Friday, December 16, 2016

"Scrooge” Christmas?

Our family is frighteningly small.  I mean tiny…super tiny.

My parents were never particularly close to their siblings, so we were never close to our cousins. When we moved to California what little contact we had was gone. Our Aunts and Uncles came out every once in awhile, but we pretty much were on our own.

When we moved to Texas, our tiny family became even more isolated.  Mom, Dad, Mair, Stew and Bill in LA, me, Corey, the kids and Corey’s parents with us in TX. To overcome the divide, Christmas became opulent.  We showed our love for each other and how much we missed each other through gifts.

Fast forward through the years, a move to Seattle, the loss of all of the elders of the family, my brother wandering off into his alcoholism…and we became even more compact.

Toss a move to Hong Kong into the mix and now Christmas became exponentially large.  The living room floor groaned under the weight of gifts…it took hours to open.  Each person opened one gift at a time…we all paid attention, reveling in our togetherness that shortly would end.

SO…after Christmas 2014, after Merry Mosas were consumed, after breakfast was served, and all the wrapping paper tossed...we looked around...loved everything we saw...but my sister had an idea.

How about instead of the mounds and mounds of gifts...we do experiences.  Change it up.

How about Christmas on Maui?  Corey and I would take our condo for December...Mair would get the condo next door...and Kari and Kirk could share a unit in the complex.

Kirk and Skyler decided to go to Los Angeles to be with her family...hard but acceptable since, well...Skyler HAS family.  And yes....she is allowed to see them at Christmas sine she'd been away for a few years.

Christmas 2015 WAS a change!  We decided it would be the trip and stockings only.

Corey had a tough time with it...called it "Scrooge Christmas" and bent the rules by buying a nice gift for every stocking.

While it WAS a new way to celebrate....we still had Maui err Merry Mosas...we just had them with 75 degree tropical breezes and a stint by the pool before dinner was cooked.

Fast forward one year...and hear we go.  All things have changed. AGAIN.  Corey and I are living on Maui now...the kids have even less vacation...and Corey and I are both working, in retail, so long leisurely holidays have ended .  It't the busiest two weeks of the year...too tough to be gone.

This year we are continuing with the "scrooge" Christmas if you really want to still say that.  (It didn't feel scroogy to me last year!).

This year we agreed to exchange names.   We all joined a website   The Website takes care of pulling names for Secret Santa.  The spend limit is $100.00  (not including shipping).

We will all meet in Los Angeles at my sister's house.  We won't see each other for very long, but I"m happy we will all be together again.

Mary Ann has even devised a way to keep the stockings secret until Christmas Day!  We are all in to this!

I gotta tell ya.  WHAT A RELIEF.  We focus our efforts on one person...ridiculous amounts of money are not being spent...and we get to see and enjoy each other.

Merry Mosas will still be had...good food will still be had. Togetherness will still be had.  All of this without the running and dashing and spending to spend.

I'm looking forward to it.

Not sure this will be how we do Christmas forever...but we learned last year changing traditions is NOT terrible.  We even liked it....just a little bit.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tourists? Locusts? People…

Chinese New Year (CNY) is upon us.

You can tell this because of how the city transforms itself.  Smoothly transitioning from (sometimes crazy) Christmas decorations to bright reds and glimmering golds.  Showcasing the creature that we are in the “Year” of.

The creature this year has brought much consternation and discussion among the Non-Chinese. 

Is it the Year of The Goat?  The Year of The Ram?  The Year of The Sheep?  The answer is “Yes”

It depends who you ask, where you look, what page from Google you click on. From what I can tell, this is the year of a “horned” thing…but NOT Ox.  In OUR house, this is the “Year of Kari”  She’s been waiting…she is waiting for her birth-year’s place on the window sill with the other gold figurines we have collected. (each figurine represents a year in Hong Kong for us…if only I had done this with my LINKS bracelet)

I digress.

CNY brings HOARDES and I mean HOARDES of people to Hong Kong.  The celebration is about one month long.  EVERYONE in China has this time (or part of it) off.  Many travel back to their homes and villages, and with China being HUGE…this can take awhile.

However, now that it is very common for Chinese to travel…Hong Kong is a pretty popular destination. 

