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!


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