Category Archives: HAWAI`I

A Hidden Beach Wedding

One of the pleasures of teaching is my capacity as a retired United Methodist minister to officiate at the weddings of students when they ask. This past Friday, I had the honor to join two very special people in marriage.

We walked about 200 yards along the water on a gravel path to a spot that is fairly well hidden from the traffic of non-Hawaii visitors. Along the way, is this turtle designed out of the white coral, so perhaps it is not so well hidden as we thought.

The black lava gave a classic background to pictures of the bridal party.

Pounding surf provided the wedding music.

Obviously, I wasn’t able to take pictures of myself, so Betsy took the three photos in this post that include me. Here the couple are saying the vows the wrote for each other.

It’s not legal until the license is signed. Fortunately, we had a picnic cooler to serve as our table.

The wedding brunch was served amidst tropical flowers on the deck after we returned to the home that overlooks the ocean.

A toast was raised to the new couple with a mixture of pink champagne and mango nectar, topped with floating sliced strawberries.

We all took shelter when Jeff popped the cork.

Jeff made Eggs Benedict with homemade Hollandaise for the main course along with crisp hash browns and sliced tomatoes. Local Ono fish took the place of the typical Canadian bacon or ham, with English crumpets instead of English muffins.

Betsy made Healthified Carrot Cake using my recipe and Jeff did his first cake decorating to show the names.

You can’t have a wedding without the traditional “cutting of the cake.”

Everything was delicious as well as beautiful!

Coffee with “Cream,” a canned whipped cream enhanced with rum finished the meal.

I wish the best of everything life has to offer to this beautiful couple! Recipes for the Eggs Benedict and Carrot Cake are below.

A hui hou!


Ingredients: one third lb Ono per person (two filets), two free range eggs, two crumpets, one McCormick Hollandaise sauce mix, and lime or lemon juice. Each envelope of sauce enough for makes enough for two to three servings.

Cooking: Fry fish quickly and lightly in coconut or mac nut oil. Add lime or lemon juice while cooking. Mix sauce as directed adding lime or lemon juice to the sauce. Toast crumpets. Fry eggs once over lightly in coconut oil on very low heat.

Assembling: Place toasted crumpets on plate, add cooked fish, then top with one egg; pour sauce over all. Add parsley and thin sliced tomatoes for garnish.

Crab, lobster or mahi-mahi can be substituted for the ono.



• ¾ cup sugar
• ¾ cup packed brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• ½ cup canola oil
• ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup whole wheat flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground allspice
• 3 cups finely shredded carrots
• ½ cup chopped walnuts
• ½ cup raisins

In a large bowl, beat the sugars, eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flours, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice. Gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in carrots, raisins and walnuts. Pour into 2 9-inch round or square baking pans coated with a cooking spray. I prefer to use a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan for a sheet cake (and smaller pieces). Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.


• 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1 tablespoon fat-free milk (you can use soy milk or almond milk)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
• Dash salt

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, milk and vanilla until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat until smooth. Spread over top of cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Why I Love Teaching In A Community College!

Sharing what I’ve learned along the way, knowing that some might never “get it”, but those who do will be ready to take that knowledge to the next level;

Finding new ways to present old material that will make it more relevant to today’s young people;

Watching students struggle to understand a new concept in order for it to mean something in their world;

Catching the shy romantic glances between two people who don’t think anyone saw it;

Seeing the look in a room full of big eyes when they are truly surprised by new information they had no idea existed;

Hearing their excitement when they tell me there is a new baby on the way, but not due until after graduation;

Listening to the dreams of older students who have come back to school after many years of working and/or raising families;

Explaining the difference between high school and college to those who are recent graduates of the local high school;

Recognizing the pride in many of the students because they are the first in their family ever to go beyond high school;

Welcoming the daughters and sons of former students because their mother or father said for them to be sure to sign up for my classes;

Worrying when some of the students don’t pass the class;

Pondering schedules and requirements with those who aren’t sure what they want to be when they “grow up”;

Striving to make each class better than the one before it;

Accepting the challenge of keeping my brain active and alive;

Empathizing with those who have to work more than one job while tending a family while they take classes;

Admiring the young healthy bodies of those who can’t imagine ever getting as old as I am;

Learning new names for each class member and actually knowing how to pronounce them;

Praising those who grow out of their timidity enough to give an oral presentation in class;

Crying on the last day of classes because I will miss the students over the summer holiday;

Celebrating with them when they finally receive their Associates Degree before moving on to the next level of education.

A hui hou!

Expressive Arts Project

Several weeks ago, I invited an artist and colleague to lead my “Psychology and The Expressive Arts” class in an art project. She had the students work in dyads and write out three definitions of “home.”

