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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Adding Zest to our Breakfast at Extended Stay America

Aloha Everyone,

Our daily breakfasts are a rather standard affair. We try to have a cup of freshly brewed coffee, a mixture of fresh fruits & veggies, protein, and a carb.

J.J.’s suggestion of buying a toaster oven was a great idea. But the reality is our kitchen counter space at Extended Stay America (ESA) is limited. A good compromise is a Hamilton Beach 2 Slice Toaster. Extra-wide slots can toast bagels and thicker breads.


With the purchase of less than $20, our breakfast is now more exciting, more interesting and definitely has more zest.



Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Meals on Wheels

Aloha Everyone,

Meals on Wheels is a national non-profit organization operating with US government aid. Volunteers, often seniors who are still mobile and can drive, deliver food to homebound seniors. On the website of “Meals on Wheels”, a knock-on the door means nourishment for the body and soul. 

One devoted volunteer shortened her vacation in Hawaii when she learned that there were no volunteers to make deliveries to people. According to her mother, her daughter developed strong connections to her constituents. She not only delivers food but took time to make her weekly visits meaningful. In addition to find out how those home bound seniors are doing, she asked what she could do to make their daily life happier.

The sad truth is that the price of gasoline has a direct impact on volunteers and recipients of Meals on Wheels. It is my understanding that volunteers receive no reimbursements for the cost of gasoline.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New at Torrance Farmers Market

Aloha Everyone,

Torrance Farmers Market is held twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Charles H. Wilson Park. With its popularity and limited parking for a vehicle the size of Honu, we decided to arrive before 9:00 am.

J.J. and I saw a woman pulling an interesting contraption. It looked like a portable cane. It is actually a fresh produce carrying pulley being marketed by the organizers of the Torrance Farmers Market.

Unlike a single basket, this contraption will allow shoppers to keep their produce in separate, hooks thereby preventing them from getting squashed. $30 seems a little bit costly. I only saw one other individual using this.


Chinese Dim Sum booth was new. It was run by three young people who could’ve been siblings. With a limited menu, they were doing brisk business. J.J. chose 2 meat and 2 vegetarian potstickers. Good quality, while pricey for take away food, we are happy to have found this alternative Chinese takeout.



Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, June 27, 2022

Appointment With My Ophthalmologist

Aloha Everyone,

Today was my first meeting with my Ophthalmologist. She is high energy, enthusiastic, smart and has a great sense of humor. J.J. and I really liked her. More importantly, I feel totally confident with her skills and professional abilities. We made a decision to have cataract surgery on both of my eyes. 

I will start with my left eye. I am looking forward to this new experience.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Movie “Rise”

Aloha Everyone,

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Greek-Nigerian professional basketball player. Based on the real story of his life, the movie traces Giannis from his birth and culminates in becoming a National Basketball Association superstar. Giannis is considered one of the top NBA players today and among the top 20 greatest basketball players in the history of the game.

Affiliated with the Milwaukee Buck’s, Giannis credits his personal and professional achievement to his loving parents and his brothers.


J.J. particularly is impressed with Gianni’s’ humility, his relationship with his family, his dedication to his sport and gratitude he shows to the coaching staff, team owners, teammates and fans.

My sister invited us to pick her homegrown lemons.


Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, June 24, 2022

Great Resignations

Aloha Everyone,

We all are in some way or another affected by over-worked and burned-out healthcare workers. J.J. and I are trying to line up our health maintenance appointments including our annual Medicare Health Check and we must be flexible in getting our appointments.

We’ve read multiple reports that the healthcare industry has already lost 20% of their workforce. This includes 30% of nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, in 2022, so far, nearly 1.7 million people have quit the healthcare workforce.

Workers in all fields: highly skilled and in management, professional and service industry, are looking for quality of life.  They are asking for a better way of living their life. What is the purpose of life? What is important and how best to use one’s time. How much money do you really need to live a quality life? 

We hear life gurus talk about “Work, Life, Balance”. The two of us follow our simple philosophy of work hard and live hard. J.J. and I have taken annual short vacations lasting 1 months to 3 months to restore our energy and enthusiasm for life. Live your life simply.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Lightning

Aloha Everyone,

Flashes of lights were seen from my peripheral vision. Sudden and sharp light was jarring that instinctively I ducked in my seat. 

A little later we realized that we were witnessing a powerful display of lightening in Southern California.


According to a CNN news release, there were approximately 2,200 lightning strikes from Santa Barbara County to LA County.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Sprouts, Farmers Market Under One Roof

Aloha Everyone,

Sprouts traces its beginning to 2002 by offering fresh organic, as well as farm fresh produce. Today there are 370 stores with over 31,000 team members taking pride in their cooperative set up serving appreciative customers every day of the week.







J.J. and I found the deli within Sprout where they prepare fresh sandwiches. I had a turkey while J.J. had a roast beef sandwich on chapata bread. So delicious, so enormous!  I was only able to finish less than 1/2 of my sandwich.



Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Brunch with My Sister

Aloha Everyone,

Black Bear Diner was our venue to “hangout” this morning.


