The Mermaid

Today’s post is a bit of my short fiction.
From time to time, I will post something on that order.
This photo of surf and rainbow was taken on Ali`i Drive, Kailua-Kona HI
 

The Mermaid
Gingerly, she steps around the walkway encompassing the hull of the boat. She is deprived of the oxygen tanks’ guardianship this time. Only Spirit protects her. A new alternative reality begins. Capturing one final breath of the salt air, she plunges into the dubious nourishment of the salt water.

She comes to swim with the shark. She comes to be recreated, to become the virgin mermaid. Deeper and still deeper the woman is drawn into his world. Forever on the quest for Life, she carries the light that could guide her way, never knowing what lands will be found in the depths of this foreign territory. She knows, for this is not the first time she has been called to this place, yet time changes all.

Down she spirals, seeing life at every level. Schools of clown fish wiggle through their anemone playground, while angel fish glide quietly in their heavenly realm. Turkey fish compete for space with stone fish. Darts of color flash by as she peers into their temples. Ever watchful for the moray eel, she searches the crevice for friends to surround and join in her transmutation.

Preparation is needed to live in so many worlds: this world of water and wave, that world of sand and dust and danger, a world of tropical splendor, a frozen world. Will she endure? Another test of endurance? Of power and talent?

The passion begins, the body veers into a new form. Lungs expand to absorb the new life force. Arms grow stronger for stroking the tides. Hair flows behind her for stability. Hips broaden into solid encrustation as scales form to enable her survival in this new world. The vulnerable womanhood now hidden, she is granted safe conduct through a hostile outpost. Feet flow into one mass, supple and fluid, feathery.

Now more swiftly she swoops through the kelp, surging past the curious crowds. Her goal draws closer. The shark sleeps below, then wakes as her body generates ripples in the water round about him. He waits for the mermaid, circling … circling … circling as she arrives, but she is bold and fearless. No longer can his threats keep her away from her destiny, no longer overpower her genius, no longer stifle the transformations.

Together they circle and stalk, stalk and circle. Will he never fear? Will he always reign in this channel? Without a quaver, she perseveres in her mission. He cannot thwart her progress. He consumes her, denounces her, abuses her until she will yield to him. The woman will never succumb. She simply desires to swim in his space, beside him. Where is her solution?
~~~
From Feral Fables by Lucy L. Jones. To purchase check out my Author Page on Amazon.com.

Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding

 

When I was pastoring at a church in Arizona, someone always brought several dozen doughnuts from the local bakery to serve with coffee during a fellowship hour. If some were left over, I took them home and let them get stale for a couple days.

Then I would break them up into bits of about an inch to make this bread pudding – regular doughnuts, cake doughnuts, jelly-filled doughnuts, cinnamon twists, and the like. What a delicious and unusual bread pudding!

So I recently got hungry for some old-fashioned bread pudding and dug out my old recipe. This time I used whole wheat bread and dark raisins. The photo above is fresh out of the oven. In the next photo, it is topped with vanilla bean ice cream and dribbled with caramel syrup. Too delicious for words!

 


Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding
1 heaping quart of dry bread – use any kind of bread or leftover pastries [see comments above]
½ cup seedless raisins – or maybe even some dried cranberries or dried blueberries
2 cups milk (I use non-fat, but you don’t have to. Some even add coconut milk.)
2 beaten eggs
½ cup brown sugar (or less if you use sugary pastries)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine bread and raisins (or other dried fruit) in a buttered 1 ½ quart casserole. Add milk to eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Beat with a whisk until well mixed. Pour over bread and dried fruit. Bake at 350 F for about an hour.

You can add almost anything fruity or nutty to this, like flaked coconut or chopped macadamia nuts. I like it warm with ice cream or cold applesauce. Bread pudding is a popular dish here in Hawaii. I guess it’s a comfort food for a lot of people!

A hui hou!

