Graduation Ceremony

Sonny graduated from high school last Saturday. Thirteen years of schooling went by so fast. He’s not a little boy anymore. He is a young man who is eager for his independence. As parents we are happy to help him along the way.

We are very lucky as his parents. He has no trouble with academic studies; he respects people around him and gets along with his classmates; has some good friends. We did our best to give him a secured stable home, good healthy food, warm and comfortable clothes, provided everything he needs. Most important is that we are a happy family. We love him and we love each other too. From our daily conversations, he knows everything happened in our life, and how we dealt with people. We showed him that kindness, honesty and hard working are good values in life. We helped him to prepare for taking off his life journey.

A few days before his graduation, his school bus driver gave him a post card. She wrote very nice wishes to him and included $50.00. It surprised us, I asked Sonny why. He said, “I dion’t know.” Paused for a second, he said, “Maybe, because I greet her every time when I get on bus, and thank her every time when I get off bus. “ It was very kind of her to show him the love not from parents. Next day he took some coffee for his teachers, school office and bus driver. He said he believed what goes around comes around.

In Hawaii, family and friends make all kind of leis for graduates. on Tuesday, I watched a video making Hawaiian Star lei. We have two bushes of Songs of India in our yard. The whole process is easy and the lei is beautiful. I wanted to try it right away. It was past 4:30 PM, it’s kind of late to start it. But I thought I would not be able sleep if I didn’t try it. So I acted right away, finished a lei after 8:00PM.

On Wednesday morning , Terry picked some Ti leave, I went to our neighbor’s farm to pick some Paukenikeni flowers. A good friend came by, he was going to a graduation ceremony. I gave the Hawaii Star Lei to him. Late afternoon, we deboned each Ti leave; dipped Ti leaves into hot water to soften it. That evening I make another Hawaiian Star Lei while I video chatted with my sister.

On Thursday, I spent most of my time making Ti leave leis, I made twenty leis. In the evening, I made another Hawaiian Star lei.

On Friday morning, I picked some plumeria flowers from a friend’s farm. I made three leis with it. Afternoon, I still have some time so I made a couple more. In the evening, I made another Hawaiian Star lei. I wanted to make as many as I could. Sonny could give to his friends, and we could give to some kids we know.

Ti leaves

Hawaiian Star lei

Saturday morning, we arrived at school around 7:30AM. Very quickly the parking lot was filled up. Graduates’ families and friends started to form a line to enter the field where held the ceremony. School arranged two seats for each graduate’s families. Two front rolls were reserved for Valedictorian students’ families. So we sat in the front row with our friends Kurt and Kana, their daughter Jenna has been Sonny’s classmate since kindergarten.

This graduate ceremony is special, it’s the first time of fully opened to public since 2019.Parents should be proud of their children. Despite all of the strange times and challenges they made it through. At the end, people were giving hugs and leis to graduate students. Congratulations to all of them !

Valedictorian speach ( Sonny and Lance )

Sonny and Lance
Classmate Hunter

Sonny and Jenna


Today is the last day of 2021. Looking back at this year, it was not a smooth ride for us.

The saddest thing is that Michiko past away with COVID-19 on September 8th, ten days later her daughter past away too.

Not long after Jerry past away, Michiko’s granddaughter was born. The baby brought lots of joy to the family, helped to ease the pain of losing Jerry. Michiko had diabetes, we saw her in bad conditions before. But past years she was doing pretty good, spent most of her time with the baby at home.

Since Jerry past away, Terry volunteered taking her family’s trash to dumpster, and getting money for her from recycled bottles. Every two or three weeks we stopped by her house, gave her some food from our land. sometimes I took Michiko to her doctor’s appointments or picking up her prescription and shopping together, if her daughter didn’t have time. Michiko had never learned driving. I was always happy when she called me. So I had a day off and a good shopping friend. Then we had a lunch at a Chinese restaurant. I brought home some food for Terry and Sonny, she bought some food for her family. We enjoyed each other’s company a lot.

On September 9th, about 7 o’clock in the morning, Kailani phoned and told me her mother past away last night. She died from COVID. Michiko was afraid getting sick from vaccines. She had some bad experience from flu shot. She stayed home watching the baby, not contact with other people anyway. So she didn’t have a vaccine. Her son got COVID from his co-worker. She got it from her son. It was shocking to hear the news. She was the closest local friend I have. I stopped by her house a couple of weeks ago, dropped off a pineapple and two pumpkins. I talked to her briefly on the front porch. I felt sorry for not visiting her a little longer.

One day Sonny and I went to town. We stopped at a local gas station to get some gas. There were two men talking at the front pumps. I overheard they mentioned Watai family, about the mother died and the sister died. So I asked them, were they talking about Michiko. They said yes. Michiko died a week ago, her daughter past away that morning. It was September 18th. It was so shocking, my mind kept drifting away while I was driving

it really takes some time to accept this kind of sad news. Terry said that trying to remember her smile and happy moments, keep the good memories. If we think that she and Jerry are at the same place, we won’t feel too bad.

when I worked in the farm, I couldn’t help to think about her. Many years ago, I told Terry, Michiko was a beautiful person, especially when she smiles. Remembering my words and wondering why. It took me several days, I found the answer to my question. The Chinese have a saying, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. It usually describes when someone falls in love with others. From my case, I realize if you love someone, he or she is beautiful to you. That person could be your parents or children or friends. This answer brought peace to me. I love her, she was a beautiful person to my eyes and in my heart.

