Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Packing up, saying good-byes, anticipating final beach sunset (well, for several months, anyway).  The best thing?  I get to return!!

In the meantime, I am sharing with a few of my friends!  Lisa is here starting tonight until March 11.  Freba and her little family arrive March 13 til 22.  Emre and Hannah next.  Gina after that.  It feels better to have someone living here, off and on.

I hope to hop over at least once!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Unbelievable.  The day has finally arrived.  Tomorrow is my last day in Maui for many months.  Thursday at noon I get on the plane.  Next Tuesday I become a grandmother for the second time.

What a year I have had.  

Death and life.  
Happy and sad.  
Sickness and health.
Smiles and tears.
Sunshine and rain.
Beginnings and end.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Am I being nice tonight or what?  Sharing another one of my favorite apps BEFORE the first of March!!  

I learned about this one from another frugal blogger.  Now I can "borrow" magazines each month from the library!  At absolutely no cost.  The app is free and you can use it on your computer or iPad or iPhone.  I have a library card for Portland and for Hawaii ... and they each offer different magazines.  

This app is so much easier than getting an e-book on loan, just a few years ago!  Click, click, click.  You can also buy magazines from them ... although I'm much too frugal these days.

In fact, I did get cable TV disconnected.  Saves $50/month!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


My 14 month sabbatical in Maui is drawing to a close.  There is so much to love and enjoy here, I'm glad I decided to strive to keep the house here.  Snowbird living for a while longer.  I'll be scheming how to be frugal about keeping both places.  I'm even contemplating a roommate in Oregon and Maui.  Stay tuned on that thought process.

Marty and Peter are departing for the other side of the island.  What a fabulous five days we have had!  Perfect house guests!  Every morning when I stumbled out of bed at 7:30 ... the coffee was ready.  We had my nice slow mornings (although they would go for a run or jog while I checked my electronic world.)  Breakfast each morning was my favorite ... papaya and lots of fresh fruits, with a yogurt on the side.  It is SO much more fun to prepare for two or more.  (Peter was a cereal and banana kind of guy).

Every evening we went to a different beach to watch the sunset.  I'm pretty sure they thought I was crazy but seemed happy with my choices.  Secret Beach was where Marty's office assistant got married and wouldn't you know?  TWO ceremonies happened while we were there.  At sunset.  Memorable!!!??

We had a driving day but most days were catching some rays on different beaches.  I'm not a sun worshipper so I could drop them off, run an errand or have an appointment, then pick them up.  Every night we had an awesome (and mostly healthy) meal at home.  Peter did the grilling.  On the day of our whale watch (best ever in 20+ years of going on one), we did Crockpot Thai chicken and coconut rice so we didn't have to worry our little heads.

Although I have lots to do before departing Thursday morning, I hope to catch a sunset every evening!

Saturday, February 22, 2014



Having a great time with Marty and Peter.  Not enough sitting and playing on laptop to keep up with my blog.  But I'm always thinking about it!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Totally busy with house guests (having TONS of fun) and getting ready to return to Portland.  Check back on Sunday!

Monday, February 17, 2014


One of the good things about reading a lot is learning new words.  Yes, I'm one of those dorky people who looks up words (it's so easy if I'm reading online ...)  Today I learned indolent.

Lazy!  Sometimes I feel like I am lazy.  But it has such a negative connotation.  So I don't dare let the word enter my mind.  It's harsh and could possibly affect my self esteem.  Which is borderline right now.  

Occasionally someone will ask how I'm doing and am I keeping busy.  Well, yes, I do seem to fill up my days and evenings just fine ... but no one gets excited when I say "just keeping my head above water and myself out of trouble."  Today I thought I would keep track of my day to see how indolent I am.

I got up at 8am, made coffee and then the bed.  Brushed teeth and enjoyed over an hour of news headlines, email, Facebook.  Today I had oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruit.  (I always start out healthy ....)

