But before we go…….

We have four weeks left here.  There’s so much that we’re trying to do before we leave.  The last few weeks have been invigorating.  K and I want to leave something behind that we can continue to contribute to even after we leave and alot of the pieces have been falling into place, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Four weeks left.  Almost 2 years behind us.  We’re returning to a place that you rarely see green, you don’t wake up looking at the sky, and mochi is not in abundant supply.  So while we were having lunch the other day I brought a notebook with me and we started our Hawaii wish list: all the things that I hope we get to do before we leave.  Some of these things we want to do together.  Some only one of us wants to do (ie skydiving (eg not me)).

1. Volcanos (Big Island)
2. Black sand beaches (Big Island)
3. Swim with dolphins in the wild (with a life vest)
4. Skydive
5. Take a surf lesson ( I don’t swim)
6. Molokai
7. Hana
8. Lanai
9. Stay on Kauai’s North Shore
10. Old Lahaina Luau
11. Merrie Monarch

These are sort of touristy things.  Hopefully more specific ideas will occur to me.
In four weeks we’re back home.  I find myself trying to take stock of all kinds of things:

what we want to do before we leave here;
what our new home might look like;
what kind of job I’ll get
…we’ll see….

wish us luck!


the more you ignore me…

Ken got me a Canon for Christmas.  I love it.  I don’t know how to use it but I love it.  At night after he falls asleep I read lens reviews and blog posts about exposure.  When my eyes are too tired to read anymore I go to sleep very satisfied that given the opportunity, I’ll be able to take a perfect picture of the Mokes by moonlight.  But it never work out that way.  By the time the shot is in front of me I panic and switch to full auto mode, ending up with lots of blur or sometimes just pitch blackness.

Last night in Chinatown was a great chance to take action photos in low light.  Wing Tek had a private dragon dance at his office followed by dinner, then wonderful cacophonous firecrackers and lions.  I took 500 pictures.  Most of them are crap but what I liked was that under normal circumstances I would have moved farther away from the noise after taking a peek at the action.  But with my camera I wanted to get closer and closer.

Lunar new year food is the bomb!

Makapu’u Tidepools

We drive through Waimanalo at least once a week. Our favorite lunch place is there and it’s on the way to my favorite Bikram class.

Our friend Mark invited us out for a hike to the tidepools. We’d never been, so we said yes and followed him right to a spot that we pass every time we go for Keneke’s or I go for yoga. Behind this mountain that we see all the time is a whole swirling scenic world. Not only are there the warm tidepools, but there’s a sweet lighthouse that looks like a pepper mill and Rabbit Island off the coast which is surrounded by water that Mark calls ‘sharky’.

I pulled a muscle on the descent but it was worth it.

Without a dream in my heart…

image from T.K.

K’s friends Paul and Tom came to visit us one weekend from NY via Kauai. We grilled lobster tails on the lanai and had it with rice and poke. The World Series was on and we got to see the Yankees go-ahead run before going down to the beach to watch the full moon.

We spent most of the next day driving all over Oahu.  K was working so it was just the three of us.   I’ve come to love driving.  I marvel at how just a few weeks ago I was terrified of driving on highways.  Now, as K predicted, I prefer driving on highways to the stop and go of downtown.  I love driving.  I actually feel markedly happier when I get into my car to head off somewhere.

I had to parallel park with Paul and Tom in the car.  I usually can do it when I’m by myself but if there’s anyone in the car with me I get super self-conscious.  I told them this and Tom talked me through it.  In two turns of the wheel I was in the  spot.  Tommy was singing my parking praises and even talked about taking a picture of it because it was such a perfect parking job.  I smiled on the outside but on the inside I also did a little dance.

Holy Ma’o!

I had had such a great experience volunteering at He’eia Fishpond for Ma’o Organic Farm that I was eager to get involved again and learn more about what they do. Wei told me about Give Day on the farm and invited me to come out and volunteer. I had never driven to the west side of the island. I’d heard alot of things about the issues at Waianae Beach and I was very curious to see what it was like. Before Give Day I hadn’t had any reason to venture over to that side.

It took an hour to drive there. Easily the furthest and longest I’d ever driven on the island. A few minutes from the Farm, I kept thinking of the word festive. I could imagine that I was driving to a family friend’s house for dinner and this was a neighborhood I might have, in another life, grown up in.

I like Waianae. It feels like people really live there–maybe that generations have lived there. It’s distinctly more ‘real’ than any other part of Oahu that I’ve experienced.

If I heard a chorus driving through Waianae, Ma’o was the melody. There were over a hundred volunteers that day from eight different countries. We were welcomed warmly and although I came alone, I didn’t feel it.

They let us get our hands dirty. Some of us weeding the sprawling beds, some clearing rocks from new fields, and so on. The manual labor was very satisfying but the greatest part of the day for me was hearing from their youth staff and learning about their programs.

A large portion of the Ma’o staff is made up of interns. To be an intern one has to be between 17 and 24 years old, a Waianae resident, and Native Hawaiian. Interns put in 20 hour work weeks and in exchange their tuition at a local college is covered and they’re provided a decent sized stipend. Our tour guide said that for many of the interns, they were the first in their family to attend college.

There’s a big emphasis on empowering youth and making them a part of every aspect of running the farm. Part of Give Day was put aside for different groups of students to share the projects they have chosen to implement as part of a larger program. For example: campaigning against land fills in Waianae or helping schools to grow their own organic community gardens.

