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

Continue reading

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!

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


Two-month Catch Up in Fast Moving Times

I had Gil’s mahi tacos today with a friend, and we agreed that we’re both busier than we dreamed, but we only do what we want or enjoy doing. Yesterday,  I was going to Hilo, then Ka’u down south to volunteer for land-clearing and planting until it felt like too much driving. Last night’s mention of the missile launching in Syria sent me home to delve into news I’d missed all day long (it’s six hours’ earlier here than in DC), taking the wind out of my sails and finding me walking around my yard to admire each herb, fruit, and flower until I could focus on some gratitude for life. There’s enough outrage and hate out there already. This began with the “Catch Up” title a few days back. It was to tell of the kaleidoscope of activities Hawi and Kapaau brings me in these retirement times–singing with SPED pre-schoolers; seeing snow on Mauna Kea; volunteering with the library book sale; playing ukulele with a few students, folks at Kapaa Park with whales listening in, and singing at Farmer’s Market; volunteering for Spring Break Camp with 40 kids learning self defense, making ceramics and puppets, and horseback riding at The Hub; dodging big equipment as they prepare my one-lane street for wider pavement; stretching through yoga class; hearing talented Mila at the Coffee Mill; discussing Self Care with trusted friends at Gathering of the Tribe; discovering a new walk above the ocean on dunes near Upolu Airport; the list goes on…. Writing it all suddenly makes me tired. I’m going to cut a gift avo into chives, squeeze some gift lime juice plus a little sale over it, and take guac to tonight’s kanikapila with friends. The sound of aloha songs, guitars, and ukuleles beckons to a relaxing, grateful place. Take it easy, Virginia! Take it easy world.

Two-day East Hawaii Tour

Lava Falls Beach When Nev and I planned her “Hilo-side Tour”, the lava was her must-see. We only got to smell fumes, feel grit on our faces, and see dark smoke arising from the cauldera on our second day, but she still told me it was a most wonderful time. Here’s the way activities shaped up: Over pupus at Hawi’s Bamboo happy hour, we planned carefully, agreeing to be open to options that might arise. Little did I know!

Leave 7:00 a.m. (7:30 amended), stop in Waimea Starbuck’s for coffee (restroom), drive (into full sunrise) to Waipio Valley Overlook. I counted eight sizable roofs below us near the idyllic valley’s taro fields.

Nev announced that she’d like to pop in on friends on this east side. I suggested she call them. “Good idea!” They were at doctor’s appointment, but we found their sweet place near Akaka Falls and got updated on improvements, chickens, composting, and gardening since she last was there. On to the falls, an up-down walk with the 400-foot falls and serene climbs through creaking bamboo.KIMG0148 Snack tasted good as we drove to the Hawaii Island Botanical Garden on the scenic wrinkling four-mile old road. We both ran out of camera space and simply took in much of the 1.5 mile walk through flora and fauna.

We felt grateful for the man who bought this acreage (church site) devoted years to paring back the jungle to expose, plant, name, and develop the trails through antherium and orchid gardens among palms and trees from all over the world. His wife still lives. No tour bus policy was also appreciated. Tour continued after a serene mid-day walking the gardens.We continued to Hilo and followed Banyan Drive (she remembered Nixon had planted one of the giant wonders) to Hilo Seaside. The koi pond still holds monster swimmers, but the rooms were pristine amidst Old Hawaiana charm. I last stayed there in 1986 and would willingly return (using kama’aina rate, of course). Nev wanted to walk the farmer’s market downtown before dinner with an ex-Hawi visitor to whom she was returning items of clothing–another surprise in my trunk. Other than a deafening noise level for an open restaurant, the seared ahi and salads plus a guitar and mellow pop lyrics were top-notch. I slipped down to an antique store and had the happy owner place the coat rack in my trunk.You could hear the conversation over tables and bar a block away as I returned to Pineapples eatery.

Day 2 was mostly lava, bird songs, ferns, dark clouds of vog, and underground walks through the lava tube. The Jagger Museum, peek over the cauldera, volcano history documentary, drive with windows down, stir fry at Uncle George’s, and walk beneath Thurston Lava Tube’s drips finished the most satisfying day. Next time, maybe we’ll try the 9-mile hike to see molten lava tumble into the sea. We returned under a full moon, happy tourists on our home island.KS Full Moon


Through Election, Thanksgiving, Advent 2016


I usually look for rainbows and silver linings, but talk had turned toward “Trump can’t possibly be elected!” on walks along the ocean or up mountains. I’d sensed unrest and heard folks yearning for a change across seven states and many telephone exchanges until my dismissal of importance in what I heard and saw of the man (I first disliked because his tower blocked my New York view) had faded. I played devil’s advocate, telling of Midwest relatives and the two Kohala friends’ plans to vote Republican. No one seemed to listen. Election night, seven women gathered and practiced supportive listening to one another in my living room. Before hugging good-night, someone pulled up election results. Hillary did not have enough electoral votes to pull it off, and states were showing up red as we watched. Disbelief, shock, some expletives, a few tears followed. One said, “I could use a drink, but there’s no bar…” We all laughed. Kohala pulls up its sidewalks and turns off its lights around 9 pm. All I could offer in the way of hope was a Montanan’s argument that “Things may fall apart for awhile, but they’ll start over in a better way eventually.”

Life and the process went on. New bamboo turned up in the way of Farmer’s Market drums. I helped the elementary school plant ulu another rainy Saturday.

Thanksgiving morning, we took guac, chips, olives, hummus, bread, citrus, veggies, and pie to Kapaa Park to watch for whales. Our reward was a few spouts and a lightened mood.

Also, Kahilu Theatre in Waimea had us volunteers serve food, tend bar, and do Girl/Guy-Friday jobs for their Gala. The fundraiser was a big success, ushering in the holidays. My weekly yoga, ukelele practices, preschool volunteering, gardening, mowing,  twice/monthly guitar sings with friends kept me looking at calendar. I sent off (the wrong) packages to KS and MT. Forgiving relatives re-boxed and re-sent them. A lovely group of medition sisters explored “gratitude” for the month and moved on to “accepting what is”. It all fit.

The Senior Citizens had their yearly blowout at Waikaloa Marriott, and Gino and Nino accompanied a woman from “Sons of Hawaii” in great music and musing about past Christmases. Auntie Viv did impromptu hula, not long up from a sickbed, and my friend, Sumi seemed pleased with her gift.kimg2132

Neville and I went to Hapuna Beach and didn’t brave the two-story waves. It was lovely to walk, watch, and wonder. That set the stage for the next ukelele afternoon at Kapaa, with somewhere between 5 and 15 whales spouting. A Mahukona walk the next evening found them breeching, slapping fins, and showing off their lengths at sunset. As Helena and I returned, native people were chanting in the old heiau area off the upland trail. We almost missed the full rainbow on the upland side.It was magical, powerful Solstice Eve.

Who said Christmas is for kids? It was delightful to see Hawaiian angels, Filippino Herod, Portuguese wisemen, and Japanese shepherds straight out of plantation days as they rendered a song with American Sign Language at St. Augustine’s on Sunday. Mary parked her slippah on a stool rung while Joseph’s round face stilled into worrying about what to do. The angel gave uncertain orders, and he played his role.I noticed a moment between recently-arrived father and resident-teen daughter that was also heartwarming. Life, decency toward one another, and the possibility of peace on earth endures for me. I look forward to 2017!