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Sunday, April 30, 2023

Shoes for on the Go

Aloha Everyone,

My last pair of shoes, Skechers Arch Fit was purchased at the start of our 4 1/2 months stay in the Philippines. They served me well.

ASICS Gel Venture is one of my “go to” walking shoes. I usually keep a pair as reserve.

Following the dress code of Cruise Casual, J.J. and I pack the appropriate clothes. Our emphasis are comfort vs style and value vs name brands. My new pair of SAS sandals are similar to the ones I’ve worn for years. They are comfortable, easy maintenance and light to pack.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, April 29, 2023

More on Oceania Regatta

Aloha Everyone,

Per their online information, the Oceania Regatta was built in 1996 and has undergone refurbishment in 2011 and 2014.

Our friend in Vancouver wrote and said that she took this ship in 2006 & 2007. Her first cruise was to the Eastern Mediterranean and much of Scandinavia the following year. She further shared her impression of the amazing food and relaxed clothing ambience and fantastic services.

We already received an invitation to the christening of their newest ship. Additionally, each passenger receives two dinners at their specialty restaurants for each segment of our cruises. Today, J.J. was busy downloading their very extensive menu selections and making reservations.

This family-owned high-end ship has accommodations for 684 guests in 342 staterooms and suites. Popular with seniors, it is unlikely that we would be seeing many children on our cruises.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, April 28, 2023

Our Next Cruises

Aloha Everyone,

We have booked our next two cruises. Boarding on May 11th on a 7-day cruise to Ensenada, San Francisco and Santa Barbara, returning to San Pedro. Then it's a 12-day cruise on the same ship and cabin to San Francisco, Astoria, four ports in Alaska and to Vancouver. We fly back May 30th to Los Angeles.

This is our first cruise with Oceania. One of the things we know is that Regatta is similar in size to the Azamara which we took from Athens to Israel, Egypt onto Turkey last year. Additional information will be posted as I learn more about Regatta.

I met my friend Anita who recently returned from her cruise with her husband to Hawaii and the South Pacific. We haven’t seen each other for nearly 6 months. In order to catch up, we did what the two of us enjoy doing…walking.  I had already done my 5 plus miles this morning. By the time I checked my phone, we had walked 40 minutes together which equates to a grand total 20,309 steps or 8.3 miles.

Went to bed early but a false fire alarm at 3:00 am woke us up and disrupted our sleep. The good news is that it was a false alarm.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Charles Barkley’s Comment About Cats

Aloha Everyone,

Charles Barkley has a likable personality. He is enthusiastic and not shy to share his personal opinions on his TV program. Barkley competed in the 1992 & 1996 Olympic Games and won two gold medals as a US men’s basketball team member. 

He is co-host with Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA on TNT and perhaps became even more popular after he retired.  Barkley’s recent comment, “A cat is not a real pet” in reference to Kenny Smith’s sharing that he has a cat as a pet caused unexpected reactions from cat lovers. Why?  Because it’s not a dog.

With multiple problems we are facing, hearing Charles Barkley’s funny comment about a cat is a good excuse to laugh at something non-controversial.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Taking Care of Domestic Affairs

Aloha Everyone,

This morning we dropped off our laundry at the local Lavandería where we have been patronizing ever since we started to stay at Extended Stay America. Two of us were pleasantly surprised to see Adam, a very reliable employee.  Last we heard he had gone home to Mexico. Adam reminded us that the charge is now $2.00 per pound. 

Today we also scheduled our room to be professionally cleaned. It took three gentle reminders at the front desk but the two of us are pleased that the task was completed before it was time for us to prepare dinner.

Our weekly shopping at Sprouts was unexpectedly delayed due to maintenance road work. If there’s a will, there are ways This included changing the route. I am pleased that we were able to purchase large strawberries, apples and a bunch of bananas for breakfast.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Challenges in Obtaining US Passports

Aloha Everyone,

According to a government passport agency site, it is now taking 10-13 weeks to get a new passport. To renew your old passport, the time frame is shortened. However, if you were age 16 or under when your old passport was issued, you have to apply for a new one with recent photo and updated information.

My niece was planning an oversea’s summer holiday with her 4 sons. They were all below 16 when the previous passports were issued. Just to get an appointment to apply, there’s 14 weeks of backlogs, according to the local passport agency office.

More than 42 percent of adult Americans will travel this year. This percentage equates to over 108 million people. No wonder, some cruises we considered were sold out. Despite increased cost for both domestic & international airfares & accommodations, the traveling public has a great hunger to go somewhere. Making up for the year lost to the pandemic is one of the reasons often cited. Uncertainty in the job market is another reason, especially for GenX who are trying to balance work and lifestyle.

(References from

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, April 24, 2023

Vitamin E Oil

Aloha Everyone,

Nurses and lab technicians who assisted Dr. Nguyen asked routine questions about your post operation. When I shared my surprising discovery of how I see too much details of my skin including every blemishes, they were understanding.

