Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm learning Japanese!

For the longest time I have had a fascination with other languages! I guess you could say that started in High School Spanish class. But back then, the only language I really had any interest in was Spanish. And it remained the same for many, many years.

Then I thought, "I'd love to learn Spanish, Italian, AND French! They are all beautiful languages - the romance languages!) Also, they are all Latin based. I could make sense of that . . .

Fast forward 25 years or so. . .

We currently live in Hawai'i. (no complaints here!) Hawai'i is a melting pot of different cultures, much like New York City, only the cultures are mostly from around the Pacific Rim. Japanese has a huge influence in Hawai'i.

Before I moved here, I never had any desire whatsoever, to go to any Asian country or to learn their language. It seemed WAY too foreign! I was also terribly challenged when trying to eat with chop sticks.

What I mean is, my mind could not understand ANY part of the language, I didn't know anything about their culture, and the thought of visiting a country when that is the case terrified me. Therefore, no need to go, no need to learn.

It turns out that all I needed was exposure! Exposure to the people and their culture in a setting where I understood it.

Even after softening a little, I still didn't have much desire to learn the Japanese language. It was my husband who said, "Wouldn't it be cool to learn Japanese?" I guess he's always had a desire to see Japan . . . he just never said anything about it until now.

One day I came across an advertisement for a language program that promised you could learn any language in just 10 days! AND, it was only $10!! I thought, "for only $10, I haven't got much to lose!" So I ordered the course.

I waited and waited and waited . . . it took much longer to get here than I thought. But it finally arrived!

Remember, it was my husband who wanted to learn Japanese . . . not me.

Well, I put in the CD and played the first lesson, when my hubby wasn't around. They first play a conversation . . . which, of course, sounded like Japanese to me - I couldn't make heads nor tails of it! But by the end of the 30 minutes, they replayed that same conversation and I understood EVERY WORD! I am not kidding you. I was so stinkin' excited!

I've only listened to 5 lessons so far. Sometimes I repeat a lesson so that I learn the words correctly and can recall them later when I go over things in my head. It's so much fun!

I never thought I would enjoy learning Japanese as much as I am. I thought I would have a very hard time learning it. Maybe it's the program, or maybe I'm more adept at picking up languages than I thought. Maybe it's just a combination of the two. Either way - I'm very happy to be learning this language and opening my world a little bit more.

*This post is just my personal opinion and I have not been paid by the Pimsleur Language program to write these comments.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Thoughts

Random thought #1

I recently added a map at the bottom of this blog that tracks the locations of people who have visited this site. I find it interesting to see locations like Alaska because I don't know anyone there . . . I don't think. (waving my hand, "Hi people in Alaska!" or any other part of the world!)

And as you can see, I haven't been very good at updating my posts. Sorry . . . I just don't have much to say, and yet - my head is always full of . . . something! I'm always totally disappointed when the blogs I read daily aren't updated and here I am going months on end without updating. Not a single peep! I will try to do better.

I'm sort of a blog junkie myself. I have a daily routine of sorts. You see that list of blogs to the right of my screen over there? Each morning when I get to work, after turning on my computer, letting my emails load - returning said emails, I bring up my blog and go down my list (especially the ones with buttons!). It just makes me happy reading these blogs. Mostly because they are living my dream. They seem to have it all figured out. They make me want to quit my job and follow my dreams . . .

So I sit here and daydream for a while trying to figure out how I can do just that! Then I try to focus on getting some work done.

Random thought #2

I think I may be going through my 'mid-life crisis'! I'm serious. When I was younger and people would talk about men in their 40's having a mid-life crisis and going out to by some hot, red sports car, dumping their wives for a younger model, etc., I couldn't for the life of me figure out what their problem was. Why would they do something that seemed so out of the ordinary. Take a left turn from your current life, out of the blue.