Founded in 1995 in Mount Shasta, CA, this franchise operation has a total of 146 locations in 14 states. (Source: Black Bear Diner website.)

The Black Bear Gazette in the format of an old newspaper serves as a menu with community articles on page 1, extensive menus in the center spread along with children’s activities.



I enjoyed my choice of California Omelet made of avocados & mushrooms without cheese while my sister chose a Denver Omelet with everything added.  The portions were large, and we both boxed our leftovers.


Andrea was our server. Pleasant and efficient, she gave me a clean copy of The Black Bear Gazette and agreed to pose for me for our blog.


Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, June 20, 2022

Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)

Aloha Everyone,

Also known as the “Bed Tax,” the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is added on the rent charged to transient guests. They apply to hotels, motels, AirB&B as well as private home rentals. In Los Angeles County, TOT is nearly 12%.

Calculating our upcoming healthcare appointments, we informed the ESA management our intention to stay for another month or longer. That’s when we learned that after a month plus a day, our status changes to “resident”. So long as our booking with ESA is consecutive, the TOT won’t be added.

Today we transferred rooms to a location within the complex where the WiFi signal is steady and more reliable. J.J. is happy that he does not have to step out in the corridor to look for a WiFi connection.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Shrinkflation

Aloha Everyone,

Combination of shrink and inflation, this compound word refers to package downsizing. Grocery items cost the same but at reduced content or in some cases replaced with inferior product. Coffee, cereals, ready-made beverages, bread, meat and seafood, all are impacted. Even vitamin bottles are using same size jars but with less content. The coffee can size is the same, but the net weight of coffee ground reduced from 16 to 12 to 10 oz.

We noticed the alarming rate of shrinkflation during our recent 3 weeks in Istanbul. Some restaurants were constantly changing menu prices while others drastically reduced food amount. J.J. noticed less meat in the stew and more fillers like potatoes.

Consumer protection groups including the government watchdog are critical of these now widespread practices.  Unfortunately, rising interest rates, poorly performing stocks, weather-related disasters, continued concerns over the COVID pandemic and tragedy of human & economic tolls of war in Ukraine are contributing factors.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Four Phases of Retirements

Aloha Everyone,

Dr. Riley Moynes during his TED Talk presentation began by establishing the following facts:

1.  10,000 Americans will retire today and everyday over the next 10-15 years.

2.  There are four distinct phases of retirements

3.  Most people prepare for their retirement financially and take care of the estate side but lacking psychological readiness.

4.  There is a very good chance we will live 1/3 of our life in retirement. This means there will be significant psychological changes and challenges. 

This is a fascinating and relevant information.  Here is the video:


Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, June 17, 2022

Cats - Unpublicized Disneyland Employees

Aloha Everyone,

The happiest place on earth employs about 200 feral cats to help control the rodent population in the park.  To read this amusing story, please go to:

https://disneylandcats.co0m/about/

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, June 16, 2022

FaceMasks for Flutists

Aloha Everyone,

During our recent visit in La Jolla, JJ and I watched a recording of the San Diego District Honor Band Concert held on March 13, 2022. We noticed that nearly every participant wore a face mask. When I asked our granddaughter how she was able to play her flute, she told us about a special face mask for wind instruments.


Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Honu’s 15,000 Miles Check

Aloha Everyone,

It’s not just our health maintenance checks, but we had also deferred Honu’s maintenance due to the COVID Pandemic.

The service rep found our prior service record and began by taking photos of Honu’s exterior from 4 different angles using her iPad. When I asked for the reason, she confirmed that it’s done to avoid any claims by owners that there were no prior scratches. Apparently, some owners try to get free body works done.


Changing oil, filter and other minor items totaled $400. The amount is about 50% higher than non-Mercedes Benz service but two other oil change places, including JiffyLube, declined due to no replacement parts.

Per our verbal conversation with the service rep who assisted us, new vehicles purchased in 2022 seems to have issues. Reasons are vehicles remained parked on dry, hot, uncovered pier lots before delivery and sales. These vehicles are coined “COVID cars” and they discouraged buyers in 2022.

The maintenance service business is doing very well as owners are repairing rather than purchasing new cars. She also mentioned that this particular Mercedes Benz service location had 43 mechanics. At the COVID surge, a large number were furloughed. When things settled and mechanics were called back, some had moved away or moved onto other jobs. Currently they are left with only 17 mechanics.

The sales and service department offices were empty. I did my one mile walk in the corridors.


Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Getting a Manicure and a Pedicure

Aloha Everyone,

We selected online three possible nail salons this morning. Number one criteria is if there is a large enough parking stall for Honu to occupy.

Second criteria, and just as important, is its appearance. Is the place clean and how about the people working?

Lovely Naul & Spa is located in Torrance inside a large shopping complex with Von’s as its anchor tenant. This was not the typical nail salons J.J. and I were pampered In places such as Ecuador, Greece and Mexico.

Lovely Nail & Spa is truly an American enterprise catered to middle class working Americans. At a glance, the size of the room and number of people was impressive. J.J. counted roughly 18 pedicure reclining chairs with foot baths and 24 manicure tables. He called it, “mass production.”

