Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pops

It's been awhile since I've posted. Quite a lot has happened. And nothing at all has happened too. For two weeks we spent entertaining my dad, who was visiting from the Mainland. He's never been to Hawaii and never flown over the ocean. So this was a big adventure for him, to say the least. We spent two days in Waikiki, one of which was spent touring the Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri. I know he enjoyed it, although it just about killed him. Dad can't walk too far or too fast these days. He insisted he would start a regimen to build his stamina and strength as soon as he gets home. Of course, he also vowed to do that weeks ago so he would be in shape for his visit here. I'm sure he walked more during the past two weeks than he has in years. Maybe in decades.
Nonetheless, I think he enjoyed himself, despite the rain. We toured the island, checked out the visitor's center and museum at Volcano's National Park and ate out a lot. He loved Nori's Saimin and Snacks and papaya fruit, which we had several mornings for breakfast. Lucky for Ron and me, Bill O'Reilly was on vacation for much of my father's visit, so dad wasn't compelled to watch every day like he does at home. He did manage to catch a little NASCAR one Sunday.
The tractor has been idle more often than not lately because of the rain. Dad did get the chance to drive it one day. The ground was so soggy for awhile there that we had standing water in the grass with little ponds forming everywhere. It's dryer now and we actually made some good headway over the weekend clearing grass. I know clearing grass sounds easy. This, however, is not your ordinary grass. It is locally known as cane grass and actually grows vine-like out of the ground. We have years of it, snarled and piled 5-6 feet high.
Last weekend marked the 43rd annual Merrie Monarch Festival. It's probably the premier hula competition in the world, with Halau (Hula Schools) traveling from all the islands and around the world to dance. The talent is top notch, with both ancient-traditional and modern hula represented. The parade on Saturday was great. Plenty of color, music and believe it or not, hot sunshine.
There's talk that the gas cap in Hawaii will be repealed soon. I don't get it. We have the highest prices in the nation, yet legislators want to eliminate the cap. They say it's because it hasn't worked. I just wonder what the prices will look like once there's no limit on what wholesalers, and subsequently retailers, can charge here.
That's all for now. Until next time, Aloha!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Functionally disfunctional

I have a strange family compared to many others I know. The Steinberger clan (that's mom's side of the family) is close, yet we speak with one another rarely and see each other even less often. My cousin Amy called me today and, as always, it was great to hear her voice. Like me, Amy knows that, no matter how much time passes between calls, we're still family and will always love one another. Amy and I, and the rest of our immediately family for that matter, are not so good at keeping in touch. We're pretty bad about remembering each others' birthdays. We sometimes call on holidays, sometimes not. We often don't communicate directly for months, or even years at a time. The beauty of this system is that we never wear out a welcome; we never get sick of or irritated with each other. Because we aren't meddling constantly in each others' lives, we not only continue to love each other, but actually like each other. It works for us.
Of course, regardless of how well oiled the family machine seems to be, it would all grind to a screeching halt without its most crucial component: Lorna. My aunt Lorna is the glue that keeps us all stuck together, regardless of how much distance and time pulls us all apart. If we have been typically lax about keeping in touch, we can always count on Lorna to keep us up to speed on each others' lives. She writes great letters - long hand - and always remembers birthdays and Christmas. She does it all the old fashioned way, using the US Postal Service. So just when we start thinking the only mail we're every going to get any more is bills and adds, along comes a card with a note from Lorna. There may even be some photos enclosed. Lorna truly rocks!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Green acres is the place to be.....


Farm livin' is the life for me..... The tractor has arrived. It is very cool and quite a workhorse, I must say. The salesman made point of telling us "It's not a Cadillac" more than once. Thank goodness for that. Ron had a Cadillac once. What a piece of junk. Once, he was entertaining coworkers from Germany and, while driving them in his Cadillac to dinner, he reached to adjust the rear-view-mirror, only to have it fall off in his hand. Needless to say, they weren't impressed with American engineering and quality. Of course, these days, Mercedes and Volkwagon don't have much to brag about either..... John Deere, however, is different from General Motors. They make stuff that both works and lasts. This tractor isn't fast, but it's steady and strong. In about three hours, we cleared around two large trees and added a few feet to our accessible land. That may not sound like much, but if you'd seen just how overgrown it was, you'd be amazed. We did find a few surprises along the way; some hidden flower pots, a couple of cement cinder blocks and a full bag of potting soil we didn't know we had. Luckily, we saw the cinder blocks before the blades hit them. The hydraulics are especially slick. The loader, the mower deck and the tiller are all powered by hydraulics. There are all sorts of levers to raise and lower stuff. I managed to get the thing stuck twice already. Both times I was able to lock the back hubs into four wheel drive and power out of the mud. We'll be clearing more today.
My dad will arrive in the islands next Tuesday. I know he'll love the tractor. He's a farm boy from way back. We'll spend a few nights on Oahu before coming home. I only hope we can tolerate the stench. Better yet, give that battered island a few days of sunshine before we get there so the stench can be washed away. They are still not allowing people in the water. The bacteria count is still unsafe. The sewage treatment system has been overwhelmed by too much rain, causing untreated sewage to be released into the Ala Wai Canal, which leads immediately to the ocean. No biggie for us. I'm sure the fish aren't too pleased. But Dad can't swim, so we weren't planning to spend much time in the water anyway. They have signs posted everywhere telling people to stay out. They had to post additional signs in Japanese the other day after seeing a few tourists from there frolicking in the brown surf. Yikes! Can you imagine? You saved money for years for your Hawaii vacation. You've sprung for a fancy hotel on Waikiki beach, a room with an ocean view. You envision yourself dining al-fresco every night, taking surf lessons and lying on white sand each day, mai-tai in hand, basking in the tropical sun. Instead, you can't go in the water at all and the smell is so bad you have to lock your hotel room window shut tight to keep from gagging. The water you see from your window is not azure, but takes on the distinct color of poop. Nice. I'm pretty sure this will have a detrimental impact on return visits to the islands.
Well, it's time to take the pups for their morning walk. Then, it's back in the John Deere saddle again.... vroom vroom!