We turned the corner on the week, but the hits kept coming. On Monday we caught the bus to one of the hotels. That particular hotel has a ukulele store in the lobby. Mrguy was in the market for a new instrument. Me too. You see I've been having an ukulele crisis of faith. I have realized that I hate the sound of the Martin tenor uke I've been playing for 30 years. But it's my baby. I have never felt comfortable with a different instrument. I have other ukes, but none of them is one I'd gig with. So I have been considering either getting a Tahitian uke (brighter sound, extra strings) or getting a different pickup for my Martin tenor.
A different solution presented itself at the hotel ukulele store. They had everything, including this odd Kanile'a 5-string. It's light. It feels just like my Martin tenor. It has two A strings. It was inexpensive (for a Kanile'a). I bought it. I wish it had a satin finish, but you can't have everything. I'm happy.
We took the uke to the Japanese food court, which didn't really wow us. So we cut our losses, had a rice ball to tide us over, and ate lunch at Maui Brewing. With my new uke.
Later on, back at the hotel, we did some genealogy sleuthing and general hanging out and posting to Facebook and such and were getting razzed by a friend because we hadn't had a mai tai while in town. We ordered food delivered, and while we were waiting for it we went downstairs to the little restaurant the hotel has recently opened and drank the bartender's first-ever mai tai.
It was fine, and satisfied our fb friends. But while we were drinking it at the bar, something else happened. We somehow got sucked into watching The Voice, despite the fact that it was on mute, with subtitles. We felt like anthropologists. "How does this work?" Anyhoo, on vacation you do things differently, so when our food arrived we ate it while watching The Voice in our room. And now we are hooked.
Sunday was spectacular. We went to the airport to pick up a friend who came from Maui for the day. Went to Kaka'ako Kitchen, which is ok but not like it used to be. It's all fancy and doesn't have the weird home-grown veggie burger that we used to like. You know -- every once in a while we go to Hawaii and it seems like our favorites are rotating out. This was one of those trips. You roll with it and find new and different places to love.
After lunch we went to the Wiki Wiki One Day Vintage Sale. We ended up buying some Dansk candlesticks. There wasn't much to get into. And now we know.
Our next destination was Barrio Vintage, which I would have not known about if not for our friend who lives on Maui. She is a delightful girl -- an old friend of mrguy's from his recording studio days. I'd heard of her band, which was locally famous, but I've really only gotten to know her via Facebook. While we were planning our trip she saw I was going to Wiki Wiki and said she'd come over. Then she mentioned Barrio Vintage. Awesome shop that sells vintage aloha wear. Has a buyer there whenever it's open for business. On a whim I packed 22 aloha shirts in my luggage for this trip and BV bought all but two. It's been fun seeing them on the Barrio Vintage Instagram feed since our trip, decorating lithe and fashionable models of all sexes. I walked out of there with a sweet stack of bills and got to buy our friend something pretty. They were SO NICE there. Bye, shirts!
I haven't mentioned at this point that it was blazing hot the whole time we were in Honolulu. So hot. No rain. No trade winds. And here we were on the sidewalks of Chinatown in the blazing afternoon. We ended up going to Smith & King for a cocktail. I can't recall how this ended up happening, but the owner bought us a round of breakfast cocktails. Jameson's, orange juice and bacon. Such a sweet lady. And it was mrguy's birthday, too!
For dinner we went to Nico's 38, which is another venue where some of our friends have been playing lately. Perfectly fine, but I don't think I'd go there again unless someone really compelling was on the bill. After dinner we took our girl back to the airport, passing the IBM building on the way.
We were everywhere on Friday, but one of our main goals was to get to Haleiwa to check out a ukulele store that Bryan Tolentino had visited the day before. It was on mrguy's list of places to go. Our final plan for the day was to catch Bryan playing at the Lighthouse Restaurant at the Hawaii Kai golf course. But first...
Eggs Haloa at Koko Head. If you tip the kitchen they make a rukus, so we did. Then to the Goodwill in Kaimuki. It is OVER, by the way. It's been so good to me over the years, but Goodwill Kaimuki is just sad now. Oh well.
And then I had some other things that needed doing, so mrguy took us to the Kahala Mall. I like to get my phone screen saver replaced over there when we're on vacation. And there's a lady's clothing store that I like, so I bought some things. And we made a final trip to Stir It Up for a pomegranate boba tea. We will miss you, Stir It Up. You had it going on.
