Frog in Nancyland

K’s brother hated the creature part of Hawaii living.  The geckos freaked him out at night.  Talking to him about it reminded me how similarly I felt when we first moved to Hawaii.

For the most part I’m cool with Hawaii creatures.  But one night, when K’s family was visiting,  a gentle rain suddenly developed into a flash storm.    The air felt really thick and fragrant.   All the doors and windows were open and I peeked out the front and saw the oddest thing.

dsc02047

I almost yelled for K, but didn’t want to alarm the whole family.  I grabbed my camera and went in for a closer look.

dsc020491

I swear to god it looked like it was on the verge of talking to me.  I looked at it for awhile.  I took more pictures than this.  It was so unsettling.  Doesn’t it look like he has a message for me?

dsc02048

Living life in the fast lane

dsc01879

There have been a lot more geckos around lately large ones in particular.

dsc01885

When I look out at the patch of greenery in the back yard, many of the leaves are shivering with geckos hopping back and forth.  Yesterday we took the car to get some gas and K found a fugitive on the trunk of our car.

dsc01895

I tried to get it to jump off and  away from the cars pulling up to the gas pumps.  But instead it jumped down and then back up on the tire.  I hope he/she survived against the odds.

Kauai Not and the Big Picture

img_0118

We were on our way to Kauai.  It was going to be our first excursion to one of the other islands. We booked our flights, our car, and our room at the Hanalei Surfboard House.  We were so excited to visit Hanalei Bay and try one of the uber muddy hikes.  We spent one whole day shopping for our trip, picking up clothes we could get grubby in.   K got a great pair of hiking shoes from Nordstroms.  He even put them on at the mall to start breaking them in.

img_0121

We had to try different places for my hiking shoes and found a great place suggested by the Nordstrom salesperson: Mauka to Makai.  Their inventory was low so I ended up with a decent pair from Sports Authority.

Unfortunately when we got home  K was called into work for the next few days so we had to cancel all of our plans.  Hopefully we’ll be able to go before the holidays.

Instead of visiting a luxurious vacation island, we went to a couple of movies to unwind.  We settled for Journey to the Center of the Earth at the dollar theater. Dollar did you say??? Yes we were shocked. I haven’t been to a dollar movie in at least 10 years.  And I’m not even sure it was a dollar I think it might have been two.  The crowd at Hollywood Restaurant Row 9 was a pretty rowdy crowd.  Lots of locals and lots of kids.  I mean I felt like we watched a show before the actual show.  I whispered to K during the cartoon previews that we could leave at any point if it ended up not being good.

The movie proved to be perfectly fun.  In NY I carefully choose theaters based on the fact that I know it’s a  neighborhood crowd and people won’t be chattering through the whole thing.  I was a little skeptical at Hollywood.  Particularly when an older Hawaiian couple plopped down next to us and started talking right away.  But a quarter of the way into the movie I gasped at a heart racing scene and the portly woman next to me immediately whispered ‘what?’.  I was immediately won over and didn’t mind that they talked through the whole movie.

This past weekend we got to see Quantum of Solace.  Which I loved.  In looking for a theater we discovered Winward Mall in Kaneohe which is so different from Ala Moana.  The mall reminded me of my Long Island roots.  It was fantastic.  We had lunch at IHOP and wandered the mall after seeing the movie.  The highlight for me was the pet shop–very diverse.  I think all pet shops in general are, to varying degrees, not good.  But I’m a sucker for baby animals.  Here is one of my favorites:

img_01271

Also, note for the future. There was a Leonards Malasadas truck in the Winward Mall parking lot.

A couple of Mac nuts

Oh what an amazing day.  K and I wanted to be together because we suspected it would be a day we would want to remember.  He had to work so I went to set with him and got to see some beautiful sights in Kaneohe.

img_0035img_00541

On our way to a location one of K’s coworkers told us about the macadamia nut farm close by and that they had free coffee.  So before he started working we went to the very cool little farm and picked up a delicious cup of macadamia kona.  It’s great place to know about for future pasalubong (greeting gifts).

img_00531

We’ve been watching CNN for hours now.  We made a special election night dinner.  As we were running around getting things cooked and the table set I hear K say, ‘is that a SPIDER??’  In fact it was.  It was a Big Spider.

img_0072

We had a mild freak out.  K trapped it in a tupperware container and we brought it out to the parking lot and let it go.  We later found out that it was a cane spider.  A harmless house spider that eats cockroaches and silver fish.  But like all the creatures here Hawaii it LOOKED downright sinister.

