Saturday, December 30, 2006

Balmy tropical winter

Happy New Year! I must say, I kinda like walking the dogs in the morning wearing shorts and a t-shirt during the holidays! I especially appreciate it after seeing the snow storms that have been hammering Denver in recent weeks.
I shot these pictures the other day on my visit to Volcanoes National Park. The flag, with Mauna Loa in the background, flies on the beautifully manicured grounds of Kilauea Military Camp. It flies at half staff in honor of Gerald Ford.
The little fenced square with smoke coming out of it is a steam vent. I can only assume the fencing is a form of INS for the Park Service. INS, as I understand it, stands for Interfering with Natural Selection. In this case, it's to protect humans too stupid not to know that jumping into a steam vent near active volcanoes is a bad idea.
Today, I discovered that our coffee trees have a condition called Cercospora. It's a fungus, common in areas with lots of rain. Looks like we'll have to spring for some copper fungicide to kill it. I have no idea how much that costs, but I'm sure it's plenty. There are several companies that make organic copper fungicides, so we'll try to buy one of those. Too bad we have no clue what the H-E-double toothpicks we're doing here in the jungle! Other than the brown spots on a few of our leaves, the coffee trees are growing like gangbusters.
I may have a job interview next week with a local publication called Hawaii Island Journal. The editor responded to my email by saying he'd like to meet and chat. That can't be bad, right?
Hou'oli (happy) Makahiki (year) Hou (new)! A hui hou. Aloha!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas! Yay! It's a beautiful, partly sunny day here on the windward side of Hawaii Island. The turkey is cooking and all is right with the world. With our world, anyway. I've seen two of my favorite Christmas movies; It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. My third favorite is a vintage 1958 version of Dickens' Christmas Carol called Scrooged. Ebineezer is played by fabulous actor named Alistair Sim. He's absolutely the best scrooge ever. George C. Scott runs a close second, but Sim is the winner, hands down. I have a copy of Scrooged on DVD but no longer have a DVD player and left the disks in Colorado anyway. I usually catch it at least once a season on TV. Not this year. Oh well. I'll see it again soon enough.
Next week, I will resume my job quest and gym workouts with gusto. Today, I'll just hang and enjoy life. I have prohibited Ron from using any power tools outside today. I'm just sure the neighbors don't want to hear the buzz of his chainsaw or the roar of the tractor while their trying to enjoy their holiday in peace. Not that I could really prohibit him from doing anything, really. But acknowledge the logic of my argument against doing yard work on Christmas and seems content to watch football and Christmas movies today. Actually, it's not yet noon and he's already taking his first nap. I say it's his first because I'm pretty sure he'll take another after dinner.
By the way, airfares have come down dramatically for bookings from the mainland to the islands in January and February. I'm sure the low fare seats are limited, but if you book now, you might score a screamin' good price.
I hope you all had wonderful Christmas eves and days. A hui hou! Aloha!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A new place to sweat

Mele kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas day......

This santa fish is a humuhumunukunukuapua. That's right. It's the state fish of Hawaii. Cool, huh? I stole this image from the net, so it's the least I can do to give credit to it's painter, Debbie Houter. Actually, she gives permission on her site to download the picture, so I'm in the clear. No copywrite infringements on this blog. No siree!

