Friday, November 2, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener

     We have about 22 acres of pastureland on our property.  My husband Don fenced off about a quarter of an acre since we have a couple of fruit trees in that area.  He put an electric fence to keep the cows out.  Well, the calves found this place where the grass is chest high.  Then, their mothers followed them into the fenced area.

     I am always wondering why they need to get into this area when they have acres and acres to forage in on the ranch.  Perhaps it says a little about how we too often want what is fenced off and inaccessible to us.  There is no difference in the grass between the various locations and I suspect what is offlimits to us is also the same as what we can get our hands on.  Yet we are driven by desire and yearning.

     Then once we get what was offlimits, we learn that it's not such a big deal after all.  People are sometimes, crazy stupid.  The most important lesson to learn is to realize that we can be stupid and so should try to wise up to avoid total obtuseness.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gingery Ironies

     It is ginger season in Puna Ma Uka.  As one travels the Volcano Highway, the scent of wild white and yellow ginger drifts into the car.  Other varieties of ginger can be seen in bloom such as the shampoo ginger and the blue ginger.  Up in Volcano, the kahili ginger and coral ginger are also blossoming.

     I remember my childhood in Lahaina.  In the back of our house, there was a concrete basin which we used to wash our feet before going into the house.  The muddy water from our dirty feet flowed into a patch of white ginger, an anomaly in hot and dry Lahaina.  We had gone to Hana which in childhood days seemed hundreds of miles away and dug up the ginger roots.  My mom planted the ginger near our wash feet sink and made sure that the plants received a lot of water.  The mango tree gave the perfect amount of shade to help the ginger to flourish.  I loved picking the blossoms and putting them in my hair, waiting for the breezes to blow the fragrance past my face.

     Living in Glenwood means we are living in ground zero for ginger.  The yellow ginger plants along the highway grow to over 10 feet tall.  If you want to pick ginger in the ditches outside of our yard, you need a second person who is standing on the road or a tree stump to direct you to where the flowers are.  When we first moved to our ranch property, our yard was choked with ginger.  Using much physical labor, we dug the ginger out, corm by corm.  We mowed the lawn, bit by bit, encouraging the grass to grow.  We pulled out the keiki or young plants.  Finally grass triumphed and our lawn was complete.  Yet right outside of our heavy fence strong enough to keep out marauding wild pigs, ginger plants crowd around trying to get back into the yard.

     I still love the fragrance of ginger.  I love the feathery ginger leis made by my friend, Eva.  I love the paradox of the plant:  fragile and wispy blossoms which grow on aggressive and sturdy stalks.  But I don't like ginger in my yard.  Let them grow freely along the highway, they don't take well to captive environments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Who'd a thunk I'd be a Mathematician?

     In August, 2012, there was a huge hula event called an 'uniki or graduation for one of the students.  Part of the ceremony called for a luau or feast with traditional Hawaiian foods like laulau, lomi salmon, poke, squid luau, chicken long rice, poi, sweet potatoes, pineapples, desserts, fruit breads and sweet potato pudding.  About 110 people were expected but food was prepared for 150 people.

     Throughout the preparation period, the continual question was...what portion should each person get?  What is the necessary total amount needed to feed everyone and have some extra?  Some people measured by ounces per person.  Some people measured by cups or parts of a cup.  And then some people measured by the gallon.  In the end, the discussion kept going on and on and a calculator was put into service.

