25 June 2008

An Ode to Mr. Big in 9E

Note to readers: Laguardia to Houston is a three and a half hour flight.

Standing in the aisle of the aircraft, someone farther down the line trying to make a 34-inch long bag fit into a 31-inch overhead bin, while the rest of us behind stand patiently, not making eye contact, laden with carry-ons. As I waited, I counted the rows, scoping out my spot. 6… 7… 8… 9. There it is. My little seat by the window, 9F, waiting for me.

A small, middle-aged Asian woman on the aisle. A large man in the middle seat next to mine. I give them the news they knew was coming, I need them to move so I can get to the window seat. They unbuckle their belts and move into the aisle to open a way for me.

I slide into my seat, getting my iPod and a magazine out of my tote before stowing it under the seat.

Mr. Big in 9E sat back down. He elbowed me hard a couple of times as he was settling in and buckling up.

The flight attendant made the safety announcements, when all passengers concentrate especially hard on their magazines/books so they don’t seem uncool, and we were off.

Mr. Big in 9E had a wide stance, so our thighs were touching most of the trip. But what bothered me more was his wing span. There would be no “arm rest-ling” with this man. Mr. Big in 9E made no effort to fit within his space. His upper arm and elbow were in my ribs and stomach for the entire duration of the trip.

The proximity is why I couldn’t help but see Mr. Big in 9E’s reading materials.

Mr. Big in 9E had a huge white envelope in the seat pocket in front of him. From it, he removed a thick ream of paper, bound with a big metal clip. It was a one-sided photocopy of a book: “How to Handle Bio Fuels.”

“Hmm,” I thought. “Mr. Big in 9E is a green guy, a lover of the earth. Nice.”

Mr. Big in 9E reached into the front pocket of his button-up shirt and brought out a template. Circles, triangles, squares, all in increasing mm sizes. He used the template as a straight edge, underlining passages in the photocopied book.

I started contemplating copyrights. Then I started wondering why someone who was green, who cared for the earth, would have used what looked like an entire ream of paper to do a one-sided photocopy of a book.

He got through the ream quickly, and replaced it in the envelope. I was able to take a nice deep breath of air as he leaned forward, removing his giant arm and elbow from my ribs.

As I was taking that breath, he fished out another piece of reading material, a small pamphlet, from the envelope.

Ugh! He leaned back into his seat, his beefy arm and elbow coming right back into my stomach and ribs. I wondered if the Asian woman on his other side was getting the same treatment.

The cover on the pamphlet said “How to Load Cartridges.”

“Oh, is Mr. Big in 9E a printer repair guy?” I wondered to myself. Then I thought “… what do bio fuel and printer cartridges have in common?” Mr. Big in 9E was multi-faceted. A complex man. Hmmm.

I closed my eyes and tried to be small – not an easy feat for me. I tried to think about the podcast I was listening to on the iPod and forget about the big arm and elbow that had me pinned into 9F.

When I opened my eyes a few minutes later, I glimpsed at Mr. Big’s book.

At the top of the page was a drawing of a missle-shaped object. Then a few paragraphs. Then a couple of photos. The photos were black and white. I squinted a little bit. A man, holding something, squatted down by… what was that? A man, holding a huge gun, squatted over a lion.

The photo underneath was a different man, holding a different huge gun, his foot on top of his kill, a leopard.

Holy crappity! Mr. Big in 9E was not a printer repair guy. He was a big game hunter! Mr. Big in 9E likes guns and killing things! And he is still WAY in MY personal space… elbow and upper arm right up against me. Like he isn’t even aware that’s me, not a seat cushion, that he’s resting on.

Not that I am so surprised by that. I think my friend Polly is the one I first heard put it into words: once a woman hits middle age, she becomes invisible. I started disappearing around my 40th birthday. By the age of 45, I had become completely transparent, blending in and becoming invisible in any environment. When I’m in public, no one knows I exist. I guess that’s why I figured he was treating me like a sofa pillow.

An Ode to Mr. Big in 9E

Who are you, Mr. Big in 9E, with your wide stance and beefy elbow wings spread,
Holding me down in 9F as you read your tree-killing book about keeping bio-healthy gas guzzlers fed?

Who are you, Mr. Big in 9E, who makes weapons more lethal, and celebrates exotic animal homocide,
the suggestion of yellow mustache on your lip, a non-printer-fixing arm on my side?

Who are you, Mr. Big in 9E? You are an enigma to me.

15 June 2008

I've lost that chillin' feelin'

Refrigerator das kaput. Dang it.

I noticed it after I got off an hour on the treadmill. I wanted ice. But when I jabbed my glass at the ice dispenser, I noticed it was leaking, badly. There was water running down the fridge and a big puddle had formed on the floor.

