started as a beautiful young woman with a pure heart. How Maleficent became the wicked horned witch as well as charming princess Aurora’s godmother is contained in the first movie.

The development of the story line is familiar but there is a nice twist. Of course nothing stays in bliss, peace and happiness and thus the sequel.

Maleficent 2 tried to include too many elements in the story line. Additional 20 minutes compared to the the first Maleficent film did not help much. Elle Fanning’s performance as Princess Aurora along with Angelina Jolie in both films gave a continuity.

Similarities of screen play to Game of Thrones, similarities of special effects, visual effects and cinematography to Lord of the Rings series, Harry Potter series and How to Train Your Dragon, especially part 3 were very evident.

As a fantasy/adventure film fan, I still found these movies entertaining and enjoyable.

Aloha -- Cathi