     What did we learn from it?  We prepared way too much food.  We could have served at least 200 people.  One cannot be too stingy when serving Hawaiian food!!

laulau - bundles of food wrapped with ti leaves and steamed.
  • packets of seasoned beef, pork, codfish wrapped with taro leaves
  • packets of taro, sweet potato, onion, carrots wrapped with taro leaves
  • cubes of corned beef wrapped with taro leaves

lomi salmon - salad made of salted salmon, tomatoes, sweet onions, and green onions

poke - cubes of raw fish (ahi) seasoned with limu kohu (a seaweed), Hawaiian salt, and inamona
           or roasted kukui nuts.  Seasoning and ingredients are varied

squid luau - taro leaves, coconut milk, and squid simmered

chicken long rice - chicken with rice noodles, garlic, lots of ginger and green onions

poi - cooked taro that is mashed into a thin paste

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gratitude from Adversity

     Our daughter Sunny and her husband are hard working parents of three little boys, 7, 6, and 1.  Byron works two jobs and Sunny works full time and is taking courses to improve her work options.  Last Monday, a fire in their condominium in Wailuku, Maui turned their world upside down.  But instead of cursing their predicament, Sunny is filled with gratitude and is praising God for his presence in their lives.  What?  Gratitude and Praise for a fire?

     There are no random coincidences in life.  Things happen as part of God's plan for our lives.  The fire flared up after Sunny and Byron were at work.  The two older boys were at their summer program.  The baby was at the sitter's house.  Their downstairs neighbor noticed the fire and called the fire department.  By 8:30 am when Sunny got a call, the fire and police departments were already at the house.

     Had the fire occurred in the evening or early morning hours, this family might have been trapped as the fire was in the kitchen which is next to the front door.  They live on the second floor and did not have ladders to safely transport all three boys down.  His timing was impeccable and the safety of the family was assured.

     Now what is left is for the family to go through the rubble to salvage whatever is possible.  Loving family members, and friends have offered help to this family.  Many people are praying that the aftermath of the fire with the insurance and paperwork will be favorable to them.  What else can one do but be grateful.  It is funny how things in life do turn out.  E mililani kakou!  Let's all give thanks and praise to God.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Another Bright Idea

     Bright ideas, I'm full of them.  I like the process of figuring out how to plan something.  The most fun is planning monkey business.  Doing something crazy or unusual is fun.  I am always amazed that some people are resistant to participating in monkey business.  What do you lose by having fun, making a fool of yourself, laughing until your face hurts?  Even when doing some serious, one can have a blast learning and interacting.

     I planned a really rich learning experience and had only three nibbles of interest.  "Oh, the timing is not right," couple people said.  But then when is the timing ever perfect?  "Oh, people don't have money these days," others mentioned.  But have you ever looked at the restaurant parking lots on Friday nights...they are packed.  In order to make money, one needs to spend money.  So I cancelled the event only to have someone express interest in signing up the day before the event.

     What did I learn from this experience?  1)  Never be afraid to chance 'em.  Give it a try.  I found that a number of people were intrigued by the possibilities.  2)  Minimize pre-event costs when possible.  Don't go out a buy a laptop for a workshop that never happened.  3)Try a different time of the year just in case the naysayers are right about timing.  It was lucky that I kept my expenditures down so did not suffer a loss.  The outcome is that now I have a free weekend to myself.  There is a positive ending to this scheme.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Private Property, Public Spaces

     Being raised in the country where a hedge or a line of ti leaf plants might mark the boundary, I cannot get accustomed to people fencing off their properties.  I can understand if one is a farmer or rancher and the fencing is necessary to keep out packs of wild dogs or marauding wild pigs.  But to have a house built in a subdivision sparsely settled, then erecting a chain link fence with a gate and then putting a big sign "PRIVATE PROPERTY" seems to be an overstatement.  What public property would go to such measures.