Thank goodness we have a small fridge in the laundry room.

I spent my evening throwing thawed, dripping disgusting items from my freezer into the garbage (the garbage won't be picked up for another 6 days, dang it)... and moving anything still save-able from the kitchen fridge to the laundry room fridge.

In every disaster there is an opportunity, yes?

I took my opportunity to throw out a bunch o' stuff from my kitchen fridge that I really should have thrown out already.

12 June 2008

Macadamia nuts, cops, dead hippie

--Stopped at the Mauna Loa orchard/factory. 2500 acres of macadamia trees. about 22 hours ago from txt
--Richardson Ocean Park near Hilo: kids in surf can't resist that gigantic turtle. about 20 hours ago from txt
--Reeds Bay Park near Hilo: body of old man wahed up on beach at least 9 police cars on scene. about 20 hours ago from txt

We toured the Mauna Loa orchard and factory. Not much to see other than the gift shop, because the factory wasn't operating that day. But it was still fun. Drive through acres and acres of macadamia nut trees to get to the visitor buildings. Again, this is only a few miles from our home base, Wild Orchid House.

On our way to the airport, we stopped at a few of the beach parks in Hilo.

The "beach" is black lava rocks. The "sand" is ground up lava rocks. It hurts my bare feet. It's rough and coarse. Yes, I know I'm using the "" liberally. I'm trying to convey that the reality of what was there does not meet my schemata. It didn't fit with my brain's definitions.

We drove into the last beach park, Reeds Bay Park. 9 police cruisers were parked there in a clump.

"What's going on?" says Mike.

"Ah, I don't think we need to know," I said.

"I want to know what's going on."
"Mike, drive out. Just drive by and drive out."

"Baby doll, I want to know what's going on," kind of short-tempered now.

"Mike, please, just drive out. Just leave. It can't be good."

Mike steers STRAIGHT TOWARD a policeman who is interviewing some people. The officer is holding a clip board. Mike pulls right up beside (MY SIDE OF THE CAR, DAMMIT!), and Mike rolls down MY window and yells over me through my window "Officer, is there a problem here?"

OMG. Did he just say that? Did he just do that? Can I melt into my seat? Can I become invisible?

The officer takes a half-step toward my window. Can't see his eyes behind the shades. Steel face.

He leans in to my window (me, doing my wish-I-was-invisible trick) and says to Mike "Depends, sir. How long have you been in the park?"

This has turned a bad corner.

"Oh we're just leaving," says jovial Mike. He must be talking about the fact that we are on our way to the airport to leave the island, but that is NOT what it sounds like to shades-wearing steel-face clip-board-holding officer.

"No! That's not what he means," I blurt out. "We JUST DROVE IN to the park. He means we are leaving the island today.... I mean... we're on our way to the airport... I mean... we've been here on vacation and its our last day... we fly out today... that's what he meant. We just drove in to the park!!!!"

I see a tiny little lift at the corner of the policeman's mouth.

"How long have you been at the park?" he asks again.

"Less than a minute. We just drove in and saw all the police cars and were curious," I said, feeling embarrassed at my silly breakdown a moment before.

"Well, ok, because there's a dead body here, washed up on shore. I wouldn't want to think you folks were involved in that in any way. I'm just interviewing witnesses," he says, the corner of his mouth up a little more. "Are you witnesses?"

"No! We just drove in!" Mike said.

"OK, then move along now."

We drove past the body. Man. Wearing raggedy shorts. Leathery brown shins. Head covered in a bright print beach towel. Dreadlocks hanging out beyond the towel.

Was it one of the Hilo hippies who greeted us our first day on the big island with bongo drums and uninhibited dancing on the sidewalk?

We were quiet on the short trip to the airport. It was time to say good bye.

05 June 2008

Eggs, wood, and history

--Last morning in Hawaii :-( gotta pack.
01:38 PM April 20, 2008 from txt

--I hate packing... Especially at the END of the trip, packing to come home. 03:12 PM April 20, 2008 from txt

--Purchased a beautiful hand carved bowl of koa wood, crafted by Dan DeLuz. about 23 hours ago from txt

A few days before (I think it was the morning before we left for the other side of the island to go fishing), we had stopped at the "Koa Shop Kaffee" to have breakfast. It's just a few miles down from our home base, the Wild Orchid House.

We sat down in the small restaurant and I immediately pointed something out to Mike. The tables and chairs were hand made. I'm not kidding. There were dove-tail joints in the wood. The tables and chairs were a work of art, obviously crafted with great skill and love. I've never seen anything like that in a restaurant.

We ordered our breakfast. Two women (I think maybe mom and daughter) were working the restaurant.

