Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mellow T-day

What a nice, low-key Thanksgiving. It didn't rain and while the sun was not blazing, it felt nice to dry off. We've enjoyed some cooler weather of late. Around here, that's an overall dip of about five degrees across the low-high graph. It's enough to have silenced the coquis. All's quiet now in the mauka (toward the mountain) rainforest, except for the geckos and a few winged insects that make buzzy noises. I didn't mind the coquis so much, since we had so few of them. The few will not likely become millions up here, as it has at lower elevations on the island. Of course, there is that whole global warming phenomenon to consider.

We spent much of the late morning and early afternoon indoors cooking, or at least I did, so it might as well have rained, though I'm not complaining that it didn't. No way. What took hours to cook was devoured in a flash, a fury of forkfuls stuffing our pie holes. We have some leftovers, sure, and pie too, with whipped cream for tonight, but really, Ron and I put a respectable dent in the bulk of the victuals. Good eaters. That's what we are. Grandma Steinberger, rest her "Can I fix you something to eat?" soul would be proud.

I hope the day was a pleasant one for all of you out there. A hui hou. Aloha!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paradise for the moment

Right now, it's not raining. The early morning was glorious. I zipped up hill to the Volcano Farmers' Market, which has become a hangout of sorts for me on Sundays. The air was cool enough to justify my long pants and sleeves, like early autumn in the Great Pacific Northwest. The place was packed. It's always busy, but today was especially so, a hive pulsing with busy bee activity. The sticky bun lady ran out of sticky buns by 7:30. I arrived at 7:35, so had to settle for cherry turnovers. Not a bad concession.

I'm suppose to be writing. I have two vague story prompts rattling around inside my head, ideas that are products of my memory and life. I want to write these stories. I do. I'm also scared to death of both of them. I'm a big chicken. There's a reason I don't write non-fiction. It takes cojones and, truth be told, I ain't got any. Never did. I'll ski the headwall at Crested Butte, but truthful writing, even in the form of fiction (and I do mean real fiction, not the formulaic, genre kind), takes real courage. I keep repeating the mantra, It's fiction. It's fiction. It's fiction... Then, Grow a pair. Grow a pair. Grow a pair. I want to believe that, by the time I finish with these stories, change the names of the guilty and innocent alike, embellish and make some stuff up, well, eventually they will be. Fiction, that is. And interesting enough for someone other than my college mentor to read through to the end. It's time to buck up, grow and pair and write.

You know how I said that at the moment it was not raining? Well that was moments ago, an eternity in the rainforest. That was then and this is now and the clouds are threatening. Still, it was a lovely morning. It cheered me up. Back at the market, the lady who makes green papaya soup smiled at me. I made the jam guy and his customer laugh. The vegetable woman grinned and blushed when I wished her Happy Thanksgiving. The hand-made tortilla dude clapped when I grabbed a dozen. The photographer showed me her new line of customer embroidered kitchen towels.
"I just thought of it and made a few and now they're selling," she said. She's got a keen eye and a golden touch. The coffee lady was comically frazzled enough by her long line of patrons that, rather than try to remember who she owed change and how much, just pointed and said, "Go ahead and take what's coming to you out of the chicken." It was a ceramic chicken; a cookie jar. She uses it as a cash drawer. I'm guessing she may come up a little short today, but she too was in a fine mood and probably won't mind. The sun was shining, the atmosphere sweet. The moss and the trees and the ferns and the people seemed giddy for the chance to kick off their rubber boots, shake off their drips, drop their umbrellas, lower their hoods, ditch their snorkels and come up for air. Yes, I'm in a swell mood, so much so that I think I'll zip back up the hill and spend some time at the gym. Wait a minute. I've got work to do. It's fiction, it's fiction, it's fiction... grow a pair, grow a pair, grow a pair... Maybe another cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Island exploration is our forte

