An Easter of Peace

I’ve been thinking about our Easter day on the beach. Next to us was a large group with a huge rectangular canopy. Under it were three grills, numerous coolers and boxes of food. The members of this party were families from all different ethnic backgrounds, including Hawaiian, one of whom wore a shirt with the sovereign Hawaiian movement emblem on it.

This group’s teenaged sons dug a hole in the sand in front of where we sat with our three beach chairs, a small umbrella and one cooler of food and drinks.

From babies to teenagers, I watched the group of 14 kids playing in the sand and surf.
Two boys around six years old laughed with delight as the older boys took the shovels away from the hole and buried the younger boys’ feet in the sand so they couldn’t move.

The two boys, one Caucasian, the other, Asian, threw clumps of sand at each other. I was waiting for the inevitable fight to start, but it didn’t. They weren’t throwing sand at each other, they were trying to see who could throw sand the closest to the other one’s feet without stepping out of their buried state. They congratulated each other when they threw a close clump of sand.

When the hole was dug about three feet deep, the older boys and girls ran into the water to body surf. The younger kids jumped into the hole and ran around inside it as if it was their own fort. They slid and climbed and imagined. I smiled watching them play in the sun.

A day at the beach in California usually involves loud music, coolers of beer, drunken fights over sometimes imagined insults, kelp washing up on the shore with cigarette butts and other small trash. The Latinos stay in one area, the Caucasians in another and the African-Americans and Asians (if even found at the beach) are in their own groups.

No music blared on this Hawaiian beach. No fights broke out. Every ethnic background, every age and every walk of life, co-existed on that beach, usually within the same group. The only exception I could see was the military families.

The music we listened to that day was from the ocean waves lapping on the shore, the wind blowing down from the mountains and rustling the fronds of the palm trees and of the keiki (children) laughter.

When the group next to us packed up, the boys filled the hole they had dug in order to leave the beach as they had found it.

On Easter Sunday, a beach full of people had a peaceful day enjoying each other’s company and Mother Nature’s gifts. If only the whole world could spend every day on a Hawaiian beach.

Humility In a Dehydrated State

Home. Sick. Sniffles. Headache. Cough. Sore throat. But wait. What is that I see in the corner of the dining area? A water cooler! Yipee! Fresh purified water to feed my body. Oh happy day!

You’ve all heard about Honolulu water and Chromium-6 being found in high levels. If you haven’t: Star Advertiser

After a ten year struggle with Lyme Disease, I am very careful about my health and what I put into my body. High levels of carcinogens and a weakened immune system don’t go together. I don’t care what the Dept. of Health says about the levels being safe. I’m still not drinking it.

And, so, I have a lovely water cooler from Aloha Water here to keep me hydrated while I recuperate. The cooler comes with 5-gallon bottles that are taken back, sanitized and reused. I feel much better about this way of drinking water than I do about buying small bottles and trying to recycle them.

I was dehydrated when I first got here. One night I had a headache and felt nauseous. My stomach turned over and over, while my body fatigued and my joints ached. Hawaiian weather can dehydrate. I drank lots of (bottled) water that night and felt better in the morning.

The next day, Mark and I went to meet a friend of a friend at Punahou School; the same Punahou School President Obama attended. And to answer those rumors of no one having remembered the President in Hawaii nor at school, a friend of mine was the ball girl for the Punahou basketball team and remembers “Barry” from school.

Ah, yes, back to Punahou and dehydration. We sat in this friend of a friend’s office where she offered us water. I declined, trying to be polite. She insisted I take the water. “When I first moved here,” she said, “I was dehydrated and didn’t know it for a few days.” I accepted the water and gladly drank it.

She then took us on a wonderful tour of this beautiful campus. In the golf cart, we meandered along small paths set between manicured lawns and native Hawaiian landscaping. Students walked in orderly fashion along the same paths. Not one student had baggy pants or baseball caps turned backwards. I saw no ear buds hanging in ears and attached to iPods. No school bells rang either. It was very peaceful.

The track and field area is huge! We remarked it was nicer than USC’s track. We passed the swimming pool, the original stone buildings from when Punahou was a boys college and the music hall. We ate lunch in the cafeteria, where we sat outside on the balcony, smelling the plumeria trees below us.

We walked across the basketball court. We knew Punahou had won many athletic championships and awards, but the gym was absent of any banners or flags. Our friend informed us that Punahou emphasizes character building, and humility is one of the characteristics. “We definitely let our athletes know we are proud of them, but we don’t need to brag.”

Every elementary, middle and high school I could think of on the mainland definitely bragged about accomplishments, but then, they also needed funding. Achievement and funding go hand-in-hand. So how did Punahou get funding? I asked my basketball girl/Obama schoolmate friend. She said their yearly carnival makes over a million dollars for the school. From a carnival! Whatever they do, they’re doing it right.

As a former public school teacher, I am a firm believer that every child in this country is entitled to a free public education. Education is the way out of poverty. Education is the path to making wise choices based on one’s own situations in life.
What about the children of Hawaii who have potential but don’t have the means to attend Punahou? They offer scholarships. Of course. With a million dollars from a carnival fundraiser, I guess they can offer many scholarships.

