Sunday, August 27, 2006

Early riser

Last night, just before turning in, I saw a flash of light in the sky just out the window. The weather kahunas had forecast thunderstorms on the evening news, so I should have taken precautions then and slipped Hoppsy an herbal calmer. She hates thunder. At about 5:00 this morning, she was in the bed, shaking like a leaf, panicked. The thunder was rumbling. Within moments, Doc jumped in too. It was cozy, but a little cramped and very hot. So I got up to get her the herbal and found the cats all gathered in the kitchen, waiting for breakfast. I fed them. That rousted Crawford, who is none too fond of thunder herself, but can't hear it so well anymore. She is, however, very keen on the smell of cat food. Anyway, after all this, going back to bed didn't seem all that practical. I didn't think I'd get much sleep anyway. So, I brewed up a pot of coffee and here I am. Lucy has taken my place in the bed, right next to Doc and Ron. The three of them are snoozing peacefully. Crawford's on the rug next to me. Hopps is calmer and has sacked out in the hallway just outside the office door. Even Abby and Mr. Sox have curled up in their respective chairs. The only one awake is me!
Yesterday, I attended a luncheon sponsored by the local chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In Gunnison, I had participated on occasion with the AAUW book club, so was kind of familiar with the organization. So when I inquired about a book club here, I learned they indeed had one and was invited to the luncheon. The home in which we all gathered was a restored 1880s plantation managers residents. There aren't many of those left in the islands. It's been beautifully redone. The lunch was catered and delicious. The women were spirited, smart and fun. I joined and immediately signed up officially for their book group and hiking group. I may help with their newsletter as well. The age range of the women was quite astounding. The oldest was in her 80s, a women who had served as a WAVE with the US Navy in WWII and who announced that she had been approached by the Library of Congress for an interview. The youngest was a local girl who just graduated from college in May. She looked all of about 23 years. She had been a recipient of an AAUW scholarship and decided to join in appreciation of the opportunity afforded her. Pretty cool. She was also the only truly local girl. Several of the women had been in the islands for many years, but many described themselves as fairly recent transplants. Several talked about the challenges they'd experienced in making the "transition" to the island. The local gal said that she had been feeling a little overwhelmed about her transition from Hilo to Kurtistown until she heard all the other lady's stories. That got a good laugh. (Kurtistown is about 12 miles from Hilo.) Most agreed, though, that a transition is a transition. Change is change and can be a challenge, no matter how far it takes you. It was a fun afternoon.
The only thing bad about yesterday was the weather. It did not rain, thank goodness, although a shower might have been nice relief. Instead, it was extremely muggy. The temperature was high, the humidity was higher and the tradewinds were - well, the tradewinds weren't. The air was dead still. Whew! This morning, it's raining. They've issued a flash flood watch for us and Maui. It's not a warning; just a watch. Nothing to sweat over. Did plenty of that yesterday.
I've got a column in this week's Gunnison Country Times. A photo, too! (The same you see below.) It's on page 2. Just go to if you're in the mood for some rambling, which my columns typically do.
I'm off to the kitchen to refill my cup. A hui hou... Aloha!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What's in a name?