Our wait was no more than 10 minutes, total of time we spent was about 20-30 minutes. Each operator scribbled a bill with price according to services rendered and signed the slip of paper. We gave each of the 4 women very generous tips. We then took the 4 slips of paper to the front desk and settled our bill.

It was time efficient. All 4 women were from Vietnam. No small talks as the women spoke limited English. They were well trained and professional. So, J.J.’s reference as “Mass Production’” might be appropriate.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, June 13, 2022

Optum, Our New Health Service Provider

Aloha Everyone,

The two of us were determined to find a health provider to replace Scripps whose hospitals and clinics are located in the San Diego area.


After identifying three potential candidates, we systematically contacted them through their online websites, phone and email.

We then visited their locations keeping in mind such challenges as finding parking for our RV.

The final decision was to enroll with Optum Healthcare. We also made our first appointment for Thursday, June 17th.  It will be with the Physician Assistant of the primary care physician we selected.


Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Green Rice & Noodles

Aloha Everyone,

Today’s takeout lunch cane from a Filipino restaurant that had a large selection of glutinous rice-based food items.

We purchased two suman and noodles.

Preparation of suman is done in two steps. First, rice is cooked in coconut milk. Then they are made into cone shapes, wrapped in fresh banana leaves and steamed. Green tint, according to an online recipe, comes from lime water used to cook the rice. 

https://theunlikelybaker.com/suman-recipe-filipino-sticky-rice-cake-banana-leaves/


Pansit Bihon is a rice noodles dish. It is lightly flavored and prepared with shrimps and vegetables.


Interesting dishes, but J.J. and I decided to stay with our tried and tested usual takeout places including Seafood Supermarket.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Ergonomics

Aloha Everyone,

According to the United States Department of Labor website, Ergonomic is defined as, “Prevention of musculoskeletal disorder in the workplace.”

Krystel, who did my hair, was using a beautiful rainbow-colored pair of scissors. She explained that one of the job hazards of being a hairstylist is getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Since Krystel shifted to using her rainbow scissors, her right thumb is spared from repetitiousness moves.



Quick smile and professional demeanor, Krystel occasionally broke into a brief uplifting melody while concentrating on her work. We were “walk-in” clients, happy that they were able to accommodate us at Fantastic Sam's in Torrance.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, June 10, 2022

Happy Memories

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are grateful for our family in California and Hawaii. As we bid our granddaughter “farewell” we returned to Torrance with a light and happy heart.

“The memories we make with our family is everything.”
- Candace Cameron Bure


“The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments.  If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.”
- Alek Wek


“I cherish my entire life.  I’ve been blessed with a life full of good memories.”
- Sourav Ganguly


This is how memories are made…by going with the flow.
- Amanda Bynes


Take care of all your memories.  For you cannot relive them,

- Bob Dylan

Aloha -- Cathi


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Delectable Home Cooked Meals

Aloha Everyone,

All of us contributed to making this a wonderful week that included everyone prepare their specialty dish.

Our daughter-in-law’s quiche utilizing Gruyer Cheese. It was sharp and filling.


Always everyone’s favorite Okinawa Sweet Potato Pie with Haupia top and Scottish shortbread bottom.


My homemade apple pie.


Yummy dragon fruit:



Our son’s creation of turkey, vegetables with tofu curry and one of JJ’s specialty Italian dishes, Carbonara were quickly served before I could record them into our iphone album. 


Small representation of my favorite breakfasts.


Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Arcane

Aloha Everyone,

When I heard that we will be watching animated action, adventure, set in the fictional universe, I thought of Star Wars series or The Lord of the Rings.

Arcane’s writer and producer took us far away from the action adventures I’ve previous watched. I understand that there were 9 episodes In Season 1. My granddaughter and I watched the first one. Because of my unfamiliarity with this video game, she paused often to explain the setting and characters. Her adding English subtitles also helped for some of the characters uttered indistinguishable sounds.


At the end of the first episode, I had a splitting headache. The development of characters plus the ending was totally unexpected and for me unacceptable. The two of us watched three more episodes. It wasn’t the episodes we watched but rather the quality time the two of us spent together, discussing, agreeing and disagreeing about the characters, story lines, visual effects and music score.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Shoe Shopping

Aloha Everyone,

My New Balance walking shoe repair is expected to be delivered by the 18th of June. Seeing that I was alternating between using a pair of hiking boots and leather walking shoes, our daughter-in-law offered to take me shoe shopping at a large self-service store called DSW.

I am happy with the two pairs of shoes I was able to purchase.



Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, June 6, 2022

Hiking Date with My Daughter-in-Law

Aloha Everyone,

Mari├ín R Bear Memorial Park within the San Clemente Canyon Park was the venue my daughter-in-law selected. 


The trail was easy and mostly shaded as we climb a small hill. The only challenge was colorful but dangerous poison oak growth on both sides of the trail plus navigating a small run off stream over slippery rocks.






It was a wonderful hike which gave me confidence that we could go on another trail the next time.

Aloha -- Cathi