Sunday, September 28, 2008

Poked, prodded and pancaked in paradise

So you walk in and they greet you with soft, white spa robes and hot tea.  Nice.  Ah, but don't be fooled.  It's a ruse, done to lull you into thinking that the procedure you are about to endure will be pleasant.  It is not.  Once in the room, a petite, smiling but serious woman with cold hands manipulates your exposed breast into a vice and applies 25 pounds of pressure.  Now, 25 pounds may not sound like much, but trust me, it leaves a mark.  There's gotta be a better way.  

That was the morning's fun on Friday.  In the after noon, I was poked, prodded and probed elsewhere on (or should I say in) my person, which made for the perfect, shitty day.  This all happened in the lovely city of Honolulu.  Now, Waikiki is nice, with fancy shopping and swanky hotels.  But deviate from that strip one iota and you will witness the sordid underbelly of the service industry.  Hey, the regular people have to live somewhere.  For all it's azure blue ocean, balmy climate and swaying palms, much of Honolulu and environs is a dump.  Ah but what big, American city isn't?  It reminds me of L.A. in the 80s.

Still, I managed to enjoy my stay and to savor the overpriced meals.  I came home last night, completely out of money.  We'll be eating hot dogs and beans until payday.  Hey, any excuse to eat a good hot dog works for me.  The trouble comes in finding a decent hot dog here.  Maybe I could carve some spam into the shape of a frankfurter, slap it on a bun and serve it up with mustard and sauerkraut.  Hmmm... sauerkraut.  Might have to substitute kim chee....  Do you see my dilimma?  It's really not the same.

On my way to the clinic from the airport Friday morning, the cab driver asks me, "What exit should I take?"
I say, "I have no idea."
"Should I take McCully or Punahou?"
"This is your city," I say.  "I'm the visitor."
He says, "OK," then proceeds to guess wrong and has to backtrack, on my dime.  Oh well.  He was a pretty nice guy.  I tipped him two bucks anyway.  That should buy him a big package of squat in Honolulu.

Then, on the way back to the airport from the hotel, the driver asks me where I live.  When I say Hilo (because nobody knows where Glenwood or Volcano are) he says, "Hilo is boring." Then he tells me he lived there for a year.  I laugh and say, "That's just how I like it," and he laughs too.  He knew the way to the airport.  He got a little bigger tip, but not much, since my wallet was on the verge of empty.

I could have saved a bundle taking the bus instead of a cab to and from the airport, but it takes nearly two hours on the bus, as opposed to half an hour by car.  Long bus rides make me queazy.  If it's choice between parting with some cash or hurling, I chose the former. 

I ate dinner at an Indian food restaurant Friday night. The waiter was dark and handsome and made me wish for just a nano-moment that I was 25 years younger and single.  The friendly water glass guy was cute too, a college student from Pakistan.  Only in America would you find a Pakistani guy working happily at an Indian restaurant.  Detante lives.  OK, you might actually find that just about anywhere, since the two countries share a border.  For all I know, all the employees there were Pakastani.  Maybe it was really a Pakistani restaurant, but they called it Indian so as not to ruffle any closed-minded American sensibilities.  There was this tall guy in the kitchen.  He wore a turban, had a messy beard and walked with a long staff... Nah!  Bin Laden's not in Waikiki.  Don't be silly.  Anyway, the service was spot-on and the food was pretty good, too.  Mostly, I enjoyed two (count 'em, 2) Taj Mahal lagers, each served ice cold in it's own frosty glass.  It's the best beer in the world.  Must be the water in Bangalore.  Anyway, I deserved them after all that torture.

Now I'm home, sitting on the lanai, typing.  I love wifi.  I had planned to update this blog during my stay, but the Hilton charges $8/hour for an Internet connection and I could find no free wifi nearby.  Does anybody know why the word Internet is always capitalized?

It's hot and sunny today.  The dogs and cats are all sacked out in the coolest parts of the house. Ron is happy these days, feeling smug about his ability to share gardening tips with the neighbor and the fact that he has no money invested in the banking industry or mortgage-backed securities.  I am becoming bored with this place.  Sometimes, I just want to drive someplace new, see some new scenery.  But there's no place new to drive.  It may be the Big Island, but it's not that big. Wah, wah, wah. Nothing but foliage and lava, lava and foliage.  The foliage is green, even though autumn is upon is.  It will not turn yellow or orange or red.   I miss fall.   I like the way morning frost glistens on the grass.  I like seeing my own breath come out like steam rising from a cup of hot cocoa.  I like wearing sweaters.  Oh sure, there are some nice waterfalls here and some darn pretty beaches, but I live nowhere near those. The only people who get to live at the beach in Hawaii are the rich and the homeless.  Wah, wah, wah.  I'm beginning to think I'm just a perpetual malcontent.  Time for a little cheese with this whine.  Ah, but as the masthead on the Denver Post reads, "There is no hope for the satisfied (wo)man."  I can never remember to whom I should attribute that quote.  