Then they were given a page of lines from a book of poetry by another professor at our school. The book is Lele Kawa: Fire Rituals of Pele, by Taupōuri Tangarō (Kamehameha Publishing). After choosing three of these lines that most represented their definitions of “home,” they were to create a poster out of various materials that were available to them.

Click here to see a slide show of those posters that describe “home.”

A hui hou!

Writing Hang-ups

As an avid reader, I am fascinated with the many ways words are strung together to create a story or an essay, a poem or a play, a letter or a memoir. Along with my obsession for reading came my own need to start stringing words together. Almost as soon as I could spell my name, I started to write.

I have been writing this “Lava to Lilikoi” blog since May, 2008, and I wrote other short-lived blogs before that. In addition to blogging, I confess that I have written three novels, and have started a dozen others, not to mention outlines on another dozen or so, a memoir and several non-fiction books.

Other than the blogs, I have only had a couple of academic articles published and a self-published e-book of fables I wrote and used in my counseling practice.

I attended the Maui Writers Conference for many years, and the few years after it became Hawaii Writers Conference on Oahu, plus various other conferences for writers over the years. I even teach a “writing intensive” class at the college as one of my regular courses.

But like many people, I love the creation, not the marketing. I’ve put in a valiant effort to get past that hang-up, and I honestly do know what I “should” be doing. So I read and study and read some more about marketing. I subscribe to 60 writing blogs and there are many others I wish I had time to read. All of this is an excuse to avoid marketing!

This brings me to the real reason for this post. I want to start sharing my own journey toward being a published author. By making a “public” commitment, perhaps I’ll finally get off my okole (I doubt if you need to look up the meaning of that Hawaiian word!), and do some productive marketing as well as writing.

If you can suggest any good blogs or if you have any words of encouragement that would help me actually submit my writing to a publisher, please do so! I need all the push I can get!

A hui hou!

A Season of Changes

It has been a summer of emptying old boxes full of junk, planting seeds, watering because of (or perhaps in spite of) the drought, reading delicious murder mysteries, writing a little here and there, and even spending some time being totally slothful.

Now on this sixteenth day of August, 2010, I am officially back to work as a full-time instructor in a community college. A week from now, classes will begin, each class full of students eager to learn. Well, I think most of them are.

At one point, I was working so hard to catch up with chores here at home that I was ready to go back to teaching so I could relax. By the end of summer, those chores were (mostly) completed and I had more opportunity to kick back, have a little fun.

So while I’m looking forward to the first day of classes, some new faces, some familiar faces, several students looking toward graduation so they can either go off to a four year school or get into a depressed job market.

Summer isn’t officially over, first day of autumn is still a month away, and winter is practically nonexistent here in Hawai`i, although there are seasonal changes. In the area where I live, the plumeria (frangipani) loses its leaves, there is a bit of briskness in the morning breeze coming down from the mountain, the hens are not laying as profusely, and I am delayed by school buses that manage to get ahead of me.

All of this rambling leads me to say that I’m a mixture of reluctance, anticipation, joy, relief, sadness. Through all the changes that happen in life, I hope I will continue to inspire even a handful of students to become who they are meant to be. Isn’t that what teaching is all about?

A hui hou!

Hawai`i Tropical Botanical Garden

Last Saturday, a small group from the Ocean View Garden Club visited the Hawai`i Tropical Botanical Garden just north of Hilo on Onomea Bay. As long as I have lived here, I was not aware this existed. It’s a wonderful place to take visitors and I definitely will go back myself! Admission is $15 per person and there is a discount for a group of 10 or more. We took lunch with us and ate at a picnic table by one of the inlets.

I have taken pictures of the signs that tell the history of the garden. Be sure to read them carefully. I apologize for not being able to give you the sound of the ocean in the background as you amble along the path.

I usually go through and pick the best 10 to 15 best pictures out of a group, but this time, I will not do that. I have put them all into a slide show so you can look through them at your leisure, and pretend that you are walking through the garden.

From the back of the map:

Founded by Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse in 1978, the Garden was opened to the public in 1984. The Founders purchased seventeen acres on the ocean and spent six years hand-clering the impenetrable tropical jungle to create the winding trails and outstanding beauty you will experience as you walk through the Garden. They later purchased an additional twenty acres and donated the entire thirty-seven acres to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, establishing a non-profit nature preserve.

I have included a few pictures of the inside of the gift shop, as well as a glance at the map and trail guide we were given when we entered. My neck is sore from looking up so much. Plants that we may have only seen in a much smaller size in our own gardens are monsters here. Even if you would like to, you don’t need to know the names of all the plants in order to enjoy their beauty.

Follow me as I take you down this path into a garden of delights! Click here to view the slide show.

A hui hou!

