Monday, October 30, 2006

A glutton for guavas

I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood movies, especially the films he directs. I always go see them, even though I know the movie will not have a happy ending. I thought he might depart from that with Flags of Our Fathers. It is about World War II after all, "The Good War" as Studs Turkel called it, a war we fought for all the right reasons. No such luck. While the ending wasn't as devastating as Mystic River or as sad as Million Dollar Baby, it was still not the warm, fuzzy finale we've come to expect from WWII flicks. As usual with a Eastwood film, "Flags" is a reflection of both the best and the worst in human nature.
Flags of our Fathers is about the guys who raised the flag on a mountaintop at Iwo Jima. They were just young soldiers, doing their job, following orders, under extraordinary circumstances. The photo of their efforts to raise the flag became instantly famous and the guys were dubbed heroes, against their own wishes. "Flags" tells the story of how they were exploited for the war effort and how they were treated by the citizens of the country for which they fought. It's an exceptional film, worth full ticket price at the theater.
We saw Flags of Our Fathers on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night, we watched The Sentinel, with Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria and Kim Bassinger. Pretty good. Not epic, like Flags, but good enough to keep our attention throughout. It's about a secret service agent who is framed and subsequently blamed for an inside plot to kill the president. It's definitely worth renting.
Yes, it was a movie weekend. We also mowed the lawn, hung out at the Maku'u Farmers' Market and ate huevos at Luquin's Mexican Restaurant on Sunday morning, cut down some bananas (which turned out to be not quite ready for harvest) and generally puttered around.
I've become addicted to the tiny, strawberry guava fruits now ripening on our invasive trees. They are so sweet and tasty. They're actually better than the large, commercially grown guavas, the ones with the pink flesh.
I sent out three more resumes. The phone is not exactly ringing off the hook with job offers. Go figgah!
A hui hou. Aloha!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Boondoggle to the big city

A little shi shi, then Waikiki! I flew to O'ahu yesterday for a little checkup. Since nobody had high recommendations for a clinic or OBGYN near Hilo, I opted to schedule an appointment for my overdue exam in Honolulu. Dr. Vo was great. She was young, smart, cute and very personable. I'll go back to her. The exam, as unpleasant as it always is, was relatively painless and quick. I was out of there in an hour. That meant I had the entire day to kill before my flight home.
As it turned out, the clinic was within about a mile of Waikiki. Since Waikiki is the only part of Honolulu I know, and since I had already blown my wad on cab fare from the airport to the clinic, I decided to hoof it.

Waikiki is overdeveloped, kitsch, corny and an undeniable tourist trap. It is a Disneyland version of Hawaii. That said, I love it. Oh I wouldn't want to live there, but it is a nice diversion. There are some beautiful hotels there and some great places to grab a bite. There's an ABC Store on every corner for gosh sakes! What more could you want than that? The people watching is great - surfers and beach boys teach malahini (newcomer) haoli visitors the finer points of paddling their boards out to the waves, people strolling, gawking, sunbathing, flolicking, shopping, eating - all having a good 'ol time. It was one of those days when it was easy to get sun burned; high, wispy clouds letting the sun filter in, with 15-20 mile per hour trade winds to cool the sensation on the skin just enough so that unsuspecting pasties from Kansas had no idea they were getting quick fried to a crackly crunch. I ate lunch at Duke's, because I know it to have lovely outdoor, beachside tables and pretty respectable food at reasonable prices for lunch. It's named for Duke Kahanamoku, one of Hawaii's most beloved sons. Known as the father of modern surfing, he traveled the world as an ambassador of the sport and his country during the early 20th century. Duke also won Olympic gold and silver for swimming. There's a statue of him at Waikiki.

I also went to the Waikiki aquarium. It's small, but the displays are beautiful and well maintained. It's clear that the for the staff and "friends of" group here, it's a labor of love. I cruised up and down the main drag several times and hung out at Kapi'olani park for a spell. This photo is a shot of Diamond Head from the grassy expanse of the park at the crater's base. There's also a nice statue of Queen Kapi'olani herself.

Then, I decided to take the bus back to the airport. It cost $2 as opposed to the cab, which cost $30. Of course, I had an appointment to make in the morning and had to be at a specific spot by a certain time. I could plan my own afternoon, however and therefore had time for the bus. It took awhile. I asked the driver if there was an "express" bus to the airport. He said he didn't know of one. They all made lots of stops. "This is a slow boat to china," he said. "But it will get you there in about an hour." Good enough for me. As I rode, I saw what I already knew; that there is a lot more to Honolulu that Waikiki. I vow to return and spend time getting to know another part of the city next time, or even another part of O'ahu island.

O'ahu. It means, "the gathering place," in Hawaiian. It's crowded and the traffic is horrible. So I guess people have gathered there, big time.
As I ate lunch, I read the Honolulu weekly and was particularly enamored with the entertainment calendar. On any given Friday or Saturday night, it seems, you can see the likes of Nathan Aveau of Hapa, or Barry Flanagan, or Henry Kapono, or Daniel Ho, or any number of big-name local artists. Very cool.

