Monday, December 31, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR!



It's still raining,
but life is great,
so onward we go
to two thousand and eight!

May two of my favorite quotes guide you through the new year.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
Mahatma Ghandhi

"Not all those who wander are lost."
J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fun with friends


We've just enjoyed three days visiting with two of Ron's clients, Tom and Michelle. We hit it off famously and I think I'm safe in saying that they are now not just clients, but friends. They joined us for some barbie on the lanai Thursday night. Friday, we gobbled some great sushi and enjoyed more fun conversation. Today, we spent hours meandering our way around the island. They were great company and gave us a welcome respite from the incessant rain.
At one stop along the highways and byways, we strolled the grounds of Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, a.k.a. Place of Refuge. The Hawaiian kingdom of old imposed strict laws on the people. If a person broke the law, the punishment was harsh. If you were observed standing in the shadow of the king, for instance, the penalty was death. If a soldier refused to fight his king's battles, his ass was grass. Unless, that is, he could get himself to the place of refuge before being apprehended and whacked. Run, swim, crawl...if he made it to Pu'uhonua o' Honaunau, his life was spared, the offense was forgotten and he was allowed to return to his life. Today, the refuge is a National Monument.
When we arrived there, we spotted this honu relaxing in the sand. I guess the turtles need a refuge, too.
Lunch at Kona Brewing Company was a long, leisurely affair, followed by drinks on the beach at The Four Seasons Hualalai. Then, it was back to the rain on the windward side.

Thanks to Tom, I have a new joke to share:

A skeleton walks into a bar. He says to the bartender, "Give me a beer....And a mop."

Badump bump.

Friday was a killer at work. We were busy non-stop, all day long. The people just kept coming and coming and coming. We had nary a moment to breath. The thought of eating sushi later that evening definitely kept me going. I had songs playing in my head all afternoon:

If you knew sushi, like I knew sushi....

Sushi in the sky-y, with diamonds...

Hang on, sushi! Sushi hang on!

Speaking words of wisdom, wa-sa-bi....(wa-sa-bi)

So when we finally got there, it was oh so onolicious! We washed it all down with some Orion beer from Okinawa.

I'm scheduled back at the old wine factory again tomorrow. I really hope it's just a little less crazy than my last shift.

Geez. Maybe it'll rain again tomorrow. We definitely need the moisture. (NOT!)

