Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes on Winter in the Tropics

1. People don’t think there are any real differences between summer and winter in the tropics, but there are, albeit subtle ones. If you live here long enough, you become attuned to the little differences in things like the air quality (still balmy, but with a slight sharpness to it), or how the sun sets over the ocean in a slightly different place (which I don’t totally get, because isn’t the west, the west?).

2. I admit it, I'm spoiled about the whole shorter days business. I know our winter days are pretty darn long compared to the Mainland, but they're still not long enough for me. I'm looking at the tide calendar and see that the sun rose this morning at 7:00 and will set tonight at 5:51. I find myself counting down to the winter solstice and getting excited about how the days will get longer after that. So maybe that's something I have in common with my Mainland friends.

3. We continue to wear the same shorts and t-shirts we wore all summer. It is a rare winter day when we are forced to don long sleeved tops and/or jeans. We do not like to shop for clothes during the winter. Imagine our frustration with the racks and stacks of cashmere and wool items with which every store in every mall is fully stocked. The display of wool scarves at The Gap makes me laugh out loud.

4. Still, I do like to sing along with “White Christmas” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” even though there’s no relating to them whatsoever. I draw the line, however, at “Let It Snow,” but maybe that’s just because it’s such an annoying song. Once I get “Oh, the weather outside is frightful” stuck in my head, I have to fight the urge to shriek in agony and tear my hair out at the roots.

5. One of our family’s Christmas traditions is to go, on the morning of Christmas Eve, to an eastern facing beach and watch the sunrise (the photo on my home page was taken at Sandy Beach one such Christmas Eve a few years ago).

6. Our extended family all gathers at our home on Christmas morning for breakfast. We eat outside on the lanai. Until it gets too hot from the morning sun, then we come back inside and cool off.

7. As I gaze out my kitchen window at bougainvillea, ginger and plumeria, I'm thankful for flowers that bloom all year round. Now, as part of the clean-up we're doing after yesterday's storm, I've got to go fish their leaves and blossoms out of the pool. Because I'm going for a swim this afternoon.

[HT: Jennifer @ Conversion Diary, a favorite blogger who does this every Friday -- I'm entertained and inspired by her QTs every week, and by those of other bloggers who are also inspired by her. Mahalo, Jennifer!]

Saturday, December 6, 2008

He's a keeper

The Coach and I have always celebrated two anniversaries: our wedding anniversary, of course, and the anniversary of our first date. This is probably because our first date was quite memorable -- very unconventional, but more fun than you can imagine -- but maybe that's a post for another time.

Anyway, yesterday was our 25th first-date anniversary. And unfortunately, TC is out of town on a business trip. But on the bright side, he remembered it, and before he left arranged to have flowers delivered. See above.

By the way, I counted. There are 25 of those long-stemmed beauties. All together now: awwww...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Although I wasn't one of the people she tagged, Lisa inspired me to write this post about a few of my own punahele (favorites) -- in no particular order:

#5: I know I should come up with five totally original things, and I promise I'm not copying you Lisa, but reading has been a favorite thing of mine my whole life. As the daughter of a librarian, how could it be otherwise? I read all the time ... I can't help myself ... the back of the cereal box (or Triscuits, which I'm partaking of now) will do, but I start first thing in the morning with Scripture, move on to the newspaper, the internet, blogs, and of course, my beloved library books, and it just goes on pretty much throughout the day, till it's the last thing I do before I turn out the light. I keep a log of the books I've read; so far in 2008 I'm up to 54 (#55 is Jimmy Buffett's latest, a cute little story about a pig named Rumpy).

#4: Although it isn't something I do much of anymore, I just love to travel. There's just something about going new places and experiencing other cultures -- and when you're from an island in the middle of the Pacific, just about anywhere else is a different culture -- that gives me such a lift. I'm looking forward to doing more of it when I'm an empty nester (less than 2 years to go -- whoo hoo!) -- but unfortunately this puts me at odds with The Coach, who really, reeeeally doesn't like traveling. Oh well, who knows, I may just strike out on my own.

