Archives for posts with tag: Hawaii

I’ve been sidelined by a wrecked back. The kind that’s so bad it makes walking an ordeal. More than a decade ago I injured a muscle in my lower back, lifting an old style computer monitor. After the fact I found out they weigh about forty pounds. No wonder I actually felt the muscle tear. I was incapacitated for weeks, wanting tomato soup and toast daily, for some reason unknown. I had an old cane that my aunt used when she broke her leg, and used it to hobble to the bathroom. I still have the cane. Still use it, though the hobble isn’t quite as bad this time. Probably due to the absence of muscle spasms. Those things would sideline a moose. This time pasta with an excess of shredded parm loaded on is my food of choice, liberally interspersed with chocolate and ice cream, and tomato or avocado sandwiches. My palette has apparently shifted over the years.

Other than struggling to stand (and hobble) sufficiently to acquire food and make necessary trips down the short hall that seems at least a mile long these
days to the bathroom, I’m mostly only good for sitting and staring at the TV. I’ve gotten through a bunch of movies. I’ll do a roundup or something about the best of them in time.

At the moment I’ve used up a big quota of my concentration ability on writing a few hundred words of my zombie story last night. It’s an unfamiliar struggle to write, since my mom died in July, so a few hundred words is a real accomplishment right now. Yes, I am aware of the irony. I started that story in the spring, just because I wanted to try something different. Unfortunate timing, but I want to finish it before starting something else…or going back to my serial killer script. Oddly, I think zoning on the Walking Dead marathon this week shoved me back into the world of the living, breathing writer I am, since it dragged zombies right up to the front of my mind again. I should just call this the year of death.

So how did I hurt my back this time? It would be funny, if it hadn’t ruined at least two solid weeks of my life.  I try to do a Travel Tuesday pic on Twitter every week. A couple of weeks ago it was this one I titled Scenic Roadside New Mexico.

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It was in an old photo album of a lot of cross country trip pictures. Old and big and heavy. Without thinking, I grabbed it up with one hand and carried it around. There was at least one twist in there somewhere. It took a day for the pain to kick in. I’d gone to a Chinese buffet and went inside fine. When I got up to hit the buffet, I suddenly could barely walk. What the–? Took me a couple of days to figure it out.

This weird, suddenly destroyed back thing runs through the women on my mom’s side. Her sister had a terrible episode once, finally got it better, only to sneeze and cripple herself again. I’ve learned to brace wherever I am when I feel a sneeze coming on, to the point of once almost taking down a section of metal CD racks at Walmart. A weird, bad back can be a hazard to more than one’s personal…person.

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I managed last week’s Travel Tuesday, despite my own personal faux zombie apocalypse (more than once I thought of how my painful shuffling gait was like a Walker parody). This White Peacock on Oahu one didn’t involve heavy lifting.

Here’s Today’s Travel Tuesday pic, while I’m on the subject. A beautiful and dramatic hillside vineyard near the Mosel River in Germany.

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I’m hoping this forced break from normal life will reboot me back to a long term more normal life, after the disruptive, surreal, and heartbreaking years of living life through the lens of my mom’s long journey through Alzheimer’s. I miss her every day, but emerging from that period of our lives is like walking into bright sunshine, after living in a cave.

I came across a doc last week on TV that I watched enthralled, Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau: ESPN Films: 30 for 30. It had to be fascinating for me to watch ESPN. Surfing is about the only sport I’ll sit still that long for. It was about Hawaiian surfing legend Eddie Aikau. It caught my attention early on telling about the sugar barons intentions and plans for the islands leading to U.S. marines overthrowing the Hawaiian monarch Queen Liliuokalani near the turn of the twentieth century, complete with vintage pictures. They decimated the Hawaiian culture and the native people were oppressed. The haole elite built a surfing club at Waikiki and learned to surf, but the native surfers were so good that they could step outside the new normal and retain a piece of their culture.

