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!

Son’s 50th Bash

Risky Biscuits band The first thing that made me want to attend son Kent’s 50th birthday at Mare Island Brewing Company on San Francisco’s Bay’s north end was the promised band–Risky Biscuits. Other good reasons:

Friend Judi (Kansas City) and son Craig (TX and CA, but my memories are of him and Kent’s “Who’s On First?” patter at midnight during overnights at our KC house) plus daughter Janet and husband Brian (KS) would be there under Kent’s bigtop.IMG950773 There was a poet banging away on an old typewriter, a mime making funny faces, and plenty of food and libation.

There was my kid, my birthday kid with childhood friends–Peter, Craig, Karen, and Karla–and other friends’ kids’ kids. IMG950769 I missed the hors d’oerves table, made faces in the photo booth, and was lucky enough to get a piece of strawberry cheesecake someone added to the already-perfect dessert table. That made me glad I’d done the 4-mile San Pablo causeway hike with the out-of-towners that morning, especially since we’d sampled 2002, 2012, 2015 and 1016 Road 31 pinot noir at the cellars upon arrival the day before (all surprisingly tasty). The grilled chicken and  Caesar salad at the packed Ferry Taproom in Vallejo the night before was good also.  I came home with memories of all-boys’ classes I’d taught at (now) Pembroke-Hill, Kent’s friends there and across the United States, and a quick review of Hawaiian songs to perform at the Craft Day up the road from my house. Our Senior Citizens band wasn’t exactly Risky Biscuits, but we got a Hana Hou!

(No pictures, just good CA memories also remain from overnight at niece Jennifer’s Sacramento home; a day with brother Ron, son Justin, and his son, Chase at Tomales Bay, CA with clam chowder bubbling on a hotplate at the water’s edge when we returned from a boat ride; and time with Ron on the way to the airport for his MT return. The topper was a day with Kent’s inlaws, whom I see very seldom, a family tour of grandson’s highschool, and a lazy evening with both grandkids and RJ.)

A Hidden Hike & Ironman Turnaround

Sunrise Pololu Sunrise at Pololu, a weekly treat when rains haven’t left the trail too slick to descend, brings gratitude for living in Kohala on the Big Island. It settles me for busy times of weeding, trimming hedge, mowing, playing uke, writing and managing to volunteer in several capacities. September faded into October sunshine, and early morning walks near my house found a new cliff view.

I did an article for Kohala Mountain News about two year’s construction up Honomakau at the highschool–STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) money at work for our kids! In contrast, Elementary walkway slopeThe elementary school is in the throes of updating to ADA-compliance, with lots of yellow-taped areas and disruption in classrooms and entries.

Hawi turned its attention to where the Ironman bikers turn around in front of the Kohala Coffee Mill. Helicopters overhead alerted us to the first man to arrive and curve back toward Kona to finish the grueling swim-ride-run marathon. I saw the first woman to arrive, then went home to yard work. Much less strenuous, but somewhat challenging was a hike with E Mau Na Ala Hele, a group interested in historic trails, who left South Kona district at 9:00 a.m., entered a rocky walk oceanward marked only by a lauhala, and found themselves on ancient routes predating King Kamehameha. Roy Santana brought researched surmises to the sites of fishing villages, births, salt-gathering, and battles near Place of Refuge and Two Step. Robert gave us wild liliquoi, Hawaiian strawberries, and introductions to native plants. Those two men have been clearing the three miles we walked for over ten years. A wild, hot, wonderful three hours!


The long drive north found me not ready to re-enter civilization, so I took the upper road and joined the folks keeping vigil on Mauna Kea’s entry to go up to the observatories.20191020_165340_resized The tent city was fortifying against cool winds for the evening at sunset, a young man and girl were singing Indonesian syllables and speaking of the oneness of all persons, strength, and pono (righteous, responsible) living. I helped one kapuna tie her kihei over a jacket to keep her warm. Everything was friendly, respectful, and in no hurry to resolve the longtime problems connected with the sacred lands and building of observatories. I came home from my mini-vacation, ready to resume wo-manning the Information Center behind the king’s statue, play uke with friends, read 10-minute plays at a two-evening festival, and usher at Kahilu Theatre. Even the third round of Hawaiian language/chant classes is taking on new meaning because of respites in schedule in Paradise. Hawaii nei!


