Tag Archives: HAWAI`I



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!)

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!

West Hawaii Graduation


This is the largest graduating class I’ve seen since I started teaching at the West Campus of the Hawai`i Community College. When the economy is down, and people are losing jobs, or wanting to improve their chances of being hired, the return to college is inevitable. All the classes seem to be flooded with new students. What a joy it is to be their instructor!

The lineup above shows all the dignitaries in full regalia, waiting for the graduates to come down the aisle. Here is a behind the scenes look at a few of them getting ready.


Leis are all laid out in preparation. The purple ones on the left were given to each graduate as they walked off the stage in addition to a purple orchid lei. The other leis spread out on the table were given to the school officials and speakers.


I got there early enough to watch the rehearsal.


Everyone was robed at last and ready for the ceremonies to begin. So many of my own students were either graduating or helping out in some way.


For many of these students, they were the first ones in their family to go to college. It was a struggle for them to be there. The gold stoles, cords and tassels signified that these people were honor students.


At last, everyone was lined up and the processional began. The stage group went in first, then the faculty. Since I was part of the faculty group, I was able to get a couple shots of them processing in. It was standing room only, with everyone trying to get the best shots of their family member.


One student in particular had been in quite a few of my classes. She was the student speaker for the event. Here she is in her various roles. First, as she finished rehearsing, then dressed ready to process in, giving the speech, getting her diploma and walking off the stage. Her array of leis was an example of how all the students looked at the end of the evening. Some had on so many leis they couldn’t breathe or see where they were going.


I tried to get all the graduates who had been in my classes, but my battery gave out too quickly. It’s almost as emotional for those of us who teach as for those who graduate.



The graduates of 2010 accepted more leis as they greeted family and friends afterward.

Congratulations to all those who graduated!

Road Sights


The theme for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) is “looking.” So I am always on the lookout for sights along our Hawaii roads that might not be typical in other parts of the world. The sight above is fairly normal on the Big Island – driving into the vog, sulfuric air resulting from our volcano.

As we drive into the area of Kilauea, the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, you can see the steam vents alongside the road.


Then take a look at this load of outriggers I was following not long ago. I think this is what they call a “wide load!”


A hui hou!

Pearl Harbor Museum


One of the major attractions on Oahu is the exhibit at Pearl Harbor. Today is not the day we normally remember that occasion, yet I want to show you a few of the things you’ll see at the museum there.

There isn’t much more I can say about this. Anyone who was alive around that time will know what these photos represent. Enjoy the slide show.

If you want to see it in a larger form, please click here.

A hui hou!

Banyan Trees


Don’t you just love the old banyan trees lining Banyan Drive that circles a small peninsula extending out into Hilo Bay? The banyans there were planted as saplings by celebrities a mere 75 years ago. A plaque by each tree tells who planted it and when.

The banyan is actually a fig, a member of the ficus family. What we see are aerial prop roots that surround the actual trunk, making it spread out and look many times larger. The largest of this species is in India, but another one was planted in 1873 in Lahaina on Maui, and now covers almost an acre. The link above shows a picture of that particular one. Scroll down until you see it on the right.

I took the photo above one afternoon when I stopped at the beach park in Hilo to take a nap in my car. The cool shade and sea breeze made for perfect snoozing!

A hui hou!

Lei Making


Instead of always looking up, sometimes it’s fun to look down, especially when you are looking down on a group of people making ti leaf leis.

May Day in Hawai`i is also known as Lei Day. Making and wearing a lei is such a soft, gentle, and loving way to honor someone.

In order to make the leis from ti leaves, you need to press with a warm iron to soften them. Then using your big toe as a holder, you begin twisting and pulling on the leaf. With each leaf, as you add a new leaf, you can leave a little point sticking out as you twist.

When everything is long enough, twist the ends together to form a circle. Tuck a few flowers into the twisting ti leaves and place it around someone’s neck with a kiss on the cheek.

Traditionally, ti plants are placed around a home to bring good luck.

A hui hou!

Lava Fields


The theme of “Look Up” this month for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) can also simply be to “LOOK!”

All over our beautiful island we can see evidence of the many lava flows over the years. The ones here in Ocean View are relatively new, ranging from late 1800s to early 1900s. Each day we receive news about what’s happening with Kilauea, our little volcano. We pay extra for housing insurance just because of the volcano’s proximity and the likelihood that we will have another flow in our lifetime.

I took this shot within a mile of my home along the highway. There is a strange beauty when the black lava contrasts with the bright green foliage. Until I really looked at this photo, I didn’t realize it showed where the lava had crossed the road.

While we can enjoy the unusual scenery, we often take our safety for granted. It’s so easy to forget that our entire island is a volcano that is constantly flowing somewhere. I suppose we should consider ourselves fortunate that the flow is slow enough for us to get out of the way, rather than a massive eruption like the one in Iceland recently.

A hui hou!

Earth and Ocean Fair


Last Saturday, on April 24, I was one of many who volunteered at the Earth and Ocean Fair at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort and Kahalu`u Beach, a county park that adjoins the hotel. I even took part in the raffle fun, which consisted of getting your card stamped at specific displays. This card was then entered into a drawing! (I didn’t win anything.)