Here I am at the ripe ol' age of 43 and I totally get it now. They are mourning the loss of their youth! Then they go and try to do anything within their power to hold on to it! (i.e. buy a hot new car that makes them feel like they're in high school again or date a younger person)

Don't get me wrong - I have no plans to buy a sports car or leave my husband for a younger model! That's just ridiculous! But I will say that I am HATING getting older. It's not the age, the actual # that bothers me. Heck, I really haven't pinpointed what it is exactly. But I have a few ideas. Here's a few:

1. I miss my high-school, skinny, toned body!

2. I no longer feel like I have any rhythm or ability to dance. (maybe I never had it, but I thought I was pretty good at one time, which makes me wonder if I ever could . . .)

3. I miss dancing! (I live vicariously through "Dancing With The Stars" now.)

4. I'm beginning to see that I'm not as cool as I thought . . . maybe I never was! :(

Random Thought #3

Does anyone know how to get a government grant to start your own business? I'm terrified to fill anything out online because I don't trust that they truly are government grants (especially when they ask for money upfront).

Random Thought #4

Would it be weird to learn the hula? I live in Hawai'i after all . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The rest of the story . . .

When they posted the eviction notice (for lack of a better term), it mentioned that there was a cash incentive for vacating the premisis quickly, and that we should not pay our rent to the landlords because they no longer owned the house, the bank did. That makes sense to me. Thankfully, we had totally forgotten about our rent because we were very busy at the Maui County Fair. We knew this was coming anyways. We could tell the landlord was in trouble financially. Unfortunately, we found that out AFTER moving in! We still lived in the house a full year so no great loss.

So with this financial incentive clouding our minds we set out to find a new home to rent ASAP. We wanted to make sure we moved as quickly as possible because the sooner you moved out, the higher the incentive . . . up to $3500! What did we have to lose, right?

We found a place only a mile down the road in Waikapu. It didn't have any other people living on the property! (a big plus considering we've had another person residing in the houses we've rented, although seperate living quarters and entrances, since moving here!) And there is space for gardening!! YAY! The downside is it costs a little more, and the electricity was not included. This could be a problem considering that Maui Electric Company takes the highest ever month of service at that residence and doubles it as your deposit amount! Ummm, yeah. The first house we checked into getting the power in our name the deposit was going to be $1000! The second time we checked, which was at the last house we were renting, it would have been . . . are you ready for this? $1600!!! Yup, you're reading that right. Thankfully, our electricity was included in that last rental. But you can see how we might be a little worried about hooking up electricity at this new place, right? Thankfully, because this was a fairly new house and it was only a 2nd home to the owners, and they were hardly ever there, the deposit for the electric was only $175! Woohoo!

Unfortunately, at the time we were searching and found our new house to rent, the foreclosure market went into a freeze. And we were in such a dither about getting moved, packing, organizing people to help and all that, that we signed the lease on the new place BEFORE getting a contact signed promising us the incentive! (cue the "wah-wah-wah" loser noises). That's right - no incentive. DRATS!

It's a good thing we didn't pay our last month's rent at the old place. BUT, because we didn't, they didn't give our deposit back either! REALLY? *sigh* (taking deep breaths to calm down) Our only alternative was to "occupy" the premisis to the last possible moment through the rest of the month. We used that time to move the smaller stuff slowly and to clean at our leisure. They probably spent our deposit money long ago and didn't even have it. This would make the second time that has happened to us here!

At the same time this was going on, Scott was due to get his bonus for completing 2 full years at the hospital. However, when they finally got around to paying it, they lumped it with his regular check which threw him into a different tax bracket altogether and ate up practically HALF the bonus. SERIOUSLY? You would think that people in the financial/human resources would know not to lump a bonus with a regular check! *SIGH*

After all is said and done, we will be ok! I feel that our little "roller coaster ride" has come to a stop and we're back to normal life. We pulled through just fine.

Now let's all tip-toe very quietly away from "Murphy" and his "law"!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DON'T SAY IT . . .

(photo taken from Media Convergence Matters Blog)

Scott should know better! He really should, but some things slip out of his mouth and then it's too late!!

The downward spiral began on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when we discovered that our beloved kitty had been brutally murdered. That was followed by our favored gubanatorial candidate losing in the primaries and something about the Yankees not doing well . . . oh yeah, then a notice being posted on the house we're renting that it is foreclosing! (It's not a personal blow since we're just renting, but we still need to vacate the premesis!).

