Friday, January 21, 2011

Missing :: Part Four

January 21, 2004. Corm and his grandsons, meeting Geoff at the Kona airport.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

In the first month of 2004, while Geoff was immersed in the heavy work load of game writing, William, Alex, Max, and I went to Hawaii. We enjoyed homeschooling in Tutu and Grandpa Corm's home, while giving ourselves daily excursions around Kona, Kohala, and even to Honoka'a. It was fun, but after twelve days the boys were really missing their dad, and I was missing Geoff too. Finally Geoff was able to get away for a long weekend.

For his first night we thought we would indulge in one more night of Island luxury, this time checking in at Kohala resort. Besides enjoying the pool and crazy long water slide, the most memorable part was the storm that blew in that night. It was wild. At one point thunder tore the sky open and sounded and felt as though a bomb had detonated. We leaped out of our beds. Every lightning strike lit the sky and we could see every bit of the beach and mountains as though it broad daylight. The next morning we saw that the storm brought more snow to Mauna Kea.

Alex, remember these? The guava crepes.

Alex and I were the early risers, and he was ready to see what was cookin', so he went down to the restaurant...

Another guava opportunity. Sweeter than the first! It's so much fun to try new things, and to have a chance to enjoy a bit of fancyness.

From a resort in Koahala, looking to the summit of Mauna Kea. Just below the clouds you can see the snowy peak and slopes. The air that morning felt fresher than ever, and charged with energy.

We loaded our bags, and headed over to Honoka'a, to the farm acres, and Tutu and Corm.

Geoff couldn't wait to explore the acres, ours, and theirs. He was hiking all over the tall, cane grass land. Max was pretty sure he could catch up. It's not hard to imagine getting lost in there.

Single minded. Determined. Brave. Max.

There is a lot to be discovered in the tall, tall grass.

We never did see any cane toads. We did see the wild boars, and these stick insects, and something looking like katydids. And no one came out of the cane grass without getting covered in tiny velvety-Velcro stickers the size and color of a split pea. Hundreds of them would cling to our socks and pants, and shoe laces.

I remember evenings when Ruth would sit, diligently removing stickers from freshly laundered socks. They must have been quite accustomed to collecting them... every day... every time they watered their trees, mowed the grass, crossed the acres to tend the garden.

It made sense to wear slip-slops, and to slip them off before going inside. Max called the Hawaiian slippahs, or flip-flops, "slip-slops," which I always thought was kind of appropriate, and funny.

Grandpa Corm mowed a nice big area for the boys to run around, fly kites, and to camp out. They would build a fire too. No one was discouraged by the heavy clouds moving in.

Max loved his camp ready backpack. All three boys were looking forward to this adventure night with their dad.

Stormy clouds above, and an undeterred Max helping to dig a clear spot for their camp fire.

It's not easy to tell, but it was already starting to rain when I took this picture!

Now, normally I do not wimp-out when it comes to camping and adventure. But this particular adventure was happening when I was eleven weeks pregnant, without the benefit of plumbing, soft bedding, or assurances that the rainfall wasn't going to turn serious. I had reservations about joining this camp out... so I made reservations at a place in town. The Hotel Honoka'a Club.

Before we parted ways, we had a little celebration of Geoff's birthday! (That is what started this nostalgic Five Part Post in the first place... remembering that we had celebrated Geoff's birthday in Hawaii, and then finding no posts with pictures from this happy day!) I think we had picked up some food from the KTA in Waimea, and then Geoff opened gifts, including this handmade airplane the boys made for their dad. So sweet. He still has it.

This was a perfect party for Geoff, who prefers low key gatherings, or simply family time, doing things together.

This was mostly made by Alex. Can you see the pilot in the cockpit? It's all paper and tape. A lot of tape.

Tutu and Corm have their inflated bed in the house, Geoff and the boys are going out in the rain, to sleep in the tent, and I am headed to my own adventure at the Hotel Honoka'a Club. Aloha~

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Missing :: Part Three

Alex, Max, William, and the crocagator, at a little grass shack near Kealakekua Bay, January 2004.