A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Island Christmas

On Christmas eve, Ron and I took an afternoon trip up the Hamakua coast in search of some sun and lunch. We found neither. Traffic was pretty heavy through Hilo, where we stopped en-route at Hilo Hattie to buy me a new Christmas aloha shirt. Our quest for food had us headed to a little place in Laupahoehoe called The 50s Cafe. I had heard it was good, so we thought we'd give it a try. It took us a long time to get there, winding around the curves of the highway in the rain. We were both pretty hungry. Ron kept asking me, "How much further?"
I'd say, "I think it's right up here."
Then he'd say, "That's what you said last time I asked."
Then I'd say, "I know, but I'm pretty sure it's right around the next curve."
Then we would laugh.
At one point, we made a detour along the Onomea Bay scenic drive, only to be turned around within just a few miles. We were stopped suddenly by a mudslide and several large, tall trees that had fallen from the hillside across the road, right at the trailhead that leads down to the shoreline. One big tree had landed on the roof of a parked SUV. It appeared that car's inhabitants had taken the trail and returned to find their vehicle pinned. Big fat bummahs! It must have just happened. I overheard the guy talking to his rental car company, letting them know what had happened. We assumed with all the other phones in operation and the casual demeanor of the dozen or more people standing around that the authorities had been summoned. We made a quick, three-point turn-around and high-tailed it outa there, choosing to skeedaddle before the rest of the hillside came down and before the traffic backed up behind us and we became trapped at the dead end created by the debris. As we returned to the highway, we saw that the cops were already on their way.
When we finally made it to Laupahoehoe, we learned that The 50s Cafe is closed on Mondays. Once again, bummahs! So we opted for some filling station chicken. The only other place to get food near there is a gas pump/mini-mart that advertises "Maui fried chicken." I guess it's "Maui fried" in much the same way that the Colonel's is "Kentucky fried" no matter where you buy it. Ironically, when we entered the place, we saw that the chicken was gone. "Somebody jus' come in an' clean us out," said the clerk. Again, bummahs! It was going to be a bit of a wait before the next batch o' foul would be ready. So we headed back to Hilo Town. On the way, we spotted the rental SUV that had been crushed by the tree. It was on the back of a tow truck, parked on the highway. It didn't really look all that bad; just a nasty dent in the roof. We also wound a ways through the jungle near Laupahoehoe. I shot this photo of a raging muddy stream. It's been raining so hard for so long that streams are all brown and heavy with silt washing out to sea. When we got to town, we split a plate of local/chinese/pipi stew/whatevahs kine stuffs at a little hole-in-the-wall near the KTA grocery store. It did the trick, tiding us over until dinner. Later that night, Lucy decided she should clean my bowl after I was finished with it. I guess she likes my lasagna. Then, she decided to clean me up a bit, too.
This morning, I spent some quality time on the couch with Crawford. She can't really jump up on her own anymore, so I gave her a boost. It's her couch, after all. Crawfie and I watch the exploits of Ralphy in "A Christmas Story." I got my egg nog fix for the year, then talked to a few friends and family on the phone. Later, I delivered some locally made preserves to my neighbors and talked story for a few minutes with those who were home. This afternoon, we went to the Christmas buffet at the Kilauea Military Camp in Volcanoes National Park. We were not dazzled by the buffet. Most perplexing was the "turkey" slices that were a ying and yang blend of both white and dark meat. Later, Ron actually asked me, "What was up with that turkey?" I suggested it was a "turkey loaf" of some sort, pressed and molded in such a way that it no longer resembled real turkey. Yet that's what it was. Then, there was the fruitcake for desert. I'm the only person I know who actually likes good fruitcake. Harry and David's comes to mind. Unfortunately, this was the stereotypical kind of fruitcake, the kind that gives all respectable fruitcakes a bad name. It was heavy as a cannon ball and was loaded with those unnaturally-colored green and red fruit thingies that don't really taste like anything. On the other hand, the lamb chops and mashed taters with gravy were ono. The green beans were cooked with bacon. Bacon makes everything good. I wore my new shirt. All in all, it was a nice, island Christmas.

Hope yours was nice too.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Apple spice cake, a long nap and crabs. Oh my!

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say,
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway,
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright,
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night,
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say "Merry Christmas to you."
Written by R. Alex Anderson, 1949


http://melekalikimaka.com/meleka.wav

If you click on the link above, you can hear this classic, as sung by Bing Crosby. What better to put you in the holiday spirit!

Ah, Christmas time. It must be the reason I got the bug to bake tonight. So after watching Shrek 3, I whipped up an apple spice cake. It's still cooling. It's late, so I won't know how it tastes until tomorrow morning. I think it will go nicely with my coffee. It definitely smells good.

I was so exhausted after working four days in a row at the winery this week that today, when Ron said he was going to take a nap, I joined him, only to wake up three hours later! Three hours! It felt great! It's also why I'm sitting here blogging my heart out at 10 p.m., not the least bit sleepy. Friday night my feet were so sore that I was actually beginning to limp a little. Even my Crocs were no help. My left arch felt swollen, my legs ached, my back twinged as though I'd been shoveling heavy, wet snow for hours. It was enough to make me think that, instead of a job that requires me to be on my feet all day for peanuts, I should find one that lets me sit all day and pays me some real money. If I need exercise, I'll go to the gym or take a long walk. Fun as it is, There's no way I could work at the winery full time. I don't know how my manager Kathie does it. She arrives at 8 a.m. to clean and prep the place for opening. Then she works alongside us for 8 hours. She puts in 10 hour days, mostly on her feet, four days a week.

I had vowed to seek out some sun today, but with the long nap and all, it seemed a better day to clean house. Now, I really feel ready for the holiday. Tomorrow, I plan to deliver locally made preserves to my neighbors' porches to wish them Merry Christmas. Then it's off to the beach!

