Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's my birthday, fixed my bumper, new tail lights....

It's not really my birthday anymore. That was yesterday. I had fully intended to log on last night to tell you all about it, but a) it wasn't all that eventful and b) I ate so much for dinner last night that once we arrived back home, it wasn't long before I was zonked.
Dinner was lovely. We at at Kilauea Lodge.

I think it's one of the best restaurants on the island. It broke da bank and broke the mout'! The soup was a delicious puree of peas, cabbage, cream and curry. It had a name, but I can't pronounce it. For our main course we had Duck l'orange and Seafood Mauna Kea. The seafood dish was scallops, shrimp, fish and calamari with an assortment of veggies, topped with a sauce of creme fraiche, on pasta. The appetizer was to die for; coconut crusted, fried brie served with fruit salsa and fresh bread. And the dessert? Onolicious. A custard with raspberry sauce topping. It was all good. The lodge is so cozy, with a big fireplace, vaulted ceiling and koa wood tables. The best part? It's only a 10 minute drive from home!
I hit the gym yesterday after being pretty lazy for the past two weeks. Today, I'm sore. After last night's meal, I should really return for another workout today.
Monday night I attended a Tea Society presentation with guest speaker Roy Fong. He is the founder and proprietor of San Fransisco's imperial tea court, the first traditional tea house in America. Mr. Fong taught us proper tea brewing using the gong fu (kung fu) method of infusing the leaves with water in a gaiwan. A gaiwan is a simple ceramic bowl with a saucer and a lid. It's a ritualistic approach to tea brewing, not completely unlike traditional Japanese tea ceremony. For the Chinese, tea is not just a beverage. It is seen as central to physical and social well being. Tea is an integral part of Chinese culture.
Fong also gave us a little history lesson on the processing and drinking of tea in China. We in the west are used to hearing the term kung fu in relation to martial arts. It can be used to refer to anything that requires or inspires extra effort, extra work, something worthy of striving. The presentation was interesting and educational. Plus, they served free pupus. You can't beat that. I'm pretty sure that had something to do with the high turnout for the event.
I have a bad news good news story to share. The day I took Doc to the vet for his shots and a checkup a couple of weeks ago, I saw my up-the-road neighbor there. With her was a sad little puppy in a carrier. "I found her at the dump," she said. The poor little pup was emaciated and so weak she could barely keep her head up. The neighbor said when she found her, she seemed nearly lifeless. This puppy was a beautiful little short-haired shepherd mix of some sort, with mixed coloring and long legs. It's hard to believe that someone would just dump her there. That happens here often. So the neighbor brought the puppy to the vet with the hope that they could help nurse her back to health. They found that the poor little girl was much older than she looked (anywhere from six-nine months vs. three), was extremely dehydrated, malnourished and riddled with worms. They were concerned that she might have severe liver damage. All they and the neighbor could do was wait and see.
Two weeks or so passed and I ran into that neighbor at the tea presentation. I asked about the puppy, a little afraid of what I would hear.
"She made it!" beamed the neighbor. "You wouldn't even know she's the same dog. I think she's almost doubled in size since I found her." She said her pack (two crazy, over-the-top energetic border collies and a mellow, shaggy chow/shepherd something-or-other) had immediately accepted the new girl. They named her Ipo, which is an abbreviated word for sweetheart in Hawaiian.
So while the puppy story started out sad, it had a happy ending. I like that.
A hui hou. Aloha.

Friday, March 23, 2007

City, country, winery, fish

"Each time Honolulu city lights stir up memories in me.
Each night Honolulu city lights bring me back again...." (Keola Beamer)

Ron and I did something crazy on Sunday. We went to Honolulu for the DAY.

"No we're not the jet set.....
We're the old Chevrolet set....." (Tammy Wynette)