Old Friends

I visited Kansas and spent time with grandsons, Grant (the artist of the “Keeper of the Plains” above) and Ethan (Eiffel Tower artist and proud owner of a computer set-up to begin his year at Butler Community College. Kay's 80th with MeI surprised Kay Horton Bradbury on her 80th in Winfield, KS, along with a couple of dozen family members and at least that many friends in the park. She cried happy tears when we surprised her!Gavin's Ashes Prior to that, two friends who also loved Gavin Harrison joined me for planting a lemon verbena with his ashes in my backyard. It was a sacred, sunny morning. I’d been inspired to share sugar cane for free with anyone who would cut and haul the sweet treat, and I harvested several pounds of jabodakata for freezer, friends, and Kohala Grown market.

In between calendar events, the yard must be mowed weekly. Another weekly event is going down Pololu, usually with Lucia, who reports how many steps we take.

A friend and I joined the Plein Aire painters for three days at Volcano National Park. What a varied landscape: two lovely sunshiny days and one misty ones in three locations netted five studies I may finish in larger form one of these days.

We drove home through Kalapana and walked on black sand that had been a lagoon, warm ponds, and boat launch until Pele added new lava-land. New Black Sand Beach

Life continues to change as it comes and goes in Kohala. Today, I spent an hour with a teen club, trying out some ideas about writing; last week, I read to a packed library of listeners from mid-manuscript of China Conundrum; some days, I putter around my garden and lanai plants. The most thrilling times are when I see something new popping up for the first time. Old and new–who’s to say which is better?Tropical Bloom on Walk

Significant Birthday Party

As July approached, I started playing golf weekly to get ready for our Kamehameha Park family game July 27. Bea, whose son volunteers at our 9-hole course, is steadily improving–me, I’m told that I have “occasional flashes of brilliance”. Mostly, I’m still learning. I met the deadline for Kohala Mountain News‘ article about our library book discussion group.

Janet, Brian, and Ethan arrived July 20, her birthday. The guys enjoyed Francis’ vrbo behind the Artists’ Coop, and Janet bunked at my house. Hidden Beach ClimbersWe walked Mahukona’s narrow-guage railroad bed and, next morning, walked to Hidden Beach to acclimate the flatlanders.


The Kansans had two requests for their trip–1) no bugs and 2) air conditioning. Unfortunately, I have neither here. The geckos entertained them (they eat bugs in Paradise’s jungle here), and I saw them taking pictures often inside and out.  They also did well with my breezes on the lanai (weather stayed in 80s, nights dipped to 70s) and additional fans. We headed toward South Point the second day; Janet remembered the oceans coming together at the cliff point, and we found the huge lava tube, which Ethan climbed down a bit. Rain didn’t deter us from going on to Volcano National Park and descending to the Sea Arch.20190722_131112_resized

The National Park “Hill of the Whale” for a view of Shark Bay and time at Spencer Beach filled the next day in North Kohala, awaiting the arrival of Kent’s foursome.

They settled in, and we had a laid back dinner at Bamboo in preparation for a drive next day. Breakfast at Kohala Coffee Mill, and both cars were bound for Akaka Falls. We had originally planned for five of us to go up Mauna Kea, but protests and negotiations had it closed indefinitely. I’m learning that the controversy goes far beyond the multi-$$$$ telescope being presently built and feel sympathy for the Hawaiians whose culture has been compromised and the scientists who are passionate about their work up there. We avoided Saddle Road between Big Island’s two tallest mountains.KiholoTurtle and Va An early start for black sand and lava hike at Kiholo Bay was next half-day. Turtles were sunning themselves and swimming in the shallows. We did the same!

Beach time, naps, and dinner to satisfy at least five selective diets followed (hot dogs, ham/cheese, vegan wrap, gluten free pizza, and Ethan’s first papaya with local bananas and pineapple). Then we did a non-competitive giveaway game that turned out well.