The Burghers of Calais

Several years ago I visited the campus of Standord University in California. I was intrigued with these sculptures of Rodin. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the entire story behind them. Blogging is so educational!

These six men represent the Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais).

 

In 1885 the town council of the French city of
Calais commissioned Rodin to produce a
sculpture that would pay tribute to the
burghers of Calais, heroes of the Hundred
Years’ War and symbols of French patriotism.
~ ~ ~ ~
Rodin chooses to portray the moment in the
narrative when the men, believing they are
going to die, leave the city. He shows the
burghers as vulnerable and conflicted, yet
heroic in the face of their likely fate.

(Two excerpts from “THE STORY OF THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS”)

Most of the time, these men are portrayed in a cluster. Here on the Stanford campus, they are shown in separate bronze castings (1981). These were not from the original, however. By law, only a small number were made from the original after Rodin’s death. Here is a casting of Rodin’s signature.

 

Calais is an important French port on the English Channel. In 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, Calais had been under siege for over a year by the English. Due to starvation, King Philip VI of France was not able to hold onto Calais. King Edward III of England said he would “spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed.”

Eustache de Saint-Pierre volunteered to be first. Five others followed.

 

They walked out wearing nothing but their “breeches” (underwear) with nooses around their necks. Jean Froissart (circa 1337-1400) wrote the story in his Chroniques that relate historical events of that era as he saw them.

The figure in the final monument portrays Pierre de Wiessant looking over his shoulder, his hand extended as if in despair. His face shows great anguish, and his intense emotions make him appear withdrawn from the other figures.
http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg34.html

 

As we confront Jean d’Aire, we find ourselves focusing on the self-absorbed quality of the figure and gradually, almost without our awareness, we come to realize that we are confronting the unheroic, complex human being that is ourselves. http://www2.davidson.edu/academics/acad_depts/art/facilities/jeandaire.html

 

Although Froissart does not mention Andrieu d’Andres in his Chroniques, the name of this man was uncovered in 1863. The figure is shown “already clutching his head in despair.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Jacques de Wiessant was Pierre’s brother, and the fourth burgher to volunteer. Rodin gives his “his final gesture, the raised arm.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Rodin assumed Jean de Fiennes to be the youngest of the six burghers. . . . The burgher’s expression is very doubting as if he has not quite accepted his seemingly imminent fate. http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg33.html

 

It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais

 

Philippa of Hainault, England’s Queen, was expecting a child and she convinced her husband not to execute the men, claiming that “their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.”

A remarkable incident in history – and a stunning set of sculptures for Stanford University, located in Memorial Court at the entrance to the Main Quad and Stanford Memorial Church.

For more of Rodin’s work, you might like to visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden, located off the Palm Drive entrance to Stanford University.

A hui hou!

Petroglyphs at Punalu`u Beach

 

When I first moved here, one of my favorite places to visit was Punalu`u Beach, often called the Black Sand Beach. Everything from luaus to committee meetings to camping out takes place there. I still love to sit at one of the picnic benches and simply let the surf pounding on the rocks be my meditation.

 

One day while I was there, a local man from the community showed me the petroglyphs that had been carved in the rocks. These deserve to be looked at in their bigger size. Click on each picture to get a clearer picture of the petroglyphs.

 

The article above doesn’t list these petroglyphs at Punalu`u Beach. Sometimes I wonder if just a few of the locals know about them. I stand in awe of their history.

 

These are surrounded by a low overgrown wall. If you stop at this particular beach, please take care in preserving this part of our island heritage. Enjoy the beach, but please don’t take any of our black sand home with you!

A hui hou!

Lothlorién

 

Two years ago, before I started this current blog, I created another blog that was designed to talk about my life as a sailboat live-aboard. That blog didn’t last long, because it was during those few weeks of its existence that I came up with the idea for “Lava to Lilikoi.”

So from time to time, I thought I would post something about the special time my son and I had for five years of adventurous living on a sailboat.

