Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekend in Waikiki

Sailing Sunny Seas
Waikiki, Hawaii

The golden sands I stood upon to snap this gorgeous photo were imported from the "poor" side of the island -- and so was I.

My favorite part of my weekend in Waikiki should have been the women's conference, but actually it was lunch with my friend. We picked an upscale restaurant with tables on the lanai and a salad to die for. We ordered. We chatted. We sipped our beverages. We asked the waiter questions. (1. Was the canoe being used as a buffet table ever an actual working boat? Yes, and it was hand carved. 2.) We just saw -- and heard -- you blowing that conch shell. Is it hard to learn? No. Are there any tricks to blowing it you could teach us? Not really. Keep your lips taut. Don't blow too hard. Blow in one long breath.) We asked him a couple more things -- then we asked him for the check. As he waited for me to sign the charge slip he said, "You two are locals aren't you?"

Maura and I were very surprised. We aren't locals. She's been here for just over a year. I have been here about six months. Just long enough for us both to clearly understand that we have years to go before we're considered "local". I answered cautiously, "We live on the island."

Our waiter nodded his head and smiled. "I thought so. I can always tell. You weren't all wide-eyed and gah gah. And neither of you said "aloha" or "mahalo" (words not said outside the tourist joints unless they are meant). And your questions didn't start with, how do I get to, or is it true that."

So, in the tourist district we are considered, locals, but in the neighborhoods, we're still haole (pronounced how-lee).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Waikiki at Night

We walked in the sands of Waikiki hand-in-hand. We sat on a park bench side-by-side and watched white-capped waves roll in. We strolled out to the end of the peer and stood side-by-side gazing out to sea -- while he took a business call and I took some photos.

This shot was taken while sitting on a bench in the park.

This shot was taken from the gazebo at the end of the peer.

And I turned the camera just a bit, widened the angle and .... my favorite photo of the evening.

Sailing Waikiki

Sailing Waikiki

The beach is much more crowded than this photo might lead you to believe, because I took it with the zoom feature on my camera. Even so, I have been very surprised each time I have visited Waikiki, that there are plenty of spaces on the sane left for new comers to drop their towels and head for the waves.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Makaha Peacocks

If you decide to visit Oahu and want to stay where life is quiet and slow -- some place with less glitz and glitter and a more mellow pace -- you'll want to look at the Makaha Valley Plantation, or The Makaha Valley Towers. The area is home to several flocks of peafowl who add their beauty to an already majestic landscape.

Theis photo op came my way when I was driving in Makaha. I slammed on my brakes and grabbed my camera -- right there, stopped dead, in the middle of the road. I snapped a half-dozen pics. A car approached. I had to move. No choice. The opportunity of a lifetime thwarted by some fool who wanted to drive on the road. Some people are so nervy!

(Look closely at the photo above. See the drop of water hanging from the peacock's beak?)

I hurriedly parked my car in a space beside the mail kiosk, and bailed out to discover -- the peacock still preening. A light rain was falling and it was obvious that he was engaged in grooming. In fact, he was so engaged he let me get closer than I would have dared hope! (Don't tell O'Ceallaigh. He keeps insisting that they are wild animals and that I need to be careful.)

When the peacock did notice my presence, he favored me with his mating call and fluffed a bit. He stayed and posed and postured through 351 photos. I have no idea how many shots my media card will hold, but I do know that is the greatest amount of photos I've ever taken in one session. Because my camera is a cheap point and shoot, because it was a gray rainy day, because the peacock was never still, most of the photos did not come out well. These are the best of the lot.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Keiki Zoo

The petting zoo is a big hit with both little and big kids. This Spring our students especially enjoyed the time we spent in the goat pen -- except David who took exception to one of the goats nibbling on the front of his shirt, which still had a bit of his breakfast on it.

Cass captured the heart of yet another fella.

Candy has such a great ear scratching technique that this little one followed her around for a bit after she got up and walked away.

And this fella snuggled really friendly-like and told me he loved me, then he tried to steal my purse. We had quite a tug-of-war. I finally convinced him that pink and purple geometrics weren't a proper match for his coat.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Country Club Bum

OC and I went to lunch Sunday and had lunch on the lanai of the Makaha Resort Golf Club. It has a lovely view with all the flowering trees in bloom, the emerald green manicured lawns and the azure sea beyond. I took my camera to capture the view, but company came and took much of my attention.