Fast forward to the peak of surf culture and competition. Eddie was the best at riding the huge 30-40 foot waves at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu and his big dream was to win the Duke, named for the granddaddy of long board surfers, Duke Kahanamoku. He would hit second and third place year after year, but could never quite win. His brother Clyde started entering competitions and won the Duke the first time he tried. Eddie was really disappointed and down, but kept a good attitude and kept trying. He eventually won and the surfing world rejoiced. During this time he almost single handedly defused dangerous rivalry between the native Hawaiian surfers and the international interlopers who came in and started winning the competitions

He wanted something new and meaningful later and entered the competition for a place on the crew of the Hokulea, a sailing canoe built to go on a journey navigated only by the stars and ocean currents to Tahiti to prove that natives could have sailed to Hawaii and settled it. After a long process he gained a place. They left in bad weather, overturned, and the crew was adrift at sea on top of the bottom. Eddie was afraid they wouldn’t be rescued and set off paddling on his board to go too many miles for help. The crew used up all of their flares trying to signal planes. A tourist on a flight saw their last flare and they were rescued.

Eddie was never seen again.

It’s an incredible story. I can’t believe I’d never heard of him, or somehow knew and forgot his story. I was already familiar with the Hokulea. It was rebuilt in 1980 and made the journey successfully, proving that the native people could have navigated such an incredible distance safely and settled the islands. There are stories like this all is over this world, with awe inspiring heroes most of us never know of. In this particular case, I’m amazed that Eddie Aikau’s story hasn’t been made into a major Hollywood biopic and an award winning one at that. This is the stuff that Oscars are made of. The kind of thing that renders a theatre full of people silent, admiring, and humbled. The ESPN documentary certainly left this audience of one feeling that way. 

Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau Official Trailer

Sometimes people will say something to me or near me in such a way that I never forget it. A mundane situation here, an unusual circumstance there, no predicting when or where, each makes me smile whenever I remember.

1. “We can but try.”

This one is from an old British TV commercial. I think it was for spot remover or laundry detergent. A hard working housewife, worn down from a long day of…cleaning spots, and a voice so world weary and resigned that you can’t help sending waves of sympathy to her through the telly. A sigh, a rolling of eyes and she IS you. She is everybody. Wherever you are, whatever you attempt after experiencing that commercial once or a dozen times, you find yourself uttering those words in that exasperated tone. Suddenly you’re back in England, enjoying the block of commercials before your show starts as much as the show itself, and you smile. You did your best. You can but try. You carry on, humming the Benny Hill theme (which is much more difficult than you’d think. Oh well, we can but try).

2. “It wouldn’t be a surprise then, now would it?”

Nestled on the banks of Loch Ness, a small white clapboard building housed a restaurant. One must assume it was frequented by the locals, since it was the only restaurant in sight. Or driving distance. Charmed by my middle aged Scottish waitress, complete with brogans and a brogue as thick as the mists worn by the glowering giant Ben Nevis snugged up almost against the restaurant’s back.

As my dining experience progressed, the veneer of charm wore thin. Beneath her accent my waitress had initially concealed what some might consider a snappish personality that I personally felt was more along the lines of surly. I hate to admit that I was intimidated, but I was. Not at first. Not until the exchange that went like this.

Me (perusing my menu) “This dessert…Ice Cream Surprise…could you tell me what that is”?”

Her (scowling like a lowering loch storm): “Well, if I told you that it wouldn’t be a surprise…(ominous pause, during which I’d swear I heard thunder)…. Now. Would. It?”

Me: “No! Of course not. Sorry. I’ll have that. (I think I threw another “sorry” in right about then) Thank you.”

She sort of sniffed expressively, turned on her heel smartly, and marched away. I waited quite some time, wondering first if she had climbed the frigid looking mountain at her back to retrieve fresh ice to surprise me with. Eventually I started wondering if I could leave some money and sneak away before she delivered my surprise.

I found myself still in my chair, when I heard the pitter patter…clomp…of her brogans, as she approached at last. She plonked a utilitarian white dessert dish down with a strange little flourish, and stood there expectantly.

Finally she could contain her odd mixture of pride, curiosity, and mischief no longer.

“Well? Surprise!”

I looked up from contemplating my glop of melty vanilla ice cream, valiantly attempting to float on a chunky sea of canned…beg pardon…tinned fruit cocktail. I was disappointed, but I didn’t want her to know that. I just knew she’d bellow something scary in that accent I could barely understand, if I showed weakness.
Starting to feel as if I had encountered a female version of The Kurgan, I smiled as valiantly as my ice cream coexisted with its accompanying surprise.

