Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hawaii, Island of Diversity

If you are a resident of the east side of Hawaii island, you know that it has been raining steadily for the last three weeks. If you are a resident of Glenwood, Hawaii, you know that it has been raining buckets over the last three weeks. While it is lovely to see snow on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, these sights also mean that if you live on the east side of Hawaii island, it has also been very cold. If you are a resident of Glenwood, Hawaii, you know that it has been very wet and cold. So wet that the gutters are overflowing and there is a river flowing down the pasture, under the stable and ranch garage, and then down to the highway. Welcome to the Big Island. Sick of the cold, wet weather, we decided to drive over to Kona for some sunshine on Dec. 22. The morning was gray and dreary and it was raining. We decided to take the southern route through Ka'u to avoid the Hamakua landslides. When we passed Namakani Paio Park, we could see blue skies over Ka'u. As we drove through Ka'u, we noticed that the pasture land had some green grass which meant that the rains did reach Ka'u. Heading toward Kona, we began to take off our sweatshirts as it got warmer and warmer. When we finally got to Kona, the air was clear and the skies were blue. Sweat glands which have been dormant for several weeks began to do their thing. While it was 46 degrees in Volcano the next morning, it was 72 degrees in Kona. This is the beauty of this island. You can see snow and surf. Hot weather and cold climates. The eastsiders look for sunshine. The westsiders look for rain. On our return home, we decided to drive on the Saddle Road. From the Kona side, we could see gray clouds on the mountain tops. We drove up and saw a bunch of sunshine on the highway although we still did see the gray clouds on Mauna Kea. Near Pohakuloa, we saw Mauna Loa with a mantle of snow, glittering in the sunshine. After we left Mauna Kea State Park, we began to drive into the rain clouds. It was socked in with fog and rain all the way down to Hilo. What happened to the sunshine? We could see it in our rear view mirrors. Returning to Glenwood, we were greeted by the status quo...gray skies and rain. Hawaii has something for everyone if you have the fuel to travel from one place to another.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Losing Weight is Costly

Since my daughter and son-in-law were on the Eat to Live vegan diet, the issue of losing weight is heavy on my mind. So I went to the super market to look for foods that will help me to lose weight. It is hilarious to notice how many things which are attractive contribute to weight gain...colorful juices, bags of chips in fluffy bags, butter, cheese, huge bags of candy, colorful boxes of cereal, ice cold soda, exotic wines with gnarly names, and cartons of beer selling the cool relaxation under the palm trees. Don't forget that when you want to go to the reefer that stores the low fat yogurt in KTA, you have to pass the bakery department with cream filled croissants, donuts, cakes, and pies. This is torture!! The other consideration is that going on a diet is costly. Buying fruits and fresh vegetables can add up to a pretty penny. Regular fruits and vegetables versus ORGANIC fruits and vegetables. The sign says, "Try it and taste the difference!" For 75 cents less, I will settle for good old non-organic fruits. What is the problem with us??!! If we are so fat, why don't we eat less? People are starving in Africa for goodness sake!! They don't have much money and they don't have to worry about obesity. What is our hangup? Do we have to pay Jenny Craig to lose weight? Just eat less. But it seems that this common sense answer is not working. Look at the weight loss industry in America. The companies must make millions off of the jiggling fat of millions of people who just won't eat less. I am going to solve this problem for myself...I am going to use a smaller dinner plate. Do you think I will be successful?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Quick Decision - A Lengthy Repercussion