Here's a cheesy picture for ya! That shaka is pretty feeble. I gotta work on that.
My reference to Pick Your Nose in the last post reminds me of Freddie's. That's what we used to call Fred Meyer, a buy-everything-you-need-in one-place place that popped up all over the Pacific Northwest long before Walmart ever rose to dominance. Anyway, we always called it Freddie's, until the passing of the company's founder. Then we called it Dead Fred's.
Here on the island, there's a mortuary called A Hui Hou, which is Hawaiian for Until We Meet Again. Kind of sweet, don't you think? In Buffalo, NY there's a chain of mortuaries called Amigon. Ron says that when he was a kid, everyone called it Am I gone?
Some years ago, I remember reading about the brilliant minds at General Motors, scratching their heads at why the Nova didn't sell well in Latin America. They didn't get the fact that no va means no go or it doesn't go in Spanish. In Southern California, when Save On Drug purchased Osco Drug, they initially retained the Osco name for all their stores. The chain was renamed Save On after it was learned that asco, in Spanish, means disgusting or loathsome or something like that.
My neighbor told me her dog was attacked by a pig last night! She said he's badly injured but should be alright. He's old and a little hard of hearing, so she thinks the pig snuck up on the dog and surprised him. That can't happen to my dogs, since they sleep in the bedroom with us. Hey, one big happy family, right? If the pig were to figure a way into the house, he'd have to make it past our guard cat, Mister Sox. Good luck, pig!
The neighbor that had the pig when we first moved here now has two new piglets. They captured a pair of youngster and will raise them up in the yard. While the pigs definitely will meet a not so pleasant end in a couple of years, they have it much better than the dogs at that house. They've got about half a dozen, all tied up with tiny shelters. I think the only time they're let off the chains to to go hunting. They make quite a racket when we walk by. My dogs are far more interested in the piglets than those dogs.
With any luck, the ground will dry out enough to mow the lawn. It's been pretty wet. Still, we've managed to get in our daily walks every morning without getting soaked. It's kind of toasty today, but with a nice breeze. Hope it lasts for a few more hours.
I've got to go call the county coqui control people to see what we can do about our frogs. We can hear four or five of them now. They sound like they're at our immediate neighbor's house, or in the no-man's land easement area between the properties. Finding a frog the size of a quarter in the jungle is, well, very much a needle in a haystack proposition. But it's seems we should at least try before we end of with 10,000 of the little buggahs.
That's all for now. A hui hou! Aloha!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cultural enrichment

On Saturday, we spent a little while at the Cultural Heritage Festival downtown, where dancers and drummers performed, representing the the varied cultural makeup of Hawaii. There were also booths selling food and crafts; Portuguese, Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Okinawan, Japanese, Korean. I didn't see any bagpipes and kilts and no lederhosen, but that's OK. It was small, but still pretty cool. We caught a glimpse of the Korean Lion dance for one, along with a few other Asian performances. I approached the Hawaiian booth and was frowned at by an enormous Hawaiian couple. Not much aloha there. They didn't seem too happy to be there. In turn, not many people were making purchases at their booth. Maybe that's why they were miffed. Or maybe it was because of their grumpiness that nobody lingered long there or pulled out a wallet. As I scanned their wares (mostly jewelry) I read signs describing the materials from which the necklaces were made. They read something like, "these are wikiwiki seeds, NOT coffee beans...," or "This is magambo seed, NOT pussy willows..." They might as well have added "you ignorant, haoli idiot" to each sign. When a little boy approached and touched the tip of one of the fishhook necklaces, the woman admonished him for not reading her sign. It said, of course, "Do NOT touch the tip..." He was all of about six years old. If I was six, the first thing I'd do is touch the tip of the hook to see how sharp it is. Shoots. I'd be tempted to do that now.
Today, I stopped to pick up a few items at the market on my way home from the gym. The market has been dubbed by Ron and I as Pick Your Nose. Why, you ask? It's actually called Sack 'n' Save. For months, however, I called it Pack 'n' Save, which in our house, evolved into Pick Your Nose. Anyway, there were two brothers shopping there. These were young men, maybe in their teens or early twenties. They were Hawaiian and again, enormous. There are lots of really fat Hawaiian people. I know that's not a very politically correct thing to say. Certainly not all Hawaiian people are fat. But many are. They really aren't just a little overweight or chubby. They are morbidly obese. It's not just socially accepted but I think in some circles it's actually encouraged. The grouchy woman at the festival looked like there was no way she was getting out of her chair without some help, preferably from a fork lift.
One of Hawaii's most venerable stars is the incomparable late Bruddah Iz, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. I'm a fan, for sure. Bruddah Iz not only sang like an angel and plucked a mean ukulele, but he became one of the most recognized voices of the recent rise in Hawaiian pride in the islands and the call for Hawaiian sovereignty. Sadly, he passed away 10 years ago. He was 36 years old and weighed over 700 pounds when he died.
Many Hawaiians are staunch Christians. I find this interesting and initially wondered if they neglected to read the passage in the bible about the body being a temple. Then it occurred to me that maybe they are actually taking that passage too literally. Sort of a, "My body is the Sistine Chapel, the Mormon Tabernacle and St. Peter's Basilica all rolled into one' approach. There's a big push here to convince native people to eat healthier and get more exercise. I don't think it's working.
There are plenty of fat Haoli people too, though fewer here than say, Buffalo, New York, home of Bacci's Pizza, Pat's Hot Dogs, Anchor Bar chicken wings, plenty of homemade kielbasa and beef on 'wick, a sliced roast beef sandwich served on a kimmelwick roll. Yum!
It's not uncommon to see cars or trucks with "Hawaiian Pride" stickers in the back windows. I actually think it's great that so many Hawaiians embrace their heritage. I've thought about getting a "Norwegian, Scottish, German, Irish, Cherokee Pride" sticker for my window, but I'm not too sure it would be appreciated here. The Cherokee part is small, I'll admit. But my grandmother insisted throughout her life it was true, even before it was considered cool to be an Indian. so I have no reason to doubt her word.
Today, the weather is positively miserable. If the rain keeps up all week, I'm headed to the dry side this weekend for some sun.
On a positive note, all the new trees are growing nicely. They've all got new leaves sprouting out. We picked our first zucchini yesterday. We're not quite self sufficient and living off the land yet, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.
Gotta go write a couple of cover letters. Until next time... a hui hou.... Aloha!

