Mele Kalikimaka!

We may not have a White Christmas in Hawaii
(except on top of Mauna Kea)
but we do have an incredible display of poinsettias!

All along the highway we find massive blooms,
some in long banks of poinsettia hedges –
others peeking out from behind trees.

As late as April,
I have seen a wayward bloom
here and there that
simply didn’t want to go away.

Wherever you are in this world,
I send you joy in this wonderful holiday season.

A hou hou!
Mele Kalikimaka!

Apple-Plum Crumble

On a daily basis, I eat one of the large organic Fuji apples from Costco. The last time I bought a box, I saw these huge beautiful plums, which I bought on impulse. I love fruit, but there are just so many you can eat in a day!

Flipping through some of my favorite web sites, I found a recipe I could adapt to my own taste buds. It may have originally been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s site, but I couldn’t find it there.

Directions for topping:

Mix until crumbly:
• 1 ½ cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
• ½ cup dark brown sugar (firmly packed)
• 1/3 cup butter
Add ¾ cup oats and set in fridge. Preheat oven to 390F

Directions for fruit filing:
Cut 6 large plums and 2 large apples into big chunks. (I don’t peel the fruits.) Put in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Cook on slow heat until fruit is soft.

Place in a lightly buttered oven dish and cover with topping. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is brown enough for you.

Top with anything your stomach craves – plain cream, whipped cream, ice cream… You get the idea!

A hui hou!

The Case of the Disappearing Hen

Once upon a time, on the island of Maui in Hawai`i, there was the story of an escaped “big cat.

Everyone thought it was a black panther or something similar. That mystery was never solved, but I know someone who can verify the existence of such a big cat that was roaming around in his Up Country neighborhood on Maui. In fact, one article states that this same cat was seen “crossing an intersection going into the mountains at 9:11 Maui time on the 6th of January, 2011.” You need to scroll down to the section on Hawaii to read it.

Another story about the Maui cat can be found here.

Now I wonder if the same thing could have happened here on the Big Island of Hawai`i? Listen to my story, and if anyone knows what the predator is, please let me know.

Over the past few years, I’ve had several of my chickens either die, or be pecked to death by other hens in the coop in the traditional “pecking order” fashion.

Finally, I was down to two hens that still managed to give me eggs occasionally. When I went out to feed them one night, I took the picture above.

The next morning, there was only one hen in the coop. I searched all over for her, but found nothing. There is no way she could have gotten out. The other hen was not doing very well, scrunched down and barely moving.

I wondered if there had been cannibalism going on, but I honestly don’t know how one hen could have eaten up another whole hen over night! Each day I searched again, hoping I had overlooked a spot where the other hen could be.

The front edge of the lid to the nesting box had been chewed up and there were holes, as though something had clawed or gnawed at the soft wood.

I didn’t think much about the size of the holes until a friend came to visit. He said that the holes were too big to be from an ordinary animal. The holes were slanting downward, as if a claw had attacked the wood.

He placed a 3 mm drill bit into several of the holes and it fit them all. It’s has to be a very large animal that caused these holes!

The one hen that is left is badly damaged, as if a huge claw had come down on her back and pulled. The skin and feathers have been ripped open down to the bone.

After a week, she is beginning to move around a little more. I keep thinking she might die anytime, but she keeps eating, drinking her water, and clucking at me.

The scenario we have put together goes something like this…

The animal was strong enough to stick a nose under the lid of the nesting box and grab the hen that was there, take it away, and eat it in private. This animal must have come back later, tried to reach in to get the other hen, but she got away somehow. Because the hen wasn’t able to get back up into the nesting box, the animal couldn’t get to her, and hasn’t come back.

Does anyone know of an animal that might be roaming around, or anything that could do this sort of damage? I keep thinking of a bobcat or lynx, or maybe even an owl. If a cat, it would have to be a pet that had gotten away from its owner. We don’t have “big cats” running around on the Big Island….or do we?

A hui hou!

Pumpkin Scones

Few of my recipes are original. Like most average cooks, I find something online or in a magazine that looks good. I take it and alter it to whatever I have on hand, and/or whatever sounds right.

I found this one from King Arthur Flour Company and had to try it! You can find the original recipe here.

My version was only slightly different. As I was putting them in the oven, I wondered why the recipe didn’t call for sugar. I checked the recipe and there it was – 1/3 cup sugar!

After eating one right out of the oven, however, I realized the chocolate chips (I used about ¾ cup) and the minced crystallized ginger (I had about ½ cup), they were plenty sweet for my taste.

Instead of coarse white sparkling sugar, I sprinkled half a packet of Splenda on top of each before I stuck them in the oven.

Please check out their recipe and try them. They were easy to make and extra delicious for a fall treat!

A hui hou!

A Garden Surprise

My garden has suffered from too much neglect this fall. A friend in Hilo gifted me some “old” unwanted plants. One was a pot of orchids that seriously needed to be divided. I’ve been trying to remember to nurture them along until I could do something with them. I have managed to sprinkle them with a little water from time to time, so they have survived (barely).

One morning as I was leaving for school, this is what I saw. Not only that, but there are four more spikes about ready to open up anytime. What a delightful surprise!

I have no idea what variety they are, so if someone knows, please let me know. Now that I have seen how beautiful they are, and as soon as they have finished their blooming, I’ll divide them and get them into my “orchid patch” under the ohia tree.

A hui hou!

