The 2017 Christmas and Year-That-Was Letter

Well, we’ve been here in Hawaiʻi for about a year and a half, and we’ve settled into a comfortable routine . . . get up, eat a light snack, go to the gym for an hour and a half of exercises (cardio and weights), get back, snack a bit more seriously, do a little cleaning, go out and run some errands, relax with a few more pre-dinner snacks, eat dinner, enjoy a few after-dinner snacks as we surf the wide-wild-world of the Internet or watch a movie, wind down, and going to sleep. Rinse, repeat.

Generally, every other week or so we go for a drive. Most drives involve some kind of food. A popular one is the Island Fish & Chips at the King’s Shops (if they happen to be serving Ono). Another is the Luna restaurant in Waimea (pizza, there). Of course, Tex is always looming in our future because of the malasadas.

Another popular drive is to the Punaluʻu bakery which also has malasadas. They also make the bread we use for French Toast. Depending on how we feel, most Sundays are French Toast days. I usually make a few extra, and those become part of our snacks arsenal throughout the week.

To be sure, the drives themselves offer up more than food. Yes, yes, it’s a chance to be in an air-conditioned car, but the idea is to visit places. While it’s true that we’ve been to most places on the island, half the fun is the getting there. The other half is the weather we’ll find there. And the third half is the chance of seeing something different. Perhaps waves, perhaps surfers, perhaps goats, or turkeys, or some other thing clamoring to point a camera at it.

I do complain about the heat, but overall the island is not a bad place to be, and we’re treating it as an extended vacation of an indeterminate length.

Hmm . . . This sounds rather sparse as far as Year-End Letters go. Let me add a few more details.

I mentioned the gym, but there’s more to it. Earlier in the year, the routine consisted of going to the Old Kona Airport Park and walking anywhere from 4.5 to 6 miles depending on something called a Fitness Challenge. It has to do with the number of daily steps a person takes, and in this case, the person I refer to is Melisa. We would then return to the condo and relax (read: snack) until the early afternoon, at which time we would go to the gym for weights.

Here’s the thing with walking in the morning (or anytime other than when the sun is not up) . . . it’s hot. Sometime last year, we got into the habit of freezing wet rags overnight and then carrying them with us to the park. These would thaw as we walked and halfway into our walk would be soft enough — and still cold enough — to offer us relief when wrapped around our necks.

A few months into it, we decided it was better to just go straight to the gym as opposed to waiting until the afternoon. And then, we figured out that an hour and a half or two at the gym has us burn more calories than the combination of walking and then going to the gym. That’s where we are now. We’re both doing a decent — but unhurried — job of slowly losing weight as we constantly snack (full disclosure: the volume of my snacks is roughly twice that of Melisa’s . . . she says it’s more like four times but it’s all a food blur to me). We’ve always been in pretty good shape, but we’re probably now in better shape than we’ve been in the last 15 years or so, and yes, Melisa is doing better than I am in that regard. Then again, see the bit about snacking.

One side note about walking at the Old Kona Airport; I used to take care and nurture first one and then two small plants that germinated on some lava rocks (see blog for details) and changing our routine had me worry they would perish. As it turns out, they are still going strong, so I no longer lose sleep from having abandoned them.

So, what else? Well, being on a permanent vacation can make you lose track of the passing of time. “Weekend” is no longer a demarcation of the passage of weeks, so we had to come up with other ways to notice the days going by. The Pride of America took over that duty. On Wednesdays, when we leave the condo, we notice it anchored on the bay and it lets us know that it must be Wednesday. To be sure, there have been a few weeks when — because of bad sea conditions — the ship does not show up, but even its absence can trigger a “Hey! Isn’t this Wednesday? Where’s the ship?”

It’s also momentarily confusing when other cruise ships visit, but we quickly realize it’s just a transient and it’s not Wednesday after all.

To continue, we have other rituals associated with going to the gym. Well, actually, it’s a ritual almost every time we go somewhere. Specifically, we take Aliʻi drive on the way back to the condo. That drive takes us from the start of Aliʻi all the way to just past Magic Sands Beach Park.

We people watch, you see. There are always tourists milling about, and it’s nice to see the place bustling with activity. Mind you, we have no desire to partake in the milling about, but we do enjoy driving as I make up new lyrics to various songs. On Wednesdays, it’s “Look at all the shiple, where do they all come from” sung The Beatle’s Eleanor Rigby or “Look at all the shiple, walking on Aliʻi” to John Lennon’s Imagine. I could list others, but I don’t want songwriters to a) sue me, or, 2) steal my ideas.

I mentioned drives, and many of them are documented on my blog but here’s a brief mention of our most common drives.

Short excursions (two versions):
One has us driving from the condo to just past Kawaihae Harbor to a local Macadamia Nut Factory. This drive can be modified to stop at the King Shops for the Fish & Chips mentioned above or extended to Hawi for the pleasure of driving along the coast with nice views of the ocean. There are a few parks along the way that offer the opportunity for a few photos or just a quick drive-through to see what’s going on.