We're loaded down at our house with oodles of Christmas pupus. Ono kine grinds to da max! W got all kine cheeses and salami and crackers and pate'. We also got all kine poke and edamame and mochi. Between our own self indulgences at the market and the stuff coming as gifts in the mail, it will take more will power than I've got - not to mention some serious time on the treadmill - to keep from piling on the pounds.
I'm now officially a Friend of KMC (Kilauea Military Camp). It's pretty easy to become a friend. Just have someone you know who is either in the military, has ever served in the military or who works for the National Parks Service sign a voucher on your behalf. Voila! You're in.
Speaking of treadmills, I joined their gym. It's tiny, especially compared to Spencer's in Hilo. Hey, it's all I need. Better still, it's just about a 12 minute drive from home. KMC is located inside the park at 4000 feet above sea level, so it's much cooler than Hilo. I've only been to the gym there once, but on that visit I had the place to myself. KMC is a quiet, low key lodge. It's nearly 100 years old. I think at one time, service men were actually stationed there. For years, however, it's been a place for current and former military to stay while visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It's a collection of small cabins situated on an area of meticulously groomed grounds, surrounded by the Ohia and Hapu'u rainforest. Some of the cabins are built of wood, plantation style. Others are made from black lava stone. All have fireplaces. they need them, too. It can get a little chilly at this elevation. There's also a rec center with arcade, the fitness center, a lounge where they often have live music, a cafeteria, general store, cheap gas, tennis courts, playground for kids, even Starbucks. They show movies. I hear their guided tours of the park and the island are great. Non-military folks can stay there too, I think. It just costs them more. They also have a theater there where they put on live concerts and plays, open to the public. I have not attended one yet, but plan to.
When the sun is shining on the forested areas surrounding Volcano Village and the national park, it really is one one of the most perfect places I've ever been. The high temperature is usually in the low 70s. When the fog shrouds it all in cool mist, it takes on a mystical quality.
I'm heading up there tomorrow. Weather permitting, I'll shoot a few photos.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rats, roaches, ginger and saimin

I discovered these ginger flowers in my very own jungle today. I'm not usually one for cut flowers, but these were just so cool I had to bring them out of the dark forest and into the light to be enjoyed.
Mr. Sox brought a baby rat into the house tonight. The poor little creature was still alive but badly wounded. I had planned to take the struggling critter away from the fat cat and gently replace him back outside to either survive miraculously or crawl off to die in peace. I turned to grab a container to put him in and when I turned back, he was gone. Mr. Sox was scurrying out the door. So I hope the cat was scurrying after the rat. If not, the rat is probably hiding somewhere in a nook or cranny inside the house. Great. He'll get along well with the cockroach that escaped from my grocery bag a couple of weeks ago. The pair are probably setting up house behind the fridge as I type this.
I finally put up my tiny, fake Christmas tree last night. With lights and decorations, it actually looks very festive. I like it.
I've decided to abandon the wine blog. Ultimately, I guess my heart just isn't into the topic enough to make regular posts. Not to mention the the fact that I'd have to drink a lot more to come up with new reviews on a regular enough basis to keep the thing interesting. Instead, I'll just mention good wines and other stuff I discover here.
I finally got the results of my October cholesterol test today. The total count is 196, with an HDL (the good kind) of 115 and an LDL (the bad stuff) of 71. The doctor said that was great and asked me if I was an athlete. Of course I said yes. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Hmmmmm.... Must be good genes.
I mailed all my cards yesterday. Today, I went to the market in Pahoa to avoid the Hilo crowds. It's been downright crazy down there these past few days. Pahoa was much easier. It's a pretty nice store, too. Now we've got our goodies for the rest of the week, including Christmas dinner. We bought two turkeys at Thanksgiving. That's because they were selling them for $3.99. That's not $3.99 per pound. That's $3.99 for a whole, 16 lb turkey! What a deal. If we'd had a bigger freezer, we would have bought more.
Here's a little "taste" of Hawaii culture. It's a clip from the hilarious Frank Delima singing about one of my favorite local grinds. Whatever you do, don't sneeze while you're eating it. Enjoy. A hui hou. Aloha.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Eddie Vedder is definitely pono