A hui hou.  Aloha!


Monday, September 15, 2008

He got toe-jam football

The vog has cleared.  It has been replaced by rain.  At least the air is breathable again.  I spent the morning shopping for nothing too glamorous, getting a haircut, etc.  Hilo felt a bit like a sauna, all hot and steamy.  The girl who cut my hair tried to make me feel good about my frizz by telling me that curls like mine are the latest.  People are paying to have them put into their hair.  Now if only my high-waisted, big-thighed-woman jeans would come back in style, I'd be the  hippest cat on the island.  

Speaking of cats, my Lucy isn't feeling too well.  Poor little angel.  I gave her tuna tonight, just to get her to eat a little something.  Normally, she would wolf it down like there's no tomorrow.  At least she ate several bites.  That's more than she ate of her regular cat food.  At least she came in tonight and is now, as I type this, curled up on the couch. 

I've made an appointment to have a mammogram and other womanly examinations in Honolulu at the end of next week.  I'd do it all here, but what fun would that be?  I've got a coupon for $75 off at the Hilton Hawaiian Village at Waikiki and it expires on October 1, so I've got to use it before then.  And so, I will.  It will be nice to get off this rock and onto another one, even if the trip mandates that I get poked, prodded and squeezed in the bargain.  

The political races are heating up here in Hawaii, with new contenders for mayor and several council seats open to heated competition.  Our choices for Mayor include a guy who's been accused of sexual harassment and another funded by large corporations in the islands.  The harasser is now featured in radio ads, where he promises to eradicate the coqui frog.  Never mind that there are tens of thousands, maybe millions of the little buggahs here.  Of course, he served on the council during many of the years when the frog was taking over the island.  He might as well promise to stop the volcano while he's at it.  Fortunately, there are better choices.  

There's a big disadvantage to living in a warm climate, especially one where it rains a lot. People wear all manner of open toed footwear, and when it rains, they often tromp through the mud, so their toes get pretty grungy. Not mine, of course, but theirs, whomever "they" are. Those dirty toes are then on display in the grocery checkout line, at the gas station, everywhere.  I mean, when you're waiting in line, what else are you gonna look at? The National Enquirer?  The 400 pound woman behind you with the butterfly tattoo on her lower back and a basketful of spam and chips?  The bone-pierced eyebrows on the dreadlocked hippy who just strolled past?  No.  You are going to look down.  The view is better near the floor, or so you hope.  But there, attached to the hairy legs of half the people in line, you see black dirt imbedded into the callous cracks, nooks, crannies and toenails of slippah-clad feet.  What ever happened to bipedal hygiene?  It's the third world, I tell you; the third world.  And of course here, in the rainforest, where nobody curbs their dog (including yours truly, mind you) it's the turd world.  An absurd world.  Or, since we are often referred to as a melting pot here in Hawaii, a stirred world.  Certainly, with all the craziness today, it's an obscured, blurred, far from cured world.

It's time for me to take my ginkgo and make that appointment for a brain scan.

Gotta go.  I'm pooped!
A hui hou.  Aloha!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Breath deep, suck it in and choke

The tradewinds are gone and we are now besieged with..... VOG!  I hate vog!  Not that I have any right to complain.  It's been months since our last bout with the sulfur dioxide Nemesis.  Wait a minute.  Maybe I do have a right to complain.   When I was living in Gunnison, how many days of vog did we encounter?  Hmmmmm....let me think.... oh yeah.  That would be ZERO!  There was a little smoke during the summer of 2005 when the entire state of Colorado was burning and some of it blew our way, but that was different.  It was something you knew would GO AWAY!  Here, we don't know if this encounter with Pele's bad breath will last a day or a week or a month.  Further, we don't know if the volcano will continue to spew for another day, week, month or 20 years.  

Today, we drove to our new friend Andy's house to buy 2o more coffee trees.  Lately, the vog has been bad in Pahala Town, where Andy lives.  Today, however, the fine folks of Pahala got a reprieve, their air clean and clear.  That's 'cause all the vog is here, at our house.  We stopped for malasadas at P.T. (Pahala Town) Cafe.  They fill 'em with so much bavarian cream that it oozes like white lava out of the injection hole.  Well, not exactly white.  More like ecru or eggshell.  It's thick and sweet like pudding.  Onolicious!  
Crawford wiggled her way into a pile of poop we didn't catch in time tonight, so I had to plop her into the tub to hose her off.  Poor baby.  She hates that.  Ah but now she's clean, fresh and a little wet, which is keeping her cool on this muggy, voggy evening.

Just another day in paradise, with toxic air, sugary treats and poop.  It's hard not to envy my life, isn't it?

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Floats, politics, exercise and writing

Lately we've been on a root beer float kick.  I've also been wondering why I can't lose any weight. Coincidence?  Absolutely! One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.  And no, it's not diet root beer.

