Summer Surprises

Yesterday, it was June. July’s going fast. Nothing seems very predictable, but it’s fun. I was picking papayas and freezing most of the mangoes left on my porch, looking forward to evening and monthly Kirtan singing and meditation at Beach 69. An offer came to write a Kohala Mountain News article on Summer Blast.

I walked to the school, took notes on the Project 21st Century Summer Blast, and even went down the wild water slide. Watermelon, shave ice, fire-engine spray and the past weeks made it a day to remember for 83 kids. Lego construction, Hawaiian arts, gardening, canoe-building, and camping made up the community learning with older students assisting teachers. Parents had celebrated with the last night’s hoike, showing what they had learned, dancing, singing, and displaying handiwork. Even the much-discussed decision to simply watch–not run through–the firetruck’s spray (bacteria gathers in those tanks over time) was fun enough. SummerSunflowersSeeing sunflowers in the school’s garden reminded me how long it’s been since I’ve been to the Sunflower State and seen grandsons. I reserved a plane ticket. Next day, Kohala Coffee Mill breakfast was next to the realty office, and a friend asked me to do a feature article for Homes & Land. I’m getting close to 10-cents/hour on time spent revising that one, and it remains a learning process. Another request came to write about a monthly bike ride to further a hoped-for project here. We decided to put that one on hold for another month. Today, papayas ripen, mangoes appear on my porch, and breakfast awaits at home…

Breakfast

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From Draggin’ to Welcoming the Dragon

According to the Chinese calendar, I’m a Rabbit–talented and affectionate seeker of tranquility (but don’t corner me if you don’t want a fight!) Until today, there hadn’t been much fight in me for awhile. I had what felt like a lingering “summer cold,” and it wouldn’t go away. Chinese New Year, 2/19/15, I finally felt like stacking a couple of activities back-to-back without taking a nap. So Lucia and I attended the Hawaii Palms Real Estate opening and greeted the dragon blessing friends’ business site.HIDragonBlessing Cabbage hung at the entrance, and its stuffing of money-filled red envelopes fed him HIDragonEatsCabbageafter he gyrated, HIDragonblessed each room, and danced to beating drums.HIVaBikeCar After admiring a friend’s Elf (electric three-wheeler, one-of-a-kind in Hawi) I dropped off some banana bread for St. Augustine’s monthly Community Meal and went in my own Ford Fusion to Hawaii Luxury Real Estate in time to catch their blessing. My realtor, Dave Firestone, said their business is going well (but obviously, they will take any good luck the dragon brings in this upcoming Year of the Sheep). While we had dessert and waited for the big dragon, a two-and-a-half-year-old did the best dragon dance I’ve seen while his dad beat a drum. I hadn’t asked permission to film him, so you’re left to imagine a ponytail bouncing in perfect rhythm, the dragon’s head rearing and bucking, its mouth opening when money began pouring in, and its tail flaring out behind the sturdy body that never missed a beat!  Rain began to fall, and I feared a setback with the cold and hurried home. Last weekend, I’d dragged myself to Waimea twice to take my housemate to appointments where she needed a driver. We were treated to deep bluesHIMtnRdView off scenic point around 3500′ on the mountain road. The second trip, I treated myselfHIMerrimanDessert to a decadent chocolate dessert after a Merriman’s salad while rains fell. Maybe that was the cause of my relapse!  Rains, interspersed with sunlight, HIpinefrontyardbrought on my first pines. HIpinegardenI planted these from pineapple I cut less than two years ago!   This morning dawned with a glorious sunrise, so I took a walk past the coral-property makai (toward ocean) and heard a terrible commotion. Neighbors had trapped a wild boar. Since I’d thrilled when two of the black creatures trotted across Hawi road when I made a recent trash run, I stayed clear and wished the porker well. Maybe this Rabbit’s compatibility with Sheep and Boar had something to do with it, but I felt sorry that he was probably bound for sausage casings. No more dragging, I’m ready to rejoin the hula class. HIRSVPDancersMaybe someday, I’ll be as good as these senior citizens who entertained us at a thank-you lunch for retired volunteers before the cold hit me. It was an impressive lunch–live music, great buffet, prizes for everyone (mine was chocolate-covered mac nuts), and speeches from governor’s and representatives’ offices. We saved the government $2 million by volunteering last year, we were told. I returned to assist teachers at the elementary and junior high with new vigor!