I mentioned to them that another patient waiting for his 2nd cataract operation was sharing his story and how using Vitamin E oil has been most helpful in minimizing his blemishes. The surgical nurse agreed and that she also uses Vitamin E oil on a daily basis.

The lab technician also stated that she too uses Vitamin E oil on her face. Hummmm maybe they have discovered a simple solution instead of paying hundreds of dollars for brand name cosmetics.

I paid $4.99 at Walmart for Spring Valley 12,000 IU Vitamin E oil.  We’ll see if there will be any improvements.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Smokey, Everyone’s Mascot

Aloha Everyone,

Smokey was found nearly a year ago in the parking lot of ESA (Extended Stay America) Del Amo wearing a collar and leash, but no one minding her.

According to the woman who cares for Smokey, she went through a process of searching for the rightful owner. When no one claimed Smokey, the dog was taken to a vet to see if any ID tag was implanted. There was none. For now Smokey seems to have found loving team of caregivers, the daughter of the woman, the woman who is also a guest of ESA, and a group of front desk staff.

I usually have severe allergic reactions to any furry animals including dogs, cats and even birds.

Smokey’s charming disposition and wagging her tail with big eyes and pleading stares are too difficult to ignore. No.  I did not pet Smokey and I kept my distance but hopefully these photos will explain why so many residents and staff are volunteering to take Smokey for a walk.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Grocery & Prepared Food Shopping

Aloha Everyone,

Today we went to Ralph’s Supermarket to purchase fresh fruits and veggies. J.J. and I came out with 5 large shopping bags full of our favorite produce. As always, my eyes are bigger than my stomach and ended up purchasing more than we could consume in one week.

Our second stop was Tokyo Central, a Japanese supermarket where J.J. likes to get a few Japanese bentos (prepared food boxes). Prior to our long stay in the Philippines, these two supermarket shopping used to be below $50 each. Now after nearly 5 months, we are paying 10-20% more including for such staples as fresh milk, fresh meat and fish. 

We are fortunate that our monthly set budget has room to expand. I feel for those shoppers who are rummaging the “for sale” items of “short expiration dates” food or perishable goods with “reduced for quick sale” signs.

Our dinner plates have an abundance of fresh veggies, eggs and lamb with Hummus on toast. The food are simple but healthy homemade meals.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, April 21, 2023

Daifuku, Japanese Sweet

Aloha Everyone,

Daifuku is a type of Japanese sweet usually made as a round mochi (glutinous rice cake). In Japanese writing, Daifuku literally means “great luck”. My favorite ones are stuffed with sweetened red azuki beans paste.

Delicious, you can enjoy it with green tea or in J.J.’s case with strong coffee. J.J. and I savored the delicate and delicious taste of Daifuku to celebrate another successful milestone.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, April 20, 2023

One Week Post Op Appointment

Aloha Everyone,

My right eye is healing nicely and Dr. Anne Nguyen said that she is very happy with the result. Today my eyes were dilated so I am wearing a pair of dark glasses until the sun goes down.

I mentioned to Dr. Nguyen that colors are vivid and I can see everything in greater details. For example, strands of my hair, blades of glass, individual leaves on trees are dancing in my vision. At times, they have dizzying effect.

I also shared with Dr. Nguyen that my vision has improved. I see all the blemishes on my skin. I told her that I am seeing me in a new light.

My next follow-up appointment is 6 months from now. That would be this October.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Movie Night, The Birdcage

Aloha Everyone,

The movie is a 1996 classic starring Robin Williams, Gene Hackman and Nathan Lane. The two of us have watched the film a number of times and we always find it enjoyable.

We were entertained by Robin Williams‘ comedy genius playing a gay nightclub owner against Gene Hackman’s role as an ultra conservative politician.

With station breaks, the film is stretched to 3 hours and knowing that the ending segment is a must not miss, the two of us stayed up. By the time we went to bed, it was beyond our usual sleeping time of 7:30 pm.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Rui Hachimura

Aloha Everyone,

Rui Hachimura is a Japanese professional basketball player for the LA Lakers. At 25 years, 6’8” he could potentially become a force for the Lakers. In his first playoff game, Rui came off the bench and made 29 points including five 3 pointers.

Rui was born in Japan to his Japanese mother and his West African father. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo had an injury during his last game and he had to sit on the bench. He is a Greek national with Nigerian root.

Both players have faced personal challenges including poverty and discrimination. Their devotion to the game of basketball, positive attitude and humility allowed them to overcome adversity. This is highly commendable.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, April 17, 2023

Bright, Colorful Flowers

Aloha Everyone,

Weather in the Torrance area has been gloomy. No sunrise, no blue sky. I wore my heavy jacket to do my morning walk.

Life is great and and I continue to be grateful everyday I can go out and get my 5 plus miles walk. Here are a few of the bright and cheerful flowers I saw on my walk.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, April 16, 2023

NBA Playoff

Aloha Everyone,

Today is the first of the NBA Playoffs. J.J. is a basketball fan. Our sons played basketball in Middle School and High School. Though I personally cannot shoot nor dribble basketball, I am familiar with basic rules and scoring.

