Quarantine Adventures: Time to Leave Shangri-La

The time has come for Jim and I to leave our special safe, peaceful cocoon in Waianae, on the west shore of Oahu.

It’s hard to believe I haven’t written for over a month. But I wasn’t feeling it. Like most of you reading this, for most of the last several months, we hunkered down, stayed really close to home and got groceries only when needed. We were very lucky though in that our home for the last several months was our little piece of paradise here on our condo overlooking Papaoneone beach in Waianae .

We had the opportunity to get organic vegetables delivered weekly from the one of the local farms and that has really opened our eyes to a whole new group of vegetables. At the same time, our friend Rose also shared a lot of her amazing home-grown vegetables and fresh eggs. We decided to focus on getting as healthy as we could. As a result, Jim and I each lost 10 pounds! We are exercising everyday, drinking a lot less alcohol and cutting all carbs to a minimum. We changed from drinking our elixir first thing in the morning, to after our morning exercise, and we are eating dinner earlier. We decided that our best shield against COVID was to get as healthy as we could. We’ve worked on our strength, our stamina and our mobility and we both feel great. We like our new lighter bodies and we hope to enjoy this change for the rest of our lives. Of course living in Hawaii makes it much easier to exercise because the weather is consistently nice, and the beach and the golf course are so close. It will be a challenge to maintain this new level of exercise when we get back to the boat and the mountains, but we think and hope we are up to the challenge!

At the end of May, Oahu finally opened the beaches and that was a great relief (the ocean was always open for swimming or surfing but we weren’t allowed to sit in the sun or read while on the beach). I was truly getting condo fever so we took a drive all the way around the island. The lack of traffic made it quite delightful. We’ve never snorkeled at the very popular Sharks Cove on the north shore (it has nothing to do with sharks), but the lack of crowds made it doable this time. The area has crystal clear water and lots of fish and coral. It’s a bit challenging to get in the water but really worth it. All things considered we still like our little beach and snorkeling area the best, but Sharks Cove is a “must visit” if you ever have the chance.

I liked this black and orange fish.
It was hard to capture but this school of fish were moving like a waterfall from one side of the coral to the other

The local golf courses finally re-opened and it was great playing again. With his new hip and increased strength and mobility Jim has really upped his golf game. We’ll probably play one more time before coming back to the PNW.

Here’s James’s avatar in Minecraft and one of our large structures complete with a glass roof.

We also enjoyed more video time with family and friends. Jim and I have become passable at Minecraft (creative mode only). We’ve built homes, built tunnels, farmed, gathered and fed cattle, sheep, pigs and llamas. Jim and James have been particularly good at building towers and digging underground tunnels. We tried to do some more advanced engineering stuff with pistons and “redstone” without success, even calling in and expert after failing. Turns out the problem is a glitch in the “pocket edition” (PE) version of the game that we use on our iPads that interferes with “redstone” engineering, so it wasn’t our fault that we couldn’t figure it out!

Of course, last week, we watched the SpaceX crewed mission to the International Space Station blast off simultaneously on video with the grandkids and and separately live streaming on Facebook with Saul and Shakira. It was so exciting! We loved Robert exclaiming, “they said they are on a mission!”

Given the terrible news from the the same day I find this photo of the NASA broadcast particularly hopeful for the future.

We’ve continued to play bridge with friends online and even created a little bracket tournament that went extremely well. Continuing to play bridge online has been another fun part of this crazy time, although we look forward to playing in person again.

Ceremonial eating!

This week the restaurants and the hair salons in Oahu finally re-opened! My hair was completely out of control and I was shedding like a very hairy dog. I kept thinking there were bugs on me, but it was only my hair shedding. Given the extreme pent up demand in the Seattle area I thought I should give someone a go here and I found a small salon in Haleiwa that could cut curly hair. Adonia Salon is a small family business and it was fantastic. After getting my haircut in Haleiwa we splurged on a meal at the Beach House. We even got a piece of carrot cake in the morning to go with our ice coffee! It was a delightful day. Although Jim has reached his weight goal, I still have two more pounds to lose, so we will continue to eat super healthy. Maybe we will do one more meal out before coming home on Thursday, but until then, veggies and a small amount of protein will be our usual fare.

