December 20, 2017

According to a card that my dear friend, Anne, sent me, “Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion, mercy, and hello among other sentiments of a similar nature. It is used especially in Hawaiian as a greeting meaning hello and goodbye. Variations occur on circumstances when used as a salutation.”

So today was our last full day in Hawai’i. We will fly home tomorrow, and as I think about our time here, I wanted to use the quote above to begin my blog because Aloha is Hawai’i. Ken and I have experienced the spirit of Aloha multiple times each day, and especially with the generosity and hospitality of our hosts, Alan and Dawn, and Dawn’s mother, Doreen, and her sister, Michelle, and brother-in-law, Dani. You made our time here memorable, and Gaye’s visit from the Big Island was another special Aloha time together.

Ken and I will leave tomorrow with Aloha blessings, and every Christmas from this point forward will bring warm memories of our time here in Honolulu.

Today: We had a special beach day planned, so even though the weather did not look promising, Dawn drove us out to Hanauma Bay this morning after picking up her mother. We all brought our swimming things, and I even had a new cover-up. We found parking, which is unusual for Hanauma Bay, but when we got out, it started to rain a little. We weren’t sure what to do, but I wanted to see the beach, so we got tickets, watched an orientation film, and then boarded a shuttle to go down to the bay.

The beach was full of people, and I could definitely see how fun it would be to go into the water and do some snorkeling. But, quite frankly, it was simply too cold to even think about going into the water. I guess my wild days are over, in this regard.

When the rain started to thicken, we decided to leave the beautiful gold sand and quiet water of Hanauma Bay to drive up the road to see a nearby blow-hole in the cliffs.  After that we sent to another sandy beach and there, people were surfing. I had fun taking 4-K video of the surfers. The newscaster tonight said that it was unusual to have surfing like this in December in the Diamond Head area.

It was a lovely outing despite the rain and cold temperatures in the 60s, and on the ride, I got to ask Doreen a little about her mother who was a pastry chef at Halekulani Hotel, the site of our marvelous tea yesterday, and my favorite pastry, strawberry- earl gray eclair. Doreen said that her mother worked hard to perfect pastry baking and mentioned that red velvet cake was her specialty. Mmmmmm.

Then it was time for lunch and a rest before our final dinner tonight at Phuket Thai in the Ward area of Honolulu where we saw a swimming pool on a high rise strangely jutting out over the street and a building decked out with green and red lights.

Christmas in Hawaii. Mahalo Dawn and Alan. We will miss you and Honolulu. I told Doreen today that one has not really been to Hawai’i unless they’ve come to Honolulu.  Aloha.

And one last thing-We will miss little Joy, Doreen’s sweet Pekingese-Chihuahua mix. That dog was our favorite “Paws in Paradise.” If we could have, we would have slipped her into our luggage.

Mosquito Moment: Hawaiian Airlines. They have such a goofy situation surrounding their check in and seat assignments. Dawn and I spent our late afternoon and evening changing our seat assignments and trying a print a boarding pass. To get better seats, Ken and I decided to upgrade to “comfort” seats for $80 a piece. You’d think that the online web system would accept our payment, but it wouldn’t-even after trying multiple times, calling, asking lots of questions, and getting no real answers. It looks like we have the new, pricier and supposedly more comfortable seats, but we couldn’t complete the transaction for the upgrade. Do we still have the seats reserved even if we can’t pay? “Yes,” said the HA representative, but apparently we need to go tomorrow and stand in line to straighten everything out with an agent first. I asked why, but I got no clear answer. Such a hassle with this airline  Mosquitoes are operating the place.


Tee or Tea?

December 19, 2017

Agenda for Girls’ Day: Iolani Palace, Lunch, Hale Honolulu, Waikiki, Tea at Halekulani, Shopping

Agenda for Boys’ Day: Brunch at the base, Golfing, and KFC for Ken’s dinner

Which would you rather do? Tee or Tea?