Watching the NBA Playoffs is a popular activity. In preparation, the two of us went to Ralph’s supermarket and came away with 6 shopping bags of groceries. Mostly veggies and fruits. We will enjoy the game with good, healthy meals and snacks.

A man behind our checkout had two cases of beers and two large bags of chips. He too will enjoy his games :-)

First game, LA Lakers vs Memphis Grizzlies was exciting to the end with Lakers winning 128 to 112.

We are now getting ready for Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat. The Bucks are J.J.’s favorite team.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, April 15, 2023

No Available Cruises

Aloha Everyone

A record number of Americans are traveling this summer. Many are making up for lost travel due to the pandemic. 

The two of us had a tentative schedule of doing 3 back-to-back cruises including to the Hawaiian Islands. We didn’t book our cruises until my cataract surgery was done. Now we find out that the Hawaiian cruise is sold out.

Being optimistic and positive, the two of us are confident that we will find something. The truth is, we don’t care in which direction and continent our cruise will take us.

I find comfort in Pema Chödrön’s teaching of, “That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, Is the mark of existence. Everything is in process.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, April 14, 2023

First PostOP Appointment

Aloha Everyone,

First PostOP appointment with Dr. Nguyen went smoothly. My right eye is looking great and vision is expected to improve within the next few weeks.

I am pseudophakic which means my normal lens have been removed and an artificial lens have been implanted.
Started two eye drops routine 4 times a day. During the day, I will continue to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect my eyes from UV rays. To sleep, for a week, a plastic shield will be used to protect my eye from being accidentally touched.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, April 13, 2023

My Right Eye Cataract Surgery

Aloha Everyone

I was ready. Maybe too anxious to get over my second cataract operation. My excess energy was due to a lack of physical exercise leading to my operation.

J.J. dropped me off at the Torrance Surgery Center. Weighing in, verifying my personal information, experienced surgical nurses prepped me. Dr. Anne Nguyen’s smiling face calmed me and by the time the anesthesiologist came, I was prepared.

Strapped on a surgical table, the light show was brief, beautiful, with predominately jade, aquamarine and powder blue hues that occasional rose, and orange vibrant colors appeared in encased bubbles. 

Dr. Nguyen’s confident voice informed me that all went very well, a very successful operation.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

PreOP with Dr. Anne Nguyen

Aloha Everyone,

Always cheerful, Dr. Nguyen exhibits confidence and her positive attitude towards patients is truly comforting.

After examination, she declared that I am all set to go. My appointment checkin time is tomorrow morning with actual operation scheduled at 12:00 noon. I am feeling great and looking forward to getting over this hurdle in my life.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Wildflower Superbloom Happening

Aloha Everyone

This is the year and the time is now to enjoy and take in amazing colors of wildflower superbloom happening. The two of us saw just a tiny glance from Honu’s windshield as we drove back from La Jolla to Torrance.

Easter week stay with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter was filled with great food, laughter and wonderful conversation.

Here is a small sample of my daughter-in-law’s home cooked meals and take-out meals we thoroughly enjoyed. The last photo, 

Portuguese’s Bean Soup traces its origin to 1800’s when Portuguese went to Hawaii. Main ingredients are ham bone (from Easter honey baked ham), Portuguese sausage, kidney beans, onion, garlic, potatoes and assortment of veggies plus tomato paste. Every cook have their own version, but the end result is a hearty, healthy filling dish which can be a meal in itself.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, April 10, 2023

Tang Soo Do Practice

Aloha Everyone,

My granddaughter invited me to practice Tang Soo Do with her. What was amazing to me was that when she asked me to do the first form, I was more or less able to execute it. I suppose my muscles remember the movements. I think my granddaughter was even more surprised as it’s been more than a year since she last had a chance to see me do the forms and she generously clapped her hands and congratulated me.

Now I have more reason to add Tang Soo Do to my daily work out. I will keep in mind my granddaughter’s instruction — to put the full power behind my punch!

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Meals

Aloha Everyone,

LC and his wife, JF are our son’s friends and colleagues. They are gourmet cooks. The couple have done extensive traveling in Europe including organized bicycle tours. Their background in computer science, love of outdoors, European history, music, theater and art resulted in fascinating conversation.

Our daughter-in-law’s homemade desserts of 3-layered Okinawa Potatoes Haopia Cake was also a big hit. For entertainment, our son played some of his favorite pieces on LC’s Grand Piano, enjoying the sound differences from his electric piano at home.

Today, we had our son’s family friends join us for Easter lunch. Their older daughter is our granddaughter’s age and her sibling is just two years younger. The conversation topic centered on college entrance, which universities they would apply, pros and cons.

While this is generally a stressful time, today’s high school juniors and seniors seem to have additional burdens because of the cost of rising tuition at private schools, declining quality of education, and competitive environment. 

The girls have known each other since kindergarten. It was heartwarming to see them hide Easter eggs and let us (parents and grandmother—me) search for them. Afterwards the girls played old Mario Brothers video giving them a chance to relax and enjoy some period of genuine laughter and friendship.

Aloha -- Cathi