Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another day on planet earth

The following should be sung with enthusiasm to the tune of Gene Autry's Back in the Saddle:

I'm back on the treadmill again,
knowin' I'll never be thin,
Yet I trudge along the belt,
hoping some day I'll be svelte,
Back on the treadmill again....

Whoopie ty-yi-yo,
cruisin' kinda slow,
back on the treadmill again....
Whoopie ty-yi-yay,
don't have the guts to weigh,
but I'm back on the treadmill again!

Ron made himself a chicken quesadilla for lunch today. That got me thinking about something I saw on Good Morning America yesterday. Wolfgang Puck was on, demonstrating how to make that very thing: a quesadilla. Are we really that bereft of culinary skill in the household kitchens of America that we need a renowned chef to teach us to make quesadillas? Is a quesadilla not simply a grilled cheese sandwich with tortillas substituted for bread? All these things ran through my mind as I watched and listened.
"Zey are so ferry easy to make and ze keeds luf zem too!" exclaimed Wolfy, to resounding applause. I wondered, "Would they clap so enthusiastically if he'd been making grilled cheese rather than quesadillas?" Probably. After all, they were Americans and he is Wolfgang Frickin' Puck. Try saying those last three words three time really fast without getting into trouble. Better yet, just play the name game with "Puck." You know, "Puck puck bo buck....." I guess I'm in a bit of a Beavis and Butthead mood today.

Yes, I was back on the treadmill, sweatin' to the oldies. Actually, my iPod set kicked off with Green Day. I don't think Billy Joe Armstrong and the boys would really work for Richard Simmons. But they work for me!

The pigs were back today, so Ron grabbed up the .22 and shot in their general direction, which made them scatter. They'll stay away for a day. Maybe two. Ron thinks he saw them actually laughing at him, mocking him. He swears they were grinning and saying in fluent swinese, "Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah. No char sui for you, goofy haole man!"

We've had plenty of fun visitors to the winery lately. Fun, but lousy tippers. C'mon people! Don't be such cheapskates! At this rate, I'll be stuck in the hovel and the mud FOREVER!

After reading an article in today's paper about the dwindling fresh water supplies throughout the mainland U.S. as a result of drought, population growth and too much grass growing where grass isn't suppose to grow, I'm actually feeling a little better about our rain. I guess the grass is not always greener someplace else.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Frogs, turds and a poopie test score


Ding dong the coqui's dead,
guys sprayed something on his head,
ding dong the coqui frog is de-e-e-ead!

Yes, the coqui we had in the yard is now silent. He is no more. The coqui has ceased to be. He is pushing up the ginger. He is an ex-coqui.

I wonder if, in time, the coqui will evolve, genetically realizing that his incessant, high-decibel chirping can get him killed as often as it gets him laid. He would then begin to develop a quieter chirp, in a range or wavelength that humans cannot hear and only female coquis can detect. (Of course, the lady coquis would still find the softer sound irresistibly sexy, for they will evolve, too.) When that happens, they will probably no longer be known as coquis. Without the CO-QUI, that name doesn't really work, does it? I'm sure the frog doesn't care. He's just trying to survive in this world, just like the rest of us. If he could just do it in a less-annoying way, we could all live happily ever after.

And speaking of things that are dead or dying, so is my pursuit of a law degree. My LSAT score was abysmal. So much so that I cannot in good conscience apply to the University of Hawaii. There are only about 10 legitimate schools in the country that would consider me with a score so low. Since my family situation makes moving to Tulsa or St. Louis or North Dakota pretty much out of the question, I must either retake the test and hope for a dramatic improvement in my score or give up on this dream and formulate another. That said, I am not quite ready to give up. I've fallen off the proverbial horse, so it's time to get back on. I'll take the test in February. I'll also sign up for a bona fide, well-regarded test prep course. It'll be my last, best hope.
Now, here's my theory on law schools that require high LSAT scores. The LSAT does not measure knowledge. It measures aptitude and test-taking prowess. So it seems to me that the higher the LSAT score requirement, the lower a schools confidence in their own professors and curriculum to actually teach students what they need to know to pass the bar exam. They'd rather take the easy route by starting out with naturally bright students. So Harvard and Yale, what's so great about you that you don't think your faculty is good enough to transform average students like little ol' me into Perry Mason or Clarence Darrow or Marcia Clark? Not that I want to be Marcia Clark. I'm just sayin'.... Maybe the University of Tulsa is the better school.

