April 22, 2012

Special Sauce

Today we went to our sweet Auntie's memorial service.

It's not often that you get to go to a service where the officiant, a minister, also calls the person you're mourning "Auntie", but so was the case today. We'd never met him. He is a cousin on Auntie's husband's side.

He said the sweetest thing about her -- that she brought the special sauce. He said it apropos of a microscope that had been given to him as a present. Auntie brought him cool slides to go with it. But she brought the special sauce on so many levels. She was quiet and low-key, but by speaking low and softly she knew she had your attention. She was quick-witted til the end, and her family lived for her stories.

When we were together I asked her for confirmation on the Shypoo story. As readers of mrsguy may recall, mrguy's grandparents owned a pharmacy. When they made a little too much of an ointment it went into this crock that they called the Shypoo pot. When someone's treatment for whatever it was wasn't working, they'd mix up a little Shypoo and a bit of yellow tint and send them off with it. Completely and utterly illegal in our day and time, but in the 1940s and 50s they could get away with it.

This completely rocked our cousin's world. In their nuclear family the term "Shypoo pot" has come to mean the bowl you put out at a family dinner if you're eating artichokes or ribs or something that has parts that need to be discarded. Cousin (and her brother, and his ex-wife, it turns out) had never known the origin of the Shypoo pot.

For two generations of that side of the family the name has taken on this other meaning. As a tribute to mrguy's gene pool, I will now pass this term on in our extended Guy Family.

I can't wait until artichoke season to put out a Shypoo pot, which will serve as a *somewhat* unusual memorial to Auntie and her brother, The Big Guy.

The Kiwi Has Landed

metaphorically. Kiwis are flightless, so that isn't technically possible, which is a long-winded way of saying that we had a delightful visit with our Kiwi friend last night.

It was a bit of a pop quiz -- an early email announcing his arrival that happened to find us at home on a weekend with a clear schedule. Whew. He manages a pop band that is having a fair amount of success, and they were playing at the large venue. Seems like a fun ride, but a little tiring for someone who has a young family waiting 18 hours away from here.

Occasionally you have a friend who you can just pick up with after long stretches of time, and he's one of those friends. He was part of a flock of Kiwis who were sent by our original Kiwi, the Marxist. The Marxist started sending his other musician friends over to stay with us, and last night's Kiwi and his then-girlfriend were two of them. For about two years, there, we had hot and cold running New Zealand visitors. It was so much fun. We paid them all a visit one glorious month in 1993, and had many adventures. We have mostly kept up with last night's Kiwi. I have a better blog name for him, but it would reveal his real name :(

Occasionally he'll come through town with a band. The last time, we showed up around sound check time and the bartender tried to shoo us away, telling us in a really patronizing tone what a sound check is. Dude. I had my first sound check when you were tickling Elmo, o.k.? And I'm still gigging.

Anyway, this time we popped over after sound check and had perhaps our most civilized dinner to date -- at a nice restaurant in the city. Our Kiwi friend had the Coq au Vin and proclaimed it delicious...

If you can sublimate your senses until you get to a restaurant, the city is a nice place. Especially on a warm April night like last night. After dinner we deposited him at the door of the large venue, and hope to hear of the further adventures of the band on the rise.

April 21, 2012


My foray into the garden was short-lived. I am now alternately sipping from and dunking my finger into a glass of ice water. Sorry little bee. I didn't know you were there.

Haven't been stung by a bee since I was a teenager. My foot swelled up like nobody's business. I think anaphylaxis would have set in by now. But I've always got mrguy's epipen if I need it.

Shoot! Luckily I already posted mucho itemage on our etsy store, trimmed the fuschia and leptospermum and transcribed one column of my Hawaiian newspaper page.

O.K., blog, you have distracted me until most of the pain has subsided. Whew!

A Dream

This is what happens when you fall back asleep on a Saturday morning after looking at the Craigslist estate sale listings: you dream that you are at an estate sale in Australia where you've found a circa 1950's American toy in the original box. 

The toy is a geodesic dome. 

Put the geodesic dome together, put your baby in it and immediately your baby and his baby friends have the ability to be an amazing reggae band (comprised of babies).