Sonny and Michiko 2005

Life continues

Due to this Coronavirus crisis, schools are closed, and we don’t have to get up early in the morning. It feels like we are having a long vacation. As a farmer under self-quarantine, our daily work hasn’t changed, seems our life keeps going on as usual. But we have to keep distance from our friends, cut down the times of visiting stores, and be very careful all the time in public. There is a change in our life, we lost the freedom of living carefree. We are hoping we’ll regain that carefree life in the near future. Life continues, let me share some things that have happened in our life.

Beginning of 2018, our friends were working inside our new house. John came along and helped on the project. He and his wife Susan just moved to Kona from Arizona, looking for a place to buy. He is a contractor and they are David and Joni’s friends. One day he came to our building site with David. We found out that he can do anything with carpentry. He joined Jerry and David and installed the dry walls. After that, he did most of the finishing jobs. He stained the wood ceiling, painted the rooms, installed the doors, built the closets and shelves, tiled the bathroom, helped me getting the right size of vanity and installed it, and helped me measure for the kitchen cabinets. He didn’t ask to get payed with his usual rate. He accepted the money and coffee we gave him. He said he was just happy to help a friend. Before he could install the flooring, he and Susan moved back to mainland. Susan got sick and went to emergency room. In the hospital she realized that she wanted to live close to their kids and grand kids.

In the whole process of building project, Terry tried to stay out of decision making. He said that I will live in this house longer than him and that it’s going to be my house, so I should make all decisions and build it as I wish. He just was happy to help build it.

Starting with the house plan, I drew the floor plan and told Terry my ideas. He told me to draw the exact size of the plan on the coffee drying deck with chalk and walk in the different rooms to get a feeling about the space. I did as he recommended and changed many times. We found a draftsman to draw the plan. Chad is a very nice and patient local man, he talked to me a few times, and changed some places a couple of times.

While picking a color for the house, Terry didn’t care as long as I like it. I narrowed it down to two colors. We bought one small can of each color, painted on two boards and leaned them against the wall. I looked at the boards from different angles and distances at the different times of the day. I still couldn’t make up my mind. Terry said I didn’t need to be so stressed about it. If I don’t like the color, we can repaint it later. One day, at the lunch break, we were talking about it with Jerry. Jerry suggested tossing a coin to pick the color. Right there a quarter decided the house color, later I used another color in the living room.

We had a man paint the exterior walls, but a couple months later, the color started to fade. I bought the highest grade of paint and repainted the whole house in two weeks. I used an extension poll for the high places and avoided climbing ladder. I painted the overhangs from the windows. John use to be a professional painter, so he gave me a few tips and complemented me with the job. Wow, it was my first time painting a house, I actually did it. After that, I did more painting jobs around the house.

When I came to choose the color for our bedroom, I wanted a warm color, not a cool color. I really wanted to hear Terry’s opinion, but he didn’t care. I was not happy cause he didn’t even want to think about it. So I said, ” So even I painted the room pink, you still don’t mind?” He said: “Pink is not my favorite color, but if you sleep in the pink room, I’ll sleep in it too. I’ll get used to it.” This non serious conversation decided the tone of the color, I got several shades of pink sample cards, looked at them everyday and couldn’t make up my mind.

On February 18th 2018, Sunday, Ann and Brad went back to Canada after one month vacation in Hawaii, they came to visit us in the morning before they left. I told Ann about my problem, she helped me. She held the sample cards in different spots of the room. I looked at them from different angles and picked out the color I preferred in 15 minutes. Talking to Ann helped a lot, lady friends are so important in our life. We got to have a few good lady friends around us. On that day, Terry went to Lowe’s and bought the paint.

John painted the room. The color in the can seems too pink. After he finished the job, I checked it out the next day. Wow, the room felt warm and so so soft like light peach blossom, so cozy. I couldn’t wait to sleep in the room. Every time I walked into the room, it made me happy and smiling right away. Jerry saw the room and complemented on how the color is so soft. Now we have slept in the room over a year and my eyes got used to the color. It doesn’t give me such a strong feeling anymore. In a sunny day it’s a white room to my eyes, on a cloudy day it shows a little pinkish. I’m still very happy with it.

I shopped four stores and picked out the tiles for bathroom. John did a very good job putting in the tiles. Terry said that he enjoys our shower room very much, it reminds me John a lot too when I use it.

Terry wanted hard wood flooring. He talked to Kim who has a flooring business and lives not very far from us. He had some 8″ and 10″ wide European oak flooring left over from some project. He wanted to get rid of it, so he offered us the whole sale price and lending his tools to install. There were enough materials to cover the living room and west side porch, so we bought it. Our friend Matt helped to install and finish the job. Right after that, our kitchen cabinets arrived which Matt installed too.

I bought kitchen cabinets from Lowe’s. Bob is the cabinet designer who worked with me. He was another very good man, I told him my preferred budget, and showed him the pictures of my vision that I wanted. We made some changes after he explained to me the reasons. My budget was low. He drew the finishing designs, offered two quotes from two brand companies which I picked. They were expensive, even the cheaper one cost much more than my budget. Matt said that’s about the right price range for a kitchen cabinet. Terry said we are only going to build a house once, let’s do it right. Now I’m the one using the kitchen most, I enjoy cooking every day.

I learned a lot through the whole process, and had a very good experience working with these awesome men. They really listened to me, did the job as I wanted, explained to me when my plan had to change. We are so lucky to have these friends.