The company was uninvited. He slowly sidled up to the table and helped himself ...

He approached us with an innocent, "don't mind me" air.

He casually strolled closer, looking everywhere but at us.

He nonchalantly took a seat at our table.

Scooted up close.

Stepped on up to the plate ...

Gave it a thorough inspection.

Then admonished us. "Okay you two, perhaps you didn't get the memo. All guests are required to leave a bite or two for me!"

He tried valiantly to convince us that our callous disregard of his dietary wishes had put him in eminent peril. In other words, he insisted he was starving. He might have made better headway if he'd sucked in his gut.

By the way, the chocolate Lava Cake was yummy. I highly reccommend it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Honey & the Honu

I was sitting on a lava outcropping focusing my camera on a sea bird when O'Ceallaigh said, "Hon, turn around and look behind you."

I turned and looked. There was a lady sitting at the edge of the beach with her feet inches above the water. Her two sons stood beside her. "What?" I said. I quickly scanned the rest of the beach and the nearby inlet. "I don't see anything." I turned back to my camera.

"Hon, look where the kids are pointing."

I looked at the lady again. Her kids were on the other side of her. I couldn't tell if they were pointing or not. I looked down the beach for signs of excitement or gathering crowds. None. "I don't see anything," I repeated and turned back to my camera. The bird, picking snails and teeny crabs from the rocks, had moved on. I folded the tripod.

"Look here, in the channel," O'Ceallaigh sounded a bit more insistent. I stood up, turned around and walked over to him. "Where?" I queried, with just the tiniest hint of impatience in my voice.

O'Ceallaigh pointed, and I saw a rock. The rock moved. I took a step closer. The rock moved again. I fumbled for my camera and tripod.

For the next half hour I sat enthralled, watching Honu graze. I attempted some video, but it was very disappointing. Only the surface of the water is visible.

My next ordeal was trying to get a good shot of the turtle's head. Turtles cannot breathe under water. Every five minutes or so they come up for air. Trouble is, they are up and down faster than my finger can move and my shutter can flash!

I didn't realize I had the above photo (enlarge) until I was home and sorting through/cataloging the over 400 shots I took on Kona. Just once I must have been a little faster with the reflexes then I thought.

The turtle swam up and down the little channel between the lava rocks. It was grazing and pretty much let the gentle waves determine where it was going to eat and which way it was going to face.

The tide was coming in, and along with it, more honu, however the deepening water made them more difficult to watch. We decided to move on in to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park and look at the replica of the ancient Hawaiian sacred village which was the home of generations of priests and kings. As we moved through the park we came to a sandy beach.

Approaching the beach, O'Ceallaigh -- who was reading the guide map from the visitor's center -- told me to look for sunning turtles. Once again I told him there was nothing to be seen but rocks.

Then we got a bit closer ...

And closer -- though it is illegal to come within 15 feet of a green sea turtle, so this last bit of close was done with the telephoto lens.

If you'd like to get closer to this fella, click here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Greetings from Kailua-Kona

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island, Hawaii.

It is amazing how different one island is from another. Pretty much the same flowers and the same feral cats, but a whole different ambiance. There is much more land here. And fewer people. That makes the atmosphere more laid back and mellow.

OC and I took a sunset stroll through the Keauhou Beach Resort gardens. We came upon a small pond surrounded by vegetation. I was looking for flora to photograph when the water caught my attention. In lieu of a tripod, I braced the camera on OC's shoulder, and took a couple of pics. They pretty much sum up the perfection that was today.

Our stroll through the gardens brought us face to face (okay, ankle) with a mongoose, two geckos, several birds, a couple of cats, and a huge variety of exotic plants and flowers. The beauty is breath-taking.

Kalakaua Cottage, a replica of the beach house of King David Kalakaua, which was built on this site but destroyed in the late 1950s. King David used to fish and swim in the tide pools OC and I are hoping to get a chance to snorkel in tomorrow. I understand Keauhou Beach is a natural honu habitat. If I'm lucky I'll get a photo.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Shaving Brush Tree

When I pulled into the University parking lot, I saw the most incredible tree -- practically leafless, but covered in bright pink blossoms unlike anything I had ever before seen.