Of course, these last two weeks have been so sad and scary. Like all of you we were shocked, saddened, appalled, and angered by the behavior of the four Minneapolis police officers. The fact that three officers watched while the other officer slowly suffocated George Floyd was shocking for us. Hopefully, this will finally lead to reforms both within police departments and within the inner city communities that have endured such high levels of violence (the vast majority of which are not caused by police officers). I’ve shared a lot on FB posts on this, from experts and opinion leaders. I don’t really want to play it all out again here. Hopefully, we will look back on 2020 as a year of Quantum Change in our society by peacefully working together to make things better through our hard work, our words, our kindness and our votes.

We really haven’t had protests here in Hawaii until this week. Thankfully, they have been appropriate and peaceful, and there has been no rioting or looting. Dealing with the scary nature of the protests in Seattle has been another exhausting challenge for Jasmine and Saul and the rest of the team at Dick’s. Once again we are amazed by their strength and leadership. Here is a link to Jasmine’s letter that she shared with our employees and customers.

I’m writing this blog on our deck watching the sun set. Three more sunsets to go until we fly home on Thursday!

We don’t know exactly what we will be doing when we get back. Our hope is that the Canadian border re-opens and that, after we spend some quality time with friends and family in the Seattle area, we will still cruise north for our annual True Love Adventure in the beautiful coastal waters of British Columbia. We also hope that the peaceful protests and violent riots and looting don’t lead to an explosion of the virus. We should all know that within a couple of weeks.

Mostly, we look forward to seeing our grandkids. After reading the medical literature about the lack of transmission of the virus from children under 10 to adults, we are willing to take a small risk to gain the healing power of hugs from James and Robert. Elbow bumps will have to do for Saul, Shakira, Jasmine, David and other friends and family. I’m such a “huggy” person that this will be particularly hard for me, but I’ll get through it.

I’ll leave you all with one of our best sunsets from our time here since February. It’s been interesting experiencing the seasons of Hawaii as we moved through winter and spring. It’s definitely getting more humid. The sands of the beach have shifted to the north exposing the rocks on the south near LahiLahi. I find myself longing for the mountain air and the sounds of the seasonal waterfalls at Snoqualmie Pass.

Stay well, stay healthy, stay connected and please be kind!

Light from the darkness

Quarantine Adventures: Another Week

I hope everyone is holding up OK. Every day brings so many updates. I’m reading so much and there are hopeful signs that we are learning more and moving toward a more sustainable policy.

The last few weeks have been good for us: repetitive, strange, healthy, busy, and limiting. Here on Oahu, in one of the 3 safest states in the USA with the fewest cases of the virus, the governor banned walking on the beach. This is insane, especially since he is allowing walking in all state parks beginning tomorrow.

There is no explanation for these unequal rules. Meanwhile the Attorney General of HI decided to inject himself and say according to the Governor’s emergency decree, doing anything on the beach other than entering or exiting the water is illegal. We even had police officers on our out-of-the-way small beach issuing warnings.

At the same time, the new emergency health rules do not apply to the homeless encampment on the north end of our beach who have no sanitation at all. Time for my favorite emoji 🤦🏽‍♀️.

The good news today is that we are now allowed to walk on the beach although suntanning and other forms of lallygagging remain illegal, as are beach chairs and umbrellas. Accordingly, I’ve designed a beach couch made by digging a contoured hole in the sand to sit in and if the police show up I can start doing sit-ups as a cover because exercising on the beach has been made legal again.

