Christmas Parade of Lights

Honolulu Parade of Lights
Honolulu Parade of Lights


From 1979 to 1996 I owned a 37’ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat named Lothlorién. Five of those years, I lived on board in the Oceanside Harbor of Southern California. Each year in December, the sail fleet of the Oceanside Yacht Club had their Christmas Parade of Lights. Just before I moved to Hawaii, I sold that boat and I still miss her.

The first Christmas I spent in Hawaii, I went to the Annual Parade of Lights and stood at the Aloha Tower Marketplace to watch after dinner. It brought tears to my eyes, remembering the joyful times I’d had on the Lothlorién. The photo above is only one of the boats that night. It was dark, so I’m not sure you can see it clearly. But look at the crowd of spectators that gathered at the docks to watch!

There was a great ritual around that parade. Because we were sailboats, we didn’t have the electricity that the powerboaters had. So there was the process of trying to locate a generator to power up our lights. Then the night of the parade, there was a big scuttle to see in which order the boats would go.

Of course, all the boats were always moving, so lining up wasn’t an easy task. Once we were all in position, the local Coast Guard cutter led us out to sea and along the coastline. We all finished up at the Yacht Club for a little more celebration.

I love the simple beauty of sailboat Christmas lights. We would string up lights fore and aft making it look like a giant triangle, or Christmas tree. It was rather stately, I thought.

Please pardon the bias, but the powerboats were usually too loud and gaudy. You might already know that there is a friendly rivalry between sailors and powerboaters. But in the spirit of Christmas and human kindness (Mitzvah), it was all in fun!

A hui hou!

I Believe in Angels

Christmas Lights in Honolulu
Christmas Lights in Honolulu


I wrote a blog several years ago called “Talk Story.” The second post I made on that blog was this essay. That blog is no longer active, so I’d like to share it with you again this year.

* * * * *

When I was a little girl, I used to picture the angels from that first Christmas Eve night as a great heavenly choir with well-trained voices singing something that sounded like a Bach Chorale to a bunch of ranchers taking care of sheep on a hillside, who would have probably preferred good old country-western music.

My ideas on that may or may not have changed much since I was a child, a preacher’s kid. But like many of you, this much I do know, that angels are real. I know that we are surrounded by a powerful heavenly host of angels, singing our kind of music; and I am more aware of these angels at this time of year.

The custodian of a church where I was once pastor, said he often woke up to the flutter of angel wings. It reminded him that his angels are always with him. Another friend in that same church related his story about an angel visitation when he was serving in Viet Nam. I also have heard stories out of England from World War II that tell how planes continued to fly, even after the pilots were killed.

I have many stories about the personal help I have received from angels, but one fairly unspectacular angel story comes from a Christmas trip many years ago. My husband and I, with our four children, were traveling across country in a camper to visit relatives for the holidays. It was bad weather with icy roads, and we were on a limited time schedule.

We decided to do some of our driving at night while the children were asleep, which meant we were not always wide awake as we drove during the daylight hours. The children and I had gone to the back of the camper to take a nap, leaving my husband to drive the next stretch.

Not long afterward, he was visibly shaken when he came back to wake us up. He said, “I just now pulled over to the side of the road, but I honestly don’t know how I got there.” Later he said he’d realized he was falling asleep and felt himself lose control of the camper. Suddenly he woke up to find himself parked in a safe spot off the highway, even though he knew he hadn’t driven it there by himself.

Many of you can tell similar stories of visitations and assistance by heavenly hosts. The angels are there to sing to us, to minister to us, to protect us, to bring us messages, and often gifts. And they are out in full force every Christmas. I have a feeling that they wouldn’t miss out on our holiday events for anything and that they are surrounding each of us right now!

I kept angel cards on my office shelf for many years. My oldest daughter was visiting once and I was afraid she would think I was too “woo woo” when she saw them. She asked what they were. I told her I would draw one occasionally to give me guidance. She drew one that said “healing,” and she held it against her jaw saying, “I have a bad toothache.”

A spiritual community in Findhorn, Scotland strongly believes in angels and the devas, or plant spirits. The people in that community called on their angels in creating a Garden of Eden in an abandoned dump area.

In one of my churches, we played the game of “Angels and Mortals” every year. Even though it was a large congregation, those who were interested drew names and you became an angel for a mortal, and vice versa. It was great fun finding out who your secret angel was on Christmas Eve.

But it isn’t just a game. We can be an “angel” to someone else every day, and we are also “mortals” to someone else. Angels come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and appearances. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we don’t, but they are always there.

