My Vacation in Hawaii

 

A question visitors often ask those of us who live in Hawaii is “When you live in Hawaii, where do you go on vacation?” It’s hard for anyone to imagine wanting to leave our beautiful island state and go somewhere else to relax.

Believe it or not, there are times when a person needs to get away from the normal routines, no matter how wonderful it is where you live. When I’m home, it is too easy for me to see all the work that I “should” be doing around the house, or to get caught up in preparing for classes, or respond to the gardening that beckons.

So my answer to the question in the first paragraph is “I go to another island!” From time to time, I visit other islands, but my favorite destination is the Kula Lodge in upcountry Maui.

 

This sign above one of the doors is an excellent example of how I feel when I’m there. “Live well – Love much – Laugh often.” What a great philosophy! It’s also an example of the charm this lodge holds for me.

 

Even the closet has a special appeal, with its lace curtain and dried flower arrangement on the wall.

 

One attraction of this lodge is not having a telephone or television in the rooms. I take my computer, not with the intent of actually “working,” but for some reason I find it much easier to let my thoughts flow with ideas when I’m away. I’m not caught up in checking email, or paying bills, or any of the various activities that require internet connection. I focus on writing. I have myself set up quite nicely here, as you can see.

 

Each room is given fresh Anthurium, Bird of Paradise, Protea and other tropical flowers. All the little touches provide the setting its allure, like this dry spray above another door.

 

Did I mention that the beds are very comfortable and cozy?

 

There is enchantment everywhere you look. I love to sit out on the deck and have a snack of cheese and crackers with juice.

 

There are small cottages, where I usually stay, and there are larger chalets where I have stayed when the smaller ones were not available.

 

These have two levels for sleeping, ideal for families or several couples. I loved the electric fireplace on a cold wintry evening.

 

Children (and even adults) must have fun climbing up the ladder to get to their sleeping area.

 

There is a good restaurant at the Lodge that serves from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a wall of glass, offering an unobstructed view over the valley. Because they like to support the local farmers, their salad greens and other veggies are freshly picked, and of course they use Maui onions! Their pizza is baked in these wood-burning ovens just below the dining area.

 

Close to the ovens is a trail leading down the hill, giving visitors an opportunity to walk along and admire the many tropical shrubs and flowers we have here.

 

Outside the lodging areas, a tall hibiscus hedge produces blooms larger than I’ve seen anywhere. It’s fun to sit on my little deck and listen to visitors “ooh” and “ah” over the enormous bushes that hide me from their view.

 

No, I didn’t get a free meal or free lodging in return for this post on a wonderful place to go, but I did get a world of relaxation and time away from my responsibilities on the Big Island for a few days. That’s worth more than money, isn’t it?

A hui hou and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
(See you later and Happy New Year!)

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.

PINK GINGER
PINK GINGER

 

PINK HIBISCUS
PINK HIBISCUS

 

WHITE HIBISCUS WITH PINK CENTER
WHITE HIBISCUS WITH PINK CENTER

 

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.

RED GINGER
RED GINGER

 

LAVENDAR ORCHIDS
LAVENDAR ORCHIDS

 

RED TI PLANT
RED TI PLANT

 

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!

Happy Mother’s Day!

MY GANG
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MY GANG

 

There are many “Mother myths” from various cultures and faiths. Some reveal the mother as nurturing, maternal, care giving, full of a feminine mystery and power. Other mother myths portray a darker side of motherhood, but I won’t talk about those today.

In Jungian psychology, there is the archetype of “Mother,” or the Divine Mother. I will briefly tell you about only a few of these.

To start out, there was Mary, Mother of Jesus, who has been called the Christian Goddess of Compassion. She is a universal symbol for motherhood. As a pastor as well as a mother, I could relate to the Christmas story that surrounds the birth of Jesus. I often wonder how she made the trip on a donkey at the time of delivery!

The Virgen de Guadalupe (Spanish for the Virgin of Guadalupe) is considered to be one of the “Black Madonnas.” That’s a story for a later post, but this picture hangs beside my front door.

VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE
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VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE

 

Another beloved mother figure is Kwan Yin, or Quan Shi Yin, or Kuan Yin. She is the compassionate bodhisattva of East Asian Buddhists. The actual word used (karuna) means something greater than compassion, which is described as “a love for all beings, equal in intensity to a mother’s affection for her child.”