Friday, August 18, 2006

More java

We bought ten more coffee trees yesterday. The ladies at Hilo Coffee Mill are great. That's where we bought them. Their primary business is wholesale coffee, either green or roasted to your taste. But they also have their own coffee orchard and sell coffee seedlings. They have a website, too: If you want to try the best coffee Hawaii has to offer besides Kona coffee, or some other great beans from around the world, check 'em out. They coffee from Guatemala, Mexico, Africa, Brazil etc. Ask for Jeanette or Kathy.
We bought baby trees this time. They're about half as big, for half the price. Since we're pretty sure they'll grow, it seemed the prudent way to go. Now all we have to do is wait 3-5 years for the perfect cup of home grown java.
Today's weather has been pretty horrible. I started raining at about 10 a.m. and hasn't stopped since. Tomorrow however, is another day. The weather forecasters are actually predicting sun for our area. They never do that without hedging their bets and throwing in a "with an occasion shower" disclaimer. So I have high hopes.
I'm working on another podcast. It should be available here and at iTunes someday next week.
Ron has been frantically tearing up the kitchen in search of something sweet. His imported licorice supply ran out two days ago and he's been checking the mailbox diligently since his reorder last Friday awaiting his next shipment. But we also have no cookies, no chocolate - nothing to satisfy what I'm seeing as a major attack of sweet toothiness for him. Oh wait.... he's found some pudding! Great. I did spend two hours at the gym today... He's in the kitchen whipping up a batch right now. Hmmmm... maybe a trip to the nearest Tex Drive In for Bavarian cream-filled malasadas would be a good idea this weekend. Onolicious, brah! Broke da mout'!
Tomorrow we are planning to check out the East Hawaii World Heritage Festival. It promises to have plenty of ethnic foods, dances, arts and crafts. Could be fun. Beats sitting around here, watching the trees grow. Although if you did, and the grass too for that matter, you might actually see something. Stuff grows pretty fast around here.
Today's lunch came from Tina's. It's actually a tiny restaurant downtown called The Garden Snack Club. Tina is the owner and chef. That's why we call it Tina's. The guy who suggested it to us many months ago called it Tina's too. She cooks up Thai food and Thai-influenced salads and sandwiches. She makes everything to order, fresh. Ono! Today's fare was something called a Nut Medley, which is a salad with loads of crunchy greens, grape tomatoes and nuts - peanuts, cashews, pecans, almonds. It's all tossed with a light, citrus Asian style dressing. Next was a green papaya salad - green papaya shavings, carrots, bean sprouts, peanuts, tomato in a very spicy, tangy dressing. There there's her traditional Tom Yum Soup. Ron loves this stuff. I like it, but find the plethora of ingredients that you can't really eat to be frustrating. Big pieces of ginger and some other, woody substance are great for spicing up the broth buy annoying to bite into and find you have to spit them out. That's just the nature of Tom Yum Soup, no matter who makes it. She puts in some huge shrimp and big pieces of some kind of yellow squash, which makes up for the soup's shortcomings. It's very tasty. I always order a small from Tina, and it's always enough for us to eat for two meals. She gives it to me in a big Tupperware container and just trusts me to bring it back next time. Pretty cool.
Yesterday and today I did a little doggie babysitting. My neighbor was going away for an evening to the Kona side and was worried sick about what to do with her pooch, Nori. Last time she went away, she boarded her at a local kennel. She came back with a nasty skin infection and was very sick. So I offered to take care of her. I'd have brought her over here for the night, but was told she's not so good with cats. So, I just went to check on her in her own home. We played, had lots of petties, ate treats, went for walks and just generally had a fine time. Nori looks to be maybe part Australian Shepherd and part Border Collie. She's very mellow, but I'm told that's a fairly recent development. She is 12 years old, after all. What a sweetie.