In the late 1970s, when Flower Power and Free Love were languishing, I flirted with trading the equity in my house for equity in a new 37′ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. Within five months, I became a “live-aboard” with fifteen-year-old Erik, my youngest child. We christened our new home Lothlorién, for the sanctuary in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy to which the Elf King and Elf Queen transported Frodo and his friends at a critical point in their adventure.

In Tolkien’s story, it was within the Lothlorién that all their healing and protection took place, while all the dangers and threats were forced to remain outside its borders. Our Lothlorién was that haven for us, our personal sanctuary of peace, safety, and healing. We needed the storms of life to remain outside. We often invited our friends to savor that sanctuary with us for a day sail, a weekend cruise, or sometimes longer. Tolkien’s famous quote was our motto – “…not all those who wander are lost.”

 

Characters who don’t know much about boats always ask, “How many does she sleep?” That’s the wrong question! We sailors usually respond by saying that a sailboat will “drink six, feed four and sleep two.” There may be room enough to sleep an army by spreading people out over decks and into hammocks, but you abandon all carnal comforts in doing so. Naturally, this can depend on just how close you are with the friends you bring along, too. My boat basically was designed to sleep six, but six people really wouldn’t do that if they wanted to remain friends after the cruise was over.

 

One summer, I hadn’t gotten paid for about three months. The insurance company that reimbursed us for most of our clients was undergoing a major change in their computer system. None of us in the clinic where I worked were getting paid on a regular basis. My boys and I were hanging on by a thread.

So what does a girl do when the going gets tough? She spends a week moored at the Isthmus of Catalina Island with a good book, and leaves her troubles behind.

 

We were really living a good life, in spite of having no money. I had a bag of masa, a hunk of cheddar cheese, a few eggs, and stuff like spices. The boys were fishing and diving for abalone. What else do you really need for food? We had lots of homemade tortillas with melted cheddar and scrambled eggs, along with plenty of fresh fish and abalone. That’s when abalone was still plentiful in California.

Someone taught us how to eat raw abalone. Instead of pounding it like you need to if you cook it, you cut the raw meat into pieces like shoestring potatoes. Dip it into a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and anything else your taste buds desired, and munch! It’s a wonderful treat!!

 

Once, when folks from our local sail fleet had a cookout, we showed up with fresh sheepshead, abalone, and hot tortillas. Everyone else was roasting wieners and opening cans of beans. Even though we didn’t have money for hamburgers or wieners, we ate well – and were the envy of everyone else.

When I feel bogged down with Life, I sometimes think about what fun it would be to live on a boat again.

A hui hou!

Hotei – The Laughing God

 

In Japanese mythology, Hotei is one of the Seven Lucky Gods, and believed to be based on an actual person who carried a big bag full of food and goodies for hungry people and especially for children. In the Japanese spelling of “ho tei,” his name literally means “cloth bag.”

Hotei comes out of the Chinese Taoist-Buddhist tradition and is considered the God of contentment, happiness, satisfaction and abundance. He portrays the wisdom of being content and represents magnanimity, one of the seven Japanese virtues.

According to tradition, if you want luck and health, you must rub his statue’s tummy, which is big and always exposed. Occasionally you will see a statue of him with lots of laughing children clustered around and on him.

In the early 60s, my then husband was the physician aboard a troop transport going in and out of Okinawa. He brought home the one pictured above (and next). It is 16 inches tall, made of camphor wood and even almost 50 years later, you can still smell the camphor.

 

That started my collection of Hotei statues. Over the years of moving around, some of them have been lost. One small ivory one was a special one I hated to lose. This small bronze figurine and bell with Hotei as the handle are among the small ones that survived.

 

Many times he is depicted with his hands up in an expression of joy.

 

This one I made out of ceramic and painted with a glaze to look like stone.

 

Often, Hotei is shown in a seated position. He appears to be a very contented guy, with the bag by his side.