Ethan would turn 18 Aug. 1; R(anger) J(anet) has an upcoming significant birthday August 5; my actual birthday comes August 9; so it was special to be together. Janet’s pancake “cake” at Ken’s in Hilo was fun, although she doesn’t do wheat. On top of that, both couples’ anniversaries occurred in June. Janet and Brian enjoyed Flumin’ the Ditch as their gift while Ethan and Kent, RJ, and Lila helped ready Keokea for my party on Friday.

I didn’t take pictures at my party–too busy basking in Kealoha’s blessing, a sumptuous buffet, Mila’s music, Wilbur’s sound system, somewhere between 50 and 100 guests, strumming and singing with groups, and a Jeopardy game “Facts about Virginia” led by my kids. I’m still getting well wishes!Irma Uke Group  Next morning, we golfed (or tried to), with varying success. Beach 69 relaxation while some napped, then five of us went down Pololu. HINapiliSand That finished off a full day, except to fulfill Ethan’s wish to sample sushi. He got to try many kinds at Sushi Rock, seemed OK with them all, but probably preferred a burger. Sunday morning, six of us went zip-lining while Janet attended St. Augustine’s.

The birthday gathering in HI was more varied, challenging, and enjoyable than I had even imagined. As they departed, I felt grateful for each family member and friend and remain glad I moved here to North Kohala. (I’m energized, but also napping a lot to catch up to my usual routine.) Hurricane Eric blew and rained for a few days and moved on to Maui; Flossie seems to be holding off in favor of blue skies and fluffy clouds. Good memories, good breezes, good expectations as we move into August.

Paradise Found

I got a new haircut and went to the Hub Barn to hear Mila and Tani with friends, a fundraiser, enjoying lots of Hawaiian music and a few original numbers.


We (Sr. Uke group) accompanied the 2nd grade hula presentation at Kamehameha Park Gym for May Day, Lei Day here, when the oldest class chooses a queen and king with attendants to represent each Hawaii Island. All slippas (see flip-flops to cowboy boots on floor) are left where the kids sat while they stand for chants or hulas. Tradition is strong and impressive in Kohala, my area of Big Island.20190514_102845_resized

The Senior Citizens were invited to go to the site of a traditionally-built koa canoe in Hawi, where we saw how they are canning and dehydrating their food to undertake a voyage  in the many, many Hawaiian chain to explore sustainability, let young people shadow older sailors, further ancient culture, and build solidarity. (Continuation of that experience occurs later when Makalili is launched; see below.)


The next weeks held a 3 K run/walk in Waikaloa fundraiser that was most enjoyable exercise. Venders fed us well along the route. Then the Kohala Sr. Uke group performed in Hilo in an inter-island Festival. Our green shirts and lively songs wowed ’em!

I rode home with the Kona Seniors and boarded United under a rainbow for grandson Ethan’s graduation at Towanda High School. Three dozen Kansans enjoyed the parklike pool view at his party before all-night rain brought a river through the 10 acres to raise the pond several inches. Flood watches were nearly constant in the Midwest.

Janet, Ethan, and I wandered a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the Wichita Art Exhibit. Her seamstress designs were displayed, along with the usual flowers, skulls, and photos of her prolific life. Her simple leaves caught my eye and stayed in my memory. I stopped by  to walk on the see-through Chihuly walkway, still my favorite permanent exhibit at the riverfront museum.

My Seattle/Hawaii friend, Kathy, was here for about a week after I returned; we got out and about and especially enjoyed the launch of Makalili. Ceremony, potluck, and lei-making, and chants involved the crew, elders in many families, and lovely chantresses.

Then came Kamehameha Day, June 11, with Kohala’s big parade. Each Pa’u Princess wears yards of satin representing one Hawaiian Island’s colors, and the queen is–of course–from here, Kamehameha’s birthplace. I didn’t get to the sunrise hula this year, but the 30′ leis and tributes to the king was impressive, as always. My friend Patsy’s grandson handled his horse as well as his dad as they kept skittish horses (wearing elaborate leis) in line. The tourists liked the pooper-scooper teams who kept Akoni Pule clean. At Kam Park, hula groups combined with the puppets they had made to re-introduce an ancient hula art. I saw my friend who makes lauhala bracelets and whose art is shown here with my bracelets worn when Boyd Bond, local historian, gave his last lecture on Hawaiian royalty. I never miss if I’m in Kohala!