I've been keeping close tabs on the fires in California. I must say that the people of the golden state are not only tough and resilient, but stay civil and even friendly through the worst adversity. I know this from first hand experience, having lived there at ground zero during the Northridge earthquake. I've heard stories of total strangers opening their homes to evacuees. They've had to turn volunteers and donations away from Qualcom Stadium and other shelters because they've literally got too many supplies and too much help. People are being welcomed with all of their family members, including the four-legged ones. It's all not only amazing but it really warms my cockles.

The Kona weather often brings us more sunshine here in the rainforest. It can, as I've said, encourage the vog to settle in and make the air a bit chewy with sulfur dioxide. After seeing the smoke in San Diego this week, I may never complain about the vog again. OK, I probably will. But I will be a total weenie for doing so. Anyway, yesterday was beautiful, with plenty of sun but little vog. So I took a ride on my bike around the Kilauea Crater in Volcanoes National Park. Riding through old lava flows has more impact from the seat of a bike than the seat of a car. The flows aren't so old -1974, 1984 - most within my own lifetime. I can almost picture the molten lava flowing in my minds eye when I see the jet-black color of those recent flows. I am also aware that it could one day soon be not a vision in my mind's eye, but a sight experienced by my actual peepers in living color, gawking at the power of nature as it both creates and destroys. I just hope my house is not in its path.
The tradewinds are now back. It's raining. But the air is clear and the breeze is keeping us comfortably cool.

Here's a very odd thing. I found a turd in the house tonight, near the trash can. I don't know who left it their, but based on it's size, it had to be either Hopps or Crawford. (Say is ain't so!) It was too big to belong to one of the cats. It could not have been Doc for two reasons. One is that his poops are much larger. He's a big boy. The other is that he would NEVER (and I can't emphasize that enough) poop anywhere near the house, let alone inside it. He hates poop and goes out of his way to find an obscure spot far away from his abode. While most dogs are intrigued with doggie doodie they encounter along their daily walks, Doc steers clear of all piles. It's a very endearing quality in him. Anyway, I don't know what went down that one of my long-potty/poopie trained girls would let one slip. It's an anomaly. At least, I hope it is. In any case, it's just poop. Poop happens.

Business has picked up at ye ol' wine factory. It's been pretty fun and the seemingly endless parade of tourists keeps us hoppin'. I just finished reading, "How Starbucks Saved My Life" and, working at the winery, I feel a little like author Michael Gates Gill. I'm proud to say I'm holding my own with the kids.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shlogging through the vog

Today I blog about the vog,
which came and went all day.
I like the blog but hate the vog.
That's all I have to say.

Ah, but it didn't rain until the day was mostly pau. Yow! That was nice.

We're experiencing what's known as Kona weather, a.k.a. Kona winds. Although, the term "winds" is a bit misleading. It's more like lack of wind. The air is still and muggy. The sulfuric gasses spewing from the current eruption aren't blown away. Instead, they settle over us, like forest-fire smoke.
Today, I spent sweating while cleaning windows, washing the car and just sitting around watching football. OK. I wasn't sweating while watching football. I had already done my sweating by then. Anyway, go Broncos! Go Rockies.

Here is a collection of photos from my recent two week trip to the mainland. We begin with images from In-and-Out Burger, including an unflattering self-portrait. This is what happens when you scrunch your face up while shooting yourself with outstretched arms.
Next is a cool shot of clouds at 37,000 feet somewhere near the Grand Canyon en-route from California to Colorado. It was a spectacular show outside the window, with wild cloud formations and great shadows cast by the late afternoon sun.
Next is a nice shot of a pretty street in Gunnison, Colorado. Below that, a pretty high-desert fall scene somewhere about midway between Gunnison and Lake City, Colorado. Next, a shot of me with some wine-swilling friends in the Santa Inez Valley, California.