 

In my four trips to Japan, I found him in every shop, in all sizes and positions. He is probably one of the most popular of the Seven Gods. Here is one more that occupies a place of honor in my home.

 

As you probably suspect, I rub at least one of these tummies every day. I desire the contentment and wisdom he offers. I suggest you look up more information on the internet. There is so much more to be learned about him.

~ Sayonara ~

Irish Soda Bread from an Irish Grandmother

 

I have been using various recipes for Irish Soda Bread for many years. Over a decade ago, my daughter in Idaho sent me a recipe that came from the Irish grandmother of one of her former co-workers. It surpasses anything that I’d ever made before and I pass it along to you in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day next week.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup cold butter
½ cup raisins (she adds a bit more)
¼ cup caraway and fennel seeds mixed (she adds a bit more of this, too)
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Measure and combine dry ingredients.

Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or in a food processor).

Stir in desired amount of raisins and caraway/fennel. Stir in buttermilk.

Turn dough onto floured board and knead a few minutes, adding flour until dough is not too sticky.

Form into a ball and place in greased and floured round baking pan. Cut a deep cross on top.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, brush top with simple syrup made of sugar, water, nutmeg and continue baking a few more minutes.

Let cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pan.

Add a big pot of corned beef, cabbage, carrots, onions, and peppercorns so you’ll think you are back in old Ireland.

A hui hou!

Altamont Pudding

 

As a preacher’s kid (we were called PKs), I grew up eating quite a variety of foods made by church members. Several years before my father died, he and my mother decided to put together some of the recipes they’d gathered over the years. He typed them up on an old Underwood typewriter and Mother (Jane) made some rough sketches to go with it. The picture above is the cover of one of their efforts. The cover is spotted with grease and the edges are well worn, as you can see.

Usually there were no names for the dishes people brought to potluck suppers, so our family started calling them by the name of the person who made it, or sometimes for the town where we ate it.

Such is the case for this recipe. I never knew it by any name other than “Altamont Pudding.” When I asked my grandmother where that name originated, she said it was a dish one particular woman always brought to share when my grandfather was a pastor at Altamont, Illinois. It came down through my mother, and on down to me simply as “Altamont Pudding.” I may have even given it to my oldest daughter when she got married.

I’m using my mother’s words with almost no editing. Just before she wrote out the recipe, she had been talking about a meal of clam fritters with a cucumber salad.

Altamont Pudding
 

Makes a gooey good hot dessert with this meal (see note above), or it’s a happy thought to take to a sick neighbor, or to serve at church dinners, made in larger quantities.

Part I. Melt in a big square pan 2 tablespoons butter, 1 c. brown sugar, 3 c. boiling water, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Part II. Make a batter of ½ c. white sugar, 1 teaspoon allspice, ½ c. milk, 1 c. flour, 3 level teaspoons double acting baking powder and ½ c raisins.

Pour the batter of Part II into the Part I and bake 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes or until done, or until batter rises to top and cooks through.

When served, spoon it upside down into sauce dishes; it has its own “dip” on the bottom. Make a double recipe to keep for in-between meal eating. Jane’s old standby for instant company.

Flaky Pie Crust

I have had many requests for my special pie crust, so here it is. This recipe is extremely fast and easy – always delicious and reliable! You’ll never roll out another pie crust the old way again!

Place 1 ½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour + 1 ½ teaspoon sugar + ¼ teaspoon salt directly into ungreased pie pan.

Into a glass measuring cup put ½ cup coconut oil and 2 Tablespoons cold milk. Mix with fork until milky.

Pour over flour mix in 9” pie pan, and mix it all together. Press the mix onto the pan until it resembles a regular pie crust. Be sure to leave enough up on the sides to squeeze into a fluted rim. It’s light and flaky. No one ever leaves the edge of this crust on the plate!

As you can see, I’ve substituted coconut oil for canola oil I used in the original recipe. I believe coconut oil is a much healthier oil to use – and it might even enhance the flavor!

