Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The latest from North Glenwood Road....

Today's a beautiful day in paradise. It's warm and a bit breezy. The sun is peeking through the clouds. Mr. Sox has been basking in the day's balminess.
We're still awaiting arrival of the tractor. Today would be an ideal day to give it a first spin through the cane grass.
I spoke with a neighbor up the road this morning while on my daily walk with the pooches. She has two teenaged daughters and is currently sending them to a nice charter school in Volcano. She's not looking forward to their graduation to high school, as she's not too happy with the secondary school choices available here on the island. Too much violence and not enough actual education, she claims. Sounds familiar. I've heard similar concerns from parents all over the country. The news is full of stories about failing American schools. She's considering home schooling her kids. Any random thoughts out there on the state of public education in the US? From what I hear from people across the board, America's public schools are not keeping up, not educating kids adequately enough to qualify for college let alone compete in the global economy. Yet many do go on to college from public schools and do very well. I did and I know plenty of fellow public school grads who are living nice lives and contributing to society. So have the public schools deteriorated that dramatically in the past 20-30 years? It seems the standards are much higher than when I was in school, yet we continue to hear they are providing inferior educations to schools in other countries. We heard that back in the 70s and 80s and 90s, too. If you have any thoughts on the issue, we'd love to hear 'em.
Ron had a stink eye experience the other day. He's decided to keep his Colorado driver's license for awhile, since it doesn't expire for another 6 years. Instead, he went to acquire a state ID card. He had the unfortunate luck to encounter a state employee who was not too keen on newcomers. To put in mildly, this woman had lost her aloha spirit. Oddly, the very nature of her job requires her to work with people new to the islands every day. When he referred to the state ID card casually as a kama'aina card (kama'aina is the Hawaiian word that refers to Hawaii state residents) she responded curtly, "That's not what it's called. What are you, straight off the boat?"
"Well, yeah," he said. "That's pretty much why I'm here." She proceeded to tell him he must make an appointment and come back with a bunch of paperwork to prove he is who he says he is. When he returned, he was fully, mentally braced to deal with her. Luckily, a different woman was there to help. She was as nice and friendly as can be. Go figure. It just goes to show that there are unhappy people everywhere, even in paradise.
We had a lovely dinner with our neighbors the other night. They put out quite a spread and were, to say the least, outstanding hosts. We hit it off well and I'm looking forward to getting together again with them soon. I've learned in my travels that not every neighborhood has neighborly neighbors in America. In fact, in many of the places I've lived, I've rarely seen the neighbors, let alone gotten to know them. Everyone's just to busy with their lives - commuting long distances and working long hours - to get to know the folks who live right next door. It's sad, really. I've missed having neighbors. We know all the families on our block when I was a kid.
Well, it's time to head out to enjoy the sun a little while I can. More rain is predicted for the remainder of the week. Until next time, aloha!

Monday, March 20, 2006

A beautiful day in paradise

The sky was so clear and blue this morning that the snow atop Mauna Kea shone brighter than dandruff on a black t-shirt. And prettier, too. There's about a foot of the white stuff up there.
Today, we played, strolled, baked, weed whacked and just generally enjoyed a perfect day of sunshine graced with lovely, cooling tradewinds. The cats were all in kitty heaven. This is Lucy. Isn't she a cutie? She came with the house. We have fallen head over heals in love with her. Abner likes her too.
Now, it's raining. No. It's pouring. It's so loud I can hardly hear the keys on the keyboard as I type this.
My dad is preparing for the biggest trip of his life. He is coming to the island to visit us for a couple of weeks in April. He's never been on an airplane longer than two hours, never been east of the Mississippi or west of the West Coast of Mainland USA. So this should be quite an experience for him. I'll meet him in Honolulu. It's a small, yet notoriously challenging airport to find one's way through. It's that wiki-wacki wikiwiki shuttle that get's 'em every time. We'll go see the Arizona Memorial and probably the battleship Missouri, check out Waikiki, then head home to Hilo.
Ron has a new favorite commercial jingle that he's been singing around the house for several days now. "Big, buckin' chicken.... you are big and you are chicken....." I'm going to try to talk him into singing it for my next podcast, so be sure to tune in. It's pretty funny really. Of course, everything becomes a form of entertainment when you've been cooped up in the house for three weeks enduring torrential downpours, one after another.