Speaking of Border Collies, one of the three maniacs up the road escaped from her fenced yard this morning. The three furballs and I came upon a search party combing the neighborhood up there looking for her. This dog is completely untrained, as are their two other Border Collies. Unbelievable. We saw her, but she would not come for anybody. She was searching for cats to kill! At least that's what her owner said. She's bored, she said, and has been known to be a pest if she gets out and to kill feral cats. I'm not sure how a dog distinguishes between a feral cat and someone's pet. I'm guessing she can't tell the difference and doesn't much care. Whenever we walk by their yard, the three of them go berserk, lunging at the fence, attacking each other and trying to freak us out. It works. We are pretty freaked out. Especially Hoppsy. The owner tells me they're really sweethearts and the antics are the result of boredom. I'm thinking maybe she should give them something to do. Like obedience training. Build an obstacle course. Take them for a walk. Get them some goats to herd around the yard. Something.
I tried to add a photo of the new baby trees but the blogger site won't let me today for some reason. That function seems, as they might say here in the islands, all buss up. If can, can. If no can, no can, yeah? No can!
Until next time, Aloha!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rain and sunshine

This morning, my neighbor, who apparently has a rain gauge, reported to me in passing on the road that we received 1.25 inches of rain last night. It did rain pretty hard. I guess in most places, that much rain in one night would be quite a lot. Here, it's a pretty normal night. This morning, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Within a very short while it felt not unlike a sauna outside with all that moisture evaporating into the atmosphere. Whew! It was even muggier in town, as always. So while the temperature stayed at about 85 degree, the humidity was at least 85%. Neadless to say, it was a little toasty for Doc and his canine and feline siblings today. We're cooling off nicely now though.
The zucchinis are flowering like mad and beginning to get a few fruits on them. It looks like we should have squash coming out our ears before too long. I'm making plans to make zucchini bread. The tomatoes are doing well too, with small, green orbs replacing blossoms there. Ron has planted some garlic and a piece of ginger he cut off a root we bought at the grocery store.
We've now planted all the coffee trees and are just about ready to buy some more. All of our trees are thriving, except the cinnamon and the clove tree. Weird. They both croaked. All the others - citrus, avocados, coffee, etc..- are going like gangbusters.
The older fruit trees are doing so-so. Not much fruit to speak of though. Our theory is that there was just too much rain last spring with not enough sun. The blossoms were pummeled off the trees before the bees had a chance to do their thing. So, no fruit. Hopefully, the weather will be just a smidgen better this year.
I've still gotten no response from either of the resumes I sent out. Two resumes, two job offers, right? Is that too much to ask? Guess I'd better send out a few dozen more.
Saw a great bumper sticker yesterday. You've seen the ones that read: Abortion stops a beating heart. This one said: A hamburger stops a beating heart. I thought that was pretty funny. We had cheeseburgers for dinner last night.
It's political campaign season here in Hawaii, with the primary election coming up Sept. 23. The candidates have taken to setting up along the highway with signs and waving as cars pass along. One guy has been out there for weeks. He hangs out alongside his pickup truck pm visible, grass spot, sporting an aloha shirt, his trusty lab at his side, waving to drivers. Now they've all jumped on the bandwagon.
We're still a little overwhelmed with stuff in our tiny hale. Much of it is getting bagged or boxed and shoved under the house. It just goes to show how little stuff we really need.
That's all for today. A hui hou and aloha!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A trip to the dry side


