The April List aka May Musings aka Not the End

Spring in Michigan. It’s always fickle, but I do think we’re done with 30 degree temps until fall (or winter. you just never know).

I started this blog in 2013 as a way to catalog and process my very emotional move from San Francisco to Grosse Pointe, Michigan. April marked eight years since the move, and this fall will mark eight years in this house, which will make it the place I’ve lived in the longest. I’ve lived in 2 countries, 5 States, 7 cities, 2 dorm rooms, 14 apartments and 4 houses. Even though some of these moves were out of my control, I think it’s safe to say that it’s in my nature to change things up.

My sister and me, somewhere in Europe (Spain?)

Creatively, I’m forever moving as well. As I kid, I drew and drew and drew. In my 20s I painted and later I turned to songwriting. Then I sang my own songs and after that I sang someone else’s songs and then I turned to writing and then photography and so on and so on and so on. I used to think I jumped around so much because I hadn’t yet found my creative calling. Now I’m seeing that I wasn’t searching. I was listening to my creative voice and doing exactly what I needed to be doing during these certain phases and moments of time in my life. I’ve come to respect that I’m simply the type of creative that moves from one thing to the next, with each stop evolving in it’s own beautiful way. All of these things, they were all my calling, and that’s pretty amazing (yay me).

The last handful (the last year, to be honest) of posts have felt strained and rushed, always looming like unfinished chores that you know need to get done, but don’t want to do. And of course the whole reason for this blog – the newness and excitement and anxiety of moving to a new home – has dissipated.

Speaking of home. Grosse Pointe and I have come to a mutual understanding. I don’t think this town will ever quite fully embrace me with open arms (or me, it?) and I’m genuinely at peace with that after eight years of fighting it. I’m not talking about the number of reasons why I love Michigan and Grosse Pointe or the many lovely, lovely people I have met thus far. I mean on a broader, spiritual level. Hawaii is home because it’s where I spent most of my childhood and where most of my family still lives and because when you grow up with Hawaii’s culture and people…. it stays with you, so there is a lot of big love and emotion tied to my Hawaii home. And San Francisco. It will always be my heart’s home. It’s where I learned critical life lessons, met the most incredible people and forged the deepest friendships, where I truly grew into myself, found myself, became myself. To say I left my heart in San Francisco is painfully true. But it’s also the place where I found love, and that love brought us all the way here to Grosse Pointe, and in spite of our differences (mine and Grosse Pointe’s) I’m happy. For now. (Ha! No, we have no plans on moving yet again, but only the future knows what the future holds).

Mom and P, visiting/paying respects to Hawaii relatives at the cemetery.

SO, the monthly lists as they have been, have come to an end (sorry Mom, Jen and Barb!). I have lots to say and books and podcasts and puzzles to recommend and experiences to share and dumb things to ponder over and blab about, but I’m not needing to put it out into the universe right now and especially not on a schedule.

I don’t know what’s next, but I’m making space for it. By saying no (hurray!), by being more present inside of myself (and listening to that voice) and with others and with my surroundings. I’ll be super busy with all things bookstore very soon. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hi (and also please buy something!!) this fall when we open.

I loved this space for me and the purpose it served and I’m sure I’ll jump back on here now and again to tell you something or other. Until then, be your wonderful selves. Cheers and talk soon (ish).

The March List-ish 2022

You guys. I can’t do March, just can’t. I’m too far into April and am wanting to forge ahead. March was good, great actually (which cartoon character said “good even”? A tiger? A cheetah? “Excellent, marvelous, good even.” I’m getting a 70s childhood flashback), but I’m not into recapping all the things.

With that said, I give you my March List. Ish.

  1. We took a short, but lovely getaway to Puerto Rico. Didn’t think of it at first, but after searching high and low in Florida, and weighing the exorbitant airfare costs to Florida, the family we were travelling suggested Puerto Rico and voila.

2. I was determined to spend at least one day in Old San Juan, which all of us (four of us, plus three of them) ended up doing. Loved all the buildings and colors.

3. My favorite thing was stumbling across this cool hotel in the middle of a crazy touristy street. We were all starving and had been in a minimum of 4-5 spots, trying to get a table, with no luck. I spotted this hotel and asked my husband to go inside and see if they had a restaurant (of course I couldn’t do so myself! Yes, I’m that shy).