“Thank you. It’s…very nice.”

She nodded, apparently satisfied that I had, indeed, been thoroughly surprised, and clomped away.

I don’t know why I was disappointed. It just seemed too ordinary, I guess, so near the deep, dark waters where Nessie swam across my imagination. What was I expecting? A haggis sundae? Herring a la mode? A Scotch whiskey float?

I think I’d better be grateful for the surprise I got.

3.  “It’s not Nessie!”

Not far from the restaurant there was a museum devoted to Nessie. I thought that was awesome and eagerly went in to see what I could learn. A woman who worked there approached, excited, I thought, to share her knowledge. I thought wrong. This one wasn’t as scary as the waitress, but she was intimidating in her own way.

It soon became apparent that she had either been doing her job for too long or had just finished dealing with the most annoying bus load of tourists ever. Instead of leaping to answer any questions informatively, her grating, high pitched annoyed old lady voice was like a Jack-in-the-Box, jumping forth to shut down any stupid thing a tourist might say. She wasn’t so much an informer of facts as a debunker of myth and mystery.

Her strident battle cry?

“It’s not Nessie!”

Anything she was asked about everything from unusual ripples on the loch surface to suspicious dark shadowy gliding objects would elicit the same bleating response. She was loud too! Nessie herself could have come ashore and crashed through the front window, and all Ms. Negativity would have done was scream even louder that it was not Nessie.

I don’t know what her problem was, but the Nessie Museum experience became a treasured, albeit goofy, memory that sticks with me still.

4. “Did you hear that?”

This whispered question passed between my two Australian companions before a day’s outing. One was a friend of mine, an experienced traveler familiar with “exotic” accents. The other was a friend of hers who obviously had not met many, if any, Americans.

The “that” in question was my pronunciation of the freaking out girl’s name. I’ve always liked the name Jennifer. Now I can’t hear it without thinking of how it amused, thrilled, and halfway awed someone unaccustomed to hearing the Aussie dropped letter R. To me it was Jenn-eh-fur. To its owner it was Jenn-eh-fuh. Vocally, that one letter makes a world of difference.

I totally sympathized. The Australian accent is cool and exotic to me. So I understood what was setting her off. That did not stop me from feeling as if I had become an unwitting performer in a stage play for one. She giggled uncontrollably every single time I found her dropped R. In a way it was charming…for a few hours. Over the course of a day of shopping, lunching, and sightseeing it became tedious.

Over time it’s become a fond memory. Of course now part of my brain hears an echoing giggle every time the extremely common name Jennifer is uttered in my presence.

5. “Howzit, sistahs?”

Somehow it was quite some time before I came to know about Hawaiian Pidgin. I heard what my mainlander ears thought they were supposed to hear, even when they did not.

Early on I was shopping with a friend when a shoe salesman greeted one of us with a hearty “Howzit, sistahs?” On the mainland that would translate into something like “Hi, how are you?”. We thought he was saying we looked like sisters and proceeded to have an exclamation point infested conversation about how weird that was. Much later I proceeded to be embarrassed and wonder how he managed not to laugh at us. Very professional of him. Who knows? Maybe it happened so much that he did it on purpose for amusement to break up the tedium. I hope he was chuckling still the next time he tried to fit a size ten dowager in a muumuu with a size eight.

I’m sure there are more of these memorable moment moments tucked away in the back of my brain. I seem to attract strange incidents wherever I
go. It can make for some awkward situations, but also provide priceless souvenirs.

I have a lot of Hawaii pictures, mostly of Oahu, quite a few of The Big Island, some of Maui, and a few of Molokai. While looking through some today, I picked out some of my favorites I took on Oahu for a long overdue Random Images post.

This one was taken on The North Shore.

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I love the contrast of sea and sky, darkness and light. The molten look of light on water is like a minor homage to the volcanic nature of the islands.

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The Blow Hole is one of the, sights tourists flock to. It’s exciting to wait for the next time it shoots its plume of water toward the sky, and everyone goes home with the perfect souvenir of their time on the island. Occasionally, people take chances in their quest to experience the Blow Hole. They get too curious, get too close, fall in, and get sucked into the lava tube that gives the hole its name. Very dangerous, for a place of such beauty. On the other hand, patient camera wielders may capture a rainbow in the mists of the plume. Oddly, I saw them, but they were too gloriously fleeting for me to bring one home with me.