All in all, it was a good time.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mainland visit comes to an end

Pebbles, Roxie and Bailey are keeping me company right now, while my friend Gail presides over her homeowners' association meeting. She's the president. That's life in the big city. Pebbles and Roxie are tortoise-shell calicos. Bailey is an ever-alert soft-coated wheaten. They live here in the pretty coastal town of Encinitas, Calif. Tonight is my last here on the mainland. I've just spent a long weekend with a very special group of people. I've learned over the years that really good friends don't come along all that often, or easily. True friends are rare. They are the individuals with whom you can truly be yourself and never worry whether they will continue to love you. You can act goofy or play the ukulele badly. You can be reflective or emotional or happy or sad and they'll always be right there with you. These are the people you worry about. They are the friends who feel your pain and with whom you want to share your own happiness and successes. It doesn't matter if you live next door or thousands of miles away. You may talk to them often or rarely. These are the friends with whom you pick up right where you left off with no awkward re-acquaintance, as if no time has passed. The fact is, they are your family, more so sometimes than your blood relatives. These are your peeps, your homeys. They are the people you entrust with your innermost hopes, dreams, frustrations and secrets. Hang on to these people.
It's been a nice, two week adventure. I got my tooth fixed. Funny. I didn't know it needed fixing before I left home. So much for the quick cleaning and checkup. I felt the chill and warmth of my old home town. The chill came from the the autumn air. The warmth came from the people of Gunnison. I was wined and dined in high-country style. I bonded with my empty-but-cozy cabin. The mule deer came to visit. I drank more wine, ate great food, laughed my okole off and got caught up with my California buddies. Last year we spotted David Crosby in a grocery store. This year, the celebrity sighting was Noah Wiley. Next year, I'm hoping we all get recruited as overpaid extras after an encounter in the checkout line with Stephen Spielberg. It rained just a little, but I enjoyed plenty of sunshine. Ron insists the sky has been crystal clear nearly every day since I left the island. Tomorrow, I will be reunited with him and my furry family. I will post the weeks' photos when I return to the hovel. I'm out of money, but life is good.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chilly today, hot tomale

Photos! I promised photos, but still can't get the gosh darned technology to work for me. Gunfunnit!
Gunnison is still here, thank goodness. It's changed a little, but very little. That's refreshing. I've heard there are prospective big changes on the horizon. They sound grand and even ominous. Some sound like good changes. Others, not so good. It still seems there is great interest and participation on the part of the citizenry here, so I believe the place is in pretty good hands. I've had a great time bopping around, catching up with friends in town. It is cold here, especially in the mornings. I don't mind really. That could be because I know I'm headed back to the tropics in a few days so I don't have to endure it for months on end. I have enjoyed the sun and the fall colors, but most of all I find it refreshing that all the fun, witty, intellegent, nice people I came to know and love here are not only still here but are still fun, witty, intellegent and nice.
I've still got a few chores to complete before the cabin is ready for winter. So, I'm off once again to the hardware store.
Photos will come. Really. They will. Really.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The smell of fall