So Scott opens his mouth and out pops "the curse words". No, not swear words! The words that bring more bad things your way . . . you know, a CURSE! He says, as he nervously laughs - that laugh he does when he just can't believe the string of events that seem to be unfolding - he says, "WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?"

WHAT? I said, "WHY DID YOU JUST SAY THAT???" He immediately tried the knocking on wood trick. That never helps. Once those words have been spoken, you might as well put on your life vest because it's gonna be bumpy ride in a small life raft! All you can do is hold on for dear life and pray for calm seas.

I will have to fill in the rest of this story once I feel that the roller coaster ride has come to a complete stop and we can safely exit the vehicle! (sorry for the switch of metaphors.)

I felt the above photo was so perfect for this post. Yet when I started reading the blog that the photo came from, it got even better. Here's what it said:

Any devotee of Murphy's Law (If anything can go wrong, it will) knows it has numerous collieries (e.g. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong; If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop). New Murphy's Laws have developed for just about any aspect of life, including selective gravitation (e.g. The chance of the buttered side of the bread falling face down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet; The greater the value of the rug, the greater the probability that the cat will throw up on it!). Posted by Tom Johnson, Nov. 7, 2009

I'll stop there. You get the idea!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Goodbye little buddy!

I never wanted any cats! I made myself very clear . . . I thought. On Camille's 3rd birthday we got a little black cat - the runt of the litter. Fine, I gave in. I was out-numbered! Then on her 7th birthday she fell in love with this cream colored fluff ball (pictured above). Though I protested and said how I really didn't want anymore cats, I was out-numbered once again. Camille couldn't live without the little fluff ball and Scott, the ol' softy, couldn't either! All I could do was grumble my protests which fell on deaf ears.

I'm not a totally stone-hearted meany. I think kittens are adorable. However, I can keep in perspective the fact that they grow into cats which then claw your furniture to shreds!!

Well, for those unfamiliar with the ways of cats, THEY tend to choose who they like most, and who they will sleep next to at night! Wouldn't you know it, the little fur ball plopped himself right between Scott and I on the very first night and that was that!! No matter how many times I threw him off in the middle of the night . . . he just came back. He was a momma's boy!

When we were naming him, manly names didn't fit because he was so "pretty" and always mistaken for a girl. I'm not sure how we settled on 'Branford' but it had just enough sissyness to it. . . not that it really mattered, we had so many nicknames for him, he was probably confused.

Much to my surprise, when we found out our little buddy had been killed (by a horrid pitbull . . . don't even get me started!), I was quite heart-broken. Usually when a pet dies (referring to when we said goodbye to hamsters), it's a sad moment but not heartbreaking . . . at least not to me. Camille's another story - she really loves animals.

However, when Scott made the discovery my heart sank. We were all so shocked and completely heart-broken. We had Branford for 12 years!! He was referred to as Camille's little brother since she had no siblings. He was constant entertainment and always had something to say.

In the picture above, he is in a suitcase. He always hopped in our suitcases when we were packing to go somewhere, hoping we wouldn't leave him behind. Not that he enjoyed traveling . . . he absolutely hated it! When we moved from Vermont to Utah - I don't think he stopped complaining from Essex to Palmyra, New York. At that point we stopped to see Scott's parents who were on a mission at the time. When Branford came into the house he was so frustrated he didn't know whether to hiss or purr. It was really funny to watch!

We teased Branford about being a Boston Red Sox fan because he always seemed to complain when the Yankees won.

Most of his days were spent sleeping in the funniest positions. Lying completely on his back like an otter . . . draped over the arm of the sofa with all for legs hanging down, or inside a cubby hole or a drawer that was left open. Apparently he needed lots of energy for his nightly capers. Once he knew everyone was in bed, he would call out Astoria and they would run races and tackle and get into mischief. Then when the romping around was done, he'd jump into bed with us and talk very loudly telling us all about it. Either that or he would purr so loudly it sounded like his purr box needed to be oiled!!


I can tell you this much, I will NOT miss fur everywhere, his cat food all over the floor, being woken up by his loud purr or having to block out all the lower level windows at night so that he doesn't fight the neighborhood prowling cat through the window.

