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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Amy Tan, Unintended Memoir

Aloha Everyone,

When her Joy Luck Club novel was first published in 1989, it was such a gripping book I recall finishing it in one sitting.  

Joy Luck Club was about four Chinese immigrant families in San Francisco. They became Amy Tan and her generation’s American born children’s extended families. The parents played the Chinese game of mahjong for money, feasting, gossiping and to talk about business.

Made it to the New York Times Best Seller list, The Joy Luck Club was the first book about immigration from foreign countries, inter-generational conflict of old-world value and that of adopted Westernized society. Amy Tan spearheaded this previously untouched topic with candor and intimacy.

Amy Tan is a complex, accomplished person.

When she was 15, her father and older brother died of brain tumors within 6 months of each other. Her Mother decided to move to a place with a clean environment. Amy finished high school at the Institute of Monte RosaIn Montreaux in Switzerland.

Amy Tan’s personal life reads like a novel. For example:

She is a member of the literary rock band, The Rock-Bottom Remainders. Her band mates include Dave Barry, Stephen King and Maya Angelou. She sings off key but says she can express herself and get out of her comfort zone.

Amy Tan has appeared in The Simpsons as herself.

Amy Tan and her husband, Lou DeMattei, have been married for more than 20 years. They reside in San Francisco in a house they designed where they could live comfortably into old age.

Amy Tan is a skilled artist, an illustrator of nature.

Amy Tan’s Chinese name “An Mei” means Blessing from America.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Keeping in Touch

Aloha Everyone,

Your day is going well. Pretty much routine of getting up early, have a healthy breakfast and in my case, off I go out for my daily walk.

But wait, an unexpected text message from a friend, a voice mail from another or recent photos from their travel destinations can give you an additional spiritual lift.

This week, I received a handful of such messages & emails. From Massachusetts, a good friend sent us photos of his two sons and their fiancées. Within 3 weeks, both of his sons got engaged!

A dear friend in Hawaii wrote and said she is house and puppy sitting over the summer. No puppy but J.J. and I are loving our house sitting in La Jolla for another 3 weeks.

A couple of friends in the East Coast and MidWest shared their happy news of additional grandchildren. Graduations and retirement parties with family photos are always welcome.  

More adventurous friend in Vancouver wrote and said she and her husband will be going on the Camino in Spain.  Thereafter, their destinations will be “stans” — to follow the Silk Road. I am not sure which countries allow access with their Canadian passports.  

So happy to hear that our friends are staying busy. Taking cooking classes, yoga classes and art/ceramic classes while others have joined horticulture clubs and book club. Whatever your pursuit is keep your body and brain active.

On our end, J.J. is finalizing the details for our next cruise.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, July 28, 2023

At Home Entertainment

Aloha Everyone,

Marriage Story

It’s a story of extreme love and hate. Couple’s relationship with each other and their young son. Love is everlasting. Scarlett Johansson as the suffering wife and Laura Dern as her smart, aggressive divorce lawyer gave excellent performances.

Blood, Sex & Royalty, The Last Boleyn 

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII, Queen of England from 1533-1536. This is unorthodox, present time interpretation incorporating documentary style, interviews and POP music. Having casts playing as historians helped learn background information of ladies in waiting their roles and how Anne Boleyn was framed by the king himself to be found guilty of treason.


Based on a true story of the revolutionary feminist author, who lived too early for her time. Colette’s bold, liberated persona caused a riot in 1907.  

In France, Colette was a star. She was the second woman to be made a grand officer of the Legion of Honour, and first to be given a State Funeral. Colette died at the age of 81 in 1954.

Keira Knightley is one of my favorites and one of the most versatile actors. Her performances in Pride & Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean, Doctor Zhivago, Anna Karenina and Colette are indicative of her talent.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Lunch with Friends at Peet’s Coffee

Aloha Everyone,

Trying to be efficient with our time, I made my sandwich selections and saved it as screen saver on my iPhone prior to meeting our friends. Peet’s Coffee located at the Renaissance Town Center has limited interior seatings. While J.J., Larry and Jeanne went to make our purchases, I cleared falling petals of Jacarandas from the stone table and benches.