     But on second thought, there are schools that fence people out during the nonschool hours.  Consider Mountain View Elementary with its maze of chain link fences and many gates.  How much does it cost to fabricate and install these gates?  In a district with so few public parks in Upper Puna, we need to work on creating public spaces where people can come and enjoy recreational pursuits such as picnics, sporting activities, or open areas when the children are allowed to run around in the sun.  Being on the Windward side, picnic pavillions would be great.  Is it too much to dream of a swimming pool heated by photo voltaic panels?  Dreams are the inspiration for action.  With community support, we can do something about this issue.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Holiday Hatred

I am beginning to hate holidays.  On Valentine's Day, one should look forward to chocolates, flowers, and sweet, sweet kisses, not surgical procedures, days in the hospital, and pain.  So, let's check of Valentine's Day 2012 as an unromantic holiday although I did fall in love with my orthopedic surgeon, the nursing staff at Queen's Hospital, and the support staff.  I must also admit that my love affair with my husband was renewed as he took such good and thoughtful care of me during my recovery.  So maybe this holiday was not a total washout.

Then as we began to look toward Easter, the Sunday services, the Easter luncheon at church, the Easter dinner at our friends, our outcome was stymied by a pain in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen on Saturday.  Things were not quite right as I lay in bed trying to sleep off the pain.  We went to the Emergency Room to find out that I had appendicitus.  So I had an appendectomy and spent the night at the hospital.  Easter morning came and the blessing was that I was able to go home.  We did not make the Easter Sunday service, the Easter luncheon at church (which I heard was simply fantabulous), or the Easter dinner at our friends.  (I was going to make Ina Garten's panzanella - bread salad, pickled beets with pickled eggs, and deviled eggs.)  Instead we went home and had some quiet time.

If Easter is the marking of a new day, I would say that it is the marking of a new understanding that things happen and that we cannot control all the circumstances.  There is a plan that defies human understanding and there is no such thing as a coincidence.  Everything happens for a reason and our challenge is to discern the reason and take action that is prescribed by our Heavenly Father.  We often jam things up by trying to do OUR own will.  That is when we get in trouble.  We have to surrender to do HIS will.  When we humble ourselves and Follow THE Plan, the outcome is always good.  When we try to do OUR own will too often, we get humbled by circumstances.  When this happens, we should not lament but rather accept that perhaps we thought too much of ourselves and our roles in life.  Surrender to the will of God and blessings will follow. 

This is what I have learned.  But just in case, when I have my second knee replacement surgery, I hope that it will not fall on a holiday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Titah Ain't What She Thought She was

     For the last year, I have been suffering because of achy knees which the othropedic surgeons suggested needed replacement.  At first, I tried to do the stop gap method by cleaning out the left knee.  Brief relief from the pain which came roaring back.  Finally, I decided to have the knee replacement surgery done.  For months, I went to water aerobics to strengthen my muscles and exercise my knees.  Then in weeks before the surgery, I added a core and crunch class to the exercise regime.

     I thought that I was ready.  Guarantee, the day after the surgery, I would be walking, albeit slowly, on the treadmill.

     Ha!!!   Not!!!  I was flat on my back enjoying the pain meds.  Going to the bathroom on the second day was a triumph.  But then the physical therapist wanted me to walk to the exercise room on my crutches...I darn near fainted.  You must understand that I am not a dainty, fragile girlie girl.  Back in the day, I earned a black belt in Aikido and practiced mainly with men.  The thought of fainting or puking from pain is not on my list of behavioral responses.  But there I was in the hallway with my head swirling, my face pasty white and my skin a clammy wet reptilian imitation.  I had to get on the wheel chair for the rest of the way.

     I learned that although the mind is strong, the body is weak!  Weak!  Weak!  A little exertion and I was out like a light.  Physical Therapy is another seque to the story which reiterates the chasm between the mind and the body.  "Suck it up," my PT cheerfully encouraged at the more difficult and torturous exercises like straightening my knee or bending it in a lunge.  Easy for you to say, I shouted in my mind and I gritted my teeth and refused to let the drop of salty water out of my eyes.

     "Things are going to get better," everyone who had any experience personally or second hand reminded me.  My question is simple...."When?"

     I now see why my orthopedic surgeon looked at me with disbelief when I told him that I was planning to do my second knee replacement in three months.  "Are you crazy?" he said.  This is major surgery.  And indeed it is.