April 14, 2012

Sweating To The Oldies 3

While going through old department files the other day I came across a dvd of American Idol from 2005 and a VHS of Sweating To The Oldies 3 in a box of materials set aside by a former teammate.

You read this and you know who you are :)

It was the gift that kept giving. I gave it to another archivist who I was sure would find them funny. The American Idol dvd is notable because it plays an electronic version of the theme LOUDLY when you open the cover. The real prize was Sweating To The Oldies 3. We decided we should have a STTO break in the afternoon.

Around 4:30 we rolled our crash cart over to a conference room, popped in the tape and started moving. It was better than could be imagined. It takes place in a fat-free amusement park called Sweating Town. His shorts are short and his t-shirt is long, and people of all sizes move to the groove.

We laughed our butts off, and I sweated mightily.

We will do this again.

Thank you, archivist of the past!

April 9, 2012

Our Long North American Nightmare Is Over

The other night, mrguy and I caught a snippet of baseball. My team. The Toronto Bluejays.

We saw the players wearing a logo that looked like the original logo, which readers of mrsguy will know I adore.

I just checked, and it's true, people.

The Bluejays have updated their old logo and the original stripey toothpaste font.

Oh happy day!

For additional information and images, check out my dear friend Paul Lukas' column, Uniwatch, at ESPN.com.

April 8, 2012

The Weekend, Ukulele Style

Fri: half day of work, drive south, stay with cuz, go out to dinner, stay up late talking story, sleep in sleeping bag in the living room. It's kinda like being a kid again!

Sat: brunch at cuz's house with grandmamoo guy, big sis, and middlesis guy, delaware punchy and more cousins. Clean up, short nap, drive to middle sis's art opening, stay for an hour, drive back north.

Sun: Sleep from 2-7am, then off to the ukulele festival. Whew. We were beat.

The festival was tremendous. Lots of vendors, lots of great food.

Backstage was cool. From the set list for the previous night we learned that the entertainment for the police benefit the previous night had included magicians and ventriloquists.

The gig itself was fun. We were the first act, or as mrguy modestly remarked "The foamy first pour from a keg".  Even that early there were plenty of people in the audience, including Auntie Spunky, who I could hear from the stage. The reception was warm and friendly. We got some compliments from friends and strangers, and it was lovely.

After playing we took seats in the balcony and saw various bands play. The balcony is THE BEST! Kinda informal, which will come in later...

Playing first? Also THE BEST because you get to see everybody else and hang out with zero nerves. This was the most fun I've had at the festival since before we joined the big uke band. And we ran into friends from the band and caught up on life. One of them asked us to play for her halau at another festival, which I hope comes to pass. That would be a treat.

After chatting came lunch. Look at my yummy chicken lau lau plate! The mac salad had a little tuna in it. And it came with poi. Heaven.

The afternoon acts were varied and interesting. I wish I'd brought a book, though, because when they were not so good they were really not so good. I feel like I learned a lot from watching, and I'm definitely going to buy the dvd.

So here we are in the balcony again. Some bandmates still there, some not. Mrguy put in his earplugs and went to sleep after the wrinkly bag and whiny child people sat behind us. Right behind us, though, was this lady Auntie C. Real initial. I know this because she called out her own first name during the raffle, and all the performers' names are listed in the program.

When she didn't win a raffle prize but it went to a little old lady, her husband joked that he was going to beat the lady up. And when one of the sponsors was onstage Auntie C. commented that he'd lost weight, his face used to be rounder and now he looked like a haole. Goes without mention that she also booked it for the exit when they started Hawaii Aloha. 

That's o.k., lady, I didn't want to hold your hand anyway ;)

Hawaii 2012, Day 6

Our last day. We visited the farmer's daughter at her workplace. She and I want to find a project together, so it was a little work, a little play.

We spent the afternoon going to the Spalding House Museum. There's a really weird Hockney installation there that we enjoyed -- all black light and choir music. After that we enjoyed a new installation in the garden, which was as if Christo's The Gates was made out of neon-colored inflatable pool rafts. Somewhere after walking through it, mrguy started getting a migraine. This happened once while he was viewing a Chuck Close painting. So we headed down the hill.

Recovery was quick and we went in search of the Guy Tai. The Chart House is a cool throwback to the 1970s. I definitely want to go there for dinner some night.  Lots of wood sculptures. Very old school. The bar faces the water, which is both cool and blinding. 