At 10am, I tossed in a load of laundry and accepted all my Words with Friends and Scramble and LetterPress invitations.  My sister is in the design stage of remodeling the tiniest kitchen in the universe so I printed out all three schematics, looked on line for different solutions (they make 18" dishwashers!) and emailed her my thoughtful opinion.  

I then checked the Olympics stats and wandered back onto Facebook.  (I really love Facebook!)  Emailed back and forth with my friends who arrive in Maui tomorrow afternoon.  Sent two birthday emails and checked the weather in cities where I have family or friends.  (Brrrrr)

At noon I puttered around in the yard.  The cat trap is NOT working ... they manage to get the food but I don't get the cat.  I used WD-40 again but I'm not hopeful.  I trained some bougainvillea to climb the trellis Mr. Ralph installed.  Smiled when I noticed how many blossoms are on the lemon tree.  Swept off the deck and made a list of handyman chores. 

It was almost 2pm when I dried and folded the laundry and seriously thought about doing another load, but quickly ruled that out.  Best save something for tomorrow.  I took myself in for an hour meditation (nap).

My wonderful young condo tenants spent their weekend moving my life back into my condo.  I ordered an Edible Arrangement to be delivered to them at their new digs tomorrow to thank them.  Gosh it took me half an hour just to decide which fruit bouquet to choose.  And I called back to have the strawberries dipped in chocolate!  Not frugal but gosh I am so thankful to them.

I went online again to start the electric at the condo in my name.  Unfortunately, I was NOT successful and actually had to call someone.  Very interesting since she spent 20 minutes getting it together (something to do with a condo complex) and I have the same account number as a year ago!

Thankfully, my insurance company emailed me that the umbrella policy is due in a month, and I did get that paid online with ease.  I got an email link to sign in for my new health insurance.

My Maui hair stylist and I exchanged many text messages.  She has a friend a little older than me who is recently widowed and this year decided to come to Maui like they used to.  But she needs some friends who are not couples.  Lesa asked if she could send her the link to my blog (heck, yes!) and if I would be willing to talk or meet with her to share my "secrets."  As if.  We know this is the hardest part about being a widow .. making new friends.

By 4pm it was time to make a few phone calls.  And start thinking about something healthy for dinner.  I made a dash over to the grocery store for a few items.  Now I can have a nice salad with a piece of fish and LOTS of veggies that I like.  Upon my return my daughter's "almost" mother-in-law called to see if she and her boyfriend could pop over to see the little house (we had dinner at a restaurant last night).  6:30 til 8:30 so now I'm not very hungry.

My high school buddy (and two family members) called to say they just arrived on the island so when can we meet up!  My next set of house guests arrive tomorrow afternoon ... right after the cleaning lady.

Not fast paced living, but certainly not indolent!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


One of the things I hate the most ... car shopping.  The last car we bought (for our daughter when she was in high school) I bought online!  We drove 45 minutes to pick it up and sign the paperwork.  No "let's go to my office" and "I need to review this with my boss" scenario.  This was definitely Mr. Ralph's area of expertise.

When we decided to stay in Maui for his remaining years (which turned out to be three months), we sold our Portland car to a neighbor.  No sense paying insurance on a car we don't use AND paying someone to come drive it every week or so to recharge the battery.  

Now that I am going to live both places ... here comes car shopping (no, my neighbor cannot sell me back my car ...)  Being the practical Taurus that I am, I'm getting a minivan!  I loved loved loved having my Dodge Caravan.  It drove like a car but could pack stuff like a truck.  I got to be the designated pre-teen driver as I could haul six girls to the mall or the movies or the prom.

What awesome improvements have been made in 15 years!  Sliding doors on both sides with automatic open and close.  Same with the rear hatch.  Seating that folds into the floor.  I'm so excited.  Backup camera with measured guidelines and beeps if I'm too close to something, front OR back.  Honda even comes with a built in vacuum!

I can comfortably drive daughter, her hubby, two grandkids and one big dog.  Or six lady friends for a trip to wine county!

