Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa Visits Honolulu Hale Fountain

That fur suit is a killer in 80F heat. Santa stopped by the fountain at Honolulu Hale to cool off.

Mrs. Santa came along for the ride.
Would you stay at the North Pole if your partner was visiting Hawaii?

Of course, with as much military as there is on this island,
you can't land a flea without folks noticing,
so jeeps rolled and emergency plans were dusted off ...

And Santa proved that rather then being a haole,
he's Kama'aina by greeting them with the traditional Hawaiian shaka,
or aloha wave.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas on Oahu

In the previous posts I'd only just begun to scratch the surface of the Honolulu Hale decorations. You've seen the park and the foyer. Now I present a few of the sights that can be seen on the front and side lawns. (Stay tuned for the fountain tomorrow!)

Mele Kalikimaka -- Merry Christmas to you and yours!
The word mele is actually musically based, so in literal translation
you are being wished a musical Christmas!

Politics and Christmas: Every red ribbon in this display -- 1800 of them -- represents
a Hawaiian who died of aids.

Politics and Christmas: there is a small faction of people in Hawaii who want to make Hawaii a sovereign nation governed by Hawaiians. This display was fashioned by those who disagree.

Religion and politics:
This is at the bottom of the above display. The signs read, Happy Birthday, Jesus.

The Christmas tree in front of Honolulu Hale.

Train beneath the tree.

Religious displays on public property -- with not an outcry to be heard.

Beside the nativity is a PFLAG display.

Elvis is very popular in Hawaii -- be it Christmas or any other time.
Here is a bit of, Blue Hawaii, for you.

My Christmas wish for you and yours.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Deck the Hale

Honolulu Hale decks its halls for Christmas. Local businesses bid for the privilege of providing the decorations. For every photo here there are at least two more I didn't share and twice as many I never even took! The Hale foyer was dressed to dazzle!

Hawaii Christmas Express -- first stop, the bank, then on to the mall!

What's Christmas without a stop at the candy store?

Don't forget to stop by the shipping company to get those packages mailed.

Here's a real snow bird come to Hawaii for some Christmas Cheer.

Not a creature was stirring ...
Ha! Not true! The place was packed!

A Hawaiian Christmas tree.

And Santa in aloha wear. That red suits just a bit too warm here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Park Elves

Hawaii decorates for Christmas in a big way, with Honolulu Hale as a role model. Businesses bid for the honor of decorating sections of the Hale grounds. The snow family below, these elves, and several other attractions (photos will follow in the next several days) are sponsored by the auction winners.

These photos were taken at dusk in the rain -- well, drizzle -- which accounts in part for their poor quality. The other part would be my lack of expertise with any form of photography other than point-and-shoot.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Keepin' Cool

This snowbird family is chillin' in in the park, proving that Christmas is always cool, even in Hawaii.

(All puns intended.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deck the Malls ..

Ala Moana Mall is all dressed up for Christmas. Santa's Workshop is set up near center stage and for a mere $30.00 you can have your child's portrait snapped on Santa's lap. And don't forget to drop $7.00 on that ten minute train ride. It just wouldn't do to leave with any money in your pocket -- you wouldn't feel as though you'd been properly malled.

We put 16 preschool kids on that train. They loved it. Sometimes one has to spend a little money on foolish things because they bring joy. However, all pictures with Santa were taken through the view finders of the teachers' cameras!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Backyard Hawaii

I took these photos right outside the door of our third floor condo. The mango tree is the only view out our second bedroom window (that room always smells mango fresh). The peacocks feast on the fruit -- and here in the complex they have plenty of choices, including Starfruit and guava.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mele Kalikimaka

Christmas in Hawaii finds Santa by the pool sipping a Mai Tai.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Seasonal Change

Hawaii has no daylight savings time. For those of us accustomed to 4 distinct seasons, Hawaii's minuet seasonal changes may slip by unnoticed. Here is the transition from Summer to Fall, in three photos.

Did you catch that dramatic change between the death of the Summer flowers and the birth of the Fall flowers? No! What a surprise .....

I love it here!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Interesting Fact

Oahu is the same size as the city of Houston, Texas. That's about half the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Airfare to Oahu

You want low air fare to Hawaii? Don't wait for the last minute. Make your plans well in advance. Another little trick: use the online discount sites like Travelocity and Expedia, but call the airlines directly themselves -- especially if you're not buying a package. Remember, those online sites have to make money, too. They charge a markup above and beyond what the airline is really selling that seat for. Try a little wheeling and dealing on your own, you just might save some money.

