January 30, 2009


Today we're home and taking care of business. 

I took the car to the body shop (the patient will live) and myself to the people shop (the patient will live). 

As I performed the mandatory patient weigh-in, I began considering how much every article of my clothing weighed, much as I did yesterday at the airport, when my bag was 8 lbs overweight. Between my carrying on 8 LPs and our shifting a bunch of shoes to mrguy's bag, we avoided the $50 charge for overweight baggage. 

No such luck at the doctor's office. 

Although I was willing to strip down in the hallway in the name of vanity, nobody allows you to do that.

All that poundage was worth it.

All of it :)

January 27, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Day 6

We got up early to get to Kaneohe. I had hoped to combine a few activities there and then get to Kailua to shop at Hungry Ear. It all pretty much went to plan.

At 10 the four of us were given a tour of the Kanile'a ukulele factory. We had had the opportunity to try Kanile'a ukuleles last year at the first annual Wine Country Ukulele Festival. Kanile'as have a rich sound and beautiful sustain. When we checked out the Kanile'a website recently, we saw that they give a tour and knew we had to go.
The tour was deluxe, and we were the only four on it. Kristen Souza, one of the owners, introduced us to each step of their ukulele craft, and to each person involved in the process. Among the many things that we learned was that Kanile'a's unique sound is partially due to their custom bracing system and finishes.

It's the little things that tell you about a place, and Kanile'a has that Hawaiian sensibility about relationship to the land and responsibility to people that comes through in what they do. They're early adopters of non-gassing UV polyester finishes. They won't buy koa that's been cut, only koa that has fallen. On a rare occasion they'll make a custom uke for someone out of a piece of furniture (like granny's koa rocking chair)...they're cool people, and they seem to truly enjoy what they do. Kanile'a founder Joe Souza, Kristen's husband, is also a fire fighter.

At the end of the tour, we spent some time chatting with luthier Bill Griffin, who places the bridge and does the final setup of the instrument. Joe shared the story of the song Kaneohe, which celebrates the installation of electricity at Kaneohe, and he and Bill played it for us. Another song for our electricity and technology set!

All that ukulele knowledge made us hungry. A few doors down from Kanile'a was Koa Pancake House. That hit the spot.

After lunch we had an amazing two hour tour of Senator Fong's Garden. The backstory is that Senator Fong acquired 700 acres backing on the Ko'olau Mountains, and cultivated a variety of plants. He planted things he liked, plants that were gifts, and cash crops that helped pay for upkeep on the place. His daughter-in-law Patsy gave the tour which was, in the words of Mr Finn, "multisensory". At each stop along the way she picked things for us to see and taste and smell, and shared their fragrances, flavors and stories.

As one small example of what we saw, here is achiote in its fresh state:

Occasionally Patsy would describe a recipe in the form of a story. I can't wait to try roasted oysters with ginger, shoyu, daikon and Tahitian lime. This garden is lovely, and the way that Patsy Fong shares it with visitors is very special.

Laden with pomelos, limes, star fruit and tangerines, we headed out. Mr Finn found us a place called Sumo Ramen. They know *jack dooky* about sumo, but they make a fine cold noodle dish. Tako yaki? Not so much.

Because I hadn't been there yet and it was on our way, we stopped at the Byodo-in Temple. The decay on the sound of the temple gong alone makes it worth it. But the temple itself makes for a beautiful and peaceful stop.

If you've ever looked at koi and thought about how much some of them look like calico cats, here's your chance to compare:

A final word about Kaneohe: there is penny smasher at Byodo-in Temple.

Quick! We had twenty minutes and it was suddenly dark and raining, but we made it to Hungry Ear in Kailua with 8 minutes to shop. I found the second Myrtle K. Hilo record (she's the singing cab driver). And another record by the Alice Fredlund Serenaders.

We got back to the shack by 7 or so, but the day's ambitious itinerary did me in. We got some snacks at the ABC store and crawled into bed.

January 26, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Day 5

I'm a few days behind in the blog world, but we've had early morning enjoying to do...