I’m not too sure about the golfing, but I know that Alan, Ken, and Alan’s boss and friend all had a good time. The Mamala Bay Golf Course  is on the base, and Ken said that it is where the president lands when he comes to O’ahu. And, in fact, we saw on TV this morning that former President Obama golfed yesterday on beautiful Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course on the Marine base at Kailua, 32 miles across the island on the windward side from Honolulu. Ken said that watching the Growlers take off, fly, and land was amazing. Ken was also pretty happy about where they ate today. He ordered meat loaf with potatoes, and real gravy, not poi!

Dawn and I had a packed, fun day planned.

Iolani Palace was first up. This palace was the home to Hawai’i’s sovereigns before the last, Queen Liliaukulani was deposed on January 29, 1891. Dawn and I went on an audio tour to learn about the palace and listen to the story of a kingdom and its monarchs who were strong, well-educated, and who were accepted by many other countries in the world. King Kalakaua, in particular, was curious and quite well-traveled. For example, when he was in New York in 1881 he met Thomas Edison and became intrigued with electricity. The meeting led to the King installing electric lights and chandeliers in Iolani Palace well before other world monarchs. The palace also boasted flush toilets and intra-house telephones.

The Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown when Queen Liliaukulani was ruling because the US wanted to annex the islands. She was unwilling to abdicate, but to save her people from bloodshed, she did so under protest. After an uprising to bring the monarchy back, the provisional government arrested Queen Liliaukulani and confined her to one room in Iolani Palace. She was there for eight months, and, during that time, she sewed a beautiful crazy quilt of her life. I included a photo of the center panel that gives the important dates of her life. In the upper right hand panel you will see (if you make the photo larger) that she noted the day of her dethroning.

According to the Iolani Palace website, “Iolani Palace is a living restoration of a proud Hawaiian national identity, registered National Historic Landmark, and the only official royal palace in the United States.”

We spent a lot of time at Iolani Palace, so we had to put our skates on after that. We did stop by Starbucks for a quick sandwich before going to Hale Honolulu. There we saw the huge, lighted Christmas displays along King Street. Then we went into a large building to see a collection of unusual wreaths that various people and groups had made. The wreaths were made with an incredible variety of things including plastic silverware, flip flops, and plastic eating utensils.

Next, Dawn and I hopped in her car and went from Downtown Honolulu to Hotel Halekulani in Waikiki. After oohing and aahing our way through this absolutely gorgeous hotel, we decided to have our tea with an ocean view in the Orchid Room. Maybe I don’t need to describe what a Christmas treat that was. Dawn loved the poppy cakes and enjoyed a strawberry pastry unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. Scrumpy delicious!!!!

Then more walking and shopping along Waikiki and enjoying the hotel and shop Christmas decorations. We enjoyed the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s huge gingerbread replica of its bell tower.  Along the beach, the waves were high enough for surfers. And luckily, we stayed late enough to enjoy some of the evening lights.

So what would you rather do? Tee? Or Tea? Either way, Ken and I were both exhausted.

Mosquito Moment: Ken actually got some mosquito bites while he was golfing today, but he said that the other guys got bitten worse. We think it’s because of Ken’s rare B blood type that the mosquitoes don’t find him as tasty as people with other blood types like me, for instance, with type 0!

By the way, I called Hawaiian Airlines tonight and got two seats. Not crazy about them and will try to change them, but they are seats. We are close but not sitting together.



Luau Love

December 18, 2017

We said goodbye to Gaye after a nice breakfast at Eggs ‘n Things. She wanted to shop a little more at Ala Moana while we wanted to go out to Ala Moana Park, a 100-acre stretch of reclaimed gold-sand beach. The water in this area is calmer than other places because an outer reef protects it. However, we actually ended up at Magic Island which is next to Ala Moana.

As we strolled the path around Magic Island, we were able to see stunning vistas of Honolulu with Diamond Head as a backdrop to the right of the city. Magic Island hosts cultural events and is apparently a favorite wedding venue, especially for the Japanese. And sure enough-a bride and groom were being photographed on the rocks.