We finished building around October. We waited a while for the water supply company to hook up water to our new home. We moved into it just before Christmas in 2018. It took us a week to move things little by little. Our old house is a funky one, but we were used to it and felt very comfortable there. It took me two weeks to get used to sleep in the new room and new bed. Slowly our Qi settled into the new space and we felt more and more comfortable in the new home.

For quite a while, I had light sleep and many strange dreams. People and places I don’t know at all, I didn’t remember most of dreams when I woke up. I told Terry that maybe there were still some old unsettled energy on the land. Terry said he didn’t think so. We cleaned and changed the land, and wiped out any old signs and bad energy from it. Nobody can picture the old image of it. Our hard work claimed this place. I also thought I lost the ability to have meaningful dreams. Last August I had a very special dream, I felt relieved and relaxed again.

There were still so much work around the house after we moved into it, it kept us very busy. I would like to have a house warming party, but Terry was not up to it. He totally objected a big party.

We have many friends and have been to many of their parties. It’s our turn to host a party. We had lived here almost a year, some of our friends hadn’t been here. When we were getting close to the end of coffee season last year, Terry seems more relaxed about the party idea. I told him that I would prepare the food. All he needed to do was talk to our friends, and enjoy their visits. I selected our friends into four groups, picked the date and called them. On November and December, we hosted four parties. They were small parties that worked out very well. They were relaxing and fun to everyone.

Our Summer Trip — Part II

Before Terry went home, he recommended that I take Sonny to other parts of China, don’t just stay with my sisters, talking and cooking every day.

Li used to own a travel agency, has been to so many places. I wanted to take Sonny to Lijiang and Shangri-la, asked Li where we should stay. I told him what I wanted to see and how many days we had. He arranged everything for us on line and paid for it, he can get better discounts, from air tickets to guest houses, even booked a car to pick us up from airport or to airport. I paid him back with cash.

We flew to Lijiang directly, it took 1 hour. It’s in the northwest part of Yunnan, much cooler weather. It rained a little bit, temperatures were around 17 degree centigrade.

The guesthouse We stayed is located right in the Lijiang old town. This old town has over 800 years history, big cobble stone streets, connected old quadrangle dwellings, Naxi ancient music. I’ve been there once 20 years ago on my vacation trip. I spent two days there, but I got a fever on the first night. I remember that I felt miserable being sick in the guesthouse room, told myself that I wouldn’t travel alone again. It was not a fun trip, I didn’t see much there, but remember it was a quite town, business owners are locals. One of the backpack travelers’ favorite places.

The guest house we stayed
The room has tea set.

We walked around the town at night, it was packed with Chinese tourists, most of business owners are not locals. No matter what kind of food they are selling on the street, they can sell a lot with that amount of customers.

There are many music bars, restaurants with someone soliciting customers by the door. It was very strange scene to me, music bars with glass wall on the both sides of street, playing loud music and dancers on the stages can see each other across the street. It seems out the place in this ancient old town with cultural deposits.

Night scene at Lijiang old town

Next morning we walked around the town again, most shops are still closed, not many people on the street, very peaceful and comfortable.

Day time in Lijiang old town

In the old town of Shuhe, the water is very clean.

Then we took a four hours bus ride to Shangri-La, which is the prefecture capital of Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province. Li booked a car to pick us up at the bus station, to the guest house. The owner is a 27 years old young man, very friendly. After we checked in, we sat with him at lobby, he made hot tea for us, roasted sunflower seeds, plum and Yak jerkey as snacks. We were hungry without lunch that day, at his recommendation, we went to a Tibetan restaurant for supper.

The old town of Shangri-La

Tibetan Restaurant

This dish is called Ma li ga, used Yak meat.
Hot pot with Yak meat, vegetables and noodles.

I didn’t know how big portion of the dishes would be when I ordered the food, so I was going to order more. The waiter said that these two dishes were plenty for two of us, it was a good hot meal for 20 dollars. Later we wondered around the old town, drew to the square by the music. Locals were dancing, some tourists joined them too.

The square of the old town

Highland barley cake and butter tea for breakfast

Next day we went the temple in the old town, bought some Yak jerky for my sisters family, T-shirts and jacket for Sonny and Terry. In the evening, we visited a Tibetan home and had supper there. It turned out to be a place for tourist groups. A dozen young men and women were waiters and waitresses, and performers as well. None of the women had make up, they seems very casual, bold and unconstrained. The food didn’t have much taste, luckily we already knew what the good Tibetan hot pot taste like.

Next day evening we back to Jinghong again, spent more time with them. It had been four years since I visited China last time. I read news about cashless business model in big city, like Shanghai and Beijing. This time I experienced it, it works everywhere in China, even in Thailand too.

I bought a cell phone there, so I could communicate with my sister and friends; paid for anythings I purchased with my phone; used the map app when we were in Lijiang and Shangri-La; used the translate app in Thailand. I went to the bank of China once, only two staff working behind the counter, two staff assisting customers in the lobby, 4, 5 machines in the lobby can take care of withdrawals and deposits. There were only two customers, quite and empty.

There is another thing I noticed on this trip. More and more people have changed their attitude towards life, from their different living and working style, its own characteristic decoration for restaurant, guest house or stores. People with better economic conditions can choose their lifestyles, much colorful and meaningful; enjoying the life became an important thing besides making money. Through social medias, everybody are sharing part of their lives, finding people and friends have same interests in the cyber world. The new technology really opens everybody’s eyes and mind, changing their lives more and more. Most people I know are happier and optimistic, I’m happy for them.