No pictures for this entry, but I’m almost finished with my first wellness checkup since moving to Kohala. Services have changed; the first nurse looked at her computer–not me. The Nurse Practitioner told me I could remove my mask (I didn’t want to spread my sneezy germs), looked me over, prodded a bit, and ordered routine lab work, and said she didn’t expect to have to call me “since I was quite healthy.” I’ve friends in the hospital, facing challenges, and taking lots of meds.  Health is our greatest gift, I’m continually reminded. I’ll be grateful to resume scooting down Pololu again as the sun rises. HIVaPololuLightHandsBring on the Year of the Sheep! I’ve another month to enjoy Hawaii, then its off to Malaysia to nanny a six-year-old for three months. In Dr. Spock’s words, “Long life and prosperity” to us as we move into this New Chinese Year!

Did Kamehameha love horses?

Rain spit threatenly on sunrise hula, June 11,HIKamParadeGift before King Kamehameha’s original statue in Kapaau.   HIKamAlone Behind my lawn chair on the hill, I  heard smatterings of onlookers’ stories about his being lost at sea (one said seven years, one insisted three months) and coming here to his birthplace because another statue had already been ordered for Hawaii’s governmental seats. Twenty-foot leis were ceremoniously laid out on the Community Center grass.HIKamLeiLift A young chantress blessed the ceremony and boys carefully raised leis to the king’s outstretched hands.HIKamleis  HIKamConchBoysBoys in loincloths and capes opened the parade ceremony, blowing conches at 7:45 a.m. Sometimes, when leis were heavy mums or kukui nuts, both the prongs on the long sticks would lose the lei and they would have to start again. Fifty-six leis required strong young arms and tall adult assistance. At least one was presented after Aunty gave a strong “Mahalo” to those bringing this count.HiKamCapes HIKamOldstersHawaiian royal descendants sang to the king, first men in red-and-gold capes, then women all in black. Aunty, announcing in red muumuu, invited us to continue buying red-and-gold tee shirts designed for the day. She lavished praise on handsome ridersHIKamHorses when they arrived from Hawi, two miles up Akone Pule. Each group bore giftsHIKamGifts HIKamCartfor the king. They were graciously accepted and placed on a platform to his left; some were dried woven boxes, most were enclosed in fresh ti leaf arrangements. HIKanMolokaiPrincessHIKamWhiteGiftThe Pa’u queen HIKamPurpleand princesses, HIKamPinkGiftHIKamPinkSkirtfollowing a protocol of lei-making, horse-handling, skirt-draping, skirt-wrapping, waved elegantly as their horses brought them into view. The horses’ leis were most elaborate; Nihau’s even incorporated shells. I watched the skirts swing,HIKamMolokaiSkirt amazed that the dozen yards of satin could stay in place with only kukio nuts wrapped in the waist fold.I recognized HIKamYellowOahu’s gold lehua blossoms and Hawaii’s proud reds. HIKamHIRedGiftEvery princess rode elegantly, as did her attendants. King Kamehameha looked over them all with far eyes, and I wondered what kind of horseman the first king became, growing beyond Pololu valley. Whether climbing out beyond ridges to Waipio or here in Kohala, his birthplace, would have required strong legs and backs–or a horse. HIKamGifts  Interspersed among the royalty representing all the islands, came local hula groups, HIKamDancersHIKamIoleChangdignitaries and officials, HIKamFlags  local representatives,HIKamCartHIKamSchlChanter and flags.   HIKamSchoolbusFlags I determined to look up whether the Spanish paniolos’ horses got here in time for Kamehameha to have his own steed. There was no doubt about the honour given him on his birthday, and much of it was on horseback.