Tonight is a great night.  We had a great meal and basked in the satisfaction of seeing Hawaii’s son Obama become President Elect.

img_0413

Parents in Blue Hawaii

I’ve been on break from blogging because my parents arrived about a week ago and today is our first day without them here.  It wasn’t easy showing people around Hawaii when I still don’t really know my way around.  I think we did alright but it was stressful.  It rained 75% of the time they were here so my fallback plan (the beach) was totally down the toilet.  We had a couple of days at Kailua and Lanikai Beach which they  loved but other than that we improvised moment to moment.

We didn’t end up going to a luau but in my search for the perfect one (apparently Lahaina on Maui) I found an interesting non-luau luau called Feast at Lele.  Most notably you’re served courses rather than buffet style and I read one review on Yelp that said the dancers were a bit more engaged and professional.  I also found an interesting user generated travel site call Go Planit.

We took them to Chinatown and had lunch at Mabuhay Cafe.  I’m not a fan of this place.  The atmosphere is comfortable and cozy but the food gave me a stomach ache.  The crispy pata was pretty gross.  And they don’t serve Lechon.  In Chinatown we picked up some glutinous rice flour and my mom and I made ginataan with sago (glutinous rice and tapioca balls with coconut milk).  It was delicious.

In Chinatown I wandered into Cindy’s Lei Shop which I found so endearing and interesting.  It’s so easy to take something like a lei for granted but the tradition of wearing and sharing them is something I love about Hawaiians.  The woman at Cindy’s was very nice to me and showed me different leis even though she knew I wasn’t there to buy one.  I particularly loved the dense Christina Leis made of orchid petals.  It’s amazing that they range around $20.  If we were in NY they would be at least $75.

We introduced them to all the standard treats: shaved ice at Waiolas and malasadas.  Strangely the mochi balls at Waiolas were so awful.  K didn’t even finish his.  They tasted like feet.  I’m hoping it was an anomaly because Waiolas is one of my favorite sometimes-treats.

We love Leonard’s malasadas but it’s a production to buy them.  There’s always a huge line–a tour bus seems to be unloading everytime we go there.  Also the last time we were there we felt so pressured by the lady behind the counter to clarify our order (when we thought we WERE being clear) that we decided to try a less stressful place. It’s like ordering from the malasada-nazi.  We picked up some plain malasadas from Agnes Portuguese Bakeshop instead here in Kailua.  The place serves breakfast and lunch and seems like a a nice place to meet up or work off of your laptop.  I think they have wi-fi.  The malasadas were very very yummy but ultimately we prefer the gooey haupia, custard and chocolate fillings from Leonards.  So did my parents.

leonard's malasadas--a half empty box
leonard's malasadas--half empty box

My parents are catholic so I had to find a church for them to attend on Sunday.  We attended St Anthony of Padua last Sunday and found it quite nice.  They asked us if we were visitors and gave us seashell leis.  When the mass started we had to stand up and say where we were from.

We only had two days of big touristy style events.  One was visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor which was illuminating.  We probably should have visited the USS Missouri as well but my mom and I were kind of over it.  The most interesting part of the trip for me was the film before the short boat ride to the memorial.  The memorial itself is a touching piece of architecture but K had told me that it was a glass bottom structure so that you can see the wreckage of the Arizona.  In retrospect it makes sense that it’s not but I was pacing around the memorial trying to find a glass bottom to no avail.

Afterwards we drove into Waikiki to eat the sandwiches that I made us for lunch.  We parked ourselves in Kapiolani Park to enjoy a break.

My parents were impressed with Waikiki but my mom has a bad knee so we couldn’t walk around very much.  My mom wanted to go home right after the sandwiches but we dragged her around a little bit more — strolling around one of the hotels on the strip.  There were little tchotchke shops and a breakfast buffet with a giant aquarium backdrop that we hoped to return to but never did.  It looked nice, but that’s probably because I’m a sucker for buffets and aquariums.

On another day we took my parents to the Atlantis submarine adventure at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  It was pretty cool but definitely the priciest thing we did.  Sarah asked me today if it was a real submarine and it in fact was.  You take a boat out to the submarine site and part of the excitement is watching the sub come up from the previous trip.  Everything is designed to be very smooth for the 40+ passengers.  There’s nothing really jarring or raw about the transition from dock, to boat, to sub.  The only thing was that we seemed to be sitting on the wrong side of the sub (starboard).  Port side got to see everything first and more abundantly.  The guide joked about discount seats but I didn’t really think that was funny.  The Atlantis Company has basically created an underwater Disney-style ride.  The things you see are almost entirely created by the company–man made reefs, a sunken plane, and a sunken ship.  All these were purchased and placed by Atlantis.  The fish life surrounding all these objects is plentiful but not anymore spectacular than fish life you would see snorkeling even though the submersible goes down over 100 ft.  There was a shark but it was teeny tiny (and K wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t plastic).  And there was a sea turtle which I’m fairly certain was real. The tour guide said that the Atlantis ‘structures’ had created 3000 times more fish life in the area–that sounds good, but is it?  Either way it was an experience and I’m glad we did it.