One weekend in February on the way to Kona, my husband and I came upon a spontaneous decision..."Let's convert our BIG house into a vacation rental" in time for the Merrie Monarch Festival to follow in March, 2011. We talked it over and decided that we would not do a bed and breakfast but rather just a rental for vacations, meetings, gatherings, and retreats. "WooooHoooo!!" we can do it we exclaimed. And so our trip to Kona became a shopping trip. At Costco, we loaded the truck with pillows, sheet sets, and numerous other things. Then the hard work began. Suddenly, everything in the house looked so old, so dirty, so worn. Paint the house...inside and out. A huge task since a complete paint job had not taken place since 1986. A huge task since the house is three stories tall with cathedral ceilings in the living room. A huge task my husband and I knew better than to tackle. Okay...get a painter. Know a parent in Mountain View who has a painting business AND he is Portuguese so we knew that he would do a neat job!! OMG...the metal roofing suddenly got so rusted!! When did that transformation happen? This is another job we were not going to do so we got a nonJapanese roofer who chose a Japanese name for his business. Great! We've had work done by him and we knew that his crew would do a great job!! Okay!! My husband suggested that we replace the floor covering. "Nah," I pooh-poohed. "No need!" That is until I went up to the house and REALLY looked at the flooring. The aging linoleum flooring was cracked and curling around the edges. The carpet, though still thick and luxurious, was faded and stained. "Okay, okay," I finally conceded, "we need to change the flooring." We drove to Kona to a Big Box Store with lowe prices only to find that the salespeople weren't really into helping us nor were they willing to sell their stuff to a couple of scruffy looking people in shorts, t-shirts, and rubber slippers. We were devastated since we had such good service from them the last time we had work done. Okay...back to Hilo and to another Big Box Store. We picked out the flooring. When it was time to schedule the flooring, the store said they had assigned expediters. Don't believe them. My husband became the expediter, calling back and forth between the installers to schedule the carpet and vinyl flooring. And wouldn't you know it...the installers scuffed the newly painted walls to the tune of $200 to repair. We called the Big Box Store which supposedly has TRAINed employees and to this day have not resolved the problem. This is only a six week wait. So much for this store!! Now our newly painted walls look so bare!! The pictures I had barely fit the quota. We are not going back to the local framers who charged us hundreds of dollars to frame a signed poster...don't care if it was Pegge Hopper or Jane Chao or Phan Nguyen Barker. So I went online and found a poster website what was willing to frame the images for such a low price. I was looking for images with coconut trees and as things happen...I found an image of a coconut grove from my hometown of Lahaina from 1910. I knew that that image was waiting for me!! I can see my beloved West Maui Mountains...I can be home without leaving Volcano. Scrounging around, I found images in the most unlikely places...Kilauea Kreations - I found native bird pictures and postcards which I framed using Wallymart frames. I went to a local gallery and found photos of more native birds...hurray...back to Wallymart for more frames. In my quest for signs to remind people to remove their shoes, more bizarre places to find things. Don't go to the places on Kamehameha Avenue which charge $32 for a tile sign. Walmart had little tiles for $13. KTA supermarket had big tiles for $13. But Dolly's Handcrafts near the Hilo Farmers' market had a slew of different shoe signs including ones made with carved bamboo. Well, I am surprised. I learned that one should shop around to find the thing that is really needed. So eight months and tens of thousands of dollars later, our Maluhia Guest House is ready for guests. We learned a ton of stuff and in a weird sort of way, we enjoyed the process. We hope that this facility will be a place that brings joys to others. I am certain when our bills are paid, it will bring joy to us too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vegan Diet...New word for the food of the poor

