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…



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!

Maui Summer, North Kohala Fall


Minty, from Kansas City, came for five magical Maui days. We especially liked driving to Hana and up Haleakala. She liked HI sun so well that she returned a few weeks later, this time remaining on the Big Island.  It is hard not to enjoy yourself in these islands.

I led a poetry experience at the library and got roped into the upcoming Arts Festival,Do Artwhere I mostly poured lemonade for the community to sing, do clay, eat, strum, draw, and act. A grant project may be in our future! The Hub sponsored a Ukulele Camp for folks from several continents. I practiced until fingers were sore to make a start on “blues ukulele”. I lucked out on a great class and made several musical friends.

Several trips down Pololu gave new views any Monday morning when it wasn’t raining. Sometimes, I’m trying to keep up with Soraya in flipflops; other times, my haole* friends are wearing hiking shoes. I’m the one “without breath”* and sweating!

In spite of some cooler, rainy days, I drove the Mountain Road to have island beef salad with Lyla, friend from Montana. Another type of hen party occurred  in my back yard when two old biddies ate their way around my panex hedge. The lemongrass and sugar cane didn’t interest them. These rainy times mean I must grab any sunshiny times to mow. The trimmed hedge also grows faster, meaning ladder time with a trimmer.


I took friend, Diana, to lunch on her October birthday, and we had a rare pig sighting–almost too up close and personal in Nanbu Court. Most feral pigs here are dark red or black, so this was a mystery.

Yearly, the area Christian Center gives a lovely “Mahalo Dinner” for senior citizens. Island Breeze, Kona hula group, entertains with dances from Tahiti, Samoa, and Hawaii, ending with a fire dance when darkness falls. The chef outdid himself this year, and the guitar/voice duo kept us tapping toes to Hawaiian, pop, and cowboy music (he even yodeled!).  Prizes ranged from Kona coffee to luau tickets from local venders. I rarely miss this event where once a girls’ school served sugar cane workers’ families.

Today, Senior Citizens, mostly in orange and black, had a Halloween meal with a surprise visitor–The President of the United States! He told us he wanted to get to know us better because he was still hunting for ways to cut medicare. His Hawaiian accent sounded a lot like Kealoha’s. We also had ukulele songs, trick-or-treat candy, and Bingo plus plenty of laughter. Kohala’s group just took top three island-wide wins at ground golf Spooktacular, another yearly event I opted to miss because Aunty Irma’s Hawaiian ukulele class was the same day. Happy Halloween from Hawi area!


Grandma Ginny’s Back Again

Two August weeks in 104-degree temperatures outside Wichita, KS seemed a poor swap for beach breezes along Kona’s coast, but I was overdue for a visit with daughter, Janet, and family. She, Grant (19), and Ethan (16) have summer birthdays, along with me (can’t remember!), and hometown friends kept calling to see when I was returning to Fredonia. I booked United, steadily improving in service recently. I flew Kona-to-Denver and got on stand-by to arrive in Wichita three hours earlier than scheduled. Movies were free, so I caught “Lion” between snoozes.

Grant loped in and cleared a place his white Taurus. He talked about the coming diploma for engineering tech and hopes of Associates in Mechanical Engineering in December, then suggested lunch. At Sutter’s 10 acres, everything looked green. Janet’s woodworking shop had added a second metal structure, and Ethan was cooking a pizza on a countertop oven. I chose a dip in their pool before a nap. Bowls adorned my bedroom shelves. HIJanet's Gift Bowl

Minty, KC friend, drove 2 hours south for Stearman’s burgers and a swim next day. The small plane airport’s fan blades reached almost to the four walls. We looked up the 4-digit price online. Evening cooled, so we walked Larry-the-Labradoodle on gravel roads and watched “Blue Bloods”. Tom Selick had left Hawaii for NYC, I found. It’s habit-forming, that police family!

Enterprise rented me a metallic blue Focus across from Brian’s workplace, and I set out for  3 Kansas City days. Everything flowed over long visits–Joan bought me birthday brunch at redecorated LePeep’s, I found (4 pairs) sandals not available in Kona, Georgia and Dick hosted me with Judi bringing deviled eggs for her birthday dinner. I joined Helen for lunch, Ruby for a foot massage and catch-up (plus a note to Mailyn, just widowed), and Cheddar’s dinner with Charlie and Colleen, Mike and Lisa, and Jo and Bill (first time met). More catch up! They suggested a discussion class next morning before Prairie Baptist service. Lots of lively questions and opinions about justice, politics, accepting others, feeding and housing new people, and now-white haired familiar faces.

Safely 250 miles south near Wichita, we made plans to meet OK sister, Gayla, at Penny’s Diner in Wellington. Railroad Museum, Chisholm Trail Museum (three floors that looked strangely familiar from childhood days), and Depression Glass Museum (a nice surprise) filled our day, with wooly mammoth bones surprising us in the courthouse. Little towns try hard to keep their heritage alive in the Midwest, a good thing for us. Ethan took it all in, went back to games on his phone, and asked for Sumo’s for a birthday dinner.

