Our Happy Thanksgiving Menu

As a three seniors (60+) family, it is hard to find a small turkey that we wouldn’t be eating for the next month. Plus, I found out my mom doesn’t like turkey. What! Who doesn’t like turkey? Well, in my life, this makes two. Oat tolerated it for my love of turkey, and now it’s my mom. Huh!

Dad’s annual Thanksgiving drawing. Loves to draw on newspaper. #jo1drawings

With no help from the parental units, I came up with the menu of shrimp tempura, veggie tempura, and mom’s famous pumpkin shortbread.

Mom’s eyes are close but it’s the only shot of the table: shrimp tempura, eggplant, veggie tempura; Okinawan sweet potato, Hamakua mushroom, three types of tsukemono (Japanese pickles by me), black sesame tofu with ume salt, black soybean natto with shoyu koji

Everyone loves mom’s pumpkin pie even people who hate pumpkin pie. It’s the combination of the creamy custard and the slightly sweet shortbread cookie crust. I have fiddled with this recipe over the years, changing the pan shape and size, using sweet potato, and even trying it with a regular pie crust (not the best). My sweet potato pie is based of this recipe. Here’s my adjusted version.

The corners are the best with it’s caramel edges

Mom’s Famous Pumpkin Shortbread–adjusted

makes 9 x 13 pan, roughly 20 pieces
Pre-heat oven 425º


  • 3 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c cold butter, cut into small pieces

Prep pan with a light coat of non-stick spray, be sure to get the sides. Mix flour and sugar, cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, till a sandy texture. Press flour mixture into the pan, slightly up the sides. Refrigerate crust while you mix up the filling.


  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 t salt
  • Large can of pumpkin about 3 1/2 cups**
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon***
  • 1 t ground ginger***
  • 1/2 t grounded cloves***
  • 3 1/2 c evaporated milk
  • 1 t vanilla

Combine all the filling ingredients, making sure it is blended well. 

Pour the filling into the crust—Bake at 425º for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 350º and bake for 55 minutes or when the toothpick comes out clean. 

*If you want to use the springform pan instead of the 9×13 pan, half the crust amounts. The baking time will differ because it has a thicker filling. It has a longer bake time at 350, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick. The center shouldn’t be jiggly. Cool to room temp. Then put in the refrigerator to set.

** I’ve used both can and roasted pumpkin for this pie. The differences would be you can control the caramelization, chunkiness, and you will have pumpkin seeds to roast up as a snack. My preferred pumpkin is Kabocha because of its smooth texture.

*** I use my spice mix. Here are the proportions: 1 t cinnamon and ground ginger, 1/2 t ground cloves, 1/4 t nutmeg. I mix up a large batch and keep it in a small jar in the spice cabinet. I used 3 t of the mix in the pie. You also can use it in apple pie, oatmeal, or whatever suits your fancy.

Caregiving: After surgery

Mom came out of surgery after 4 hours. All the bad things that could have happened didn’t happen. Phew!

Mom was greeted by her two sisters and was so happy to see them. She actually was in such a great mood. Telling everyone she loved them included her ICU nurse. He was so sweet and patient with her. Mom’s care at Queen’s Hospital was great. All her ICU nurses were male and treated her so well and you know she was getting better as she flirted with all of them.

I stayed with mom for about an hour after she got out of surgery. I needed to pick up my dad from my cousin’s house. I figure she was tired and needed to sleep to get better. I also needed to get the house ready for my sister who was arriving the next day.

The Crazy Japanese Lady story

A cloud break before my crazy Japanese Lady story

The crazy Japanese lady (me) drove home after a very hard 24 hours. Running very low on steam with only 3 hours of sleep over the last 48, plus a medical emergency with an ambulance trip to the ER and a transfer to the Trauma Center for emergency surgery. All I wanted to do is sleep.

As I gets closer to her house, there’s a lot of cars parked at the next door neighbor’s carport. “Hmm, I thought they moved out,” she thought. But some about it made me look towards my house and see a car blocking part of my and the other neighbor’s driveway and her mailbox.

“Crap!” I explode. “They having a party again! On a SUNDAY!”

I needed to get my dad from my cousin and get him feed by then I started relaxing and feeling sleepy. The noise wasn’t too bad and I decided only call the police if they wake her up from sleep.

Then it happened, I heard yelling, not party yelling but fighting yelling. I looks out of her window to see her neighbor (the one that the car is blocking their driveway) with three guys up in his face. Like the Incredible Hulk, I suddenly felt incredible rage and threw down what was in my hand and ran outside right into the ruckus.

“LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!!’ I screamed at the top of her lungs, with no fear.

I’ve put up for last two years of awful karaoke that they amplified throughout the neighborhood. Then to have them gang up on my young neighbor, three against one. Real tough guys! What a joke and I was having none of it.

The fight was all about parking and saving parking with their rubbish can. Yes, that’s illegal but everyone on the street does it and respects it. Not these people. Between the illegally park car that was blocking our driveways and another car taking their space, my neighbor tapped the car as he was trying to get into the carport. The tough guys had to get into to it with them instead of doing normal way with exchange insurance information.

Then the crazy Japanese lady found her opening. One of the partygoers said “. . .we are not blocking your driveway”. . . .


Bing! Lightbulb moment. I turned around and ran into the house. I found my phone in the pile of stuff I threw down before running into the fight and ran outside to take a picture of the car blocking the driveway. By then the driver was in the car, he must have got my craziness. I jumped in front of the car to take a picture of the license plate but speeds away past me.

blurry result as he speeds away

Lesson Learned

Don’t push a crazy Japanese menopausal lady. You never know when she had no sleep and a medical trauma happen the night before. She may turn into the Incredible Screaming Hulk. Haha.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t have done what I did. And apologies to my neighbor for getting involved. But something just went off at the moment when I saw it was him and it was an unfair fight. I really don’t know what I could have done but I like to think my craziness distracted the situation and made them back off.

And yes, I will call the police on them and whoever blocks my driveway. If they weren’t so inconsiderate to all of the neighbors maybe the situation would be different, but this is years of being inconsiderate.

Made my mom laugh

My thoughts on my role as caregiving. I think my role is to help them do what they need to do and keep them comfortable and happy. I was successful at keeping mom happy as I told her the story. She laughed as scolded me to be careful with those people. My life as caregiver continues.

My life as caregiver . . .

Started up in full this weekend. Mom fell and fractured her rib. Before this event, it was two pretty healthy older adults that needed a little help with things. Now I have a very proud 91 yo man with the beginning stages of dementia, feeling helpless that he can’t help his 89 yo wife that is healing from a cracked rib. My life has gotten harder.

Quiet spot on the lanai to catch up on calls, emails, and texts

I’m learning as I go as many things I do in my life. Wish there were courses in what to do when your aging parents get injured or start showing signs of dementia. Not sure if it is right or wrong, just doing and trying to insure that both of them are comfortable, feed and rested.

Google has been a great support. Searches on fractured rib and hyperventilation have been a great help.

Thankful that I was talked into the taking the wheelchair by E/S. I has come in handy just for this event. Been wheeling her around the house. I think she’s enjoying the ride. The house is barely handicap accessible, it makes steering the wheelchair a little difficult.

Day 3 She’s progressing as best as can be. She got out of bed 4 times yesterday. One of them was to take a shower then sit in the living room and watch TV. She trying to do her breathing exercises and has doing well with it. But need to do it more. She still struggling anxiety, that leads to her hyperventilating. On day 2, she fainted 3 times because of it.

Dad is handling it okay but seems sort of aimless. It’s really hard for him as Mom did so much for him. He doesn’t know how to turn on the TV or even use the phone.


Day 7 Mom was rush to the ER because she had a fainting episode (I thought it was a seizure because her arms and legs were flaying around) because she wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her brain. She was complaining all day of not feeling right and having bad dreams. She thought she had indigestion.

Once at the hospital, the ER dr asked if we noticed the hematoma on her back where she had fallen. I said yes, that she get those because she’s on blood thinners. Well, the dr said he was worried that with that very large hematoma and her fainting spell that she may have blood in her chest and making it very hard for her to breath.

One CT scan later, she has blood in her chest and a collapsed lung plus not 1 but 2 fractured ribs. ER dr said they would need to transport her to the trauma hospital to have surgery because of the blood in her chest. They needed to put a chest tube in, give her blood and fluids before the transport. They needed to reposition the chest tube with more ct scans and more priority trauma case push her transport back.

Day 8 During our wait, Dad froze, even with 3 blankets on. I took him home at 2:30 (hour 5) to get some sleep before we moved to the trauma hospital. Around 4:30ish they started to prep her transport and I went back home to gather dad. I gave him an extra hour to sleep and we got to the trauma hospital around 6:00.

More waiting and freezing for my dad at the trauma hospital. Our ER dr from the previous hospital came with my mom. He was concerned about her. I need to get his name and tell him thank you.