That brings me full circle to Mila, who sang for Father’s Day lunch with Seniors. I’m preparing for him and Tani to entertain at my Keoka Park birthday in about a month. My kids’ families are coming, and we’re having a golf day for ages 11-79, so I’d better keep practicing so I don’t embarrass myself too much. Another stretch of time in Paradise!

Flowers, Fugitives, and Lava Flows

I stopped trimming between March rain showers and recognized red ginger, bird of paradise, and star-bursts of yellow orchids blooming in my backyard. On Friday night, Kealoha and I celebrated his birthday with Bob and Liz over prime rib and lobster at Minnie’s, and I got a lovely arrangement that lasted almost two weeks! Paradise flowers–may I never take them for granted.

The following Monday, Hap, pictured with an urn he fashioned, helped Sr. Citizens to make canes and walking sticks; I drew varnish duty and have one of each, whenever I need them. Hap was impressed that my daughter is a woodturner too.

Realty agent and friend, Dave Firestone had a significant March birthday surprise lunch at Bamboo, I determined to play our newly-designed golf course weekly, as well as walk with Lucia. Rain thwarts Pololu plans often, but we can find less slick places to hike.

No April fools, Senior Citizens took three buses across the island and down to Kalapana to see the latest lava flow. It had changed the terrain, crossing roads and wiping out the warm springs in its rush to the sea. At Isaac Hale park, we saw for ourselves how house-high tumbles of lava stopped just short a pool that’s all that remains of a place where boats used to some and go. We walked on the wide black sand beach and wondered how the sea could form a bay this size where reefs once held forth. Uncle Robert’s, a favorite gathering place down there, was untouched, and we enjoyed their picnic tables and hospitality. It was an other-worldly experience for first week of April.20190405_132330_resizedKekaha Beach Back on our west side of the island, Lucia and I drove the rutted road to Keheka beach before enjoying a lunch in Kona. Mila and Tani were singing on Saturday night at Bamboo, so we made a reservation. Lucia wanted to see a picture of my ex-husband’s 80th celebration, so she and I celebrated their gathering for NCAA and Kansas City in our own Hawaiian way. It was fun to describe the good folks in the Fortner tribe and my kids and grandkids, whom I’m planning to see this summer for my birthday celebration.

I almost forgot about the fugitive that stirred sleepy Hawi, escaping police capture and hiding out in the gulches. That activity, after the Kohala Village Hub restaurant’s fire had destroyed it just one week before, seemed unbelievable for our little town. Then, another shooting made the news within the space of two weeks. It was reputedly domestic. The coconut wireless buzzed until the fugitive stole a car from property next to friends’ orchard and was apprehended south of Kona by their police.  People may lock their doors for a bit yet.

I’ve gone back to noting the efforts of Ben, my remodeler six years, as I drive up mountain to edit with one of my favorite biographers and plan for my daughter’s family to enjoy living there when they come for my party.  In quiet moments, I enjoy my Easter bonnet and contemplate the upcoming days. Life is good, ever-changing.


Cuban Cruise: People


Contrasting images flash through my mind when recalling Cuba and the people met there: Walkers beneath covered walkways (handy under hot sun and pouring rain) and cab drivers in shiny vintage convertibles (smiling,  smoking a Cuban cigar).


We wandered a workshop courtyard around a large sculpture that gave me a feeling of strength and wariness from all angles in Cienfuegos and heard Cuban reverence for Jose Marti, poet and inspiration for many revolutions, as his statue raised a hand above us. One guide told us she held a dentist’s degree (Cuba exports skilled doctors and dentists), but she made many more pesos guiding tourists. I learned that children, ages 5-12, attend school. We identified junior high students by yellow skirts and white shirts, technical students by brown ones, and those whose exams allowed them to enter pre-university wearing blue. All do three years of social service and can qualify for government jobs in three more years. All education if free, producing a very high literacy rate.