Best of all?  A great guy friend who is going with me to handle the sales guys

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Lucky me!  I have made a few amazing friends here in Maui.  It is more challenging to find people to befriend at this age.  No kid in school so can't make any more friends that way.  No longer employed (although this could be remedied) so no interaction that way.  Living in two places adds to keeping a friendship fire burning, but again, this is doable in the age of technology.

I digress.  My friends (newlyweds at mid-40's+) do not do Valentine's Day.  She feels it is a made up holiday for the card, flower and candy industries (even though it started in the 1800's with just love letters and cards).  While watching the sunset the other night I mistakenly asked how they were celebrating.  Wow.

Last year, he had the day off from work ... and so did she.  They decided to do random acts of kindness in the spirit of things.  They went to the local grocery store and asked to return people's shopping carts.  Suspiciously, many of them thought they were doing it for money.  Or that they wanted to preach the Lord to them.

After a few hours of that, they drove to the main city.  We have an elderly lady in a wheelchair who sits by the side of the road, under a tree, near the Walgreen's store.  Every time I have ever driven on that street, there she is.  They parked and walked over to ask if they could buy her lunch.  Anywhere!  She too was hesitant and way too proud to accept "charity."  My friends said nope, it's not charity.  It's love.  It's Valentine's Day and we thought you might be getting hungry.  We can even just go over to McDonald's (a couple of blocks away) and bring you something.  Well, she said, I sure do like their chicken sandwich.  Magic.  It was hers.

They decided then and there to purchase several bags of hamburgers and cheeseburgers and drove around looking for small groups of what looked like homeless people.  Mostly men, so they went together.  The groups, at first, were distrusting.  Hunger took over and tentatively they each accepted a sandwich.  My friends (now you can see yet another reason I love them) offered them each a second, yet they refused.  Instead, the men told my friends about other groups of people who would be even happier to get a burger.  Not one person accepted more than one.  It was a treat and they knew how special it was.

Love is simply everywhere.  Sometimes I just have to look.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Mr. Ralph loved sunsets.  He loved lots of things about nature ... the changing colors of leaves, a tiny tree sprouting in a rock, the clouds.  But I believe sunsets were his favorite.  Mine too.

Maui offers lots of beautiful sunsets and every day they are different.  From different beaches the sunsets have special character, depending on which direction we face.  We would usually remember to head towards a beach just in the nick of time.  Sometimes we would plan ahead with a picnic and chairs.  Sometimes we never got out of the car.

Last night I met up with Leslie and her hubby (and my beautiful canine friend, Mercedes).  She (who is employed) packed everything for a gourmet picnic with a perfect pinot noir.  What a spread!  Home made gluten free bread (still warm).  Brie, salami, pate, home made tapenade, special recipe goat cheese with pecans, dried cranberries and pepper, gluten free pretzels.  Topped with dark chocolate dried cherry and almond clusters.  A perfect dinner.

The photo doesn't do it justice.  It was magnificent with a huge glowing orange sun at the very end.  Mr. Ralph loved it.

I think he would have loved sunrise just as much ... but we rarely got up that early!

Monday, February 10, 2014


January I began a new habit.  Eating breakfast every day.  VERY successful!

So for February, my new challenge is to drink six 8 oz servings of water each day.  Fortunately, I guess I'm pretty good at drinking water all day.  Along with my cup or two of coffee and my glass or two of wine.

I have a very nice crystal pitcher (I don't like plastic ... anything) that holds EXACTLY six cups of liquid.  Who uses a glass that is only 8 oz?  No one!  My normal glass holds two cups!!  It's fortunate that I love drinking water.  Mostly just plain filtered water.  Sometimes I jazz it up with cucumber slices or lemon.

Since this was too easy, I feel obligated to add something else for my February NEW habit.  Walking.  Even if it's just 15 minutes a couple of times a day.  This month's Real Simple had a headline WALKING WORKS or some such.  They even suggested that 15 minutes of walking after every meal is often better than a 45 minute walk.  Go figure!  Even I can do that.

Hmmm ... what for next month?

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Some say curiosity killed the cat.  But I seem to get curiouser and curiouser as I grow up, despite the caveat.  Mostly about how my contemporaries really live.  Just the day to day stuff, nothing philosophical or spiritual (yet).