4. They had plenty of room in their upstairs outdoor/indoor restaurant and the ambiance couldn’t be more perfect (my view was the bar above). The food was AHmazing. The chicken my husband got, especially. I ordered a broiled goat cheese salad because I was feeling….like I needed a salad and it was delicious.

5. We also walked around the most beautiful Spanish fort. San Cristobal. The architecture was stunning in places – great backdrop for a photoshoot.

6. Did you know that Puerto Rico is home of the pina colada? I did not. I had many, many pina coladas, but virgin style without rum because I prefer the taste without. It might be the best summer drink ever. Besides margaritas and I would drink them all summer if they didn’t have so much sugar in them.

7. We ate some Puerto Rican food. Did I like it? Not my favorite, but glad I tried it. Mofongo. It has a plantain base, but is not sweet, the texture is more like a potato? And is somewhat bland. Fried plantains I can do all day. I only had it once, so it’s possible other places or homes make it differently and maybe I’d like it more their way.

8. I read this book on vacay and it was so good. Spanish is the author’s first language and I was impressed and how poetic her English was. Mrs. March is a bit paranoid after learning information about her husband’s (an author) new book. The reader gets into Mrs. March’s thoughts, which are sometimes hard to sort through.

9. We spent five days in Puerto Rico and when we got back, it was still winter in Michigan. Four days later, I hopped another plane to Florida (ended up paying those exorbitant prices, after all) to celebrate my dear friend and former SF roommate’s 50th birthday in Miami.

I’d never been to Miami and was looking forward to it. It did not disappoint. The vibrant sights and sounds and colors were so lively and fun. Although I could have done without the liveliness at time (DJs were everywhere, even at brunch).

10. We took a sunset boat tour through the Miami River, which was different and fun. I was terrified going under the busy bridges roaring with traffic for some reason – ha! It was unexpected, I guess.

11. One night we went to Seaspice, a fantastic restaurant spot that was great for people-watching. We sat on the deck, along the Miami River (we actually passed it on our boat tour). I had lobster risotto with mushrooms and it was DIVINE. I wish I had it in front of me right now.

12. After dinner we headed to the popular spot, El Tucan, where fire dancers and hoop acrobats did their thing. I loved it.

SO. That certainly wasn’t all of March or even half of March, but it’s the March I’m reporting on.

It’s April 7th now and today was the first day that I genuinely believed we are done with winter. Did I say that out loud?! The air is still cool, but it feels different. It warms up JUST a bit faster, birds are a teeny bit louder, and little signs of spring are popping up in the backyard.

Adios, March. See you at the end of April (or beginning of May).

The February List – 2022

You guys. Since the whole world has lost its damn mind and it’s already March 7 over here, this is going to be a very half-hearted attempt, but I’m counting it as win because I considered forgoing the list altogether this month. And when I’m done, I plan to hit send without proofing – you’ve been warned.

  1. I am late to the Game of Thrones bandwagon. I didn’t watch it when everyone else was because I was pregnant and couldn’t stomach the violence and if you’ve ever been pregnant, you know what I mean.

    I’ve been waiting for the right time to dig into it and that right time happened to be Christmas break. I am now on the final season and let me just tell you that I’ve never pedaled the exercise bike as fast as I have while watching Season 8 Episode 3 (battle w/ white walkers) of GOTs. Lord have mercy. And do not give away the rest of the season!

2) I did this puzzle for the second time in a row (I’m finding that the life of my puzzles is 2, meaning I can do them twice, and then I’m done with it, very rarely 3 if I love the image and sometimes 1) and my eyes are getting so bad that I had to use a flashlight at the end to figure out the different shades of dark. Super bummer!

3) My breast reconstruction recovery is….FINE. Things feel and look weird, but whatever, I’m alive, right! I somehow injured my shoulder though, possibly during surgery, possibly afterwards, I really don’t know but it’s definitely related to surgery one way or the other.

Had an ultrasound and it’s only rotator cuff tendonitis vs a tear, thank goodness, but I secretly wanted a tear for the sole purpose of telling my husband that see, I can be in extreme pain and be tough, too. Alas, I only have bragging rights for minor pain at this juncture. Will probably do physical therapy once or twice and then hopefully it will get better with time.

