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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Brussels Sprouts & Shishito Peppers

Aloha Everyone,

Brussels Sprouts looks like a tiny version of a cabbage. The ones that came in this week’s Farmer’s Basket were about 1 inch. The origin of Brussels Sprouts traces back to Mediterranean region, but because it was popularized in Brussels, Belgium the name stayed.

This vegetable is an acquired taste. When cooked, some find its aroma unpleasant. However, the nutritional value of Brussels Sprouts which is rich in antioxidants; high in fiber; and vitamin K is sufficient for me to add to my vegetable repertoire.

Shishito Peppers is a small and thin finger size pepper that are often served as an appetizer in Japanese Restaurants. The name Shishito means Lion’s Head though one must truly use imagination to see lions.  

High in vitamins A, C and K, some people add Shishito Peppers to their daily diet. One interesting thing about this pepper is that they are mostly mild but one out of 8 can be very hot. I recall on one occasion, my Mother and I were eating newly harvested and quickly pan fried peppers for breakfast. J.J. popped one in his mouth and choked. Some reference eating Shishito Peppers like playing Russian Roulette. If you are the unlucky one, you will get the spicy pepper.

Some of you know that J.J. is a great cook. The plate he made of Brussels Sprouts & Shishito Peppers was fantastic!

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

August Breakfasts

Aloha Everyone,

My breakfasts consist of what is available in the refrigerator as well as how famished I am. Prior to starting my walk, I usually consume about 10 pieces of dried almonds to give me a protein boost.

My August breakfast plates tend to be heavy on fruits and vegetables. Looking at these photos, Jeff commented that I am not consuming sufficient protein. I am, though almond butters and humus spreads appear after I take photos. They taste far better than they look.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Let’s Save Africa

Aloha Everyone,

SAIH Norway, established in 1961, is a students and academics organization in Norway. SAIH’s goal is to promote academic freedom.

There are a number of such organizations around the world. What makes SAIH’s video presentation on donation drive unique is that their use of unusual humor to attract potential donors. See what do you think.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, August 23, 2020


Aloha Everyone,

Our son and granddaughter have had several owl sightings during their evening walks. Some owls are strictly nocturnal. So far, all their owls sightings have been in flight.  

Then there are owls that are diurnal and are active day and night. Finally, there are owls that hunt during crepuscular times. These are times of dawn or dusk when their preys are active.

Owls look different from other avian species. For example, most of the skull is made up of eyes. Owls have binocular vision. Their eye and their pupils dilate independently. Owls always looks like they are staring into your soul. Owls can also rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees. Owls ears are asymmetrical which can help pinpoint the location of their preys.

Since studying languages everyday using Duolingo app, with its own owl symbol, I decided to spend sometime learning about owls and draw these intriguing and arresting birds. In the process, I also learned that a group of owls is called a parliament. In Greek mythology, owls are known to be a symbol for Athena, the goddess of wisdom and reason.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Learning to Use Japanese Keyboards

Aloha Everyone,

I am learning to use a Japanese keyboard available on my iPhone. Employing Romanji, an alphabet in Japanese you use following the sounds of foreign words, Japanese keyboard can shift Romanji into Japanese characters. Since this is not a translation program, one must first be familiar with the language.

Being a beginner, it takes at least three time as long for me to compose and select correct letters to use. Apparently, the program’s AI is a lot smarter than humans. It’s already learning my writing style and offers me choices or phrases I’ve used previously.

One thing I still need to figure out is how to maintain the same language keyboard while I am composing messages. For example, without my changing designated keyboard, I am encountering situations where words are being typed in Spanish or even more annoying, in Japanese in the midst of English paragraphs.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, August 21, 2020

Life in Bubbles

Aloha Everyone,

Some of us are observing Sheltering -in-Place and social distancing far more seriously than others. To some, these terms merely mean going out to COSTCO and grocery stores during the hours when less people are shopping. To them, using masks are choice and they would only wear one while they are in public and in proximity of other individuals who are talking with their mouths covered. One can only hope that most people will take the advice by CDC seriously.

The NBA (National Basketball Association’s concept of playoffs and finals would be all done in Orlando, Florida. It seems to be working. Having all participants from players, coaches, trainers to hotel employees tested and quarantined, with daily follow-up tests, show that if done correctly, spreading of COVID-19 pandemic can be controlled.

Some isolated holiday destinations eager to entice vacationers back are also considering “bubble-living“ it would be too early for J.J. and me to look into such possibilities, but given the fact some countries are doing far better than the home front, it might be an interesting and doable option in months to come.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Bok Choy

Aloha Everyone,

Bok Choy, often known as Chinese White Cabbage, has a green leafy top and white bulbs at the bottom. It is one of the common vegetable dishes J.J. and I frequently order in Chinese restaurants. Stir-fried with chopped garlic or ginger, it is simple and quick to prepare.

Finding several bunches of Bok Choy in this week’s grocery box, J.J. made a tasty dish to accompany our roast pork dish.