If you would like to experiment with this crust, you might look at my post on Cherry Crumb Pie.

A hui hou!

Springtime in England

DAFFODILS IN ST. JAMES PARK, LONDON
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DAFFODILS IN ST. JAMES PARK, LONDON
 

During my Spring Break of 2006, I traveled to England with a friend. Although it was very cold, especially to someone fresh from Hawai’i, there was no rain for the three weeks we spent there.

These photos will be in three sections. The first group was taken in London, in and near St. James Park. As you can see above, the daffodils in England are a brilliant herald of Spring. They are some of the first flowers to be seen.

MORE SPRING DAFFODILS IN LONDON
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MORE SPRING DAFFODILS IN LONDON
 

They were in large clumps everywhere I looked.

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE DAFFODILS
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ANOTHER VIEW OF THE DAFFODILS
 

Of course, there were more flowers in bloom than just daffodils. Tucked here and there one could find these lavender beauties.

MORE LONDON BEAUTY
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MORE LONDON BEAUTY
 

Here is another view in St. James Park with its carpet of blooms.

CARPET OF BLOOMS
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CARPET OF BLOOMS
 

If you rest on a park bench by the river to feed the squirrels or have a cup of hot coffee and warm up, you will see the “old man willow.”

OLD MAN WILLOW
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OLD MAN WILLOW
 

This second section shows our drive through the Cotswolds, visiting such places as Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare country). Again, there were early blooms poking through the cold ground in little hidden spots.

EARLY SPRING IN THE COTSWOLDS
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EARLY SPRING IN THE COTSWOLDS
 

Of course, who among us doesn’t love the romantic sight of a thatched roof? It brings back memories of “Merrie Olde England,” doesn’t it? There are a few flowers blooming along the road in front of this home.

THATCHED ROOF COTTAGE
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THATCHED ROOF COTTAGE
 

Mostly we drove along narrow roads lined with bare hedges, and through the narrow winding streets of the villages.

ENGLISH HEDGEROWS
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ENGLISH HEDGEROWS
 

The fences were made out of the yellow limestone so common in Cotswold country.

LIMESTONE FENCES
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LIMESTONE FENCES
 

For the third part of our journey, we drove toward the English Channel and the White Cliffs of Dover. One of the English women I’ve come to learn about is the novelist Vita Sackville-West. A visit to her home in Kent (Sissinghurst Castle) took us through her “white garden,” even though very little was blooming. If you are interested in seeing her gardens in full bloom, go here.

 

The English spring daffodils were in full bloom here, too.

DAFFODILS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE
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DAFFODILS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE
 

And narcissus….

NARCISSUS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE
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NARCISSUS AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE
 

In every corner of her gardens you are invited to rest and meditate.

A PLACE TO MEDITATE
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A PLACE TO MEDITATE
 

I love to fantasize about what it would be like to live in an English home like this one. I can imagine the novelist working out in her gardens (when she wasn’t writing), then sitting on the bench against a warm wall to view her results, cup of tea in hand.

HOME OF VITA SACKVILLE-WEST
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HOME OF VITA SACKVILLE-WEST
 

There are pictures of Sissinghurst in bloom on this website, as well as a different view of her home. I spied these blooms climbing up the end of her home.

CLIMBING VINES
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CLIMBING VINES
 

Sometimes you are left with the feeling that she has just paused in her planting. These beds are ready for the new annuals to be put out. Because her gardens and castle are part of the National Trust, I’m sure there are gardeners who still carry on her “white” theme each year.

BEDS READY FOR PLANTING
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BEDS READY FOR PLANTING
 

Here is another cluster of color along one of the winding paths.

CLUSTER OF COLOR
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CLUSTER OF COLOR
 

There was a moat that surrounded one area with a boathouse under the bridge. The boat was still there! In the background you can see the roof of one of the oast houses, used for drying hops to make their brew.

