Women in London, Paris, and Munich

April 26, 2017

Postcards of London in 1969.

***

Before I left Thailand in November 1969, I purchased “Fodor’s Europe on $5 Per Day” and was able to find cheap accommodations, restaurants, and transportation in Europe by following directions and tips in that travel book.

My first stop after leaving Bangkok was London.  I rented a room in a cheap student hostel, sharing it with a female law student from Argentina.  She stayed only one night, so after she left, I had the room to myself.  Since it was cold during early November, I had to push coins into a grate in the floor to heat the room.  In the morning, I deposited my small suitcase at the front desk and in the evening, I retrieved the suitcase to take to my room.

I noticed that the English women in London were very stylish with their beautifully tailored winter coats and small hats perched on top of their head.  They wore lipstick, eye makeup and had a flawless peaches and cream complexion.  These women were neither students nor tourists.  They looked like they worked in an office or some place that was clean, definitely not a factory.

The women in Paris were also very stylish.  They did not wear hats like the English women, but did wear long coats, leather boots that reached their knees, and most of them had long dark hair that flowed in the breeze.  They looked slim and beautiful as they strode up the sidewalks of the Left Bank, where I stayed in a small rooming house on a side street.

But, unlike the women in London and Paris, the Bavarian women in Munich were not fashionable at all.  They tended to be obese and wore practical, functional clothes and boots with no sense of style.  They were very rude, too, elbowing me at the bus stop and forcing me to let them board the bus first, even though I was first in line.  Grrrr.  That was an unpleasant experience.

I would have loved to reside in London, because the weather was ideal and the English language was my native tongue (though I do have an American accent).  But, an official at the airport warned me that I was not permitted to look for a job in England, because I was there as a tourist and nothing more. That was unfortunate, because of all the European countries I visited (England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany) in 1969-1970, I liked England the most.

Perhaps, things have changed since then…

Violinist in Thailand

April 24, 2017

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I was 27 years old when this photo was taken in New York City in 1973.

It was 1969 and I was 23 years old, having a Coke in the coffee shop at the YWCA in Bangkok, Thailand, when a Presbyterian missionary from the USA sat next to me at the counter.  She said her name was Dee, and she and her husband were in Thailand trying to convert the Thai Buddhists to Christianity.

Long story short, she invited me to her home for dinner and then lent me a violin to play duets with her.  I guess I was good enough, because she invited me to join the Pro Musica Orchestra at the German Embassy.  This orchestra consisted of musicians from Thailand, Australia, Canada, and the USA.  It was conducted by a German, who had trained in Germany.  (He was not the same one who met me in Munich later that year.)

A Thai prince, who also played in the orchestra, offered me one of his violins, because it was better than the one Dee had lent me.  However, after a few months, the humidity made the violin fall apart.  I took it to a repair shop, and it was glued back together.  I was afraid that it would break again, so I returned it to the Thai prince and thanked him for lending it to me.

I then sat on the sofa in the German Embassy and watched the Pro Musica Orchestra perform.  I heard the Bach Double Violin Concerto for the first time.  It was incredibly beautiful, especially the slow movement.  I was deeply moved, and tears streamed down my face.

Now, it is 2017 and I am 71 years old.  Many years have passed since that moment when I heard that Bach concerto performed in Thailand.  I wondered what had happened to the Thai violinist (not the Thai prince), who played the first violin part.  So, I googled his name and discovered he is a retired attorney, who had studied in England.  At age 81, he still plays the violin in a string quartet in Bangkok.

My friend, Dee, died of breast cancer in 1979, ten years after we met.  She was 41 years old.

Stand up weed puller

April 22, 2017

David’s orthopedist told him not to bend his back too much, as it would result in severe back pain.  David shopped at Home Depot and purchased a stand up weed puller for $30.00.

He poked the implement into the weed, twisted the pole to grab the weed, pulled up the pole, and then pressed a silver rod with his finger to release the weed into a bucket:

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While we were at Home Depot, we bought these plants and placed them in our patio.

Hibiscus:

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Ti plants:

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All in all, we made very good purchases at Home Depot.  Hopefully, David will find some relief from his chronic back and hip pain by using the stand up weed puller.

Applebee’s (Ewa Beach)

April 21, 2017

Last Wednesday, David and I drove to Applebee’s in Ewa Beach for lunch.  It’s relatively new and is the first one to open in Hawaii.