My mom sends us dungeness crabs every year for Christmas. Sounds weird, huh? It's something that was scarce in Colorado. Turns out it's hard to find here, too. It's also one of my favorite foods. So it's become a tradition. We ate crab for dinner last night, then again tonight. I'm thinking that tomorrow night, we might eat crab.

I'm watching John Mayer wail right now on Austin City Limits. That boy just oozes talent from every pore.

A hui hou. Mele Kalikimaka. Aloha!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Secret Santa day

Who says you can't have a white Christmas in Hawaii! If you squint a little, you can see a thin strip of snow atop Mauna Loa.
Early this morning, my poor co-worker encountered a horrible customer. It actually happened an hour and a half before we were scheduled to open. Teddy was there early, as he often is, when a car drove into the parking lot. It was about 8:30 a.m. The vehicle screeched to a halt, not in one of the designated parking spaces, but smack in the middle of the lot. A man got out, leaving his car door wide open. He walked into the tasting room.
"I'd like to taste some of your wine." he said. The man had ignored the closed signs on our gate and at the front door. He was German and spoke perfect English, but with a distinct accent.
Teddy told him we were not scheduled to open until 10:00, but agreed to allow the man to come in and taste anyway. He wanted to taste the red. The man told Teddy he had slept in his car last night. Why he said this was unclear to Teddy, but Teddy poured on, in typical friendly fashion. Upon sampling a single sip, the man said something like, "This is awful. You stupid Americans will drink anything. I'm going back to Germany to tell everyone how terrible the wine is in Hawaii."
At first, Teddy thought the man must be joking. The guy's just got a sarcastic sense of humor, right? No such luck. When Teddy laughed, grouchy German guy did not. He scowled, stomped out the door and back to his car, then sped away.
Personally, if it had been me, I'd have been tempted, upon hearing him refer to us as stupid Americans, to reply, "Stupid German. You lost the war." I know. Very un-PC. I probably wouldn't really have said that, mostly because I'd have been too slow to think of it fast enough, stupid American that I am. Still, pretty rude of the guy. To be fair, I had a group of Germans in just yesterday who were a blast. They were fun, laughed a lot and seemed to genuinely enjoy the wine and the tasting experience. I suspect they have way more friends back home than the surly German guy, so will tell many more people how much fun they had at our winery than the jerk can tell about how much we suck.
Teddy and the rest of us were soon cheered by today's employee Christmas party. We had a fancy soiree at the Yacht club several weeks ago with spouses and children. This one today was just for the worker bees; more of a cheese platter and soda pop affair. It was a better chance for us to get to know one another, especially those who don't work together. The fun included a secret Santa gift exchange. We all drew names two weeks ago and many of us chose co-workers we didn't know so well. That forced us to learn a little something about the person for whom we were buying a gift. It also broke the ice and encouraged us to talk story with those whom we were less well acquainted. It was a very festive day.
I have noticed something interesting working at the winery. Lots of people bring children, which seems odd to me. There are some places that are not well suited to keiki, and in my opinion, a winery is one of those places. I again today had a parent try to give his youngster a taste of the wine. I had to stop him.
"I can't give it to him, even if I'm his parent?" the father asked.
"You can at home," I said, "but not in here." For some reason, people wouldn't think of taking their four-year-old or 12 year-old to a bar and buying him a beer or a cocktail, but a sip of wine at a winery is OK. Morally, I'm not really opposed. It's common in Europe for children to drink wine with their meals or enjoy a sip with parents from a fairly early age. But doesn't everyone know how strict liquor laws are when it comes to serving minors in the U.S? It's not the Europeans offering their children sips of wine. It's Americans every time. They know better. I know they do.
Something I've observed over the past months is that many American children are wild and undisciplined. Not all, but many. They run amok around the store and the grounds while their parents ignore them. They're allowed to hang on the bar, to eat all the pretzels in the bowl and to drink cups of our complimentary coffee. Kids drinking coffee? Mind you, I'm not talking teenagers. I'm talking nine-years-olds. Is that weird or am I just old fashioned? I guess a kid can suck down a Mountain Due and get all buzzed up, so what's the difference? I may have mentioned this before, but one day, I caught a little girl licking the stir sticks, then sticking them into the sugar dispenser, then licking them again. Yummy! Yuck! Her parents had no clue. They had their backs to her while they tasted wine. She was about four or five. I didn't blame here. The poor kid was bored. She'd been drug to a winery, after all. What could be more dull. Today, a two-year-old was allowed to put his hand in the pretzel bowl, stuff the pretzels into his mouth up to the knuckles, then reach for more pretzels with his slobbery little mitt. He was adorable, but geeze! Anyway, I've noticed that keiki from other places in the world are, for the most part, much more well behaved. They are also pleasant, conversational and engaging. Usually, the kids brought in by European or Australian parents are a little older. Either it's too expensive to bring pre-schoolers on vacation all the way to Hawaii or these parents instinctively know that young children do not belong in wineries. Americans like to bring in toddlers, then just let 'em go. Little tykes are left unsupervised in a store filled with breakables. Today, a three year old reached up to grab a red velvet box near some fragile Christmas ornaments. Luckily, the box was empty and did not contain one of the hand painted glass balls for which it was designed. Still, he took off with it, running around the store at full speed until his mom finally noticed and stopped him. Yesterday, two children, brother and sister, ran back and forth across the floor stomping loudly for several minutes until their parents finally noticed that we were all having to shout over the clomping to communicate. I guess I'm just an old fuddy duddy. All I know is that if I had behaved in public like I see kids behaving in our store ... well let's just say I knew better.
Today was the first day in more than two weeks that we've seen the sun. The sky was mostly blue at the winery all day, although I was told that it rained all afternoon here at the house. I can't tell you how nice it was to see that blaze orange orb in the sky. It was warm and bright and put me in the best mood I've felt in ages. Sunday, I'm going to the beach no matter what. I may even get a little sunburned. Ron can come if he wants to. If he doesn't, that's OK by me. I'm headed out of fungi-land, with or without him. I need a fix of vitamin D and a little color in my cheeks. For a girl who lives in Hawaii, I've become downright pasty. Shark bait, as they say here. So I can't wait to soak up some rays!
A hui hou. Aloha!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Give the guy a dime; give the kid a sweater