Paradise, MT to Paradise, HI

HILoadedSubaru HILoadedTruck MTSunsetJune, my container went via brother Ron’s truck and my Subaru on its way from Missoula to Kona. I left Montana July 19 in the wee hours, renting a Ford Focus and getting to the Honomakau left turn, quite jet lagged. The house greeted me in shadows. I hoped the washer still sitting in the open garage worked and that I’d not miss having a dryer.    HIHouseR  HIHouseLThe interior looked clean–Navajo Sand walls against white molding. Dave, real estate friend, brought a blow-up mattress and ipad plus four keys. Friends had left another mattress, sheets, and box stored since April. I gratefully slept. Next morning, half faint with a headache like the worst MT smoke reaction, I checked Sunshine Hardware: $16 for a mop, $36 for a step stool. I left empty-handed, with knowledge that ants don’t like aspertine sweeteners or essential oils. The bulletin board said “Garage Sale, Maliu Ridge. Takata Grocery pointed me mauka (uphill) with a  flimsy $10 mop, a banana and apple, plus peanut butter and whole-grain bread, $31.00. King’s View had $2.99 coffee and $4.95 burrito special that chased my headache off on the way to Hawi’s Farmer’s Market under the banyan. HIbcfroglanaiA whimsical frog seemed to call my name, so I bought him and a base for my HI wood slab end table. a whopping $2. Sweet potatoes, 50cents/2, went into my bag when I heard Catalina call “Virginia!” Carter, her friend is a charmer–Harry Belafonte voice and a collapsible cane. We found the sale three miles up (he explained roads better, blind, than Cat did sighted.) The Lucas’ lived in a pocket from ridge wind (it sculpts trees) HITreeFanand generously gave me more than the requested $95 worth of goods: a delightful pair of lamps, a sculpture for the front porch, HIbcmsbra queen bed like new, kitchen table with stools, baskets, towels, wastebaskets, and bedding while Pablo fed us green papaya, kalua pork, rice, and chicken. Then he hauled my furniture home and set it in place! I met their Oahu SPED daughter and determined to return the next day with a thank you note. Double canvas chairs helped relaxation on the lanai, especially with feet on my emptied suitcase. HIbclanaiseatsArranging throw pillows and making the bed took until I finished THE MASTER BUTCHER’S SINGING CLUB and began CIRCLE OF WOMEN by MT writers. Behind my house, Richard and Theresa’s adult kids drove in at 1:30 a.m. somewhat quietly. Generosity and kindness replaced my agitated doubts from 24 hours earlier. Sunday came, and I went to the “Red Door Church” nearby. Episcopal service found me fumbling for HI words and order in three books, but energy was good. Several Kohala Seniors greeted me. The priest gave a dramatic reminder to choose Mary’s better part and laughed at how Martha-like I’d driven myself upon arrival. Let come what comes!  Connie gave me dishes and real silverware, Ralf gave tools and nails. HIHouseBackI’m finding hibiscus and birds of paradise just off my lanai. Reading, trimming banana leaves (three bunches are ripening!), and a shampoo/shower started to make this house into a hopeful home. The to-do list grows, but Janet’s calling for Ron to mail my cell phone (left in MT, I missed it in Seattle airport). I got several items at Lucas’ again, and calendar is filling if I want to be busy. Next focus: car purchase, phone calls at Episcopal office to get business stuff done. By evening, I’d used library internet and checked out book club’s read, A DOG NAMED BOO. Post office had an immediate Box 96755 for me (I’d been warned about six-month waits). Interestingly, the allergy nose was almost unnoticeable for the first time in two months. HIbclivrmSoon, Daya called and brought living room furniture I’ll store for a while. Cat called with an initation to Beach 69, HIbcfishwhere I wove a fish for my door. He’ll welcome visitors often, I hope. A new Paradise!

Teacher’s Life in Riyadh

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Antarctic Adventure-Buenos Aires