ANTHROPOLOGY is the study of humankind, past and present, that draws and builds upon knowledge from social and biological sciences, as well as the humanities and natural sciences.

See?  I'm not just being nosy, I'm an anthropologist!  Oh, don't worry ... I'm not publishing results of my findings.  I'm simply eager to learn how other ordinary people live as compared to me.  My questions are mainly for females ...

How much sleep do you get each day and what is your sleep schedule?

Do you sleep with the TV on?  Music?  White noise?

How often do you shave your legs?

Do you brush your teeth and floss every day?  Once? Twice? More?

Showers?  Every day? Every other day?  Less?  More?

Housekeeping.  Do you do your own or do you have help?

How often do you wash your car?

Do you balance your checking account every month?

Have you tried "alternative" medicine?  Accupuncture, naturopathic, meditation, hypnosis, etc?

Do you park close to your destination or at the far end of the parking lot so you get in some walking?

Sleep nude or in some kind of clothing?

Have you used microwave meals rather than cooking?  How often?

Do you do your own taxes or get help?

If you have pets, do you talk to them?  Let them sit on your lap?  Sleep with them?  Teach them tricks?

How often do you exercise enough to make you sweat?

Do you include a fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack?

Do you light candles for no reason, just your own enjoyment?

When you have a meal, do you watch TV while you eat or sit at a proper table?

Do you wear make up every day or just for special?

Vitamins and supplements?  Yes or no?  Daily?

I'm sure I could come up with 100 questions I'd love to compare answers with.  Anthropologist or nosy old lady?

You decide.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Curiosity led me to watch Sister Wives, a TV series about a family who chooses to have one husband and four wives.  And a mass of children!  Now I'm thinking of starting a religion where one wife can have four (or more) husbands.

Think of it!  One husband could be the handyman.  Need a shelf put up?  Done!  How about when the sprinkler system needs a fix?  Bingo.  Hmmm ... maybe remodel the kitchen?  Oh the possibilities.

Well, my Number Two choice would be a chef.   Healthy, flavorful mostly vegetarian.  Fresh ingredients from all over the world.  Hopefully a garden for seasonal items and home grown herbs.   I could throw a dinner party or appetizers for my bridge club (soon! I am learning).  Anything dipped in single source dark chocolate.  I'm liking this idea ...

Wouldn't it be fun to have a driver?  No more stressing out trying to find parking at that new little chi chi shop on the north side.  Someone to keep the car clean and mechanically up to date.  The doors opened each and every time (like Mr. Ralph did.)  A responsible designated driver?  So now I can have that second glass of wine at dinner!

Last and most important ... a personal trainer.  I admit it, I definitely need help in this department.  Someone who pushes me (just a little), encourages me (with the proper training and knowledge ... maybe a physical therapist as well) and inspires me with fun and interesting ways to raise my heart rate and build some muscles.  Who is also a yoga leader!

Of course they would also be my sex slaves.

Friday, February 7, 2014


I'm still kinda new at this widow thing.  Every day I miss him and all those little things that I took for granted.  And of course, all the big things as well.  I still don't like taking myself out for dinner!!

But I don't feel lonely.  Alone, but not lonely.  I enjoy my alone time.  Really! I don't feel compelled to have ten things scheduled every day.  Sometimes I choose alone rather than a social invitation.  It takes the right frame of mind to be an "only" in a party full of couples.  Once in a while I prefer not to attend a gathering with a group of ladies.  Usually it's when I feel like being around groups of people drains me, rather than recharges me.  Old age or introvert?

It's not like I get a lot done in my alone time!  I don't have the inclination to be very productive and with three weeks left in Paradise, the motivation is even less.  For this first year of widowhood, I am happy to be social on Facebook, play online games with siblings and friends, phone friends for one on one conversations, read and walk in the sunshine... then back on the laptop again.  I'm busy enough finding health insurance, sweating medical test results, having friends be house guests, just living life.