Balcony view at Li’s guest house.
Lobby at Li’s guest house
Li’s neighbor on left side is a family from other part of China, has a tea shop. Lotus pond in front of their house.
Li’s neighbor on right side is a guest house too. A swimming pool on second floor.
Owner designed the rooms with different scene.

Mi suo is Li’s friend, an Aka woman. She has a cafe, sells her family grown tea at next door, sells Zen dresses on second floor.

Mi suo’s cafe
Mi suo’s cafe

Our Summer Trip— Part I

We went to China visiting my families between June and July.

Two days after we arrived there, my sister called our relatives, they came to visit. Ever since my mom past away, I don’t speak Aka language any more, my sister and I speak Chinese when we chat on line. So when I saw my cousins, I hugged them, but couldn’t respond to their greetings with my native tongue. It took me a little while to be able to chat with them with my pigeon Aka(mix with some Chinese).

It was very good to see them. they grow tea and rubber tree as their main income resource. Since Pu er tea made its’ name in Chinese market, Aka people live on the mountain are the tea growers in the origin, tea changed their life rapidly. One of my cousin who has four kids, had to work extra hard to raise his kids. Now his kids are grow up, his eldest daughter leads the family running a tea business, has their own brand name.

One of my cousin who has two daughters, he is the one close to my family, he and his wife always lent a hand when my family needed extra labor. He and his wife can’t read or write very much, he is not the clever one in the village, but he is definitely the honest one. I remember there were many times he came to borrow money, my mom always helped him as much as she could. He was the one getting most scolds from my mom for his foolish action, their life seems like always in a struggle condition. Now his elder daughter married to an Aka man and has a little girl, this young couple help to run his family’s tea farm. They has their own brand name, processing, packaging and sale the product themselves. At the picking season, they need to hire about 50 people to pick tea. They have a good set up operation for a family business. His younger daughter is very smart, just started high school, accepted by the best high school in the town. From our conversations, I notice that my cousin became a wiser person than before as he gets older.

I’m so happy to see they are doing so well financially, way ahead of my sisters’ families. There is a common saying, Feng shui table turns. A person won’t always has a bad or good luck, when the good luck come to you, don’t lose the opportunity. China is developing so fast, I believe the good luck will knock on my sisters’ family doors, lift their finance condition in the near future.

After we spent a few days with my family, we went to town for two days. There were so many changes every time I went back to visit. Year by year, there will be less and less of buildings and streets stay in the same way as I remember.

We visited our friend Maggie, she owns a cafe in town. It was the first cafe in town, backpack travelers must visit place for traveling information. It has about 30 years of its glorious, was listed in Lonely Planet. It changed location 4 times caused by the construction of rebuilding. Maggie and her sister are the 4th owners. Their customers changed from 90% of westerns to 99% of locals. Maggie had to be there 7 days a week before, now there is a manager runs the cafe, she doesn’t have to be there. She travels more often. Her passion is baking, so she goes to cafe in the morning to bake and put baking goods on line for sale. She told me that she went to Japan for 3 months, to learn how to make one type of bread from a master.

It was early evening when we visited her, not many customers in her cafe. that street was very quite, it used to be a busy street. I asked her why it’s so quite. She explained, the local government developed another two areas in the city, draw most of tourists to one place, and more locals to another; it take some pressure of over packed business off from the center of the city. So instead of one business center, there are three business center now, the city is expanded. And her cafe usually is busy on weekend with local customers, only see a few westerns in a year. She said that it’s easier to do business with locals than westerns.

It was still very hot and humidity at that time. At my family’s resident area, power company were fixing the line, so some days we don’t have power, couldn’t use fan at night. It’s not very comfortable, especial to Terry. After we had been there for a week, it reached to a point that Terry wanted going home alone. I went to Thailand with him, changed his return air ticket to next early morning, I flew back to China. Sonny spent two days with my family alone, he had my nephew’s phone, it has a translating app and helped them to communicate.

Li is a friend of mine, younger than me, we were not very close, but he helped me many times unconditionally when I asked him, he is a very enthusiast person. We stayed in the guesthouse he used to own, he has a different guesthouse at the tourism center area. When I talked to him on the phone, he invited us to stay in his guesthouse free. I told him that I’ll have my nephew and nieces with me, need two rooms. He said no problem. When our big group arrived his place, he said that we need more than two rooms. I said, “OK, we take one more room”.

That afternoon, Li told my sister and I that, the rent was too high, he’s going to close the guesthouse if the owner won’t lower the rent. He was not accepting any guest, we were the only people staying there. Ten people owe that building, and he’s waiting to meet one of their representative to negotiate the rent price that afternoon. Li is the only child of his family, his father had a stroke, nobody can back him up. The woman he was going to meet is a middle aged bossy person. We heard their conversation through his phone. Li is too nice person, not a match to that woman. My sister insisted to stay with Li and support him.

That woman showed up with one of her lady friend. Of course she didn’t want to lower the rent. If Li closed the business, she would pay 90,000 yuan for all rooms’ furniture. ( Li spent over a million yuan for the fitting-out works.) If Li won’t sell the business to her, she wanted him turned all of the rooms back to roughcast rooms. She wanted him to change the metal staircase to second floor back to wood. Li explained that the wood rotten away, he didn’t changed it, the property management company changed it. There were other issues she was going to complain to property management company. My sister responded to her, it was her right to complain, but it’s up the company how they are going to deal with it, she had no say. She was pissed off, spoke louder, my sister raised her voices too. They sat next to each other, talked over each other about 15 minutes. She realized that she met her match, she called her other friends to come. She told Li that he would give in when he faces her friends. About half hour later, three middle aged men showed up, they are much more reasoning than the woman. Li went to up stair with them, we didn’t go, but we could hear four people talked over him, he didn’t give in.