Since I wrote you last, we celebrated Passover and Easter. Our Zeder (Zoom Seder) was truly wonderful. We used a new Haggadah this year that was available through Kindle and better for children: The Kveller’s Haggadah. Our Grandson James is 7 going on 10. He’s an exceptional reader and was able to participate fully. Watching him experience his first Passover “fully conscious” and engaged was so special. We wished we were all together in person, but our Zeder was the next best thing.

The worst part of being in isolation in Hawaii is not getting to see friends and family. I’ve decided to reread Harry Potter. James is on the 4th book and I’m quickly catching up. It gives me an opportunity to discuss it fresh with him. After finishing the Chamber of Secrets, I called him to discuss it and he asked me, “so what was your favorite part?” And although Robert isn’t a huge video conference fan we had a fun FaceTime with him this morning and he was showing us his reading program and how to use emoji masks.

The best part of being here in Hawaii is of course the sun and the warmth and we have our quarantine buddies Tom and Debbie to talk with and play pickleball. Luckily, we can still play almost every morning and we are in great shape. We also get fresh greens delivered from the local organic farm every Friday and therefore we are also eating very healthy. I discovered that the greens from the fresh carrot tops are great in our morning elixir and dinner salad. We also are blessed with fresh veggies from our friend Rose who lives nearby and is a master gardener.

As instructed we don’t go to the grocery store very often. However, we did recently run out of our favorite gin and so had to make a gin run to the local liquor store. Earlier in our trip we discovered a liquor store nearby in Ewa Beach that carries my favorite “Empress” gin. So masks and gloves at the ready, Jim drove me there and I bought the last 3 bottles. This liquor store looks like something out of Harry Potter Diagon Alley. Part small convenience store with tight rows of every imaginable “potion”. We are ready for anything now. FYI we are not putting bleach in our gin & tonics! We also drove through the local Wendy’s for a rare meal out. In our little town of Wainaiae restaurant choices are limited to fast food, poki and one Thai restaurant that is still open for take out. There are a few other restaurants, but none really worth bringing home.

Another great thing about the last few weeks has been some spectacular sunsets. The whales have all gone now. The last Humpbacks we saw were on Easter. A Mom and baby put on a great show and then they were gone. We will have to catch up with them in Canada when we head out on the True Love this summer, God willing.

Ok, time for a little ranting. So when will we begin to return to a more normal life? The Stanford, USC and NYC antibody studies all show that a much higher number of people have got the virus (although without any serious symptoms) which means that the virus has a much lower death rate than originally estimated. This was always likely, but until we knew it for sure, all of the “lock down” precautions were reasonable temporary measures to prevent a nightmare scenario. But now that we have more data, and a much clearer understanding of the real risk of serious illness and death for different segments of the population, we believe it is now time for those at high risk to remain isolated while young people without underlying health issues go back to work, school, and real life. We need to open up outdoor activities, stay smart, wash our hands, wear masks and keep physically distancing. But we can’t let fear keep us from moving forward. The news that hospitals are so empty they are laying off doctors and nurses is ridiculous. It’s time to let real data, not estimates, guide our actions. I don’t expect Hawaii or Washington State to lead in this area. But other states will and we will learn from them. Here are some good interviews:

Bill Mar talks with Dr. Katz:

Dr. Erickson Covid-19 Briefing about the data in his CA County of almost 1 million people.

In the sports world, were you one of the 55 million sports-starved people who watched the NFL draft? I know our son-in-law David did. We watched in the background while playing Bridge Base Online (BBO). Who knows if the Seahawks’ first round draft pick is any good, but we’ll see. I know David was disappointed with SF’s first round choice, but the pundits seem impressed.

One player that caught my eye, Tristan Wirfs, was picked by Bucs. He is a stud. It’s worth watching this video of him literally jumping OUT of the pool onto the deck. I told David he should work on this trick when he gets back to swimming.