4) We took our annual ski trip to Crystal Mountain this month over President’s Day weekend. For the first time ever, they did not have skis to rent (and thank goodness we called when we did), so at the 11th hour, my husband had to scramble for skis for my youngest which thankfully he was able to find some and also thankfully he was able to sweet-talk the store clerk into giving them to him because initially they told him no, there’s not enough time to get them ready, etc.

ANYway, I don’t ski and tentatively planned to go snowshoeing again, but instead I simply hunkered down with books and Netflix and was perfectly happy.

5) As per my friend Erin’s recommendation, one of the shows I binge-watched during that weekend was Love is Blind Japan on Netflix. I’d never heard of the show before that (and I guess there is an American version as well, that I don’t know….may not be as good to me now that I’ve seen this one). It’s a social experiment slash game show slash reality show all rolled into one. Couples get to know one another by talking in pods, they don’t get to see one another until/unless they’ve chosen a life partner. Odd and intriguing.

Seeing as I know a bit about Japanese culture (if you grow up in Hawaii, it’s part of your life), it was super interesting to me. I found it funny that there were different translations for the sound “uhhh / ahhh.” The translations of these sounds ranged from “okay” to “I see” to “really” to “yes.”

6) As per my friend Ingrid’s recommendation, for exercise on the trip, I did some YouTube videos by The Body Project and they were perfect. You can use weights or not and the instructors have cute Australian accents and they are SO nice. I think I was teary-eyed after one of the workouts when he told me how amazing I was for showing up. Haaaaa. It’s sadly true. Working out is not my thing and it takes a lot to motivate me.

7) Speaking of love (aka #5), we celebrated Valentine’s Day at the London Chophouse, a Detroit favorite of ours. Just love the old school vibes and the live jazz music (I don’t love jazz, but I can appreciate it over dinner for sure). And if there’s one thing I love more than spending time with the husband, it’s spending time with the husband over a braised short rib. Delicious.

8) Our oldest turned 13 this month, what?!?! We celebrated during our ski trip with coconut cupcakes (courtesy of me per her request) and crab cakes (courtesy of the other family we were vacationing with). We finally caved and gifted her a phone. GAH! Which has been in my possession now for three days in a row because teenagers can’t obey the rules.

9) Our puppy had a birthday this month, too – he turned one! He has definitely mellowed out these last few months, although he is still very much a puppy.

10) Obi used to be scared of the car, so much so that he would not even go into the garage. Now, in the mornings when we are leaving for school, he will plow us down if we don’t get out of the way so that he can be the first one in the car.

11) I’m listening to a new podcast. It’s a murder mystery and investigation into a possible wrongly accused case. It’s really good so far and I’m super hoping there is a good ending to this because wrongly accused cases get me all upset.

12) The bookstore. It’s coming along, y’all, it is. Still slow going, but I’m starting to source vendors and placed my first supply order today (woo-hoo) for shopping bags, so that’s something. No opening date yet, but we’re getting closer to calling one.

Here’s our latest social media pic. Our limestone archways were apparently a bear to put up. They are pretty much done and then the crew will move to the front of the building to do the stonework there.

My goal for March is to just keep plugging along. I’m not even going to try to plug along with my head held high or with gusto or anything like that. Just simply plug along. We are starting to see glimpses of spring and I am grateful for those reminders that winter is nearly over. Which is actually pretty huge in my book. Winter is nearly over!! I can drink to that.

Until next month – ciao.

The January List – 2022

Happy New Year! I debated for a couple days whether I should continue with the monthly lists. My life is getting less and less exciting, so the news I have to share is also less exciting. But here we are. A new year, a new list. Albeit a week late.

1. New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair. So uneventful that I didn’t take any photos. The girls went to a friend’s house for dinner, so I took the opportunity to make a fancy dinner (baked brie, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes and smashed rosemary potatoes) for my husband and me. We watched TV, I forget what, I think the last couple episodes of Succession, until the girls got home. The only person interested in staying up ’til midnight was the 10-year-old, so I powered through with her, both of us watching our tablets in bed together until the clock on my phone turned to 12:00 am.

2. I got cleared to exercise – woohoo! That’s actually pretty exciting. I was happy to be able to walk the dog again. Not so happy to be walking him in the snow, but the first few times I did, my gratitude negated how much I hate being cold.

I’m still not allowed to do pushups or anything else that uses my pectorals. Hopefully I’ll get cleared for that at my next appointment in April.

