Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in Hawaii

It's that time of year again. The Fourth of July- oh wait, I mean Christmas. Sorry, I was just a bit confused with the weather and all. At any rate, the shoppers have slowed their surging, the neon pink Christmas trees are starting to go on discount, and once again I am late with my blog post. I have decided to err on the side of Christmas spirit this year and wear these out in public...


Christmas in Hawaii is a little different from what I'm used to. There isn't any snow or snowmen or snowstorms, for one thing. Every time a holiday song comes on the radio joyfully exulting about how "the weather outside looks frightful" or how people are "dressed up like eskimos", I scream "Liar, liar" because last time I checked, Hawaii is never frightful and the people here are dressed like eskimos after global warming.

But Christmas is still Christmas ... and I feel blessed to rejoice in the love of a good God, a wonderful family, and the prospect of a new year without any mistakes in it yet. I hope you all are enjoying the holidays wherever you are, and may the new year be full of love and joy! Mele Kalikimaka and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou from Hawaii!


The above is my attempt at a sand-man :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Liliko'i - Hawaiian Passion Fruit

While those on the mainland are canning away their harvest orchards of apples, here in Hawaii we have our own kind of harvest. Apples and other orchard fruits don't grow well in the volcanic soil, but other more exotic fruits thrive in the Hawaiian climate. We have pineapple and papaya and guava. One of my favorite tropical fruits is the passion fruit, which in Hawaii is called Liliko'i. The sweet sour taste really can't be compared to that of any mainland fruits. So lately we have been harvesting the lilikoi and freezing the juice that we can use in smoothies or baking all year round. Though a passion fruit can simply be eaten with a spoon, there are many recipes and cocktails that call for lilikoi juice. To separate the seeds from the juice can be a bit tricky, but totally worth it. I've put together some tips and guidelines (with plenty of pictures) on how to use the lilikoi here.


You won't want to miss the martini recipe!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ice Sculptures in Hawaii?

Over the weekend, the local shopping mall put on an ice sculpture event. What a brilliant idea. Now, I'm as much a fan of sculptured ice as anyone (I like mouthwash too, but once it's gone, it's gone, leaving only minty breath behind). The reason for my implied sarcasm: the local shopping mall is located in Hawaii under a mild climate of 83 degrees. Why wouldn't we make ice sculptures? The conditions are perfect! At any rate, someone must have had a good time with the chainsaw and chisel, because by the time I got there, there were three half-melted blocks of ice.

At first I thought this one was a palm tree (what can I say, the tropical climate being on my mind), but was informed that it was some sort of Christmas stocking.


This one actually does look like a Christmas stocking - with a reindeer sitting inside of it.


I failed to capture the other sculpture (it was a species of bird, I believe) and the lake of water on the floor that came dangerously close to some electrical wires, but why waste your time on what I didn't see? I did photograph the real live Christmas palm tree:


If that doesn't say Christmas spirit, I don't know what does.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Gentleness of Wisdom

Sometimes life seems less than a paradise. But then again, it's still life. Today the fruit flies were buzzing about and being annoying in the stale heat of an afternoon without trade winds, and I forgot that all last week we enjoyed cool rainy weather. There were only chores to do and nowhere to go. So I've been a bit pessimistic lately. And I need to stop it.

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." ~ James 3:13-18.

I've been learning today that I have stored bitter jealousy and selfish ambition my heart. What is this gentleness of wisdom that I am missing? And why wasn't I born with it... 

I have to remind myself of the story of Lucy Goodale Thurston, missionary wife to Hawaii. She left all she knew to start a new life on the other side of the world. Things were a lot harder for her than they are for me. And yet she had the courage of a lion and the gentleness of wisdom. You can read more of her story here.

Before the day was done, I went for a walk just because I couldn't stand being under a ceiling any longer. The sun beamed the last of its rays in a golden light on all the brightness of the perpetual summer around me. So maybe life is a paradise after all; it's just not what we think it will be...


Monday, November 8, 2010

10 Things I Don't Like About Hawaii

Before you read on, please know I really do like Hawaii - I even wrote another blog post on the things I do like. Everywhere in the world has goods and bads, and these bads aren't all that terrible.

1) Centipedes, Cockroaches, and Cane spiders...

Bugs are bugs, but bugs in Hawaii are more like the monsters that live under your bed - very real and big and scary. Centipedes can be about 10 inches long, purple, with more than enough legs. Cockroaches are slimy and gross, and they can fly! Cane spiders look almost like tarantulas and are very very fast...




2) Christmas...

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as anyone, but Christmas in Hawaii can be a bit... warm. Read more about how to survive a Hawaiian Christmas here.


3) Snorkelers...

Nothing beats swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Pacific... until an oblivious snorkeler blows water out his spout at you. Lovely.

photo courtesy Jonf728 on Flickr

4) Coconuts...

I never could get to like the taste of this nut - I mean fruit - I mean seed? And it's everywhere because tourists love it. Even Starbucks puts coconut in their Frappuccinos.

photo courtesy Robert Wetzlmayr on Wikimedia Commons

5) Seaweed...