While we were waiting for our food, we spied some shelves in the corner. On them were wooden objects. Mike went over first (he's more uninhibited that me). He started picking up the wooden items to look at them. He called me over.

"Look at these, baby doll," (yes, he really says that, shut up). "Come over here and look at these. These things are beautiful!"

I got up and walked over. The items on the shelves were wooden bowls and wooden carvings. Unbelievable skill exhibited in these items. Prices were pretty high.

A guy sitting at the next table, eating his eggs, said, "You like those?"

We both looked at him -- greying hair, heavy eyes, lots of lines on his face from sun and smiles.

"Yeah, these are beautiful," Mike said.

"I made 'em," the guy grunted between bites.

Mike and I glanced at each other. Sorta cool. Ok.

Mike launched into a coversation (again, for those of you who don't know him well, this is what the man does) with the egg-eating guy. "You made these? How do you do it? Is this native wood? Do you do it with machines? How long have you been doing this?"

The guy introduced himself: Dan DeLuz. Invited us to go to his little retail shop behind the restaurant to see his other work.

We smiled, shook his hand, told him we were so happy to have met him, and left.

So, when we were in Waiamea or Kona or someplace on a different part of the island later that day, we were in a high-end tourist shop. Pricey stuff everywhere. In unison, we spy a big display behind glass of hand-carved wooden bowls and artwork. We both stepped toward it. The big sign:
We shared a look. We just met this guy at breakfast!

I've since done some research on the man.

Did you know that the U.S. took over Hawaii... I mean like invasion? It was a sovereign land with its own monarchy and government, friendly to Europe and the U.S. In the early 1900's (or 19-teens), at the same time the U.S. was herding native Americans onto reservations, it (we) was overtaking Hawaii. The U.S. kept the princess imprisoned in her bedroom for years. It's quite a sad story.

In the process of the U.S. domination, the native population of Hawaii was almost decimated. There were few native Hawaiians left on the islands. Their culture and skills and art were also endangered. From Dan DeLuz's site:

He virtually single-handedly brought the craft into the latter half of the 20th Century... Largely self-taught, he has in turn, taught most of the younger generation of Hawaii's bowl-turners. Passing on his skills, wisdom and knowledge gathered over the years. The techniques he has developed is masterful and results in bowls which will become cherished family heirlooms.
We had met Dan DeLuz. He's a big deal, people.

So, on this, our last day on the island, we made our way to the home-shop of Dan DeLuz, behind his wife's restaurant, to see his work.

We purchased a small wooden bowl. It is made from a single piece of native koa wood, including its lid, smooth, with heavy grain exposed. It sits on our mantle.

04 June 2008

"Chain of vomit" (COV): background info that's good to know

- COV -

That's what our family calls it. It's that reflex event where, when one witnesses the puking of another, one also pukes one's guts out. And someone else sees that person puke and that person reflexively barfs, and on and on.


When Chrispy (also referred to as "C1" on this blog) was staying with me last summer, he attended an adventure camp. At the camp, the kids learned some fun camp songs. They also made some up.

Chrispy and I made up our own song, explaining the COV phenomenon.

Chain of vomit,
coming on.
Chain of vomit,
feeling it strong.

Spewing from your throat I see
Your lunch time sandwich of balogne.

Chain of vomit,
coming on.
Chain of vomit,
feeling it strong.

Coming from your nose I've seen
What looks just like a big green bean.

Chain of vomit,
coming on.
Chain of vomit,
feeling it strong.

I'm feeling a little green, you know
I think my stomach is about to blow!

Chain of vomit,
coming on.
Chain of vomit,
feeling it strong.

It rises in your gut so strong
You cannot keep your breakfast down for long.

Chain of vomit,
coming on.
Chain of vomit,
feeling it strong.

Reprise of vomit girl - she strikes again!!!!

TWITTER: FREAKY: girl who vomited over my shoulder this am walked into restaurant tonight- RUN AWAY!!! 12:27 AM April 20, 2008 from web

After a long day of hiking up and down waterfalls, we stop in a a downtown Hilo restaurant to have a cocktail and pick up dinner to go. It's our last night together for who knows how long. The plan is to take dinner back to Wild Orchid House and have a quiet evening.

Sitting at the bar, sipping a glass of wine, soaking up the atmosphere and feeling very sated, I hear a voice. A female voice. It sounds a little familiar.

"What soups do you have tonight?" she says.

I turn my head to see who it is.


The very same girl that greeted me at Starbucks that morning with a perfect arc of puke.

Thankfully, we had our boxed dinners already and were just signing the check. We ran for the sanctuary of Wild Orchid House.

I will do you a favor and not include any photos with this posting.

Can you tell it's raining if you're under a waterfall?