This is not really new…Chinese Tourism to Hong Kong has been on the upswing for years.  This has caused much debate, distaste, distress to those who live and work here.  See…Hong Kong is pretty packed as it is…add tons more people…and well, our orderly life gets interrupted.

I’m going to list some of those interruptions…and when I do…because I’ve been thinking about this…we all pretty much seem like a whiny bunch of spoiled brats…and we are.  We want these people gone from “our” city (seriously…OUR city?).  NOW…also let it be said that I am writing from personal experience and thoughts…

We have to wait longer for trains.  The transport system here is one of the best in the world.  It is clean. somewhat orderly (except when you can’t get off the train b/c people are jamming on – which is a year long event…not tied to these two weeks) efficient, reliable, timely.  Boo Hoo…we have to wait 3 min to the next train?  WAHHHHHHH

We have to be more vigilant of our handbags and safety:  - With crowds brings opportunists. Tourists are known targets…and because it is drilled into us that Hong Kong is SO safe…we ourselves might get a bit lax in taking care of our stuff.  Thefts will soar these next few weeks…and I doubt seriously it is Mainlanders doing the thieving…   I get a bit careless…and after a couple of reports these last few weeks, I am watching…and zipping my bags…and putting my wallet in the “middle” of the bag…not on top… Shouldn’t we just be smarter anyway?

We have to wait longer in line at Starbucks. Ok…I will admit it…I was a tad annoyed this morning when the family of six was ordering their pastries and  I really could not make my away around them to the counter.  Since this was BC (before coffee) I had my moment.  Then I calmed.  (This is what got me thinking about this subject).  I got my coffee…moved myself away from what I was SURE would be unruly children (they weren’t). 

We have to Dodge Duck Dip Dive and Dodge as we walk down the street: As a rule, Hong Kongers don’t walk well…at all.  It is every man/woman for themselves.  Heads down, watching a video, playing IPhone Mahjong, serpentining their way through life.  Some days we are in the mood to move…some days we are not.  These next couple of weeks we tend to “not” be in the mood, especially with the added traffic.  Take your eyes off of your own phone…you will be happier for it.

Waiting in line as “they” check out at the stores:  Once again, it comes down to the “waiting”  We are all in such a G/D hurry…all the time…we can not fathom having people in front of us.  NOW…what tends to get us all crazy is the queue jumping…and I’m with you on that…THAT one (also a year long event) gets me nuts at this time of year. That one I don’t tolerate…


And THERE it is.  This is what grabbed me today…really got me and I’m hoping that it will carry me through the next two weeks.


Hong Kongers tend to call these tourists Locusts.  I’ve read it, I’ve seen it depicted in a child’s art show (locusts sitting on houses in the New Territories – drawn by a 15 year old boy); I’ve heard fellow ExPats say it.

Why do they do it?  WHY are they HERE buying EVERYTHING. Why are they lining up on Canton Road to get into LV, Hermes, Coach?  Why has baby formula been limited to two tins per traveler? 


They cannot trust the purity of their food.

They cannot trust the purity of their beauty products.

They cannot trust the authenticity of their glamour goods .

They cannot (do not) trust their government to handle the above.

Wow…Not sure anyone is still here…reading b/c that was a long time to get to this point : We live a charmed life…really charmed.  The freedoms afforded us are endless…fought for by brave men and women.

MOST of the time…we don’t give the first three things a thought…I mean…bad things happen, but tainted food is jumped on pretty quickly…and as to the governments… Right now I’m not a fan of either side of the aisle in the US Government…but…I’d much rather THEM be my government than the one those visiting Hong Kong over the next couple of weeks have to endure.   I’m sure most of my ExPat friends from where ever they are will say the same thing.

Next time you see the term “locust” or even want to use it…think about the above?  They are just moving through their lives, seeing something new.  Taking advantage of Hong Kong’s plusses.    These people also spend a TON of money here…I mean…that has GOT to be good right?

SO…I’m going to try to stay calm…travel on slightly off peak times…and maybe try to catch the eye of someone I’m passing…smile…then jump out of the way as they veer into me.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Getting “Fit” My body does NOT like it


Corey loves to hike.  This is not a secret.  His lungs are strong.  His legs are stronger. He also has been working diligently over the past 2 1/2 years to remove his weight.  His hard work has been rewarded with low heart rates, normal cholesterol and a half empty closet because nothing fits anymore!

