Black & White Night in Hilo

On November 6, 2009, Hilo held its 9th Annual Black & White celebration. My natural tendency is to avoid events like this. I much prefer to stay home and write or work in my garden. A colleague at the college convinced me that I needed to get out more. Being the “loner” I am, I begrudgingly agreed.

I’m so glad I went! Not only did it give me some good blogging material, but I actually had a good time!

She made reservations at Uncle Billy’s Hotel for us to stay over that night, rather than drive back to our homes several hours away. The hotel receptionist graciously agreed to use my camera to take these photos of the four gals. The background is the patio area of Uncle Billy’s Hotel.


While this picture was being made, 87 year-old Uncle Billy himself wandered by. When I first moved to the Big Island thirteen years ago, I often saw him on his bicycle cruising the main drag of Kona. You might enjoy reading this article about the award he received a couple years ago and learn a little more about Uncle Billy (William J. Kimi Jr).

On our way to start the evening with supper, we came across a panda person running down the street, a black and white dog, and a barker dressed in her black and white. Everyone was dressed in black and white – some fancy costuming and some rather plain, but fitting into the black and white theme.


We met a fifth friend at Puka Puka Kitchen, a little hole in the wall with outstanding food! I can hardly wait to go back. Each of us chose something different.


My plate was a falafel pita and like a pig, I could have eaten two plates of it! What a pleasure!


I tried to get a picture of the menu, but the flash kept getting in the way.


But I did manage to get a good shot out the door toward the street and ocean.


While we were there, I asked someone to take a picture of the newly formed “Black Hat Society” ladies. Need I tell you we attracted quite a lot of attention? (giggling) I’m the one on your left, in case you couldn’t tell.


All the stores were open, and most offered some sort of pupu (snack). We wandered in and out, enjoying the merchandise and art work. Here the fifth addition to our foursome is examining these beautiful hand-woven baskets.


Here are just a few of the paintings on display (and for sale).


There were dresses . . .


. . . shorts and more made from rice bags. . .


. . . and hand-painted shopping bags. . .


. . . and novelty items like coasters made to resemble “slippahs” . . .


. . . and lei scarves hand-painted by Maya . . .


. . . and turtle sculptures.


You could buy any kind of produce . . .


. . . and plenty of other homemade goodies that were for sale.


My favorite of all the attractions was the number of street musicians everywhere.


Believe it or not, this introvert intends to go back again next year! Maybe I’ll see you there? In the meantime, if you’d like to see all these pictures individually, plus others that didn’t make it to the post, check out this slideshow.

To see it in full size, click here .

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!

Mokulele Road Trip


One of the joys of my life is the ability to go on “road trips.” There is something soul-satisfying about packing up your car and heading out. When my children were all still at home, we would take off for a weekend or a week, and often even longer for a camping trip – our adventurous way of seeing the land where we lived, learning a few history and geography lessons, finding a way to be self-sufficient.

Then when I lived on my sailboat, I would do the same sort of thing, except I couldn’t pack up a car and head over the land. Since I lived on board, everything I needed was already there. So I would throw off the lines and head for Catalina or Mexico, or up the California coast.

On the Big Island of Hawai`i, our “road trips” are quite different. I can make short trips that take me around the island, but the variety of places to go is rather limited, compared to the mainland USA.

My most recent “road trip” was on a little island commuter flight from Kailua-Kona on the Kona (Leeward) side of the island to Kahului on the island of Maui. I’ve made that trip quite a few times, but never thought to include it on a blog. Since my brother is making a true “road trip” on the East Coast right now, I thought it appropriate to give you pictures of my “road trip” in the sky.

Mokulele is the island hopper most of us use here. Occasionally, we use other airlines, but Mokulele gives us the convenience of not going through a security check and of being only one of eight passengers – almost all local residents. The opening photo is a shot of the plane we flew on.

The pilot was funny when he talked to us about safety regulations – all the stuff the “big” airlines do. All he had to do was turn in his seat and talk with us. Then he concluded with “Preparing for take-off. Flight attendants, please be seated.” Huh?

The next series of pictures will be from the air on the way to Kahului and back to Kona. I will add a brief descriptions of each. Here is the Kona airport (KOA) from the runway.


We are just lifting off and you can see the homes up mauka (up the mountain).


Here are several shots of the Big Island coastline north of Kailua-Kona. This is the area where you’ll find the big resort hotels and golf courses. Scattered along the coast you will find a few stunning beach areas.


One of the beaches below us is where I recently performed a wedding. To see close-ups of that beach, check it out here.

Living here, I sometimes forget just how high our mountains are. Here are a couple shots of Mauna Kea peeping out above the clouds.


Between the Big Island and Maui is the Alenuiha`ha Channel, an extremely rough piece of water. In fact, just this week, it was so rough that the shipping barges were unable to land on Maui until a storm had passed. This shot I tried to take of the channel may be difficult for you to see so I suggest opening it up to a larger view. If you look closely, you can see the choppy water. It was actually calmer on this trip than I’d ever seen it. Be sure to read the link on the channel, because it is considered to be one of the most dangerous channels in the world!


Coming into Maui we began to see the tip of Haleakala. This is one of our U.S. National Parks and worth a trip to see if you are ever in Hawai`i.


I’ll interrupt this particular “road trip” to give you pictures I made a few years ago when I drove up to the peak of Haleakala. As you can see, it was cold, drizzly and foggy.




Now back to my Mokulele “road trip,” and coming into Maui. This is the Kihei coastline where you’ll find many of the big resorts.