The other is a drive South to the Place of Refuge. There are bakeries along the way, a McDonald for a quick soft-serve treat, and various shops one can go into for a look-see. I’ve written about the Place of Refuge on the blog, and it’s a nice place to walk around, see tide pools, and in general relax for a bit. And, yes, lots of photo opportunities.

Medium excursions (two versions):
One has us travel to Waimea (either on the highway or the high road) and this usually means we are close enough to Tex to go there for some malasadas. I’ve documented Tex above and on previous blog posts, so I won’t bore people with it here, but suffice it to say it’s a nice drive with great food at the end of it.

The other drive again takes us along the southern route and ends in Naʻalehu and the Punaluʻu bakery for free samples of sweet bread and — of course — malasadas. These are different but are a close second to Tex’s malasadas (per our opinion).

Long excursions:
Really, there’s only one long excursion, and that’s going to Hilo. If we travel via the southern route, we hit the Punaluʻu bakery and perhaps stop by the Punaluʻu black sand beach before stopping at the Volcano National Park to see if there’s any lava shooting about. If we come in from the North, we pass by Tex and perhaps stop at the Laupāhoehoe park for some wave action. Sometimes, if we are in a hurry, we take Saddle Road to Hilo and back. That shaves up to an hour from the other drives, and it’s a chance to look at different landscapes than those along the cost.

So, what else for this year? Well, in January, I bought a Nikon P900 and the majority of the photos I snapped this year have been from the P900. Wait . . . is that true? Let me see:

D7000: 2,496 Hawaiʻi photos + 3,017 Alaska photos = 5,513 photos

P900: 5,710 Hawaiʻi photos + 3,671 Alaska photos = 9,381 photos

That includes a few videos here and there, but I’m counting them as photos. Of course, there were also phone photos.

Note II: 216 Hawaiʻi photos + 1,481 Alaska photos = 1,497 photos

Note 8: 790 Hawaiʻi photos

Yeah, the P900 wins out.

What? Oh, yeah . . . in September, we took a vacation from our Hawaiʻian vacation and — after a very nice visit with family in Illinois — went on a week-long cruise to Alaska. I’ve documented some of it and plan to document the rest once my busy vacation life slows down a bit.

And that’s pretty much our 2017.

We wish everyone good health, a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and for 2018 to bring you the best that life can offer, but most of all, good health.


About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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29 Responses to The 2017 Christmas and Year-That-Was Letter

  1. GP Cox says:

    All the very best!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So now I’m hungry. Missing those malasadas (and all of the other ono food). Have a wonderful Christmas and New Years.


  3. AnnMarie says:

    Great review of a good year! Here’s to an even better 2018!!!


  4. Love the barbed wire picture.
    They don’t look like chips, more like fries!


  5. Emily Scott says:

    Wishing you happy snacking ahead in 2018 (in-between the gym visits).


    • disperser says:

      Thank you. Snacking is very important as it helps one eat less at the regular meals. Think of it as a novel and painless diet plan.

      I’ll be doing proper 2018 wishes later on this week (in between snacks), but meanwhile, hope you’re enjoying the season and looking forward to the New Year.


  6. Aquileana says:

    As always, your posts are beautiful… You have a gift to capture Beauty through the lens of the camera. Congrats… I hope you had a great Christmas & I am wishing you an excellent 2018 ahead. 🤶💕♨️


    • disperser says:

      Thank you for your wishes, Aquileana, and I wish the same upon you and yours.

      As for the photos and beauty . . . in all fairness, when one snaps something like 15,000 photos a year, some are bound to be OK.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. colonialist says:

    It got a lot better when you reached the walk postscripts. Exercise for the sake of exercise gives me the heebies. I like to be doing something and getting somewhere and seeing things, even if it is in the outdoor sauna we get in summer. Hawai’i not take advantage of the neat amenities for swimming, sailing, paddle-skiing and surfing?


    • disperser says:

      We have been here a year and a half and I’ve yet to dip so much as a toe into the ocean. We promised ourselves that one day we should go to one of the beach parks and at least get our swimsuits wet.

      I’m thinking I’ll be able to put them into a mesh bag, tie the bag to a line, and throw it on the surf. I think ten minutes ought to do the trick.


  8. oneowner says:

    Happy Holidays to you and Melisa. This was the year I let my gym membership lapse because I thought I could do at least as well on my own. It requires more dedication but it’s possible. I believe in calisthenics, which requires minimal equipment. It’s USAF basic training with more snacks.


    • disperser says:

      Thanks, oo.

      We definitively could do exercises on our own . . . but the gym is air-conditioned. Well, some of it is. The weights are in the open area and I split my time between weights and rowing/biking. Really, my preference would be to play racquetball for four to five hours a day but I’m trying to get this body to last for a while longer.

      The gym for us is part of the routine that lends some semblance of structure to our days. I could probably exercise my will by forcing me to work out on my own, but what little will I have is working hard enough already to have me meet other nebulous and ill-defined goals, so a set routine for exercising helps out.