I WILL miss his cuddly soft fur, his very lengthy conversations and finding him sleeping in the oddest places and positions. You are truly missed!

(We did tell you that curiosity kills the cat but you didn't listen!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1 less organ - 4 new scars!

About a year ago I was awakened from sleep with a terrible pain right through my core. It felt like that sharp pain you might feel when you have food poisoning, but before the nasea sets in. It lasted for several hours. Then it was gone for several days or weeks . . . I don't really know.

It returned again a few times throughout the year. Each time during the middle of the night for the most part. Painful and frightening. My mind couldn't help but go to the worst case scenario . . . cancer! The other thought was maybe an ulcer. I googled ulcers and my symptoms were spot on. I thought for sure that's what it was.

I finally gathered my courage and went to the doctor. She immediately had me scheduled for an abdominal ultrasound. A day or so later she called me with the results . . . "you have a gall stone! We're going to take it out."

I didn't expect that answer, however . . . it made sense. My mom had her gall bladder removed, my sister had hers removed. But I couldn't help but feel guilty about eating all the wrong things that caused the problem in the first place!

Anyhoo . . . I had my surgery on August 6th. Everthing went well. I was somewhat surprised that I had to stay overnight in the hospital though. I was under the impression that it was an out-patient surgery. In fact, I had heard that term a few times. Then when they called to schedule the time of the surgery I was informed that I would be staying over night.

I guess it's a good thing. If anything were to go wrong post-op, then you're in the right place.

I think I was an exemplary patient. I was up and walking around that night - though it wasn't very fun to do so. I just had a fear of blood clots and didn't want that to happen. I actually walked around for nearly a half hour . . . at a snail's pace. I did the same the following morning.

Did you know that they fill you full of air when they do laporoscopic surgeries? They need to in order to have room to work. Because of that, you end up with air inside your body that needs to escape . . . that translates into 'gas'. EWW! It's pretty painful after that kind of surgery too. That's another reason I kept walking . . . it's supposed to help move things along if you get my drift.

My right shoulder was a little sore afterwards too. Scott says they probably had my arm strapped above my head to keep it out of the way. And my throat was quite sore and dry the next day. Who knows how many things were shoved down my throat! In fact, to this day, 10 days later I have a sore spot that hasn't improved yet. I'm not sure what the deal is. I hope it gets better soon.

Upon checking out of the hospital I learned that I would get an automatic 10 day vacation! Yee haw! Still, it was unknown to me before hand. I was still thinking 'out-patient surgery' recover over weekend, back to work on Monday! BAH HA HA . . . yeah, right! I was very glad to be at home. I was loopy on pain killers all week.

There was a point during my recovery that I was certain they had left a very sharp instrument inside me when this very sharp pain stabbed me from inside my right-lower rib cage. I was really worried. It happened on a day that I was being brave, or stupid, and didn't take my pain killers on their regular schedule. Silly me! Apparently it was normal and I wasn't dying and there were no instruments sown up inside me. It was just the effects of my insides getting back to normal after the trauma they endured.

Now I'm back to the daily grind of my office work. I'm still a little sore around the incisions, but I'm healing quickly. I'm eagerly looking forward to the 3 week mark when I can return to exercise. I'll be starting from square 1 once again!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Laparouse Bay Hike from a bad phone camera!

Saturday we were wondering what we wanted to do for the day.
On the one hand, we need to do laundry, clean house and possibly pull some weeds.
The car could use a good vacuuming . . .

Or there's the beach!

Well? What would you choose?
That's what I thought, the beach it was!

I had a friend post on Facebook that she would be at La Perouse Bay. Even though I didn't know the name of this place, it was a spot I had been wanting to check out.

On the south side of Maui, if you head East, you will pass Kihei, Wailea and Makena. You'll pass Big Beach, and keep going . . . drive until you literally cannot drive any further. Drive until you reach a big field of rocks, otherwise known as a lava flow. It's here that you will find a small parking lot. Careful not to puncture a tire!

We saw our friend's car in the parking lot. We thought we might be in luck. Hopefully we could find her. The plan was to find a small little hidden beach to relax and possibly get a little snorkeling in.