Then we drove to Haleiwa, which is the last time I think I need to go there. OMG what happened? It's all commercial now and not hippiefied. It's as if it turned into Carmel, but without the charm.
Eventually we made it to the Hawaii Kai golf course. Note: despite the name, this place is nowhere near what I think of as Hawaii Kai. Good thing mrguy saw the sign out of nowhere when we were driving toward Hawaii Kai!
We were the first folks there, so we got to say hi to Bryan and the owner of the restaurant, who used to own Corner Kitchen. We were as surprised by the fact that he used to own the Corner Kitchen as he was surprised we'd ever been to the Corner Kitchen. It was a great evening of music. Dessert was a malasada ice cream sandwich. Wow.
We had somewhat of a major conversion last year when mrguy realized that there is a teensy little beach in front of the hotel next to us, and that you can walk through the parking lot of our hotel to get to it. It's perfect for swimming. For the last year we've been craving it, and every day on this vacation we got up really early, went to the beach and swam. OK I missed a day, but mrguy did not. It was awesome. The hotel shades the water and the beach, making it easier for me to escape a burn. To put in perspective how monumental this swimming thing is, I've been to Hawaii 13 times. I have only been fully submerged 8 times total. 7 of those times were on this trip. Big news. Anyway, our little beach is quiet, tiny, and some days only inhabited by a gigantic seal who calls it home. This is a little intimidating, due to the summer's earlier bear situation, but I got over it. This animal, henceforth referred to as the sea bear, literally only moves every couple of minutes, and only her fins, very slowly. On Day 2, after the beach, we had lunch at the museum.
Saw the Abstract Expressionist show, which was great. The show was an effort to recontextualize the movement, showing the Asian and Pacific artists who were part of it but who are not often mentioned. I learned new things about old favorites (Satoru Abe and Tadashi Sato) and wrote down lots of new names to research. The annual Hawaii's Wood Show was happening across the street and that was well worth seeing, as well.
The highlight of the day was dinner. A friend at work had told me about a guitarist he liked, and I checked out his website. He plays regularly at two places and one is super fancy and had Cherries Jubilee on the menu. And when I mapped it, it said it was 10 feet from our hotel.
Mrguy and I are not the type to go for a fancy dinner unless someone else suggests it, but I just went for it and made reservations. Our waiter was impeccable. He made us a terrific Caesar at the table. The cioppino was pretty ok and we picked some nice wine because the maker shared our surname. After the richness of the main course I almost weenied out on the Cherries Jubilee, but mrguy made me do it. First our waiter mixed softened butter and brown sugar, then melted them in a sauce pan until almost caramelized. He separated tiny marinated black cherries from their juice, added the juice to the caramel and slowly reduced the buttery juices. Then he added the cherries to warm them. Moving the cart to the other side of the table, now, he set a large ladle of Maui rum on fire. Using a fork, he lifted a whole spiral orange rind over the pan. The orange rind had been studded with cloves ahead of time. One hand has the rind, one hand has the ladle of flaming rum and he then slowly dripped the flaming rum onto the orange rind. As the rum flowed down the rind, the orange oil began to steam and burst and the cloves caught fire and popped like little fireworks. The rum carried these oils and scents back down into the cherry pan. It was spectacular! And tasty.
The kids at the next table thanked us for ordering it.
Before our trip to Texas, mrguy and I took a trip to Hawaii. When we got home I didn't have the energy to write it up, but I'm sick on the sofa today, so here we go.
Oh my gosh. This trip to Hawaii was really terrific. The new normal is that I pretend I am an orphan when I am away. I set up the mama's meds, scheduling, whatever, and then leave it in the hands of my siblings. I also turn off my work email and calendar. It is blissful. On this particular occasion my brother-in-law came to town, picked up the mama and took her to Minnesota for a visit, so I worried zero percent. Our trip started out as usual. We gave hugs to our friend who works at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket desk. Then we flew to Honolulu and lunched at La Mariana.
There were some trimarans in the harbor. Mrguy comes from trimaran people, so he appreciated that.
On our way back to the car, we saw some good rust that needed to be appreciated.
Then we went to the Diamond Head Market on Monsaratt, laid in provisions, and hunkered down for the night. Did I mention that our room was The Bomb? Best views ever. All of them. One and a half lanais. You can see the ocean all the way out past Kaimuki, the surf at Waikiki, and Diamond Head, with all of its majestic but adorably pincheable tinyness. So good.