I do not like to hike.  The thought of it makes me anxious, angry, and pretty much impossible to be around. I do not have strong legs, I do not have strong lungs…(at least my cholesterol is fine.  Smile )

So WHY do it?  I want to be with Corey.  Like Scuba Diving, this is something we can do together.  However, I LOVE scuba diving (falling off a boat, floating, descending, ascending…not hard…not hard at all)

Over the past 2 years we have been hiking in Hong Kong and we are three stages from finishing every “formal” trail. 

Over the past 2 years I have hyperventilated on every trail.  I have bitched, moaned, cried, yelled (yes…there was that one temper fit), and basically been a real pain in the ass.

SO…after last hiking season…I decided that if I was going to continue to hike, I had better do something about my overall fitness level. Being at a healthy weight does NOT mean you are a healthy person.  It does not mean you are fit.

So starting in May, I have worked pretty darn hard to get some fitness back into my life. 

For the first two months I was working out…and “sort” of journaling my food. While I saw some improvement in my heart rate…my weight barely moved.

Then I went back to Hawaii for a few weeks.  In Hawaii I was able to attend Weight Watchers meeting regularly.  

ACCOUNTABILITY.  What a concept.  For the first time in a LONG time…my weight moved…every week…down…for five meetings.  There was even that one day Corey had our car…so I walked 8 km to the meeting (I did end up going the very long way and coming home a much shorter way…but still…) I was committed.

Coming back to Hong Kong those days were over.  I took a good look at HOW I was tracking my food.  Every day I was writing down my food…but then, I would turn the page, and move on. 

After one person took a look…she said “do you KNOW what vegetables are?  SO…while I was (sort of) eating in my points range…I was not eating “”well”

I designed my own tracker in excel.  I can see my whole week in one glance…looking at my week this way let me see if my “five fruits and veg” requirement was not really happening. 

It is an eye opening experience. 

After 14 years of working and working for Weight Watchers…it is still a challenge…I want to “get away” with things.  I want my wine and drink it too. Alas, I don’t’ think that strategy will work anymore.

I got through the Holidays unscathed.  I left Hong Kong at one weight…and came back the exact same weight.  I will take it!

But now…now I want to move forward.  There is still weight to remove and fitness to improve. 

My body is fighting me…my brain is fighting.  I took a really good look at my food diary vs. my activity…and they are NOT offsetting each other.  I am earning between 8 – 10 Activity Points a day…and my weight is pretty much stuck right now.

That tells me that I can not play loose and fast with my tracking.  I can not play loose and fast with my points.  My allotment is 26 points a day…and supposedly…49 extra points a week.  I really think I am getting to the point where I can’t use all 49 and lose weight.  SIGH. 

Fitness IS one thing.  Weight IS another thing.  However…I have to think that hiking will be easier with less weight on me.  the less of me there is…the less of me there is to haul over a mountain (or up steps…or down a hill).

So my goal is to track even more diligently.  My goal is to use my points wisely.  My goal is to stick as close to 26 as possible and see…if this moves me off of this weight.

It’s back to basics…just like 14 years ago. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6 2015

I’ve done my writing for the day…twice.  Finished an article for the AWAre magazine…and finished up a blog post from March.

But do you want to know what I hate…I went to work on another Blog Post…with a catchy title…I’m sure I had all intensions of it being pretty darn funny… (well….I would have found it funny) and I ended the post with

“So here’s the thing”…



Lesson learned!

Monday, January 5, 2015

I am realizing…

As my project continues, that my writing is going to take various forms.  Todays’ exercise was to finish an article for the AWAre magazine.  I worked for 30 minutes…quietly and somewhat focused.

My goal is to maybe write a blurb about my days…but also catch up on my travel writing.  THIS is a task that while I let it get away from me….got larger and larger and thus, more daunting.

I will persevere.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

So…my storyboard had to say “FIRST” thing?

I have gotten into this “nap” a bit in the evening habit…and then am awake until late. This does NOT help someone who sleeps badly anyway.

Corey has been researching giving “micro-loans” to people all over the world and was up late doing that.

I got Corey sick.  We had full intentions of hiking today…but with his very late night, and now the cold, and MY late night…I actually stayed in bed today until 9…hoping it will turn the tide and almost get me into a normal pattern.