Sunday we went to the Ala Wai Challenge. As part of the event they were offering canoe taxi service across the canal. 
The day was hot and lovely, so after we crossed, we flopped on the lawn and listened to the fabulous ukulele stylings of Herb Ohta Jr. (a $30 value back home), and clapped for the outrigger teams as they crossed the finish line.

Later, we met up with Ms Scandiwaiian and Mr Finn. They were held up by a lion dance happening in the parking lot. I fed one of the lions and he winked at me and flirted.

Then we went to Jelly's in Aiea. Ms S found some additional sumo books for me...and I found a record by Myra English that contains a song that we will add to our "Hawaiian songs with references to electricity" set.

This left us *just* enough time to get over to Hawaii Kai to see Ledward Ka'apana at Kona Brewing. I can't think of that many musicians who are in his league, so you need to check him out. When you listen to him you know your ears are in the hands of someone who knows what he's doing. He had members of his family playing with him, and we couldn't get a table anywhere nearby so I don't know who they were.

So ends day 5.

January 25, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Day 4 (Now With Crackers)

The Kapiolani Community College farmer's market was our goal for the morning.

The vendors do slow food, plants, honey, coffee.

The college has a dry garden that we were looking forward to seeing. Mrguy likes the Seussian plants. I like the juxtaposition of spines and flowers.

We took a drive up the coast, where the water was uncharacteristically turquoise for this time of year. I don't think we've ever seen it that beautiful.

And we made a pilgrimage to this spot, where many bad guys met their end in episodes of Hawaii Five-0.

And to Sandy Beach, where we watched the surfers and recharged our batteries a bit.

We can't really go past Waimanalo without stopping in at the nut store. We chatted with the woman behind the counter for a while and played uke. She said she only knew three chords, which she uses to play Pearly Shells. Then she realized that they were also the chords to... (and I assumed she'd mention another hapa haole classic) ...Love Letters in the Sand, by Pat Boone.

We drove the Pali Highway, and fed fish food to the reef fish at the docks at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Then we walked toward Iolani Palace and found ourselves a spot on the Chinese New Year Parade route.

A little bitty girl across the street from us was obsessed with princesses, and when the various princesses and queens came by, she would do her own princess wave and yell really loud. I hope that some day she grows up to be Narcissus Queen :) Another little one kept sitting on my foot. It was kinda cozy.

We met ms scandiwaiian and mr finn at Sarento's. Akasaka was our dinner choice of the night, then we rendezvoused at their hotel to catch the last hour of Hatsu Basho. Baruto did a wiggy move on Harumufuji and lifted his leg off the ground to get him off balance. Asashoryu paused after the the initial charge and was tossed off the dohyo by Hakuho. Visibly upset at first, Asa summoned the powers before the tie-breaking match to win it handily.

All this, and friends, and sumo...


Mrguy asked that I update Day 4 to tell you this story. Our last attempt to find sumo in public took us to a sports bar across from the Ilikai. When we asked whether they had TV Japan at the bar, the hostess said she didn't know and turned us over to a barfly named "Crackers", who she said was the only person in the bar who could operate the remote. In the background, the world's worst Beatles / Stones cover band did their sound check. Crackers wandered off, and we scrammed.

January 24, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Day 3

We started slowly on day 3, so that I could get a massage to help with the whiplash from last week's car accident.

I was eager to see the two exhibitions of Japanese prints At the Honolulu Academy of Arts. They also had an exhibit of AbEx prints from their collections, and exhibition of illuminated manuscripts that had been painted India. The manuscripts were the last on my list and in person were completely awe-inspiring. These are dainty, jewel-like paintings were so finely made that part of the exhibit experience includes carrying around a large magnifying glass in order to view them. It is a known fact that viewing art under a magnifying glass in a museum gallery is just about one of my favorite things.

Lunch at the Pavilion Cafe (always great), followed by a little shopping at Ala Moana...what's not to like? Mrguy found me the program from the 2007 Hawaiian sumo exhibition for two bucks at the Japanese market, and we bought our dinner there. They have so much great take-out: I
 finally got to see tako yaki made (it's the octopus cousin to abelskiver) and to bring some home. Tasty!! They bang a drum to let you know your order's up.