Next morning Li told us that the woman called him the night before, she lowered the rent from 200,000 yuan a year to 180,000 yuan. Next door neighbors pay around 140,000 yuan a year, Li has paid the highest rent for last 9 years. My sister told him to wait until that woman lower the rent to 150,000 yuan. At noon, that woman lowered the rent, she spoke very friendly to Li on the phone, a totally different person. Le accepted walk-in guests that afternoon.

I went to daily market with my sister, bought cooking materials and she cooked lunch at Li’s. It was so good, Li invited some friends for dinner at his place. My sister went home with her kids before dinner. I went to the market with Li, bought some food, he cooked the dinner. It was the high light of the whole trip to me, I saw some of my old friend, who I haven’t seen for over 10 years. Li joked that his business closing dinner became business reopening dinner.

Lunch my sister cooked

Sonny with his cousins

Night market near Li’s guesthouse

At the night market, there are souvenir shops selling goods from Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodian and China, located in six different areas. The whole shopping center are built above water. A view from one of the bridges.

Houge, Baiyan and Xiao Qin

Li cooked the main courses, everybody helped to prepare.

This year’s coffee season

We finished our third round picking of this year. First round picking started on August 10th, Terry and Sonny picked one day, I picked 3 more days to finish the small farm. Terry pulped all of the coffee.

Second round was a big round of picking, even Sonny picked 261 lb on this round. Kathy came to help me again, it took us 6 and half days to finish it. It rained a lot, put raincoats on, we kept on picking. At the end, we were still soaking well from rain and sweat. Because I wore wet gloves all day, my palms became itch and my skin just peeled off slowly.

A not good thing happened at the end of that round picking. September 7th was Saturday, the 7th day of picking, I hoped we can finish that day, so we can go to beach next day. Kathy had to go home around noon, I kept picking until the sun set. I was very tired and realized I couldn’t finish it. I left my picking basket and half bag of coffee in the field, covered them up with my raincoat. It’s the bottom of our property, near the road, but nobody can see it from the road. Next morning, we found someone stole my basket and coffee. I was so upset, had hard time to believe someone would steal coffee bag from the field. After I said many times about it, Terry said to me,”Don’t let the negative energy grab your attention. It happened and over, you learn your lesson, just let it go.” Ooh, I’m so glad that Terry pulled me out from that hole, which my mind just went around it again and again, drove me crazy. It was a wake up call, the break through was a distinguish relieve from nonproductive thoughts. At the end of the day, I told myself that I worked to earn it, even I lost it now, it will go around and come back to me in different form. I like to think about other people positively, help me to be nice and friendly to others. But there are still plenty of people making wrong decision and doing bad things. They don’t realize that cheating and stealing won’t help them gain anything, only put them into worse and worse condition. Honesty is a basic and very important quality a person should have, your mind and spirit are free if you have the quality.

Second round picking
Some cherries are big.

One good thing happened to us is, we found some good pickers. they started picking our old farm from first round. We’ve been struggling with it every year, finally we get relieve from the pressure. Kathy is 70 years old now, I’m afraid she might trip and fall, hurt herself. Only picking the small farm, we both enjoyed it a lot.

We had the smallest crop ever last year. This year’s crop looks OK, at least we’ll have our average amount for this season. At the beginning of the year, we had a couple rounds of big beautiful coffee blossom.

Summer Trip

This summer, we went to Canada for ten days. I would like to have a longer visit, but there were too many things need to do with our farms, Terry insisted for a short visit. So our schedule filled up with activities and enjoyed every single day.

One of the high light on this trip was meeting three of Terry’s high school classmates and their ladies, they haven’t seen each other for many years. Terry brought their class pictures, four of them were standing next to each other. Middle line, from left to right: Edward Jackman, Allen Baldwin, John Tovell , Terry.



Valerie is father Ed’s assistant, last September she contacted Terry before Ed, Allen and John’s annual meeting, so Terry had a chance to see and chat with  his old friends through Skype. Right around that time, the coffee Terry sent to UCC were held in customs office, needed more paperwork. That means our coffee wouldn’t be delivered to the school in time for their special event. Terry mentioned the situation to Valerie, she went through all of troubles and had the coffee delivered to the school in time. That was how we got to know her before we even meet her in person.

We arrived in Toronto on Wednesday morning, stayed with Shannon and Andrij, it’s our home base of this trip. We drove to father Ed’s place for lunch on Friday. It was a beautiful day, we were surrounded by green trees and grasses, sunny and blue sky. I talked with Jane, Jean, Martha and Valerie, they are happy people. Think about it again, the whole thing, from we arrived there to we left, the food, our talking  and laughing, it was perfect. I don’t know whether “perfect “ is the right word to describe it, but I couldn’t think of anything we needed more or less, it was perfect to me.



That evening we went to Maria’s home for dinner. We met her on our last trip to Toronto four years ago, she arranged UCC visiting for us. This time she invited us to her home, we met her husband Grigoris, parents in law, and her three beautiful children, John, Pano and Geogre. She has Greek background, Grigoris is from Greece, so we had delicious Greek food.

We met Pano first at the front of their house when we arrived there, Grigoris came out greeting us, into their house we met everyone. Dining table was set outside by the swimming pool, Grigoris’s father was cooking food on the grill, Maria was preparing food too.