Wind Farm Cemetery

Recently, I have made several trips to the end of South Point Road to show visitors the Southernmost point in the United States. These remnants of a wind farm make me wonder just how environmentally conscious it is to let these stand. New working turbines have been built to take the place of the old ones, but what will we do with these discarded and useless turbines?

Read more here.

A hui hou!

Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens

During a recent seminar for college teachers, I played unofficial tour guide to several of my colleagues from other parts of the United States.

One of the women in the group had been watching for the so-called “corpse flower” to bloom. We were told that the flower was to bloom at the Pana`ewa Zoo and Gardens. The seminar we were attending was held at our Volcano National Park, so we were not far from the zoo’s location just outside the town of Hilo.

Even after all the years I’ve lived here, I had never been to the zoo. After all, I had lived in San Diego for many years, and had grown up near St. Louis, both cities having zoos that are rather spectacular! I had envisioned this local zoo as a small and rather insignificant display.

I was wrong! I was amazed at the variety of rainforest flora and fauna they have gathered. Not only do I plan to return for a more leisurely visit, but I will recommend it highly to future visitors to our beautiful island.

We found the display of the “corpse flower,” but we were one day late to see it in full bloom, as it’s a very short-lived blossom. However, we were able to see it before it completely went away, and get a whiff of its decaying flesh aroma.

Follow this link to view a slide show of the rainforest.

A hui hou!

Back to School

My posts have been primarily about gardening with some cooking, some travel, and some reflection pieces. These topics illustrate my “spare time” hobbies rather than my “day job.”

This week, I’ve decided to share with you the way I walk (run?) through my world when I’m not gardening, cooking, traveling, or reflecting. Here is my fall schedule and a little blurb on what each class is about.

FamR 230 – Human Development – During the semester, we move through life from conception to death. Each age group is studied from the three perspectives of physical development, cognitive development, and psychosocial development.

PSY 100 – Survey of Psychology – I probably don’t need to explain this one, do I? We study the biological aspect of psychology, why we act the way we, how we interact with others, what the various theories are in the field of human behavior.

SUBS 140 – Individual Counseling – We look at the various theories in more depth than what we briefly covered in PSY 100. Students are given an opportunity to explore their own abilities to counsel another person.

SUBS 268 – Survey of Substance Abuse Problems – This is an introductory course that explores all addictions, behavioral as well as chemical. This is for anyone who wants more information in this area, especially those going into any medical field, teachers, counselors.

SUBS 280 – Co-occurring Disorders – This is a more advanced course for those planning to be substance abuse counselors. We tackle the complex situation where a person has both a mental disorder and a substance abuse disorder.

Loitering in the courtyard

If you think you want to take courses at the college, it’s too late to apply for fall semester at this time. You might want to consider talking to someone in the Student Services offices, however, and start the process for Spring 2012.

Yes, we eat a lot, too!

For those of you here on the Big Island, Hawai`i Community College has campuses on both sides of the island. Most are face to face in a classroom, but there are plenty of online courses available, as well. If you live on other islands, in other states or nations, check for campuses near you. I have students from late teens into their sixties, some going into another career after retirement. It’s never too late to go back to school.

Education is so….educational!
A hui hou!

Hawai`ian Flowers, Part 2

Last weeks’s post showed the color and drama orchids can bring to your trees. This week, I give you a tour of the inner workings of Hawaiian Flowers.

Marla has a small gift shop attached to the greenhouses where you can browse.

Walking from the gift shop into the greenhouses, you instantly realize you are in the tropics, and you want to take home one of each variety!

Many years ago, I took all the horticulture courses offered by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The smells and sights of greenhouses and workrooms bring back memories of that time. So for me, those are still the most exciting areas of any commercial enterprise.

The results from TLC and perfect growing conditions, however, also bring a particular kind of joy, as you will see in this slide show of Marla’s orchids in full bloom.

A hui hou!

Hawai`ian Flowers

In the part of the world where I grew up, an orchid meant you had a special date to the high school prom. And it was a big deal!

Now I live where orchids are grown everywhere and can become as rampant as weeds, yet I still am in awe at the abundance of plants and where they can grow. Maybe you are, too.

Just a couple miles from my home is Hawaiian Flowers, an incredible orchid farm that grew from a small hobby into a large facility. She claims it is the “Southernmost Orchid Farm in the US.” You can find her on Facebook as Hawaiian.Flowers. (Be sure to put the period between Hawaiian and Flowers!)

When our garden club went to visit, we walked through the acreage surrounding Marla’s home as well as through the greenhouses where she grows some of the most beautiful orchids you will ever see.

This slide show demonstrates how lush an orchid can grow in your trees. You might want to try this if you live in an area where there is no frost any time of the year. I bought a few from her and will try to recreate the same sort of garden.

Next week I’ll show more of the flowers, but this week I wanted to show you just how easy it is to grow orchids wherever the climate permits.
A hui hou!

Fire Dancer on Waikiki

Another attraction here is the Hawaiian Fire Dancer. I’ve known young children who were already training, showing great skill. Check out this past Monday’s post to see the Fourth of July fireworks. The fire dance performance took place at the Luau that marked the end of the conference I attended on Waikiki.

At one point in this YouTube, the dancer leaves the stage, but he went to get more fire. Don’t think it’s finished when that happens. He comes back!

I give my brother, Hilton, credit for the silhouette on Waikiki Beach at the beginning of this post.

A hui hou!

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