I considered using this blog to voice my concerns about Sarah Palin and John McCain, but I will resist except for  this short blurb.  For now, anyway.  I could go on and on about how disturbing it is that they are now soaring in the polls.  Sarah believes our involvement in Iraq is a holy war, that we should teach creationism in our public schools, that her pipe line is ordained by God and we should drill baby drill despite any effect it will have on God's green earth.  Then there's John McCain, a life-long Episcopalian who suddenly became a Baptist.  What the h-e-double toothpicks is wrong with Episcopalians?  I say, give me a man who has attended the same church for 20 years (Obama) and a good Catholic boy (Biden) any day.  And that's all I will say about that.  Except that I think it would do us well to elect a nice, benevolent Buddhist one of these days.  This, coming from someone who does not kill the spiders she finds in the house, but who captures and carries them outside so they can do their good works outside, where they belong.  (OK, sometimes I actually do suck 'em up with the vacuum cleaner.  I'll have to mention that next time I go to confession.)

Crawford and I just got back from a 15 minute walk.  It's really more of a workout for me, since I'm lifting her butt the whole way with the sling.  By the time we got back today, I was dripping sweat and my biceps muscles were screaming.  I guess that's a good thing, what with the root beer floats and all.  She, on the other hand, got to do lots of sniffing and even a few extra pee pees in strategic places.  It was a good romp for her.  I suspect she'll be very tired this afternoon and sleep well.

I have to go to work this afternoon.  Business was down more than 20 percent from last August, and I suspect it will be slow again today, although every once in awhile we still get slammed with tour vans.  The trouble lately is that people come in, taste the wine for free, buy a $4 magnet and  leave.  

Enough blogging for today.  I've got reading to do, stories to write, stories to get ripped apart by mentor professors, stories to proof, stories to edit and revise, stories to toss in the trash... Ah yes, the writer's life.  So glamorous.  So rewarding.  So lucrative.  If you're Danielle Steel or James Patterson.  If you're me?  It's all about calloused keyboard-weary fingers and striving to keep at least two brain cells focused enough to stay in the room long enough to complete a single paragraph, let alone a whole story.  Oh yeah, and instead of earning multimillion dollar book deals, I'm paying  - in the form of tuition - for tough love, administered with the hope that maybe, just maybe, I will generate a page or two that someone, somewhere might actually want to read.

Really though, after that little walk with Crawford, I'm ready for a nap.

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Getting to the core of life's silliness

The other day, I walked into Ron's office and he noticed some blood on my arm.
"What happened there?" he asked.
"Oh, I guess I just scratched myself.  You know, they say your thin gets skinner as you get older."  That's exactly how I said it.  I noticed the slip as it came out.  "So I guess my thin is getting skinner, too."
He laughed.  "I heard the way you meant it, not how you said it.  I guess my brain switched the words back around."  

I bought a watermelon the other day.  It had been a long time since I'd had any and it made me think of my dad.  When I was a kid, I remember coming home from wherever I'd been and looking in the fridge to find a big, fat watermelon.  I'd remove the tin foil covering, anticipating a thick, juicy slice.  Instead, I would find the center of the carved out, as though some confused antarctic scientists had taken a core sample.  My dad had gutted the thing.  He'd taken the sweet heart, leaving the dregs and the rind behind.
 "Da-a-a-ad!" I would shout, then hear him laughing from the other room.  "You took the best part!"
"Well of course I did," he'd say.  He did it more than once.  He did it every time.  If you wanted a decent slice of watermelon in our house, you had to be first.  So when I bit into that sweet juiciness yesterday, and then again today, I thought of him and smiled.

We ran out of gas today.  Now we know that two propane tanks last us exactly 8 months.  Usually we call when one runs out.  Guess we spaced.  No cooking (except on the grill or in the toaster oven or microwave or rice cooker or electric egg poacher) and no mechanical clothes drying 'til Tuesday.  Oh my goodness, will we survive?  I say lets eat out!  Let's go to Ken's.  Sumo!

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Home grown goodness

Today, we made our way to Na'alehu town for the second annual Malama Punalu'u cultural festival.  There was some food, crafts and entertainment that included great local musicians and several accomplished hula halau, or hula schools.  We ate a pork burrito, shave ice(with coconut, root beer and mango syrup) and of course, poi balls.  We sat watching the performers from beach chairs under the hot Hawaiian sun.  Da Poi Balls are ono!  Deep fried blobs of poi.  Deep fry anything and it's good, right?
Yesterday, we made corn chowder from our own home grown corn and lemon meringue pie with lemons from our own tree.  That's not entirely true.  I don't have a mixer, so I had some trouble making the meringue.  It takes forever by hand and I lost patience.  So we had lemon not-meringue pie, or lemon pie sans meringue, ex-nay on the eringue-may.  It was still good. Very lemony.  Meringue doesn't really taste like anything anyway.  Certainly not nearly so flavorful as poi balls.

A hui hou.  Aloha!