On the grounds of the Waikoloa Hilton Hotel here on the Big Island stands this statue, the ocean creating a wonderful watery backdrop for this Divine Mother. Please check out my brother’s post on Guan Yin today.

GUAN YIN
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GUAN YIN

 

When I lived in Arizona, I learned of Ha Hai-I Wuhti, the Hopi Divine Mother, who was thought of as the mother of all kachinas. I don’t have a picture of her, but here is a shot taken in Tucson on the church grounds.

ST. FRANCIS IN THE FOOTHILLS
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ST. FRANCIS IN THE FOOTHILLS

 

That earthy picture brings me to Gaia, Greek Goddess we might be more familiar with as Mother Earth, the symbol of a mother who nourishes plants and young children. What better way to show her nurturing than by showing some of the local flowers?

All along Ali`i Drive on the Kona side of the island, and many other places as well, you will see the night blooming cereus. I remember friends in Tucson who sat up all night to see their one plant bloom. Here they are in abundance everywhere and certainly spectacular. These had bloomed during the night, but I was able to get a shot before they were completely gone the next morning.

CEREUS
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CEREUS

 

Here is one of the many flamboyant flame trees you will see all around Hawai`i, often called “Royal Poinciana.”

FLAME TREE
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FLAME TREE

 

Hibiscus are also everywhere in dramatic colors.

YELLOW HIBISCUS WITH PURPLE CENTER
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YELLOW HIBISCUS WITH PURPLE CENTER

 

Four years ago, my children got together to celebrate my girls’ birthdays, and also to say farewell to my son who was leaving for his first tour in Iraq. They sent me the picture at the beginning of this post. At first I wondered who all those people were! I thought the shot included friends of my children.

Then I realized they were all mine in one form or another. There were my four children, their spouses, and eight of my nine grandchildren (one couldn’t get away to be there). Since then, two great-grandchildren and one spouse of a grandson have been added to this “rogue’s gallery.”

Of course, I can’t forget my “other” child – Mr. Kaimana Kat! Here he is hanging over a large platter that is a painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe.

KAIMANA AND THE VIRGIN MOTHER
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KAIMANA AND THE VIRGIN MOTHER

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and their children – and especially to my gang!

 

A Spring Day – Easter!

SNOW IN BOISE
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SNOW IN BOISE

 

When Spring looks like the photo above, any little sign of growth is so very welcome. This is Inga’s front yard (my daughter in Idaho), taken when she was suffering from a bad case of Spring Fever this year!

BOISE SNOW
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BOISE SNOW

 

I remember an Easter Sunday in Kodiak, Alaska when I bundled all my family in heavy parkas, wondering if we’d see any sunrise at all – and we didn’t! On another Easter Sunday in Rhode Island, a heavy snowfall had covered everything by the time we finished church services.

Gradually, bits of color started to peek through the snow in Inga’s yard.

FIRST SHOW OF COLOR
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FIRST SHOW OF COLOR

 

Snow starts to give way.

SNOW GIVING WAY TO COLOR
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SNOW GIVING WAY TO COLOR

 

More color starts to show.

MORE COLOR
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MORE COLOR

 

Suddenly, the snow is gone and the blooms display their glorious colors.

FULL COLOR
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FULL COLOR

 

And that’s how Spring arrives in Boise, Idaho!

Spring comes in a different way here in Hawai`i. I’ve been getting sun, interspersed with a few rains, enough to help some of my plants send out blossoms.

Here is my own spot of bright yellow – sweet calendula.

CALENDULA
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CALENDULA

 

The agapanthus that I transplanted out of a pot is blooming again, and sending up more stalks that will open soon.

AGAPANTHUS
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AGAPANTHUS

 

The hibiscus that I cut way back has shown lovely growth and put out the first bloom just this week.

RED HIBISCUS
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RED HIBISCUS

 

Even the wild snapdragons that pop up all over are looking beautiful this year.

WILD SNAPDRAGON
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WILD SNAPDRAGON

 

The Japanese Walking Iris (Neomarica candida) is sending out all sorts of flowers.

WALKING IRIS
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WALKING IRIS

 

Here are a couple of close-ups of my blooms. Amazingly beautiful!