I've always been kind of a practical person when it comes to interpreting fantastic stories and song lyrics. As a kid, I though Miss Muffet was a wimp. Scared by one little spider? She'd have really freaked if she'd been cleaning with me last weekend. And that old woman who lived in the shoe with all those children should simply move out to a bigger place. Maybe a boot would be better. Size 92. My mom was a big Kingston Trio fan. They had a song called, "MTA" which stands for Metro Transit Authority. It tells a humorous tale about a guy named Charlie who gets on a Boston subway train and, because he doesn't have enough change to pay the fare, he can't get off. The chorus goes like this:
Well did he ever return, no he'll never return and his fate is still unlearned,
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston, he's the man who never returned....
At one point, the song describes the man's wife, who stands at the station every day at quarter past three and hands him a sandwich through the window. Now, most people just take the song for what it is; a silly folk tune. But from a very early age, that lyric has bugged me big time. "Why doesn't she just had him the change he needs to get off the train?" I think I asked my mom when I was 8. What train makes you pay when you get off rather than when you board? Maybe she really didn't want him to get off the train? Maybe the guy was a complete loser and she was glad to be rid of him. See? I'm such a cynical lyrical buzz-kill.
Today, I heard a classic Christmas song that has always given me the same sort of pause. There's a phrase in the tune "Do you hear what I hear?" that says, "A child, a child, shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold....." Now maybe it's just me, but would it not be better to bring the kid a blanket? Some warm booties and a tiny fleece hat would be nice, too. I just don't think silver and gold will keep him very warm. He's shivering, for God's sake.

I finally decorated my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It's a small $10 fake, but it looks great with lights and ornaments. I have lots of great ornaments. All together, I guess they've got some heft. Just as I was putting the last of them on the tree, it began to topple over. I felt a little like Clark Griswold at first, but managed to catch it just in time. So Ron fixed the problem by hammering a nail into the window sill behind the tree and tying a string from tree to nail to hold the tree upright. Perfect! It's pretty much what we did earlier today, when we re-staked several coffee trees that were leaning in the soupy soil.
A hui hou. Aloha!