After Magic Island, Alan drove us to the military base on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.  I wanted to see the relatively new memorial constructed to honor the 429 fallen soldiers on the USS Oklahoma. The bodies of the sailors on the Oklahoma, unlike the Arizona, were recovered, so the feeling at this memorial is a little different from the USS Arizona.

Alan did not think that I was allowed to photograph the monument because it is located on the base, so I left my camera behind and just took in the experience. I was deeply moved seeing the white pillars of stone standing at attention enscribed with the names of the sailors who died on December 7, 1941. As I walked through the columns of stone, I thought about my Uncle 1st Lt. Harold E. Regan, who died in the Pacific near Iwo Jima on the last day of the war, not on a ship, but from bailing out of a P-47N fighter that had been shot down.

At one end of the white columns, gray granite slabs that looked like the sides of a ship explained the memorial. This quote from the Bard that was enscribed on one of the gray rocks sums up the feeling of this place.

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.

Then it was time for some Zippy’s chicken and a rest back at Lincoln Hall. We ended up washing our clothes instead of relaxing, but we were ready to go again by 3:00. And this time, we went to Waikiki!

Waikiki is such a great tourist spot. We walked around, passed the huge motels, and did a little light shopping. When it was time to head back for the Luau at Hale Koa, we actually walked the beach path. So beautiful. It’s easy to see why this place attracts the world.

Hale Koa is a large hotel built for military family and personnel. It might be the only hotel down on Waikiki Beach that offers a luau. We were able to get tickets for this luau because Alan is an architect who works for the Department of Defense. The tickets were $65 a person, and a real bargain considering the food and entertainment.

After a friendly Hawaiian Luau welcome, Ken and I enjoyed a rum punch while listening to music. On the grounds, guests had fun activities to participate in. I really wanted to make a bracelet from orchids, but I ended up taking photos instead. Models demonstrated how to tie a sarong, and a lithe, fast-talking entertainer demonstrated how to climb a coconut tree.

The food was delicious although I don’t eat all of the meat that was offered. During the meal, the band played, and like a dream, they suddenly started to play one of my favorite Keola Beamer songs, “Honolulu City Lights.” What could have been more fitting!

After the meal, we watched hula dancers. My favorite was the hula dance to White Christmas. The rest of the show demonstrated the different types of dancing among the Polynesian peoples of Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Somoa.

The host, Glen Medeiros, sang throughout the program and celebrated different groups of people along the way, including those in a variety of military service. At the end, however, he asked those of us who knew someone who had not come back, who had fallen in battle to lift a candle and stand. I hesitated, but then I picked up a candle for my uncle, a man I never knew but love anyway and held it aloft while Mr. Medeiros sang, “Proud to be an American.” My day had really come full circle at this moment, and I felt deeply appreciative of this acknowledgment of my uncle’s sacrifice. This is the first time that someone in an entertainment venue that I have attended has taken the step to honor the dead as well as the living. Thank you Mr. Medeiros.

Two tourists and two Kama’aina left the festive luau feeling Christmas in our hearts. The Christmas lights blended with Honolulu City lights. No mosquitoes today!

But—a Mosquito Moment: At the luau, Alan helpfully explained that the bowls on the table contained poi, a type of taro sauce. He said that we could combine it with the tomato and smoked salmon appetizer to put on our food. Ken, our adventuresome eater, took this to heart. Without adding the appetizer, he ladled poi over the rice, vegetables, and some of the meat on his place. When asked, he said he enjoyed his Asian gravy!




Gaye, Sweet Times

December 17, 2017

Sometimes you just have one of those wonderful days when joy starts in the morning and just flows through each minute to the last. Today was one such day, filled with beautiful and generous Hawaiian hospitality.

As a surprise that I didn’t know about until I arrived in Honolulu, my dear friend and former colleague at BC, Gaye Ishimaru, flew over from the Big Island to spend the day with us. She rented a nice Ford SUV to take us around the island. From the moment I hugged her, I knew we’d spend the day laughing and having fun.