There were musicians playing, but they played along to recorded tracks. Somehow they seem to have a coterie of elderly female followers. Very sweet. On to the Halekulani.

It started to pour and I was not in the mood. Outside the Ilikai we grabbed a cab and were at the Halekulani in what felt like seconds. The rain had cleared the tourists out of the outdoors area and we got the best seats we'd ever had there. Sadly, this was the worst band we've seen there. They mumbled and had zero energy. The lovely Kanoe Miller, however, was fabulous as always.

Matsugen was fine. It doesn't have that spark it had when it first opened, so I might not need to go back. But the bowl was pretty tasty.

There you go. That's our last night in Hawaii.

A hui hou.

Hawaii 2012, Day 5

We took it easy for the rest of our vacation. It was quite a while before we recovered from the excitement of poistravaganza 2012.

The next day we got up a little late, ate some breakfast and went to Jelly's to shop for records. Who did we see but our friend from the other night. They'd already started working through my list and had gone to La Mariana Sailing Club the night before. They were also planning to join us that evening at Waipuna. I left the menfolk talking about the best equipment for digitizing LPs, and went back to my local record hunting.

Later we ate lunch at Kaka'ako Kitchen. Their really weird veggie burgers are oddly comforting. I haven't the faintest idea what's in them, but they're groovy.

Then I bought a pohaku. I now have the means to make my poi!

Rest, then on to Waipuna. It was their last gig at the Ilikai Bar and Grill, which has now closed (again). Waipuna never disappoints. Unlike a lot of other bands we tend to hear playing Hawaiian music, they have energy. And Kale likes to talk story, which helps give audiences a deeper appreciation for the music. They are definitely my fave band playing today.

Our new friends from St. Louis came to share our table. They were suitably impressed. They gave us a recommendation of their own, which was that we should try the Guy Tai at Chart House. It's right next door to the Ilikai. I'm surprised we'd never been there.

The next day, we did.

Hawaii 2012, Day 4: Poistravaganza

This was one of the best ideas I'd ever cooked up.

First I decided that it would be fun to take a tour of the Taro Brand Poi Factory. When an email to them returned no reply, I looked for other poi-centric ideas. My search on the Intertubes brought me to the Johnny Appleseed of poi. We'll call him Johnny. I contacted him and he and his business partner, Rain, cooked up a day for us.

Rain picked us up at our hotel at 7. We ate banana pancakes and fruit at the park, then headed to the Windward side. 

 We met Johnny and Uncle Johnny at a native Hawaiian plant nursery, got an introduction to native species and picked out some plants to plant later on at the house. Unfortunately the moon was wrong for planting. The moon advocated relaxing, which was the opposite of what we were about to do, but whatever.

At the nursery I also met a dog.


We headed for the kalo patch, a little ways away. We changed into different shoes and walked up the hill. Somewhere near a Board of Water Supply station sits a very old set of kalo terraces that these guys are rebuilding. They were getting close, when the storms of last month ruined the water supply. Our part of giving back to the project involved helping restore the water flow by moving large rocks out of the way. For a few hours. In the heat and mud. I had a surprisingly good time, while also covering myself in mud and wielding a pick axe. After a while I got to the point where I couldn't lift anything else that was in the way. I was pau.

The before picture met with misfortune, which means that this after picture isn't quite as exciting as I'd hoped.

They decided it was time for lunch. We stopped by the fish pond on the way, to see where boards were soaking for a few weeks before being carved into papa ku'i'ai (poi pounding boards). Then on to the house.

The pressure cookers were steaming two different things: one had laulau and the other had kalo. It smelled heavenly. First, poi.

Mrguy and I sat on either end of a two-person papa ku'i'ai making pa'i'ai for a few hours. The most important thing is cleanliness. Cross-contamination is easy and I had to start from the beginning several times. They have special ionized water there that helps with the cleanliness. We learned how to clean our kalo, pound (good technique is more difficult than it seems) and go through the various steps to making it acceptable. All the while we talked about culture, legislation related to poi, what kinds of documents and legal services are available in the Hawaiian language (not many) and many other things. Our heads were swimming with all of this.