From the parking lot it's kind of difficult to even see that there is a trail that leads anywhere. In fact, the first few times we drove out there, we didn't know there was a trail. We just thought it was a bunch of lava rocks as far as the eye could see in that direction.
But recently, we went out there with some visitors and noticed the trail. We followed for a short ways, but our visitors weren't up for a good hike. So we didn't go very far.

That's why we decided to check it out this time around. We knew there was more to see.

So . . . in anticipation of actually finding a beach down this trail, we each had our beach towels, Scott had the one set of snorkel gear he strapped to his back. Camille was carrying her towel and a big bottle of water. And I was the lucky one that got to carry the beach bag with my towel, big bottle of water and a few snacks, bottles of sunscreen, sand, etc.

The three of us, decked out with our local style slippahs (flip-flops for you main landers) headed out. My slippahs were kinda thin compared to theirs. At the very beginning of our hike I had stepped on a pointed rock and bruised my foot pretty good. In my head I'm thinking "I hope it's not a small fracture" that's how much it hurt at first. But I could still walk on it.

Before long we came to the point where we had been to previously. There is a nice little cave carved out by the waves where the water likes to splash up when the waves crash. Unfortunately, we had forgotten our actual camera, so the very few pictures in this post were taken with my phone. Not the best quality.
Shortly after that is an area where you can actually get into the water to snorkel, but it's still rocky. We didn't see our friend anywhere so we kept walking.
Scott had looked online (Google Earth or something) and had thought there was a pretty big beach past the second big outcropping of lava. So I got it into my head that there would be this beautiful sandy beach hidden just around the next bend.

We hiked through some nice shade of Keawe trees where we saw
some black goats roaming around.
I know, weird right? (see bottom photo below)

We eventually passed the nice shade trees and was left with just rocks. (see above photo!) We actually passed a few locals that had driven there trucks out here. You would definitely need to have a high clearance and probably 4-wheel drive to make it on this trail/road.

The only thing I could think of these locals was what they must be thinking of these stupid "haoles" trying to hike this trail in "slippahs"! In fact one of them (whom we passed at least 3 times because he stopped and chatted with the other locals that had driven 2 or 3 times), once he finally stopped and parked his truck said, "You need tennis shoes, these rocks are gnarly!"
I just agreed and kept on going.
I hate looking like a dumb tourist, but I really fit the bill this time around!
I bet they had a good chuckle about me later!

By now my feet are seriously bruised and sore from having too little cushion and support to traverse such harsh conditions. Not to mention, I'm really tired of carrying this beach bag. I was lagging behind because I had to be very careful where I stepped. Just look at this picture below of my "hiking shoes"! You can get an idea of the harsh rocks we were walking on for what I think is close to 3 miles!
We actually hiked all the way to the light beacon at the end of the trail (well Scott and Camille went all the way, I stayed back about a hundred yards because my feet were hurting so much). Now we had to hike ALL THE WAY BACK! OI!

Thankfully, the hike back didn't seem as long. Once we got back to the only sandy entrance to the water, gladly stripped down to our swimming suits and got in.
This little spot of beach was about as big as a small bedroom. We couldn't go too far in the water because of more rocks and coral in the way. Not to mention the water had become rough and there was quite an undertow because of the way the rocks were.
We were happy to at least get wet up to our waste. It felt really good on the feet!
Scott played a little in the waves, but like I said, not much room to do anything exciting.

By this time it had been at least an hour of walking on extreme rocky roughness in inadequate shoes and we were very hungry for lunch!

We headed back to the car and out to lunch. We drove straight to Cheeseburger Island Style!
(nom, nom,nom,nom)
Can you see the goat in the picture above, right next to the water? We saw quite a few goats wandering around. They were all black goats.

We never did find our friend. She said they had left around 11 am. She got in some good snorkeling. We didn't!

Even though I thoroughly bruised my feet, was totally embarrassed at what the locals were thinking of us, and didn't really get the relaxing beach time I was hoping for nor any snorkeling, I'm still very happy we did this hike. We had a good time.
Serious nap time was needed when we got home!