Inspired by Shakespeare

I have always been an Anglophile, with an interest in traditional English culture and the monarchy. Although my senior paper in high school focused on the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II, I’m not quite sure how or when my love affair of England actually began.


Then in college, I focused on English literature, and more specifically on the language of Shakespeare’s time. Even though it was basically “English,” it was like learning a completely new language. Knowing the meaning of the words changed my whole perspective and understanding when I watched his plays.


I won’t bore you with other areas where my interest and research centered around the British, but when I had a chance to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon about four years ago, I was ecstatic. I also visited the Globe Theatre in Bankside, London. I will intersperse a few pictures from beautiful Stratford, as I tell you about the Hawaiian Shakespeare Festival of 2010.


The season in Honolulu opened with Julius Caesar on July 9 and will run through July 18. Then from July 23 through August 1 you can see Measure for Measure. The last play of the season is Henry VI from August 13 through August 22.


This is the 9th season of the Shakespeare festival in Honolulu. The shows are performed at The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu`uanu Ave. on the corner of Nu`uanu and Pauahi, one block south of Beretania near the historic Hawaii Theatre.


You can get tickets through Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006 or online here.


Tickets are $20 on Friday and Saturday evenings, $15 on Thursday evenings and Sunday Matinees, and only $10 on Wednesday evenings. Such a great bargain!


I hope to get over to Oahu to see one of the plays in Honolulu. I went to many at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego when I lived there. Even if you don’t understand all of the language, you’ll love the drama. I suggest finding a synopsis of the story line so you’ll know what is happening.

A hui hou!


Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Ocean View Salon


This post is completely out of character for my blog, but it does tell you of one of our local businesses. About two years ago, I treated myself to a pedicure for the first time ever in my life! I always thought I had ugly toes and feet (I still worry about that), but I discovered that a good pedicure can do wonders! My ugly toes are gone forever! (Oops! See addendum below.)

Christie Gibson is well known beyond Ocean View for her unique designs and results. Check out her website to read more about her, to see photos of unique nails, articles by and about Christie, and much more. Click on the picture of the salon group on her website to see the entire staff.

If you enlarge that photo, Charlie (the one with the red streak in her hair) is the one who always does my pedicures. And Charlie learned from Christie, the very best. It’s fun to know that our little community of Ocean View is home to so much fame. Here is Christie at work on a customer.


There are so many colors and designs to choose from, even for the lowly toe!


The earrings are made by Marty, and I have bought several pair of the big ones, of course.


Here is a little photo story of my pedicure last week. While I relax in a vibrating massage chair, my tired feet get a good soaking. Gardening in lava is hard on feet!


Pictures cannot describe the delight of having your calluses sanded, followed by a lower leg massage. I got Charlie to stop concentrating on her work long enough to take her picture.


After nails and cuticles are trimmed, the painting process begins.


The color coat is brushed on in two layers. There were other things brushed on, too, but I’m not sure what they were for – perhaps to make sure the paint stayed on longer?


I usually get something in blues or purple, sometimes even green. This was the first time I opted for cherry red. I decided on little white footprints for my “nail art” this time. In the spring, I had tulips. You can see the footprints in the opening photo as one of many choices. Charlie is carefully painting them onto my big toes.


At last, here’s the finished product, waiting to dry before I head home.


As I left, I took a shot of the length of the salon from the front door. You’ll find this shop tucked in the strip of shops on the mauka (mountain) side of Ocean View, near Ace Hardware.


It’s a friendly, professional, and neighborly place to spend an hour or so. I try to get a pedicure with a new and different paint job every couple of months as a special treat for myself. I highly recommend it for anyone! This isn’t a salon for “women only,” by the way. Men come here for haircuts or for a pedicure to ease their tired and sore feet, also.

A hui hou!

Addendum: Two days after I had this pedicure, I stubbed my right toe and ripped the entire beautiful toenail right off! OUCH! It is wrapped in a bandaid now, while I’m hobbling around, wondering if I should see a podiatrist. All that fun with Charlie for naught!


Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)



Perhaps it’s appropriate that I am posting the story of this amazing fire artist on Fourth of July weekend! The fireworks in her studio, however, definitely are more productive than those in the sky.


Carmen Wagner is a dear friend and first-class artist as a glass sculptor. Words are inadequate for her glass sculptures and jewelry.


I had a hard time deciding between this dragon and the dolphin for the opening photo.


When Carmen was introduced to Howard Richie at the Crystal Gallery at age sixteen, she was hooked. She soon started an apprenticeship with him. “I was only paid when I made something good enough to sell,” she says.

After she inherited all Richie’s old equipment, she re-machined torches and fixed broken tools. That was the start of her workbench setup. She still uses most of her original tools.

Isn’t this arrangement of coral and fish exquisite?


