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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Large Exodus due to COVID-19

Aloha Everyone,

As we say goodbye and good riddance to this tumultuous year 2020, about 22% or 1 out of 5 Americans have either relocated or know someone who has. There are a number of prevailing reasons such as closures of college dorms and students returning home, loss of jobs causing non affordability of current housing, and companies offering telecommuting options. In the normal year, 9.8% of Americans move.

While states such as New York and California are experiencing emigration of its citizens, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Arizona are beneficiaries of immigration.

For seniors who live on fixed income, cheaper costs of living, upgrading lifestyle, in some cases more suitable weather plus a change that can bring excitement and new adventures to one’s retirement years are attractive options.

J.J. and I fall into the category of seniors who had to relocate as our vagabond on-the-go living choice became unavailable and unsafe. The two of us are grateful that we are able to stay with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter for the time being.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy New Year’s Eve and sharing everyone’s prayers that 2021 will dawn and bring us love, hope, compassion and kindness.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Italian Pasta

Aloha Everyone,

Pasta is an easy dish to prepare. While J.J. and I lived in Hawaii, we knew of a Taiwanese woman married to a man from Germany. They had two young girls who were a fine mixture of their parents. Once the two of us lined up at the checkout counter behind the woman at COSTCO. She had jars of Ragu tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese and boxes of spaghetti noodles. Exhibiting parental pride and confidence, the woman stated, “My daughters think that my spaghetti is better than the ones served in a restaurant.”

According to a 2017 survey, 63% of respondents in Italy said they eat pasta everyday or almost everyday. Our friends in Italy normally serve a small portion of pasta for lunch as their first course.

Italians are fiercely loyal to their regional cuisines and pasta is more common in south. J.J. makes many sumptuous pasta dishes starting with Spaghetti allá Carbonara*. pasta allá vongole (clam & garlic sauce), pasta allá marinara (seafood), and pasta allá pesto.

*Our family’s favorite is Carbonara.

J.J. learned to prepare this Southern Italian recipe from a friend in Artena (South of Rome) during our stay with him and his family. The story goes that the Italian government wanted to put a tax on tomatoes. To deflect this unwelcome taxation, a party known as Carbon (White) came up with tomatoless pasta sauce. The Carbonara that J.J. makes has bacon (or Prosciutto ham when available), lots of garlic, fresh eggs and grated cheese. Yes, we can enjoy this every day. :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Last Winter Storm in San Diego County

Aloha Everyone,

The last winter storm of 2020 is bringing scattered showers, gusty winds and chilly temperatures. Yesterday, I had to divide my morning walk into 3 segments to avoid getting soaked.

This morning, I delayed starting my walk by an hour. My timing was correct as I was able to take a sunrise photo at 7:15 am, nearly 40 minutes later than usual.

My daughter-in-law brought out a cozy comforter for us. J.J. and I prefer not to use heating except for the early morning hours when indoor temperature dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. With flannel sheets, 2 wool blankets and now a comforter on top, we should be very warm throughout the winter.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 28, 2020

Breakfasts Suited for Chilly Mornings

Aloha Everyone,

These chilly mornings in Southern California, I especially look forward to enjoying a bowl of warm oatmeal and flaxseed meal cooked in almond milk. After one minutes in microwave oven, it is ready. Add fresh fruits on top and sprinkle cinnamon. It is always delicious.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 27, 2020

From Cathi’s Nov-Dec Sketchbook

Aloha Everyone,

All of my drawings are based on photographs as J.J. and I do not stay out long enough for me to do sketches on our twice-a-month driving Honu.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 26, 2020

December Dining-in Highlights

Aloha Everyone,

Here are some of our highlights from our December Dining-In.

Baked Butternuts Squash

Porto’s Cheese Rolls


Fresh Garden Salad 

Baked Salmon Over Assorted Veggies

Lattice Crust Apple Pie

Rack of Lamb

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Disney’s Marketing Genius

Aloha Everyone,

Walt Disney, the founder of Disneyland, was a marketing genius. He instinctively knew how to expand his business by licensing images of characters his company created. Images of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other characters graced children’s lunch boxes, school supplies, clothing and shoes.

Disney’s first animated movie, Snow White was a huge commercial success. Stage play, character images, books, songs, princess clothing and accessories were licensed.

Today Disney owns hundreds of stores selling its logo products. Additionally Disney owns numerous theme parks, Lucasfilm, Pixar, ESPN & ABC. This means Disney owns the ever popular Star Wars.

In marketing lexicon, known as “cross promotion”, Star Wars main characters and those that were developed later as offshoots from the original Star Wars saga are now targeted to new generation of Star War fans. I owe my gratitude to our granddaughter who has introduced me to the Mandalorean series and Clone Wars. Imaginative characters as Ahsoka Tano, young Anakin, young Obi Wan, and Grogu will continue to expand the empire Disney created. “May the force be with you.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Aloha Everyone,

Christmas 2020 will be remembered for the rest of our lives. With COVID-19 still restricting our daily activities, social gatherings with family and friends, we have to seek our joy and happiness from within ourselves. So let’s treat ourselves, our fellow human beings with gentleness, kindness, love and respect. Let us find joy in everyday ordinary things.