What fun to see one of the hotels where some of the Writers Conferences were offered when it was still being given on Maui. That conference is now the Hawai`i Writers Conference, and is held in various hotels on Oahu.


Although Maui has continued to grow sugar cane and pineapples, the companies are beginning to close down because of the economy. The fields are still green and lush.


While on Maui, I visited my friend and teaching partner who had been seriously injured in an accident. I’ll spare you the gory pictures of his injuries! My friend is healing slowly, and hopefully will be back to be in the class before the end of the semester.

On the return flight, the plane wasn’t full and the pilot asked if we had any preference for sight-seeing. These planes fly low enough to get a good view of everything below us. One of the passengers asked to fly whichever way would get us home the fastest – and the rest of us agreed.

As everyone knows, the quickest way between two points is a straight line, and the straight line between Kahului and Kona took us right beside Haleakala. In fact, we were so close that I couldn’t get a good shot, but these were through the window of the plane on the opposite side from where I sat.


I managed to get a shot of this island off Maui. I have to admit that I’m not quite sure which island it is. I’ve been to both Lana`i and Moloka`i, and even though it is shaped like Moloka`i, it doesn’t seem right for where I was sitting. It could be Lana`i, but the shape isn’t right. If someone can straighten me out on this, I’d appreciate it.


So my “road trip” was over and after landing safely, I headed back to school to teach an afternoon class.

If you plan to visit our beautiful state, I highly recommend traveling to the other islands on Mokulele because you get to see so much. You’ll be limited on baggage, but you don’t need much here anyway.

A hui hou!

A Pink Birthday Party!


Every year on my birthday, I do something a little special on this blog in honor of myself. This year, I’m taking myself back to a “little girl in pink” with a trip to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu.

For the past twelve years, always over Labor Day weekend, I have gone to the Hawaii Writers Conference. Until three years ago, it was held on Maui and known internationally as the “Maui Writers Conference.” Then they began holding it on Oahu where there were hotels who would handle the volume of people who came, and the name changed to “Hawaii Writers Conference.”

This year, it was held at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, well-known for its pink décor. Everything is designed around the theme of “pink.” And no matter where you are, you can see the pink hotel! This shot was taken from my window at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel, a block away. It almost looks artificial and Disneyesque among the modern hotels of Waikiki.


No matter what view you have of the Royal Hawaiian, it is always a distinctive pink.


And when you look toward the beach, there is a sea of pink umbrellas, actually quite colorful against the blue of the ocean and the sky.


There are pink columns, with pink flowers in the floral arrangements standing before them. Even though most of these tropical flowers last quite a while, someone comes around to redo all the arrangements with fresh flowers periodically.


I loved walking down this pink corridor with its display of Phaleonopsis orchids.


Here is a close up of one of the Phaleonopsis orchids. Even though they were white, they appear pink against the strong pink of the columns.


Tucked everywhere on tables or in corners, you will find little touches of pink in the floral arrangements.


Even the shops displayed their wares against pink walls, or in pink jewelry boxes. The dolls were made of pink sequins. I didn’t get the pink walls behind these silver and sequined shells but they were there.


One room showed an example of what to expect if you arranged for them to serve a special dinner for you and special guests, or just that special someone – and of course, all in pink! Very romantic, if you are into that sort of setting!


The pink theme is evident even when you are walking around the gardens outside the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.







Even if not the true pink you find in most of the hotel, some plants either looked pink or were in the same color value, like red or lavender.







Although I’m typically not a “pink person,” I had loads of fun taking pictures of all the “pink” at the hotel. I hope you enjoyed my “birthday pink” celebration!

A hui hou!

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!


Graduation Honors

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One of the highlights of the school year for both students and faculty is graduation. For many of our young people here in Hawai`i, they may be the first person in their family to ever get beyond high school, if that far. It’s a highly emotional time, especially when one of them stands up and tells her or his story of what college has meant to them.

The picture above shows one of the young women who took many classes from me, and actually gave the graduate talk at the ceremony several years ago. Her comment to the audience about how much I had meant to her brought tears to my eyes.

Because we are a University Center, we provide a place for students to get everything from an Associate of Arts degree (through Hawai`i Community College), a Bachelor of Arts degree (through University of Hawai`i West Oahu or University of Hawai`i Hilo), and even a Master of Arts degree. Students may elect to receive a certificate in Human Services, Culinary Arts, Substance Abuse Counseling, or Early Childhood Education. So it’s no wonder our graduation brings “dignitaries” from all the schools.

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So even though we are a small “parking lot” campus at this time, we have a fair number of students passing through our doors (for face to face classes) and computers (for online classes).

Today is the graduation ceremony for 2009. It is with pride that I join other faculty members this afternoon in “walking the line,” as we honor those who are receiving either degrees, or certificates, or both. In true Hawai`ian fashion, everyone gets leis from family and friends, almost up to their eyebrows to the point that they can scarcely breathe or see.

A couple years ago, I received an award for being an outstanding teacher, and I received my own share of sweet-smelling leis, actually more than this picture shows.

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Once, a colleague at the University of Arizona in Tucson said that graduation was like a “death,” because many of the students we’ve been close to for so many years are leaving and we’ll never see them again. He was so right! The nice thing about our graduation here is that most of these are young people who will remain in our community as teachers, counselors, or whatever career they go into.

So now it’s time to put on the “mortar boards” and head out for the 2009 graduation ceremonies.

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Congratulations to all the grads!
Congratulations to all the parents who supported them!
And congratulations to all the faculty who pass the torch of knowledge!

A hui hou!