#3: Once upon a time, I dreamed of going to culinary school and becoming a chef. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and while I still do love to mess around in the kitchen, I'm guessing that part of what was motivating me back then was my love of fine dining. I could eat in a four-star restaurant every week. Alan Wong's, Cafe Diva, Hoku's -- once in awhile for a special occasion is never enough. I'm into it all: the menu choices, the presentation, the service, the ambience. I feel like, if I really wanted to challenge myself, sure, I could do gourmet cuisine, but man oh man, when I'm sitting there at that starched white tablecloth and there's someone in the kitchen who really knows what they're doing, it's just ... heaven.

#2: You know how there's a song, or a genre of music, that just, well, sends you? Whether it's classical, or country, or gospel, or jazz, you never fail to be moved? For me, it's Hawaiian music. Of course that's mostly because it's what I've grown up with, it's the soundtrack of my earliest memories, it's just my soul music. A year ago I started dancing hula again after taking a break from it for about a decade and a half, and every Wednesday night for me is like spiritual refreshment, when Kimo takes up his ukulele and sings the old favorites and we all just fall under that hula spell. Which sort of leads me to ...

#1: Home. When I was 18 years old and graduating from high school, I could not wait to get off this rock. I left for the Mainland, and I gave it a good try, sticking it out through college and graduate school and one year in LA endeavoring to launch a career. But one day it hit me, and I knew there was no doubt about it: the islands were calling me back. So I packed up and came home. That was 27 years ago, and it's one decision I've never second guessed. I met TC (whose family has been here since 1828!), and we knew this is where we were meant to be. And as I said, I do love to travel, but there will never be another place I'd want to live. People who are not from Hawai`i often tell me they envy me living in paradise, but I can see in their eyes or hear in their tone of voice that they could never imagine themselves setting down roots somewhere so isolated, no matter how beautiful. That's cool. Chacun a son gout. I'm blessed everyday by the beauty of this `aina, it's true, but mostly I love it because it's home.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy V-I Day!

I am participating in this declaration of victory and virtual ticker tape parade, and hope you will too! Do take the time to read the whole post; it's very informative, not to mention persuasive.

This Thanksgiving, I'm especially thankful to our troops and veterans -- and their families -- for their service. I'm in awe of all they do and what they've done, and I pray God blesses each and every one of them, from the lowliest private all the way up to the Commander in Chief.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

I don't care what anybody says ...

I'm voting tomorrow anyway.

I'm proud to say, as an 11th-generation American (it's true -- I had an ancestor born in the Jamestown Colony), that I have exercised my right and privilege to vote in every election since I was 18. That one, I voted absentee, as I was away at college, but ever since, I have walked into a booth on Election Day and cast my ballot.

Primary AND general.

But this is the first time in all those years I've been even a little bit tempted not to. And that's because of the feeling I've had these past few weeks that, cliche as it sounds, my vote won't count. In all likelihood, it probably won't.

But I don't care. [Fighting the temptation to use stronger language here] Even though the polls close out here in the middle of the Pacific 2, 3, 4, or 5 hours later than on the Mainland -- by which time all the news outlets will probably have called the election. Even though I already know where all four of my state's electoral votes will be going. And even though the odds of my vote making a difference are astronomical.

I just can't not vote. The alternative -- sitting this one out -- well, I just can't imagine it. No matter how many times I hear about the foregone conclusion-ness of it all -- local races as well as national -- I still don't care. I can't. Not. Vote.

That doesn't mean I'll happily accept the outcome. Really, how much is there to be happy about after all this nonsense has been dragged out, lo these many months? But I know this: I'll be able to live with myself.

Monday, October 20, 2008

With apologies to Groucho ...

... I'm not sure I want to be part of a group that would have me for a member.

A few days ago, I joined Facebook. Mostly I did it because Number One Son has been on it for quite some time, and when a family member recently told me how "popular" NOS is -- apparently he has upwards of 800 "friends" on Facebook -- curiosity got the best of me, as it usually does, and I signed up.