To ensure the cheapest airfares,always plan your trip so that your departure and return are both on weekdays -- Monday thru Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most expensive travel days so try to avoid them. Holiday flights are always more expensive.

Honolulu Airport (HNL)was not built to service the volume of traffic it receives, but even so they have a pretty smooth system. There are courtesy vans to and from a very large variety of services and destinations on the island. Each courtesy van has assigned "stops" that are very well marked outside the terminal. The city bus also services the airport, although large bags/suitcases are not allowed on board.

The airport is extensive, so there may be quite a walk between the arrivals gate, baggage claim and transportation. Wear comfortable shoes or make advance arrangements for assistance.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Makaha Beach

This is what happens on Oahu when there is a high surf warning:

everybody goes to the beach!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hawaiian Roast Pig

Moist. Delicious. Smoky.

Traditional roast pig is a luau dish. The pig is wrapped in lualua (taro) leaves, lowered into a pit and slow barbecued for hours. Nowadays the pig is more often roasted in a crock pot for 6-8 hours, even so, it remains an island delight. It is traditionally served with long rice, poi, and/or sweet potatoes. Hawaiians don't believe in eating until they're full, they believe in eating until they are tired!

My first taste of Kalua Pig was heavenly and that was all I got -- a taste. One bite just isn't enough. I determined to research the recipe, but before I had a chance I wandered near a wedding party in the Kapolei Park and they offered me a plate of Kalua Pig for a small price. I paid.

It's a bit salty, but definately yummy. If you're in Hawaii this is a "must taste" item.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Local Flavor

Every Saturday morning the aroma drifts into my home from the neighbor's place. It's almost enough to make me want to go knock on their door and invite myself to breakfast. Fortunately, for the sake of my pride, I always keep a chub of Portuguese Brand Sausage in the freezer so that if my will power deserts me I don't have to go begging.

Despite its name, Portuguese Brand Sausage is made in Hawaii. It is also on the menu of many of the local restaurants, but don't get it in the restaurant. They'll only serve you three or four little slices. Go to the grocery store and pay about a $1.25 for a 5 ounce chub.

Portuguese Brand Sausage comes fully cooked with spicy ratings from mild, to medium, to hot. I buy the hot sausage because I have found that Hawaiian spices are much more mild then Mexican spices -- however, that doesn't mean their foods lack flavor or savor.

Try it. If you can't find any in your local supermarket pop on over to Hawaii and check the meat counter in most any store. It's certain to be on the shelf.

Btw, this is NOT a paid advertisement.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The Honolulu Community Concert Band 2007 Fall Festival was a musical fright feast. The free concert was titled, Chillers & Thrillers: A Halloween Spooktacular. It was a melodious yet chilling treat performed in the Marion McCarrell Scott Auditorium of President William H. McKinley High School.

The musicians were invited to dress in costume. Most of them dressed as undertakers -- tasteful nondescript black suits and ties, however there were some brave and imaginative souls in the group. The conductor, Thomas Hesch, came as Darth Vader, much to the delight of the audience. He swept onto the stage, cape flaring, as the band played the very familiar, Emperor's Death March, from Star Wars.

Several other costumes brightened the stage. One was a young lady dressed as a single slice of watermelon. Another was a bright yellow fish. There were two pirates and a couple of witches. The percussion section all wore hockey masks ala Jason and/or Michael Meyers from Friday the Thirteenth (et al). There was a witch in purple satin, a fellow wearing pigtails and a short skirt, and another dressed as Willy Wonka. OC went as Wiz, from the Shoe cartoon by Chris Cassatt.

HCCB was founded in 1973. It is a non-profit organization with 60 volunteer musicians from all walks of life. They have presented live performances in Hawaii and throughout the world, including a 2006 performance in the Sydney, Australia Opera House.

Visit the HCCB website for a list of the band members, future concert dates, video and audio clips of their latest performances, their history and other features.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Exotic Fruit

Scientists call it Carambola. To the rest of us it is known as Star Fruit, and it is easy to see why. Star Fruit is sweet, yet tart and very crisp in texture. It ripens from green to yellow, but can be eaten in either state.

Star Fruit came to Hawaii by way of Asia. People grow the fruit trees in their yards for both food and ornamental purposes. If you would like a star fruit tree, they also grow well in containers. Buy yourself a star fruit, plant the seeds and there you are.

Star fruit trees do not like being too wet, but they also don't like being too dry. They are a subtropical plant and they don't mind cool nights, but even a light frost will kill them.

