Month: April 2014

Z is for Zero More “A to Z Challenge” Posts

Today is the LAST day of the A to Z Challenge.  Whew, what a sigh of relief.  It was super hard, and I didn’t think we were going to see it through.  But, just like running a marathon, you gotta go slow and pace yourself.  I did burn out a bit, and got stuck when I hit the letter X.  I am glad to have Kainoa and Rogene who jumped in when I was out of blogging ideas for this months challenge.  I have no idea how other bloggers can manage a month-long challenge when they have to balance work, family and their blog.  I think I will have to take a break from blogging for a while.  I am so ready to kick off my shoes and just chill for a while.  I am so excited for summer to roll around. Blogging has provided me with a new lens on viewing my everyday interactions.  Now, everything I do or see is a possible blog post or story.  It makes life a lot more interesting.  But, …

Y is for Yak Butter Tea

When I visited Lhasa, Tibet, it was one of those surreal experiences. I think it also had to do with the fact that I was walking at an elevation of close to 12,000 ft, and was light-headed most of the time from not enough oxygen.  One of the most interesting things I did during the one-week visit, was try yak butter tea.  I am not sure if the altitude sickness contributed to this, but I was very sensitive to many smells around me.  When I was offered a cup of yak butter tea, my very expressive face almost gave itself away.  But, I knew that the family that was offering us a cup of tea had a very simple life and this was a very kind gesture to offer a stranger.  With a huge smile, and a very reluctant grasp, I dived right in and took a sip of the tea offered to me.  At first I had no idea what I was drinking, but after it starting to sink in, and the rich taste of the …

X is for Xanadu

I had been racking by brain for a word that starts with the letter “x”.  My husband questioned what I was doing this past weekend as I hovered over my laptop, and when I told him, he just blurted out “xanadu”.  I was puzzled.  I never heard of this word nor knew its meaning.  Well, I was in for a little surf culture education.  In his younger years, my husband was hitting the beach every day to catch the perfect wave.  He mentioned that xanadu was a state of being.  I didn’t get it, so I googled it.  It turns out it is the name of a surfboard shaper, as well as a name place of a location in China and Florida. I think it is interesting how a word can be redefined by a group of individuals.  I guess he must have heard his peers refer to Xanadu as a cool individual, which later brought him and his peers to start using it in their everyday language.  I wonder what other words originated as …

W is for Wahine (Woman)

On Saturday morning, the last day of the Merrie Monarch (MM) hula festival, rain or shine, the town of Hilo gets ready for the colorful parade.  Downtown Hilo is always bustling on Saturday morning with patrons heading to the Hilo Farmer’s Market; but, add the few hundred visitors who descend during this week, and it gets pretty hectic. Parking gets crazy.  But, it is all worth the trouble, except when you have a little one to tow around. My favorite part of the MM parade is seeing all the lovely pa’u riders, especially as they honor each of the main eight Hawaiian islands with a princess and entourage riding on horses.  Each island is represented with a different color and a different native plant or flower.  In Hawaiian, wahine means woman.  I love seeing the women dressed in their long skirts, and especially seeing them wear all the lovely fresh leis and flower arrangements, including in their hair and on their horses.  I cannot imagine how much time and energy it must take to gather all the native …

V is for Vibrant

Hawaii’s flora are diverse, rare and beautifully rich in color. Nature walks are my favorite pastime and I often stumble upon vibrant foliage: majestic trees, unusual shrubs, and colourful,fragrant flowers — all growing in abundance.         April is the start of the A to Z challenge. Check out other blogs participating in this challenge at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

U is for Ukulele

The State of Hawai’i was just about to pass a bill to name the ukulele as the state instrument.  But, fans of other instruments spoke up to request that their musical instrument such as the ‘ipu gourd and steel guitar also be considered.  I wish I was gifted in playing the ukulele, but unfortunately, even after several attempts, my fingers hurt from strumming the nylon string and gripping the neck of the instrument. This week here in Hilo nei we are in the midst of the Merrie Monarch hula festivities.  On stage while the hula dancers are performing a hula ‘auana (modern hula), the back up singers will be accompanied by musicians or they themselves will readily be playing a ukulele.  It is one of those instruments that is small enough to be easily transported and available during an impromptu back yard jam.   Several intermediate schools here in Hawai’i offer ukulele classes in school.  They even have marching ukulele bands that perform at various events in the community.   I wish they offered this …