In our past, we entertained large groups (sometimes up to 100!!!)(how did I do that?) and I loved it.  Hindsight?  I always had a "job" to do ... offering food or drinks, replenishing the appetizers, throwing away trash.  Now, when I attend a party ... my only job is to chat and have fun.  It is empowering for me to know I can say yes or no to an invitation.  I just have to pull out my widow card, and they (usually) back off.  Geez I wonder when that will wear off?

For now ... I'm alone, but not lonely.  And I seem to prefer small groups!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014



I just learned that my Maui Kaiser health plan does NOT offer care in Oregon.  Just for 90 days.  Since I will be living in Oregon at least six months a year, I had to go shopping for a plan that is mostly Oregon (annual and preventative stuff) yet also covers sickness or emergencies in Maui.

It was a learning experience.  Every company offers at least THREE plans with at least three sub-plans under those.  

     Silver Be Prepared.  
     Silver Be Fit.  
     Silver Be Smart.  
     Silver Be Aligned.  
     Silver Rose City.  
     Silver Standard.  

After spending hours online, and on the phone (really Kaiser?  I can't get this plan in Oregon?), I had to resort to an insurance broker. 

My monthly payment was high previously ($530) ... because I was on three medications and had been to counseling IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS.  There were 20+ pages of questions to answer. Have I ever had cancer.  Have I ever had diabetes.  Have I ever had a hangnail.  I was rejected three times.  I finally had to get a letter from my Doctor AND the counselor explaining how normal and low maintenance I was.  

So I was really shocked, now that we have "affordable" health care, to discover a plan similar to my current plan would be $680+.  Imagine my surprise also that now EVERY plan has a deductible.  Good grief am I looking forward to turning 65 and getting on Medicare.

This really isn't affordable.  But at least the application was three pages max, mostly their words, and I only had to supply my name, address, Social Security Number and signature.  

P.S.  I signed up for a cheaper option, high deductible, with in network services in both locations.  $480.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Oh!  So many fun apps to choose from!  I'm going to choose one of the older ones I still use almost daily.

Grocery IQ.  It's still a FREE app also.  (Free is always a good price.)

It's a grocery list app.  Since I always have my phone near, it is super easy to add an item as I think of it.  The app keeps your list, then when you are shopping you just tic off an item.  You can keep lists by grocery store (like if you almost always buy toilet paper from Costco) and it will store your "favorite" items so you can simply look through things you buy frequently to help jog your memory.

Grocery IQ organizes your items as well ... produce, dairy, spices, etc.  If you choose an item that it has not categorized, you can choose which department YOUR store uses.  SOOO handy when I don't want to wander up and down every aisle.  In fact, I think you can even put aisle numbers, according to your store, by each item.

Another feature I used to use when Mr. Ralph was still working ... you can email your list to someone!  Honey will you stop by the store on your way home and get .....

Give it a try!  And tell me one of YOUR favorite apps!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

FEBRUARY 2, 2014

Wow!  This day is filled with amazing events.

First, it's my brother's birthday ... oh my, 58!  I'm sure he doesn't read this blog as he is holding some sort of grudge and is not speaking to me.  Going on five years now, I think. But Happy Birthday, Jim!   Thankfully, I have four other siblings who speak to me (on occasion.)  

Ground Hog Day.  And he saw his shadow, so six more weeks of winter.  This is not boding well with me as I'll be heading back to Portland where they are almost in drought mode.  I bet I bring the rain ....

Super Bowl Sunday!  I don't really watch (or care about) football but I do like the commercials.  Carrie and Jim invited me over to their luxurious back yard to watch with a crowd but we are getting rained upon today so I'm not sure about going.  The turkey meatballs are simmering in the crockpot though, just in case.

Nine months ago today, Mr. Ralph died in his sleep.  It seems like just last month yet on some days it seems like years ago.  We always hosted a Super Bowl party since it was so close to his birthday.  

This year we celebrate his birth and his death. And Jim's birthday.  And Ground Hog Day.  As well as Super Bowl.  

Go Seattle!