We barely made it to Buenos Aires (Good Air). Missoula in dark early morning didn’t scare up any deer, but Salt Lake’s Delta flight delayed us two hours on our tightest connection to South America’s four Antarctic legs. We landed at 7:10 pm, ran/walked B to E Concourse, took the train, and got on just ahead of a Helena couple hiking Patagonia–about 3 minutes to gate closure. The Ides of March and Water for Elephants  (Mary Lou snoozed) kept me entertained after a surprisingly tasty chicken dinner. Sleeping in snatches, we arrived at NHFlorida hotel, ate jamon y quesa (ham & cheese) and Sprite before two naps. We explored Florida’s walking street shops between snoozes.  Slim-hipped Lorena awakened us for a private city tour jam-packed with history of revolutions, district divisions, and statuary in many green areas off wide boulevards. At one point, she said, “Have you never lived in a military dictatorship?” We resided in Retiro, near city center, with a park, eating (outside) district, and obelisk nearby. Evita smiled on one half of the city and looked sternly on the other half from most floors of one skyscraper. Argentina was once flat pampas, so its many trees were planted, including huge rubber trees. One lone hill, a few feet high, was a landmark. Recoleta had many high-priced apartments (while average Argentinians make $200/month) and French or Spanish architecture.          We walked the Fransciscan cemetery with mausoleums in marble. Some are abandoned, since families pay $100/month for burials, eight-to-a-tomb. The Duarte family finally placed Evita’s remains under the stone sidewalk in front since Eva’s body was stolen and harmed before it was recovered from Milan. A guard watched us, bored. We also drove by the pink house, the president’s workplace. She’s not likely to get a third term, because of “giving too much to the poor”.  A square block-long line of folks were waiting (families spelling each other off for nine hours) for discount subway tickets under her windows. She works in the casa rosa, lives elsewhere, unlike the US White House. We also drove past the heart-tugging, park-full of Mothers of the Lost Children, hopeful family members hoping for contact after they gave up children to the last revolution (70s?). Lorena said that, after Peron (and before his return to power) was “a sad time” for their country. We stopped for soccer tees in San Telmo (patron saint of sailors) poor cobble-stoned district, now full of artists’ work, tango clubs, and side-by-side corrigated living quarters painted bright colors. The Opera House appeared grand; the spreading 250-year-old rubber tree impressed us; the harbor’s lovely bridge with silver cables and graceful silver moon-slice called “Puente de la Meijer” pointed to the future. Numerous churches stood along boulevards and businesses with a Catholic University (not the state religion, though). The Mormon Temple on the way from the airport resembled Salt Lake’s temple. Palermo, another high-rent district,  sported a large steel flower with petals closing at night under red and green lighting in one of its many green parks. Real trees included jacaranda (purple blooms), “drunk” trees (pink, above crooked thorny trunks and branches), and yellow ones (like California rain trees). Lovely medians broke up 11 lanes of traffic with three lanes on auxiliary sides. Time for 20 winks, and we boarded a bus for Gala Tango in an elegant historical home with gleaming wood sparkling chandeliers, and mirrors. The best Argentinian beef, grilled to perfection, and vegetables made a delicious entre after Muldok red wine and safe water in crystal pitchers was poured by a handsome waiter. We had polished off the hot veal empanadas to the last crumb (herbs encrusted in a delicate case of dough), and made short work of fritas, salad by midnight. Our table mates spoke only Normandy French, providing a good communication exercise as I dusted off a few lost phrases. A nearby Vancouver table didn’t have much good to say, telling of “the first time warm in two weeks” from their Antarctic cruise; we hoped for better weather, let it go and enjoyed the show. Gangster-costumed, formally clad dancers gave us tango lessons and indluged photos before the pears poached in wine claimed our attention. Flashy musicians in white tuxes arrived, a baby grand, accordian, two violins, plus a big screen and triple side ones to show Tango, then Argentinian landscapes. Then four gorgeous couples’ feet flashed in sensuous poses for two hours of music and movement punctuated by appearances of a solo man and woman, a gaucho whose staccato heels and balls on the end of ropes kept rhythm, and a guy with a mandolin-like instrument. We came to expect sultry glances, flying feet, teasing bare views below amazingly long lashes with each number.  Costumes, make up, and innate beauty reigned; we were captivated. All were near-perfect performers. All played to the crowd. The guy with the lethal, flying gaucho balls eyed Mary Lou with a question of her safety, not needing English to draw a nervous laugh. It ended with Evita renditions with revolutionary footage in moving fervor. Sleep came satisfyingly. Next morning, breakfast was scrambled eggs, ham and turkey, cheeses, cereal, breads, and my roommate’s habitual three cups of coffee (not robust in spite of three roast choices). A young dark-skinned young man slept by a green tree across from our breakfast window; a teen spread a coat over him and scavenged on along the edge of a walking street.  American jazz singer, Nora Jones, crooned from a CD during transport to a late flight with yet another really good-looking Argentinian. Next stop: Usuaiah, Tiera del Fuego and Fin del Mundo, Patagonia and the End of the World where I would meet 18-year-old Jessie for a glacier hike before boarding the boat for Antarctica. The adventure had begun well!

Midwest Homecoming

 

Wichita, KS folks look like this. Grandson, Ethan, was helping a friend get an “action shot” and daughter, Janet, and I were joined by 94-year-old Freddie, who owns several 50’s diners of that name across the country. He looked about 75 and was very happy to pose with us before we went to Warren Theatres and saw A Star is Born. It made the too-soon-October plane trip from Kona to KS worthwhile to see the family members all healthy and happily employed as well as working on schoolwork.F Another recent change to my daughter’s household was Ezra, 7 months old, who joined Larry, getting older and still tolerant of an active puppy. Ezra learned to go in and out the dog door the afternoon I doggy-sat him. We walked daily, rain or shine, and the weekend was luckily clear enough to enjoy the two hours’ drive to Fredonia, KS for the Homecoming parade. Some floats, bands (this one in front of the historic Gold Dust Hotel), horses, and many politicians throwing candy and fire engines blowing their horns.

 

The Wilson County Square contains the courthouse clock from the old brick tower I remember from highschool; there were blocks of restored cars, including one you had to prop up to work on the engine. I saw the ’56 Chevy I spent time in, the ’38 Chevy Dad drove us through 26 states pulling the trailer house in, and a Dodge and Buick that looked vaguely familiar. Outside my friends’ window while we ate home-made soups and desserts, local men were cooking white beans in large cast-iron pots for the evening bean feed. Weather was chilly, but tolerable, and the promised rain held off. We decided to revisit Mom’s grave and the family farm.