Our daughter and her husband are on a vegan diet in a process to build a healthier lifestyle. For six weeks, they will eat no meat or animal byproducts, no oil, little salt and a whole load of vegetables. Since our families get together on Sunday evenings for supper, I really had to think about what I would cook for this past Sunday. Moussaka? Tagine? Bean casserole? Exotic, foreign food in our book. But then I was not secure since I usually don't cook those foods nor use those spices. What to cook? what to cook? Then it hit me! I can cook the food from my childhood. We were pretty poor and my mom made the most of the dollar a day she earned teaching sewing. Very little processed meat, very little protein as a whole and a lot of vegetables. Although my parents did not have a garden, we had a lot of neighbors who shared with us pumpkins, beans, and other vegetables. In thinking back to what we used to eat, I decided that our vegan Sunday dinner would be an old fashioned Japanese meal. Nishime - vegetable stew made with aburage (fried tofu), potatoes, carrots, onions, kombu (seaweed), hasu (lotus root), daikon (Japanese turnip), and konnyaku. Wakame and cucumber salad with lemon-miso dressing. Broccoli and cauliflower with peanut butter dressing. Brown Rice. Miso soup with tofu. The irony of this meal is that by the time I finished purchasing all the ingredients, it cost over $100 to feed six people. Of course, I had a lot for people to take home. One cannot make stew or nishime using stingy portions. However, what was cheap then is no longer. It is cheaper to eat $1 McDonald's McChicken or McDouble burgers full of fat and calories than it is to buy broccoli and cauliflower. No wonder America's people are suffering from obesity. The former diet of the poor is no longer accessible for the poor of today.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Novel Japanese Americans

It seems that I am reading a number of novels retelling the stories of Japanese Americans. First, I read Juliet Kono's book, Anshu. Then I followed it up with John Hamamura's book, Color of the Sea. Yesterday on our Costco run, I found a book by Gail Tsuchiyama, Street of a Thousand Blossoms.

Although I have just started Tsuchiyama's novel, what I have observed about the Japanese is their willingness to sacrifice for the better good of the family. To suffer and to make the best of the situation. The sense of duty seems to obliterate the lighthearted sense of frivolity and joy. Instead, joy is experienced in quiet and subtle way. The way a petal from a cherry blossom floats to the ground.

Unlike the Koreans in the Korean soap operas, one rarely sees Japanese in literature express themselves is loud ranting and raging. Hide your suffering behind a stoic face. To make a scene means to lose face, to show weakness.

Watching old samurai movies will acquaint the audience with the solemn nodding of the head and the watchful eyes that speak volumes. "You are dearly loved. You are forgiven. I understand." Only in the fight scenes do we see emotion and energy released through the kyat...the sound that comes from the core of the stomache filled with ki or energy. "You are an evil enemy. You will die. Kyaaaaaaaaaaa!"

I am waiting to read more books about modern Japanese Americans. Have they changed their core values? Have their modes of expression changed? Has Americanization whitewashed their cultural selves? While I would like to see more joy in the families, I also don't want to lose the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good or to suffer through gaman (patience and endurance). These attributes are the backbone of the culture.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Parents' Dreams for their Children

It seems as though it was just yesterday when our baby was born. A surprise, a gift that we thought would have been a miracle...that came true. My husband worried about his age that he would be so old when his daughter graduated from college...nigh 70.

Well, she graduated from college on Saturday and it seems that the years just whizzed by like a flash of light. We are still alive and kicking and though suffering from aches and pains...not as decrepit as we thought we'd be 21 years ago. So it is all good.

What we have come to understand is no matter what elaborate schemes or dreams we might have for our children, life happens and they will choose the life for themselves. We can however, do the hard construction work to build a good foundation by teaching our kids about responsibility, hard work, perseverance, dedication, commitment, and loyalty. We can foster a home life that encourages them to love and care for each other. We can work hard to give them memories for a lifetime that do not necessarily have to require a lot of money or material things.

As our children are all adults, we have to trust that our foundations built in our children are strong and proper and we have to trust in their decisions to do the right thing. Our days of ordering them around are gone. Counsel and suggestions when asked are our contributions to their lives. We can sit back now and watch them grow their own families hopefully with the same sort of foundation for life.

Building strong families takes time and hard work. But it is all worth it in the end. Nothing fancy...common people living average lives with contentment

Friday, April 22, 2011

BeBe Gets a Ticket

Our burgundy Mercedes has been ill and needed to go to the car doctor. We sent her to a mechanic the week before the SuperBowl and that is in January, folks! She stayed in the shop until April because a part needed to be ordered from Germany. According to our mechanic, this was the first time this particular part was ordered from the State of Hawaii.