We started off by having breakfast at the fabled Liliha Bakery in Honolulu. I have wanted to come here ever since I offered to make Dawn a birthday cake when she still lived in Seattle. Let me explain. One day, close to her birthday, I sent an email to ask her what her favorite cake was. I like to bake and thought I could surprise her. However, the surprise was actually on me. She said that Chantilly Cake or Guava Chiffon were her favorites. I nearly dropped dead. I had never heard of either one. So I started a deep research project, and I figured out Chantilly Cake is only made in Hawaii and that the best Chantilly Cake is made at Liliha Bakery. The recipes I found likened the cake to German Chocolate, which I was quite familiar with. After two attempts, Dawn got something akin to German Chocolate cake. However, I knew from her reaction that it wasn’t quite right.

Today I got to eat the real thing, for breakfast!! It does have some similarities to German Chocolate cake I discovered, but only with the cake part. The frosting is a type of pudding, and now that I have fallen in love with salted caramel, I can sort of compare the taste to that. It was ono (delicious in Hawaiian). Of course, what I had made for Dawn was not Chantilly Cake.

After gorging on breakfast, we bought some Liliha famous Cocoa Puffs (also with Chantilly frosting), plain donuts for Ken, and another type of donut filled with lilikoi to go.

So now that we were well over our 2,000 calorie per day recommended daily allowance, Alan drove us out towards North Shore to the Dole Pineapple Farm. I love pineapple, so it was a memorable stop for me. Inside the shop, I played along with the Maui Pearl Divers by using a 50% off coupon I “won.” Ken chose an oyster, and I rapped it three times and said Aloha. When the clerk opened the oyster, I had TWO lavender pearls. I was delighted. It cost me $8.26. However, then she wanted to sell me two gold earring backs for $75. I picked up my $8 pearls and moved on. Dawn also played along, but her coupon was for 40% off, so she paid $9 for one black pearl.

After that Gaye, Ken, and I all took the Express Pineapple train through the fields. Although the fields were marked, Gaye knows a lot about the flora of Hawaii, and she pointed out many plants to us. I loved the pineapple plants best, of course, and I was also struck by the red soil. Everything looked so lush. I couldn’t leave the Dole Farm, however, without a cone of soft pineapple ice cream. Ken was seriously getting worried about me. (He didn’t have one.)

On to Haleiwa. Gaye, Alan, and Ken watched the Seahawks lose miserably 40 to 7 in a bar and grill while Dawn and I shopped. We visited a gallery, and I fell in love with a local artist who has passed away. Al Furtado painted women dancing the hula, women quilting, women riding horses, and faces. It reminded me a little of Barbara Lavallee from Alaska painting scenes of Eskimos. There was so much music and life in his art.

We visited the famous Matsumoto Store for Shave Ice. However, the line was so long, we only did a little more shopping before having lunch at the Beach Cafe. Can you imagine sitting in a cafe in December with no walls, a warm,lovely breeze, temperature of 76 degrees, and the beautiful Pacific across the street? I ordered a Thai chicken barbecue sandwich and the bun was purple because it was made from taro. Of course, Dawn brought in the box of goodies from Liliha Bakery, and, for dessert, we consumed the Cocoa Puffs. I can’t believe I ate it. Can you believe the calorie count by now!

And, just so you know,  Gaye announced that the entire day was on her. Such hospitality.

After our late lunch, we visited the gorgeous Waimea Bay. An area called the Pipeline is famous for high tides and surfing. Today the tides were not so high, so we did not see the surfing that we were hoping to see. The road was  plugged with cars, however, so we weren’t the only ones coming to the beach.

Further up the road, Gaye wanted to stop at another bakery, Ted’s, and get a piece of chocolate macadamia nut pie. She couldn’t get that flavor, but the chocolate pie she did buy was very “ono.” I could only eat a bite or two, however.