 

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We drove 13 miles toward the edge of Wilson County and found little to view from the gravel road. The old rock shed where I helped with milking when young still had some walls standing, the 1800’s two-story house was long gone, the pine tree that held our swings lay on its side, and the cellar appeared leveled to make fields. New trees had reached maturity everywhere without care. We went around the mile-square grid because the overhead bridge had burned long ago, then followed the Buxton Road to Road 31 in Elk County and found The Triangle in Upola, KS just as overgrown. Skies were sunny, and clouds were fluffy, but it was still wet underfoot.20181013_162645_resized My son’s Road31 Pinot Noir was harvested in CA only a month or so ago, so I took a corner picture for him before we drove back to Fredonia for a “Class of ’56” party at Madison Square. A few of the two dozen attendees+ were using walkers, there were a few spouses we hadn’t met in our five-year-interval-reunions in the past, but the finger foods, shared jokes, and memories were sweet fun. I shared lovely hospitality and more memories with an ex-sister-in-law and husband in Fredonia and barely awakened to go to the Catholic Hall for the men’s annual pancake and sausage breakfast. Back in Wichita in time to walk the dogs, I slept soundly and awakened to a record snow on October 15!20181015_075528_resized Crammed into a United window seat for almost seven hours, I arrived to hot sunshine and clear air in Kona. Wichita friends had shared the ride to celebrate a couple’s anniversary. A Kansas City guest was coming to my sleepy Hawi area in two days, so I did a little cleaning. I’m still pausing to enjoy wearing shorts, breathing in fresh fragrances, and picking avos from the neighbor’s tree. Aloha to KS and aloha to home!

Montana Surprise

 

 

Looking from a road-to-Waimea yoga studio toward Maui wearing a tutu of clouds, I sweated a bit from the lack of trade winds and remembered that, last week, I was climbing my own Hawi steps and deciding I needed to hire Kai to trim trees that had grown through our stormy winter. We seemed finished with the “Hurricane of the Week” that plagued us for months.  Thoughts went back three weeks when I landed in Missoula, MT and surprised nephew, Jared, on his 50th. He kept hugging me between opening his–mostly purple–gifts.

 

Niece Kate worked hard to bring off the surprise that awaited him two days later. A couple of dozen Montanans, two Oklahomans, and this Hawaiian sang “Happy Birthday” in Fred Young Park. He was numbstruck! Dr. Lulac, who delivered him, was still telling good stories. My OK sister made him a photo quilt that his caregiver helped him hang on the wall. Dog Hill Bistro catered Bourbon beans, bbq chicken, dilled cole slaw, watermelon, and huckleberry cheesecake. Chase, grand-nephew, helped decorate trees and pavilion. I looked over the varied group, knowing many undercurrents of history among us. It was an historic moment around a kid who wasn’t supposed to live past age 14!

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Jed and I slipped away after Ron’s Sunday breakfast of smoothies and eggs scrambled with seasoned venison and caught friends leaving Paradise Methodist.

Monday, after Chloe and Marilee’s killer chili supper topping off a day of Cribbage (Chase said thoughtfully, “I think it’s about 10% luck, Aunt Ginny.”) and a canoe ride on the Clark Fork, sister Gayla and brother-in-law, Larry, drove north through Noxon to Ross Cedars. We saw trees as big as Redwoods; a Mama Bear and three cubs surprised us on the trail before running a very long log to the other side of a dry stream.

I doubt Jared remembers the three of us siblings being in his hometown at the same time. It was a memorable day, topped off by Minnie’s home-made pie in Thompson Falls.20180910_155507_resized

Back in HI two nights, I got word that Ron had gone to the Plains hospital with severe dehydration, pancreatitis, and gallstones. I don’t remember him ever being in a hospital before; they took him to Missoula–surely a miserable ride over Evaro Pass, and he stayed almost a week. He’s now home resting, awaiting a healthier pancreas and gall bladder removal. Everyone’s praying for a speedy recovery, once this all settles down. It reminds me of the fragility of the life we enjoy and think we control. 20180924_204909_resized

One more surprise–neighbor Elodia across our fence called at sunset on September 24, “Come look at the moon!” Sure enough, a huge orange ball floated up above the eastern horizon. Lucia picked me up at 8 pm for Kapaa Park. The moon looked smaller by then, but lit up incoming waves, turning them to electric white against the dark ocean.

 

Hurricane Lane

After quite a bit of rain off-and-on for what seems like all winter and spring, my phone warned me with “…flood warnings…turn around, don’t drown!” It even sprinkled at Kapaa Park where we play ukuleles Mondays, thrilling to dolphins seemingly coming near shore to listen and play. Tuesday, I joined Mah Jong group (high score at my table, a change from my usual last place and got another message saying real estate friend was boarding up a place in preparation for Hurricane Lane. I came home and brought in porch furniture, pushed plants to safer areas on my lanai, and checked my water and emergency box for food and candles. Rain continued.

No problem with internet or power yesterday. KS, TX, and CA folks texted or called, and I assured them I was fine at 600′ elevation. Shelter is the highschool just up the street, if needed. Then I posted facebook pictures of rushing water at gulches here and on the Hilo side. Bored by evening, I drove to Kapaau to play Canasta with five friends, winning by the skin of my teeth (another first, as I recall).