From a cobblestoned street-long mural depicting important personages from the past to an entire whimsical neighborhood transformed  by one man’s efforts to bring his neighbors together in a common project, Cuba seemed alive and hopeful. We, of course, bought souvenirs, rhythm instruments, painting, leatherwork, and cigars. Cuban guides didn’t worry much about the time, nor did they seem understand our bus getting hungry (surly?)  before mid-afternoon. Once, we found ourselves seated in a nightclub where stagehands worked on the sets for an evening performance while we were given one Cuban cigar and a small taste of rum, with instructions on how to enjoy them together in Spanish. The guide, sensing the group’s displeasure and hunger, took us quickly to a nearby restaurant where a guitarist and singer sang while we had Cuban sandwiches., Also,nly once did I see a woman begging as we exited a Cienfuegos restaurant, sated by sangria, fish, squash, plantain and taro fritters, almond ice cream, and ultra-sweet , strong coffee.



St. Francis’ statue stands outside a church by the same name watching the Plaza Vieja  tourists try to cock one hip and strike a pose while waving a cigar. Somehow the colorful scarf tied with a bow on top didn’t look quite as right on a blond as on the woman who effortlessly carried a basket of fruit above her scarf. A strikingly handsome man in a red suit and white tie carried a newspaper to shield his face until some visitor pressed pesos into his hands. How many women took home a photo of their “Cuban boyfriend” to wow their friends? I was tempted!  Between selling times, they gossiped or people-watched us walk down streets where Papa Hemmingway had walked or climbed stairs to write seven books here, including The Old Man and the Sea. He finally moved three miles east outside Havana for more quiet surroundings. I wonder what he would make of the 2 million+  population in the city today. Cuba itself has eleven+ million inhabitants.


Artistic murals adorned walls on Cienfuego’s ancient streets, musicians were everywhere–in casino entries to crumbling open streets. The giant fortress, built in pirate privateering days, guards Havana. Tourists now wander there. Most of the art and music reminded me of both shed blood and renewed hope embodied together.



One Havana evening, we had mojitos–depicted on the stained glass above the restaurant bar– and lucked into reservations for La Taberna, the nightclub where Benny More, singer and horn player, hung out. The building dated back to 1760, we were told.IMG_2310 Big band behind him, one singer never changed expression during song after song The other donned hat and glasses plus a wide white tie from past days when he sang with minimal movement. Two dancers did perfectly sizzling guaguanco, rhumba with sensual undertones, along with more recent dances adapted from 1960-70’s in New York–cha cha, mambo, and salsa. At one point, Sid–part of a couple with whom I shared our ship’s dinner table other nights, smiled broadly and exclaimed, “Isn’t this JUST WONDERFUL?!” The stylized movements evoked emotions like none I had experienced in years of “each do your own thing” dancing popular across America. The floor in front of the band sometimes filled with less accomplished dancers trying to copy the main couple’s steps. During one long-held trumpet call, he held her above his head upside down with her legs making a perfect diamond before they went back to routine, sexy steps.20190117_122505_resized Each port had its old/new contrasts, suggesting hope. This uplifting sculpture graced the turn-around for people hoping for reservations for tostones (black beans and rice), plantain, or seafood at a restaurant with quite a past. The woman had lost a marriage, status, her entire known life, yet eventually rose to realize a new dream that became a sought-after historical place to eat near Havana’s casinos and fine old houses (now hotels). 20190118_112432_resized

Back on board, I was reminded of the problems human populations can bring about. One morning before arriving in Cuba,  I had stood on the 11th deck and watched floating debris the size of small cities on both sides of the ship for almost an hour. The attendant told me it was “seaweed” and then added, “well, maybe the blue or red or white or pink parts might be some plastic”. That did little to assure me I hadn’t seen some of the pollution that scientists and environmentalists are working hard to clean up before it kills our ocean populations. I’ve read that most fish already have ingested large amounts of plastic.  Seafood was on the menu for our windy, rainy departure.20190119_112807_resized

If Third World Cuba can rebuild, while allowing rubble and mansionstogether to make their way with a song that embodies both the sad state of things and hope for a bright tomorrow, maybe we in the greater world can become global neighbors who catch the same acceptance and vision as we cooperate with them. It will take some changes in attitude, but observations of  two Cuban cities’ people reawakened my hope for all of us.




