Thursday, September 24, 2009

Will work for eggs

Speed bumps. You know them, those jolting bars of raised blacktop placed across roadways or in parking lots to control drivers' speed. Today, I traveled a long, lonely road to my pal Steve's farm. He wants me to write some copy for his new website. I've been buying his jams and jellies for a couple of years now. Anyway, I couldn't help but noticing the placards warning motorists along the way of those sharp rises in the pavement. Diamond shaped and yellow, they look like yield signs but say, "speed hump." That's what they call them here. Speed humps. What an image. There are some in things in life that should not be rushed and humping is one of them.

Steve has tiny dogs that dart around in front of the car as you pull in through his gate. I stopped, of course, for fear of hitting them, and the gate closed on my car door. It's a thrash and bash mobile, so no harm was done. He waved me in, shouting, "Don't worry. They're fast. They'll get out of the way. We've already flattened all the dumb ones." Steve's a humorous guy.

He gave me a dozen eggs today just for driving out to chat with him. We'll be discussing further compensation later - a chicken, more jam, other sundry and intriguing herbs the likes of which I have not sampled in 30 years. Hey, it's Hawaii. There may even be some cash in the deal. Meanwhile, I couldn't help but feeling a bit like a 19th century country doctor.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vog and silliness

The tradewinds are dead, dead, dead this morning and the vog, like Old Man River, just keeps on rollin' alo-o-o-ong. Our zucchini leaves will be fried before noon. Cilantro? Fugettaboutit! It's history. Lettuce? No chance.

On Saturday night, Ron was watching something on the History channel while I was, as always, parked on the couch, legs crossed Indian style as we used to say (though I'm sure that's no longer PC) with my laptop, believe it or not, on my lap. The announcer made a reference to Casanova. Ron rose from his spot and headed to the kitchen to get himself a beer. This was an anomaly, since that's typically my job. He stopped en route, right in front of me, and stuck his gut out as far as he could, swaying his back just a bit for added effect. I looked up.
"What do you think? Could I be a Casanova?" he asked, a goofy grin plastered just below the mustache.
"Maybe a casserole," I said. Yeah, it was hilarious. You know you've fired off a good one when the person you've just insulted doubles over with laughter, choking on his words while responding, "Hey, you should talk. That's not very nice."

Sunday morning we were back on the same couch reading the paper when he flicked on a football game.
"Check out number 67," I said. "Oh, and number 79."
"What about 'em?" he asked.
"Not exactly svelte," I said. His eyes lifted from the paper.
"Yeah, now those are some casseroles," he said.
"Good one," I said.

It's all about timing.

Gotta go indoors. It's a beautiful sunny day outside, but the air is toxic. No more blogging on the lanai today. (hack, cough, wheeze, gag) Ah paradise!

A hui hou. Aloha!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What was that?

We were on our way to town the other day - we needed beer and wanted papayas - listening to that venerable radio news source, NPR. They're professional. They're knowledgeable. Master journalists. The two anchors talked about the exploits of a firm owned by Blackwater, the company doing work in Iraq. I'll admit I tuned out for a moment, mentally that is, my mind somewhere far away. As I stared through the window, the woman's voice faded, to become vague and distant, obscured by the whir of passing trucks with over-sized mud tires. Then, a single word wrangled my attention away from the buzz of traffic, the passing foliage, the dashboard squeaks.
"Did she just say, 'subsiderary?'" I asked.
"Yes, I think she did," Ron said.
"Un-f#$@%^ believable," I said. I didn't say that out loud of course, because that would be crude and classless, but I thought it. OK maybe I said it. The male voice followed, using the same word, but pronouncing it properly. "Subsidiary." He stretched it out, for her benefit as well as ours, enunciating with unnatural crispness. "Sub-SID-ee-air-y."
"Thank you," I said to the radio.

Ron listens to blathering noggins on cable financial news channels all morning, five days a week. It's his job, he tells me. Gotta keep up with the latest business news, he insists. The other day I walked past his office and caught a statement, admittedly out of context, that made me pause. A man's voice said, "In any case, that's a really very rare trend." Hmmmm.... Ignoring the really and very (adverbs that are really very much overused for lack of substance in the words surrounding them), I focused on rare trend. Now, if something's a trend, then it's not rare, is it? And if something's rare, it's not a trend. So which is it? If you're deciding whether or not to buy a stock, it matters. Sheesh!

If I never again hear the expression, "Wrap my head around it," it will be a happy miracle. I can't help but envision someone's cranium bent and draped like the clocks in a Salvador Dali painting.