 

I drove home in rain to find my power was off; no problem. It was bedtime.  Today, my son texted that “folks are stranded at Pololu” (3 gulches toward eastern ocean), and I got up to reset clocks (lost about an hour of power), photograph back yard through wet screen, then pick up my hydroponic lettuce that a gust had spilled on the lanai. It seemed the only casualty so far. Rains picked up, slanting westerly in occasional wind thrusts.

Almost breakfast time, and lettuce is re-instated in its place with outer leaves making a nice little salad in my cozy kitchen. I’m caught up on typing and editing (a WWII showgirl’s memoirs), snail mails, and emails. Jane Smiley’s Golden Age is regretfully finished, and Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America is surprisingly parallel to what news brings today.hurricane front yard It’s a good time to gaze out my front window, quilt a crown flower pillow, or make a bracelet. Or I could prepare readings from A DESIGN OF HIS OWN, by Mike Eaton and me, for the booksigning party September 13.Va A Design of His Own

Bean soup smells good for lunch! Stay safe. Stay dry. Remain happy. Rain continues…

Midwest Visit

Where did July go? We celebrated the first copy of A Design of His Own‘s arrival with bubbly at writer’s group and around Mike’s bedside. It was a three-year-plus labor of love with surfer/boatbuilder/hotrod restorer/sailor/glider pilot/whale trainer/survivor/friend and his plucky wife, Marianne.

I had two health appointments (still healthy “for my age”), mowed the lawn five times due to rain, picked fresh tomatoes and papayas almost daily, and decided to visit my Kansas kids. A dermatology visit kept me from ocean swims and sailing Cheney Lake with my daughter, and I arrived in KS to find their Labradoodle, Larry, was facing the same surgeries–“barnacles of the body” is what my brother calls suspicious moles. We walked him on gravel roads twice daily, even after his day with the vet.

Upon arrival, I heard a Fredonia highschool/Jackson Hole friend’s funeral was upcoming, so I drove to the old hometown and saw many friends and Fortners, including son niece’s grandchildren I hadn’t met. The widow, with whom I shared an upstairs rooming house during highschool (with four other farm girls), seemed delighted to see me. Catfish and the best white beans-with-ham I’d had since my mother had cooked them made the hometown visit memorable.

Good family time, lots of reading, and dips in the Sutter’s pool took up most of the Wichita days. Janet, doing a Methodist Lay Minister course online, was in charge of two Sundays’ services. I sang “Kanaka Wai Wai” and Hawaiian Happy Birthday on request. Grant (20), Ethan (almost 17), Janet (?), and I were birthday recipients of Sumo’s Japanese Cuisine one evening. July-September birthdays in one fell swoop. We had plenty of KS beef, eggs, and mashed potatoes, along with sandwiches and–Ethan’s request–meatloaf. They salad fixins’ for me when I come. Their frequent drink choice, Dr. Pepper, was set aside for Polly’s orange when we went to Kansas City and visited Truman Library. It took three hours to take the entire trip to the historic past. We also toured the house Harry and Bess lived in with Bess’ mother.

I came back to an email from Ethan on August 1 with an 8-pound puppy’s picture– “Look what I got for my birthday!” Then I dashed off to Waimea for an evening of reading with the Hawaii Writer’s Guild, pleased to see eight of my friends there from Hawi. St. Augustine’s will have a booksigning on August 12, and a Hawi Library reading evening is upcoming in September. The bookmarks and other publicity materials should be here by then.Writers Guild Readers

Faithfulness

Kauai Sunset from Dolphin I just got off the phone with a young, long-term friend where we discussed the meaning of “faithfulness”–and a few ideas dawned on me. King Harald, waving to Norway’s sea of happy children in May 17’s Independence Day parade, had married Sonja, a commoner with (gasp! in 1930s) a questionable past and a son. Their son, Crown Prince Haakon remained true to Mette-Marit in spite of her scandalous roots and they birthed Princess Ingrid Alexandra. She may one day be the first female monarch since the 15th century.  England’s Prince Harry married Megan Markle recently; the world buzzed about how that mis-match of past and power turned England on its ear. The image of Harry reaching for her hand while listening to the non-traditional wedding sermon suggested to me that he took the words “for life” seriously.

A quarter-century friend from the Midwest came for her first HI island visit and asked to go to Kauai also. She experienced Hawaii and I remembered KS/MO roots.

 

 

 

We road up the river to Fern Grotto to hula strains, listened to the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” (think Elvis!) where couples marry and renew vows often. Hens and chicks greeted us wherever we went.