The first thing I noticed when I got out of the car in the driveway of my Colorado cabin was the smell. It's a lovely, sweet melancholy scent. Fall is in the air. I don't really know what sweet melancholy smells like, other than to say there's something about it that puts you on notice that winter is just around the corner. It's a smell that tells you summer is over and it's going to get darker and colder very soon. But for now, it's autumn and it's glorious. The grass is golden and the trees and bushes are ablaze with yellows and reds, the wind blowing leaves about like a flurry of butterflies. There is no fall smell in Hawaii. In fact, Hawaii has it's own special smell, of tradewinds and salt water, foliage and flowers and moistness. They are mostly nice smells to be sure, but the smell of fall in the Colorado mountains is especially wonderful. Unfortunately, a photo will have to wait, since this computer at the library does not have a slot for my camera chip. Bummahs. Not that a photo could convey a smell, really....
One of the most obvious differences I've noticed between my new home and my old one is this: In Gunnison, there are lots of skinny people wearing lots of clothes. In Hawaii, there are lots of fat people wearing next to nothing. Here in Gunnison, it's all about flannel, polar fleece and hiking boots. Oh, and there are hats. Plenty of hats. In Hawaii, it's surf shorts, aloha shirts and slippahs. Although I did see that chubby, tatood girl in downtown Hilo last week wearing Uggs. Ugh! I guess she made an impression. I'm still visualizing the image in my mind's eye. Brutal.
I've just been here one night, but have managed to connect with and run into several old friends and acquaintances. That's the beauty of a small town and of working as a small town journalist. Both the job and town afforded me the opportunity to get to know just about everyone one here or to at least learn to recognize them enough to say howdy.
I spent last evening strumming my ukulele. With no TV in the house, it seemed like a good thing to do. And since nobody was there to hear me and dispute it, I can say that I sounded pretty good. The acoustics are great in there. The place is totally empty except for a futon pad and the kitchen table with a single chair. There are no troublesome couches, chairs or pictures on the walls to muddle the sound. I do have my iPod and a radio and so there are plenty of tunes to keep me company. I'm already planning a trip back here this winter. I'm thinking it would be nice to check on the place in early February and maybe do a little skiing, too. Maybe if I pull a few addition shifts at the winery I can swing it....
I'm now off to the hardware store to buy plastic and insulation for windows and pipes. I promise that photos will be coming soon. There's gotta be a computer in town that can upload my pics.
A hui hou. Aloha.

Friday, October 05, 2007

travelin'

It's funny the things you miss about a place. For me, there wasn't much to miss about Southern California when I left there, other than good friends (I know, that's huge), the weather and In-And-Out Burger. I definitely have not missed the smog. Yesterday, it was completely obscuring the San Gabriel Mountains from the San Fernando Valley. When I first moved to CA many moons ago, it was several months before I knew those mountains were even there. Then one day the wind blew, the air cleared and, as if by magic, they appeared. They really are beautiful.
After visiting the dentist in Encino yesterday morning (and leaving him with more money than I can make at the winery in three months), I went on a one hour search for a double-double, fries and vanilla shake. I found it. Yay! Yummy! They really should probably rename the place. It should now be called In-And-wait just a little while-just a few more minutes-almost ready-Out Burger. It's not so fast as it used to be and much bigger with full on seating inside. The seating is actually nice. The old In-And-Outs had just a walk up window, a drive up window and two picnic tables outside, if you were lucky. The lines would often circle the building. Now, you can stand in line inside, in the comfort of air conditioning. There's even a bench to sit on while you wait for your number to be called. It's just as tasty, however, and that is what really matters most. After an artery-clogging lunch, I high-tailed it back to LAX and jumped another plane to come to Denver. Within minutes, I remembered something that I had hated about this place. Don't get me wrong. I actually really like Denver. It's a city with lots going for it. There's just this one thing that really bugged me: static. No, not on the radio. It's the static electricity that's generated when you slide your okole across the car seat while exiting the vehicle. You inadvertantly touch the metal door and youch! Shock! Sparks fly! It's so irritating.
It's a fabulous, sunny day here in Denver, with fall colors just beginning their display here in the flatlands. I'm looking forward to seeing the show as I wind my way to higher elevations enroute to beautiful, sunny Gunnison.
The hotel's computer will, for some reason, not read my photo card, so I am unable to upload my photos just yet. Stay tuned. I'll figure out a way to have some eye candy for you with the next post.
A hui hou. Aloha.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What we have here today, is a failure to communicate.
(This quote is attributed to either to Lyndon Johnson or that guy from Smokey and the Bandit.)