I wanted to get out of the car immediately and take pictures. But I had to get the car to the dealership because they do business on a first come, first served basis. I didn't stop to take photos. I also didn't make it to the dealership on time, so I made an appointment for Friday and went to the mall and wandered around downtown a bit.

About a half hour before OC was to get off work, I drove back to the University. My camera and I had an appointment with .... a barren tree. All of the gorgeous pink flowers had fallen to the ground. Not one remained on the branches.

Friday I again took OC to work. Again when we pulled into the lot, the tree was blazing in pink glory. This time I didn't ask OC if I had time to take photos. I knew I didn't. My appointment was in 45 minutes and I still had downtown traffic to negotiate. So what. I parked the car, got out and spent the next ten minutes snapping photos.

These flowers are called "Shaving Brushes". They bloom in the Spring before the leaves bud. As you can see, a bee was busy harvesting pollen.

The Shaving Brush tree is a hardwood, deciduous tree. The curled "ribbons" at the base of the flower are formed when the pod opens. These ribbons are very hard and leathery.

This last photo, like the first one, is of a white Shaving Brush Tree. If you look closely, you can see pods awaiting their turn to open. The tree blossoms every morning, and is barren by mid-afternoon to early evening.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Music For the Wait

Transportation is more of an issue on this island than one might think. At certain times of the day it could take over two hours to travel from one end of the island to the other. Some of those times are predictable, others aren't. For instance, a traffic accident with a fatality can close a road four 3-5 hours. That's bad because there are precious few roads to choose from in the first place, and in many parts of the island there is only one main road, period.

We are a one car couple. Usually that doesn't matter because the island has an excellent bus system (although schedules are effected by heavy traffic). However, sometimes it matters a lot that there is only one car. The other day OC and I both had appointments that required the car to keep. Luckily they were not at the same time so the car was packed with OC's band equipment, but he took the bus to work. After my appointment I drove to town and picked him up for music practice.

Now, I could have gotten on the bus and gone home, but at that hour of the night the buses would have been crowded and slow, so OC and I still would have arrived home about the same time -- and I wouldn't have gotten taken out to dinner.

Instead, I sat through his Oahu Community Orchestra practice.

Two Hours on a Bench: Scribbles As I Wait

Inside the Door

Brass, strings, woodwinds,
Follow the conductor,
Building music note by note.


Outside the Door

Alone I sit in a pool of light,
Night surrounds me,
A soft wind sighs.

Inside the conductor lifts his baton,
The orchestra plays,
And Trumpet Man blows his horn.



Inside music rises and falls,
starts and
Measures are played,
and played again,
and played again.
Outside the sun sinks pink,
flares and
My thoughts compose,
lines on paper,
lines on paper.



flutes skip,
trumpets cheer,
trombones stomp,
tubas plod,
tambourines shimmer,
violins hum,
drums bound,
sounds merge
music is made

~* * *~


Outside the music room,
The geckos and I listen;
Me on a bench,
Them on the ceiling.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Autograph Tree

I love visiting places with O'Ceallaigh. From our first walk together at Red Rock in Las Vegas, to our most recent walk together at Kapolei City Park, he is ready, willing and able to point out and discuss every leaf and twig on every plant in a five mile radius. What he doesn't already know, he comes home and researches on the internet, keeping leaf, flower and bud shape, color, and size all stored in his amazing memory. (Amazing because it never forgets a plant, seaweed or protozoa; but drops dates and appointments with ease.)

For weeks now I have been asking about the flower of a certain tree I've only seen in bud. O'Ceallaigh kept telling me, they only bloom at night. The tree is an Autograph Tree, so called because the heavy green leaves have an etch-able outer layer. One can scratch a message on a leaf and it will remain on the tree waving that message for weeks thereafter.

A long dead Autograph Tree blossom, and a new bud.

A wilting, leathery Autograph Blossom with it's unique "jelly" center.
This was the closest I'd ever come to actually seeing a flower in bloom.

Then Friday, just before sunset, we stepped beneath an Autograph Tree and looked up. Several blossoms had already opened in anticipation of fast approaching night. OC told me to touch the flower. The petals are waxy and sticky-moist. The center quivers like soft-set jello, and sticks to the skin like rubber cement.