T is for Te Waka Huia

Hilo was treated to the awesomeness that is Te Waka Huia, five-time champions of the Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival, at the non-competitive Merrie Monarch hōʻike. Wednesday usually features hula and other dances from all over the Pacific. This is the only night that is free to the public, with open seating.  Many people will stand in line for hours just to grab a seat to watch the spectacular medley of performances. Te Waka Huia also graced Hilo with a noon show that provided the community with an opportunity to hear from the dance troupe as they explained the various dances and instruments used by the dancers.  The group shared several lovely songs as well as a few boisterous chants known as haka.   April is the start of the A to Z challenge. Check out other blogs participating in this challenge at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

S is for Sand Dunes

When visiting Peru, one of the places to include on your list is the Ica Region, also known to the Peruvians as the “Land of the Sun”.  The land is very fertile due to the warm dry climate. There is an abundance of grapes grown here.  This area is also known for the delicious Pisco – the national drink of Peru.  There are many vineyards found in this area attracting many visitors all year round. But, one of my favorite things about this area is the massive sand dunes surrounding the area. After a nice visit with various vineyards, and an afternoon at Huacachina, as we were headed back to the hotel, we noticed several locals climbing up to the top of the sand dune behind our hotel.  We asked at the front desk what they were doing and where they were going.  All my husband heard was sand surfing and he was very excited. We were very lucky to have stared the climb before dusk so we could climb the enormous sand dune and enjoy the sunset while hitting the …

R is for Rest and Relaxation

Rest is the sweet sauce of labor. Plutarch   We live in a culture that has a dysfunctional view of time; we are programmed to achieve, perform and work towards goals with the assumption that relief (or reward) is earned through hard labor. But at what price? Today, around the world, too many people are re-enacting The Longest Day every day.  Casualties lay strewn on the “beaches” of our lives. Marriages. Families. Wives, Husbands. Children. Visiting friends and family from afar have often commented on how “it must be nice to live in paradise,” and how they “wish” they could be on vacation 365 days a year. My response: “I may live in paradise, but by no means am I on vacation all year long.” I am quick to correct that misconception.  Just like any other hard working person in the world, I labor to sustain the necessities of life, battling the “beaches” of work. So how does one find respite from the occasional stings of life’s stray jellyfish? Treat yourself to some Rest and Relaxation on a …

Q is for Quotations

Through the years, I’ve collected quotations. They are always the salve I need to get through difficult times, the inspiration to persist, and the gasoline to keep the euphoria of a good mood going. One journal is filled with quotes I’ve found since high school, however I’ve since moved on to a Pinterest board of quotes and other sayings. It’s faster to save on Pinterest, but the act of writing a quote onto a piece of paper involves actually saying or thinking the words as I physically put it to paper. I’ve noticed that the latter results in quotes “sticking to my gut”. My all-favorite quotes are: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.” -Mikhail Baryshnikov “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” …

P is for Pablo Neruda

Years ago, I studied Spanish in the language immersion environment of Middlebury College. It was a Vermont summer interacting with Spanish language learners of all levels, from beginners, like me, to graduate level students. One day, I met a 3rd year student who shared the poem she would recite at a presentation. It was “Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche” by Pablo Neruda. The words flowed so beautifully and although some words were recognizable, it did require me to bust out my well-worn Spanish-English dictionary. I fumbled through translating the poem with my beginning language skills and found it to be such a poignant piece of work that it instantly became a favorite. The one line that pulled me in was “Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido,” loosely translated, “Love is so short, but forgetting is so long”. The sadness of a lost love is something most people have experienced and this one line expressed the sadness in moving on. Pablo Neruda’s word choice and imagery reminds me of my worst heartbreak and whenever I read this poem, I’m transported back to …

O is for Obon

Obon season in Hawaiʻi is special. Bon dances are so prevalent here that every summer, an exhaustive calendar advertising every single bon dance in the islands appears in newspapers and blogs. Local communities, regardless of religious affiliations, descend upon their neighborhood hongwanji to engage in fellowship, to enjoy the food, and to participate in honoring ancestors. It’s a pastime that’s been around since Japanese first immigrated to Hawaiʻi. Growing up on Kauaʻi, my family went to the neighborhood hongwanji and Jodo mission just for the food. Dinner consisted of teriyaki sticks, flying saucers, and saimin. Oh, the comfort foods of home and the season. Although bon dances are a tad different here in Hilo, the feeling of walking into a space, seeing the yagura, and people dancing around it, makes me feel at home. These days, I love dancing the night away to the beats of the live ensemble. I don’t know all the dances, but one day, I will. April is the start of the A to Z challenge. Check out other blogs participating in this challenge at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com