Once there, I was hooked. In a serious, whoa, back off kind of way. I was clicking all over the place and inviting people I barely know to be my friend. But presumably, that's what people do. Several of my new friends have considerably more than 800 friends. So maybe I'm not as pathetic as it may seem.

Anyway. In the course of all that clicking around, I not only found lots of new friends, potential friends, and other people's friends, I discovered that Facebook is also littered with "groups." Which apparently you can join in the same way you can ask to be someone's friend.

Okay. I could see right away that membership in a group attaches a certain label, shall we say, to you. So if you're like me, you might be cautious to the point of paralysis about just which groups you elect to join. Being that the label part is all some people might see.

Still, one group that caught my eye -- and which I almost decided to join -- is called "Barack Obama and I both went to Punahou." Here's what it says on their Info page:

"I believe that the carefree childhood I experienced in Hawai'i, and the wonderful education I received at Punahou, should not be left to the luck of the draw, but should rather be every child's birthright. I believe that only in a country in which we can appreciate differences of race and religion and ethnicity, while still insisting on our common humanity, will my own soul feel rested." --Barack Obama

Admit it. You find yourself looking for ways to casually mention that you went to the same high school (and middle school and elementary school) as a major Presidential candidate. In Hawaii.

And it is kind of trippy that Mr. Kusunoki, the guy who taught you to "keyboard" really fast, was Obama's homeroom teacher.

And you hope he wins. Maybe it's because he's the kind of Presidential candidate only a school like Punahou in a place like Hawaii could breed. Or maybe just because you like the idea of a "Pun" in the White House.

Yup, you went to the same school as Barack Obama. You're secretly just a little proud.
I was going along with most of that right up until "you hope he wins." The thing is, I agree with a lot of the above, even the secretly just a little proud part, and it would be great to have a Pun in the White House. Just not that one.

So I'm not joining that group. Even though I did go to the same school, and our time there overlapped a bit even, and I have a close relative and several pretty good friends (the real life, non-Facebook kind) who were his classmates. But the connection stops there. I "hope he wins"? Bite your tongue. Again and again.

I did join a group though. And although this post is no indication, it's a lot more "me" than the going-to-the-same-school-with-Obama one: "I judge you when you use poor grammar."

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Pirate Name

Turns out I've got one ...

My pirate name is:

Dirty Mary Read

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Even through many pirates have a reputation for not being the brightest souls on earth, you defy the sterotypes. You've got taste and education. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'll always love Waikiki

The Coach asked me out on a date tonight, so we sent Baby Girl to Grandma's and went for dinner at The Yard House in Waikiki Beachwalk. We had a really ono meal, then TC suggested we drive home through Waikiki.

There was a lot of activity there on Kalakaua; my head was swiveling madly, checking out everything that was going on on both sides of the street. Royal Hawaiian Center is looking amazing since their gazillion-dollar renovation, there was live Hawaiian music coming from the PK and the Marriott and even at Kuhio Beach. At a red light we pulled up next to a limo full of really happy girls; one of them shouted at us: "I'm getting married!!!"

Now, for TC and me, Waikiki is basically our back yard, our playground. We grew up there, in many ways. And back in the days of our youth, it was a much different place. Apart from the obvious - far fewer hotels, just a handful of restaurants, and virtually no retail at all, save for the old Liberty House and, of course, International Market Place - the place just had a completely different vibe back then.

It's a little hard to put my finger on it, but it was kind of like we owned the place in a way, yet we were willing to share it, to invite visitors to come on in and make themselves comfortable. We would play on the beach all day, then go back at night and play some more: eating dinner at the Snack Shop or Ft. De Russy, walking on the beach, listening to music outside the Halekulani.

As familiar a setting as it is, it doesn't feel like we own it anymore. That's okay; we can still enjoy it for what it is even though Waikiki has outgrown us to the point where it doesn't need us so much and we don't need it the way it is either. It's hard not to feel nostalgic for those old days, knowing they can never come back, but I think there's something comforting in just having the memories and knowing we owned a piece of something really special: old Waikiki.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I know I shouldn't expect too much of myself as a newbie blogger, but maybe it's my high standards or something, I don't know; I'm just really frustrated at how long it takes me to get my thoughts in a coherent enough form to post.