Janet (conductor at Train Museum) invited an ex-colleague and kids out to swim the next day, and we told her how one of their Alternative School grads had shrimp, chicken, and fried rice at Sumo’s with us. Small world, chance meetings happen in KS’ largest city.  We met another teacher for Mexican food and saw “Dunkirk”, a story of common people doing the life-saving, right thing.

Sailing Cheney Lake didn’t happen, since Sunday weather turned windy and rainy. We met Texie and Bill at Le Monde (worldwide cuisine) and warmed to the story of a facebook request to boycott the Muslim restaurant followed by Wichita customers turning out in large numbers to eat there ever since. I’ll go back!!

Ivan, also class of ’56 grad, took me to the Rib Crib and “Wonderwoman” (surprisingly enjoyable, this one!) and suggested we drive to hometown Fredonia. His older brother-in-law was killed in a collision, so it became an important trip to sit with four bereaved generations. We also visited briefly with an ex-sis-in-law who had been hospitalized 31 days and was gaining health back. Another stop let us deliver a walnut bowl to friends who had given Janet much wood for her after-school lathe-turning club. Why did everyone else’s hair turn white? Are they shrinking? Is it my memory or aging?

An I-35 tollbooth worker asked me, “Aren’t you afraid to live in Hawaii now?” I joked, “Aren’t you afraid you’re watching too much news?”  Back home in HI, I sang in choir as we buried friend Kayoko, a beautiful hula dancer, grandmother, and church member. Today’s sermon reminded us that fear can make us unrecognizable to those who love us. Love seems the restorative word needed day-to-day and across the world. I certainly experienced it in KS and again, as I sat with birthday friends at breakfast at king’s view, across from the statue. I love this interesting, imperfect world on both sides of the Pacific!HIKamleis

Appearing and Passing

   Kapaau prepares for weeks, sometimes months, for the king’s birthday. Hula chants begin at sunrise. Royalty’s descendants gather and sing at the base of Kamehameha’s statue. Young men in loincloths hoist leis to the king’s outstretched arm. Kahunas accept ti-wrapped gifts to place on the raised platform as offerings. 2017 may mark the year that the giant trees next to the statue took most of the attention. On Thursday before the Sunday, June 17th’s celebration, half of one of the huge umbrella of limbs and leaves broke and fell across the road in early morning. The Senior Center and statue were spared, but the people up-mountain had to forge a new path behind the police station and across grass to access Akoni Pule, Kapaau’s main street. Clean-up of only part of one tree closed the road and parking for municipal buildings and senior center activities for several days. The two threatened 100+ year-old trees proved hollow inside and would have to come down, something people had been saying for my entire years here. Judging from the amount of discussion, opposition, fear, economics, and nostalgia overheard as people voiced opinions while waiting on the parade, it will be a long process.  I put up my umbrella and got an iced chai from Carol at Nanbu Court across from the newly-painted home for L & L (local food), Chubby’s (local treats), and places to outfit your child’s piñata party, do your taxes, and the like. The facelift turned drab buildings into perky, inviting real estate. I’m reminded of childhood doll houses. Back home, before the parade, I checked on my pineapple and a squash and decided I’d wait until the stem died before harvesting. I walked the quarter-mile, thinking I’d breakfast at CSC Café and watch the Hawi-to-Kapaau statue parade. It was closed, but a loudspeaker and narrator from the owner’s family announced each horseback group, decorated conveyance, and dignitary who waved. I edited a manuscript at their covered picnic table, unworried about parking or sometimes-traffic spurts on the closed main artery. By afternoon, the Kamehameha park crowd had thinned, but hula performances, food booths, history exhibits, chair massages, and venders continued until 4 pm. Singers sang the praises of the Hokule’a, soon expected back from its 47,000 nautical mile, round-the-world voyage. Impromptu hula brought grace and beauty to instrumentals and songs from the past. Email word came a week later with the obituary of an adopted cousin, son of a cousin I remember visiting KS from time to time. To my surprise, he was 69, while I still had a 9-year-old picture in my mind. Text came today of the death of the oldest Fortner daughter after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. The family, probably numbering over 100, is having a reunion in KS. So this passing will leave bittersweet memories. One ex-inlaw sent a picture where my sister-inlaw for 32 years looked like my mother-inlaw when she was in her 80’s. My mind picture was of a KS Homecoming when I saw her slip out of the gym and alerted someone to bring her back. She had not recognized me then, ten years back, but with skillful make up, she looked much like she always had.  I spent the morning, contemplating the cycles of bloom and dying as I walked past my now-strong-again sugar cane and noticed a bird of paradise popping out, ready to take flight.