Because they are members of the family Oxalidaceae, and therefore a source of oxalic acid, Star Fruit should be eaten in moderation. Persons with kidney disorders should not eat them at all.

They do make a lovely garnish, however. And if you're in good health, a star fruit every now and then will do you no harm.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Imposter Tree

Tonight I am sitting on the couch with my partner -- the two of us side-by-side, each with a laptop computer in our laps -- and I showed him a photo I took today. I said, "Honey (he's a botanist/oceanographer), what is this flower?" And he casually says, "Gopher wood."

Koa Haole

I can't tell you how many times some one in church has muttered to me, or me to them, "Just what the heck is gopher bark?" And the answer is, "Who knows?" I looked at my love and sang, "God said to Noah to build me an arky, arky ... That kind of gopher wood?"

He answers, "It's Acacia and some scholars think it might be golpher wood. Others claim that gopher wood is really cypress."

Acacia trees come in many types and there are a startling number of varieties here on the island. The Acacia Koa is one of my favorites. In the photo above the white fuzz ball is the flower of the plant, the green knobby ball is the flower bud and the brown behind it is a withered flower. (Another of my Acacia favorites is the Rainbow Shower Tree, which you can see here.)

The leaves first drew my attention to the plant. They look like the Sensitive Plant, so I touched them expecting them to curl. They didn't. The scent of the flower came to my nose -- very lite and sweet. I snapped the photo, returned to our condo, uploaded my memory card, opened the photo and queried, "Honey. what's this?" And received a lesson in Biblical history.

Update: With just a little online research my partner discovered this tree is an imposter! It is the Koa Haole*. It is a cousin of the Acacia and the Rainbow Shower tree, but is is NOT gopher wood. The natives gave this tree the name, haole, because it is an import and an impostor of the real thing. OC started his research when I mentioned that the leaves of the plant are what caught my attention. The leaves I described were very different from the leaves he knew grew on the Acacia Koa. He started looking online. Then I got a lesson in scientific integrity. The photo now bears the correct name and the information given is now accurate.

*Haole is the Hawaiian word for foreigner.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Island Flora

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ma'ili Beach: Sand & Surf

Ma'ili Beach is favored by both families and body surfers. It provides a safe place for little ones to learn to swim and a strong current with excellent waves. Although the two seem mutually exclusive, at Ma'ili Beach they are not.

Ma'ili beach has a sandstone shelf -- actually a smooth-topped limestone and coral reef -- that is perfect for teaching the little ones to swim because there is no shifting sand beneath their feet. Children can be taught the ways of water and waves on the reef before being introduced to the sandy section of the beach.

The sandstone and coral reef runs 100 yards along the shore line and extends 25 yards into the sea. The locals call this area, Tumbleland, because in many places the rocks are covered with slippery seaweed. Tumbleland is only exposed from April to November. The remainder of the year ocean currents keep the reef covered in sand.

The surfers can be found at the edge of the reef, where there is a steep drop into the ocean. They paddle their boards from there out into the water and wait for a wave to ride back in. Surfing toward a huge rock doesn't make good sense to me, but the lifeguards assure me that the edge of the reef is very well padded in seaweed and there is rarely a serious injury, so for the most part their jobs are pretty boring (except for the sun, sand, and other scenery.)

This shot shows surfers standing at the edge of the reef. I am not adept with the camera. It is very slow to respond to button commands and I cannot anticipate when to press the dang button to get a shot of anybody riding a wave. Plus, I did not get any closer to the action because I was taking pictures of strangers and that just isn't a friendly or wise thing to do without first seeking permissions, so I wanted to make certain no one could be recognized.

I took these beach shots very early on a Wednesday morning while most of the beach goers were at work or school. The group of kids you see [above] are very young teens. The boys all wore matching t-shirts and arrived in a school bus with two coaches and a driver. Looks like a fun class to take.

More info about Ma'ili Beach Park can be found here: Little Pebbles; and Ma'ili Beach Park.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ma'ili Beach Park

Farrington Highway is the main road on the leeward side of Oahu. From Ko'Olina west, the Farrington follows the coast. Along the paved portion of the Farrington there are 10 official (government maintained) public parks. Ma'ili Beach Park is one of the local favorites.

Ma'ili (ma-E-lee) Beach Park is often crowded on weekends. During the summer tents start popping up on Thursday afternoons and many remain until late Sunday or early Monday (permits are required, but they are free). Extended families often camp together. A big pavilion type tent will be surrounded by smaller personal tents. Assorted furniture is brought from home, often tables and folding chairs, but I've even seen easy chairs and recliners outside these temporary weekend villas.