Ua mau, ka ea o ka aina i ka pono

That is the Hawaii state motto. The official translation is this: The life (sovereignty) of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. While they are definitely referring to the land here (aina) the words life and sovereignty are very different. Sovereignty implies independence and strength. That is probably the correct translation and conveys what the Hawaiian's meant with they saying. I'm guessing that to avoid any confusion back in the days of the overthrow and with the coming of statehood some decades later, officials (who were not Hawaiian) opted to used 'life' instead. 'Sovereignty' was likely added back in parentheses to appease the Hawaiians who found the previous translation inaccurate and insulting. But to state officials, to put 'sovereignty' into the state motto might have fueled some flames the officials were still trying to dowse. Of course, this is all really just conjecture on my part. So don't use this information in a research paper on the Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, kay?
Pono
is a Hawaiian word that has many meanings. In the motto they translate it as "righteous" which is technically correct. Depending on context, pono can mean proper, honorable, moral, correct, living up to one's kuleana (responsiblity)... all sorts of meanings but with a common essence. It means "the right thing to do." Strictly translated, I guess that's what righteousness means, but to me, righteousness conveys a bit of a holier-than-thou, moral high ground kind of feeling. Pono, I believe, is a more humble word.
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole wrote a song some years ago entitle Hawaii 78. It quickly became a hallmark of the sovereignty movement in Hawaii. There are debates on the meaning of the title. Some say it refers to 1778 and Captain Cook's landing here, changing the islands forever. Others say it refers to 1978 when the Hawaiian sovereignty movement was reborn. Either one works. The song is eerie, sad and powerful. Yesterday, driving home from town, I heard it on the radio. It was instantly recognizable, though the voice was not that of Bruddah Iz. It was a great voice, mournful and sincere, and it was giving me all kine chicken skin. Chills, brah! Chills! I listened a second more, then I knew. Eddie Vedder! It was recorded at Peal Jam's recent concert with U2 in Honolulu. Whew! It made me wish I'd been there. I'd love to see Pearl Jam live. I've seen U2. They are awesome, to be sure and Bono is one of those performers I find I can't take my eyes off of when he's on stage. That said, the first time I heard Vedder's voice and saw him roll his eyes back in his head in that weird, fluttery way that he does, I became a fan of his too. Not to mention the fact that both bands find something to sing about besides sex, drugs, drugs and sex. Not that there's anything wrong with that. That is, after all, what rock and roll is all about. But for bands like Pearl Jam, it can also open people's eyes to society's - and humanity's - shortcomings.
Anyway, I've attached these links to both the Bruddah Iz version of Hawaii 78 and Pearl Jam's somewhat abbreviated but no less powerful version. Ua mau, ka ea o ka aina i ka pono...... o Hawai'i.
Have a listen. a hui hou. Aloha!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Getting a head

I'm home! The trip to California was quick but fruitful. My teeth have been repaired beautifully thanks to the amazing Dr. Daniel. I spent short but quality time with friends, including my pal Bailey here. I got a haircut. I got a big-city California fix. I inhaled some smog for old times' sake. I bought some stuff I can't get here, like silicone ice cube trays and Trader Joe's munchies. It was a good trip.
When I returned, I learned that our veggie garden, as small as it is, has produced some fine results. The bean plants are flowering. Some are even sporting tiny baby beans. This cabbage is the only one we got, but it's a beauty, don't you think? We're going to cut it up for stir fry tonight. I also bought some kim chee mix. I know it's really not the right kind of cabbage for that, but what the hey.
On my way back from the mainland, I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine and learned why the populace has so little confidence in the current economy despite what all the government statistics are telling us. It's because while the riches, top .1 percent of the population gets exponentially richer, the poorest are getting poorer and the middle class is disappearing. That's due to many factors, outlined in clear and obvious detain in the article. Check it out.
I also learned that mega-pork farms are bad. Really bad. If the cruel conditions in which the pigs are kept doesn't get to you, then the pollution these farms generate should. If you don't care about that because you are lucky enough not live near one, then the pesticides and antibiotics they are constantly treated with, not to mention the swill they are fed, should make you squirm. What are they fed? Everything, including the ground up remains of their dead brethren, other pigs who have kicked the bucket because of the horrid conditions in which they all struggle to survive. There is nothing healthy about these pigs. They are the product of Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world. They are responsible for billions of pounds of pork in supermarkets everywhere, packaged under many labels. My advice: buy organic or all natural, drug free pork, produced locally if you can get it, the old fashioned way by small farmers. It may cost a little more, but you won't glow in the dark after you eat it. And you can rest a little easier knowing you did not pad the pockets of the evil, calloused, money grubbing corporate executives at Smithfield. Curious? Check it out. Rolling Stone Magazine. It's not just for head bangers anymore. Actually, Rolling Stone has long been known for it's cutting edge exposes. Why they insist on putting Snoop Dogg on the cover when they've got great content like this is beyond me.
I had a job interview yesterday at the Volcano Winery. I should know in a day or two if I got the job. Meanwhile, today's paper has an ad for a real job; a communications position with Hawaii County. It pays really well and is exactly the job toward which my degree was geared. So I've just got to apply. A real job could be fun for awhile.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The tool guy never saw those undies