Grigoris is a computer scientist, very smart and warm person; Maria is a passionate person. We talked about many things, coffee, children’s  education, we talked like old friends, there were no ending of our conversation. Grigoris’s parents left us; little Geogre went to bed; summer’s long day lights retreated and the air became damp and chilly. We left their house after ten o’clock, back to our home base, talked with Shannon and Andrij for a little while before we went to bed.




Saturday we drove to Waterloo to visit Shirley, she is living in a nursing home now. We met Andrew and Marlene there, took Shirley out and had a lunch together. Shirley looked good with positive energy as usual, but most of residents in that home were in bad condition, it was a very depressing scene. After lunch, we sat outside of building, talked with Shirley for a while.

When we were driving away from there, Terry said to me: “ At the end of my life, please don’t send me to nursing home, let me die at home.”

I told him:” Don’t think about death, we want you living a long time, you need to see Sonny graduates from college, get married and become a father.”

Sonny added:” Yes, dad, you are going to live to one hundred.”

Terry laughed, “ Oh, it’s a hard work to live that long.”



Then we continued driving to Grimsby. Terry’s grandfather lived there for some years after he retired, he owned a orchard. Terry remembers visiting grandpa when he was a little boy.

This time in Grimsby we were visiting Ann and Brad. Since we met them, they have visited us every year on their Hawaii vacation. But this was our first time visiting their home.

Niagra Falls is not very far from their home, on Saturday night there was a firework show. After dinner, Ann took Sonny and me to see the night scene of the falls. There were lots of tourists, reminded me the night life of my hometown.

Next day they drove us around, we had our one day tour. We drove through winery farm, orchard, visited historical site Fort George, and Niagra Falls again. Fort George was the most interesting place to Sonny, Ann and Brad know him well, picked a good place to visit. Later that afternoon Ann took me walking around the neighborhood. It’s a very nice area, well taking cared houses and yards, not too busy, very peaceful neighborhood. We stayed up later again, time with Brad and Ann so comfortable, they are like our family and we felt like in home.



Next day we drove back to Toronto, stopped and visited Shirley again, and met Bill and Joy there and had lunch together.


Back to Toronto, the best part is that we stayed right in downtown, walking distance to restaurants, shops and Chinatown. Shannon and Andrij are both retired now, they have time show us around. We stayed up later at night, got up after ten o’clock in the morning, went out for lunch around one or two. Food was good, we always ate too much, one meal a day was enough. Their favorite Dim sum restaurant was ours too, we went their twice. I really wanted some good spicy Chinese food, we searched online, found a Sichuan restaurant. We tried, the food were pretty good, we went back there second time.

After we ate, we checked out some stores on the way home. We shopped a Chinese grocery store, I planned to buy some spices and snacks, but when I saw some vegetables and the prices, I had to buy some and cooked a meal.



One weekend there was a flea market nearby, we checked it out, Sonny got a couple of coins. Another thing we saw, was a nude biking parade, the first time for us.

I wanted to visit Royal Canadian Museum, and it’s not very far away.  Andrij drove Sonny and I to there on Wednesday morning, we spent three hours there, didn’t have enough time. I watched a Chinese historical relic collector’s show, a hundred episodes, learned more things about history and culture. Facing those historical relics, I didn’t know much of history behind each of them, but I had bigger open mind than before, and appreciated the chance l had.

In the city, we walked by many homes’ yard with blooming flowers, especially Peony, they were so elegant.







A Good Friend


April 8th, a tragedy happened. It took our good friend Jerry’s life. It happened so suddenly, we still couldn’t believe it.

Since last July, Jerry had started helping to build our house, from foundation to building structures, roof trusses, walls, windows, doors, porch rails, dry walls, slowly he worked himself out of this project. He was in charge of building this house. Terry was his assistant and did odds and ends. Later David and John joined the building team. Last thing he did was putting up rails for the front porch, I painted it right after he finished the job.

We were still busy with small jobs every day between building and farming, we hadn’t seen Jerry and Machiko for a month, it’s not normal. They are our good friends, I felt guilty for not visiting them for so long. April 3rd, it was Tuesday, I collected some avocados for them and stopped at their house for a short visit before I went to work. They were home, both of them seems very happy. I knew Machiko must be very happy to have him staying home for a change, otherwise she was home alone. Even Jerry complained about getting tired without work, but I knew he was very happy at that moment. I told them that Terry and I would visit them again at weekend. I hugged them, said “I love you”. By visiting them, it gave me some satisfaction, I got rid of the guilt feeling inside of me.

Sunday morning, we went to beach. When we backed home, showered, had lunch, it was four o’clock. Usually Terry likes to take a nap at this time. I suggested to visit Jerry and Machiko, he said “ Better now, or too late for me.” Sonny asked how long we were going to visit them, I told him about an hour and a half.

When we got to their house, they were playing with a puzzle under a tent in backyard, and the TV was on as usual. Their kitchen and dining table are. outdoor. This is where we hang out when we visit. We sat around, drinking and smoking, talking stories, commenting on TV shows. Jerry had a white T-shirt on. He was very healthy and happy, still very strong for his age. He was getting tired of construction jobs, he wanted to buy a used fishing boat with his son, and start fishing again. Machiko has diabetes and only can have fish and chicken, no more beef and pork. Even though we live in Hawaii, fresh fish is still expensive. That might be one of the reason he wanted to fishing again, after all he was a fisherman before.