Then Gaye suggested we go to Laie, a viewpoint of the land, mountains, and ocean. We took a lot of photos there, but you can see that Gaye wasn’t paying attention when Alan was snapping a photo of the three of us. Then we saw the Chinaman’s Hat, or Mokoli’i, a little island off the north shore of Kaneohe Bay. The famous Kualoa Ranch, the movie site for the filming of Jurassic Park, is located here. We returned to Honolulu after dark.

One of the best things about today was the comfort of deep friendships. We came together as if time and circumstance haven’t made changes. We laughed, shared our lives, and recalled the work that we did together with such passion and devotion to helping our students. There was a time when the three of us together made a difference to many lives.

We had such a beautiful day. Mahalo Gaye, Dawn, and Alan.

And no I didn’t get sick, but I certainly gained 50 pounds!

Mosquito Update: I think I’m going to rewrite the beginning of my blog because I realized today that I should have a mission statement. My mission is to find mosquitoes where ever I travel. I have also decided that mosquitoes do not have to necessarily be insects. They can be whatever I decide that they should be. So the mosquito of my day was the Christmas tree I found at Laie. People were fishing and right there was an old, gnarly tree that was decked out for Christmas. I think that this is my daily mosquito. Not sure why, it just is.




Dawn’s Commencement

Today is December 16, 2017, and, after seven years of work, my dear friend Dawn has attained a big goal. Today she accepted her degree, Doctor of Education, in a lovely ceremony at the University of Hawaii at Manoa at Stan Sheriff Center along with 900 other graduate and undergraduate students.

Her dissertation, which ran 400 pages in length was titled, “Multiple Case Studies of the Role of Motivation in the Retention of Five Female Community College Students on O’ahu. This important work should be published because it speaks to one of the greatest difficulties in educational programs, retention of students who face multiple barriers.

Colleges across the nation are seeking solutions on how to build programs that will engage these students and offer them the support they need to persist. Dawn’s work helps the field to deepen its understanding why students choose to stick to an educational course of study or to give up even when it’s clear that more education leading towards a degree would make a real difference for the future.

This day was so special for me because Dawn invited me to come to her graduation as her mentor. By way of explanation, Dawn and I worked for many years together at Bellevue College. During that time she coordinated the ESL Workfirst Program, taught part time, and for one year acted as Program Assistant when I was the Chair and Director of the Program. In 2008, we collaborated on writing a textbook together. We worked so well and so seamlessly together, and even though I knew her life called her back to Hawaii, I mourned her absence for a long, long time.

The ceremony began at 9:00 in the morning, but Alan, Dawn’s husband, came to pick us up at 7:20. We walked to the arena, got in the doors, and found excellent seats. Dawn was the first to walk in and was the first doctoral student to receive her hood and degree.

After the ceremony, we gathered outside in the sunshine on the athletic field where the graduates received leis of congratulation. It was beautiful.

Later we had a lovely lunch at Nordstrom’s where I got to visit with Dawn’s advisor, Eileen Tamura, and other members of her family.

Lots of smiles. Lots of hugs. Lots of love for our dear Dawn.

Aloha my friend to this part of your journey, and a joyous Aloha for the next.





Arizona Rainbow

December 15, 2017

Today I crossed a long-awaited trip off my bucket list. Dawn took Ken and I out to Pearl Harbor. And we went to the historic site—-very early. We are in Hawaii, but frankly, it was a bit cold, so we put on our jackets.

Dawn had given us a brochure about Oahu the night before, and it said to get to the monument early as reservations for the movie and boat trip regarding the destruction of the USS Arizona can be made two months in advance and are snapped up immediately. However, every day 1,300 are given to people who do not book in advance and just show up in person. We had no trouble getting tickets around 7:30, and since handbags are not allowed in the monument, I checked mine for $4.00 before going in. Visiting the monument and the museums were free.

It’s beautiful at Pearl Harbor. It looked like the movies that I have seen. We got tickets for 8:00. The movie set up the events leading to the attack and described what happened on December 7, 1941. The Japanese set up this surprise attack on the unsuspecting island with great skill and cunning, but this became the age-old story of winning a battle, but losing a war. This attack awakened the US and there was nothing to stop this nation from uniting to join the war to avenge its dead and stop the expansion of the Japanese in the Pacific.