As always, the Halekulani was relaxing and worthwhile. Pa'ahana is our favorite of their house bands. Mentored by Kahauanu Lake, they have that same style of delicious harmony. Two hula dancers from the north shore danced and one did a beautiful oli. And as always, the lovely Kanoe Miller...

The unexpected pleasure of the evening was mrguy's recognizing that a painting at the
 concierge desk was by Tadashi Sato.

When I asked about the painting, the concierge pulled out a binder that identified where his other paintings were in the building. We had some fun wandering the Halekulani on our quest and snapping pictures along the way.

January 23, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Day 2

Oh so relaxing.

After exchanging the loud rental car, we circled back to find a beautiful relic of the past that had beckoned from the freeway: Aloha Kia, which had once been a south seas restaurant.

The manager let us wander around and take photos.

Then off to Salvation Army to look for aloha shirts. While discussing accessorizing during checkout, the cashier informed us "That's what separates us from the animals: the ability to accessorize!" Well said, my friend.

The search for sandals took us to Ward Center. Here we had our first "Barry Wuz Here" sighting.

Then off to Na Mea Hawaii. Everybody who tries to sing in Hawaiian needs this book. It's an index of Hawaiian albums arranged in two sections: by song title and by artist. I decided that if it contained a listing for an obscure band like Na Kane, they'd really done their homework, so I bought it.

Lunch! mrguy found us plate lunch at Haili's in Ward Farmer's Market. My fried ahi lunch was cheap ($7.95), and delicious. Doves marched about around our feet outside as we ate. It is mating season, and no I do not like you like that, mrs dove :)

At the Contemporary museum we saw exhibitions of
H.C. Westermann and Toshiko Takaezu. Here's what some other people had to say about it:

We went to our usual Thursday night stop. The band we'd gone to see had a gig in DC (the best Hawaiian steel player in the world also happens to be the son of Senator Akaka). But the band sitting in was really talented, the front man kolohe, and so many of the family of friends who congregate there on Thursdays were in attendance. It had much of the same spirit.

A little local television, this time Andy Bumatai, and then off to sleep.

January 22, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Day 1

Cuisine, Hawaiian Airlines style. We're not on ANA any more...

Once we got here, Hawaii started happening before us quickly. The car rental shuttle showed no signs of stopping for us, so we started waving. Once inside, the driver admonished us with a jolly "Good thing you move your hand!!" Hilarious.

Then a little waiting for the car, which has to be exchanged today (hello? you need front wheel bearings!).

We did many of the usual things on our first day: a) La Mariana for lunch, b) a stop at Bestsellers books at the Hawaiian Village, c) uke playing on the beach, d) dinner at Mama That's Wasabi, e) watching "Eh You Da Kine, Ah?". It's a good thing to be able to have a routine when you're a pooped traveler.

We visited all of our bird friends at the Hawaiian Village. The ibis were preening themselves, and the flamingos were settling down for the evening. One of these days I'll post the sound recording mrguy made a few years ago of the flamingos fighting. 

We made a new friend who we can't identify. He looks like a bufflehead who swallowed a very long stick:

On the beach we played while the sun set, and until I saw enough dinner cruise boats in the distance to make me supremely happy. A brand new husband and bride had their wedding pictures taken very nearby, and passersby found mrguy and I sufficiently colorful to snap some shots of us as we played.

And there's usually a story from Mama's. This time it was that I eagerly ordered this salad because it had mountain yam and some other groovy stuff in it. It was delicious, but only vaguely resembled the description. I asked our waitress about the lack of yama imo, and she said she'd only served this item twice in two years and that they don't have any mountain yam. She said they changed the Japanese menu but not the English one, because English speakers don't order this item. Figures!

And while I'm at it, I asked around about where I could see sumo. Akebono had suggested via his blog that Japanese restaurants and hotels would be a good bet. I haven't been successful yet, but as in Japan the pursuit of these questions takes me places I wouldn't have gone otherwise.