Part One

Part Two

We came prepared to pass our time having fun and taking care of school work, which is easy to do in Hawaii. Every day we had new lessons and experiences both on the Island, and in the books we brought with us. Of course, I think the lasting lessons came from these daily excursions we made. Geography, botany, ocean studies, biology, social studies, language, history... we were immersed.

Back in Kailua, in the garden of Hulihe'e Palace, we found a man waiting for students... he was there to teach interested people how to turn palm leaves from the coconut tree into fish. It was such a peaceful and relaxed setting, and we were happy to accept his offer.

I would love to make baskets like those on the table, or especially the big bed and floor mats seen in the Japanese shops. The dried coconut fronds have a sweet, pleasant fragrance.

I am guessing we could find a tutorial for making these fish, and I know they can be made with florist ribbon too.

To add a little fun to our study-vacation, we decided to book a night in one of the beach hotels. We took advantage of the local's kama'aina rate, and got a room near our favorite beach, at Kahalu'u Bay, or Turtle Beach. It's was a nice enough place to stay, but there was a mix-up, and their solution was to upgrade us to an ocean room! Nice mix-up, I say.

Looking north towards Kailua Town, from our balcony. During the day, even at sunset, I loved this room. The views were amazing, and I loved the sound of the ocean surf below our balcony.

But. At night. When we were trying to sleep. Oh. Dear. I couldn't relax. The room was so close to the crashing surf, to the pounding waves, that even when I did nod off, I found myself having flooding dreams, drowning nightmares... and all manner of too much water disturbances! I thought it would be so pleasant, such a luxury... but next time I think I will be satisfied with a little more space between my pillow and the whole Pacific!

So. Yeah, I think the boys wore board shorts and rash guards everyday for two weeks. Scrubbed clean in the surf each day, I figured they were in good shape.

This was fun. We treated ourselves to a sit-down, ocean view, sunset dinner. Actually, I think it only looks fun. I am vaguely recalling that Max was not too happy about leaving the hotel room, changing out of his rash guard, and choosing from a menu of fishy items.

But the beauty of the sun setting, and finding something good to eat, and relaxing after long days of exploring and playing, made everyone feel good and relax. I bet we called Geoff, back home, or at work. We really missed him a lot.

Do you see them? Two... in the center... one is swimming nearer the surface.
They are sea turtles. We watched them, from our upgraded room. They were amazing. There were at least a dozen. And we could see schools of fish, and even make out rainbow wrasse, and parrot fish. Truly luxurious.

Four more, sunning on the lava coast. If we can ever return, I would love to bring a camera like Alison and Bill have... it's waterproof!


More tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Missing :: Part Two

Missing :: Part One

I remember thinking how big, and mature William was... let's see... seven years ago. He was tall, mature, serious. He was also very young... not yet fourteen. It's interesting how well I knew him, and how consistent my impressions of him were, with who he is now. He is still mature, serious, sensitive to the concerns of others. He still has a laugh that makes me happy just to hear it.

We enjoyed our first visit back to the farm acres in Kalopa. It smells beautiful there, like coffee flowers, and rainfall. The air is sweet, and always on the move.

Back in Kona, I borrowed a vehicle from Ruth and Corm... Tutu, Hawaiian Grandma, and Corm. Tutu drove herself in to work, and Corm rode his bicycle to work. The boys and I made daily excursions into Kailua, to beaches, and smaller towns up the mountain.

Here is Max in Kailua-Kona, at the Queen's Palace or Hulihe`e Palace. This link gives a nice description of its history.
We like to go there for
1. the bathroom,
2. the quiet retreat from busy Ali`i Drive, and
3. to feed the fish.

Can you tell Max is happy about feeding the fish?

I believe the pond was created as a kind of private fishing hole for the royals, who liked to vacation at the Palace. It gets hot in Kona... I always wish I could just take a leisurely dip in this fishing hole, but I am pretty sure that would be kapu.