I find that mind reading is a valuable skill for married people. Unfortunately, it's a skill I have yet to master fully. I do have occasional moments of glory, when the other half will refer to a thing or a location in the vaguest of terms and I actually know what he means. Today, however, was not one of those times.
We were traveling to Hilo for some light shopping and to take some cash out at the ATM. "Take out a couple hundred," says Ron.
We arrive at Safeway and walk through the door together. At this point, he blurts, "There's your thing." He does not point or nod in any particular direction.
"My thing?" I ask. I look around. I see lots of things.
He is immediately exasperated. I hear the big, 'why me?' sigh.
"Right there," he points to the ATM, sounding not just a little irritated.
"Oh, I see. I'm supposed to know that 'my thing' is the ATM machine," I say. At least, that's what "my thing" is today.
On the way home, I explain that saying, "There's the ATM," is no more difficult to say than, "there's your thing."
"You really need to work on your communication skills," I say.
Later, we're driving up our road when he points at a red barn and says, "Isn't that where the guy lives who bought that tiny house up the road from us?"
"What tiny house?" I ask. Our neighborhood is full of tiny houses. Again, I hear the sigh.
"The tiny house with no bathroom in it, a block up from our house."
"We don't have blocks on our street. What are you taking about?" I say.
"The tiny house that's set back from the road?" He says, sort of mock question-like.
I am still at a loss. "Who told you about this?" I ask.
"You did!" he replies. At this point, I can't help myself. I start laughing hysterically.
We drive up to the "tiny house" which is, in fact, a storage shed alone on a lot. It all comes back to me then. I think I did tell him that the guy who lives in the barn bought the shed. I don't remember how I came by this information. I think it was at least six months ago, so why this knowledge popped into his head today is a mystery.
"That's not a house," I say.
"Then what is it?" he asks.
"A shed," I say.
"Why is that not a house?" he says.
"Because it's a shed," I say.
Now, thankfully, he is laughing too.

Ukulele lesson #4 tonight had us learning something new. That's because yours truly actually asked a question. The instructor was making the rounds, asking people if they were having trouble with any chords or chord changes in particular. Then, we played a song together. At the end, as he does with every song we play, the instructor whipped out a fancy little three-chord finale. He again asked, "Any questions?" I raised my had.
"Yes?" he said.
"Can you teach us that little ditty you play at the ends of songs?"
He smiled. The other students were nodding their heads.
"Sure!" he said.
So, he did. Now, if I can master E minor, I'll be stummin' like a pro. OK that's probably an exaggeration. I'll be stummin' like an advanced beginner. How's that?

Tomorrow night at this time I'll be in the air en-route to Honolulu. Then, I head across the sea on the red eye to my dentist in Encino. Yes, I live in a hovel in the rainforest, but I go to a dentist in L.A. He is, in fact, a dentist to the stars. How's that for prioritizing? It kind of reminds me of a guy who lived in my apartment building while I was going to school in California. I was a poor, starving college student, so it goes without saying that the apartments were less than plush. Most residents drove old beaters or econo-clunkers. Most, but not all. There was one guy who wore fancy suits and drove a brand, spankin' new red Corvette.

After the dentist, I hop onto another plane, then onward to the mile high city where I'll crash for the night. Next morning, I'll wind my way through the Rockies to Gunnison. The task at hand will be to winterize the cabin, visit some old friends and, with any luck, absorb some vitamin D. After all the rain we've been having here, the bones are feeling downright squishy. Then, it's back to California for some wine tasting and silliness. I can't wait.

Ron will remain in Hawaii, working feverishly and taking care of the furry ones. He'll be exhausted by the time I return.

I am completely and utterly out of wine here in the hovel, except for two bottles of 1999 Sunstone Eros. I've been told that those bottles are now worth about $100 each, or more. So I am saving them for a special occasion. Tonight, therefore, I am enjoying an ice cold Dos Equis.
The coqui patrol was suppose to pay us a visit at 7 p.m. tonight. We have a frog. One itty-bitty, obnoxiously loud frog. So does our neighbor. The coqui guys even called to remind us that they would be here. It's 7:55. They're not here yet. It is Hawaii, however, so I guess technically they're not late yet. Oops. I spoke too soon. They're here. See? Right on time.
A hui hou. Aloha!