I had the car for two weeks and yesterday when I was driving home, I see a cop's car behind me. I look in the rear view mirror and he follows. Then I see the dreaded blue light.....FLASHING!!

Damn...millions of cars pass as he collects my documents and writes out the ticket for an expired safety check which needed to be done in January!! So $70 later, I get the understanding of irony in my own life!!

What's up with that?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lax Action

Last night there was a huge earthquake in Japan (8.9) which caused a tsunami or tidal wave to be generated. The news showed devastating damage as the huge waves washed across the roads and farmlands, carrying homes, ships, and cars as though they were plastic toys.

The Hawaii TV stations showed the action and the information was given about the approximate arrival time of the tidal wave in Hawaii. Boat owners were encouraged to pilot their boats into the open ocean to avoid damage.

When we got up, we heard about boats on Oahu which were left in the harbor. In fact, we saw clips of people shouting to boat owners to get off of the boats as big waves were coming. Okay...there's a tidal wave coming. What were these boat owners thinking?

We forget about the power of Nature. We can never take the awesome force of Nature too lightly. Though we may think we are so smart, it is amazing how stupid we are at times!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Moonrise to Enjoy

Sometimes, the beauty of the sun is overrated. A beautiful sunny day, sunrise, sunset, blah, blah, blah.

Last night, we saw the most beautiful moonrise on Second Street in Hawaiian Paradise Park. The moon was the color of a lemon rising above the dark foreground of the scrub forest. The moon was so huge!!

Moonrises in Puna are the most beautiful things to enjoy. We are so lucky to have clear skies and such a beautiful environment to enjoy.

Laki kakou. E mililani kakou no ka mea a pau.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

She Walked the Gobi

It is amazing how our attitude can dictate our view of life.

I was depressed because I've been having trouble with my knees, bone spurs, arthritis, stiff joints, modified gait...sad, sad, sad. Then I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who said that the solution to my problem was double knee replacement with three month recovery time...etc., etc., etc. When I asked the doctor if I could heal myself...he looked at me incredulously and said, "What do you mean?" as though this was an impossibility. Threw myself a full-on pity party complete with whatever one serves at a pity party. (will have to do reseach on a menu for a pity party)

The change in my perspective changed when I read a book by Helen Thayer entitled Walking the Gobi. I am not really into travel books but I just happened to see it in the library and borrowed it. The writer was 63 years old and she and her 70+ year old husband walked 1600 miles across the Gobi Desert with scorpions, 115+ degree weather, sandstorms, and sandy socks!! She had a hip injury before she embarked on the trip yet they averaged 26 miles every day for 80 days!!

My problems with my knees turned into whining about a mosquito bite!!

Of course, I understand that Helen Thayer and her husband are not the usual senior citizens. But what I admired was the her discipline in following through with a commitment. Missing an appointment at a predesignated checkpoint would mean...no water. I read the book in one night and drank a big glass of water in the morning.

This is what I needed and it was a noncoincidental coincidence that I found the book. If one has the can do attitude laced with hope, one can live a fuller life.
Amen, amen, amen!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Be it resolved...

The first day of the new year is always filled with such hope and promise, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it is today. It is so easy to make grandiose promises to do a million things on such a day.

Yet, we have to restrain ourselves and keep to something that is do-able, achievable, conceivable, and realistic...right? Why can't our resolution be for a day? Perhaps it is because we entangle ourselves with too many far-reaching expectations to lose a gazillion pounds in 10 hours, or turn our lives around, or rehabilitate a sorry human being.

To be successful, we need to keep it simple. So let it be resolved that in 2011, I will UP wellness and DOWN stress. Let's see how this works out.

Best wishes to me to achieve this resolution. What would be the benchmarks for my achievement? Perhaps journal results will be the chronicle for the journey.