My two choices, Mediterranean Flatbread and Toasted Caprese Sandwich weren’t available. We were informed that the menu posted on their company website is being upgraded. I was looking forward to trying how Peet’s utilize Lavash Bread to make the sandwich.

All of us ended up with Vegetarian quiche prepared with eggs.

Larry & Jeanne are experienced travelers and have been to places the two of us have on our “bucket list.” We spent nearly two interesting hours before parting companies with promises to keep in touch.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Nijiya Market

 Aloha Everyone,

We went to Nijiya Market today. Here are some of the items that we purchased.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Great Dining Experiences

Aloha Everyone,

The following story is shared by our son, Jeff in Honolulu, Hawaii.

When one dines in a restaurant, there are certain expectations.

  • For instance, as you stepped into the restaurant, were you greeted warmly?
  • How was the quality of food?
  • How was the serving staff?
  • How was the quality of food?
  • Ambiance of the restaurant?
  • Payment procedure?
Jeff and Jenny frequent a restaurant called Merriman’s Honolulu near Ward’s Center in Kakaako. They choose “Happy Hours” for drink and small bite size dishes. This once or twice a week event is very enjoyable for our son and our daughter-in-law. Jeff mentioned that Merriman’s is a little pricey, but the staff know them and treat them as their VIP guests 

Occasionally new dishes are offered as complimentary. “We give them a 25% to 30% tip, but for us it’s all worthwhile for the peace and relaxation.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, July 24, 2023

Unwelcome Target Marketing

Aloha Everyone,

We cannot escape from AI-based marketing and advertising. Today, it promotes the purchase of children’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks and drinks are also recommended based on what you have been consuming or what manufacturers’ AI algorithm comes up with. Clothes, footwear, backpacks and even water bottles recommendations fill parents’ online & home mailboxes.

I was shocked to see a jar of chewable gummy vitamins specifically targeted to young teenage girls. 

Another click took me to One A Day Teen for Him and another to One A Day Trolls. It’s crazy.

J.J. and I are also subjected to AI-based Target Marketing. The two of us were kidding each other when we started to get Italian Restaurant Dining Invitations. The restaurant in La Jolla isn’t even open. I guess one of us lingered just a few seconds longer than the norm over an Italian recipe which triggered AI to capture my email and we are flooded with offers. I even received $100 discount for our first reservation with a qualifiers (reservation must be for 2 people. must have wine and 4 courses). Hmmm, I wonder how much that meal would cost us.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Watch Out for Scammers

Aloha Everyone,

“During the past 7 days, Safari has prevented 135 trackers from profiling you.”  Similar messages appear whenever I access my iPhone and try to use Safari. Otherwise, I am automatically transported to Google search engine.

I keep my email accounts “lean & clean”. Only message that I need to follow-up are in my inbox. Others are either deleted, put in the JUNK mail file to be permanently deleted or filed.

Scammers send fake emails often posing as actual people we know or companies and businesses we deal with.  Unless I am expecting a message, I just DELETE or better still put it in my JUNK mail file, without opening.

Good advice to follow: do not answer phone calls if you do not know the caller. Seniors are especially vulnerable targets. If it’s a legitimate call, they can leave you a voicemail. 

It’s also okay to say “No” or simply hang up. And that goes with people soliciting in front of supermarkets or other public places. Without feeling embarrassed or guilty, just simply walk away. 

I always refer to J.J. as my excuse by saying, “Thank you. I will discuss with my husband.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Our Mobile Devices

Aloha Everyone,

AARP BULLETIN June 2023 issue, has a helpful article titled MY PHONE CAN DO THAT?