As an aside, BBO has been swamped with all the closeted bridge players resorting to online games with friends and strangers from all over the world. The lack of table talk and the ability to compare how other people play has sometimes improved our play. Of course that depends if we are drinking gin and beer while playing. I have to say I truly miss eating the Rainier Club’s Chocolate Chip Cookies while playing bridge and of course visiting with our bridge friends. But it has been fun staying connected online and encouraging to see so many people playing bridge online.

Back to more physical sports. I think it is time for some sports without fans. I’m not sure it will work with football, but I’m all in for baseball to creatively start the season. After all there are many teams that play without fans. My two teams, the Mariners and the Mets are prime examples. They should create regional centers for each division. Let them stay in hotels. Do a lot of reality TV around the players. If some of them get sick, they can quarantine in one place and we can use it as an experiment for the rest of us. I’m sure they will have to negotiate with unions, but come on, lets get creative! We have also been watching the Pickleball channel on YouTube to become better players. Who knew there was a US Open of Pickleball? Debbie, Tom, Jim and I are in training for the 2021 US Open Seniors Division.

Last night we had a virtual dinner date with our friends Greg and Carolyn. We cooked together and enjoyed a lovely late afternoon for us, evening for them. I highly recommend getting together with friends this way.

Oh and we have had to do a couple of repairs. For those of you who follow our Adventures on the True Love, you know that we have become pretty handy out of necessity. This has rolled over to our lives here in Wainaiae. Last week we had a sink drain back up and had to take the pipes apart. It was a couple of hours of work including using a borrowed “snake” in the pipes all the way into the wall drain. With a little help from our friend Tom, and a brilliant last minute use of the plunger by Jim, we were able to fix our problem without the need of a plumber.

Tom did a masterful job!

A few day later we replaced the outside closet door rollers so we can actually open and close them without the doors falling off the tracks. At first Jim thought they were falling off because I did not have enough skill to open and close them correctly. But after closer inspection, we discovered that the rollers were completely disintegrated. For those of you who have stayed here, you will be pleased with the repair.

Stay well, stay healthy, stay connected. I’ll finish with some star photography I took last night.

Orion, the moon and Venus
Crescent moon and Venus

Quarantine Adventures: Watching the Season Change

Aloha dear friends and family,

Can you see the rainbow passing over the mountain?

As this week has gone by, the change of the season in Wainaiae becomes clear. At the same time that the hummingbirds arrive in Snoqualmie Pass the whales begin their journey north and the beach shifts with currents from south to north. We are intermittently spotting whales, but there are way fewer. As an aloha to the whales, I want to share with you some of the photos I got this trip. I don’t have a super zoom lens, but it still fun to see the pictures.

The shifting of the sands is a strange seasonal dynamic of Papaoneone beach here at the Hawaiian Princess. The sand is heavy and runs on the sticky/heavy side. As the ocean currents shift from winter to summer and back again the beach shifts dramatically. In winter the sand covers the rocks and coral on the north side. When a storm rolls in the sands can shift in just days exposing the ocean floor almost up to the building and the sand is deposited on the north side of the beach covering the rocks and ocean floor north. The first time we saw the shifting sands of our beach, we had just closed on our condo purchase. In the previous March when the previous owners accepted our offer on the condo the entire beach in front of our building was pure white sand. In July when we came back for the closing half of the beach in front of our building was exposed rock. Needless to say we freaked out a bit, but we quickly learned this is a regular seasonal shift of the beach sands here. We witnessed it the next fall when the sand came back to the south side in a big three day storm. This same dynamic is what causes the epic “pipeline” surf on the Northshore.

With the change of the seasons comes later sunsets. And I’ve been able to capture quite a few

I like the face in this one and the sun dripping into the ocean like a tongue.