SINGLE IRIS BLOOM
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SINGLE IRIS BLOOM

 

ANOTHER VIEW OF WALKING IRIS
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ANOTHER VIEW OF WALKING IRIS

 

A newly planted ivy geranium cutting is already blooming.

IVY GERANIUM
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IVY GERANIUM

 

My vegetables and varieties of basil are sprouting. Here are my string beans. They have doubled in size and have started climbing just since I took this picture last week.

NEWEST CROP OF STRING BEANS
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NEWEST CROP OF STRING BEANS

 

Watching plants gradually come to life in the spring is probably why I still can get excited over the first blooms. They are a living lesson on an abundant life after death.

A hui hou!

A Week of Surprises

PATIO THIS NEW YEAR'S DAY
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PATIO THIS NEW YEAR’S DAY

 

The Hawai`ian Spring comes sooner than in most parts of the country. Still, I am always a little surprised when something actually starts to grow and bloom. This past week I’ve been weeding, planting, while ignoring a few of my older starts. What a surprise when I took time to look around! Here are a few of my surprises.

The little iris plants I put in as starters from my friend, Velvet, have grown, multiplied and bloomed! Here is a “before” picture, taken in October, 2008.

IRIS-THEN
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IRIS-THEN

 

Here they are now.

IRIS-NOW
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IRIS-NOW

 

What a joy to find this unexpected bloom!

IRIS IN BLOOM
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IRIS IN BLOOM

 

The fig tree has grown quite a bit, too, now that our spring has started. You can see the difference between this. . .

FIG TREE-THEN
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FIG TREE-THEN

 

. . . and now. I’ve had to prop up one of the branches because it is so heavy.

FIG TREE-NOW
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FIG TREE-NOW

 

The lovely little calendula has been sprouting new shoots. Here she is when I first planted her as a cutting.

CALENDULA-THEN
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CALENDULA-THEN

 

My, how she’s grown and spread!

CALENDULA-NOW
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CALENDULA-NOW

 

Some of the most spectacular growth has taken place with the native yellow hibiscus.

NATIVE HIBISCUS-THEN
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NATIVE HIBISCUS-THEN

 

Even though I’ve had no blooms on this plant, it’s been growing like Topsy! I’ve even pruned her back to encourage more fullness.

NATIVE HIBISCUS-NOW
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NATIVE HIBISCUS-NOW

 

This Week of Surprises wouldn’t be complete without “before” and “now” shots of my patio. The first one was taken in March 2008, almost a year ago when my daughters and son-in-law were here. I described their work in this November 2008 post.

PATIO-THEN
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PATIO-THEN

 

You can see how much has grown in, and also how much more there is to fill in. I have a long way to go, but it’s nice to have a cup of tea at my little table while I relax and admire the things that have grown.

PATIO-NOW
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PATIO-NOW

 

The opening photo was taken on New Year’s Day 2009. The fig was still very small then. My old heart just sings with pleasure at seeing plants finally start to bloom and grow.

Among all the growth that has taken place I find that seeds are starting to produce, also. This purple cosmos is one of my favorites. It comes from seeds given me from a friend’s garden.

PURPLE COSMOS
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PURPLE COSMOS

 

Of course, there is the geranium, a plant that has almost weed status in some areas of California, but a treasure brought inside over the snowy winter in other areas, like Rhode Island. Their brilliant colors add much to a garden. I have red ones and violet ones, but the delicate pink is a real marvel. A tiny cutting was planted near a pink plumeria and the two should present quite a show later in the spring.

PINK GERANIUM
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PINK GERANIUM

 

Watch for Lava Lily next weekend with a few more surprises.

A hui hou! (“Till we meet again” in Hawai`ian or “See you later” as some of my friends use it!)

Lucy

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

WAIMEA STRAWBERRIES
WAIMEA STRAWBERRIES

 

Today’s post is devoted to RED, the color for Valentine’s Day. Wear RED – and make a statement for women’s heart health.

Don’t forget to give your sweetie a gift card from Amazon! There are all sorts of garden tools, books, and chocolates available – whatever s/he might want. Check out the link in the right-hand column. It’s a great “last minute” gift for those of you who forgot (or are wondering what in the world to buy)!