Bok Choy has low calories but it has a high level of vitamins A & C and minerals.  

As a subject of 30 seconds free hand sketch, Bok Choy is also simple and fun to draw.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Monster Heatwave

Aloha Everyone,

I definitely feel the effects of the heat wave we are having in San Diego County. It has been dubbed as a Monster Heatwave because it has registered 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperature in San Diego County.

August heatwave are not unusual in this part of the country. What is unusual is the length. Most years, heatwaves last a few days. The current heatwave is expected to linger until this weekend. That would make it a 9-10 days run.

Actually, the current outside temperature at our son’s house is 85 degrees. Being near the ocean helps. We are also running our AC.

This morning, I was out of the house by 6:00 am. The air was warm but not oppressive. Having to wear a mask and a baseball cap, a long sleeve t-shirts and long pants to protect myself from getting any insect bites, my body becomes heated within 30 minutes of brisk walking. To hydrate my body, a tall glass of water with lime accompanied my light breakfast.

Compared to Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, where current temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit, we have little to complain. Stay hydrated everyone!

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sturgis 2020 Motorcycle Rally

Aloha Everyone,

Sturgis, located in Meade County in South Dakota, has a population of less than 7,000 (info based on 2010 US Census). It is a small, charming, friendly rural community where people generally would bypass except for its annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

If you are motorcycle enthusiast, they talk about Sturgis as if comparing it to Mecca. One must visit at least once in a lifetime to pay homage to what has become the biggest annual event in South Dakota. From the first weekend of August, for 10 days, Sturgis’ population explodes. In the normal year, the expected crowd is about 500,000. During their 75 years anniversary, the town hosted more than 850,000 bikers.

J.J. and I visited Sturgis three times with Honu. One of our visits unintentionally coincided with the annual Sturgis event. We weren’t able to find any vacancies in RV parks within a 50 miles radius. All restaurants were filled. The average wait time for restaurant tables at nearby Rapid City was three hours. Streets too were closed to normal traffic due to motorcyclists parading around under police escorts.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the visitors numbers were down to 250,000. Seeing photos of so many cyclists gathering without masks nor exercising social-distancing make us cringe. It seems very irresponsible for the organizers as well as for the participants.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Stick Insect

Aloha Everyone,

During my morning walk, a neighbor alerted me to a “strange twig-like insect” at the side of his garage.  

Stick insects, also known as walking sticks, is an interesting group of insects that camouflage themselves to resemble their immediate surroundings.

The one I saw looks like stick when it is attached to a branch or trunk of a tree. There are over 3,000 species of stick insects. They can attain the size of 1 to 12 inches long. These insects are the biggest insects in the world.

Another interesting facts is that stick insect can reproduce by their females producing unfertilized eggs that are then mature into other females.

During one of our travels through the rain forests of the Philippines, J.J. and I have encountered even more rare types of walking sticks that blends itself to leaves or a fallen log. Although stick insects are considered unwelcome pests in gardens and forests in many of the states, some enthusiasts pay up to $50 for a supply of 50. I have no idea what one would do with 50 of these stick insects except to appreciate their unique characteristics that may add to their enjoyment of gardening.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Left Handed People

Aloha Everyone,

On August 13th, our daughter-in-law reminded us that it was International Left Hand Day! She was born left handed into a family whose father and grandfather were also left handed. However, her father and grandfather were forced to shift to right hand as that was then the “generational“ thing to do. Our daughter-in-law was spared from the tradition and is very comfortable with her left handedness.

J.J. was also born left handed but he was “corrected” at school. While J.J. complied with his school’s demand, he wisely kept up with his left hand usage. Thus he became ambidextrous. Rather rare talent as only 1% of the world population is said to be ambidextrous. J.J. writes with his right hand but plays table tennis with his left hand. He also cuts and eats with his left hand and tends to carry things on his left side.

Historically, left handed people were considered bad omen or bad luck. I guess that is why the forced conversion to right handedness. The word sinister traces its root to the Latin word for left.

It is interesting to note that many famous people are left handed including presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Gerald Ford.

For additional reading, please go to:
Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Frikadeller (Danish Meatballs)

Aloha Everyone,

Our connection to Denmark is multifaceted and that includes Danish foods.

When I mentioned to my daughter-in-law that I would like to make Danish meatballs she quickly agreed and obtained the necessary ingredients through Whole Foods/Amazon Prime. What I didn’t expect is that my daughter-in-law actually has Eva’s recipe. In my own handwriting, my daughter-in-law recalls receiving it on her bridal shower along with other recipes.

Eva was our younger son Jeff’s Danish Godmother and an outstanding cook. Recalling many happy holiday times we spent with Eva and Svend (Eva’s husband and Jeff’s Godfather), I was eager to get started.

Preparing the Danish Meatballs with J.J.’s help was walking back into memory lane. I think the end product tasted even better because of the story behind it.

Aloha -- Cathi