Strangely, it’s been a busy week here. We try to play pickleball every day to stay fit with our small select group of “Camp Oahu” friends who are still here at the condo. We still follow the news pretty closely, but only for an hour or so each day. Thankfully, we get to FaceTime video with the grandkids often thanks to their wonderful parents. And we’ve been able to share Saul’s success with the “PNW: a concert for your quarantine” online musical performances which is how Saul made lemonade from lemons when the big SXSW (South By Southwest) music/tech/art conference in Austin, TX was cancelled. We’ve also spent a lot of time, with great success, setting up an online bridge group for our Rainier Club bridge friends.

Coronavirus question: should we all wear masks when we go out now? We’ve read a lot about it. And I guess we’ve come to the conclusion that it can’t hurt. So we ordered some pretty fabric masks from JAMS, a local clothing store here in HI. We look at them as our quarantine souvenirs. When we ordered them they were available with filters. Dr. Birx said in the White House briefing today, when asked, that we need to remember that masks don’t protect what you touch, and your eyes are exposed, so she thinks they create a sense of safety that just doesn’t exist. So even if you wear a mask, you still have to distance yourself from others, wash your hands frequently, and generally stay away from people you don’t live with as much as you can.🤷🏽‍♀️

Here’s some funny things that have been shared on FB. How about this covid-cover of Adele’s “hello” I also think this is an interesting post on Covid-Math. I hope he’s right.

And I have to share this great video of a mounted police officer getting a burger at our restaurant on Seattle’ Capitol Hill. Jasmine was there for a Q13-TV interview and captured this wonderful experience.

When we first got here we were able to do some scuba diving. I shared the whale song dive with you earlier but here is a fun interaction with an octopus. Watch as it “jets away” when the diver releases it. This is one fast octopus!

This morning we listened to a Kellogg MBA School video class on “Leadership During a Crisis.” I thought there was a particular helpful question and answer. One of the participants asked, “How do you know you have all the information you need to make decisions.” The Professor’s answer: Of course we never have all the information we need to make decisions, and this is especially true in a fast moving crisis. All we can do is get as much information as possible given the time available, be transparent, make the best decisions we can, and then be nimble and agile enough to adjust or even reverse course as new information becomes available.

Stay home, stay well, stay connected!

Jim may have to take up the trumpet when we get back!

Quarantine Adventures: Paradoxes

The Hawaiian Princess continues to empty out. As of tomorrow there will be even fewer people here. Given the projected numbers of cases and the President’s 30 day continuance for sheltering at home, we are guessing we will be here through at least April and probably into May. Although the Hawaii number of cases are increasing (now over 150) only 12 have been hospitalized. We continue to hope that the heat and humidity keep the cases and the severity of the symptoms down. Unfortunately, many still are not taking it seriously here. There was a big party in a house 2 nights ago across the street from our condo with lots of drinking and aggression. We worry for the women and children who are in abusive situations and have to stay at home. We did call the police but unfortunately they were not inclined to take it seriously.

Turtles are awesome.

Shopping Tip: Because we are cooking so much I decided to up the equipment in the condo and have added a hand mixer and a small food processor. Although we still order a lot from Amazon, it is taking way longer than usual so I decide to try to order it for pick-up at the Target. That worked very well. We drove into Kapolei after sunset yesterday and the store was pretty empty, very clean and our package was ready to go. It turns out Target will also bring your order out to the car for curbside delivery.

Paradoxes: I find myself with conflicting paradoxical feelings. I’m both content and happy to be in this beautiful place and sad, missing my grandchildren and children. I go to bed tired after what feels like a full day of exercise, cleaning, cooking, phone calls and to-do lists and yet I look back on that day and feel unaccomplished. I wake up drawn to read the news and check the most recent updates and yet I’m concerned with the sensationalism and untrusting of what I’m reading. I’m drawn to the statistics and projections and yet I’m not sure they really mean anything at this point. I’m know we will all get through this but I worry about what is coming next.

Facebook the great connector. I’m loving the jokes and all the music on Facebook. Of course we love the streaming NXNX concerts. It is amazing the depth and breadth of talent in our area. I also love the Seattle Symphony musicians creating music together while separated using technology. Here is a lovely piece with Nathan Chan. And this couple is just so creative and cute.