When I finally do, the topic I'm posting about is already out of date and there's just no point. I just now deleted a draft of something I was trying to post last week, only 4 or 5 days ago, because it's not relevant anymore. And even at the time I was drafting the post, trying to include links and whatnot, together with my own thoughts, it was taking me forever. I was only trying to do this brief little thing in the middle of the other demands of my day, but it ended up being so awkward and cumbersome and slow that I had to just walk away and ultimately scrap the whole thing.

I've always been slow at stuff -- I do read pretty fast, but that's about it -- and that's been a source of frustration most of my life (I have this whole story about when I was learning to sew, and how long it took me to make a garment compared to my classmates, but it would take too long to tell). I've got to develop some kind of system, whether it's working with a timer (mine just now went off) or whatever, because I really want to do this but I'm never going to get anywhere with it if it keeps on being frustrating for me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


The Coach has gotten some ink in the local press recently, due to his accepting recently a coaching position with a popular local team (different from, or really in addition to, his regular coaching job). Now people we know, both well and only in passing and everything in between, are telling him -- through me, sometimes -- congratulations and looking forward to everything you'll be doing with the team. And that's nice, that people would be happy for you and wish you well when they find out you have a new job.

But sometimes the congratulations can veer off in an odd direction. One guy, after introducing himself to TC, said, "you're famous; you can Google your name and you're all over the place." Which struck both TC and me as just weird. He is so not all over the place; there's been like, two newspaper articles that have mentioned it, and when curiosity got the better of me and I googled his name, I'm sorry, but all that came up were one of the recent articles about him and another one from a couple years ago.

On the way home from church TC and I had a brief discussion on the whole "15 minutes of fame" idea, and it seems to us that not only are people eager to have their own 15 minutes at some point or other in their lives, but they have a real fascination with other people's 15 minutes, too. As far as TC is concerned, he accepted a job offer to coach for a season, but for what seems like an awful lot of outside observers, what he's doing is all about the celebrity status. Such as it is, I mean. This is still a pretty small pond, after all.

I guess in the 21st century, in the age of information access and New Media and all, people's appetites for publicity and exposure and fame and celebrity have just exploded. So even if the topic is something ordinary, like the job you've done for the past 2 dozen years, if it's out there for all the world to see, it's by definition interesting. She said, posting on her blog for all the world to see ...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Missing my boy

Dropped Number One Son off at the airport last night, to take the long flight back to Our Nation's Capitol to begin his third year of college. Well, two flights, actually. He expressed some reluctance to go (I sure know that feeling), but he's awfully resilient and will be right back in the swing of things in no time, I'm sure.

(Just tried to check in with him on AIM; the away message says: "The party begins!" Sheesh. Even more "resilient" than I suspected.)

Plus I think his reluctance had a lot to do with what a good summer he had. I mean, a trip to Fiji, one to Maui, surfing nearly every day -- who can argue with that? He gets credit for working two jobs -- even though there wasn't a whole lot of $$ earned -- and the key thing as far as The Coach and I are concerned is it was emotionally smooth sailing. Which is something we haven't been able to say for every time he's been home in the past two years. Our M.O. is usually to butt heads over ... well, anything, you name it, whenever he's back occupying the room he grew up in, but this time: nothing. TC is particularly impressed with that stat, and it's making NOS's leaving that much more bittersweet, I think.

The thing is, we know NOS does have a tendency to be a bit of a drama queen (king, I guess), and sometimes we just have to take a certain amount of care, shall we say, around him in the interest of maintaining family harmony (and please leave off with your two-cents' worth about how the parents call the tune and the children should dance to it, etc.). TC said to me earlier today, "It was a such good summer; no major blowups this time," with such a tone of poignancy that I got a little choked up. It was a big step, a breakthrough for us, because as TC then added: our boy is growing up.