I like seaweed if its in the ocean where it's supposed to be, just not on my plate. Sushi? No thanks. One time, I was offered some popcorn that had some dried green flakes on top. Ignorantly I thought it must have been Italian herbs or something. Wrong, it was seaweed. Unpleasant experience.


photo courtesy Grant Hutchins on Wikimedia Commons

6) Mold...

Mold and mildew are a common sight in Hawaii. Everything is just so moist and humid, and mold loves this. I have many books, and over the years I've had to clean and reclean them to get the mold off. Call me paranoid. One year, the mold was so bad in the house I was living in at the time, I got mold nightmares.


photo courtesy Ciar on Wikimedia Commons

7) Music...

Music is a way of life for me, but Hawaiian music simply tastes a bit wrong to me. Every song sounds the same! I do not lie.


8) 3 a.m. Telemarketer calls...

Being in the middle of the Pacific means being 5 or 6 hours behind East Coast time. Sometimes people tend to forget that you are sleeping most of their morning and call to chat about whatnot. Most times we laugh afterwards... unless that person is a telemarketer.

photo courtesy Can Atacan

9) Sunshine...

There can be too much of a good thing, and honestly I really dislike the sun sometimes. There are days when a frigid wind or snowy afternoon would be much more suited to the mood. But Hawaii is pretty close the  Equator...



10) Commercials...

When you live on a small island, it is torture to watch tv commercials for places that you can't go to: Dairy Queen, Sonic, Kohl's, Target, Narnia...

Are these things you could live with in Hawaii? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Leapin' Lizards!

Hawaii is known for its tropical climate - the moist days beneath an equatorial sun - but with that climate comes an elaborate display of creatures. The other day I was surprised by a common green lizard in my bathroom. More afraid than anything, the poor little guy tried escaping behind the mirror, but one of the resident knights caught him and let him outside before he could conjure anymore surprises...


I love his sprawling fingers and blue eyeshadow... 



Monday, October 18, 2010

10 Things I Like About Hawaii

1) Flowers that smell like heaven...


2) Having the ocean as my backyard...



3) Baby albatross...


4) Stars and moonshine through the palm trees...




6) Ben Stiller...


7) Rainbow trees...


8) Tropical fruit year-round...


9) Sunsets on the water...


10) Roads that always find their way to the sea...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gratitude

Today wasn't so great, but it was. Not able to do anything of worth (a.k.a. writing) and not having to do anything of work (a.k.a. piano), I spent my time "wasting" it. There was a Mountain Dew involved. A healthy dose of chick flicks. And a good book (it was The Good Earth ) in the twilight. As the last of the day faded off, I played my piano looking out on the distant sleepy sea bordered by twinkles from the nearby seaside town and covered with a night-cloud blanket. Talk about inspiration. I'm still in a minor (I hope) rut of uncreativity and crabbiness, but looking out on the beautiful wet world while smelling sweet marsala chicken cooking on the stove made life just a little better. There are so many things I take for granted. Days without sickness, for instance. And music and books and peace and love. The twilight of every day. The option of coffee or tea. Winding roads. The ocean. Family. A good church. Imagination. A blog where I can ramble unhindered. I have more than I deserve or ever will.

We were even blessed with a bit of rain this weekend...



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Color of a Raincloud

If only the world were always the color of a raincloud, and the wet light slept on the cold ground instead of glaring in our eyes...

Melancholic as it might be, I find myself rejoicing in rainy mornings. The harshness of the tropic sun is dampened with the moisture. The green and gold world out my window is not quite so gaudy, and I feel more at home.

Yesterday had such a morning. It wasn't torrential or completely gloomy, but I'll take what I can get. In between showers, the sun shone bright on the spectacular sea.



A thousand miles beyond this sun-steeped wall
Somewhere the waves creep cool along the sand...
~Sara Teasdale

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Feelings

It's that time of year again... the leaves are changing to tints of gold and vermillion, cider is pressed and poured, the wind is chilly and changing, and sweaters new and old are seeing the auburn light of autumn... Or so I'm told.

I've been looking at my Yankee Magazine, the September/October edition. I do believe I may be the only one in Hawaii who subscribes to Yankee. Pages upon pages of brilliant foliage and colorage. There's even an article on hard cider which is making my mouth water. Yes, I miss the Pennsylvania falls of my childhood: trips to the apple orchard, collecting the fallen maple leaves, carving pumpkins. Those were good times.

Now I'm in Hawaii, and I know I am supposed to be here right now. But something inside of me tells me it won't be forever, that I don't belong here and my roots are stuck in the ground of Somewhere Else. Maybe someday I'll be back home. Until then, I'll be harvesting the guava and making guava juice (is there such a thing as hard guava cider?).  


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fighting the Beast

Yesterday morning we did battle with a dragon. He was purply black, with hundreds of sprawly legs. Hiding camouflaged inside a basket, he crawled out at me (all of his hundred legs squirming like fire) when I was cleaning out his temporary shelter. Screaming I dropped the basket, as the knight in the other room came out in too much of a hurry to put on his armor. With a magic potion made especially for the demons of the earth, the knight slayed the beast and brought him to his hundreds of knees.