Cuban Cruise: Political Perspective

20190119_104250_resizedEmpress of the Seas anchored at Havana’s Port two days as we did bus and walking tours. I increasingly gained respect for the Cuban people as sequenced history revealed their tumultuous past. Consider:

1522: first African slaves, 1555: piracy age begins

1607: Havana becomes capital, port for Mexican/Peruvian silver trade

1741: British Admiral Vernon captured Cuba; yellow fever ends British war

1762: British occupy until exchanged for FL in 1763, Anglo-Spanish 7 years’ war

1791: French fled Haiti rebellion, coffee established

1808: Jefferson begins U.S. interest in Cuba

1868: 10-year war against Spain, 1896 Maceo killed

1886: Cuba abolishes slavery; 1892: Jose Marti, dies a martyr20190117_112919_resized

1896: General Maceo killed during Spanish-US War; U.S. occupies Cuba 1898

1920: Sugar makes fortunes

1925: Gen. Machado establishes public works program, becomes a despot

1933: Batista revolt; 1952: bloodless coup; 1953; Castro leads rebels; 1955-59 Che Guerera’s revolt; 1958: Bautista “El Hombre” leads 3 decades; 1959: Castro welcomed

1960: Castro (PM 1959-1976) sells sugar to Russians

1961: U. Bay of Pigs Invasion; 1962: Soviet Union installs missiles

1967: Guerera killed in Bolivia; 1968: 58,000  small businesses reformed; 1970: sugar declines to a stop, 2002; Castro president, 1976-2008

1976: Cuban jet attacked by terrorists, 75 killed; by 1980: 125,000 fled to U.S.

1988: Cuban forces in Angola; 1991: Castro’s “Time of Peace”; Soviet collapse

1996: Cuba shoots Miami”s Brothers’ rescue plane

2003: Bush restricts travel; 2006 Raul replaces Fidel; 2009: Obama lifts visit restrictions

2008: Raul Castro re-elected, licenses 175 private businesses in 2011

2014: Obama est. diplomatic ties and telecommunications, aid to Cuba

2016: Trump declares no Cuban terrain travel; Fidel Castro dies 20190117_120007_resizedMuch more to follow these neighbors to the southeast of the U.S. Are we learning from our past? They appear to be doing so from theirs.








Walking past a horse-drawn buggy, a shiny vintage cab, and a new checkered cab van in Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the Caribbean, the centuries of revolt came alive beneath the watchful gaze of Jose Marti’s statue. I could almost hear the strains of “Guantanemero” with Marti’s poetry inflaming hearts between the well-known verses. I could easily “come back to Guantanemero”–or Cienfuego–or Cuba’s soil.20190119_105858_resized






Cuban Cruise Trip

After a January drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Sarasota for a few days’ visit with longtime friends, the Schaper’s, I realized a dream of seeing Cuba.20190115_162619_resized

The ship stopped in Cozumel, and since I’d been there, I made a shore run for lotion (none provided in state room) and attended Luis Leon’s lecture. He left there in 1961 as a refugee child and rose to Episcopal rector in “The Church of the Presidents” Clinton-to-Trump–across from the White House. He found G. W. Bush the most frequent attendee. Luis gave timeline anchors to Educational Opportunities Travel listeners:

1980- 2000s came to U. S. after Cuba warmed under Carter’s administration

1993- Cuba began dual currency (Cucs were around 80% of dollars for visitors)

2000- Clinton tried for diplomatic relations, issued visas like each administration since Eisenhower

1998-Communist party claimed property for the State; churches held daily a.m. prayer vigils to keep long-held private property; Pope John Paul II, first pope to visit