 

We also took a 7-hour Dolphin sunset up the Na Pali coast. I opted not to swim with the tourists who risked swells and nearby rocks, holding to an instinctive feeling that the calmer waters four islands south held my allegiance. It was a memorable afternoon of red earth, green vegetation, dark caves, ancient legends, falling waters, congenial people, delicious food, nutty dancing, and off-key karaoke on tossing waves.

 

 

 

 

Inaccessible ancient caves, there perhaps 4,000 years to when Kauai began eroding, gaped from the cliffs. One seemed lit inside.

 

Next day, we drove to Waimea canyon lookouts and saw where we had looked up from the sea. Different views only enhanced Kauai’s beauty. We also visited Kauai Coffee Farm and the Spouting Horn, the first a tribute to flexibility (from sugar cane and pineapple to coffee production) and the ever-surging ocean’s faithfully spewing through its lava tube.

 

20180610_144159_resized Back home on the Big Island, we drove to Akaka Falls and got as close to Pele’s activity down southeast as closed-roads would allow. New land is formed almost minute-by-minute as 45 mph lava rivers flow from Kiluea toward the sea, with National Guard and police keeping close watch on who comes and goes. While wishing for more breathable air, most humans are awestruck by the physical history taking place there.The dependability of earth, gravity, and earthquake forces seem evident, even as over 1700 people, 200 homes and businesses are destroyed.  Tourists’ cameras still clicked at ginger and landscapes revealing waterfalls, lush as on my first visit in the 1970s.

 

King Kamehameha’s birthday found folks with Hawaiian lineage placing 30′ leis over his outstretched arms while ti-wrapped gifts and hula tributes were presented and queen and princesses rode with yards of satin streaming from their kukui-fastened skirts, just like ancient days’ celebrations. I opted to snap a modern-day cowboy tending his horses, quartered on the recently-updated golf course. We can play 9 holes now, thanks to a few persevering souls who re-designed and re-opened the course after it closed.

 

My friend has gone to sizzling temperatures in the Midwest; I’m enjoying Trade Winds here in Hawi, catching up on my fast-growing yard. I took time out to practice with a dozen ukuleles and voices for a pre-funeral sharing of songs, another tradition here, and stayed to learn about the lady who had “fought a good fight, finished the course, and kept her faith” since 1930. One son’s candid speaking of his differences with and appreciation of his mother plus a daughter’s sweet memories circled around one fact–their mother was staunchly faithful to what she believed.

I mentioned the theme (faithfulness) to my young telephone buddy, and her saying “beyond the religious connotations, it means being faithful to my path”  led us to explore what she perceived her path to be. Tables turned, and she asked for my definition. Many examples came to mind, with the over-arching meaning circling back to holding to that still, small voice  keeping me true to relationships while taking care of myself. Perhaps it means being faithful to Love while seeking the long view.Century plant sunset

 

 

 

 

 

Non-neurotic Norway

Norway Glacier

Kalli and I left Bergen, known in 1070 as “the city of rain” in full sun with violets blooming and trees leafing out along the tracks. We soon climbed to snow above timberline. Destination: Oslo, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, in seven hours. Neither of us pulled out a book for the journey, opting for watching the scenery. An old Norse saying came to mind…”Merely book makes none wise.”Norway Brewery A large distillery (Aquavit?) caught my eye, quite different from my son’s brewery on Mare Island, CA. I was told that alcohol was expensive here with a monopoly on wine and beer, also having had prohibition before the 1900s when Norway and Greece were among the world’s poorest countries. The Norwegian Krone equals .12 U S dollar now. Agriculture and fishing has been replaced by offshore oil and gas as sources of income to make the country rich.Norway Water Mtns

 

We kept climbing alongside the fjord, hearing Norway’s divorce rate (50% earlier) had decreased to 46%; the people seemed increasingly happier in making choices. Since 1536, 85% of Norwegians claim to be Lutherans, but most are not active attenders. The Viking attendant gave us lunch vouchers, and some of us said “Takk for maten” or “Tusen takk” (thanks for the food).Norway Glacier

A large glacier looked much like we’d seen on the big-screen at Hardanger Nature Center. We pondered how they had to leash children on slopes at 4,000′ as we crossed the Hardangervidda plateau. Rock walls seemed to stay in place. We started descending past summer houses, simply built with pitched roofs to withstand snow and ice. City people go to them anytime there is opportunity, and the upcoming Children’s Day (May 17) to celebrate Norway’s independence (given them by Sweden without a revolt–they simply drew up a constitution) was expected to be a mass exodus toward the mountains or neighboring countries for holiday. However, the Oslo streets would be filled with 60,000 children parading by a waving king and queen. Kids knew they could have as many ice creams as they desired on this important holiday honoring them. What a hopeful way to celebrate “Independence Day”!