It’s Saturday night in the US.  First day of NFL Playoffs.  For the first time in two years the Steelers are IN.

I wake up, realize it’s time for kick off, turn on the computer, make coffee…go to turn on our Slingbox and ….


You said you would write 15 min a day.  This is a “lesson in discipline” 

So I unhook all the wires (we use my computer for the Slingbox mostly)…come to my spot. I set the timer.

Sigh.  The game will still be there.

Yesterday was one of “those” days in Hong Kong.  It was cooler, bright, just perfect.

Corey and I had lunch at the Metropolitan CafĂ© (they have good lettuce and a decent salad bar) then we walked past LegCo.  Corey had not seen the “layout” of Occupy Hong Kong. 

The waterfront walk between Wanchai and Central is just gorgeous.  I brought my camera with me for the day…an am so glad I did. 

IMG_7296IMG_7295 IMG_7289

I’m rusty.  Maybe another “discipline” after I get this one down is to shoot more.  So much of my camera I still rely on “auto”  No sometimes I realize you just want to take a picture…but I’m also kind of sick of the “spray and pray” habit I’ve developed.  It leads to disappointment.

AIA Insurance is hosting a very fun carnival.  Mostly for kids…but we had fun walking around .  It wasn’t a bad deal.  125 HKD gets you in with 10 tokens…and each token is worth 10 HKD. 


Christmas was the early theme…but since it goes to February, I’m sure it will switch.


Pictures, games, it was very fun.

IMG_7352Corey is a killer at a dart game.

IMG_7356And went on to give some away.

IMG_7361IMG_7359IMG_7357We got out before the crowds got crazy…Ferry ride home.  Light workout.  Salmon.  (nap)

A lovely day.

And now….



Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Quest for 2015 - Jan 3


Resolutions are for the birds…but why should we strap birds down with such baggage (except maybe Eagles…Eagles can carry a lot of weight)…

HOWEVER…I do know the power of having a goal.  A very specific goal. 

Having small, attainable, specific goals is how I removed my weight and it is how I encouraged others to lose theirs. 

For example…right now…when I ask this question:

“Raise your hand if, you want to remove some weight”

I am betting many of your hands just went up. 

The next question to ask is…

“Raise your hand if you have a plan to get that weight off”

Ummm, are the same amount of hands still up?  I’m betting not. 

That old saying “You don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan”…  Well, it’s true.

Without a specific plan, with specific goals, things just don’t happen.  It sounds like a good idea to lose weight.  You know you want to do it…but you blink…and then it’s Thursday, and you figure…”Eh, I will start Monday” And then months and possibly years go by. 

TRUST ME!  I’m a master at this.

Writing down the goal…and then the steps to get there is a wonderful way to achieve….well, anything.

In Weight Watchers the tool was “Storyboarding” and it was one of my very favorite meetings (next to The Paper Plate meeting…NOTHING is better than The Paper Plate meeting)

SO…I bet some of you are thinking…”Well, Kate has put some weight back on and she is going to Storyboard her way back to goal”


This is not about weight…this time. 

My goal for 2015:


I’ve been past neglectful of this blog.  I’ve been past neglectful of documenting my experiences beyond my pictures. (Just backed them up last night, over 25,000 images with two cameras in 3 years).  I rarely can remember what I had for lunch…do I really think I will remember the nuances of a trip I took last year? 

I’m not egotistical enough to think my kids or friends or family will jump to read it.  However, I come from a tiny tiny family.  Seriously.  SMALL.  I know little to nothing about my relatives and our history.  Maybe one day, someone will find it.  Maybe not.

I will sit down, and write, uninterrupted for a minimum of 15 minutes.  EVERY DAY.

It might be drivel.  But it will be an exercise in discipline.  Will every day happen?  Fingers Crossed. 


I don’t know how to do flow charts and such…and I just spent 20 minutes putting one together…just to struggle pasting it here…SO…please trust there IS a flow chart… and here is what it says (I will print it)

GOALWRITE 15 MINUTES EVERY DAY >> do not open internet >> do not make phone calls >> make coffee >> turn on computer >> wake up.

Now, there are  some days I am out early early…but here is the game plan…here is the strategy.

Let the games begin.

(by the way…this took 50 minutes…I’ll get better and I figure that almost covers Jan 1 and Jan 2!