I flew back into Hilo Tuesday night. It was raining. Auwe!

A hui hou! Aloha!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Treadmill redux

It was back to the gym today with gusto. I actually returned last week, but gently. Today's workout was back up to a full roar; running, lifting, crunching, stretching. I should be pretty well hobbled tomorrow. If you are a 40 or 50 something woman who believes everything she reads these days, you'd be convinced by the press that, if you don't run your ogle off and engage in strenuous, daily weight-bearing exercises, your bones will rapidly become riddled with holes and eventually turn to powder, after which your limp body will fall to the ground like a soggy load of laundry. Or like the wicked witch of the west. "I'm me-e-e-lting! I'm me-e-e-elting!" You'll break a hip! Yes you will! It's like the middle aged version of "A Christmas Story," (my favorite holiday flick), where poor Ralphy, whenever he tells someone he wants a bb gun for Christmas, hears, "You'll shoot your eye out." While I think much of what's written is hype, I do believe there is something to that weight bearing exercise advice. And of course, there's no reason not to be in good cardio-vascular health, what with heart disease the number one killer of women over some age or other. Then, for me personnally, there's this whole matter of being unemployed right now. I've got the time, so why not sweat a little and preserve those estrogen-starved bones. And keep that heart pumping. Besides, it's raining.
Speaking of time, I'm again twittling my thumbs, awaiting a call from prospective employers. Meanwhile, I've started another blog, one I hope will appeal to both readers and advertisers. It's called Grape Escape - There's not much there yet. So it can only get better with time.
I saw a great bumper sticker today. It said, "Dog is my co-pilot." Yep. Mine, too!
A hui hou! Aloha!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Doggin' the frogs

Ding dong the coqui's dead,
citric acid on his head,
ding dong the coqui frog is dead (two, three, four)
Not much bigger than a dime,
douse him with hydrated lime,
ding dong the coqui frog is dead.....

Yes, he's dead. Actually, there were two of the little buggahs on our neighbor's property, chirping up a storm, having us all wondering when the two would transform into 30, then 60 then on and on until we were just like lower Puna district, listening to 10s of thousands of them all night long. I am being credited by the neighbor across the street for the frogs' demise, since I am the one who called the coqui police and they, in turn, contacted the other neighbor to lend them a hand in the eradication effort. Ta da!
I do feel a little sorry for the cute little guys. It's not their fault some stupid human neglected to inspect a shipment of plants from Puerto Rico years ago and let their ancestors stow away enroute to Hawaii. Of course, I still, for the life of me, do not get why Hawaii feels the need to import plants from Puerto Rico or from anywhere for that matter. Seems to me we have quite enough plants here already, thank you very much. Ah, but what do I know.
And speaking of police, I hope the copywrite police are snoozing. I stole this photo from Google images. I didn't see any mention of rights or any letter c with a circle around it, so I'm pretty sure I'm in the clear, but I thought I'd mention credit here anyway, just in case. Old journalist precautions never die...
Anyway, the frogs have croaked. Aloha! Which, as you may recall, also means goodbye.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And the thunder rolls......

Here we were, feeling so smug about having made it through the earthquake yesterday, no worse for the wear, when bang! Boom! Down came the bottles from the top shelf of the closet. I was reminded of the flight attendants' intercom message on every commercial airplane ride I've ever taken. "Please take care when opening the overhead bins as contents may have shifted during the flight." Indeed. Replace the words "overhead bins" with closet, "contents" with wine bottles and "flight" with earthquake and you've got the picture. Three bottles narrowly missed Ron's noggin and came crashing to the floor. Actually, six bottles fell; only three broke.Ron yelled out a few expletives. I did too, as I ran to the house from the yard, hearing his cries intermixed with "The wine!" Upon seeing the purple mess of glass and grape, the #%*&@ was followed by a Tim the Toolman Taylor-esque "Oh no...." Needless to say, my closet now has a lovely nose. We will likely be painting the walls in the hallway sooner than planned. Maybe a nice Burgundy? The hallway rugs were soaked with syrah, the floors swimming is sangiovese.
Last night, we were hit with a tremendous thunder storm. Poor Hoppsy was beside herself. Actually, she was beside me, stuck like Gorrilla Glue, quaking in fear. It was so loud and continuous that even Doc and Crawford got a bit nervous. Before long, all three of them were in the bed with us. It was also very hot and humid, with lightning flashing bright enough to light up the room over and over for hours. Needless to say, we are all a bit sleep deprived today. I'm sure nighty night will come early this evening.
Yesterday, Ron got creative and we built a very small, very makeshift greenhouse. It's fashioned in the same vein as our tool shed. Of course, both "stuctures" have the same architectural designer. A real greenhouse is a planned purchase; we're just waiting for our finances to catch up with our plans after the big move. It won't be long...
A hui hou! Aloha!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rockin' and rollin' on the rock