Toward the end of pounding poi, you add a little water and knead. The starch of kalo has begun to release its sugars and it takes on the color and sheen of Silly Putty. My pounding arm was really sore for a few days. Surprisingly, my back and knees felt great the next day.

After pounding we ate laulau and played a few tunes for our hosts. Rain took us home with our pa'i'ai vacu-sealed in bags. Nobody looked twice when I carried it on the plane with me.

You'd think that we would just crawl into bed after that, but we went to a Japanese soup restaurant instead. I wasn't sure I could hold chopsticks after our workout that day, but we made it fine. You'd think we'd walk out when we saw that ordering involved a flow chart, but we didn't. 

I'd  never seen nabe cooked over a flame in what looked like a coffee filter before (not that I'm an expert). 

It did catch on fire a little bit at the end.


After our day's excitement it was time for bed :)

Hawaii 2012, Day 3

Sunday was another great day. We drove out to Waimanalo to meet up with a colleague who had just retired, and to deliver a package that I'd carried on the plane for him. I guess we never drive out on the windward side on a weekend because I was struck by the fact that I'd never seen so many hand made signs enticing people to stop by for homemade food, flowers, coconut water. I really wanted to pull over for some smoked fish, but we had places to be.

We met up with our friend in front of the Akebono statue in Waimanalo. He took us to a new farm, close to the Ko'olaus, where we met up with the young folks running it.

Its an amazing piece of property, with loads of different fruit trees and exotics. It was fun to hear about their plans and work, while chewing on cinnamon bark and . They've done an amazing amount of work in a short amount of time.

We saw these cute toads sitting in post holes on the property.

Then we went to Sweet Home Waimanalo and had some yummy vegan food. Or at least I did! A fake meatloaf sandwich. What's not to like? If you're in the area, I highly recommend this place.

The ladies we met last trip at the Nene Goose Bakery had recommended Big Country, a bar in Waimanalo, for local music. We stopped in on the way out of town to see what the deal is. The deal is that tourists must not go there very often because it was if the needle slipped off the record when I walked in. It looked like a cool place, but sadly we had to make a choice between staying at Big Country or going to see Led Kaapana that night. We decided to go see Led.

He was amazing, as usual. Warmed up by playing a full set over the sound of the radio. Then he played his set at the usual time. Funny. His sister accompanied him this time, and there were dancers who sometimes did their hula on top of the bar.

The highlight, though, was meeting a nice family from St. Louis who were huge Ledheads.  By the end of the night we'd given them our recommendations for things to do and to see on the rest of their trip. We had a nice time chatting with them, and that was really the first time we'd met people along the way on a trip.

We said good night and went on our way.

Hawaii 2012, Day 1

The usual events took place: we flew, we went to La Mariana for lunch, we checked in.

We'd hoped to find something new to do, so we went to a tourist bar to see some music. It was Friday night in Waikiki. What were we thinking? The amusing / weird part was leaving along the beach and noticing that the band had turned around to play to a woman in an incredibly small bikini. She repaid the compliment by playing air guitar and, well, air humping the short fence that keeps the beach people separate from the bar people. Oh Waikiki.

After a call over to Chuck's Cellar to see who was playing there, we trudged through the sea of humanity and metallic-painted street entertainers to take refuge. We sat at the bar and listened to Betty Loo Taylor play everything from Round Midnight to My Love Does It Good.

The bass player arrived partway through the set, and none of the house equipment was set up. As he reached over the bar to plug in an amp, I noticed that the third plug of his power cord was missing. I said "Are you going to get a shock, plugging in that un-grounded plug?" which is exactly what happened as I was saying it. Betty Lou and the drummer didn't miss a beat while all of this (and a blown fuse, subsequent search for appropriate power outlets, finding one, guarding the power cord so nobody tripped, taping the cord to the floor, putting out a "wet floor" sign over the taped down cord) was happening. Chuck's was perfect for us last night. We'd heard that our aunt was dying, and the music and setting were such a comfort. Jazz piano reaches deep inside both of us as a reminder of our parents and others of that generation who we love.

Later we headed down Kuhio to our hotel on foot. It's sketchier than Kalakaua, but I'd rather dodge minor street action than mimes, tourists and professional moonwalkers again. Our dinner at Chiba-ken was a perfect way to end the evening.

So concludes day 1.

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