Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Creators and analysts are never bored

June 22, 2017

I am 71 years old.  Most of my life is behind me, and I have a short future ahead of me.  I hate to put a cap on my life, but realistically, I probably have another 20 years to go, give or take a few.  My father died at age 87, and my mother died at 99.

Having said that, how will I spend the rest of my life?  By being creative.  I experiment in the kitchen, write a blog, and design my garden.

In fact, two of my original recipes have been published in the local newspaper along with photos of my food.  One was an apple recipe, and the other a shrimp recipe.

My original recipe for apple cobbler was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last year.  I drew a black line around it:

StarAdvertiser Apple cobbler 005-A

Here’s a photo of my apple cobbler, as published in the newspaper:

Gigi's Apple Cobbler 009-A

Here’s a photo of the entire pan:

Gigi's Apple Cobbler 002-A

If you want the recipe, please type “Gigi’s Apple Cobbler” in the search bar at the top right of the computer screen.

If you want my published shrimp recipe, type “Gigi’s Shrimp-Broccoli Stir Fry” in the search bar.

I keep telling David to be creative, but he said he prefers to be analytical.  He is pretty good at analyzing, I must admit.  He estimated that our property tax will increase by $90 this year, based on the appraisal and tax rate.

Creators are never bored.  Neither are analysts.  We need both to make the world go around.

Just don’t sit and watch TV all day.  Your brain will certainly atrophy from lack of use.

Leasing a car

June 20, 2017

cars 003-A

David and I own these cars, a Hyundai Accent and a Toyota Camry.  We don’t lease them.


A family member is considering leasing either an Audi or a BMW rather than buying one.

A nice aspect about leasing is that you get to drive a new car every three years.

However, if you can’t claim the lease as a business expense on your taxes, it would be like having a car loan that never gets paid off.

This family member is also considering buying a house on the mainland.  Wouldn’t leasing a car be an unnecessary burden?

David and I prefer to buy a new car and then run it to the ground.  That’s what we have been doing throughout our marriage.  We see no advantage in leasing our cars.

Father’s Day, 2017

June 18, 2017

India Miami Washington 008-A

These are our children, Maria and Lisa, at a Christmas party in 2011, one of many parties we hosted in our house over the years.


Today is Father’s Day.  Maria and her family will be attending church services mid-day and then will have dinner with her husband’s family.  Lisa still resides on the mainland, so we won’t be seeing her, either.  However, both Maria and Lisa will call their father to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.  David and I will celebrate by having lunch at a Thai restaurant.

David’s parents and my parents are deceased.  We have many fond memories of our family parties.

My father had advised me to sell our two condominiums and buy a house.  He told me that owning land is better than owning atmosphere.  Hence, he was so happy when we followed his advice and bought a house with land surrounding it.

Life is what you make of it.  Again and again, I count my blessings and when I do, I am so grateful for what I have.  You should do the same.

Happy Father’s Day!

The house that keeps on giving

June 16, 2017

Sometimes, I feel very depressed over the events of the past few years — the deaths in my family and the animosity between certain family members.  But, there are bright moments, too, when I count my blessings and realize how grateful I am for my marriage and my children and grandchildren.

I am especially grateful for my house, because it is a house that keeps on giving.  When we run low on cash, we can tap into the equity of our home or rent out our guest room.  In fact, when in the future David and I become too old to care for ourselves, we can hire a caregiver in return for free room and board and a monthly stipend.  That might be better than selling the house and moving to a nursing home.

Lately, it’s been so hot and humid that we shut the windows and run the air conditioning.  It’s so much better than going to the movies or to the stores to cool off.  Believe it or not, some people have to do that, because they can’t afford to install air conditioners in their home.

House 003-A

House 008-A

House 014-A

House 018-A

Mike Shirley Okas 005-A

Mike Shirley Okas 016-A

Memorial party 004-A

PARTY 3-26-2017 009-a

It took three incomes to qualify for the mortgage on this house — David’s day job as an accountant and his night job as an accounting instructor as well as my day job as a legal assistant.

As I said, this house is a house that keeps on giving.  It’s the best purchase we have ever made in our lives.

South Korean pianist wins the gold medal

June 14, 2017

Korean art 010-A

A sample of ancient Korean ceramics on display at the Honolulu Museum of Art.


Last Saturday, a 28 year old South Korean won the Van Cliburn Piano Competition in Texas after a grueling two weeks of competition.  His rendition of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 sealed the deal.  He is the first South Korean to win the Van Cliburn Competition.  Congratulations, Mr. Yekwon Sunwoo!  As a Korean-American, I am so happy that a South Korean won.  It’s quite an honor.

Van Cliburn was the first American to win the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958 at the age of 23.  This occurred during the Cold War, which is why this victory by an American is so special.

David’s mother was an avid pianist, herself, and made her husband take her and their children (Michael, David, and Wanda) to the Waikiki Shell to see Van Cliburn perform.  I believe this was in 1959, when David was 10 years old.  David has never forgotten it.  My parents, on the other hand, were oblivious to classical music and did not take me and my siblings to that performance or any other symphonic concert.