He's a good boy (I use the term loosely, as he will reach the Magic Number five months from now and is less boy-like by the day), we couldn't be prouder of him, and we miss him already. I'm praying for a good semester for him -- socially, academically, personal growth-wise -- and can't wait to see him again in December.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Foreign," like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

A whole bunch of people are unhappy with a certain network journalist, who whined on Sunday that Barack Obama is vacationing in Hawai`i, acknowledging:
"And I know Hawai'i is a state. But it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place. He should be in Myrtle Beach if he's going to take a vacation at this time."

That was too much for our junior senator, Dan Akaka, who blasted back:
"Saying our 50th state is somehow 'foreign,' does a great disservice to the hardworking, patriotic Americans who call Hawai'i home ... Hawai'i is a great U.S. destination; just ask the 5.5 million Americans who visited last year for business and pleasure."
Other local folks backed him up, wanting to set Cokie Roberts straight while letting her – and presumably other Americans as well – know that her comments and the attitude underlying them are offensive to the people of Hawai`i.

To be honest, as someone whose hometown (and alma mater) is the same as Obama’s, being offended was not my first response. I thought it was kind of funny, actually. We’ve heard it so many times that I think a lot of us here in the islands are pretty thick-skinned about the whole Hawai`i-is-a-foreign-and-exotic-place meme, and not only do we not take much offense anymore (I mean, look, next year we’ll commemorate the 50th anniversary of our admission to the Union, for crying out loud, and we still have to put up with Mainland yahoos who can’t remember Hawai`i is a state), but I think a lot of us really kind of revel in it. Our foreignness and exoticism, that is. We like being different; we have no desire to be exactly like all our fellow citizens over there in North America. We’re not geographically connected to the other 49 states, and there are a whole lot of other ways we’re disconnected from them as well. And our little secret is: we like it that way.

And on the flip side of the whole foreign-and-exotic issue is this: there are a lot of ways that the Mainland U.S. and all its denizens seem pretty foreign and exotic to us. I mean, the food they eat, their way of life, how they conduct themselves at work and play – all can be pretty different from the norms here in our Island culture. We travel to the Mainland for vacation or to attend college or whatever, and often it requires a real adjustment to our mindset, because life there feels so, well, foreign. We speak the same language, of course, but their English is ever so slightly different from ours, so we adjust our speech patterns a little bit so as to be understood and fit in. And we get used to eating their kind of food, even though it’s not really what we like best (their idea of rice? Please. Just … no, thanks), and we live in air conditioning instead of with the windows open, and keep our shoes on in the house – and we manage just fine. Happily, even. But I’m sure Mainlanders never know how weird it all seems to us, that inside we’re thinking, “this stuff is just so foreign.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Big Project

Yesterday I received all the files I'm going to need to work on The Big Project in my life over the next six months. Talk about intimidating. I'm trying to remember that saying about, how do you eat a [something really big -- that's the part I forget], and the answer is, one bite at a time. I keep telling myself that I just need to focus on one little piece at a time and I'll be fine, but it just keeps looking so ... big.

Now, my tendency with these types of things is to go into avoidance/ procrastination mode, and that is surely the wrong thing to do here. I need to keep reminding myself that this is something I took on willingly, eagerly even, and I've got to honor the others involved (and in fact my own decision) to do my best with it even if I'm scared. Which I am. This is such a major administrative undertaking, and I feel so rusty and inadequate doing that kind of work. But I guess something in me believed, when I said "yes" to it in the first place, that I could do this, so maybe that's what I need to hold on to.

Plus, a whole lot of prayer ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

*Gulp* First Post

I don't know why but I'm really nervous about this. I've been reading blogs for so long now that you'd think posting would just be such a natural, easy next step. But here I am, all freaked out with my palms sweating like someone's going to give me a grade or something.

I think it's because, in my mind, the very first post is this huge hurdle to get over, and all those years of thinking about it should result in this magnificent, profound result that the blogging world has just been waiting for all this time. Well. Clearly in my current state that's not going to happen, so maybe if I just click on "publish" and get it over with, then I can just move on to whatever's next and get on with doing this just like I've always done it.

And then in future posts, I won't use the word "just" quite so often ...