I am aware that my iPhone is underutilized. I have a list of things to learn concerning usage. The truth is they remain on my “to learn” list even when I receive notifications at least twice a week. Once in a while I do try to learn something new.

There are things J.J. is competent at especially when it comes to any issues that are travel related — hotels, airlines, cruise bookings and online banking. My forte is taking care of communication ends such as emails, texts, attachments of files, organizing photos, music library and ebooks.

Leaning new things is fun. For example, iPhone can create real-time captions of what is being said, and it can also serve as a real time translator. Knowing whether you could use your data plan, need to access personal WiFi routers or public WiFi depends on where you are and if their WiFi services are reputable.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, July 21, 2023

At Home Entertainment

Aloha Everyone,

The Empress

German Historical Drama series based on the life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Good acting, intelligent script with court intrigue and power play. J.J. and I hope to be able to watch the next installments over when they become available.


Based on Jane Austen’s last novel. The story line pretty much follows the original, but the cast includes non-white actors who were not in the Jane Austen’s book.  However, introduction of new casts gave interesting perspective and contemporary look to this well-known story. Excellent film.

Effie Gray

British biographical film. It was written by Emma Thompson, and she plays an important role as Effie’s friend and confidant.
It is a story about a famous Victorian love triangle. Emma Thompson provides a solid supporting role. 

So, to wrap up, our choices for this week’s at home entertainment were highly enjoyable.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, July 20, 2023

What’s On Our Plates

Aloha Everyone,

These hot days, the two of us keep our meals simple. It is loaded with veggies and fruits.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Signages That Will Make You Smile

Aloha Everyone,

Here are some signages that I saw recently that made me smile.

Smiles open doors and they are infectious :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Recycling Anti Bird Spikes

Aloha Everyone,

Originally meant to keep birds from perching or nesting, Crows and Magpies are recycling metal spikes to protect their nests.

The two of us have seen peoples’ homes made of recycled plastic milk bottles, metal sheets taken from highway billboards, bricks fashioned from dirt and straw. In Eastern European and Middle Eastern Countries, long straws and combed wheat reefs are common building materials. Many churches and castles are built upon the ruins of prior inhabitants. The occupants recycle stone and marbles, wooden beams, animal hides, ceramics and earthen shards adding their own history.

Not as impressive as this example of nests made of recycled nails and spike, a small sparrow’s nest built on a w-shaped branches of Perennial Achilles Shrub in front of our kitchen window has hosted numerous inhabitants. All of these birds bring their own brands of decorations including their own feathers and leaves and flowers. Most peculiar one I witnessed was of Anna’s Hummingbird which sat on solo egg lined with M&M chocolate wrapper. Shortly after the baby took its flight, the nest became empty to be recycled by another creature.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, July 17, 2023

Adjusting to Extreme Hot Days

Aloha Everyone,

Once the sun comes up, outdoor heat is merciless. The sun literally drains you. Solution is to walk before sunrise. I finish my light breakfast and be out of the house by 6:00 am. It is nice and cool.  

There are at least a dozen of us devoted walkers. We recognize each other, give quick nods and move on at our own pace.

Many of these people walk their dogs or the other way around, their dogs walk them.

An overweight man in his 60’s runs. He is always panting and perspiring heavily. Each time he and I cross path, I intentionally move aside allowing him to pass. I take a deep breath and hopefully I will see him again soon.

Heat dome causing weather related havoc around the United States is also causing shortage of some essential items. Strangely, J.J. and I had to go to 3 different stores to purchase black pepper.

When I mentioned this to our son Jeff, he suggested that we might keep some emergency food kits. Mountain House has 30 years shelf life. Jeff says they are easy to prepare — just add water. It is rather costly, however.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Varying Our Menu

Aloha Everyone,

To vary our menu, the two of us shopped at Zion Market where Korean food is sold.

J.J. purchased a prepared seafood salad and I was happy to find Daifuku imported from Japan. 