Most of what I’m sharing is just skimming the surface of what I learned that day. It feels as if they are bursting with new ideas and trying to make each of them a reality

I’ve spent my whole adult life helping to build communities. What Gary and Kukui do over at Ma’o is hugely inspiring to me. Not only is their approach smart, it is characterized by an almost tangible zeal. I love the farm. I’m so pleased to have been part of it even for a day.


The other day I got an email from Wei inviting some of us to help Ma’o Organic Farm build a garden at He’eia Fishpond.

I had so much fun. I wish I’d gotten there earlier than I did. By the time I arrived they were layering compost, chicken manure, sand, and soil. I got to shovel coconut shell mulch from the back of a pick-up truck into wheelbarrows–which is alot more fun than it might sound. It took half an hour with all of the people involved to finish setting up the soil. One of the fishpond guys was playing thumping music from his truck and someone laughingly said ‘wow, this music really makes you work huh?’ and it was true. At one point I was shoveling compost into buckets so rhythmically that I didn’t notice when we started to hit the grass underneath. The girl from the fishpond that I was shoveling with said ‘I don’t like to exercise so I like hard work’. I nodded in agreement and droplets of sweat went flying everywhere.

For lunch we had sandwiches and salads and a delicious mango crumble that Wei made as well as Zippy’s chili. Afterwards, Gary from Ma’o talked about the strategy for growing in the new garden beds.

He mentioned a book that helped him when he was getting started called Hawaii Good Garden at Rainbow Books. It was pretty fascinating. He said some of the seeds or transplants could start producing in days.

I can’t wait to visit the garden after it’s had a chance to grow.

Splendor of China

We went to the Splendor of China festival at the Blaisdell last week. We bumped into Wing Tek there. He was doing a shift at a genealogy booth for an organization that assists Hawaiian Chinese in tracing their roots back to China. K was surprised to find the little town his father was from on a map. Mainly because when he had visited, the townspeople had said they were too small to be on a map.

There were shiny good luck necklaces, purple jade bracelets, ceramic grating dishes, a dim sum booth, and an impressive prosperity table. I asked K if he thought everything on it was real and did he think I could touch it to see. Without a word he pointed at the ‘VIP’ rope encircling the table.

Advice from others.


from kevin in regards to islands in the Pacific:

“you better get your ass on a steamer and explore the samoas/hebrides etc. that was one of my cooler trips. i once had something to the effect of 300,000 miles and I spent 90K of them dotting the pacific for four weeks. i took slow boats too! must be done. eating cold canned food on hot nights in moon’lit pacific minor islands where there IS NO HOTEL so you sleep on the beach (island had 100 people) and you just got on the next boat two day later. view 13 galaxies with the naked eye everynight.”

from Joseph in regards to the Hawaii’s Big Island:

“kiholo bay beach-also need a 4×4 to access unless you want to hike. this was just south of our resort. super beautiful, clear shallow water. basically it’s a beach that connects to a peninsula. you can walk across the water since it’s so shallow, no more than neck deep. sea turtles everywhere. and the area is fed by a freshwater spring, so you can feel the cold freshwater on top and the warm sea water on your feet. plus if you have goggles, you can see underwater where the fresh and salt waters separate, which looks like a mirror. finally there are two SICK mansions on the beach (of course on private property). one is the paul mitchell house (the cheesy bearded guy who sells hairspray), whose house looks like something out of the video game MYST. and the other is owned by the guy who invented the pacemaker; its ginormous.”

from Sarah a beautiful photo:


Full Moony

Julie called in through the window tonight while I was making myself dinner and asked me if I wanted to go see the full moon. I was in my pajamas and had settled in for the night so I wasn’t really apt to go. But I said yes because I like her and thought it would be nice to get to know her better. I’m so glad that I went. Three different people, prior to this, had told me that I had to check out the full moon. I didn’t really understand. Now I do.

It was getting dark as we got to the beach and the moon was growing brighter and brighter. We walked the entire length of the beach glancing up at the moon every now and again. It was more beautiful than any picture or painting of Lanikai I’ve ever seen. The moon was hanging low between the Mokes and the sky was charged with deep blues, purples, and pink. The beach was so quiet but there were pockets of neighbors talking with each other, some of them letting their dogs run and play in the sand.

Julie said that full moon nights remind her of the air in the South of France. I don’t know about that because I’ve never been but it certainly felt like being in a completely different place, country… even planet.

Made in Hawaii

Last Sunday we caught the last two hours of the Made in Hawaii Festival. We’d been moving all weekend and almost forgot it was happening. Our new landlady sent us an email reminding us about the festival. We dashed over there before it closed down and walked through the whole thing.

It was pretty much how I imagined it would be. If there was more time and a little less people I really would have liked to explore each booth. There were so many great things like pidgin t-shirts, roasting pan cozies, straw hats, koa wood jewelry boxes, Hawaiian christmas ornaments, local fruit jams, and on and on.

At first I was dashing around grabbing every business card that I could. And then I realized there’s probably a roster of vendors on their site. Even though we won’t be here for next year’s festival, I figure I’ll look up individual companies and explore their wares over the course of this year. There were lots of people there and it seemed like a lot of the popular vendors had sold out. Like the Made in Hawaii Foods mochi strawberries.

It’s a really great event. We came home with a clay coaster that absorbs water ‘magically’, a Hawaiian crest key chain, and poha jam.