"It was just so complicated, I had a hard time wrapping my head around it."
"Even the politicians who wrote it are having trouble wrapping their heads around the proposed policy."


It's a mad world, I tell ya, a cliche riddled, pronunciation mutilating, mad mad mad mad world.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A tutor, or a four door?

When I told Ron I would become a writing tutor, he said that was impossible, since I'm not English. (I have so rubbed off on this guy.) Together, students and I hammer home thesis statements and smooth paragraph transitions. We identify possessives and the need for those pesky apostrophes that go with them. We ensure proper tense and article usage, fix sentence fragments and run-ons; you get the picture. It's satisfying to see the lights come on when they recognize the errors themselves and craft fine sentences right before my eyes.

There is, however, a dark side to the tutoring trade, a sordid element, a seedy underbelly. On Thursday afternoon, a girl approached the desk while I was working with another student. She waved a paper in front of me, interrupting our session. I recognized the form. Some lower level English course instructors require that students review each assignment with a tutor. The tutor checks off each element reviewed, then initials the sheet.

"Sign this please," she said.

"If you'll just wait a few more minutes, we're almost finished here and I'll be able to work with you," I said. "You can put your name there, on the sign in list." I pointed.

"I don't want to wait. Just sign," she said, fanning the page. I felt the breeze.

"Nope," I said. "Can't do it." She huffed away, indignant. I looked at the girl beside me, a more honorable student, who shrugged and smiled. I returned both gestures, then sat back in my chair, the proud, tutor-warrior. That's right. It's me and Steve McGarrett, a.k.a. Jack Lord, thwarting the evil doers that would snag the moral fiber of Hawaii. Book 'em, Danno! (Feel free to play the Hawaii Five-O theme song in your own head as you continue to read this blog. Oh, and picture those hunky canoe paddlers too, if you like.)

We attended an intimate shindig tonight to celebrate a friend's husband's birthday. Burgers, dogs, some killer blueberry cheesecake, enough alcohol to supply the seventh fleet on leave and excellent company all made for a pleasant evening. The party was held at a cabin at Kilauea Military Camp. The happy couple rents one every year for the occasion. It was a swell dwelling with three bedrooms, a fireplace, full kitchen and some comfy couches. Nice digs. Nicer than my house. A room at Motel 6 is nicer than my house. Not to knock Motel 6. I wonder... do they still have Magic Fingers? You put a quarter into a slot in a gray box mounted on the nightstand and the bed begins to vibrate at about a 4.2 on the richter scale. Anybody remember those?

It's not raining tonight and the sky is clear. You can see the southern cross and the north star from my backyard.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A typical day

I am standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes when I hear Ron get up from his nap.  

"What do you want for dinner tonight?"  He asks.  This is the first and most important question we address most days.
"I don't know.  Anything," I say.  This is my customary answer.  (It's our version of, What do you want to do?  I don't know.  What do you want to do?)  
"We can have that masala sauce we bought the other day with some chicken and stir-fry vegetables," he says.
"We have stir fry vegetables?" I confirm. 
"Yep.  I bought some," he says.  
"Sounds good to me," I say.  "Are you getting up?" I ask, dishes rumbling in the sink.
"No. I just had to pee," he says.  (Are you riveted yet?  I swear to Pele, this is how boring we really are.)
"OK. Have a nice nappy," I say.  That's what we call it.  A nappy.  I resume with the dishes. Left to my own, inner mental devices, it's not long before I've conjured up a song, inspired by carrots and snow peas and shitake mushrooms.  "Stir fry, don't bother me, stir fry, don't bother me...." Of course, I think it's hilarious and genius.  I am well entertained by myself.  (Only-child syndrome persists well into the AARP years.)  I croon away, the same refrain, over and over, chorus only, because I don't remember the verses to Shoe Fly - that's the model for this ditty - so I can't make up alternative words for those parts. 
The next thing I know, Ron is standing at the end of the hallway, leaning against the wall, arms crossed, staring at me. 
"Are you listening to yourself?"  He says.
"Why would I do that?" I say.  He turns to head for bed and I realize my singing might be too loud for him to sleep (it's a small house).  I take it down a notch, almost whispering, "Stir fry, don't bother me..."  Then I hear him chuckle.  He can't stop.  Within moments, it becomes one of those run away laughs, the kind that leave you gasping for breath afterward.  

Later that afternoon, as he putters around the kitchen to make himself some lunch,  I hear singing.  "Stir fry, don't bother me..."  It's catchy.

A hui hou.  Aloha.