Each of us also added to our cart our favorite probiotics.

Featured special, 2 1/2 pound bag of bing cherries that are plump and sweet. This fruit will decorate our breakfast, lunch and dinner plates :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Tom Hanks

Aloha Everyone,
Tom Hanks is well liked and popular, and he is considered as one of the nicest people in Hollywood.

The recent interviews were to promote his book. The following interview reveals Tom Hanks’ humanity.

Tom Hanks' Interview on CBS News

“The only way you can truly control how you are seen is being honest all the time.” -- Tom Hanks

“I think it’s better to feel good than to look good.” -- Tom Hanks 

 “There’s difference between solitude and loneliness.  I can understand the concept of being a monk for a while.” -- Tom Hanks

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, July 14, 2023

At Home Entertainment

Aloha Everyone,

Vikings Valhalla

Sequel to the popular Vikings series which focused on Eric, the Red. This series is loosely based on historical characters, Leif Erickson and his younger sister, Freydis.

Freydis rose to become the priestess of Uppsala. She is fearless, merciless and a murderer, but also religious and confident.

A tall and lanky Swedish model and actress, Frida Gustavsson brings convincing acting to the role of Freydis.

Young Victoria

Love and partnership between eighteen year old British Royal Victoria who ascended to the throne and her husband, Prince Albert of Germany.

Victoria and Albert Museum founded in 1857 in London is the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design. Free entrance when most museums and even churches charge entry fees, I recall that J.J. and I spent several hours during one of our previous visits and saw but a tiny fraction of available exhibits.

Prince Albert improved the education of poor children. His work in improving the condition of the laboring class had a lasting effect.

Victoria and Albert had 9 children over the course of 17 years. The children were married to the ruling families of Europe, Scandinavia and even Greece, thus cementing political alliances.

Love & Gelato

Light love and travel story about a young girl spending summer in Italy. Acting, storyline and dialogues were pedestrian. J.J. and I could cite several other films starting with “Roman Holiday” and “Under the Tuscan Sun” as much better productions.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Wonderful Selections at Whole Foods

Aloha Everyone,

Shopping at Whole Foods is an enjoyable experience!  So many fabulous, tasty food to choose from, and always our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.

So here are what we prioritized and still came home with 5 shopping bags.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Marriage of High Tech & Low Tech

Aloha Everyone,

Global Warming solutions are found in many sectors of industry including energy. These hot summer days, solar panels are also found in open fields. Here is an unusual marriage of High Tech & Low Tech.  

Solar glazing means that animals are released in the solar panel fields to graze between panels that are difficult for humans to reach. Sheep are best suited for this job. As they eat the grass, they defecate and provide fertilizer.

Here is Fox News release of Oberlin College’s solar panel field.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Changing World Population

Aloha Everyone,

Data released by the United Nations Population Division, by 2050, the world population will reach about 9.7 billion. 

In term of ranking by population, they will be:

1. India
2. China
3. Nigeria
4. United States
5. Pakistan

It would be interesting to project how changing population will impact our daily lives in the next quarter of century. For instance, influences in fashion, music, art and most of all type of cuisines.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, July 10, 2023

Healthy Eating on Sizzling Summer Days

Aloha Everyone,

Our first order of the day was to settle about some confusion regarding our replacement debit and credit cards issued by Wells Fargo Bank. For our convenience, we went to a small branch located within Von’s Supermarket. The teller was unsure of how to assist us and eventually we were assisted by Keahi, a capable and knowledgeable young man. It took a while and during our wait we learned that Keahi’s mother is from Hawaii and thus his Hawaiian name.

By the time we finished our banking business, it was passed noon giving us a short time to shop and get back home.

Summer heat is here and with early morning of 58 degrees Fahrenheit to daytime high of 82 degrees requires that we remain hydrated and make healthy meal choices.

Aloha -- Cathi