3. We had Obi groomed for the first time ever. We’ve bathed him ourselves and have brushed him ourselves and we’ve cut his nails ourselves. But THAT ended up with blood everywhere and a frantic trip to Rite Aid for some first aid supplies and me crying in our bedroom.

He came home from the groomers smelling nice and looking so fluffy. And then the next day he went to playgroup and was back to his dirty dog self.

4. I started puzzling again. I’m not sure what that means. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles, but I wasn’t a fanatic about them until the pandemic. And then it became my therapy (and always done with a glass of wine or spicy margarita or sometimes tea, in hand). I’m not sure if it’s a means to escape or a means to stay grounded. Either way.

I found the above puzzle on Amazon (ugh, Amazon. Such a love-hate. And I DO shop independent stores for puzzles often, but sometimes Amazon is so fast and cheap, I can’t help it!). It’s Shakespeare-themed with all these fun scenes and the box includes a folded piece of all the Shakespearean characters you can find in the puzzle. But all the people are so tiny! And so many pieces looked the same. It was a doozy, but just the right level of challenging. Maybe I’ll do the Jane Austen one next.

5. The fact that I’m puzzling again means I’ve been listening to podcasts again. This one was pretty good and centers around crimes in unassuming Malibu, California. The second season was much better than the first, I thought.

6. Consequently, the podcast I listened to after that was Hell and Gone, whose third season, which I’m currently in the middle of, is about an unsolved murder based in Malibu as well. The narrator is also the investigative journalist on the case, and she puts in the work needed to actually try to solve the crime (and in some cases does, more or less). Really good!

7. Our January book group was picked by me (because I hosted this month). “Calypso” by David Sedaris. It was LOL funny in places and all too real in other places (the author discusses the mental and literal aches and pains of getting old, as well as the reality of family disfunction). Overall, it was a great and easy read and I recommend.

8. Speaking of getting old, it’s my big birthday year and I do find myself thinking about it a lot. I don’t FEEL 50, I don’t LOOK 50, so it doesn’t seem possible at all and no, I’m not in denial. More like I’m kind of just super annoyed by it.

A girlfriend recently told me that she’s given up on coloring her hair and she’s going to just let it go gray, partially because trying all the time (to fight aging) was getting exhausting. She’s stylish and smart and all of those things that you admire in other women and I was surprised by this for some reason. She’s not letting herself go by any means, she’s just letting go of the nonsense. Which made me think. If she can shift her mindset, maybe I can, too. Maybe.

9. Aaaaand then I went to go highlight my hair. Image and hair, courtesy of Village Salon.

I mentioned my age concerns to my stylist (because you know, I don’t WANT to look my age, but I also don’t want to look like I’m trying to look a different age). He said long hair doesn’t actually have anything to do with age and that most women my age/older have short hair a lot of times because their hair won’t grow past a certain length, or that it starts to look scraggly after a certain length. He said some “older” women can pull off long hair and he decided that he liked the length of mine and suggested we keep it long. SO THERE. #WINNING.

A fun story is that I was booked for a Wednesday appointment. Late Monday night I saw an Instagram Story on the salon’s feed, calling for hair models the next morning. Surely I was not the hair model they wanted, but what the heck. Wednesday was supposed to bring a crazy snow storm (which did happen, but the worst of it was Thursday), so I replied that I was available and they said okay. Not only were my services heavily discounted because it was a class, but they ended up cancelling all their Wednesday appointments because of the expected storm, so if I hadn’t reached out, I would have ended up having to rebook my appointment. It’s the little things, am I right!?

10. Earlier in the month, the same hair salon posted on Stories, looking for a local photographer to take headshots, and I ended up with the assignment. It had been a while since I’d had a photography gig and I loved being creative again after a hiatus. And bonus the gals were all so cute and sweet.

11. A very exciting January happening was that our youngest was the runner up (okay, so there’s no actual runner up, but it’s easier to explain that way) for the school’s Scripts Spelling Bee. Both girls competed, but the littlest (who had studied and studied of her own accord) made it to the final round, which I think consisted of five rounds. I was possibly the most anxious person there! Not just for my kids, but for all the kids. I don’t know how they handle it.