She has always loved to create things, and says that when she found glass work, she knew there were few people with that skill.


Carmen surprised me at the school one day with a beautiful pair of red seahorse earrings. All of these earrings are stunning!


Her father was a Filipino immigrant and her mother was born in Ka’u. Her parents had a farm in Honaunau, but they moved to Oahu before Carmen was born. When she was three, they moved back to the Honaunau farm.


It was difficult for her to learn a trade that was dominated by men, but she was a determined young woman.


Her work can be found in collections world-wide. A set of ornaments were hand delivered by Neil Abercrumbie to President Obama for Christmas last year.


I took a shot of a photo of one glass sculpture that hangs on Carmen’s studio wall.


During the few minutes that we talked, Carmen started a new project. The term for what she does is “lamp working.” She uses bottled oxygen and propane with a pre-mix torch.


At the end of my visit, she showed me her newly created jelly fish.


Here is another view.


And finally, here is beautiful Carmen. Please check out her website for more of her art.


If you are looking for her work on the Big Island, check the Showcase Gallery (Kainaliu), Elements Gallery (Waimea), Gallery of Great Things (Waimea) and Dovetail Gallery (Kona). She is working on accounts for Maui and Oahu. Perhaps you will treat yourself to a sculpture for your home, a pair of earrings for yourself or a friend, or order something special to commemorate your visit to Hawai`i.

Click here to view a slide show of Carmen at work and more of her fragile pieces.

A hui hou!


Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Kele’s Garden


This past Saturday, our Big Island Self-Sustainability group (BISS) met to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a potluckat the home of one of the founding members, Kele, in Hilo. I love living in Ocean View, but I have to admit to more than a little envy when I see what can happen in a yard where there is actual soil and rain to help things grow.

These pictures are in order as I walked around the outside of his home. There were surprises with every step. I won’t try to give you the names of everything I saw, but most of you will recognize banana trees, and the amarylis in the foreground.


You might say that his entire garden is a banana grove.



Even with a house (and more flowering plants) on one side, the banana grove feeling remained.


The path curved down away from most of the bananas, guiding me around the corner of the house.


For those of you who are familiar with the tobacco plant, you might be surprised at the small size of the leaves on this specimen. Perhaps if it was in the ground instead of a pot, it would look more like the tobacco most of us know.


Oops! More bananas, plus some great-looking papayas!


These are ornamental bananas, a pretty pink, but not for eating!


And yet more bananas about ready for chopping off the tree.


Sometimes there are pieces of interest that are not growing.


I got a few ideas for how to handle some of my pots from Kele.


The bananas don’t seem to stop!

Here’s one of the striking spots of color.


A simply stunning display! Too bad I had to get a car in the background.


The bright blue ginger provides a colorful background for the salmon cannas.


And this takes me back to the driveway entrance to Kele’s home.


I had no idea that Betty Crocker offers landscape awards. Some of the community groups sponsor these awards here in Hawai`i and each year, they encourage local residents to nominate someone they believe has an unbelievable garden. There are four categories, and Kele won this year. He’ll be flying to Honolulu soon to accept the award. I think you’ll agree that his yard certainly deserves it.

Congratulations, Kele, and thank you for letting me share this beauty with my readers.

A hui hou!

Queen’s Bath


The idea of an outdoor shower is one of those notions that stays in my mind. Maybe someday I’ll finally get to put one in my own home. I’ve known people who included one in their home plans.

The Hawai`ian queens, however, took that notion one step beyond my own fantasies. Can you imagine being able to walk out your back door, down a steep incline and take your bath in a warm tropical pool? No doubt they had a few servants to scrub their backs or to help them dry off.

The photo of Queen’s Bath above is one I took on a trip to Kauai a couple years ago of such a place. For a look at the hike we made down to the pool, check out this YouTube done by someone who lives on Kauai.

A hui hou!

Palamanui Campus


Yesterday’s post told about our recent graduation ceremony for our West Campus of the Hawaii Community College. When I first moved here, I was told about the land the college owned mauka (mountain side or inland) of Kona Airport, and that “someday” we would have a new campus built there.

Then about two years ago, several of us on the faculty were taken on a trip to the property. In four wheel drive vehicles, we went all the way up and back down, then were shown a map of what could be built. Because it was raining fairly hard, we weren’t able to get out much, but it is going to be a beautiful, natural site for learning and teaching.


I think that plan has been altered a bit, but the last I heard, we will be teaching in the new campus by fall semester, 2012! The sign has been put up (see the photo above), and soon a road will be built. To keep up with the progress, check out Palamanui.

The beauty can only be appreciated by watching a slide show here. As you watch the photos of that trip, try to envision a beautiful campus filled with eager students.

A hui hou!