Monday, February 26, 2007

Rain in the rainforest. Go figure.

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head..... but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red. Cryin's not for me... cuz.... I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'......

Ah but if I could, just by complainin', I would. On Sunday, with the water coming down, I had to get out and about. So I went to the Maku'u Farmers' Market. The place was packed. There was actually a traffic jam of people trying to get in and out of the parking lot from the highway. When I asked the juice lady what was up, she just replied, "This is what happens when it's been raining for two weeks straight and then there's a break in the weather. Everyone just has to get out." Indeed.
I picked up papayas and bananas at the market, then found my way to a new pet supply place in Hawaiian Paradise Park. How's that for a corny community name? They call it HPP for short. There is also an area called Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Acres.... pretty imaginative, eh? The worst is Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, a.k.a. H.O.V.E. It's a nice area if you like shacks on lava. Anyway, this woman has started a small pet supply business because there's isn't one in lower Puna. People with pets there have to drive all the way to Hilo to buy quality food, etc. I think she has a chance. Her name is Laurie and she is certainly nice and personable. She's hoping to entice a groomer and a holistic veterinarian to share the space with her.
How 'bout those Oscars, eh? Folks are already saying that the reason Eddie Murphy did not win for Dreamgirls was because he's black and he's a comedian. Huh? Forest Whitaker's black. Denzel Washington's black. Hallie Barry is black. Sidney Poitier is black. They've all won Oscars. No, none of them are comedians. But Robin Williams is a comedian. Jamie Foxx is a comedian and a musician and he's black. I know Eddie Murphy was fabulous is the movie and I think he's one of the most talented people on this planet and deserves to win an award (and he did - a Golden Globe). But Alan Arkin was at least equally fabulous in a much less glamorous but no less excellent film. So there are my two cents worth....
I think today may be the day to start my great American novel. But first, I need to spend a little time at the gym.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Spot of tea, anyone?

The weather's been less than optimal lately, unless you happen to be a duck or a toad or a fungus.
Last Thursday night, I attended my first Hawaii Island Tea Society meeting. The Tea Society is a non-profit organization recently formed to promote the cultivation and processing of tea as a crop on the Big Island. Tea grows well here and artisan tea masters are now beginning to understand how best to process theirs for high quality green, oolong or black teas. At this meeting, a grower in the Volcano area demonstrated his method for processing and drying oolong. We all tasted his finished product and, I must say, this was not my grandma's Lipton. This tea, completely unadorned, was flowery fragrant, smooth and mellow. It tasted naturally sweet. The difference between green, oolong and black teas are not the plants but the length of time the tea is oxidized and fermented before drying. For oolong, only the top three leaves of a new shoot are picked. For green, only the top two. For black, a leaf or two below the top three can be included. All three are equally good for you, loaded with antioxidants.
So I'm now very excited about planting my first cuttings. Meanwhile, we've planted a few more coffee trees and a cacao.
Saturday was a killer at the winery. A coworker called in sick and I was called in early. There were just two of us manning the tasting bars on the first day of a holiday weekend. My feet were killing me after 8 solid hours standing on them with no break all day. Pouring tastings is fun, but not so much when your back, legs and feet are screaming at you. That's what years of sit-down desk jobs will do to you. It's been many years since my days in a factory, which required standing for hours at a time. Sheesh! What a white collar wimp I've become!
Did I mention there's a new sushi bar in town? We did try it and were pleasantly surprised. It's equally priced with Ocean Sushi Deli but tiny and much less a dive. Ocean Sushi is OK as long as you keep your eyes on your food and ignore the floor, ceiling, cracked tables, etc. The new place was tasty and well presented. We'll go back soon. I'll probably go back even sooner.
Gong Hee Fat Choy! Happy New Year. For the Chinese, the new year begins with the first new moon of the year. There was a huge celebration in Honolulu, and a smaller but no less enthusiastic one in Hilo. It's the year of the golden boar, folks, so take heart. The Chinese believe it to be the luckiest of years. I hope they're right.While the year of the boar (pig) comes around every 12 years, the year of the golden boar happens only once every 60. So there you go. I happen to be a boar. Ha ha. Very funny. Your spelling is atrocious. And besides, you're reading this, aren't you? So who's the bore? Huh? Huh?
My neighbor's been doing plenny shooting lately. Maybe it's because it's the year of the pig. The pigs are running amok around the neighborhood, wreaking havoc in the yards of people who don't have barking dogs.
Speaking of pigs, up the road, some neighbors have had two black ones in a fenced area for some time. They captured them as adolescents. They've since grown and the other day I spotted five tiny babies! As the locals would say, "Da cute!" The parents are very protective, sheltering them from the wind and rain, coming to the fence to warn the dogs not to even think about sniffing their way. The Hawaiian word for pig is pua'a. So these little piglets are keiki pua'a.
Lucy is normally not deterred by bad weather. With all the rain, however, she is finding new fun indoors. Here she is, exploring the kitty food cupboard. As I write this, she is sitting on the desk, staring at my fingers as they tickle the plastic ivories.
That's all for now. A hui hou. Aloha.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Puna style suits us fine

