Tag Archives: HAWAI`I

Hawai`i Winter Revisited


A year ago, I wrote about one of my favorite times of year here in Hawai`i, in what we call “winter,” and the dazzling banks of poinsettias that line the road. I thought about trying to take more pictures this year, but the highway is narrow and curving with almost no place to pull over. I did notice that some of the photos are a bit hazy, so it must have been voggy the day I took some of these. Please enjoy these pictures that show our winter scenes.

Yes, there is a difference between summer and winter here. Even in Florida, Southern California, and Arizona (all states where I have lived in the past), there is a distinct change between the temperatures in July and those in January.

Here, there is no noticeable change in temperature from month to month all year. From late November until mid-March, however, there is a change in what is blooming along the roadsides and in our gardens.


For example, the road I drive to the college where I teach seems like one huge embankment of of poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima). “Pulcherrima” means “very beautiful,” and it is. There is no way to compare these with the little pots of poinsettias you might purchase in grocery stores. Against our rich forest green, the brilliant reds are almost florescent. Then throughout March, I look for those little drops of red in the midst of jungle growth that keep hanging on. When they are all gone, I know that it is winter is over!


My first experience with poinsettias took place back in the early 70s when I was a student in the ornamental horticulture department of California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo. We made a field trip to visit the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, CA where over 70% of the poinsettias in the United States and over 50% worldwide actually begin. There were acres of greenhouses filled with poinsettia cuttings in all varieties and stages of growth. Please follow that link to view the history of that ranch as well as the history of poinsettias in general.

Poinsettias flow over onto the ground and almost seem to take over everything else.


I love the way they intermingle with the yellow hibiscus. Such a dazzling display of color!


This is a sight few of you will see at Christmas.


Many of the poinsettias have found their way into the wild tangles of growth.


Others are a featured part of a home’s entryway.


You can see why I’m obsessed with taking just the right pictures to illustrate this stunning plant.


Poinsettias are originally from Mexico and named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico in the 1920s. The rest, as they say, “is history!”

During his stay in Mexico he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina.

I remember when I lived in Southern California how people would plant the small potted plants they bought at Christmas time. Many of the homes there had nice stands of poinsettias, but none reached the size or proportion of the ones here.

If you are interested in what to do with your Christmas poinsettia plant, go here to read up on it. Another good site on how to choose and care for your poinsettia, and what to do with it at the end, go here.

I really do empathize with those of you who are suffering under ice storms and record-breaking snowstorms. I have lived in Alaska, Illinois, and Rhode Island, so I know what you are experiencing. But I couldn’t go back to it, now that I’ve lived in Paradise!

Whether you are celebrating Hanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia, Kwanzaa, or any other festival at this time of year, poinsettias are a celebration in themselves!

Mele Kalikimaka
[Merry Christmas in Hawaiian]

Sea Turtles


For quite a few years, I lived right on the ocean. I was so close that the salt spray covered everything in my home. But the view was unbeatable. I watched the surfers at both Banyans and Lyman’s Point.

The salt did a lot of damage to my belongings, but I didn’t mind it for the years I lived there. The surf roared and crashed twenty-four hours a day, and I loved it. When I finally left, it took me a while to become accustomed to the silence.

Some days, I watched dolphins play in the little bay outside my deck. Other days, I had the pleasure of the whales on their journey. There was always something going on.

There was one bit of sea life I could depend on every single day – the many honu, or sea turtles that sunned themselves on the rocks. Sometimes there would be as many as eight of them on the lava rocks.

As the tide gradually came in and covered the rocks, they would slip away into the water, then return as the next low tide began. Watching them, I learned the personality of each one.

This big guy is in the water part way. He was funny to watch. As the tide crept up, he would haul himself just a little higher up the rock until he finally couldn’t stay above the water. Reluctantly, he would slip back into the ocean and swim away.


Many times, I had to shout at visitors who tried to touch them. The turtles are protected and don’t react kindly to being teased. So if you are visiting Hawaii, please stay away from the turtles. Take pictures from a distance and go away knowing that you are helping to preserve our natural environment and care for this endangered reptile.


A hui hou!

Christmas in Waikiki


We may not get snow, and Santa may be wearing his surfer shorts, but here in Hawaii, we do everything we can to create a holiday atmosphere. Tiny ukekeles adorn this holiday wreath.

A stroll through any of the hotel lobbies in Waikiki definitely needs to be on your agenda, if you want to experience the true Hawaiian Christmas spirit! Each hotel has its own unique way of decorating.

The Moana Surfrider Hotel, built in 1901, has an interesting history. Click on this link to read about it and thumb through pages with old pictures of Waikiki from its beginning. Their Christmas display in the lobby includes a snowy version of the hotel.