12. It was a busy month for the bookstore. People ask all the time what it is that I’m doing since we aren’t opening for months and months. But there are so many logistical details to work through and figure out. The cafe/bar area has been configured, kitchen equipment ordered, speaker positions mapped, office built-ins figured out, competitive analysis somewhat done. Etcetera, etcetera and etcetera. And I love it all. The problem-solving especially, working through all the different scenarios and coming to a collective conclusion.

SO. That’s January, and here I am in February already. At the end of 2021, I was very excited to make some New Year’s resolutions. I LOVE making New Year’s resolutions. Never got around to it. I also fully planned to pick a “word of the year,” as many of my friends inspired others to do on Facebook they had done. I didn’t even make a short list.

And guess what. I’m not bothered by it. Which is saying something, me not being bothered, because normally I would be. Disappointed that I didn’t do the things I told myself I was going to do. So maybe something IS shifting in me, after all? BUT. That remains to be seen. I’ll keep you posted, as always.

The December List – 2021

It’s a week into the new year and I’ve already left 2021 far behind. December was fine. Parts of it were lovely, even, but I’m still not wanting to rehash. BUT, because I’m a sucker for consistency, here’s the recap…

1) I’m currently ON HOLD with my daughter’s insurance company. This is obviously not part of December, since it’s January 6 today, but it pretty much sums up 2021. After 38 minutes on hold, I was connected to an agent, and I’m on hold again (and have been for 23 minutes) as the agent calls the billing department for the urgent care center we went to that said my daughter’s insurance didn’t exist, which made me have to therefore pay $155 out-of-pocket for her Covid test, which we waited three hours for (this is three hours AFTER her scheduled appointment time).

In December, I finally after three months of multiple (when I say multiple, I mean 40+) calls, got my insurance company to pay $4K for two MRIs that were supposed to be covered.

If I never have to call an insurance company again this year, it will be a good year.

2) After being super disappointed and embarrassed by the “Sex and The City” sequel (I got through one episode, with lots of fast forwarding), I stumbled upon the best show I’ve seen in years, “Fleabag.” It’s so smart and funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.

The main character reminded me of (her expressions? her mannerisms?) my BF who I thought was going to be a BFF, so watching this character that reminded me of her bummed me out and made me super nostalgic, which… I’m not sure if that made me like the show any more or any less, but that aside, if you haven’t seen it, it’s on Amazon and there are only two seasons, but they are perfect.

3) I had my reconstruction surgery at the beginning of the month. It went well and I am so relieved it’s over. I can’t exercise for three more weeks, which makes me panic a little (flashbacks to all the champagne, cookies, charcuterie and sourdough toast I inhaled over the holidays) but at least it’s something to look forward to (and the fact that I am looking forward to it is saying something).

The pain was surprising. In some ways it hurt more than the mastectomy. I took a lot of pain meds, more than I wanted to because I do not do well on them. Per the husband, once when I took my muscle relaxants, I almost fainted. All I remember is feeling dizzy and calling or texting him to come help me while I waited by the kitchen sink. And the next thing I remember is being on the couch and him saying I almost passed out twice.

Recovery overall was easier this time, though. I find myself thinking I am ready to do certain things (like vacuum and laundry) when I’m not supposed to. Three. More. Weeks! And yes, I am very excited about vacuuming. The girls try (well, one of them does. The other one doesn’t even pretend to), but sadly, their efforts are not up to my standards.

4) Confession. I went up a bra size and I’m not mad about it. I give you this TMI public service announcement because it’s your body and you do what you want. Remember that.

Am I worried that at 80 years old, I will look crazy because my boobs look 30 years old but the rest of my body does not? My answer is that I will be happy to make it to 80 years old.

5) I posted this book review already to social media, but here it is again for The List.

It’s the season for cozy fireside reading. Wrote the review below for a book-buying class assignment and wanted to share with you. If you’re looking for a new mystery series, here you go.

Contrary to that popular saying about cover and books, I DO judge books by their covers and I found this one while browsing the shelves of the library. The playful font on the spine caught my eye, the cover ultimately sealing the deal. The story reflects the cover’s mood – an armchair murder mystery with a “fun” storyline that’s not too dark or gruesome. Set in Jack the Ripper’s London, the main detective is a quirky, rude individual and his antics keep the story light, adding bursts of humor between grim details. Of course he has a sidekick, a smart, young woman who is under his guardianship (another mystery) after becoming orphaned. The author does a nice job of describing the reality of London life during that time and uses accurate vernacular, saying pianoforte, for example, instead of piano, so there are definitely historical fiction elements here as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

6) I finished “The Midnight Library” in November, but forgot to write about it in last month’s list, since I was so focused on all things Hawaii.