According to Wikipedia, "Jury-rigging" or "jerry-rigging" refers to makeshift repairs or substitutes, made with only the tools and materials that happen to be on hand. Where I live, we simply call it Puna style.
As you can see here, Lucy's all about Puna style.
To give you an example, our storage shed is Puna style. Our greenhouses are Puna style. Ron has learned that he's been doing things Puna style for much longer than he's known what that is. Back in Colorado and before that in California I called him the jury-rigging king. In Gunnison, he made a funky plywood doggie door in our cabin to keep out the cold and let the pups go in and out through out garage. It came complete with a clasp made of a wooden peg. In California, while we were still dating and I was still in school, he connected a fan to the battery under the seat of my VW Beetle so I could kinda-sorta have air conditioning. It worked great until the wire shorted and began to burn, filling the entire car with black, toxic smoke within about a nano-second. I emerged coughing and spewing, spewing and coughing. "It worked pretty good there for awhile, didn't it?" He said. Indeed it did. If something can be made using duct tape, staples and zip ties versus actually constructing it from traditional construction materials or buying it already manufactured, then that's what he'll do. Now, proudly, we've found a place on this earth where our style matches the neighborhood. We dig Puna style. We ARE Puna style!
Our Puna style greenhouses now shelter soy beans, peas, peppers and tiny cabbage seedlings from too much rain. They also keep the plants a little warmer on these chilly winter nights. Chilly in Hawaii, you ask? Actually, yes. We live at 2500 feet, which isn't high by Colorado standards but is high enough to experience significantly cooler temperatures than sea level. My neighbor said her porch thermometer read 45 degrees early this morning. We had the wood stove fired up last night and re-stoked it this morning. By mid day, however, I was back in shorts and aloha shirt.
My first freelance article has been published locally. Yay! I think that officially qualifies as a foot in the door. Granted, it was whacked (an official journalism term) to fit the space for which it was allotted. Still, the byline is there, so the local portfolio has begun to take shape. Meanwhile, while the winery is fun and a nice diversion, it doesn't pay much, so I'm keeping my eyes on the want ads for anything that looks equally fun but pays more.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Short day musings