This shot of their Christmas tree gives you a glimpse of the interior.


Outside, lights swirl around the stately columns.


Across the street, you’ll find another charming display in the Princess Kaiulani Hotel lobby. What a delightful snowy village in Hawaii! This hotel was built on the estate of Hawaii’s last princess, Kaiulani.



I wrote about the Royal Hawaiian Hotel earlier this fall. The tree outside that hotel towers over shoppers and sightseeing visitors to our wonderful state.


(Merry Christmas in Hawaiian)

Kwan Yin


I made my first visit to the Far East in 1966. If there is such a thing as a past life, I discovered it there. There are several events that have stuck with me for the past 40 years plus to validate those happenings.

One of those uncanny situations revolved around statues in various forms throughout my travels. It wasn’t until years later when I moved to Hawaii, that I discovered the significance of Kwan Yin (Guan Yin, Quan Yin) in all her various poses.

I began this month of posting everyday with a short post on Mitzvah, stating that I am not of the Jewish faith, so I want to say I am not of the Buddhist faith, either. There are elements of both that I find valuable and incorporate into my own faith, however.


So it is in keeping with the blogging theme of this month that I return to Kwan Yin, the goddess of compassion, a bodhisattva who continues to teach me more about being a spiritual female.

I am a retired United Methodist minister who uses meditation in several forms. So I feel free to let Kwan Yin guide me in my inner evaluations.

When I need to hear it, she reminds me to be compassionate with myself as well as others.

She reassures me that unconditional love, what we preachers call “Grace”, is for all people, including myself.

She is a constant reminder that the blessings of human kindness, or Mitzvah, connect us all.


Most of all, she reveals the feminine face of God, and allows me to experience my faith in ways that are more meaningful in my life, ways that are real.

As I travel throughout the world, it is hard to forget that we are all One, all needing that touch of human kindness and compassion that Kwan Yin offers. What a wonderful way to look toward the new year of 2010!


A hui hou!

Addendum to Mokulele Road Trip


Aloha! I should have checked the map better before I posted on Saturday. See original post.

As we were flying out of Kahului over Haleakala, I took a shot of an island just below us. In my post, I questioned whether it was Lana`i or Moloka`i. It didn’t seem to be in the right place for either island. It wasn’t shaped like Lana`i, but didn’t seem to be quite right for Moloka`i.

After several emails back and forth with one of my readers, I realized it is Kaho`olawe, an island I rarely remember to think about. (Do you see me blushing?)

Of the eight primary volcanic islands that make up our state, it is the smallest. It has a fascinating history and I suggest you check it out more closely at this website, complete with pictures and the role played by the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission in preserving the Native Hawaiian culture.

Watch for next weekend’s post on another annual local event – Black & White Night in Hilo.

A hui hou!

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?

Honokohau Harbor


Five years of my life were spent living on my 37’ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. It was something I’d dreamed of ever since I was a young girl. I remember reading many books about sailing and people living on boats, even though I’d never really been on a boat.


There are a few stories of my life of being a “liveaboard” on an old blog of mine. I sold that boat just a few years before I moved to Hawai`i, and I still miss it!


So when Judy Jones asked me to do a memorial service at sea for her husband, Bob, I jumped at the chance. Judy is a close friend, as well, and I assisted with the organization of a beautiful send-off out of the Honokohau Harbor here on the Kona side of the Big Island. Bob suffered a fatal heart attack while he was fishing on Christmas Island.

Here are a few pictures I took of that trip out into the Pacific Ocean when I wasn’t busy officiating. This first one shows some of the boats in the harbor as we pulled out.


This was the first time I’d seen Honokohau Harbor from the ocean side of the entrance. There is a mountain behind all that mist. We’d had small craft warnings all week. Then on the day of the service, it was calm and beautiful.


Here are a few more shots of the harbor from the ocean side. I probably should have put these into a collage, but I prefer looking at the bigger pictures of the ocean!





Friends joined us on their boats. When we were about five miles out, we had the ceremony and tossed leis into the water. The boats circled the leis several times, then headed back to the harbor. A beautiful Hawai`ian ritual! I wasn’t able to get a picture of that because I was in the process of officiating. I’ll need to leave that part to your imagination.




The skipper of the boat I was on had been Bob’s fishing partner on Christmas Island when Bob had his heart attack. He helped with the funeral the local Christmas Islanders held for Bob, and he placed Bob’s trusty fishing pole on top of the casket.


When we got back to shore, there was a huge potluck feast for everyone. It was a moving and yet joyous celebration of Bob’s life. He was well-loved by many.

A hui hou, Bob! You were well-loved by all!