MOAT
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MOAT
 

I’d love to go back to visit Sissinghurst sometime when it comes back to life in the early summer. Someday I will get to do that.

A hui hou!

A Ghost Town in Hawai`i

VIEW OF OCEAN AT HONU`APO
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VIEW OF OCEAN AT HONU`APO
 

When I first moved to Hawai’i, I lived in the plantation village of Pahala on the southern end of the Big Island in the district of Ka’u. I couldn’t have had a better introduction to the true spirit of local Hawai`iana. Neighbors raised several dozen fighting cocks that lived under my bedroom window. Need I say more?

Approximately eighteen months before I moved into the community, the sugar plantation closed down. The folks still talked fondly of the last day the cane workers brought cane to the mill. The truck drove through town full of freshly cut cane while villagers threw leis onto the truck and wept. That last load was dumped at the mill and everyone went home – the end of an era. T-shirts were made to commemorate the day.

This is the main corner in “Greater Downtown Pahala” today. It shows several of the old camp houses where the plantation workers lived. I call them “sugar shacks.” When the plantation closed, people were given the opportunity to buy the houses to fix up and keep for themselves.

SUGAR PLANTATION HOMES
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SUGAR PLANTATION HOMES
 

One blogger has done a superb job of discussing some of the history and describing the ambience of Pahala, the small plantation town where the sugar cane was processed into sugar for the C. Brewer Company.

During the active days of sugar cane production, the cane was shipped out of a small port near Pahala. A small camp was set up for the workers and immigrants. Today, all you see is a sign leading you to Whittington Beach off the highway.

VIEW OF HONU`APO
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VIEW OF HONU`APO
 

I first learned about Honu`apo when I was attending a Leadership Conference. The idea of building barbecue pits there came up so we all went out to look at the possibilities. This website was created several years ago by a group called Ka Ohana O Honu`apo, people committed to preserving this piece of Hawai`i.

If you click on the “Getting There” tab, you will find directions for where it’s located and driving directions. On that same site, click on the “Photo Galley” tab and scroll down to the bottom for vintage photos of the original village.

Here is the foundation to one of the buildings as it appears today.

OLD FOUNDATION AT HONU`APO
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OLD FOUNDATION AT HONU`APO
 

John Replogle (my friend Velvet’s husband) grew up in this area and here he is explaining the names of the various hills we can see from Honu`apo, and telling us about what is being done to preserve the natural surroundings of the area. Many people have helped to clear out the rubbish and brush.

JOHN TALKING TO OUR GROUP
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JOHN TALKING TO OUR GROUP
 

If you don’t look at any other link on this post, please check out this one that explains why the pier was rebuilt several times, ultimately not rebuilt and no longer in use. There are a couple more lovely photos of several past periods of time.

Some of the natural growth is starting to come back, now that the ponds have been cleaned up.

PONDS AT HONU`APO
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PONDS AT HONU`APO
 

I spent many years living in Arizona, where I loved visiting many of the ghost towns, so when I discovered that Honu`apo is designated as a “ghost town,” the place became even more intriguing.

Several friends have told me about their Japanese mothers coming to the island as “picture brides” through ports on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This was very common in the early 1900s. I think it was fostered in order to keep the workers happy. I took this photo that shows another foundation left from the village and the remnants of the pier.

MORE OLD FOUNDATIONS OF HONU`APO
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MORE OLD FOUNDATIONS OF HONU`APO
 

Honu`apo is one of those places in Hawai`i that those of us who live here love to keep as a secret. It’s a lovely place for any sort of celebration and as a pastor, I have performed several marriages there. Such a beautiful and romantic backdrop! I recently attended a healing circle there for my friend, Velvet.

Honu`apo is a great place to fish, picnic, camp (at the Whittington Beach section), relax, or whatever your soul needs. If you are traveling around the bottom end of the Big Island, stop by with your picnic basket and let your mind wander back to the village that is no longer there. Just don’t tell anyone I told you how to find it.