Ma'ili Park boasts picnic areas with tables, barbecue pits, public restrooms, and public showers. The showers are open air and their primary purpose is not for cleanliness, but for rinsing away sand and salt from skin and clothing. Some people get quite intimate with themselves while doing this and I was understandably startled by the number of people fondling themselves in public. The reason for such behavior was slow in making itself apparent.

My first encounter with the sand in Hawaii left me completely unprepared for its tenacity. Once the sand sticks to you it is there until forcibly removed. Unlike the sand of my childhood acquaintance, this stuff doesn't just fall off once it dries. OC says that is because it's coral and basaltic sand, not quartz sand. Some of the sand grains are bigger, they retain moisture longer (looks dry; isn't) and may have rougher edges then quartz sand. The showers help remove the sand (sort of).

The first time I went to the beach I wore a swim maillot -- one piece, form fitting -- and a t-shirt to protect me from the sun. After swimming I quickly rinsed in the outdoor shower, then went home to discover a good three-quarters of the beach had secreted itself away inside my swimsuit. The suit was a mess. I was a mess. The house was a mess.

The second time I went to the beach I wore very loose shorts and a t-shirt. When it came time to shower I reached right inside my clothes -- yes, in public -- and made certain the sand was dislodged from my skin. I had a much happier, sand-free homecoming and it was well worth the loss of a little dignity in the park.

Maili Beach Park also has manned life guard stations. The beach is a popular place for family outings and body surfing. The life guards are quick to tell newcomers that the rocks are very slippery and the undertow is surprisingly strong. They also warn that one should never turn his back on the sea because the waves are unpredictable. Even so, Ma'ili is a favored beach for novice swimmers. I will explain why in my next post and supply you with beautiful photos of sand, surf and sea.

More info about Maili Beach Park can be found here: Little Pebbles.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Little Pebbles

Ma'ili Beach got its name from the abundant, ma, little pebbles, ili'ili, in the area. The stones are naturally polished and smooth from rolling through the sand and surf. Many of the stones are polished bits of shell and coral. This is the beach you want to visit if you like finding trinkets from nature.

The "shell" stones are easily found. I gathered all of these within an arm's reach. If you look closely you can still see the swirls in the polished snail shells.

My favorite shells are the ones worn smooth by the sea. This summer when I was in Friday Harbor, Washington and in Canada on Vancouver Island, I had to hunt for them. At Ma’ili the beach seems to be made of them. I filled my pockets.

I didn't keep all of the shells I gathered, but choosing was hard! Each one has its own shape, texture and personality. The big red snail shell is tinted by red clay. The Ma’ili Park grounds that aren’t reef, shell or sand are red clay.

The big, white, porous rocks are coral. A reef hides beneath the shifting sands of Ma’ili Beach. Much of it is sand stone and it was exposed when OC and I visited. We found many fossils embedded in the rock. It was like walking on history.

Here's a closer look at my treasures ... (click picture for larger view)

Ma'ili Beach, Waianae, Ohau, Hawaii

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Celebrating 70 Years of Aloha

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Spam,
Happy birthday to you!

Yep, you heard me correctly. Today is the 70th Birthday of Spam canned luncheon meat. OC called me from work to tell me he'd read about it on the front page of the paper during his morning commute. I teased him a bit and promised him I would go to the store and get him some Spam for dinner. He demurred, but encouraged me to read his post.

Me being me -- upon being told the tribute to Spam never made it online -- I of course had to check. I did not find the birthday tribute, but I did discover that Hawaii leads the nation in per capita Spam consumption! Well, that did it. I had to go to the store and buy a can of Spam. I haven't had the stuff since I was a teen, maybe in the last several (okay, several dozen) years or so, it has gotten tastier.

Once in the store I was shocked to discover that Spam is no longer a single entity, but has grown into a whole family of products! The second shock was the number of people crammed into the canned lunch-meat isle. They were all buying Spam. One woman told me she was making Spam Chili. Another woman -- this one in line with me at the check-out counter -- told me that the 25% less sodium Spam, which I was purchasing, had 75% less taste. She said that once she took a can of it home and neither her husband nor the dog would eat it.

Since I have neither husband nor dog, I haven't quite decided what I am doing with the can of Spam sitting on my kitchen counter. Perhaps I will do what another shopper in the cash register line said she was going to do and put the Spam in my cupboard to save it for the 100 year anniversary. "By then," she said, "I might be senile enough to actually eat it."


© New Blogger Templates | Make Money Online