Goodbye Dan Fogelberg

Saturday started out as just another day to clean the house. Within a short time, however, I found myself on a mission; a mission of arachnid eradication. The spiders, for all their great bug-eating prowess, have a tendency to get a bit out of control in a place where there's no real winter. They're not only everywhere outside, but inside, too. I found webs with giant eight-leggers in corners, on the ceiling, hiding under window shades....everywhere! They were in places I vacuumed just two days before. Since the invasion of the beetles, the spiders have grown enormously fat and happy. So I sucked 'em all up. EEEEEEEEWWWWWW! I was none too keen on removing the vacuum bag.
In addition to spider sucking, there was fun with fungi. What did the girl mushroom say to the boy mushroom? Gee your a fun-gi! Unfortunately, the prevailing fungus amongus was not shitakes or portabellos, but mold and mildew. Again.... eeeeeeeeewwwwww! I cleaned the top of the fridge, which was home to a nice mixture of dust, mold, rust and dead bugs. Neither Ron or I can see the top of the fridge from where we stand, so we have to make a concerted effort to climb up on a step ladder and give it a spray and a wipe now and then. I even dusted the tops of the kitchen cupboards. Shoots. You'd think it was spring or something.
Meanwhile, it continued to rain. Check that. It continues to rain. Out of the last 15 days, it has rained 13. When I say it has rained, I don't mean we've enjoyed a half-hour shower every mostly-sunny day. I'm talking constant, heavy rain, interrupted only occasionally by a moment of sprinkles, a peek of blue sky and then on to the next downpour. During that brief respite, you might make it to the road from the house to pick up the paper before getting soaked. You might not. It's downright squishy out there.

Looking farther than you'll ever hope

to see, takes you places you don't know
Search for someone you can't ever hope
to be and still you go
Oh, still you go.

Lyrics from Changing Horses, written by
Dan Fogelberg

I just learned that Dan Fogelberg died today. The radio was playing "Another Auld Lang Syne" just Friday on my way home from work and, despite the fact that I hadn't heard that song for a very long time, found myself singing along, word for word. I think I listened to "Souvenirs" until I wore out the grooves. "Leader of the Band" makes me cry every time. It saddens me that he's gone.

I was called in to work today after a co-worker slipped and fell en-route to her car from her house. Fortunately, she was found to have no broken bones. She was, however, badly bruised and will likely be very sore for days. I've taken that kind of fall before. Your walking along, completely upright, then suddenly... SLAM! You're not. Upright, that is. It hurts.

My first customer was a deaf woman who lives in Volcano Village. I'm told she comes in regularly, although I've never met her. She told me she had gotten a cochlear implant. I asked if it worked. We were conversing via pad and pen and it was obvious she could not hear my voice, so I was thinking she should ask for a refund. She said that she could now hear background sounds, like the phone ringing or a horn honking. When I asked if that was helping her "a little" she beamed. "Not a little," she said. "A lot." To her, the ability to hear those sounds, after a lifetime of complete silence, had changed her life. She was a very happy, cheerful person. I asked if she had heard the thunder from last week's storm. Very animated, without writing it down, she said, "Yes," then made a rumbling noise with her voice, shaking her hands. She lives on a 23 acre flower farm with her boyfriend, four dogs and a cat. We actually understood each other pretty well, but it made me wish I knew sign language.
I learned several years ago that "hearing impaired" is not the same as deaf. People who are hearing impaired can hear, but with diminished capacity. Deaf people cannot hear. They do not consider themselves hearing impaired. In fact, they dislike the term, considering it one that hearing people use to describe them when trying to be politically correct. I was glad to have had this knowledge in my conversation with this woman.

A group of visitors from Arizona asked me this afternoon if I knew of any place to eat on their way back to Kona. I asked them, "Which way are you going?"
"Back to Kona," they repeated.
"Are you going north or south?" I asked.
"Just back to Kona," they said. The reason I was asking, of course is that this is an island and, whether you turn left or right at the highway, you are headed to Kona. Some people take the route to the north. Others go south. Both directions are pretty much equidistant. I clarified this to them, suggesting that, on an island, no matter which way you go, if you go far enough, you'll end up in Kona. They thought this was the funniest observation they had ever heard and laughed hysterically. Hey. I try to be entertaining. Sometimes, I succeed.