Van Cliburn died in 2013 at the age of 78.  It’s wonderful that he founded the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, which is his legacy and promotes the careers of young pianists who win the gold medal.

Good luck to Yekwon Sunwoo!  I hope to see him perform in Hawaii someday.

Andre Watts

June 12, 2017


This is a photo of the coconut trees in front of the Blaisdell Concert Hall in Hawaii.


In 1963, David was 13 years old, when he saw for the first time the famous pianist, Andre Watts, perform on TV.  Leonard Bernstein was the conductor of the New York Philharmonic.  Watts was 16 at the time, and he played the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1.  It was David’s mother who turned on the TV for this performance, because she had studied the piano when she was growing up in Canada.  David enjoys classical music because of his mother’s influence.

In 1969, I saw Watts for the first time when he performed at a piano recital in Bangkok, Thailand.  Watts was my age, 23.  The audience was primarily white, and I was probably the only Korean-American.  I did not notice any Thais in the auditorium, which was packed with foreigners, starved for classical music.  My boss, who had hired me to teach English at Voice of America, was there with his wife.

Last night, David and I both saw Watts perform the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, the final concert of the season. Excellent! He received a standing ovation from the audience.  Naoto Otomo was the guest conductor of the Hawaii Symphony.

Well, what can I say?  We have renewed our subscription for next season’s 12 symphony concerts.  It’s expensive, $882 for the two of us, but well worth the price.

We would rather spend money on classical music than on alcohol.  Somehow, classical music touches the soul, whereas alcohol does not.  Yet, many people would rather go to the bar than to the concert hall.

A globe trotter

June 10, 2017


Islamic art, exhibited at the Honolulu Museum of Art.




My friend, Sharon, has been traveling quite a bit since retirement.  She’s been to Iran, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Russia.  Her trips in the near future will be to Spain, Morocco, and Japan.  She doesn’t travel alone, but with a tour group.

Sharon told me that she loved Iran, when she visited in 2015.  Tehran is very beautiful, and the Iranians are very friendly.  They told her that they like America and Americans.  Sharon is a Korean-American, residing in Hawaii, and she had no problem relating to these Iranians.

Why can’t our governments get along?

Pretty good relationship

June 8, 2017

India-camel ride (al rho)-a

This is a photo of David, about to ride a camel in India, 2012. The fare was $2.00, not a bad price to pay.  After the ride, he said, “Now I don’t have to go to Egypt to ride a camel.”


David is such a humble person, not prone to bragging about his many accomplishments.  Just yesterday, we were listening to a CD of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, when David remarked that he had won the gold medal for performing this piece as a high school student at a music festival.  I was so amazed, because this concerto is quite difficult.  No wonder he was able to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. His goal was to become a band director, but that didn’t happen and he became an accountant, instead, after getting his Master’s in Business Administration and passing the CPA exam.

Best of all, he married me, adopted Maria, and fathered Lisa.  A loving husband, father, and grandfather.  I couldn’t ask for anyone better than David.

We don’t harass each other by making impossible demands.  I might suggest that he fix some aspect of the house and yard, and he does it without complaining, because he takes great pride in home ownership.

And, of course, I do my part by experimenting in the kitchen.  For example, he suggested that I create a different type of casserole, because he was tired of the usual chicken dishes I make.  So, yesterday, I created a casserole consisting of chicken, potato, green beans, broccoli, and a white sauce.  David told me it tasted very good, but the chopped potato wasn’t cooked enough.  Next time I make a casserole, I will try using pasta, chicken, peas, and a white sauce.  David enjoys eating something new and different.  He gets bored eating the same old thing.

We have a pretty good relationship.

Why we retired

June 6, 2017

Japengo 004-A

At a hotel in Waikiki.  The Hyatt Regency, I believe.


A 99 year old man said on TV that he keeps on working, because he likes the people he works with.

David said, “Wow, would you say the same thing?”

Me:  “No.”

The primary reason we quit our jobs is that we did NOT like the people we worked with.  Fortunately, it was financially feasible for us to retire.

We have a pretty good retirement.  The kids no longer live here, and they are self-supporting.  We can pick and choose the people we socialize with.  We don’t have to pretend to like people we don’t like.  We don’t feel we have to impress anyone.

Basically, we keep to ourselves, puttering around the house and garden, listening to classical music and watching TV.  Now and then, we go to the concert hall or art museum or restaurant or someone’s party.

Our lifestyle might be boring to some of you, but we think it’s heavenly, as we have no interpersonal stress.  We both feel that by quitting our jobs, we added 20 years to our lives.  No kidding.

Branch cutter

June 4, 2017

Yesterday, David decided to cut off seed pods that were hanging from our palm tree.  There were so many, but he managed to cut off most of them.  Unfortunately, the branch cutter broke when a screw fell out.  He plans to buy new screws today, and then resume his work.

Palm tree-seed pods 008-A

Palm tree-seed pods 007-A

Palm tree-seed pods 003-A

Palm tree-seed pods 010-A

Palm tree-seed pods 002-A

I am glad David knows how to use this branch cutter, because I sure don’t.  Good job, so far.