Probably in the top five of my favorite fruits you will find strawberries. The ones shown above are grown here on the Big Island and are the sweetest I have ever tasted. This is just about the time of year when we expect to get the very best.

If you read my post in December on poinsettias, you’ll remember how huge they become here in Hawai`i. They are still in full bloom along the roads, by the way. It will be another month before they begin to fade.

POINSETTIAS
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POINSETTIAS

 

The color of red provides such a lift to gardens! This bromeliad donates her spot of red to the gray-black lava where she grows.

BROMELIAD
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BROMELIAD

 

On the shelf under one of my kitchen windows, I grow a row of potted red geraniums.

RED GERANIUM
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RED GERANIUM

 

And I can’t forget the flower that many people associate with Hawai`i, the red hibiscus.

RED SINGLE HIBISCUS
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RED SINGLE HIBISCUS

 

You can expect my regular weekend post tomorrow when I bring you Bob Elhard’s yard sculpture.

A hui ho!
Lucy – wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day!

The Gardener Within


Remember the old saying: “April showers bring May flowers?” It takes more than just showers to have beautiful flowers in May – or June or July or any month. It also takes digging and planting, nurturing and patience, faith and prayer.

My maternal grandfather was a strong typical “type A” personality, but when he worked in his garden, he was calm, happy and peaceful. His special joy was in finding many varieties of iris. He would drive all over Southern Illinois in search of new iris plants. Studies have shown that in a similar way, Alzheimer’s patients who are placed in a garden all day are no longer violent.

I don’t plan on collecting iris, but I’ve thought about the many varieties of daylily or hibiscus available. I’m trying a little of each to see which ones grow best here. It’s hard to decide – so maybe I’ll collect both!

Even when I lived on my sailboat for five years, I had hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes and pots of aloe plants for sunburn and wounds. I needed that bit of plant material to make me feel like I had a garden. Various cultures around the world have special tales about the healing power of plants on all levels.

Some of my favorite times as a small girl were spent in a special cherry tree in the back yard of a parsonage. We only lived there a couple years, but as long as we did, I would climb up onto a high limb and read. As a lonely child, it was my way to escape. Many of us have had spiritual experiences with trees, but we don’t discuss them for fear of sounding silly. We rarely talk about the spiritual aspects of gardening, until someone of like mind brings up the subject.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I talk to my plants. I haven’t really heard them talk back, although they do respond by growing and producing. I used to think people who talked to their animal pets were weird, too!

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Today, I live on an acre of a’a in Hawai`i. A`a is lumpy, rocky lava that blew out of the depths of our volcano. The only way to plant something is to move aside the rocks and dump in a bag of soil, which filters down after a rain or watering and I need to add more soil. Still, there are nutrients in the greedy porous lava. Plants do grow, with a lot of prayer and patience.

Peter and Eileen Caddy were founders of the Findhorn Community in Scotland. They moved to a barren plot on the northernmost tip of Scotland, a place where nothing should have grown. Yet they made it work, through meditation and conversations with the nature spirits and “devas” – the angels of each plant. They claimed to receive gardening advice from those beings.

No matter what we may believe about all that, their results were incredible. I hope for the same results in my lava. Here in this little corner of the Big Island, I suppose it takes calling on Madam Pele, our volcano goddess – or maybe calling on the menehune.

I believe that if you are open to it, the process of gardening will tell you everything you need to know about life. There is a definite spirit of cooperation and communication between plants and humans. It is easy to see how we cultivate ourselves when we cultivate a garden. The idea is to relate to all living things as if they can understand, because they can! It is a living prayer.

Saint Fiacre is the patron saint of gardens and gardeners. He carries a shovel in one hand and a book in the other. He gave up his life as a prince of Ireland to live as a monk on the edge of a forest in France. Many people came to him for his healing through herbs and flowers. His reputation grew and ultimately, he built his own monastery that featured his healing plants.

Being There with Peter Sellars is a wonderful old movie. It is the story of a man who started out as sort of an idiot child who learned to garden, and could speak of nothing but gardening. Through a minor accident, he was brought into a home where he gradually worked his way up to international significance with only his gardening remarks. Everyone thought that his words were profound, and they became metaphors for everything from politics to world finance to love.

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Please leave a comment and tell me what spiritual experiences have you had with plants.