I loved Hawaiian Village.  I think it’s the Long Islander in me.  It’s very mall-like but peaceful and pretty.  After the ride we had dinner at the Hilton Benihana.  It was yummy and fun for all of us but I did get a stomach ache afterwards.

For dessert we headed over to Bubbie’s for ice cream.  It was really hard to find Bubbie’s on University Road.  We had to park and wander around and eventually ask someone to direct us.  We got 2 pints of ice cream and chocolate covered mochi ice creams.  Oh it was really delicious.  Much better than the packages of Bubbie’s in the grocery store.

There was one rainy day that we were driving around Honolulu.  We passed a convention center that advertised a crafts and Hawaiiana fair.  I suggested we stop in and I have to say it was such a bust.  Parking and admission was like $25 for all of us.  I know everyone was being polite  because they knew I was excited about it.  But frankly it was a bunch of stuff that mostly looked worthless.  I’m sure there were plenty of secret treasures to be found but I’m less than a novice at vintage shopping.  There was one table that had interesting toys and knick-knacks like a beautiful head model of a Hawaiian-ish woman but it was over $100.  My main complaint about it is that they charge people to come in.  Maybe that’s standard but it was pretty misleading.

All in all it was a week of hits and misses. K says from my blog it sounds like a week of misses and misses 😀

On the last day we took them to Boots and Kimos for breakfast; took a dip at Lanikai; and then had lunch at Nico’s.  All of this was a huge hit with them.  I think that it might have been their favorite day.  As we drove them to the airport the most gigantic rainbow appeared and followed us all the way to the departure terminal.

Love you Mom and Dad.

HIFF starts

Today was a pretty unique day in my newborn Kailua life.  The LVHIFF officially started today and it was the first day that I spent a chunk of time with the staff.  This morning I woke up late and made both Chuck and Sean late for the press conference.  I was mortified when I woke up at 8:17.  Chuck was picking me up at 8:30.  Egad.

Eventually everyone arrived where they were supposed to and the press conference was really lovely.  I’m glad I didn’t miss it.  I saw Sarah there and had a great chance to chat with her and Anderson.  Sean had told me earlier that Cliff Curtis was going to be at the press conference and I didn’t really make much of the fact that I didn’t know who he was talking about.  As Sarah and I were chatting by the entrance he came in and I realized that I’m a total fan of his work.  So that was really nice.

I ended up spending much of the day with Sarah.  I had such great time, particularly because I’ve been missing my girlfriends back home.  She took me to lunch at Nicos (my second time) and rather than ordering the special of the day I ordered what Sarah orderd: the Furikake ahi.  It was deeelicious.

I’ve written about this before but Sarah is the Art Director for a really unique magazine out here called Smart.  She described it as a Hawaiin Lucky but I find it to be much more than that.  As a newcomer to Hawaii it’s so refreshing to find a publication that goes deeper than the rest—an inside perspective to local talent as well as fashion insider favorites.  I picked up a copy at the hospitality suite and will definitely send away for a subscription.

The festival staff is so nice.  I don’t really know how else to put it.  I suppose it’s what everyone refers to as Aloha spirit.  Even under stressful circumstances they’re friendly and unfazed by last minute obstacles or tight spots.  I really respect what they’ve built.

Not much else is new.  we had to burn the bunnies when Rebecca came over for dinner. She was an ideal first guest. I can’t think of better circumstances in which to sacrifice the heartbreaking cuteness of wax lagomorpha.

Beautiful Saturday

Let me say a couple of things I hate about Kailua:

  • giant roaches
  • gecko droppings
  • portuguese man o war
  • rats that climb trees
  • and finally living in a place that is bookended by screaming children.

The final item has been particularly irritating the past couple of days. On the one side it’s unavoidable: a family with young kids one of which is a baby and it can’t help screaming. On the other side is a schoolyard which sometimes makes me want to tear my hair out. I love kids. I mean I even want kids but until you’ve heard kids playing together and screaming like individuals on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I don’t hink you’ve really heard kids. I mean we think they’re so sweet and innocent and spontaneous and we should strive to be as uninhibited as they. But the way kids scream in a schoolyard, you know I think it’s not a good thing. I think they’re in existential pain. Anyhow, I would take the noise of a troop of drunk adults coming down an East Village street over a group of 9 year olds running amok in a school yard.

My intention was to write about how lovely today is (see picture above). We are, in fact. having our first guest over for dinner. I’m excited. The house is clean; all the food is prepped; and the wine is chilling in the fridge.

Too bad there’s an army of rabid boys playing basketball in painful earshot.