Friday, March 17, 2006

It's been so long since it's been here.... (George Harrison)

Ron and I walked outside this morning and looked to the sky. We shaded our eyes, squinting, rubbing them with wonder and awe. What, pray tell, was that foreign object in the sky; an orange orb lighting up the world? It was the sun, of course! We just hadn't seen it in so long.....

Happy St. Patrick's Day, ya'all. Even in Hawaii, everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day. We're headed downtown this afternoon, to a bastion of Haoli-ness. It's an Irish Pub called Nichols Public House. They promised to open at 8 a.m. this morning to be serving cornbeef and cabbage all day. It'll be a nice change from all the sushi, saimin and stir fry we've been consuming lately. We did find a tasty little gourmet pizza at the Kiawe Grill in Volcano a few nights ago. Anyway, we're going to the pub early so we can still make our bedtime. That's important when you get to be our age.

The rain has brought out some beautiful wonders around the yard. Yesterday, I discovered this orchid blooming in a pot on the driveway. The anthuriums, those cool red things, are loving all this cloudiness and dampness. They are one of those rainforest floor plants that abhor dry, sunny days.

I hope to produce a new episode #2 of the podcast this weekend or early next week at the latest.

They're still digging out of the mud and debris on the island of Kauai. Five people are still missing. They were washed away by an 18 foot wall of water when a dam broke due to pressure from too much rain. Mt. Waialele (the tallest peak on Kauai and the wettest spot on earth) has receive more than 100 inches of rain the past three weeks!
Meanwhile, here on the Big Island, they are forcasting six inches of snow at the summit of Mauna Kea. Kauai is still under flash flood watch, as are we, Maui and Oahu. They're now telling us it might begin to dry up starting Wednesday. They've said that at least a half dozen times over the past three weeks, so I take it with a big fat grain of salt.
That's it for this entry. I'm headed outside to relish in the dry weather. It's no longer sunny, but it's not raining, and that's a start. And it may only last another moment of two. Aloha!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Water water everywhere!

Ron says he didn't think there was this much water is the entire world. Yes, it is still raining, with flash flood warnings across all the islands. I accidentally dropped an empty plastic water bottle out of my car yesterday afternoon and the water running down the edge of the street in Hilo was so strong that the bottle was a block away before I could chase it down and retrieve it. Not only would I not want to litter, but that little sucker is worth five cents!
Ron just came it to inform me that it's raining. He does this every so often, like it's a news flash. He thinks he's pretty entertaining.
Our lemon tree is covered with blossoms. I hope the bees can see through the rain well enough to pollinate them so we actually get some fruit.
Not much is new today. I expect to have a new podcast posted by next Monday. More blog entries will come this week. If you'd like, add a comment or two. Help jazz this site up a bit.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Observations from the road

Hopps and Crawford say Alo-o-o-ha!

People are really into bumper stickers and decals for cars here on the Big Island. I saw another funny one today. It said, "Horn broken. Watch for finger."
On the mainland bumper stickers are popular too. The messages run the gamut, to be sure. But here, drivers sport memorial decals. I've never seen them before. I will admit that I've lived life a bit sheltered from big city trends for the past several years. Still, if these were a hot new thing in Colorado, I'm sure I'd have seen at least one car wearing one as it passed through Gunnison. Anyway, these tributes to a lost loved one are usually white, in the back windshield and say something like "In loving memory of James Keoki Chang" in flowery lettering. There's usually a cross or angel to complete the presentation. It seems a bit morbid to carry around the sadness of loss everywhere you go. Maybe its a cultural thing and I just don't get it. That's probably the case.
I've finally completed my first podcast! If you are painfully bored and need to fill about 18 minutes of your time, check it out. You can access it through iTunes. Just click on the podcast directory, then enter Hawaiian Rainforest in the search window. You can subscribe if you'd like. If you don't have iTunes loaded onto your computer, go to www.podcast.net and enter Hawaiian Rainforest in the title search. Both methods are free! And worth every penny if I don't say so myself. It's my first episode and maybe a bit dull. The music's good, though and I hope, with practice, the episodes will get more funny and entertaining. I'm going to try to produce one every week or two.
It's been raining so incessantly that I decided its time to join the gym. Spencer's in downtown Hilo is a pretty big place, with tons of cardio machines, lots of cool weight machines, free weights and best of all, great people watching. There are definitely some buff boys and girls in there, for sure. There are also plenty of people like me; average joes and josephines just trying to stay one step (instead of a thousand steps) behind the effects of gravity with age. I must say that, working out in the warm, humidity of Hilo feels so easy compared to the dry, cold air of Gunnison. No real warm up is required here. The muscles are already loose and ready to go. Lots of water is important, however, as the sweat begins to pour immediately.
I see that my old hometown, Los Angeles, got some snow yesterday! Wow! That is an anomaly. It happened once in the 10 years I lived there, the year I graduated from CSUN, 1989. It just lasted one day but it had the city in a tizzy to say the least. The palm trees were not happy but they were pretty. It was cool to see kids on the news, sliding down hillsides on platters, having a ball. Some forms of fun are universal.
Well, I'm off to gather more fodder for my next posting here, and my next podcast. Until next time, aloha!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Different words for different folks