This is Fort Weaver Road on the way to Ewa Beach:

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This is David in front of the restaurant, located in a shopping center in Ewa:

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At 11:30 AM, this is how the interior of the restaurant looked.  It filled up as time went by:

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Appetizer Combo:

Chips and salsa:

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Chicken, celery, mozzarella cheese sticks, stuffed tortilla, melted spinach dip, plus two other sauces:

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David ordered the half rack baby back ribs, French fries, and macaroni and cheese:

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I ordered the chicken spinach artichoke pasta dish:

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The food was good, the service fast and efficient, and now we know what Applebee’s is like in Ewa Beach:

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Voice of America in Germany

April 19, 2017

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Photo of my neighbor’s plant (called “Bird of Paradise”) in Hawaii.

From mid-December 1969 to early February 1970, I lived in Munich, Germany.  An elderly German friend, whom I had met at the German Embassy in Thailand, had given me his address in Munich, and he told me to look him up if I ever got there.  That’s what I did.  Long story short, he met me and my American friend, Andrea, at a restaurant in Munich for tea and biscuits and then he gave us tickets to the opera.  Meanwhile, he suggested that if I were interested, I could study music at the Goethe Institute.  But, to study there, I would need money.  So, I began to look for a job.

First, I applied for a government job as a clerk.  No response.

Then, I applied at Voice of America.  I had taught English at Voice of America in Thailand, so I thought I would have no problem getting a job teaching English at Voice of America in Munich.  I was interviewed by a German, who was the director there.  I told him that I had lived in Thailand for ten months, teaching English at Voice of America, Thammasat University, and AUA Language Center.  I also told him that I held a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Hawaii.  After twenty minutes, the director said that he could not hire me, because I had insufficient experience.

Oh, that made me mad.

I thought to myself, “What makes him think he is qualified to work for Voice of America?  He speaks English with a German accent.  This is not Voice of Germany.  This is Voice of America.  I am an American, and he is not.”

Of course, being a nice little girl from Hawaii, I kept my composure, smiled, and thanked him for his time.  But, if thoughts could kill, he would have died on the spot.

Later, I applied as a nanny for an American family, but then decided that I should just call it quits in Germany.  It was so damn cold, and I was sick of sausages and sauerkraut.

So, I took the bus from Munich to Frankfurt, spent the night there, and then rode the bus to Amsterdam.  From there, I flew to New York City, where I lived for 5-1/2 years, studying music at Columbia University and supporting myself as a secretary.

A tough old lady

April 17, 2017

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Photo of Hawaii.

I am fearless.  I began traveling around the world by myself at the age of 22, and I also went through pregnancy alone at the age of 32.  Now that I am 71, nothing will keep me from being self-reliant.

For some reason, I have always done things the hard way, never opting for the easy solution to my various problems.

For instance, I chose not to have an abortion when my boyfriend and mother told me to do so.  I felt that it was wrong to kill a human being whether it was inside or outside the womb.

I supported myself as a legal secretary during my pregnancy.  Since I did not own a car, I found myself borrowing the shopping cart from the grocery store and pushing it from the store to my home and then returning it to the store and walking back home again.  Imagine doing this when you are 9 months pregnant.

On July 31, I quit my job and gave birth on August 2.  I walked into the hospital alone to check in and walked out of the hospital with a newborn.  Friends dropped me off at the hospital and brought me home.  If they had not offered, I would have just called a cab.

Should something happen to David, I am not afraid to face old age alone.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

I am a tough old lady.

Things to do on Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

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This is something we don’t do anymore:  Golfing.  We donated our golf clubs to Goodwill in 2014, because we lost interest in chasing the ball around the golf course.  (Photographed in 2008)

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Today is Easter Sunday, but David and I are non-believers so we won’t be attending church services.  Instead, David will spend the day watching the NBA playoffs on our 65 inch Sony TV.  He is very lucky that I bought it for him several years ago as my gift to him for being such a good husband.  And he is especially lucky that we never fight over the remote, as I don’t care to watch TV.  What a lucky guy!

At noon, we will drive to Pearl Kai and have a delicious Thai lunch at Thai Issan Restaurant.  We will probably order the appetizer platter (chicken satay, spring rolls, fish patties, fried calamari), the Penang curry, the cashew nut chicken, sticky rice, and for dessert the tapioca pudding.  Yummy!  This heavy lunch will make us too full for dinner, so we will probably eat something light in the evening.

Maria and her family will spend the day at the Mormon church in Aiea, and Lisa will probably be studying for her exam in Neurology, so that she can focus on stroke patients as a physical therapist.