A hui hou. Aloha.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mauna Loa snow

The morning began crystal clear, with views of snow-capped Mauna Loa across the golf course on my way to work. Unfortunately, I neglected to bring the camera, so didn't get a shot. Maybe I'll get lucky tomorrow.
The nice weather did not last, however, and soon, we were shrouded in Volcano Village mist, interrupted regularly by terrific downpours. Still, it was a fun, silly day. We didn't get busy until late and even then, we weren't crushed. There was plenty of time for us to sing along to the Christmas carols playing on the stereo, talk story and even play a little hang man on the dry erase board we use to convey mass messages to the crew.
Ron spent the afternoon learning that the insurance company "expert" he had made an appointment to consult knew less about the coverage provided by various policies offered by her company than he did. I think the experience caused temporary waning of his aloha. "You don't have to be so mean," said the woman at one point. Whether it's the insurance industry or the bureaucratic red tape in Hawaii required of small business owners, it can be enough to make even the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa lose their aloha. So you can see that poor Ron doesn't stand a chance.
The past few days have been downright chilly up at the winery. Certainly not midwest ice storm chilly and not Gunnison Colorado sub-zero chilly, but definitely long sleeves and sweaters chilly. I get all kine chicken skin l'dat.
A hui hou. Aloha.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wind and rain in paradise

It was a dark and stormy night. Really. It was. Then there was another. Then another. Those nights were accompanied by some dark and stormy days, too. Last week was pretty wild, with buckets of rain, power outages, toppled trees, washed out roads and downright weather craziness. On Wednesday at the winery, I was the hero for figuring out how to turn the incessant beep of the alarm system off when the power went kaput. Visitors and fellow employees alike applauded when the loud, high-pitched whine finally stopped. I also got to ring up transactions by hand and count back change for the first time since my early 20s. That's a very long time, folks. Whew! Luckily, those things you learn when you're young are the things that stay with you for life. It was like riding a bike. I handled the finances while my cohorts poured tastings and helped tourists with merchandise. Amazingly, all the credit card and cash receipts balanced perfectly at day's end. Not so perfect was the impact my quick receipt writing had on inventory. Who knew that the mango butter had a different skew number than the coconut butter and that each of the various flavors of mints had their own as well. The line at checkout was long and ringing up transactions by hand is slow, so rather than writing an individual number for each item, I just wrote "five butters" or "15 mints." The bean counters earning the big bucks can sort it all out at the end of the month. Still, I was given accolades for a job well done under duress. No raise, mind you. Just accolades. Right about the time the crowd died down, the power came back on. Go figure.
When I got home that evening, the power was out here, too. So we did what has become a tradition for us sans electricity; we fired up candles, lanterns and flashlights and played Scrabble. I won by a measly 6 points. Still, I was stoked. I have always been easily amused. The lights were dim for several hours, so in addition to Scrabble, we had time for a game of Skip Bo and some giggles with 80s trivial pursuit questions.
The stormy weather continued through the week, lessening by the weekend.
Poor Hoppsy hates thunder, so we had a few sleepless nights mixed in there. Of course, I can't really blame her for all of the sleeplessness. The thunder was so loud one night, and the lightning so bright, we were all kept wide awake even without Hoppsy climbing on the bed and quaking in fear. It shook the house so much that even Crawford, hard of hearing as she is, had her nerves wracked by the rumbling.
All in all, however, we faired well. Maui wasn't so lucky, with mudslides everywhere. The Kona coffee farmers on the west side of this island lost trees. Storm surge sent waves crashing over Ali'i Drive along the main drag in Kailua-Kona. Shops closed. Roads closed. Windows definitely closed.
Still, I always kind of enjoy big storms, so long as nobody's really hurt by them. They're exciting. It's an excuse to hunker down, burn candles, play games and eat junk food. Not that I really need an excuse to do those things, but there's a lot less guilt if you have one.
Mauna Kea is living up to it's name these days, with a bright, white frosting on top. Mauna Kea means "white mountain" in Hawaiian.
There was only one person ahead of me in my checkout line at Safeway today. Shoots. What's the world coming to?