When I was 3 1/2 years old, I experienced a tempest known as the Columbus Day Storm. It was what they call an extratropical cyclone (according to Wikipedia), and is considered the strongest storm to have hit the Pacific Northwest in modern history. I don't really remember much about it, other than what fun I thought it was that the lights all went out and we had to make our way with candles for days. I also remember lots of fallen trees across the road and one that squished the neighbor's house. And my tricycle blew away. My dad found it a few days later way up the block.
In 1980, I was living in Portland, Oregon when Mount St. Helens blew it's top. Initially, the explosion had little effect on the city. A couple of days after the eruption, however, the wind shifted and Portland was covered with a 6 inch blanket of ash. City residents all donned surgical masks to go about their daily lives. People tracked the whitish grit everywhere they walked. The stuff was extremely abrasive and took the finish off cars. It blew into drifts a foot deep in places but, unlike snow, did not melt. The sky was grey and gloomy for weeks. It was pretty miserable.
I lived in Los Angeles through the early 1990s. There, I experienced the Rodney King riots from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, where I was stranded. Planes were not allowed into LA airspace throughout most of that day, since the landing pattern took airliners directly over that part of the city being burned and plundered. A coworker and I sat in a bar called Cheers and watched as our hometown burst into flames and innocent fellow citizens were beaten to death. Again, pretty miserable.
I also remember the Malibu fires which filled the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Fernando Valley with smoke. Landslides followed when heavy rains weighed down the hillsides and sent them plummeting into the sea.
And then there was the coup de gras, the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
I now live in Hawaii. This morning, we experienced one of the largest earthquakes ever to rumble through the archipelago. The temblor has wreaked havoc on the west side of Hawaii Island and caused power outages all over O'ahu, two islands away. Compared to Northridge, it was just a little shaker. But by Hawaii standards, or any reasonable standards for that matter, it was huge.
So what's the moral of this story? Shit happens... wherever I go! Sheesh!
On a lighter note, I've just returned from a wonderful trip to California to visit my pals. These are friends of the truest bluest kind; the people in my life who love me for who I am and around whom I can be myself without pretenses.
The first days of the trip were spent catching up, drinking fine wine and eating delicious food. The last days were spent in a cozy cabin in the mountains, hiking the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada range, drinking more wine and eating more tasty victuals.

It was an inspiring trip, too, as my buds are all enjoying successful careers and had exotic adventure stories to share. So tomorrow, I too will again hit the pavement in search of gainful employment and career fulfillment. Not that I'm not fulfilled now. I've certainly experienced both success and adventure over the years. I have a wonderful life; a wonderful family. It's just that the journey must continue and the next job, here in the islands, is the next leg of that journey. You're welcome to come along if you like.

A hui hou!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Freakin' on fashion

There are two fashion trends that, in my humble opinion, have been around way too long. It's time for them to go away... NOW! One is the skull cap. I might get the appeal of a knit ski hat as trendy in places like Minneapolis or Bar Harbor or Anchorage. It worked well in my old hometown of Gunnison, Colorado. But Miami? Atlanta? L.A? Hawaii? It's just silly. It's mostly boys and young men, but I occasionally see girls sporting woollies on their noggins, too. Board shorts, no shirt, slippahs and a ski hat. It's hot. It's humid. I must really be getting old. I just don't get it.
Even worse are the hip hugger jeans the girls are wearing these days, paired with a cropped, navel-bearing tank top. But wait. It's not just the girls wearing this outfit. It's women. Very mature women. Middle-aged, pudgy women. Now don't get me wrong. I actually like the look. It's great if you're built like Janet Jackson. But trust me ladies. This ensemble is not for everyone. The rest of us do not want to see your butt cleavage, nor do we enjoy the pads of hip fat squished out over the tops of your low riders. And the gut that sticks out between the bottom of your tank and the top of your jeans? Well, let me just advise that if you can't see you own feet when you look straight down, this style is not for you. Please! Spare us all, would ya?
We went to Costco last weekend, where I saw a few too many of what I describe above. Still, it was a nice excuse to lounge on the warm, Kona sand. Yesterday, I was headed to the gym when I decided I'd rather take a long walk along the beach, then a dip in the ocean. OK, I guess if I'm being honest, I decided that before I left the house. That's why I just happened to have my swim suit and a change of clothes with me. It was lovely, even with the little sprinkles that occasionally fell. Hilo's beach parks aren't much in the way of white sandy strands, but they are beautiful nonetheless, with lovely tranquil lagoons.
I also got a call yesterday from the guide company that offered me a job last week. They rescinded the offer. Apologetically,they realized they didn't quite have their act together yet and could not take on another employee. Bummer. I will, however, be writing professionally again. This time, I'll tickle the plastic ivories for a tourist-oriented blog devoted to all things Hawaii. It doesn't pay much, but it may be my ticket to bigger and better writing opportunities in the near future.
That's it for now. A hui hou. Aloha!