When I was a young and restless ski bum back in the day, I found myself in a precarious position at a doctor's office. I had had a little accident on the hill. So there I sat, sans shirt, with an excruciatingly stiff neck. I had just been x-rayed. The Doctor had subsequently informed me it was (gulp) broken. Yikes. I think he said something like, "Congratulations. You broke your neck." It was just what my parents said would happen. ("Get down from there! Stop that! You'll break your neck! You'll shoot your eye out!")
"That sounds kinda bad," I said.
"Let's just say you should avoid diving into any shallow pools for awhile," he said. What a guy. So anyway, there I was, sporting my JC Penney special, when the doctor excused himself from the exam, then returned with a guy wearing a tool belt and carrying a wrench and a screwdriver. He was also holding a metal contraption with straps.
"Do you like that bra?" asked the doctor.
"Sort of," I said.
"Good," he returned. "Because you're going to be wearing it for a long time."
Tool guy approached. He put the contraption over my head. It had a chin rest and straps that held my head firmly in place. It also had padded metal shoulder thingies with a bar across both the front of the chest and back. The bar and shoulder bars had to be adjusted to fit, as did the chin rest, which sat on two metal bars that came up from the chest bar. "Oh. I get it," I said.
What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, last night, I waited for an hour and 20 minutes for the baggage carousel to empty upon my arrival from Hawaii to L.A. only to learn that my bags had not accompanied me on the trip. It was late; long past closing time for department stores and the laundry room at the hotel. That left me faced with the prospect of wearing the same underwear on Monday that I wore on Tuesday. Disgusting. That's almost as bad as being forced to wear the same bra for two months. Ah, but I figured out how to change the bra under the neck brace and how to shower with the thing on and dry the nooks and crannies with a blow dryer. I was equally creative with the underwear. A squirt of hotel shampoo and the room heater fan washed and dried them beautifully. The moral of this story? A little resourcefulness can always change a bad situation into a better one.
So here I am in San Diego. I spent the morning getting drilled and making impressions for an overlay for two teeth in need of repair. Dentists elsewhere always seem to want to file them down and put on crowns. But mine likes to save teeth and uses state of the art overlays instead of crowns. Cool, huh? "You have beautiful teeth," he says. "Why would someone not want to save them?" Indeed. So I'm fitted with temporary fillings right now and will have them replaced on Thursday. Meanwhile, I'll be hangin' with my pal Gail here in beautiful Encinitas while Ron does his best to hold down the fort back home to stay dry. It's still raining back at the ranch.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

California here I come.....

Right back where I started from.... OK not quite where I started, but almost. Why? Chipped a tooth. I hate it when that happens. So I called my local dentist and busted a move all the way up to Waimea Town where he drills. He said my best option was a crown and he recommended a gold one because they are strong and hold up well. Yikes! Since I have no metal in my mouth at all, the prospect of a gold tooth was devastating to my fragile psyche. I asked about porcelain. He said he could do that too, but would have to file more of my tooth away. I asked about an overlay and he said he didn't think that would work as well, given the nature of the break. He also made no guarantees if I chose to simply fill it. It's just a small chip; one of the corner tips broke off. It's not like I cracked the thing in half or anything. So, I called my old (young actually) trustworthy dentist in Encino. When I told him my story, he said that he was confident he could fix it with an overlay and preserve my tooth. Yay! So, off to Cali I go. Amazingly, I got a screamin' cheap last minute airfare from ATA to leave Sunday.
Last night it poured rain here in the rainforest. Our tank is filling up fast. Faster, in fact, than we can use it. So we are no longer worried about running out.
I'm off to do some more laundry and get packing. A hui hou. Aloha!