A hui hou!

Meditative Bonsai

BANYAN BONSAI
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BANYAN BONSAI

 

I can’t remember exactly when I first became interested in the beautiful Japanese art of bonsai. It was probably in the 1960s, when I traveled to Japan on four different occasions. On one of those trips, I climbed Mt. Fuji with friends, an exciting story for another time.

At the hotel where we stayed the night before our climb, I was quite taken with their bonsai garden. Many of the trees there were over 100 years old with an incredible history. I vowed then to learn how to create these for myself. I brought home many of the “bon” or trays in which to plant the trees. They have survived many moves since that time.

JAPANESE BONSAI POTS
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JAPANESE BONSAI POTS

 

Before I go any further, I want to make sure you know how to pronounce the word “bonsai.” I’ve heard it called everything, including “banzai,” which is the suicide attack word used by the Japanese during World War II. The correct pronunciation is a softer sound of “bone-sigh.”

On one of my favorite sites, you can discuss issues with other bonsai enthusiasts, order supplies, buy bonsai books and tools, learn new techniques, and so much more.

Another site offers a beautiful bonsai allegory written in 1993 by Horace A. Vallas, Jr. that can teach us how to be good managers or good parents.

The American Bonsai Society, Inc. was founded in 1967, around the same time I visited the bonsai gardens in Japan. Their official site has many beautiful pictures of bonsai.

The banyan bonsai at the beginning of this post is one of many created by Carole Baker’s late husband and shown in an earlier post of her yard. Here are two more pictures showing others that he created and tended.

CAROLE'S BONSAI
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CAROLE’S BONSAI

 

MORE OF CAROLE'S BONSAI
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MORE OF CAROLE’S BONSAI

 

I think you can tell from these pictures and from the websites I’ve listed that bonsai is the art of miniaturizing a tree or group of trees. Land is so precious in Japan that often the only way a person can experience nature or go into a forest is to kneel silently before a “grove” of bonsai trees in a tray. In this way, we can simply let ourselves melt into the tiny landscape and imagine walking among the trees, or be drawn into sitting at the base of an old tree. It’s difficult for me to describe this type of meditation, but it is a very effective way to put yourself into a peaceful setting, if only temporarily.

If you can imagine this pot filled with a miniature grove, then you have the ability to create one of your own. The Wikipedia site on bonsai has many beautiful pictures of not only groves and forests, but of other styles that can be produced.

SINGLE FLAT POT
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SINGLE FLAT POT

 

There are a variety of ways to begin a bonsai. What I talk about here is one of the methods I was taught in the 70s at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The roots of a bonsai are trimmed and secured to a pot or bon with a wire threaded through a wire mesh and tied around a twig underneath. This is one of my pots from an old bonsai that didn’t live. As you can see, there are many sizes and shapes for the trays, or pots.

POT SHOWING BOTTOM MESH
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POT SHOWING BOTTOM MESH

 

Once the plant is secured in the pot, soil is pressed around the base and roots. Try to find bits of moss, carefully lift it up and transfer it to the top of the soil. This helps to keep the soil from washing away, as well as helping to create an illusion of age.

Then the process begins of trimming the tree itself to a size and shape you desire. This is not to be done in a hurry. The entire process is quite meditative and I can get completely lost in it all.

MORE BONSAI POTS
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MORE BONSAI POTS

 

There are many ways to proceed. One trick in getting the gnarled effect right away is to buy an aging root bound plant from a nursery, like a Juniper that is no longer really any good for planting in your yard. I love the ones that seem to be growing around a rock. The roots have been secured in such a way that the tree appears to be sitting on top.

When I start talking about bonsai, I don’t know where to stop. There is so much to say. All I can suggest is that you get a book from the library to start out, find a nice flat tray, get a plant and just try your hand.

Something else you might try is to attend one of the shows put on by the Big Island Bonsai Association. Classes may also be available.