Yesterday, like today, it rained. So it wasn't too tough early in the morning, watching the water fall in sheets from the sky, to make quick plans to drive to Kona. The excuse? We need stuff at Costco, of course. Hey, if I've got to patronize a big box once in awhile to reap some savings, it might as well be one that takes good care of it's employees and puts profits back into the company rather than into the CEO's pocket. Anyway, we donned our swimsuits under our clothes, slid on the slippah and headed to the dry side.
Before shopping, we spent a couple of hours at the beach. We crashed our old favorite resort; The Orchid at Mauna Lani. Technically, we do have legal access to their beach, no matter how much stink eye the staff might give. That's because all beaches, even those affiliated with a resort, are public. Nobody can actually own a beach in Hawaii. So, we hung there, and at their pool, posing as wealthy haoli tourists. Then it was off to Costco to buy sundries en-mass like toilet paper and paper towels.
The kids, meanwhile, were left at home to gaze out at the falling rain.

Today, we're here with them. It's a good day to unpack boxes. We're struggling to find room for all our junk. We have downsized substantially, however, and that is, as Martha would say, a good thing.
Two avocado trees made their way into the ground last week. We also expanded our vegetable garden, moving the giant zucchini plants to a larger plot of dirt. They are out in the open, so we'll see if they can withstand the rain and vog. Meanwhile, my potted tomatoes are growing like gangbusters. They are under the shelter of the eves, out of the rain. I was told you can't grow tomatoes here. Too wet. We'll see. I'm out to prove the neighbors wrong on that one.
That's all for now. A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Aloha! It's been a pretty hot few days, with south winds usurping the traditional trades. Yesterday the vog was so bad that our zucchini leaves were actually burned by the sulfuric air. They are a bit shriveled, but I think the plants will live. Doc has been staying cool lounging on the lanai. What a pretty boy, huh?
I planted an avocado tree yesterday. Tomorrow's chore is to add two more coffee trees and another avocado. There are several species of avocado and the fruit at different times of the year. So with any luck, we'll one day have avocados year 'round. Holy guacamole, batman!
I played tennis today with some athletic and talented ladies today. We played indoors at the venerable Edith Kanaka'ole tennis stadium. They are the only covered courts on the island. The surface is rubberized, so is a bit grippy underfoot and the ball comes off pretty fast, making for a bit of a challenge to the reflexes. The lighting is also weird. For some reason, they built the courts so that the sunset shines right in the biggest, open end of the stadium, casting some pretty horrific glare across two of the courts. Still, when it's raining in Hilo for months on end, there's really no place else to play. And it's dirt cheap at $2 per hour per court.
I am not a tall woman. But often here on the island, I feel like a giant. There are lots of petite people here of Asian decent. I'm just not used to being the tallest player on the court. We had fun and my partner Monica and I gave the other two, who have played together as a team for years, a good run for their money.
Vog or no, the hot sun has actually been nice for a couple of days. Of course, it's not hot by mainland standards, where I see on the news that people are dropping like flies from the triple digit heat. Miserable. I'm happy to be here right now, in the relatively cool (if a bit humid) tropics.
Until next time, aloha!