Language fascinates me. I find it interesting that different people from different parts of the US (or the world for that matter) use different words predominantly for the same thing. I ask you; is it a sofa, a couch or a Davenport? Growing up, my mom always called in a Davenport. She hailed from the same hometown as Henry Davenport. I think he was a guy who created a sofa named after himself, and the name (like Xerox or Kleenex or Qtip) stuck. I'm guessing. I really don't know and it's not quite interesting enough to warrant further research. So there you go.
In some parts of the country, they drink soda. In others, it's pop. Some people commonly refer to their refuse as trash or garbage. Here in Hawaii, its usually called rubbish. Yesterday at the grocery store, the gal at the checkout asked us if we wanted a wagon. We both did a double take. On the mainland, we'd have been asked if we wanted a cart. So wagon took a nano-second to process.
The girl also told Ron he had a "puka" in his bag, grabbed it and proceeded to add another. We walked out. "What was that all about?" he asked me.
"You had a puka in your bag."
"What's a puka?"
A puka is a hole. Can't leave the store with a puka in your bag, even if you do put it into a wagon.
I started working on my podcast today. It should be ready for your listening pleasure in a day or two....
It's still raining really hard. Cats and dogs. Coming down in sheets. Pouring. Go figure. I guess that's why they call it a rainforest.
Aloha 'til next time.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thai one on

Aloha! Yesterday we woke up to sunny skies, birds chirping and the perfect weather for cutting grass. So, that's just what I did. No tractor yet. I just mowed the immediate lawn around the house with the little Craftsman. Good thing I had that inkling. It was my window of opportunity. Who knows when we'll get another totally dry day. Today it's raining torrentially, coming down in sheets as you can see from the photo. It's a great day to nap, or to update a blog.
We found the most amazing Thai restaurant the other day. It was recommended by two locals who referred to it as "Tina's Place." That's not actually what it's called. I don't recall the official name. Something like Garden Fresh. I know where it is though and plan to return soon. Anyway, Tina, the owner and cook, prepares each dish fresh as you order it. Nothing is cooked in advance. It takes a little longer to get your meal but it is absolutely worth the wait. Unbelievable!! We actually approached her on a reasonably slow afternoon and told her we wanted a soup and a salad. She prepared each just for us. Neither of the items we ate were on the menu. Both were fabulous. It's a BYOB place, so while she was cooking, we strolled down the block to the grocery store to pick up a couple of brews. Our total bill for two came to just under $22 for the best island-influenced Thai food I've ever had. On top of that, we had enough to take home for a light dinner later that evening.
My friend Alice in the old home town of Gunnison tells me that the Gunnison Country Times won all sorts of awards at the Colorado Press Association a couple of weeks ago. Those guys ROCK! Ya oughta check out that little paper. It's darned impressive for a small town rag.
More pictures are coming soon. We've been hearing some big surf warnings for our side of the island over the past few days, so I'll try to get down to the beach to capture some crashing waves. Until next time, Alo-o-o-ha!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Got poi?

The big news in the islands this week is the prediction of a poi shortage in coming months. The heavy rains on Kauai have flooded the taro patches of Hanalei, which supplies some 70 percent of the state's total. Ron's been getting good mileage out of my comment about how taro-ble it will be. One of his clients responded to the news with "poi oh poi. I hope it doesn't make us any poi-er." Personally, I was devastated, as I had just embarked upon the poi-pous driven life. I'm sure you get the poi-nt by now. It's all so poi-nient when you think about it. Now that I've poi-nted this big of news out to you, I hope you are poi-sed to deal with it. I know, I know... this blog has been punn - ishing. Or should I say poi-nishing? Of course, if you eat poi, you generate Poipu, a famous beach on Kauai. OK. I'm all pau now. Done. Finito. Period. (Period.... hey, that's a poi-nt at the end of a sentence.....) Help me!!!!!! I need a new brain!