Ah yes, life is just one song lyric after another. Anywho, we flew to Honolulu to have lunch with one of Ron's clients who was on vacation on that far away isle. It's just a one hour flight from Hilo. (I wonder if there's a Hawaiian word for boondoggle?) We spent most of our time on the bus, traveling between the airport and Waikiki. That's because we aren't even the Chev-ro-let set. We ride da bus, brah! Hey, isn't using mass transit one of the best ways to help curb our use of greenhouse gases and stem the tide of global warming? Besides, it only cost $2 each way rather that $40 by cab. So there you go. I used the money I saved to buy a new aloha shirt and some shorts at ABC. I know locals deride ABC stores as tacky tourist traps. But I love them. There's one on every corner in Waikiki. Need a beach mat? Go to ABC. Forget your sunscreen? ABC. Got liquor? Check out the fine spirits at ABC. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts anyone? They got those too.
Lunch was nice at Duke's. There are Duke's on the mainland now, so I guess technically it's just another chain, but it's still nice. I had the ono Caesar. It was ono. And yes, it was ono, too. OK let me explain. There's a local fish here called ono. It's also known as wahoo. The Hawaiian's named it that, 'cuz it broke da mout,' cuz'. It's onolicious. So, I had the Caesar salad with ono fish. It was ono. Duke's at Waikiki is right at the beach, overlooking the water, the surfers and Diamond Head. The Hawaiian name for Diamond Head is Le'ahi, which translates to "brow of the yellow-finned ahi (tuna)." It was called Diamond Head by 19th century British sailors who mistook sparkly calcite crystals on the slopes of the crater for diamonds.
The winery was slammin' today. We didn't get much of a breather all day. My throat's actually a little sore from delivering my tasting shpeel so many times, time after time. Whew!
The weather was nasty, so it was a good day to be at work. Yesterday and the day before were nice. So I've included some pretty pics here of flowers and my new tea cuttings (bottom left) for your enjoyment. The orange blossoms (bottom right) smell like heaven. We didn't have any last year. Too much rain. And those bright pink/purple things right below this text are amazing too. The photo here's a little blurry, but you get the picture. They grow right out ofthe side of a tree fern. They appear to be some sort of bromeliad.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

One day in Kona, the rest on the tractor

Aloha from the biggest cyber-slacker in Hawaii. I know I've been remiss these past few days about posting. The weather's just been so nice that I just had to ride the tractor! We were finally able to get it back to the upper reaches of our property and it looks largely clearable, except for the forested part. That can be cleared too, but will take something a little bigger than my little John Deere to do it. Ah but first things first. Most of the open area is covered by tall ferns, not grass. The ferns are easy compared the the grass. So I've been mowing them into fern dust. Poof!
It just started raining ten minutes ago. In fact, it's pouring.
On Sunday, we made our quarterly pilgrimage to the west side to get some sun. We ate at a place called Quinn's Almost By the Sea, which served the best fish and chips on the island. It was ono. It was also ono; that is to say, the fish they fry is called ono, one of my favorites. You gotta appreciate a fish that's so good the Hawaiian word for it is 'delicious.' We also had crab-stuffed mushrooms. Also ono. Onolicious, in fact. Broke da mout'! We like to check our old vacation hotels and any others where we might want to stay for a night in the future. The Sheraton Keauhou Bay is nice. They've completely remodeled it. I hear their Luau is pretty good. We also stopped into the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Hapuna Beach is probably the best white sand beach on the island. Here's a photo shot across their modest pool to the shoreline. Nice. The palm trees above mark the hotel's entrance. The grounds were simple but pretty. Here are some bromeliads in the lobby.
I liked it there.
Today, I'm finally going to pick up my tea cuttings. The antioxidant farm is beginning to take shape.
Whew! It's pouring so hard I can hardly hear myself think. We get plenny ua now, brah! Of course, I'm a pretty quiet thinker. In fact, I try to avoid thinking whenever possible.
Right now, we are experiencing ua hoeele (continuous rain). Some might call it ua ho'okina (excessive rain). On Kauai, the news is reporting the possibility of wai halana (flood water).
Spell check hates it when I used Hawaiian words.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

How ya gonna stop the bleeding?

I can't believe I actually forgot to mention our most recent homeowners' adventure. Last weekend, our hot water heater died. It sprung a leak, big time. So off to Sears we drove. Before leaving, however, Ron had the chance to talk story with our neighbor and tell him about our latest mishap. "You'll have to install the new one yourself," said Leonard.
"Oh no," replied Ron. "I think this time I'll just pay a few extra bucks to have the guys at Sears install it."
"You'll end up installing it yourself," insisted Leonard.
Leonard was right. Sears is short-handed with very few employees available to perform appliance installations. Apparently, this is always the case. Sears has been short handed for the past 20 years here. So they said they had nobody available to do the installation any time soon. If we wanted to wait, we could, but it could be several weeks and the cost would be $250. Since the unit itself only cost $350, it seemed pretty crazy to pay such an exorbitant installation fee. So we did it ourselves.
It turned out to be fairly easy. That never happens to us. What we expect to be easy usually becomes an all day project with plenty of bleeding, swearing and frustration. We usually hate each other when it's over. There's a recovery period. Over time, we begin speaking to each other again. But this took us a total of two hours, and that included figuring out how to get it out of the truck and in position without a hand truck. We were quite pleased with ourselves, high fiving and hugging and telling each other how awesomely handy we were. Now our biggest dilemma is finding out what we are suppose to do with the old one. We could leave it wherevah, to be overgrown by jungle. That would not be pono, however, so we will find out the proper way to dispose of it.
Pono, means righteous; to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons.
Uh oh... I hear swearing from the kitchen.... speaking of bleeding....