It had an intriguing hook at the beginning, leaving the reader wondering what was to become of the main character. Without giving too much away, the bulk of the book centered on stories of “what ifs.” The story was different and interesting. I enjoyed!

7) Obi is FINALLY beginning to feel like part of the family and I am finally starting to love him as well (reality, people). He looks small here, but he is a big boy, at an estimated 75 pounds.

Also, my insurance call just ended. Per my phone, I was on the call for 1:59:32 minutes. I had to go over another issue regarding the other daughter’s insurance policy, so that discussion ate up a good chunk of time. The agent was refreshingly competent. And she felt my pain. The call ended with her saying something close to – “Please Heavenly Father Lord Jesus be with this family and let these issues be resolved, Amen.” Amen, indeed.

8) Speaking of Obi, the BEST mishap happened this month. I’d let him in the backyard one afternoon and was wondering why he’d been out there so long (he usually asks to come in after 20 minutes tops). I went out to check on him and found the back gate open. Horrors!

I rushed out front in my bathrobe and looked up and down the street and did not see him. Then dialed the local police office. NOTE: I was only a couple days into surgery recovery and not up for running around the neighborhood or jumping in the car to find him.
Me: Blah, blah, blah, dog escaped, blah, blah.
Lady on Phone: What type of dog, did you say?
Me: English Cream Retriever, which is basically a white Golden Retriever.
Lady on Phone: Oh, yeah, he’s at….. (proceeds to give me an address two doors down from us)

I rushed to the address and my neighbor who moved in over the summer was standing outside waiting. She said Obi was in her backyard and could he please stay a little longer because he was tiring out her St Bernard puppy. YES. PLEASE.

Since then, he’s been over there often (they have two dogs, per the pic, but the puppy is the main one that needs tiring out). If the girls aren’t around, the neighbors pick Obi up and drop him off afterwards, since I can’t walk him yet (three more weeks!).

9) We enjoyed a nice, quiet Christmas. My Dad and his wife were supposed to spend the holidays with us, but several factors altered their plans, so it was just the four of us on Christmas morning.

This is the first year that the girls stopped believing in Santa (thank you, Jesus), but we don’t ever say it out loud, because as my girlfriend Kara once told me, “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive” and that’s the thought we subscribe to also. So Santa did come, and filled Obi’s stocking, too.

10) We went to one holiday party, my book group gathering, with significant others in tow. Brittany laid out the most festive table and prepared the most delicious short rib dinner. It was a great time. And I just remembered that I forgot to wish her a Happy Birthday at the end of December – Happy Birthday!

11) I didn’t do much puzzling last month and therefore didn’t do much Podcast listening, but I did get through this one. The title sums it up well. It was….good enough. Moral of the story: “some people are good at conning” and “don’t get conned.”

12) I don’t even have a 12th. I am tired. We’re all so tired. And have been tired for so long. I’m blaming part of my fatigue on surgery. I know it’s been three weeks, and I *feel* fine. But my brain isn’t functioning properly and my usual get-up-and-go (that I do have for at least a couple hours every day) is not there.

Like I said, I’m ready to leave 2021 behind, regardless of all the good memories it contains. And so I wish you all a Happy New Year. May 2022 be all the things.

The November List – 2021

It’s been hard to focus over the last few days for many reasons. Jet lag, current events (Michigan, Covid, Supreme Court, ALL of it), and the holiday scramble, but I’m going to take a minute and focus on the joy that was November.

1) We finally traveled to Hawaii to reunite with family (my Mom’s side of the family and my sister’s family all live there). It’s been 2.5 years since we were there last. That’s the longest the kids (and possibly me?) have gone without seeing them.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Blue skies and warm days with breezes at night. Of course being Hawaii, it rained now and then, but only in short bursts.

2) The 10-year-old had to take a Covid test to avoid Hawaii quarantine laws. Talk about anxiety-provoking! Even though she was not visibly sick, knowing there was a teeny chance she could be asymptomatic and test positive was nerve-wracking to say the least.

Travel itself was pretty smooth, considering we went around the Thanksgiving holiday. Ticket prices, however, were nausea-inducing.