I was told that this fair began about ten years ago as Coral Awareness Day in an effort to let people know how to protect our fragile reef. It is still one of the primary features of this fair. Volunteers train to monitor the reef that is forming around the Big Island.


Information about the Big Island Reef Fund was available.


Everyone was there several hours early getting set up for their displays.


All the displays gave information on how to protect our natural surroundings here in Hawai`i, especially our giant sea turtles.



This display of debris found in our ocean is eye-opening.


A Mini Cooper and a sailboat were on display. I never did find out if they were being given away or just for show. Both are economical ways to travel.



This is just one of several displays of solar power businesses.


Someone walked around inside this humuhumunukunukuapua`a (our state fish), reminding people to protect our ocean life. I’ll bet you can’t say that name fast (unless you live here on the Big Island)!


I couldn’t resist getting a shot of the tide pools and beach area. What a beautiful and restful place to have a gathering of environmental folks.


Several culinary students from our West Hawaii campus, led by Chef Betty, prepared a variety of meals so we wouldn’t starve. They offered regular chili, vegetarian chili, chicken Caesar salad, and more.


One of the insects that plague us here is the fire ant.


Groups of young people who are committed to saving our earth and ocean put up several displays.


We take so much for granted. Here is a cost analysis of what our Natural Resource Management puts out to protect plants and animals, and control the weeds and invasive species of plants.


A colleague, Betsy Morrigan, volunteered at the “Fish for Knowledge” booth.


Much of the work done to protect and monitor the waters that surround our island state is funded through Hawai`i Sea Grant.


One area of the hotel was available for local crafts. I love the hand-woven baskets.


Several of the local “aunties” were demonstrating how to do the Lauhala weaving. I want one of their hats!





I accepted a cup of kava and started to sip it. One of the men standing by said to just knock it down in one gulp – so I did! I can’t say it’s delicious stuff, and it would take me a long time to deliberately include it in my diet.


Another Hawai`ian traditional food is poi, or pounded taro. This is another of those “delicacies” for which I haven’t acquired a taste yet. One of my students used to bring fried poi balls to class occasionally, however, and they were absolutely wonderful!


These taro roots are ready to be made into poi. In the background, this mother is feeding her child a bit of poi.


There were plenty of crafts for children. Betsy is holding a fish for them to add their colored thumbprint to the fish.


This is only a sampling of the many local crafts on display.


I was delighted (and proud) to see a former student, Ruth, representing the National Park Service.


Of course, no Hawai`ian festival is complete without a band and hula dancers.






It is nearly impossible to show you all the displays. I hope I was able to capture a feel for the day. You might Google this event because there were articles in the newspaper and other places. I love living in Hawai`i. Please do what you can to help preserve this Paradise!


A hui hou!

Big Island Resort – Waikoloa Hilton

While many of my friends and relatives are suffering under severe winter weather, I’m living here in sunshine and warm weather. I have had my share of cold, snowy and icy winters, so I’m not sorry to be living here now.

This past summer I attended a conference that was held at the Hilton Waikoloa here on the Big Island. I drove up from my home to attend. It was great fun to act like a tourist on my own island.

I spent several afternoons walking around the grounds and taking pictures. There were too many to put here individually, and the collages I’ve made don’t do it justice, so please look at this slide show before you read another word.


For a full-sized slideshow, click here

I first visited this hotel in 1995, fifteen years ago, and I’m still never tired of finding something new around a corner. I enjoy the dolphin area most of all. They are so playful. Check out the Dolphin Quest to find out more.


Most visitors are captured by the romance of riding to your room on a boat through the lagoons, even though they are man-made.


Along the edges of the boat ways you’ll find statues and birds of all sorts.


I have traveled extensively throughout Japan on many different occasions, so I loved finding the strong Japanese influence on the décor throughout the hotel and grounds.


Around the swimming pool you’ll find statues that represent the animals of the Chinese zodiac. I don’t think I got them all. Some were hidden from my line of sight.


Down the walkways of the hotel you’ll find works of art and more statues of Kwan Yin and other Bodhisattvas. I’ve done another post on Kwan Yin, but I didn’t show you all of the ones I photographed there.


A hui hou!


RMS Queen Mary 2


In March, 2006, Kailua-Kona had the privilege of having the RMS Queen Mary (QM2) sail into our harbor.

Fortunately, I happened to be in Kona that day getting my car serviced. I took the picture above from the back yard of the King Kamehameha Hotel in downtown Kona.

As I sat on the outside deck of the Kona Public Library sipping a coffee drink, I took this picture. It shows the difference between the QM2 and one of the regular cruise ships that visit us.


Later, as I waited to get the oil changed on my car, I took this photo from the dealership. There was a great deal of excitement in our little village of Kona that day.


When the RMS Queen Mary 2 was constructed, she was the “longest, widest and tallest passenger ship ever built.” Even though she no longer holds that distinction, she is a fantastic ship and I hope to take a cruise on her someday! For more you can read here and here.

A hui hou!