Before we go start our day, a shout out to Auntie C., who's playing along from home, and to Poi Girl. There were several times yesterday that I wished my eyes were cameras for you, especially during the torch lighting last night :)

January 20, 2009

Being Creepy, Myspace Style

Message not to send to complete strangers via Myspace, if you're a chiropractor:

"Hello, I just wanted to extend a warm friend invite since I noticed we were neighbors in [name of local municipality]. I enjoy connecting and meeting new, interesting people. Would you like to be Myspace friends?"

That would be no, Dr R.


January 19, 2009


Literally: ear worm. What a great word. Thanks, Germany!

An ohrwurm is a song or jingle that you can't stop thinking of, over and over. 

On last week's ohrwurm hit parade was Dennis Pavao's version of Kimo Hula. Right now it's the Kalima Brothers version of Kaulana O Hilo Hanakahi, which may or may not have been playing faintly in the background while we were driving and then *not* driving. 

This is not quite as spectacular as the first time I heard Al Green's Love and Happiness.

What's the antidote to the ohrwurm? There are two remedies popular in our circle: a) go ahead and listen to the offending song, and b) listen to the universal song supplanter, "Electric Avenue" by Eddie Grant.

So far nothing's working. I'm stuck on the part of the song that goes "Wai anuenue e pipi 'o nei..."

Try for yourself, and let me know how it goes. 

What's the offending song, what's your local antidote, and what's the result?

January 18, 2009

Get To Work, People!

It's bakeoff time:


You have until April 20th to submit your entries

My bakeoff tester has just informed me that if I win, he'd appreciate a Volvo 1800ES.

After yesterday, I'm not sure if I would drive one. Getting to your destination alive seems so much more important than getting there in style (with apologies to the Volvo 1800ES, the Studebaker Avanti, the Nash Metropolitan, and any other vintage car I've wanted but not owned already).

I love you all, but nobody can replace Toyota in my affections.

Thank you, Toyota, for making your side-impact door beams standard. I like my sister a lot, and those door beams took some hits but kept her safe.

Thank you, Toyota for making the 4-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist standard.

Thank you also for the active headrests. I'm sure they did something.

Today I'm resting and thinking about the bakeoff.

Could have been far different.

January 14, 2009

January 13, 2009

Earthquake Weather

It's warm and windy.

Earthquake weather.

Jello weather.

January 11, 2009

Gobo Frenzy

I ate gobo (burdock root) for the first time in Koriyama with av-san.

We asked the restaurant owner what it was, and he brought the long long root out of the kitchen to show us.

I found gobo and a recipe at home, and now I make kimpira gobo pretty regularly.

Last year I found some burdock plant starts at a market back home.

Mrguy did the growing, and we harvested this mad tangle of roots last week:

From which I made pickled gobo:

And our very own kimpira gobo:

Couldn't let the harvest pass without celebrating it.

January 10, 2009

I'm Not Hard of Hearing

I'm hard of listening.

Today I was swaddled in comforting languages I can't comprehend.

First I sang in Hawaiian.

People were speaking Japanese (and listening to classic 1970's funk) at the fish market.

At Los New Friends, all of the music was in Spanish.

And when I started cooking, I found a radio dj spinning Chinese music, bird songs and Conjunto.

The next dj was playing two hours of bluegrass songs about coal mining. I sauteed while playing along on my uke, and was reminded of the time when I first moved to the college town, heard independent radio, and fell in love with a set of bluegrass songs about black lung disease. I bought the black lung song album but almost immediately went back to listening to Gang of Four.

Tonight's a mish-mash: pickled lotus root, beet and carrot pasta, kabocha squash simmered in dashi, and Li Hing Mui marshmallows. A personal creation conceived of on the drive back home from civilization. 

While I was writing this the pasta boiled over...oh well.

January 2, 2009

Treasured Family Recipes

Looming large in the culinary mythos of the guy family is the story of eggplant and clam casserole. 

Decades after it made its only appearance at our table, middleguysis is still talking about how awful it was. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found the recipe in the grand mamoo's recipe file this week. She isn't ready to agree that the recipe has no merit. I have no means to judge, since I wasn't born at the time that the offending casserole was served. 

I have half a mind to make this recipe myself, just to test the theory that no good can come of these ingredients prepared in this manner.


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