Ron cut himself. Yes, there's blood. He was trying to cut up a chicken. He cut himself instead. This is not uncommon. In fact, it it is routine for our house. We buy commercial sized boxed of Band Aids for this very reason. We also keep plenty of antiseptic on hand. The man simply cannot be trusted with sharp implements of any kind. I am the queen of doctoring cuts.

Business at the winery has slowed, so they're cutting our hours.. That's OK. I've got writing assignments. Things are looking up in that area, which is good. I suspect business will pick up at the winery later this spring and I'll be back to full schedule. They cut me from three days per week to two. My co-worker was cut back to just one per week. She will likely begin looking for additional employment. That's life. She's young and cute so should have no problem.
All's well here in the rainforest. Tomorrow's another day.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Weekend around town

Shine on me sunshine, walk with me world it's a skipidee do da day.... She's the happiest girl, in the whole USA....
Ah but the question remains; is she actually in the USA? Oh sure, Hawaii is technically a state. But there are those here who contest that, since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy was illegal. They've got a point. Bill Clinton officially apologized.
It occurred to me after my last post that Lucy has, by far, gotten the most face time on the blog of late. So today it's Hoppsy's turn. Isn't she adorable?
Speaking of sunshine, we've actually seen some throughout the last two days. I'm glad for the reprieve from the rain, however brief.
Yesterday, Ron and I went to beautiful downtown Pahoa to check out their newly developing restaurant row. Funny thing is, most of them are closed on Sunday except for our old standby, the Mexican food joint. So, Luquin's it was. We had fish nachos. Never had those before. Very tasty.
We also dropped off our recyclables. We are fairly dedicated to that, but they certainly don't make it easy. Ron was there the other day and got chastised by a worker there for not completely flattening a cardboard box. Sheesh! He could have just dropped it into the trash and gotten no grief at all for that! Instead, he does the right thing and gets raked.
There are lots of feral cats at the recycling center/dump in Kea'au. Ironically, it's right next door to the Humane Society shelter. I have seen good Samaritans feeding them. The cats seem to peacefully co-exist with the chickens. You'd think they'd eat the chickens. Of course, the chickens are much bigger than most of the cats, so maybe that's why.
For the record, the Hawaiian word for cat is popoki. Moa means chicken. That's not to be confused with mo'a, which means cooked. Then there's huli huli chicken. Huli huli literally translates to "turn." Huli huli is rotisserie barbecued chicken. Onolicious!
The pigs are wreaking havoc in the neighbors' yards. They don't stick around our place because the dogs bark them away. They aren't very scared of people. The neighbor throws firecrackers at them and they just stand there and stare at him. He told Ron he'd shoot them, but his freezer is already full.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bored cats playing in the house

No self-respecting cat can resist a box. Lucy is no exception. If she's not in a box, she's sneaking into cupboards or closets. She is quite the little explorer.
Today at work a man came in to ask for the key to the lua. Clearly he was a local. One test of a person's knowledge of the islands is whether or not he or she knows the difference between a lua and a luau. A luau is a feast. The lua is where you go sometime after the feast.
We are experience substantial rain lately. Or, as they say locally, "We get plenny da kine ua."
Not much is new. It's been raining so much and so hard we haven't even considered any yard work in weeks. The coffee trees are still doing well and the vegetable garden is protected by our Puna Style greenhouses. It's somewhat treacherous just getting to town and back. Yesterday, I actually slowed down to about 20 mpg along one stretch when the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see much of anything in front of the hood. Shoots. I could hardly see the hood itself.
Today was slow at the wine factory, so I came home a couple of hours early. That's OK. I collected my first paycheck for freelancing writing today. CHACHING!
I'm reading a great book entitled, "Moloka'i" by Alan Brennart. It's the story of a young girl who contracts Hansen's Disease (leprosy) and is sent to the leper colony at Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka'i. She is sent at age 7, ripped away from her family. This happens in 1893, the same year as the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy by US businessmen, aided by the Marines. The author weaves bits of history into the girl's story.
I feel a trip to Kona coming on. My bones are complaining of vitamin D deficiency. Gotta to find some sunshine!
A hui hou. Aloha!