PS ~ I've seen dragons twice as long as this one!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm Back!

Hello again, lovely blog followers! Though there are few of you, you make my ramblings seem almost worthwhile. So I'll be around a bit longer if that's okay with you.

Summer has been quite an adventure, but it has come to a definite close despite the everlasting sunshine out my window. For I think of summer as more than just weather: it is freedom and watermelons and camping and cute shoes (the two latter, I'm afraid, don't work together very well). My summer also included twice-lost luggage, red ant bites, and food poisoning, but all of it is over and the chains are tightened once again. (Please read this last as an exaggeration. I live on a tropical island with an ocean out my window; the chains are merely metaphorical.) What I mean to say is, I must readjust my life, open up my calendar, and get back to work. But part of that work is rambling on a blog, so it can't all be bad.

My first morning back, I woke up (in a fit of airplane lag) unnecessarily early. The good part was I got to see an amazing sunrise:


So with a new dawn comes a new day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Taking a break...

Oh life. It has been getting in the way of late. As in, inhibiting me from blogging or reading blogs. This summer is rather a hectic, busy, traveling one for me, so I hope you don't mind if I take a little break. I'll be back in September with a lot more time and hopefully a lot more to say. So don't forget me; I won't forget you!


These are some pink-and-peach blossoms from a shower tree. They always make me think of brides decked out for their wedding day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fruit-loopian Rainfall

Fruit-loopian rain falls - drop by priceless drop - and tastes like the cinders hiding behind my eyes - the burning, burning, and then the singeing hiss of relief. Sidewalks echo beneath a mid-summer sky, which could have been mid-winter if it weren't for this weather. Day-old spiderwebs and day-old memories cling to the lids of the street lamps, the lids of the light. And sky surges as the sea surges, swelling ever down and and ever up. Ukulele strings, quick like hopskotch and insinuating like luck's laughter, perversely shoot rainbows at the unbelieving heavens that glower like a dead dawn.

Here, walking down the center of a street too small for a yellow dashed line and breathing in the coming night as if I'm singing backwards - taking in the song like air - here, I am. Dream on, drunken deluge of days-end. This is your time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday

On a walk earlier today, I, like the faulty conversationalist that I am, remarked to someone that it was warm out (this is Hawaii... is it ever not warm out?). But it has been extra warm out lately, feels like. It's late afternoon and the heat sits around like it's on vacation. And the air is yellow. And the ocean looks at me with taunting wide-eyes from across the distance that I can't cross today, because today is Monday and that means I have life to deal with. (Life, by the way, includes among other things, shipping out eBay packages before breakfast, washing out the smoothie-blender no one cleaned yesterday, starting a new article, and spending 46 seconds on the phone ordering pizza.) But now the sun is dipping down beneath the palm trees, giving the air a chance to recuperate. So I'm waiting for my pizza and wondering why I'm being so pointless at the moment... oh yeah, now I remember.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Step-by-step guide to ward off insanity... Hawaii style

1. Treat yourself to a large iced mocha
2. Remove shoes (if you live in Hawaii, chances are they're already off)
3. Hide your face in a hat
4. Drive down a windy road - hairpin turns required - until you get Somewhere (preferably the sea)
5. Turn up the radio to tear-your-heart-out music
6. Walk down a long beach and sit on a lonely rock
7. Feel the ocean spray on your face (it's just like that sprinkler system at Disney World)
8. (Lovingly dry off F. Scott Fitzgerald who got soaked in the aforementioned ocean spray)
9. Resist the urge to jump in and swim to Christmas Island (you won't make it, and I know this because...)
10. Smile, because whether you are looking at the real sea or the sea of life in front of you, you have been blessed.

 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

House of Sea-Glass

I live in a house built of sea-glass and shells, with rain that falls from the ceiling. Sand is brushed into the corners beneath paper-cloud walls, salt lies on table and tongue, sea-dreams fizz around fidgety toes – and we all drink saltwater and are filled. Piano tongues stick out of the mouths of cloistered clams beneath my rainy-holed rock for a footrest. Giants from the locker leap up and linger in the wake of our precious parade of life by the sea. But the day dims, and tangerine is the taste of the sun as it sinks beneath the surge, and the lips of night close round to hide the sparkle of my sea-glass house. It is goodnight and goodbye, for tomorrow the sun will be new, and sea glass only sparkles for a solitary day.



Photo courtesy: Akuppa on Flickr

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hawaiian Monk Seal


Looking like a dead log on the beach...



The Hawaiian Monk Seal loves to swim out of his watery habitat to sleep on the warm sand of a Hawaiian beach. Usually he is surrounded by stakes and ropes, but this one was all by himself on a lonely beach, unbothered by tourists and conservationists alike. His only signs of life were the short stiff breaths coming out of his sandy face. I felt an urge to stroke his smooth back - the bleached gray and algae colors - but I don't have thousands of dollars to pay in fines for touching his endangered skin. So I took his picture and let him dream the day dreams of a seal...


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