A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Courage, rain and a holiday greeting

I am brave. I must be. I'm certainly no wimp. After all, I've just spent the past two weeks cruising around hippyville with my redneck dad, proudly sporting his NRA baseball cap. That takes guts, dude. Cojones. Yep. I got 'em.
Dad is gone now. He jumped on the big bird and flew home to the great Pacific Northwest, where the weather makes our storm today seem like a little sprinkle. It was very blustery throughout the islands, causing it to rain sideways here most of the day. The lanai got soaked. Our carport awning leg blew out and required emergency attention to keep the whole thing from flying away to Oz. It was way more exciting than Hurricane whats-her-name that blew through a few months ago. The surf is huge, beaches are closed and the news is reporting downed trees and flooded neighborhoods. But our weather pales in comparison to the 100 mile-per-hour gusts and driving downpours that have soaked my former homeland. It just goes to show you. The grass is always wetter on the other side (of the pond).
Dad will be telling and retelling his adventure, I'm sure, to whomever will listen for weeks to come. I can hear it now: "You wouldn't believe it, over there in that *&#@ Hawaii...."
He'll describe his mishaps at the Honolulu airport, which he calls "Honowoowoo" (he thinks that's pretty funny) and his travels on the wikiwiki shuttle, which he's dubbed the wikitiki (he thinks that's pretty funny, too).
Today, while the squall squalled on, I trudged along the treadmill, watching the water spit through a window that wasn't well sealed and listening to Cecilio and Kapono on the iPod. "Blue sky, sunshine.... everything is filled with good times....." Those guys cheer me up on a gloomy day. At about 43 minutes into my jog/power walk, the power went out. It came right back on, but it ended my cardio workout. Good enough. After sitting on my fat okole for the past two weeks with dad, I'm feeling pretty out of shape. It felt good to sweat.
Today is Hanukkah. Or is that Chanukah? Either way, it makes me pine for a little Adam Sandler:

...Tell your friend veronica, its time you celebrate hanukkah
I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely hanukkah.

So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah,
If you really, really wanna-kah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Hanukkah. happy hanukka!

A hui hou! Aloha!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

South Point road trip

The sun was shining, the vog was faint and we cruised to South Point for a day's diversion. En-route, we stopped for malasadas at the Pahala Town Cafe. My dad abstained. While Ron and I chowed down on cream-filled sugary fried dough, dad had a cigarette. I guess we all have our vices.
We cruised down to the southern most point on the island. This is an historic location; the place where the first polynesians voyagers, those who would become the first Hawaiians, landed their sailing conoes and started a new civilization after crossing some 2700 miles of open ocean. It's a bleak and barren place, so it's no wonder they fanned out quickly and settled everywhere but here. Still, it's beautiful in it windswept way. On our way to South Point, we stopped at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. My dad said he really didn't care so much about seeing a black sand beach, nor did he really care if we say a turtle. OK, so he'd been there before. Once. Truth be told, he just didn't want to exert himself getting out of the car. He'd done that once already. But shoots, I've been to Punalu'u a dozen times and I still think it's a cool place. Not only do I enjoy any excuse to get out and walk around there, but to hang out for as long as possible. There were folks gathered under one of the park shelters listening to a local man strum his guitar and sing. He had a nice voice and, given the splendor of the day, I could have stayed all afternoon just listening to the music and gawking at the spectalar shoreline.
On the way home, we stopped for a quick bite at Shaka, in Na'alehu; the southernmost restaurant in the U.S.A.
Once home, it was nap time, followed by lots of sitting around and doing as close to nothing as possible. Somehow, when my dad's here, I find myself doing less than I thought was possible and feeling absolutely exhausted as a result. Go figure.
Ron actually got him on the tractor twice last week. That's something. He seemed to enjoy demonstrating his bucket-handling prowess. He's pretty good with the thing, even after adding so much "sweetner" to his coffee all morning.

A hui hou. Aloha!