--- Heading out to see some waterfalls. 09:08 PM April 19, 2008 from txt

-- Akaka falls: WOW! 10:13 PM April 19, 2008 from txt

Akaka falls is the tallest accessible waterfall in Hawaii. It was raining very hard, so it's misty-looking in this photo. Some nice hiking down-down-down and up-up-up to see this spectacle.

We're still very close to our home base, The Wild Orchid House.

-- Rainbow falls: giant cave under, lava pools on top. Wonderous. 11:01 PM April 19, 2008 from txt

Here are your hokey snapshots for the day. Mike's hand isn't turned quite right, but you get the idea.

It continued to rain all day. I guess that's to be expected sometimes in a rain forest.

The cave behind the waterfall is a lava tube.

We did some S-E-R-I-O-U-S climbing to see what was on top of the rainbow falls.
The lava has hardened on top of the waterfall and the craters have formed warm pools of water. Three children were swimming in one of the natural pools there on top of the falls.

(As usual, click on the photos to enlarge.)

03 June 2008

Have you ever seen a $20,000 orchid?

TWITTER: Just pulling up to the orchid farm 07:42 PM April 19, 2008 from txt

The orchid farm in Mountain View (near Wild Orchid House, not far from Hilo). I would link to their site, but apparently they aren't on th web.

When we lived in Cape Coral/Ft. Myers, I raised orchids. I had 90+ orchids. I nurtured and loved those orchids and they grew, flourished and bloomed. They displayed their natural beauty and perfumed the air and gave me great satisfaction and joy.

When we moved from Florida, I had to leave the orchids. It was a sad parting.

So I was excited to to visit the orchid farm near Hilo.

Several signs throughout the buildings touted a "$20,000 orchid in the gift shop." Well, if you know Mike, you know he can't resist something worth lots o' money. So off we went to the gift shop to see this unbelievably pricey orchid.

We spotted it in a few seconds, among the decks of playing cards, magnets, shot glasses, hats and shirts. Way up on a pedestal, clearly marked with a sign declaring its value, was the treasure orchid.

Mike grabbed the camera out of my hands and insisted on taking a photo. What ended up in the frame of the shot that he took is very revealing (ummm, what does the bloom look like? where is the flower??).

So, have you ever seen a $20,000 orchid? You're not seeing it here!

01 June 2008

Joy lies in a warehouse in Hilo

TWITTER: Went a liitle crazy in the HUGE discount fabrics warehouse. 06:54 PM April 19, 2008 from txt

You know how I feel about fabric stores. I've blogged about this fetish before. We had actually driven by the huge warehouse with the sign in front declaring "Discount Fabric Warehouse" several times. Each time, my distraction grew. Finally, time in the schedule to explore the place that kept calling to me.

Better than my imagination had speculated... heavenly sigh... I quickly calculated how much room I might be able to make in my suitcase and how many yards that many square inches in a suitcase might translate to be.

As we entered the open-air gigantic warehouse, we saw the sale signs "Any fabric with flowers or butterflies 20% off." Were they kidding? Who's ever seen a sale sign like that? All the fabric sale signs I've ever seen in my life say something like "Linen suitings 20% off," or "Cotton knits 20% off," but never "Some arbitrary motif in the fabric pattern 20% off." Bizarre change of paradigm for me. But a happy one :-) ! Besides, about 80% of the fabric in the store had either a butterfly or a flower, or both.

My quick eye contact with Mike was effective enough to communicate the message: "See ya later, buddy!" I delved into the aisles, a little nervous for some reason. Maybe because of the sense of overwhelming warehouse full of treasures just waiting for me to find them.

Don't tell me I'm dysfunctional because of my affinity for fabric. I think it's a dominant gene in my family DNA. I can't help myself. Don't judge me!

Here's what I came home with:

You already saw what I did with this pink floral: a cute flowery dress and matching hat for Caille. (Sorry the photo is a little blurry here!)

I got the brown-background version of that floral print to make something for Bri. She hasn't chosen a pattern yet. I'm hoping there might be enough left over to make something for myself, too.

Mike started catching the fabric bug, it was so overpowering. This print is going to make a Hawaiian shirt for him.

And this one is another Hawaiian shirt for Mike.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with this one (sorry, a little blurry), but I love it and I had to have it. I'll think of something eventually.

I got lots and lots of yards of this petroglyph print. It's going to be matching shirts for Steve (my son-in-law) and my three grandsons. Matching shirts for dad and the little guys.

I also got several dozen coconut buttons, the traditional button to use on an Hawaiian shirt.

And of course, as I get all of these projects finished, I'll be posting them here for you to see.

(I must make myselft at least one suit from the stuff I bought in NYC months ago before I do any other projects, right?)

The card I picked up Discount Fabric Warehouse indicates that there are also locations in Kona, Maui and Kauai.