2009- Obama opened educational exchanges, 2013 travel reforms opened up

2015- Trump ended U.S. travel after Castro’s death (2016), now only cruise travel


Above is Lou, Luis’ wife, with a face painter from the Top Hat Workshop in Cienfuegos, our introduction to artists’ Third World’s tourism efforts. A glimpse of bouganvilla above tangles of electrical wires on once-elegant windows brought my camera skyward as we walked cobblestone streets. Luis outlined the Episcopal’s rocky road through history:

1902- exiles from the U.S. settled in Cuba, introduced Episcopal beliefs

1904-6- Three bishops brought the Cathedral School (now a B&B), co-ed schools

1961-churches nationalized, first Spanish-speaking bishop,

1966- U.S. Episcopal Church cut relations with Cuba Episcopal Church

2018 -Episcopal Church welcomed back Cuban Episcopal Church(ECC)  after a discussion in West Indies; unfortunately, no minutes left of that meeting20190120_093908_resized

I sat with a busload of Episcopalians the last Sunday in Havana, backpack full of toiletries, candles, and condoms on the pew beside me. Bishop Griselda Delgado de Carpio spoke heartfelt thanks (we felt it!), mentioning how ECC was “granted independence” during their greatest time of need in1960 and needed the gifts piled on their altar even more now. I learned that Friends of Cuba, mostly under her efforts, promotes partner parishes, provides water purification, gathers pension funds (ministers had no retirement until 1998),Cuban White Car buys vehicles (none manufactured on island), and maintains Camp Blankenship for EEC’s growing number of youth. Her Friends of Cuba program maintains the church on its own property. Drinking tiny portions of very sweet coffee and eating thinly sliced ham and cheese on crackers felt like a feast. Upbeat Cuban piano left us communicating with smiles, since their Spanish sizzled far too fast for our understanding.20190120_120151_resized


Has it been more than three months since I’ve entered a blog? My excuse is the litany of activities below (my first HI holiday season without visiting family at all):

Senior Club ended a series on “roots” with the Puerto Rican’s descendants telling of growing up in sugar plantation camps, and Lucia and I hiked the trail from the monument east to a heiau to the possible birthing stones for King Kahemahema. I am also hoping for more volunteers to greet visitors at an Information Center behind the king’s statue at the old judicial building weekly. The flowers were left at his feet on Veteran’s Day, which I was asked to cover for the KOHALA MOUNTAIN NEWS, a second writing assignment, since one on the Kohala Village Hub activities was also due. king's statue The holiday season followed on the heels of Thanksgiving dinner with friends, a rainy evening. I escaped to the west, dry side and the beach whenever I could find a sun-loving buddy to go.

Hapuna’s crescent is usually gorgeous, and Lapakahi Park’s trails can raise a sweat, just an eco-system away from Hawi, my home.

In between, I noticed that my yard must be mowed at least weekly. I drove to Kona for Lava Lava’s Salvation Army Kettle Kick-off at Lava Lava and won an artful boomerang.


It was time to decorate my house for the holidays. Other times, it gets a once-over weekly and as needed. A dozen people came Christmas Eve for potluck and presents. That, plus the holiday lunch at FishHopper for Salvation Army board, kicked off holiday meals. Friend Hank and I rang bells, strummed and sang carols at Takata Grocery each Friday to benefit the children who are remembered because of donations.

A Mauna Kea Brunch with the Senior Club found us singing “Tiny Bubbles” with my mouth full of lobster! There were choices enough to last a month of brunches. tiny bubbles brunchda nut house Grateful that Lucia is back from travels to hike with me, we visited Da Nut House one morning to sample mac nuts and my favorite coffee, Kau, then walked a trail below $$$$ houses by Kawaihae Harbor. I felt sad that the lovely homes claim the land that was once traveled regularly by nightwalkers.

Pololu, shown here with Montanan Cheri and me at the top is still waiting until rains stop. The trade winds appear promising the past few days for drying out that rocky incline. We went one evening to Kapa’a, returned from the lighthouse walk, and watched another great sunset while I reviewed a few uke tunes. Hawaiian life!