Early in the trip we purchased a conch shell so Jim could blow it at sunset. Turns out he has a hidden talent.

Thanks for reading the blog and a special thank you to Josh and Betty (avid True Love Adventure readers) for pointing out that my first blog wasn’t allowing comments. I don’t quite know how I did it, but I posted it the wrong way. I’ve reposted it correctly and I believe this one will allow for comments.

Stay safe and stay healthy. Tata for now.

Quarantine Adventures

As many of you know who communicate with us on FB, Jim and I have decided to stay in our condo in Waianae (it’s on the west coast of Oahu so it has a great sunset view). We feel the isolated location (about an hour’s drive from Honolulu), along with the warmth and humidity, is a much safer place to be than the Seattle area, which as you know is one of the USA’s biggest coronavirus hot spots. Our Wainaiae visit began February 3rd and we are pretty sure we will be still be here throughout April and possibly May. And compared with our Snoqualmie Pass home where the ski area is closed, the snow is melting and it’s raining all the time, this is a much better place to be “sheltering at home.” I’ll share some thoughts and pretty photos as I’m moved to blog and I hope you will engage with comments and thoughts as well. Before the quarantine we got to catch up on our scuba diving and heard some amazing whale sounds. We’ve heard them while we were underwater, and it was an exceptional experience. The whales were very close and we heard the sounds for the entire dive although we never saw them while we were underwater. However, when we got back on the boat they were only 100 yards away.

Whale Song

Our nickname for our condo building (The Hawaiain Princess) is “Camp Oahu” because its like a summer camp for older campers. It brings us great joy when we get to see our “snowbird” friends (mostly from Canada). This year we met two new friends: Stephen and Kaysi Kushner. The two of them are excellent pickleball players so they taught us how to up our pickleball game and we were able to teach them how to play bridge. As the virus spread and most of the public pickleball courts on Oahu were closed, we were still able to play on the private pickleball court here at our condo and often shared dinners at each other’s condos. But all good things come to an end eventually, and when Air Canada said it was going to stop flying to Hawaii for the next six weeks, they felt they had to go home. Now they are watching the snow melt in Edmonton, Alberta as they sit through their 14-day mandatory quarantine for Canadians returning to Canada from overseas. Now we have transitioned to singles pickleball by ourselves, quiet meals and of course the beach and the water. Jim and I braved Costco for some senior shopping last Tuesday. It was quite an experience, but ultimately successful. Although they were out of toilet paper we procured a giant container of hand sanitizer, lots of good food, and adult-beverage popsicles. Combined with the food Kaysi and Stephen gave us when they left and we have abundant food for quite a while.

In hindsight, Jim’s retirement couldn’t have been better timed. Jasmine and her team are doing a stupendous job running the family business in this time of uncertainty. Here is a link to the beautiful letter she wrote and sent out to our customers that was shared on social media. Saul has continued to work on the SXSW (South By Southwest) program which of course was cancelled. He pivoted amazingly quickly to NXNW and brought bands and panels together in a virus-safe way, video recording them while they played at Seattle’s legendary London Bridge Studio. The music and informational panels start streaming tonight on line. You can watch through live streaming on FB on the Dick’s Drive in page. https://facebook.com/events/s/the-pnw-live-stage-a-concert-f/551793268783477/?ti=icl. Saul says you can get the best experience when you use an HDMI cable from your computer or “mirror” the broadcast onto your TV using an Apple TV box if you have one. I’m sure many of you are incorporating more Zoom and video chats into your lives as are we. Today we learned how to use the app called “Bridge Base Online” and we were able to play bridge remotely with some of our Rainier Club buddies from Seattle. We hope to play more in the future. Let us know if you play bridge and want to join us and we’ll help you get set up.

That’s all for now. Stay safe, stay sane, stay healthy! Love Fawn & Jim Quarantining in Wainaiae