We then went to the Luke Center for Public Service. They were gearing up for a book drive for children in the neighborhood; a teaching in-service for all teachers in Honolulu, not just Punahou teachers, and they offered a writing center to help students with their writing….hold on…. a writing center? Sign me up!

My only question, how does a student whose parents either don’t know, or don’t care, get a chance at a Punahou scholarship?

My thoughts turned to volunteering at a public school instead. When I mentioned this to a few people, they discouraged me. “You don’t know the students at public school here and how they are.” I was told. “Be careful for your safety,” another said.
Really? I taught in some tough neighborhoods in California. “Yes, but Hawaii culture is different,” I was told.

I’ll have to research this some more. If true, Punahou – want a former teacher to volunteer with students?

One last comment about the President’s origin of birth. I sat in a Walgreens in Honolulu waiting for my prescription to be filled. A woman from the East Coast was talking to the pharmacist about getting a refill. She had two prescriptions. One from an urgent care doctor she had seen here, another from her primary care doctor. The pharmacist asked her about the prescription from her primary care doctor. The woman’s response, “You mean my doctor back in the States?”

“Back in the States” – Maybe the birthers are on to something…I guess Hawaii isn’t a state in the United States? I’ll have to tell the people at Iolani Palace so they can change their tour information on the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and on the making of Hawaii statehood.

Sick in Hawaii

That sore throat came back again yesterday morning. Seriously, how can one get sick in Hawaii? The weather is balmy all the time. The people are friendly. Life is slow.

I’m chalking it up to the letdown of moving. There’s so much stress involved in coordinating a move across an ocean and I felt myself pushing my body to keep going. “I don’t have time to get sick now.” How many of us say that to ourselves on a weekly basis?

Mark and I had sore throats last week. His turned into laryngitis and a cold. I thought I had dodged it, but it was on slow simmer and came out yesterday. We had dinner at Zippy’s (for my So Cal friends – think Hawaiian Coco’s) two nights ago, where I first felt rundown and tired. I practically slept at the table. The waitress was nice enough to bring me tea. One can find green tea everywhere in Hawaii.

I slept yesterday. Mark leaned down, kissed me goodbye and left water by the bed. I didn’t ask where he was going….Remember how I had Matzoh Ball soup from C.J.’s Deli at the Hilton Hawaiian Village when I was sick the first day we moved here? Well, Mark drove back to C.J.’s Deli in Honolulu, during rush hour to bring me more Matzoh Ball soup.

If I guy like that said to you, “Let’s move to Hawaii,” wouldn’t you go with him?

Kama’aina Cookies

I thought I’d share photos of a mural painted at the inter-island terminal at Honolulu Airport. The now defunct Aloha Airlines commemorated Hawaii of old with this painting. It was impossible to show the entire mural in one shot. I love how it shows the important places on each island using mostly images, not words – cities, fishing villages, volcanoes, ranches, flowers.

It’s beautiful and I wish I could have seen Hawaii back then.

But I am in Hawaii of today.

Feeling settled in a new place takes time and certain turning points to establish the “I live here” moment. For me, it happened the day I left physical therapy on Kapi’olani Blvd., drove to the hairdressers to get my hair done and made an appointment to see the dentist. All things I do in a place where I live.

Hawaiians call it kama’aina; a person who lives in Hawaii.

Over on the Big Island, Mark, my sister and her family and I went to dinner at a large hotel on the water. Once we sat down, I handed a box of Honolulu Cookie Company cookies to each of my nieces. They make delicious shortbread cookies in different varieties; coffee, lilikoi, plain dipped in chocolate and coconut, some have fruit in the middle.

After dinner, our waiter, hands full of dishes he had just cleared, nodded to the cookies on the table. “Are those from Big Island Candies?”
I answered, “No, they’re from Honolulu Cookie Company. We live on Oahu and brought them with us.”
He looked at me, lowered his voice and said, “Do you have local ID?”
Mark reached for his wallet. “Why, yes, we do.” I said. “You give Kama’aina discounts?”

The waiter said, “You asked me, right?”
“Right.” I said. “I asked you.”

He returned with our dinner bill and gave us a 12% discount. My brother-in-law loved the fact they gave discounts to locals. Everywhere we stopped after that he’d say loudly, in front of our servers, “You guys must really like living here.” Or to the waitperson, “They live here. Don’t they look like they live here?”

We never got a kama’aina rate after that.

Travel Mates – The U.S. Marines

After spending three days on the beach, I actually have a slight tan. The Hawaiian sun reached me below an umbrella, a big hat and 45 SPF sunscreen. It’s a good start and I didn’t burn. I had joked about my San Francisco fog tan. Irish genetics gave me white skin which freckles.

We flew back to Oahu from the Big Island on a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717. It’s not a small plane, but not really a large one either and we shared it with 50 sunburned and tired-looking United States Marines.