I recognized the sap crusted on some leaves as the same substance marring the back passenger-side quarter panel of my car. Once dried, the sap resembles dried varnish. However, finally identifying the substance made me feel a little better about attempting to remove it. My thumbnail, a little hot water and some soap concentrate did the trick.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hibiscus Cultivars

Once again I bring you a variety of my favorite non-scented flower.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Paradise Cove Garden

This huge Hibiscus Bush is near the entrance to Paradise Cove. Little Harry approached in awe. We called out, "Don't touch!" And he called back -- "I won't!" -- even as I snapped the photo. Look closely at his hand .....

The Pua Aloalo, or yellow Hibiscus, is Hawaii's state flower. Observant readers of this blog might also note that the Hibiscus flower, in all of it's cultivars, is one of my favorites. They are bright, cheerful and bold. No wondering Harry couldn't resist touching.

This is a Pickerel Flower. OC says it is a weed, but they were cultivated and growing lovely in the garden. To me a weed is a plant I don't want. That means an orchid could be a weed if it's growing in the wrong place.

This is a Screw Pine, not really a pine tree of course, but it's fruit does resemble pineapple. I asked one of my coworkers about the tree. She said it is very useful. The leaf fibers can be woven for cloth, the tree has medicinal qualities, and the sap can be used to waterproof thatch roofs. She also said the the fruit is edible and was often eaten during times of drought. I said, "In other words, it doesn't taste very good." She said, "I've never tried it, but they sure don't sell it in the stores!"

This is a Tiki guarding the waterfall from evil spirits.

Just inside the gates of Paradise Cove is a lovely gathering area with small ponds and lily pads on either side. The lilies were blooming, big and beautiful when we were there. Mattie so wanted to touch one that had I not grabbed the back of her shirt, she would have gone swimming.

Dragon flies zipped across the water and hovered over the lilies. The children were enchanted by them -- I was frustrated. They would not be still long enough to have their pictures taken!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Paradise Cove, Ko Olina

Ko Olina is a resort town. It was not built for the locals, it was built for vacationers and short-stay snowbirds. Of course the locals are welcome -- they make the place the fun, carefree, vacation paradise the tourism package promises.

Our students visited Paradise Cove, the Ko Olina Luau grounds, on a field trip the other day. We had fun. The children participated in traditional Hawaiian games: dancing with poi balls, Hawaiian bowling, and spear throwing (closely monitored). They also each received a traditional Hawaiian "tattoo".

The white gates beyond our hostess lead to a well-groomed garden, which one walks through to get to the luau grounds. Photos of the garden flowers will be available in a later post.

This rustic shelter guarded by a Hawaiian Tiki statue, who's job is to ward off evil spirits, is actually a bar. They are unobtrusively scattered throughout the grounds for the guests' convenience. Of course, since this was children's day, they weren't open.

On the other side of the gardens is the luau grounds. (Ignore the photographer. There were a good many children and teachers in attendance and we were all snapping pictures. ) This rustic shack hides all the necessary prep stuff for traditional Kalua Pig. We all gathered on the stone benches to watch them prep the imu (pit oven) and lower the pig onto the ti (banana) leaves. We also watched them cover the pig. Not too long after, as the kids were playing the games, the scent of roasting pig wafted to us on the breeze. If you're thinking you'd like to taste this treat, you can make a close approximation at home in your crock pot.

This is Kimo, our host for the event. He explained the steps of preparing the imu and answered our questions -- even the ones that had to do with what he was wearing under his malo (loin cloth) and his marital status. The answer to the first question was an incredulous, "You mean I'm supposed to wear something under it?" And the answer to the second question was, "Single." He even rattled off a phone number, but who knows who it actually belonged to.

I do not remember this lovely lady's name. She applied the children's "tattoos" and seriously answered all of their questions. She won my loyalty when she realized little Mattie was scared, and positioned her to watch a couple of her friends get tattooed before she tried it herself. She patiently and kindly answered all of Mattie's questions and acknowledged her fears.

I wish I could show you more photos, but most of them contain my students, so it isn't possible. Stay tuned for the next post on some of the local flora.


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