Walking Where Ancients Walked

Scenes like this pop through trees before you start the descent to the gulch’s ocean access. The trail Z’s until you give up and slide down, sitting and digging in your heels. Then there’s the climb back out! Another early morning descent to Pololu brings the languid lagoon waters reflecting cliffs quite familiar to ancient inhabitants like the boy who became King Kamehameha.  Contrast that with my southeast corner, backyard, after tree trimmers gave the 35′ panex a summer haircut. The trees will be a 7′ hedge within a month or so. The sugar cane, I’m told, will again stand upright. My street, Honomakau, is so named because when the baby (prophesied to be king and unite all the islands) was carried toward Pololu with warriors following, means “place to calm fears” or “fearsome place” (I guess it depends on whether you’re an optimist or pessimist).

I had forgotten how bare my yard looked four years ago when I moved in: one lone plant grew where the sugar cane will soon shade the raised beds again. Last Sunday, a friend and I drove south 1.5 hours to walk the “1871 Trail” with 25 others from Hawaii Island Land Trust and a group who preserve trails. We began at Place of Refuge, saw two slides used by alii, went up a ramp of lava stones above some burial caves, hiked lapahoehoe to the ocean with tour boats coming into the mouth of caves below us, and completed a little less than four miles of hot sun-and-keawe shade. Tamarind pods gave us bitter-sweet seeds to taste. We were walking where kings, messengers, couriers, horses, and others had walked for thousands of years, a humbling thought. One woman told how her group had spent hours each Sunday for the last 13 years, clearing the trail. A  beautiful woman in bikini came up from her swim and greeted us, glad to share the trail she takes daily.

Star Quality?

 My backyard strutted its stuff last week with four hibiscus on a year-old plant my friend, Nali, gave me. Her green thumb is probably the reason it’s doing so well.  An invitation to an ocean view walk gave me another chance to enjoy stellar scenes.    So I didn’t wait long after Saroya’s suggestion that I join a movie shoot where she was a member of the cast in Hilo. A new experience! All I knew was that extras were needed for a party scene, and we were to wear black for a shoot around 11:00 a.m. I arose early, grabbed McDonald’s-to-go in Waimea, and arrived at East Hawaii Community Center at 10:30, my party heels in my satin bag. Saroya, the star of NUMB (working title) was getting made up. Whitney’s logo was MUD (make up designer), and she was applying “scars” where the star had multiple cuts on her arm. I read the script and realized it was quite a noir film! The morning bled into afternoon; I went to Conscious Culture Café for smoothies with extra protein and finished a thin book. A walk through the Park brought me to King Kalakaua, the merry monarch who loved the arts.   About 1:30, I found myself seated next to Ray, who had finished a Shakespeare morning and was getting into his somewhat-inebriated character to make a toast to absent Joel at a farewell party. A German African American woman and I were panned at the food table multiple times (“get back exactly where you were before and say ‘Hullabarhubarb’ for small talk”). Three men were at the pupus table laughed about private jokes with co-workers. One fellow brought a gift for the blue-wrapped boxes, a send-off for Joel’s pregnant wife and him. We focused on her tearful speech, gave attention to Sayora when she appeared in the corner like a surreal visitor, and did Take 2, 3, 4…. I was on my way home by 3 pm and welcomed ukulele players for a kanikapila and pupus at 6. If I get “discovered”  or this independent short film takes off, you’ll hear from me! The drive home brought another star-quality scene–an unexpected rainbow.

Return to Old MT Stomping Grounds

 Maria met me in Tacoma for a roadtrip across ever-green Washington, two Idaho passes, and a stop at the $50,000 Silver Dollar Bar along the interstate in Montana. We stayed with brother Ron, got three days’ good visit with nephew Jed (looking good in the third group photo at Littlefield’s Open House (Jered’s the moustachioed guy and Arlene has the aqua tee in pictures 1 and 3). It was great to reconnect with old friends. Their only disappointment seemed that I wasn’t tanned black by Hawaiian sun!

When I figure out how to get a new phone and new computer to communicate pictures to WordPress, I’ll finish this blog with Mt. Ranier and a few pictures of Plains animals. We saw Ron’s (five) horses and mules, mountain sheep, deer, antelope, and buffalo with snow on Baldy and Pat’s Knob, a successful NW experience!

Destination: Plains, MT, where Maria and I found a “no trespassing” sign on my gate, so took a picture of my old setting from River Road East across the Clark Fork. We had left Tacoma’s setting with friend Nan’s gorgeous view of Mt. Ranier, stayed with friends–Kathy and Jim–in Spokane and enjoyed the Northwest’s greening across three states. Brother Ron’s miniature mule–either Nip or Tuck–greeted us, as did Prince, Pearl, and Foxy Brown when they weren’t busy eating. The family visit was rounded out by nephew, Jared’s presence and a vigorous visit with Kate, home from an ESL assignment in Thailand. She’s probably one of the most valuable tutors found worldwide, but I confess I’m a prejudiced aunt.Hub Tofu Sandwich Back at home, I felt great gratitude for a wonderful week of beauty, good food and friendship as I plunged back into mowing my lawn and catching up with HI friends. A Tofu Breakfast Sandwich and coffee at The Hub plus greeting and seating folks for an evening of ulu (breadfruit) dishes and movie preview got me back into island foods. Church at Keokea Beach and a walk among palms and mac nuts felt like home again.CheratingCocoPalms