I joked about our flight not needing any Air Marshals.

We sat in front of the emergency exit row with Marines sitting behind us. I heard the flight attendant instructing them on emergency procedures.

Flight Attendant: “You guys okay with assessing the situation for danger, deciding to open the door and helping passengers out?”

My guess is they’re perfectly trained for that scenario.

That’s my little black bag on the conveyor belt at our baggage claim. My bag was easy to find. It looked like none of the others. How often does that happen?

Anyone else remember the Tom Lehrer song, “Send The Marines”?

Big Island Weekender

We DID go to the beach. On the Big Island. For my niece’s 16th birthday. We surprised my sister, her husband and my nieces, who were vacationing there during Spring Break. Here are some photos from the leeward side of Hawaii.

The Big Island is rural compared to Oahu. The weather was in the low 80’s every day and with much less humidity than what we’ve experienced here.

When we first arrived, I took a photo of my niece on the beach and sent it to her. I sent another photo to my other niece. They found Mark and me enjoying a hamburger beachside at their hotel.

Now that I live a five hour flight away from my nieces, I’m taking every opportunity to see them. At sixteen, my older niece will be off to college in two years. Yep, taking every opportunity now.

The King’s Music

In my last post I forgot to mention how we had to leave the apartment for two hours after Reid sprayed.

We drove to Ala Moana Shopping Center to stop at the Apple Store. We heard music playing. Hawaiian music. The kind my parents and grandparents listened to on the “Hawaii Calls” radio show from the 60’s and 70’s.

We followed the sound to Centerstage at the shopping center where The Royal Hawaiian Band was playing. I reminisced about days playing with dolls on the floor of my grandparents house while they listened to Hawaii Calls and The Lawrence Welk show. I should mention they had radiant heat in their 1949 built house in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sitting on the floor was warm and comforting to a kid.

Here’s their website. Royal Hawaiian Band Beautiful music to transport you to the old Hawaii you may or may not have known.

I won’t be blogging for a few days. We’re actually going to spend time at the beach! I’ll take photos and post them later. Aloha

Beauty and the Crawling Beasts

Anyone who knows me knows I am not an early riser. So, why I opened my eyes at 6:10 am this morning, I don’t know. It could have been the sounds of the tropical birds chirping and cooing outside the bedroom window. It could have been the neighbors air conditioning unit that whirred on and off all night, starting up again. Or, it could be I was meant to get up to see this morning’s sunrise.

The rest of the day wasn’t so beautiful. It was “cockroach exterminator” day here at our complex. Reid came to our door in his socks and his bright orange shirt with the company logo on it. I cheered when I saw him in our kitchen. We’ve had cockroach problems since we moved in almost 2 weeks ago.

But today, my hero, Reid, wandered the hallway with me where I showed him the spots where I see roaches. Mark showed him a hole in the corner of the room where we think roaches enter.

Reid looked down and said, “Oh, you have a little puka there. I spray down it.”

Puka? The only puka I ever heard of was the shell necklace we wore in the 70’s. You know the ones. Small white shells with a hole in the middle….oh, a hole in the middle.

Spiritual Roots in a Lush Green Land

In 1992 my mom and I took a tour of Ireland in search of my Grandma’s roots. We saw the historical and spiritual places important to our family lineage. I learned Irish history, drank in Irish pubs and listened to old-timers tell stories about Irish fairies who weren’t to be messed with.

I didn’t believe much in spiritual stories of places and people from a thousand years ago, but I listened.

When my mom and I went to Ireland again on our own in 2000, I had a much different experience. The lush green land of my Irish ancestors sent me messages. It held miracles and mysteries for me and I followed each clue to unearth more stories and revelations there.

I found a curator in a small museum in Galway who told me how spirits traveled with people back to their Irish homeland. Dogs followed me everywhere on my walk around town. I had vivid dreams of places I should go while in the country. Ravens cawed at me while I walked, egging me on to the places I needed to explore. I followed them. I had a spiritual experience there that is very personal to me and will not describe here, but it changed my view of lands and people before my time.

Last night Mark told me about the Night Marchers who travel through the Pali, a steep cliffed area that runs through the Ko’olau mountains. The Night Marchers are said to be spirits of warriors marching to reclaim lost battles. They don’t like Haoles, who are seen as foreigners. I was spooked enough to promise myself I would respect the land as much as I humanly could.

Today we drove to Target, in search of a bedspread and trash can. How mundane.

We stopped for gas and as Mark filled the tank, I saw the brilliant colors of a rainbow behind a tree and over the roof of a Zippy’s restaurant. We took off in search of the rainbow.

The rainbow kept urging us closer and closer to the Pali. There may be Night Marchers there, but the beauty in the rainbows can’t be beat. The photos don’t come out nearly as bright as in real life. We stopped and took it all in. A double rainbow emerged then. A moment in awe of nature and the beauty of the Pali. We drove over it and enjoyed the colors, the beauty and the jagged, textured cliffs.

My Irish ancestors are guiding me in this lush spiritual land as well.