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” - William Penn

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Egg Rolls - Christmas Gift #3

Aloha Everyone,

Egg rolls were requested by our daughter-in-law. I found several online recipes with slight variations of ingredients, condiments and cooking instructions.

For tonight’s egg roll, we used wheat base wrapper purchased from Whole Foods. These wheat base wrappers are typically associated with Chinese egg rolls. For filler, I prepared a variety of thinly sliced vegetables. I then sautéed the veggies in olive oil. When they were completely cooled, I wrap each using about 1 1/2 tablespoon of veggies in individual wrapper.

J.J. took over the frying.

Of the 18 egg rolls we prepared, 3 were made with Cavendish banana that are  still slightly green. Totally disregarded the online  instructions of “roll the banana slices in brown sugar, cinnamon and serve with Maple syrup,” the finished banana egg rolls were tasty, sweet and most of all healthy.

Our Christmas Dinner #3 was easy and fun to prepare. There is definitely room for improvements. J.J. and I look forward to making them again.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Holiday Movie #1, Hogfather

Aloha Everyone,

Hogfather, based on a Terry Pratchett’s novel, was our family’s first family movie event. This is our granddaughter’s all-time favorite film. She learned the story by initially being read to by our son as a bed-time story. Our granddaughter then read the book several times on her own and she has seen the movie at least a couple of times. Hogfather has an interesting premise and life lesson. Terry Pratchett’s mastery with the English language, his fascination with natural history, deep understanding of society, astronomy, economics are all too evident. How he deals with one’s morality issues is also clearly illustrated. Rather than giving away the plot, I chose a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Naughty and Nice?” said Death. “But it’s easy to be nice if you’re rich. Is this fair?”

“Charity ain’t giving people what you want to give, it’s giving people what they need to get.”

“Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”

“No, you need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”

“Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Coffin Dance

Aloha Everyone

One of the relaxation activities our son and our granddaughter share is playing piano together. I have been listening to their practicing a new piece of music. It has a melancholy quality yet there is hope. The melody is somber but it is joyful. I was taken aback when my son told me that the music title is Coffin Dance.  

Hawaiian funerals in general are not a somber occasion. Often called a Celebration of Life, family and friends gather to share food, camaraderie over funny stories about the deceased. Unfamiliar with the Hawaiian culture, a newly arrived person from Georgia was furious for people having a “good time” at the funeral. He thought they were being disrespectful to the deceased.

The Ghana Pallbearers became an Internet phenomenon with their choreographed dance. BBC 2017 report provides good background information.

Please check the attached YouTube video plus the Piano Interpretations by Eric Correll.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Pad See Ew Thai Noodle - Christmas Gift #2

Aloha Everyone,

Tonight JJ and I prepared Pat See Ew, a Thai noodle dish requested by our granddaughter. Pad means fried and See Ew means Soy Sauce. This is the first time JJ and I prepared this dish at home. Recipes I found online called for too many ingredients including difficult to find spices. We ended up improvising. 

I prepared the sauce using low sodium soy sauce, low sodium oyster sauce and light brown sugar.  

Using a wok at high temperature, J.J. fried the chicken, vegetables and added flat rice noodle and a couple of eggs to top it off. The total cooking time was just 40 minutes. Our Christmas gift #2 turned out well. Our daughter-in-law enthusiastically compared it to J.J.’s signature pasta dish, Spaghetti ala Carbonara.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Moving Towards a Cashless Society

Aloha Everyone,

A cashless society is not a new concept. Historically, farmers used grains they produced to barter for meat and hides with hunters. Today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses and merchants are altogether moving away from cash. Using mobile devices to pay for one’s goods and services, from groceries to holiday gift giving, are also becoming a norm.

There are advantages to cashless transactions: 1) No cash means no money for pickpockets to steal. 2) Saving time and costs. 3) Currency exchange will be simpler. 4) For government regulators, tax evasion is discouraged since there will be a digital paper trail on when, where, how much one is spending.

However, the biggest disadvantage of paying everything digital means it is sharing of your personal information. To purchase a couple of books of Forever Stamps from the United States Postal Service, JJ had to open account and provide personal information. This information will be added to our personal data where AI can track all our spending.

According to the World Economy website, based on 142 countries, for the year 2017, the highest percent of people aged 15 and above who have a credit card was in Canada at 82.58% and the lowest was in Turkmenistan at 0 percent. 70 percent of Americans have at least one credit card.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 14, 2020

From Our December 2019 Travel Album

Aloha Everyone,

Last year, J.J. and I spent the entire month of December taking a Christmas cruise on Sapphire Princess. Please enjoy a small selections of photos including pre-boarding days spent in Singapore, a rare viewing of the Solar Eclipse on board, and magnificent Buddhist temples in Phuket, Thailand. To view our entire blog entries, please go to the web version and click on appropriate dates/subject on the right hand side.

Aloha -- Cathi