  9. See you complaining (again) about the heat so I thought you might enjoy this very old Australian poem
    Americans have some funny ideas when it comes to food, “Traditional Sweet breads” since when have sweetbreads been bread?
    In the world of the culinary art, and you being of Italian blood should know; sweetbreads are anything but bread.
    Very nice post and I enjoyed this ,and being of the privileged I shall also acknowledge my own personal message,
    Have a great New Year Melisa and Emilio may the Hawai’ian sun shine upon you both,


    • disperser says:

      Well, you have to excuse the Hawaiʻians for their lack of familiarity with the language; they are, after all, practically newbies when it comes to citizenship. Yes, sweetbread is not sweet bread:

      Note that I used the correct version in the post (albeit accidentally as I had no idea what sweetbread was and now that I know I’ve lost my appetite).

      Thank you very much for the link and for the wishes.

      As for the poem . . . well, my eyes glazed over a few times (not much for reading poetry) but I made it through to the end. Can’t tell you what it’s about, but the guy seemed earnest in his opinion of whatever he was going on about.


      • It’s a sheep shearer back in the early 20th century working his guts out in blazing heat and being paid a pittance by the cockie (sheep farmers) who were making fortunes. and the lousy food they were given, boiled mutton (old sheep) etc etc etc I don’t read poetry either, but the first line always pops up when a city person complains about how hot it is, hot, you don’t know what it means


      • disperser says:

        Go ahead and tell a “city person” who lives in a southern city that they don’t know what “hot” means.


  10. Sounds like a wonderful 2017, Emilio! Especially the snacking parts! ;-) :-D
    But, REALLY (no teasin’) especially the photo shoots/walks and travel excursions! Wonderful!
    Hope your 2018 is filled with even more great travels on foot, by car, by plane, by ship, or however else you like to travel! And keep sharing your amazing photos with us! :-)
    HUGS to you and Melisa…and Happy Holidays, too! :-)


  11. mvschulze says:

    Merry Christmas (post dated a bit,) and Happy New Year which is descending here in NJ in about 15 hours, a bit later for you and Melisa. On Dec 11th, I entered Computer Hell, which created chaos in my life and jeporidized years of work (play?) A lot of this had to do with Apple finally pulling Aperture off it’s newer OS’s, and some other cascading, related pitfalls. But, I was happy to resolve most issues up over the last few days, including securing nearly all files.
    You certainly did make use of the P 900 this year, and I found your smart-phone radiation thoughts well presented, and reminecent to the agenda-based scientist/deniers divide. M :-)


    • disperser says:

      Thank you, mvs, for both the belated and the timely wishes.

      Sorry to hear about your PC troubles. I assume you might have gone through what the person in this article went through:

      That’s from two years ago, but I think it may still be applicable.

      Around 2005, I began using a service online (Bubble-something-or-other) that let me link the photos I uploaded and even link albums I could share with friends and family. That went out of business when Google got into the act with Picasa. So, I switched to Picasa and also tried Photobucket for sharing stuff.

      Picasa was great because it integrated a pretty good desktop editor and organizer with the online storage. I still make use of Picasa on my desktop to quickly look for photos, but Picasa online went away when Google wanted to integrate their photo service with their storage service. Around that time, Photobucket also underwent some changes and I was once again screwed.

      So, I bought Lightroom. It’s what I use now. As far as I can tell, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have more of an interest in integrating their offerings with their advertising and side services. Adobe, for all their faults, do only one thing . . . they handle graphic content. I expect (although no one can be sure of anything these days) Lightroom to be around for a while. Although, Adobe just announced they are going away from the standalone version after the current update, so I will be buying it just in case they mess with the subscription model.

      I also have a couple of other programs I use to catalog and edit photos, mostly because I no longer trust any software provider. For example, On1 had a pretty good product until they went into RAW and I dropped them. I still use their version 10 and continue to do so. DxO looks to be taking up some of the slack with the demise of Nik Tools and they were already a solid editor (albeit a poor organizer).

      Topax must have gotten tired of depending on other software to run their plugins and now offer Studio for free (pretty good free editing plus all their plugins run off of it).

      Being a Nikon User, I have ViewNx to both transfer and organize my Nikon files and they now offer Capture Nx-D for free as well and it’s not a bad editor.

      Finally, I bought (for what I consider a reasonable price – $49) Affinity Photo which is something like having Photoshop and Lightroom rolled into one.

      So, editing-wise, I’m all set for what I hope is a number of years.

      Storage wise . . . I download all the photos from my cameras to a computer hard disk, copy them to another hard disk on the same machine, copy them on two separate portable hard disks, then upload them to Amazon Drive (unlimited storage for photos).

      At this point, I really don’t care what hardware and software companies do; I think I am prepared for almost anything.

      Now, I’m not suggesting others do the same as what I do (I mean, what I do is nuts!) but I do suggest independent and multiple layers of backups and independent and multiple editors that can read each other’s files (.tif is a good choice for saving edited files).

      Anyway, best wishes for the upcoming 2018 and hope you have resolved all your PC nightmares to your satisfaction.

      Liked by 1 person

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