It was one of our usual visit, no big discussion, just happy to be together. Before we left, we hugged each other, said “I love you” to each other.

It was 5:30pm when we got home.

Next day we went to work, until afternoon back home, found there was a message from Machiko, said call her back. I called her cellphone, no answer, called Jerry’s cellphone, no answer.

Tuesday morning, I got a call from Machiko, she said Jerry is dead, and she was crying. This shocking news seems unreal, l couldn’t believe it, no sad feeling, no tears from me even she was crying on the other end. I told her I would see her right a way. Terry was roasting coffee, I told him this shocking news, he couldn’t believe it.

I had a few minutes digesting this terrible news while I drove to her house. As I walked into her house, saw her, we hugged and cried into each other’s arms. She had Jerry’s unwashed pajama shirt wrapping around her shoulders, trying to keep his scent around her. She told me that an accident happened after we left their house on Sunday, he died at 6:35pm. We still couldn’t believe he is dead. A couple of Jerry’s kids from the mainland would arrive around noon that day. She asked me whether I liked to view his body before cremation. I told her that I don’t mind to see his body, but I know Terry doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t want to see his friend’s dead body, he wants to keep the memory of the alive friend.

The only dead body I’ve seen was my father’s, I didn’t get a chance to see my mother’s. Jerry is like a family to me, I should go to see his body with his family. Wednesday morning, I went to his home, told Machiko that I would like to go with them to view his body. She told me, after family’s discussions, they decided not to view his body. Because they all agree, Jerry wouldn’t want his families and friends to see him like that, he would rather have everyone remember the very alive him.


Jerry was one of the first people I met after I moved to Hawaii. He was a very good man, but not a person you want to mess around with. He was a good cook, he liked to feed people, and was always happy to see friends enjoy the food he cooked. Friday evening was our regular social time at his basement. we would see other friends, Damien and Tita, Kimo and Marilyn, Craig and Masumi there. We had picnics at Kei’e beach; drove over an hour to Waimea for a lunch; went to other side of island for a chicken fight; and many parties together. If we were away for vacation, he and Machiko would house sit for us. Through those friends, I understand the true meaning of Aloha, and Jerry had a big heart of Aloha.

At coffee season, Jerry, Machiko, Damien, Kimo were our reliable coffee pickers, Tita and Marilyn helped picking on their off days of work. Working with them, every day like a party day, we had lots of good times. About ten years ago, Jerry had more and more construction work, so he stopped picking coffee.

All of my family members are in China, Terry’s families are in the mainland or Canada. A friend told me once, that we couldn’t choose our blood related families, but we could choose our friends, and our friends are our chosen family members. Jerry was one of our family members we chose.

There is one thing I don’t regret is, I always told him “I love you”. He called me his little sister and loved me too. Before the accident, he said our house would be the last one he built. We even talked about house warming party, and he was going to make a imu for the party. It happened so suddenly, I had a hard time to believe it. Every time I drove on our road, all of the green trees and plants in my eyes, warm and bright sky over my head, blue ocean and  coast lines in distance, I just couldn’t believe Jerry is not here with us anymore. How come this beautiful paradise stays the same without our loving friend. Yes, the world won’t change a bit because one person’s death, but our hearts are experiencing the pain of losing a friend, like someone punched a hole in our heart, a hollow space appears where the friend occupied. Only time will mend the hollow parts slowly with the threads of loving memories we have.

Jerry’s family decided having a party to celebrate his life on June 17th. Terry, Sonny and I went to Toronto for ten days, came back on 15th.

We were so close to Jerry, I had kept hoping to see him in my dream since the accident, but the dream didn’t come to me as soon as I hoped. On June 16th, I saw him in my dream.

As usual, Terry and I were visiting them. Jerry just came back from work, he parked his truck in the back yard. He wore a white T-shirt and a pair of blue jean shorts. He walked toward us. He was very calm and peaceful, he knew we were preparing a party for him, and this was the last day of his life and he accepted it. We didn’t speak to each other, we communicated with each other without words, we read each other’s mind.

Then the scene changed, I saw a lake in front of me. A whirlpool appeared in the middle of the lake, and it started draining the water. Slowly the water of the lake became shallow, I could see some fish swimming, then I saw a big long fish’s back, rest of the body under the water. Water became less and less, finally I saw, it wasn’t a big fish, it was a Chinese dragon, it disappeared into the whirlpool.

After that dream, I felt something was lifted from my heart. Unconsciously I had resisted to accept the fact that he is dead, I had hold on to the memories of him tightly, so tight it almost crushed my own heart.  Only in that dream, Jerry showed me that he accepted it, I should accept it too. Now I’m holding the memories of him very gently in my heart, love is the memory of him.


June 17th, Father’s Day, it was a beautiful day. We had cloudy and rainy days for a while before that party, but that day was sunny with blue sky, had a gentle misty shower for a short time, and a rainbow appeared in the sky. There were lots of yummy food, just like the way Jerry would have done if he hosted the party. His daughter wrote the poem below.

From our picture files, I only found a couple of his pictures. We saw each other so often, who would think of taking some pictures. The image below is what I will remember of him.



When I come to the end of the horizon

And enter the other shore

Remember me with fondness,

Cry for me no more,

I have found my final resting place

That special spot to fish

Remember the times that we shared

You too I will miss

This is the journey I must take,

And I must go alone

Know that my heart is with you

As I take this journey home,

To that final fishing hole

For fishermen like me

To tell the biggest fishing tales

About the one that got away

Remember me with fondness

For this is not goodbye

It is “Till we meet Again “

At that big fishing hole in the sky



10 Italian Coffee Drinking Rules

I just read an interesting article by Anna Kay on line, like to share it with you.