As for me, I will be visiting blogs on my blog roll to see what people in other parts of the world are doing with their lives.  I will also tend to my plants in the patio, watering and fertilizing them, pruning them if necessary.

Before you know it, the day will be over and we will go to bed.

Happy Days in Kaimuki

April 14, 2017

On Thursday, David and I dined at Happy Days, a Chinese restaurant on Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki.  We like the dim sum there.  Dim sum consists of dumplings and buns, stuffed with meat, veggies, or custard.  Oh, it’s my favorite thing to eat when I am craving Chinese cuisine.

This is the interior of the Happy Days Chinese Restaurant in Kaimuki:

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This is the waitress, serving food we chose from her cart:

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We ate 6 plates of dim sum, and these are 4 of them:

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This is me (not bad for a 71 year old lady without makeup on her face):

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This is 68 year old David, having a hard time using chopsticks with his arthritic fingers:

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It wasn’t a bad meal for $22.85.  There are other places where you can eat dim sum in Hawaii, such as Jade Dynasty at Ala Moana Center and restaurants in Chinatown.

I remember eating dim sum at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong in 2010.  The dim sum there was so fresh and delicious.

I just love dim sum!

Kona Grill-International Marketplace

April 13, 2017

I have not been feeling well, so a change of scenery seemed necessary.  Yesterday, David and I drove to the International Marketplace in Waikiki.  This huge complex opened in August 2016 and replaced a smaller market, which was old and antiquated.  The new International Marketplace sits between Kalakaua Avenue and Kuhio Avenue.  The entrance to the parking structure is on Kuhio Avenue.

There are large department stores (such as Saks Fifth Avenue) on other floors, but all of the restaurants are located on the third floor Grand Lanai:

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This is the beautiful courtyard at ground level:

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This is Kona Grill, which is part of a nationwide chain of restaurants.  We decided to dine here:

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David and I were seated in air conditioned comfort.  That’s the kitchen in the background:

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We saw June Jones, who is now athletic director at St. Louis School in Hawaii.  He used to be a head football coach in the NFL as well as at UH and SMU.  When he walked past our table, I asked him who the next football coach will be at St. Louis.  He said, “I don’t know, thanks,” and he made the shaka sign to us, walking on.  I think he does know.  He just did not want us to know.  Well, we shall soon find out as football season approaches.  This is a view of the restaurant and bar from our table:

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We started with an appetizer, Chicken and rice lettuce wraps, with hot sauce and pickled vegetables.  This is typical Korean cuisine, and I used to eat this when I was a child, stuffing the lettuce with food and then biting into it:

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As his main course, David ordered the Flank steak with chimichurri sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and carrots:

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As my main course, I had the Lemon garlic shrimp with pasta and garlic bread:

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And for dessert, we both had the Passion fruit crème brulee:

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We exited the restaurant and paid for parking at this booth near the elevators.  The first hour is free with validation, and then it is $2.00 for the next hour.  We paid $2.00 for parking with our credit card:

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All in all, we had a pleasant time, seeing the new International Marketplace for the first time and trying the delicious cuisine at Kona Grill.  I would like to return to this complex and sample the food at other restaurants.  This sort of thing always cheers me up, and looking at these pretty photos makes me smile.  Happy memories!

Being middle class

April 11, 2017

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This guitar player performed at my nephew Travis and Shanna’s outdoor wedding overlooking Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (2014).

***

I have no desire to write about politics and religion, because I don’t want to be embroiled in conflict and controversy.  Suffice it to say that what is happening these days is nothing compared to World War II.  It took two atomic bombs to end the war with Japan, and it took the Allied invasion to end the war in Europe.  We must never forget the Holocaust.

Every day, I pour myself a cup of coffee and read the newspaper.  I notice the advancements being made in science, medicine, astronomy, and the arts.  It offsets the bad news about rape, murder, famine, and terrorism.

What has all that got to do with me?  Not much.  I just focus on improving my home and garden.  It gives me great joy to see my plants thrive and bloom.  David paints the house when it needs painting.  Eventually, we will have to hire someone to paint the entire house, but until then, the patching David does is adequate.

I feel no need to prove myself and no need to impress anyone.  I spend very little time in front of the mirror.  If I am clean and neat, then that’s good enough.  I don’t expect David to be anyone other than himself.

We are not dirt poor like the homeless.  Nor are we filthy rich like the Trumps.  We are middle class and we enjoy being middle class.