There's a new sushi bar in town! Yay! We'll go tomorrow night, so I'll report my review next blog. I've been thinking that Hilo could easily support another sushi joint, especially considering that the the largest segment of the population is Japanese.
Today was a short one for me at ye ol' wine factory. Most days are borderline crazy with visitors. Today, however, business was painfully, boringly slow, so one of us was asked to volunteer to go home. Both of my co-workers said they would prefer to stay, so I gratefully (and I think gracefully) skadoodled. Or is that skeedaddled?
I'm sitting here watching the news and see that some researchers have attached transmitters to a bunch of adolescent honu (turtles). The green sea turtle, which is endangered and protected in Hawaiian waters, is the subject of their study. The transmitters can send a signal from under the ocean surface to a satellite orbiting the earth. They'll track patterns of movement to learn more about honu behavior. They hope to see them return to local shores in about 25 years to lay nests. Very cool.
Even though the Green Sea Turtle is endangered, it's not uncommon to see them here. I also see nene geese (pronounced naynay) quite often, the state bird of Hawaii. I see them at work, on the grounds of the winery. There is also a group that frequents the Volcano Golf Club, right down the street from the winery. They look very much like Canada geese, but a little smaller with stripes on their necks rather than solid black. It is believed that thousands of years ago, ancient ancestors of the Canada goose were blown off course and found their way to Hawaii. They then evolved over the centuries, adapting to this environment. They thrive on the barren lava fields of the Ka'u desert. They also do much more walking than they do swimming, so they have lost the webbing between their toes. The nene, like all of Hawaii's native birds, existed on these islands for thousands of years before humans or other predators arrived. So they have no natural defenses against them. That's why most of them are endangered now.
For the honu, the biggest enemy in decades and centuries past was humans picking them up off the beach or grabbing them out of the water. Today, the honu's main nemesis it still humans. The turtles get entangled in gill nets or abandoned fishing tackle, cannot surface and eventually die. That's what happens regularly to Hawaiian monk seals too, the only seal indigenous to Hawaii.
I heard today from my tea plant contact that my cuttings will be available soon. I'm anxious to plant the tea alongside the coffee. You can never have too many antioxidants in your yard.
I ran five miles on the treadmill yesterday. I did it in 57:08. I actually lasted an entire hour on the machine. That's blazing for me. My legs were a bit like rubber when I dismounted the contraption. Still, I guess I'm pleased and amazed this middle-aged woman with chubby, short legs could accomplish such a feat. You'd think that, with all this running, I'd have lost bunches of weight. Nope. Not an ounce. And you'd also think that, given all this exercise, I could eat anything I want. Nope again. I apparently have the world's slowest metabolism.
That's all the news I have for today. A hui hou. Aloha!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A stylish Orphan Annie hairdo for free

The sun will come out, tomorrow.
Bet yer bottom dollar that tomorrow,
there's be SUN.....

TOMORROW, TOMORROW, I love ya, tomorrow, it's only a day away.

Did I mention that the climate here is somewhat humid? This is what it does to my hair.

Also, the wall behind me is the color I've painted the guest room. Pretty bold, huh?

Today was very foggy. At least the wind has died down. It blew so hard yesterday and the day before that we lost our carport tarp. The wind just ripped it to shreds. Our Puna style greenhouses needed a little repair too but overall, they survived. We've got pepper plants with blossoms, peas and soy beans sprouting out and cabbage seedlings searching for daylight.
There's a hole in the neighbor's fence. We know this because his goat came to visit the other day into our yard. That would be OK except for the fact that he (the goat, not the neighbor) seems to fancy munching on our coffee trees. The neighbor is a nice guy though and as soon as we told him, he moved the goat to another part of his property, away from our shared fence.
Tonight we cruised all the way down to Pahoa Town for dinner at Luquin's Mexican Food. Yummy! Steak tacos for me! Downtown Pahoa has become a regular little restaurant row. In just the few months since we were there last, several empty store fronts have been filled with some form of dining experience. There's a pizza place, two Italian, Filipino, Vegetarian -raw - organic, luncheonette-type cafe, two Thai places... it's hoppin.'
I love Pahoa. It's a place where everyone fits in because it's full of misfits. For better or worse, there's a live-and-let-live vibe to the place unlike anywhere I've ever been. It makes places like Berkeley and Boulder seem downright stodgy and mainstream. It's nice to see the old false front historic buildings being fixed up and occupied again, without compromising the character of the place too much. There is a Seven-Eleven at one end of town. Otherwise, there are not national chains of any kind there. Pahoa's character remains unique in the world. It has not yet become Generica. Thank goodness, hippies, locals, druggies, intellectuals, artists, recluses, fugatives, free spirits, entrepreneurs and all the other fine citizens of Pahoa for that.
That's all for today. A hui hou. Aloha!