The fun just keeps coming here with mom on the rock. On Sunday, we shopped for swim suits. A Phillips screw driver hammered into my ear would have been more enjoyable. Once I'd exhausted all the likely contenders (none of which I purchased), we moved on to jog bras. Much easier. There were a few alternative styles I'd never tried before and, having taken up residence in the fitting room and feeling quite cozy in there, I opted to try them on. Mom ferried them to me from the rack. She passed one through the door that looked a little small. Idiot that I am, I tugged it on anyway, trusting that she'd chosen the right size, never thinking to check it before donning the dud. Jeepers! I thought I was going to need the jaws of life to get the thing off. Some serious jumping was required to gather enough momentum to break free. Anyone who's ever tried to remove a really sweaty one knows what I mean. Just then, she arrived at the door with several more.
"Here," she said. "These are the water kind."
"The water kind?" I was perplexed. I'm a jog bra junkie. I had never heard of the water kind.
"I guess the kind you can swim in," she said.
I grabbed the bundle. They were all the same color; sea green. The dangling tags shouted, "Aqua," in bold print.
"What are you laughing about?" I heard her say from outside.
"I'll tell you when I come out," I said. Aqua the color, not the function. Don't you just love my mom?

Yesterday, we meandered through the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens at beautiful Onomea Bay. It seems every business is cutting costs these days, and this place was no exception. They used to provide complimentary insect repellent at the trail head. Now, you have to buy a bug-off towelette in the gift shop for $1.50. Being the frugalistas, a.k.a. cheapskates that we are, we opted to forgo protection. Big mistake. That's just a life lesson for you kids out there. Always use protection. It's a buggy world. Ankle welts aside, it was still a nice stroll on a lovely day. The foliage was lush, colorful, grand. Think Jurassic Park without dinosaurs. We also enjoyed some ono grinds on the lanai at What's Shakin,' a little smoothie and sandwich place along the scenic loop.

Mom and I were chatting about a friend with a successful business as we drove the highway home. This was the night before, on the way home from Kona.
"Sounds like she's found her forte," Mom said. She pronounced it fort, like Fort Carson or, "Let's build a fort." So I asked, "Isn't it fortay?" And she said she knew an English instructor, from England no less, who told her that everyone pronounces it wrong and that it is in fact proper to say fort.
"If everyone pronounces something wrong," I asked, "does that not, by default, make it right?" Devil's advocate. That's my forte. She sensed logic in my question, but insisted that no, if an English professor from England pronounces it fort, then fort it must be.

Today, she bought us a new microwave! Wow! Ron's been managing her money, so now she has more than we do. We've lived well enough without one for some time now, so it will feel like fine luxury to warm my tepid coffee in the morning, to nuke my soup, to zap some spuds. It has a browning feature, too. Awesome! Crispy is good.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Island Road Trip

Mom and I busted up the highway today. We cruised to Tom the Baker's to eat malasadas the size of Volkswagen's, then yonder on to Hawi and Kapa'au. There, we hung with the spirit of King Kamehameha and looked at some pretty Pololu Valley scenery. Lunch was nice at Bamboo. We caught a fantastic, Rose Festival rival of a parade along Ali'i Drive in Kailua-Kona. That's a wee exaggeration. It was a modest, fun, community affair. No roses. But there were kids on trikes, Knights of Columbus wearing fuzzy hats and school children dressed as pirates. It's Kona Coffee Festival week here on the west side, so they're celebrating the bean. It's actually a seed, from a fruit. They're celebrating none-the-less. Curry at Thai Rin was yummy. So were the Haagen-Dazs bars we grabbed at the gift store and are now digesting, tired, warm and happy, in our free upgraded, ocean-front room. It's been a hoot of day. Stellar.

Mom's watching a movie on TV right now. She says it stars Penelope Cruz. She pronounces it Pen-a-lope, like jackalope. I do a double take, then begin to laugh. "I guess I was picturing her name written in my head," she says. Indeed. Then I tell her about how Ron pronounces Sean Connery's name Seen Connelly. Nobody knows why, least of all me. We agree that Pen-a-lope Cruz and Seen Connelly should star in a movie together.

A hui hou. Aloha!