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This iconic landmark need no introduction. Diamond Head is perhaps the first image that comes to mind at mention of Hawaii. Well, maybe after hula girls. Whether seen up close, so that it towers over Waikiki or from a distance, framed by waving palms and the blue Pacific, there is no sight more quintessentially Hawaiian than this huge volcano crater. I’ve seen it from the outside, the inside, and from out at sea. There is no bad view of this impressive natural wonder.

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I can’t recall exactly where along Oahu’s many iles of varied beaches this one was taken. I’m almost positive it was on the Leeward Side, but that’s as close as I can get. All I’m sure of is that it’s one of my favorite shoreline shots I took there. It really illustrates the power of nature, as well as the incredible beauty waiting around every turn, of every Hawaiian island.

Now, here’s the weirdpart. I’m experimenting with taking pictures of prints with my phone, instead of scanning with my computer and printer. The above image of waves hitting rocks was enhanced by the phone’s camera and the contrast improved. Honestly, I was just playing with settings and this happened.

Here’s the original, taken when I wasn’t messing with settings.

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This darker, moodier shot of Hawaiian twilight has always been one of my favorites I took there. Sure, the lighter version makes the scene look more photogenic and shows more detail. It also washes out the haunting beauty of the actual moment I stood there, watching the Pacific do to the islands what it’s done for eons. Along with the deeper, truer shades of a Hawaiian twilight, the enhancement removed the generation of the memory that comes when I look at the original. Both make me want to go back there. Only one makes me feel, for an instant, as if I have.

Many beautiful and exotic flowers grace the islands of Hawaii. These are some of my favorites that I saw and photographed there.
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The hibiscus in Hawaii is in a league of its own. Much larger than the ones I’d seen on the mainland. The greater size emphasizes the depth and beauty of the ruby throat, complimented by the lovely apricot hued petals.
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For all that striking red anthuriums are common in more pricey arrangements and can be seen as potted plants at home, coming across a display of them growing out of the ground is very cool. I’ve always thought they look like plastic until you really examine them, but in actuality they’re about as exotic looking as a flower gets.
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This one wins the most exotic flower contest for me, though. The bird of paradise is stunning. They too look artificial until examined closely. In fact, they’re not really very flowerlike. They look to me like what a flower from a distant, world might look like…an alien beauty here on earth.
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With its creamy white petals, yellow center, and heavenly fruity fragrance, the plumeria is arguably my favorite. A lei strung with these floral gems also known as frangipani gifts its wearer with a delicate perfume that travels with them, a reminder of the tropical paradise long after the islands have been left behind.
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And finally the bougainvillea. Thorny bunches of vibrant color cascade from large plants that are unforgettable, whether single or marking a property line like a brightly hued hedge brimming with pink, purple, or white flower clusters. Each cluster has tiny white flowers growing from them, like extra decorations trying to gilde an already gorgeous lily.

Each unique. Each unforgettable. Each an indelible ambassador of islands that take root in your soul.

This New York Times article is a real eye opener. While I’ve long admired Georgia O’Keefe’s flower and landscape paintings, I didn’t know she had traveled to Hawaii and painted there. This article is attractive to both admirers of her work and people who love Hawaii, its landscape, and history.

Some details of O’Keefe as a person are surprisingly charming, as seen through the eyes of her twelve year old guide of Hana on Maui, and its surroundings.  As are the references to the Hawaiian lifestyle from before the tourist invasion. My favorite thing about the article is the image of O’Keefe’s portrait of a gorgeous waterfall. It is done in the style of her paintings of cala lilies. I had to look at it for some time before I could see the waterfall, clouds, and flanking mountainsides. So it is in a way a very beaitiful visual puzzle.

The article is so descriptive it’s made me long for a fresh, golden ripe pineapple. The kind best enjoyed beside a sun drenched roadside fruit stand. Once you’ve experienced fresh pineapple, plucked from a nearby field, as the trade winds sail the glorious aroma to you before that prickly rind has even been breached, the green, spiky objects in mainland grocery stores may as well be slightly pineapple scented footballs!