Be ready to be an “angel” to someone at any time. But also be open and aware of your angels, not only your personal guardian angel, but the ones that are about looking after you and loving you.

Who knows? They may bring you tidings of great joy!

A hui hou!

Lava Homestead Update


I’ve thought of the succulents and snapdragons that are all over this acre as really nothing more than weeds. Why? Because I didn’t plant them, they sprout up unbidden, then grow without anyone’s help, and they aren’t something I can eat. But I realized just how much they add to my landscape when I caught this shot of them. I think you’ll agree they are beautiful.

As we move into the last month of the year, I thought I would catch you up on what’s happening in my lava garden. It’s been about two months since my last update.

One of the most exciting changes lately has been my coffee berries – they are turning red! I may only get enough out of this first crop to make a small pot of coffee, of course. But I’m sure it will be the tastiest cup of coffee I’ve ever had.


I picked the ones that were ripe enough. Now I need to get the pulp off the beans, dry them, roast them, grind them, and drink!


The red mustards I planted several weeks ago are beginning to look like something edible.


I’ve had trouble keeping my cat (Kaimana) out of my raised beds, so there are large patches where nothing is coming up. He likes to scratch around and make himself comfortable.

Is that pot big enough to sleep in?Is that pot big enough to sleep in?


At the same time that I planted the red mustard seeds, I also put in another batch of beets. They will give me several good meals this winter.


With the help of one of my students, I planted some ginger cuttings she had brought. It took them a long time to root, but now they are showing good growth and soon I will transplant them to a permanent location.


It’s been almost a year since I planted this red scarlet chard, and it’s still going strong. I eat off of it occasionally, stir-frying it in olive oil with lots of garlic. When the leaves are still young and small, I sometimes cut it up and put it into a salad without cooking it.


Like the chard, my arugula plants just keep producing. I love fresh arugula salads. A friend said, “A little arugula goes a long way,” but I like the spicy bitterness more than most folks do.


I’m not sure if these papaya plants are going to do much at this elevation, but I keep nursing them along. They were also a gift during this past summer.


My garden club has a plant gift exchange at Christmas. The gift I received last year was this pikake plant, now full of buds and blooms.


I had a lovely gardenia bush that suffered during the worst of the sulfur dioxide fumes from the volcano. Today, it is growing back and producing a few buds.


I put out a bunch of cuttings of a purple-flowered bush (don’t know the name of it), and every one of them is showing great signs of growth. When it finally blooms, I’ll find out what it is and post more pictures. At this point, it’s great fun to see something grow from a bare stem stuck in the soil.


I have what I call a smoky bush (don’t know the real name of that, either) that is showing leaves from another piece of twig put in the ground. These two plants (red and purple) seem to take off right away with a little soil and water.


Still another plant that seems to root and grow profusely without much care is this magenta geranium. I’d put in just a couple of small cuttings from a friend, and now they are filling in the blank spots, giving color to an otherwise gray landscape.


The lilikoi plants that grow against my shed were eaten back by fuzzy black caterpillars. Now they are showing new growth. Unless someone gives me a bunch of lilikoi, I won’t be making more lilikoi butter this year!


The brugmansia were in need of some drastic cutting back. Once I did that, they started sprouting all sorts of new leaves and they are looking twice as healthy.


The poinsettias take over the island at this time of year. Soon I’ll have a chance to get more pictures of those. When they are mingled in with other colors, and especially the white flowering shrubs, they are a breathtaking sight. Some of the “Snow on the Mountain” are blooming on my property.

This plant is sometimes called Snow-on-the-Mountain, and is closely related to poinsettia, crotons, and the other members of the Euphorbia plant family. It is a native to the Pacific Islands. See the full article here.


We’ve had little bits of rain here and there, not enough to overflow the tank, but to keep it at a decent level. That’s a critical element in the grand scheme of life here on my little homestead. If it keeps up like that over the winter months, I’ll be in good shape. At least we are not worried about snow storms here!

A hui hou!

Garden Club 2008 Christmas

country village
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In August, I posted about our HOVE (Hawai`ian Ocean View Estates) Garden Club visit to the home of Carole and Heather Baker. Since the regular meeting of our garden club was scheduled for the Saturday after Christmas, we decided to meet in the Baker home again. This time we each brought pupus (Hawai`ian word for “snacks”) to share.

the pupu table
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We also brought gift plants to exchange. I brought this miniature rose, which Heather and Carole won in the drawing. Their other rose had died so they were happy to get a new one.

miniature rose
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The plant I drew was a lovely pikake. It’s hard to see, but it’s the one on the left.