The surgeon and his associates came and gave us updates. They wanted to get her in the surgery sooner or later. And gave me all the bad news first and at that moment, I made the decision to cancel my trip to Sapporo. My sister was arriving on Monday I was leaving on Tuesday. I had to make the decision. Called my travelling crew that I had to cancel. Sad but I’ll get to Sapporo another time.

Got into ICU and waited for new of when they would do the surgery. First it was maybe Monday then 2:30 Sunday. And around 10:30 Sunday, her nurse came in said it would be at 11:30. All this time, she was a trooper, rarely complaining about pain, mostly about being tired.

In the court yard, where my phone works

During all of this time my phone was in the dead zone of the ICU. Probably too many devices running. I was running down to the lobby get service as everyone was calling to find out about mom. I was working on get someone to watch my dad during the surgery. It was too long of a wait for him.

Thank goodness for my Cousin R, L and J as they came to my assistance with my dad. J got me in touch with R/L and they came to pick dad up and spend the afternoon with him, feeding him lunch and letting him have a nap.

In the meantime, my Aunties J1 and J3 in the missed my text due to the dead zone was on their way to hospital. They wanted to see mom before she went into surgery. They just missed her and spent the afternoon with me talking story and waiting for mom to come back from surgery.

This post is getting long. I thinking of turning this into a monthly post of what my life as a caregiver is. And maybe pass on helpful hints that I learn on the way.

Mom said

“I want you to take a picture of my irises in the back. They are in bloom.”


And like a good daughter, I took the pictures. Yes, pictures. I even took more than one. The crazy daughter I am, I took pictures of the flowers in the back. And yes, the irises are beautiful but there are other beauties back there, too.


Not sure what these are called but they are quite striking.

Joe McGyver

Can’t be in the backyard with seeing a gadget that my dad, Joe McGyver, made up. This is a papaya picker when they had a very tall papaya tree. Made with items around the house. Now hidden by the calamansi tree.


hand woven wire basket

Speaking about calamansi, that was the whole reason for being in the back yard, to pick and prune the calamansi. I got out the rickety wooden ladder and climbed up to prune the branches that were leaning into the neighbors yard and one that were too high for use to reach. I did cut away a few branches with flowers on it. Oops! Mom thought the pruning would help the tree produce more fruit. Not that we need more.


our bounty

Here’s our small papaya tree with fruit on it. Mom said that it isn’t really doing well and not sure if the fruit will do well.


More flowers


Akulikuli came to mom’s garden by way of Uncle Robert. She is always getting plants from him. This flower in made into leis–beautiful pink lei. I got on from for my HS graduation many moons ago.


Anthurium patch with this unusual bloom. Kind of a plum color not your usual red.


Flower in the Front

Killing time as my parents get ready for an outing to Costco, I roamed around our small front yard and decided to take pictures of the flowers in bloom.

Desert Rose

Desert Rose

There’s a row of these rimming the front of the yard. They are odd looking plants. The stem and base are grayish, gnarly, and tangled with leaves here and there topped with bright dark pink blooms. Mom likes these plants they are all over the yard. Notice in the bottom left corner of the image, the orange-yellow pile of stuff are the papaya that Mom feeds the birds in the morning and then turns into compost.



The bougainvilleas are potted and run up the side of the front yard. They are very old and a few have worked into bonsai by my dad. Most of them in old cement pots some of them made by my dad (That’s another post). There are all sort of colors from this fuchia to lilac to orange.

Cup and Saucer

Cup and Saucer

The finches favorite, at different times of day they come to get the nectar from the flowers and play. These birds blend in with the plant and are hard to get on camera–no pictures. I usually know there because the cats are staring out the window at the tree.

Ice Flower plant

Ice Flower Plant

This beautiful intense magenta colored flower is so delicate and last for a day. The plant looks like a succulent and I don’t know why it’s called ice plant when it seems to love the hot dryness of Waipahu.


Orange watching me. And yes that is purple on the trim and I had nothing to with that choice
Lady’s Slipper

Lady’s Slipper

Since I arrived I wonder what those long leafy plants were. There were no flowers. Mom told me they were lady’s slipper and will bloom in the winter. As winter starts to arrive, buds start poping up. Then these fabulous flowers appear.



Almost missed these, the flowers almost blended in with the leaves. Just that little hint of pink made me give it a second look.



These bloom like crazy in NJ in the spring but it’s in the middle of February in HI there are few blooms on this azalea bush. Big blossoms.



Last but not least this pink rose plant. Two buds plus a bloom on the plant. The bloom was already spent so that’s why took a picture of the bud.