We exited the train and quickly felt revitalized. Set in a splendid bay, Oslo is both historical and vibrant, surrounded by fjords and hills. Founded by King Harald II, it grew around the Akershus Fortress, gave us Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, and Gustav Vigeland’s 200-or-so sculptures in a walkable garden. We celebrated life–childhood-to-old age friendships as we walked among the sculptures.

The little boy throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of a bridge amused us especially.

I found these two my personal favorites of all Viegland’s extensive works. We boarded the tour bus, dropped those who were too tired to continue at the hotel, and continued with Frieda’s commentary. She wore the bunad displayed in many shop windows, the national dress of her region. We heard more about how the Napoleonic Wars, 1814, saw Denmark giving Norway to Sweden and how 120 men met and speedily wrote the constitution that peaceably gained their freedom on May 17, also how in 1905 they sought a prime minister and parliament, then how the Nazis occupied their land in 1945. All these histories swirling in our heads while we looked down on happy folks in red and blue dresses.

Next stop was the Viking Museum with graveships from 820  and 834 A D., found in 1867 and 1903. The graceful arch outside signified a bridge between past and present.

 

A spiraling climb by bus took us to the Olympics site. I remembered seeing the ski jump on TV during the 1952 Winter Games.

Sliding into bed was welcome at the close of May 16, especially when a young Viking representative in a sparkling black Mercedes would pick me up at 4:30 a.m. for departure for (eventual) Honolulu. He seemed to like hearing that my Midwestern grandfather also had a handlebar moustache like his, took it in stride when we had to take an alternate route because a tunnel was closed, and deposited me at American Airlines on time at the modern airport that had replaced one Norway had “outgrown”. I found myself wishing I could stay another day among these happy people.

 

Finally home on my island, it was with great relief that I got a message from Kalli’s son saying she was safely back in Tucson on a later flight. Thank you Viking, and thank you Delta!

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Bergen

“Gu Morgan” I greeted Kalli, “Today we have another included tour–this time of Bergen. “We’ve already been up a fjord or two, but it’s called the ‘Gateway to the Fjords!’ Another fishing city that used to be the capital of Norway…”Norway Bergen Brochure

Kalli was searching the empty half of our closet, then sifting through my clothes. I suggested her stuff might already be packed. She looked under our beds, decided she’d wear yesterday’s outfit. It seemed a good time to explain the remaining timeline. We’d have one more day, but two nights on the Viking Sun, then had to live out of our totes on a trainride across Norway’s high country. Was one full outfit in her tote for the time without luggage? She assured me she was fully packed and explained again the packing system which had served her well for years. Feeling uneasy, I asked to see the tote to see if we had packed similar outfits; it had books, documents, a pillow, and no clothing. It took some time and patience to persuade her she had to put in clothing. We managed, but putting the books in her suitcase wasn’t an option for her. She said she’d read them anyhow. Time to break, grab breakfast–plenty of fish, and go for a city tour. By the time she found her key card to exit the ship, all was forgotten, and her mood was sunny again.

We walked along the port. Snow was all-but-gone from the mountains and the glacier as we walked past the yellow Hanseatic League museum and heard about the merchant powerhouse with ports throughout the Baltic area. One of the quaint wooden 18-century buildings (UNESCO-listed) along Bryggen wharf contained our Raddison Blu Hotel in two eveningsNorway Bergen Buskers the Torget Fish Market where we listened to buskers make music, and numerous manhole covers depicting Bergen scenes and motifs.Norway Bergen Manhole CoverWe got hungry and asked our guide where to eat. She suggested a place a short walk from the fish market. Sandwich boards announced cod, prawns, caviar, oysters, and other seaside specialties. We were told our friend’s recommendation had “gone bankrupt at least six months ago” (things happen fast in this, perhaps, the “most rich nation in the world”), so we wound our way up some stairs and took a table overlooking a square. I expect Ole Bull and his violin, Edward Grieg and his composer’s pen, King Haaken, and Olaf the Quiet were among the statues.Norway Bergen Lunch Square I’m sure there were fair-skinned Vikings. I half expected Ole Bull’s fiddle to play a theme from Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon or Frozen.  Back on the Viking Sun, I tried the electronic-touch game tables with a CA passenger, wished for a Scrabble partner, and joined Kalli at the bar after her nap. The atrium filled as we gathered for champagne at the Captain’s Farewell, leaving room for singers, instrumentalists, and dancers to spice things up. The farewell dinner was low-key (we had Italian pizza and a salad with gelato) before classical violinist, Tor Jaran Apold played Norway’s greatest Romantic era’s sounds, interpreting Ole Bull and Grieg. Luggage was collected by the time we went to bed at 10 pm. Kalli said, “Somehow, I got the idea we were to be all packed some time back.” I assured her it all worked out and went over the next morning’s early departure from the ship for an in-depth Bergen tour. It wasn’t quite dark when we closed our eyes around 11 pm.