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The inside of the Baker home is as full of their personality as the outside garden area. One of Carole’s collections (she calls it an obsession) is houses for her Christmas villages. They have it arranged so that some are their “rural” areas and some are the “city” areas. The opening photo for this post shows one of the country scenes.

In a separate room is the “city.”

the city village
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Everywhere you look in their home you’ll find another little cluster of Christmas houses and a created winter scene.

cluster of winter homes
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There is even a Mr. Snowman to greet us.

mr. snowman
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I enjoy visiting other people’s Christmas trees, since I prefer not to set up one myself.

christmas tree
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It’s hard to say which pet is my favorite, but I’d probably have to say it is Cookie.

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They have two other cats, Linus and T.C., who barely tolerate each other. Here they have just finished facing off and now want to come in. Linus is the ginger colored one on the left.

linus and t.c.
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Then there is Buffalo, who is almost as big as one. Don’t let him step on your foot or you’ll end up with a broken toe!

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Many of our members were either away for the holidays or were sick. All I can say is they missed out on some good food and fellowship. Here is a group picture, courtesy of Charles Tobias, who set the camera timer, then dashed to stand behind everyone. If you look closely, you’ll see him peeking out under the blue ornament hanging from the ceiling.

group picture
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This is Lava Lily wishing everyone a Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas), even though it’s a few weeks late.

Gardener Gifts

gift card and candle
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My brother gave me a terrific Christmas gift – an ACE gift card! Of course, now I have to decide how to spend it! Do I need new cedar chips for a walkway? Do I want new tools, more cinder, mulch, or soil? Maybe lumber for more shelves in my shed?

Gift cards are great for the giver, but when you have a problem with making decisions like I do, the burden of shopping now shifts to the receiver. Gift cards might not always a good idea in this economy, since so many stores are going out of business, but ACE should be around forever.

Thanks, Bro! I think I’m able to handle the challenge! Besides, this gives me a segue into the topic for this post.

Most of you have probably completed your holiday shopping. On the off chance that you are still wondering what to get for that gardener on your list (or even for yourself), here are a few suggestions.

Gift cards of any kind are generally a good idea. We don’t know what the other person really needs or wants, so it gives them the opportunity to make their own choices. Save yourself the gas and the mailing costs. For your gardener, you might look at ACE, or check with Home Depot or Lowe’s, or any store where the gardener shops regularly.

Start with an Amazon Gift Card. Just click on this and shop! I was amazed at the variety of garden and patio products you can purchase through Amazon, and mostly at a discount.

And of course Amazon has books for the gardener. Check out the list of just a few of my favorites on the right-hand side of this page under “Useful Books.” There are garden books on everything you could ever imagine, from beginner to expert.

4-wheeled garden
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You might browse through one of the local garden shops or hardware stores. Pick up a sturdy basket or 4-wheeled cart like the one above, then begin to pile in various small garden tools, seed packets, books, and more. Tie a big red bow on the top for a flourish. A friend gave me one of these carts for my birthday and I absolutely love it!

If you live near a college or university that offers horticulture courses, you might even pay for a special friend to take a class. That happened for me in the early 70s at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I took a course in landscaping designed for the home owner who was an amateur. It was such an exciting thing that I ended up taking horticulture courses for the next three years!

One of my favorite gifts from friends who live locally is a cutting (or a dozen cuttings) that I can put out in my own yard. It’s a constant reminder of that person every time I water or weed. Recently I had one of those friends stop by and he was amazed at how certain plants had grown that he and his wife had given me in exchange for eggs.

I’m not at a point of being able to give cuttings out of my yard yet, but some day I hope to do that. I can, however, pick up potted plants at the nursery to take. These plants can look nice in the home for a while, later to be planted outside in a more permanent home. Our local garden club meets the Saturday after Christmas. We’re bringing pupus and a plant for the gift exchange.

Finally, there is nothing like a personal gift of time. Coerce your favorite gardener into sitting down for a chat with you over a cup of tea and your homemade cookies. Walk around the place with your gardener and let her/him show you around. As bleak as we may think our garden is, we are always still proud to show our accomplishments.

You’ll think of other gifts, and who knows? You might even get the gardening bug yourself, if you haven’t already been bitten.

This is Lava Lily, with a wish for all of my readers to have a super bloomin’ holiday!