What Makes the Italian Coffee Culture So Special?
Cappuccino, espresso, macchiato… if you are a coffee lover, then you’ll recognize these popular Italian coffee-based drinks right away. However, not only have Italians taken the art of coffee making and consuming to a new level – their entire coffee culture developed a number of rules which the first time travelers to Italy might find a bit overwhelming.
Are you dreaming of taking an evening stroll in Rome, and then sitting down for a cappuccino in an authentic Italian café? Well, if you do that, you’ll break the rule #1 – never order a cappuccino in Italy after 11am, i.e. after breakfast time. Italians only drink it with pastry in the morning, which is their favorite breakfast (and it’s a sweet pastry, no less!).
Want to order a large cup of take away coffee? You’re out of luck if you do that in Italy (not to mention that you’ll break the rule #7), as there is no concept of take away coffee in their cafés. Their approach to life is that, if you don’t have a few minutes to sip that superb espresso at a bar, chat with the barista about the latest scandal, or take that much needed break from work, you seriously need to work on your priorities. 🙂
And yes, the Italian way to drink an espresso is while standing at the bar. Three sips while it’s hot, and off you go. That’s rule #8, by the way.
If you find these peculiar rules a bit intimidating, no worries. Take a look at this handy infographic created by Med Cruise Guide below and get acquainted with the 10 key Italian coffee drinking rules for your next Italian adventure. Once you get to know them, you’ll enjoy the coffee like the locals do in this country of passionate coffee-lovers.






Raising A Child Is Not An Investment


Last Monday I wasn’t feeling well, headache and no energy. If I stayed at home and lying in bed, I might feel worse instead of better. Sonny was sick the night before, I got up several times whenever he needed me. He didn’t go to school, Terry stayed at home and worked around house; I went to our new building and painted the porch. With a easy working pace and cool breath, I felt much better when I back home. Sonny had a good rest, Terry threw some fertilizer. Next day, Terry and I finished throwing fertilizer on the rest of the farm.

That weekend Sonny spent most of his time playing video game, then he got sick, later he had to work on his homework on Monday evening. In sixth grade, he convinced us, he will responsible for his homework and take the consequences if he didn’t finish homework. So we don’t ask him about his homework anymore, we trusted him. He takes his homework seriously, spend quite bit of time doing online research for his homework. He likes to wear headphones and listen to jazz music when he’s doing his homework.

He didn’t want missing Tuesday school, because he had to turn in his social study’s homework. In the morning, he woke up and came to our bed to have a few minutes of cuddle before he got up.

He said,” mom, I have a confession to make, I’ll feel better if I tell you. I know lam responsible for my homework, I didn’t finish my homework last night, I need more time to do it than I thought. I’ll finish today and turn it in tomorrow, I might lose a few points for my grades.”

I said to him,” OK, you can finish today, turn it in tomorrow. But you can’t go to bed without finish it tonight. I’m glad you told me about it. I hope you”ll do your homework before play games in future.”

He told Terry on the way to catch school bus in the morning, Terry and I agreed that he learned his lesson this time, and we were gratified how he dealt his problem, instead of lying and hiding, he chose telling the truth and an open communication. He stayed up to 10:15pm to finish his homework that night.




Last week I watched a Chinese talk show, four people’s conversation, the topic was about that parents bring up children for the purpose of being looked after in old age. It’s an universal value for most of Chinese for thousands years.

On the show, one man has two grown up daughters, he told them that their mother and he both have retirement and healthcare, they can go to nursing home when they need. His daughters don’t need to come home for taking care them, but they are welcomed to come back if they want to, not for taking care of parents. His children are free individuals, they should live their life with their own interests, not for their parents.

Right after I watched the show, Terry and I had to go to town together, I talked about it with him in the car. He told me his view about it.

He said,” Children didn’t choose to come into this world, parents brought them into this world, parents are responsible to love and support their children. When your child reaches 18 years old, you can’t just ask them leaving home and make a living by themselves. Yes, they need to find their talent or ability to support themselves, but you still need continue loving them and supporting them. Raising a child is not an investment, you do so much for your child, so you expect them pay you back after they grow up. No, every happy moment you get from them are their payment, they already pay you back every single day. Love should be the only reason to have a child, the only way to raise a child.”

I like how we have our conversations, it’s so comfortable.


Same topic, same person, different ages or times, could have different opinions.

Before I married, saw the way my brother and his wife treated my mom. I was very angry and there was no way to forgive them. At that time, I thought a person could choose different person to be your wife or husband, but you couldn’t choose your parents, you only have one mother and one father. As a child, why do you even bother to pick a girlfriend or boyfriend who doesn’t like or accept your parents? Find someone can accept your parents, won’t put yourself into the bad situations. My uncle had four marriages, first two women were not nice to his widowed mother, he told them to leave. To those two women, he was a bad man and husband. But that was his decision, between a wife and his mother, he chose his mother.

Now as a mother, of course I hope my son will find a woman who likes me, and I love her. But nobody can predict future, certainty I won’t make him to choose between his girl and me. As long as they are happy and love each other, I’ll give them my blessing.



Someone said, love of a couple’s final goal is to be together, love of parents and children are destined for separation. The great love of parents is not to tie their children around them, it’s the freedom for children to pursue their dream life.