Interestingly, the Japanese mastermind of the attack, Yamamoto Isoroku, was a fluent speaker of English who studied at Harvard from 1919-1921 and served as a military attaché in Washington DC. He did not believe that his country should attack the US, but if it did, the attack would need to be a deadly, swift, devastating surprise. It clearly was.

After the movie, we took a boat ride out to the watery shrine of the USS Arizona. The monument spans the remains of the USS Arizona because after the ship sunk, it was left intact. This means that the bodies of many soldiers are still entombed in the remains of the ship in the water. (The Navy considers them to be buried at sea.) Later we learned that soldiers who survived the attack can be interred with their fellow sailors, and apparently many have done that. There are only about 5 living survivors today. I was surprised by the oil on the water which apparently is still coming up from the Arizona after 75 years! 1,177 died with the USS Arizona. 335 somehow survived.

At the monument, you can see some of the remains of the ship in the water. However, the wall that honors the perished was beautiful-white stone enscribed with names and surrounded by flowers. However, the most beautiful tribute came from Oahu itself. Oahu is the island of rainbows, and there they were. Multiple rainbows over and around the USS Arizona like fingers of color reaching into the water, carefully cradling the valor of the fallen and the heroism of the surviving.

A little more walking around, and then we headed off for lunch as the crowds were building. Pearl Harbor with rainbows. An unforgettable experience. And yes, it warmed up, and reminded us that we are in Hawaii. At 76 degrees, we shed our jackets.


Honolulu, Here We Come!

My friend Dawn has worked on her doctorate in education for the past seven years and finally completed her dissertation and the requirements for her doctorate. Many years ago, she made me promise that I’d come to Honolulu to the graduation ceremony when she finished. So Ken and I are here. In Honolulu. It wasn’t a hard promise for me to keep, but it took her time and a lot of research, thinking, and writing for us to realize this day of reunion.

The big day is Saturday, December 16, so Ken and I came several days early and will stay a week.

We got up at 4:00 am this morning and left for the airport at 5:15. My dear former colleague, Marcela, lives in my area and offered to drive us.

The plane was scheduled to leave at 8:45, but the Hawaiian Airlines website said that we needed to arrive three hours early if we had baggage to check. As it turned out, the Hawaiian Airlines Counter was not even open.

A friendly skycap saw our confusion, helped us check our baggage with the kiosk. We had TSA Pre-Appoval, so we were sitting at the gate by 6:07 am.

We didn’t have good seats because I failed to figure out how to do seat requests online, and when I finally got to it, the plane was nearly full.

I managed to find the last two seats together that the plane had for this flight, row 29 D and E. So I had to disturb the person next to me five times to get up and move and use the rest room. Even worse though, is that I couldn’t get seat assignments for our return trip on Dec. 21, so I’m pretty worried about seating even though Hawaiian says that it doesn’t overbook and that we’ll have a seat.

The flight was uneventful, but yogurt and a bit of granola does not go far, so next time I’m packing food. I didn’t even have any brown licorice! We touched down around 1:15 pm Hawaiian time

Honolulu Airport was very confusing and it took us a bit to figure out that we needed to take the shuttle to baggage claim. Once there, Dawn emerged from the crowd. What a joy to see her again and embrace. It’s been seven long years except for a few lovely chats on FaceTime. She took us immediately to Nico’s at the Fish Market for lunch as we were starved

Then she took us to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and we checked into our lodgings at Lincoln Hall through her sponsorship. She also gave us a big bag filled with Christmas presents. Beach towels, slippers, golf balls, and cookies. Things we need to have fun in Hawaii

After a short rest, we met up with Alan, Dawn’s husband and Dawn. We wenr to a Macaroni Restaurant in a fancy shopping mall that felt a lot like Bellevue Square except that this one was open, and we enjoyed the somewhat cool breeze blowing our hair and saying,”Aloha.”