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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!