I promise you that it’s extremely addicting. Once you start, you may never be able to stop. Why would you want to??

The Garden Isle Revisited



BABY BEACH AT POIPU

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BABY BEACH AT POIPU

Periodically, I like to repost an older one so new readers can see what they missed. It has now been about ten years since I posted this one about Kauai, one of our neighbor islands. It is a beautiful island and one that many people think of when they think of how “Hawai`i” must be. Here is the old post.
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Almost two years ago, I visited with friends from California on Kauai where they had gone to visit their son. As long as I have lived in Hawai`i, I had never gone to Kauai. I stayed with them in a house they had rented in Poipu, across the street from Baby Beach, pictured above.

Nearby is the Spouting Horn. Here it is in its dormant state.



DORMANT SPOUTING HORN

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DORMANT SPOUTING HORN

I managed to get a fairly decent snap as it was spouting, but it kept happening too fast for me to get all the shots I wanted.



ACTIVE SPOUTING HORN

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ACTIVE SPOUTING HORN

Too bad I can’t give you the sound to go along with it!

One night, we all stayed in the house their son and his family had rented. It was a vacation rental called The Waterfall House. The waterfall was right outside the window with a constant sound of flowing water.



WATERFALL HOUSE

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WATERFALL HOUSE

If you turned your head slightly to the left, you knew you were in the middle of a typical tropical rain forest.



RAIN FOREST

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RAIN FOREST

My friends took a picture of me in silhouette against the waterfall. This shows how close we were to it.



SILHOUETTE AGAINST WATERFALL

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SILHOUETTE AGAINST WATERFALL

One morning, we made a sight-seeing drive around the island. The roots hanging down on the high cliffs made an impression on me. You can get an idea of how tall the cliffs are by the size of the cars.



CLIFF ROOTS

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CLIFF ROOTS

Along the road on the North Shore, we passed this cave, one of many.



ONE OF THE CAVES

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ONE OF THE CAVES

We stood on the edge of Waimea Canyon – an incredible sight!



EDGE OF WAIMEA CANYON

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EDGE OF WAIMEA CANYON



MORE OF WAIMEA CANYON

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MORE OF WAIMEA CANYON

Here are a few random shots of the views on Kauai as we drove.



ONE VIEW ON KAUAI

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ONE VIEW ON KAUAI



ANOTHER VIEW ON KAUAI

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ANOTHER VIEW ON KAUAI



STILL ANOTHER VIEW

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STILL ANOTHER VIEW

There is an area of the highway called “Tunnel of Trees,” and it is exactly that.



TUNNEL OF TREES

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TUNNEL OF TREES

One stop along the way gave me a perfect shot of these beautiful Nene, Hawai`ian Geese, our protected state bird.



NENE

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NENE

On Sunday, we went to church services in Hanalei.



HANALEI CHURCH

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HANALEI CHURCH

Here is another little village church.



VILLAGE CHURCH

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VILLAGE CHURCH

Before I left to come back to the Big Island, we made the steep hike to the Queen’s Bath.



TRAIL TO QUEEN'S BATH

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TRAIL TO QUEEN’S BATH

Can you imagine hiking into this place, then taking a bath under this waterfall in the pool? What luxury!



QUEEN'S BATH

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QUEEN’S BATH

The last evening I was there happened to be my host’s birthday. He took his wife and me out to dinner at the Beach House near Poipu, just at sunset.



BEACH HOUSE SUNSET

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BEACH HOUSE SUNSET

I hope to get to Kauai again someday, although a lot of it has been damaged by flooding recently. Each of our islands is a unique experience.

A hui hou!

Lava to Lilikoi – homesteading, food, travel, and philosophy from the side of a volcano in rural Hawai`i