3) There was a lot of catching up to do, not just with people, but with food! Auntie Melinda kept herself crazy busy making lots of our favorite things like butter mochi, halo halo (Filipino dessert with grated coconut, papaya, avocado, tapioca balls and random other starchy ball things), garlic shrimp and miso butterfish.

4) Mom stocked her fridge with fresh coconut, mangos, papayas, pineapple and coconut water ice cubes made from actual coconuts vs. store-bought coconut water. Pretty sure the girls and I ate ate two mangos a day between the three of us.

5) She had also frozen some lychee that a relative had brought with them from the Big Island (Hawaii) a while back. I love the taste of lychee so much. It’s delicious fresh or frozen and surprisingly doesn’t get mushy when thawed out.

I concocted a cocktail with four smashed lychees, juice from half a lime and a splash of tequila poured over coconut ice cubes. Not bad!

Mom, second from left. Auntie, far right.
Manang Jocelyn, far left, then Manang Vilma, sister, me and cousin Jessica

6) We celebrated Thanksgiving at my Manang (older cousin) Jocelyn’s (and Manong Ino’s) home, eating outside on their covered patio (soooo many beautiful plants!). It was the first time everyone had gathered together since the pandemic, so we were all extra happy to be there.

7) As is customary in Hawaii, we did a Thanksgiving potluck, so along with traditional items like turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and brussels sprouts, there was rice, beef stew, lumpia (Filipino eggrolls), pancit (Filipino noodles), kalbi (Korean bbq beef, my fave), shrimp tempura, roast pork and more.

8) We were able to get our beach fix, spending the majority of our time at Kailua Beach. It can get really windy there (and did), but it’s so pretty and the waves are a great size for the kids – not too big, not too small.

They (husband, kids and sometimes my sister and her family) saw lots of sea turtles (I didn’t go in the water, but I did see one for a few seconds, it was awesome) and some man-of-wars, and made sand sculptures – the Titanic hitting a boulder and a crab, inspired by an actual crab that scurried out of the sand and scared the girls!

9) I met up with one friend (as I was only there for a short time and wanted to spend most of it with family), Nancy, my longest ever friend relationship (since 5 years old).

We went to a plant and pottery show around Ward Centre. The pottery was really inexpensive, but I didn’t buy anything because of the breakage factor. Nancy is a plant connoisseur of sorts and knew right away that a certain display was of rare plants. She pointed out this (above pic) anthurium specifically and sure enough, the price tag on it was $450. It was definitely impressive.

10) She took me to lunch at Sakura Terrace, a Japanese restaurant serving traditional bento boxes. I LOVE a good Japanese bento box and this one was amazing. And doesn’t food always taste better when it looks pretty? I think 100% yes. It was so beautifully presented, even the salad was a work of art.

11) Check out this insane ficus plant. It started out as a houseplant. My mom said she would take it outside to water, but it eventually became too heavy for her to lug back and forth, so she left it outside and it decided it wanted to stay out there and just wedged itself into the ground and kept growing.

12) I was lying in bed the night after we got back to Michigan, thinking of all the dumb things one thinks about when they can’t fall asleep. I thought about (aka worried about) a variety of things including holiday card photos (which I’m usually mailing by now), my reconstruction surgery next week and not being able to walk the dog for weeks afterwards, about all the Christmas tasks that had yet to be done and OH MY GOSH. I hadn’t put together that having surgery also meant that I wouldn’t be able to do all the Christmas things. UGH.

For some reason I did not correlate recovery with Christmas decorating or shopping or wrapping/sending presents. So then of course I worried about that for a long time, too.

The next day (yesterday) I got out all the decorations and did as much as I could. Which made me feel better a little, but the reality is that I won’t get everything done that I planned on, I just won’t. Some people will get late gifts (or lame gifts) because of my bad planning but OH WELL. And at least this year I have a good excuse! hahahahaha.

I’m looking forward to a forced slow-down once again. I didn’t know how much I needed it last time. I’ll be cursing the restricted activity come January (aka holiday food, cocktails and no exercise), but I’m grateful for all the me-time I’ll have. Because what mom gets that ever, especially during the holidays.

I hope your December isn’t too nutty. I hope you’re able to enjoy family, friends, togetherness as much as possible. And man, I hope that 2022 will give us a little bit of peace on Earth – even a crack of a window of it. Wishes for a wonderful month and holiday season.