We have this room in the big brown box that we call the the aku room. The reference here is that we once went to see Kupaoa play at the Windward Mall and the stage there is under a giant skylight. Kellen remarked that it was hot enough on that stage to dry aku (skipjack tuna). Ever since that comment, we've dubbed our blazing and pointless sunroom the aku room. We only use it to dry our laundry, although I sometimes fantasize about actually using it to dry aku or make hoshigaki (dried persimmon). Anyhoo, one of the things I sometimes try to do in there is start plants. And when a sweet potato we had in the kitchen began to sprout leaves, mrguy planted that potato in some potting soil. It languished out there for months, and then he potted it in a planter on the deck. Its leaves have been flourishing ever since, and I protect it from the mama when she's out there because I know she wants to prune the leaves. I haven't known what was going on underneath the soil, though. This whole sweet potato thing is new to us.
This morning I went out to get some herbs and curiosity got the better of me. I took a moment to rootle around in the dirt, when up came a teensy sweet potato! About as thick as my ring finger. We will give this little friend a place of honor in our Thanksgiving dinner.
Last week bigsis and I took the mama to Texas. This is a trip we've tried to plan for years, but mom often threw up worry roadblocks. She worried that the weather might be bad, or that she'd have to host a dinner (the problem there is being the center of attention, not cost). Once we picked a date but then bigsis broke her back. Recently, after hearing that the mama's cousin was having some health problems I decided that it was time to go. I picked the nearest date prior to the holidays and charged ahead. At first this was going to be a mama / baby trip. Then I realized that I was crazy to think I could do it on my own. So I invited bigsis, who was good company and a big help, especially with mama strategy. On travel day we woke the mama up at 5am for the 7am shuttle pickup. We brought a cane and walker, used Sky Cap for the first time, had a wheelchair escort. A flight, a 2 1/2 hour drive, and by 8pm we were in the boosum of the family in Wichita Falls, home of my mom's first cousin. Most of our waking hours for the next 5 days was spent with mom's cousin and his wife, two of their daughters, a daughter-in-law and a boyfriend. We talked incessantly. We looked at graveyards, we opened a box of photos that nobody had seen for years. And each of our days was bracketed by the process of getting the mama ready for the day and ready for bed (about an hour on each end, depending). Mom's cognition was spotty, but when she was there she was there, and the cousins loved their visit. So did we.
On Saturday we saw a local production of a musical about Wichita Falls playing at a theater in the old downtown. On our way there, we did a tour of some local cemeteries. I'd planned ahead and downloaded cemetery spreadsheets. Little did we know that we'd need them because of hidden cemetery location markers. Can't believe I was running around a cemetery with a laptop, but it worked. We were looking for section O, but couldn't find it until we started using the spreadsheet to search for unusual names and trying to triangulate where we were. One cousin has an unusual knack for finding gravestones, so we each used our strengths to find what we needed. We did this in both city and county cemeteries and were pretty successful. Found our great-great grandfather's grave, and his first wife's. The stone itself answered our question of how she died (in childbirth). One cousin went back while we were at the play and took a rubbing. We also made a detour to see the Littlest Skyscraper.
Saturday evening our cousins invited other cousins and half-cousins over. The half cousins were from our great-grandfather's first marriage. Our hosts put on a huge spread for us, hired help for the evening. It was a great time. Eventually someone brought out the picture with Teddy Roosevelt, Quanah Parker and our uncle.
Sunday drove out to the cemetery in Charlie, then the country club and then we took a huge nap.
The spread at the country club was great. Yes, there was prime rib, but my real interest was the two kinds of okra (fried, pickled). Did I mention that our hosts had buttermilk in the fridge? Perfect people. After the nap we had a visit from a daughter and her boyfriend and the daughter-in-law. We ate Bluebell ice cream. Have the coffee flavor. It's tremendous. Monday we drove around the city and heard about every person who lives in every house. I now know that if I lived there everybody would know my business because I now know theirs ;) Sis and I slipped out for a few hours to go to the library (they have an amazing genealogy section) and visit the grocery store for a few minutes. I loved the New Age Beverages sign, Sugary Sam sweet potatoes and Best Maid pickled okra.
Then we had a big steak dinner under the warm gaze of taxidermed steer. The trip back was insane. Mom had fallen out of bed and was convinced we were taking her to the hospital. It took an hour and half to get her out of the house. She complained about everything, including the divider between first class and economy "this displeases me," she said while flapping it around. On the other hand she found great delight in making French toast out of toast and syrup at IHop. We asked a great deal of her, considering her age and Alzheimers. All in all, it was an amazing trip. I can't wait to see our cousins again.