Turkeys are exempt from kapu or any kind of trespassing laws. These wild turkeys were crisscrossing Tutu and Corm's yard all the time, and even though they were comfortable doing so, they did move faster when I tried to take their picture. I have video of them doing their gobble-gobble-gobble, and you can hear the boys laughing in amazement, because I demonstrated for them how to get the Tom to open his tail feathers and reply to my own gobble-gobble-gobble. Yes, I do posses sweet skills.

Higashihara Park, on the Kuakini Highway. Is there any need to say how much the boys love this park? It's all over their faces. I have written about this kid-designed, community built park before.

If you cannot get to Hawaii, and Higashihara Park, look for other amazing kid-designed and community built playground's, like Santa Barbara's Alameda Park! They are fantastic!

I called them WAM. I still do. And also WAMMO, when their sister is in the picture.

Max, five years old. This was an interesting year. And by interesting I mean hard, as we learned to understand new phases and challenges of life with Asperger's Syndrome. I cannot say I am thankful for Asperger's, but it is, strangely, part of Max, an aspect of who he is, and so I am thankful we have had the love and determination to unravel its mysteries, and come to know Max, and be able to connect with him. Those challenges we meet give us a greater appreciation for Max and how wonderful he is.

Those cheeks! Those rosy-rosy Alex cheeks! Oh, mama! This kid was cute. He still is, but now he's so tall I can barely reach those cheeks!

From the park, we continued up and round the highway, and I let them have vacation grinds. We stopped at a mini market in Kainaliu, and I granted them that most coveted opportunity: Choose whatever you want! We sat on the sidewalk in front of the Oshima store, and they enjoyed cheese crackers and chocolate milk. Ono... absolutely delicious!

Then we walked around some more, and we visited the kitties at the Aloha Angel Cafe. Oh, so sad... it seems the cafe is closed now. I wonder about the theater...

I wonder about all the popoki. Who is taking care of them?

One more stop... we left Mamalahoa Highway, and took the makai highway, 160, down to see the surf in Kealakekua Bay. And on the way, we stopped and met a crocagator.

Max and the crocagator, also known as a Lady Jackson chameleon. But we like how the local brudda told the story.

Lady Jackson's owner described how easy these little crocagators are to care for, because all you have to do is leave a light on at night, which attracts all kinds of dinner to her home! Plenty of insects for feeding a crocagator in Hawaii!

She really was a sweet chameleon. Her owner was sweet too and he was more than happy to give everyone a turn to visit with Lady Jackson. Her color and patterns changed as she moved, or when her mood changed. It was really cool watching her move too. She was mellow.

She was grinning.

Yes. Yes, I have ever since seriously considered getting a pet chameleon. I would for sure have a crocagator if we were living in Hawaii.

Come on... it's like a featherless chicken! Just kidding. They're like hairless rats, but not as hyper.

Aloha Lady Jackson.

Tomorrow: Part Three... making fish and luxury living.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Missing :: Part One

This is Mauna Kea, Hawaii. As seen from an Aloha Airlines flight on the ninth of January, 2004. The observatories are visible on the summit of this snowy peak.

I was searching around the archives in search of birthday memories. As usual, I found myself updating old links to posts, and I was surprised to note that none of my posts from this visit to Hawaii included any photographs. I knew we had celebrated Geoff's birthday there, with Ruth and Corm. It was the time the boys and I created a lava field of brownies, with walnuts to look like coral, spelling out A~L~O~H~A~

As I think back on that trip, and our return to the TreeHouse... I remember why I did not post pictures. We came home to personal heartache, and one thing followed another... and so on. Somehow, these photos remained tucked away. I was too emotional to think about them at the time, and now I find them even more emotionally stirring, for the same, and different reasons. But it's a shame to make these pictures linger in a virtual shoebox. They represent good times, happy memories, and places and people I miss.

So, here is Part One of what we are Missing...

Just off the plane, and already cooling off! Max and William play with the pool and hose.

In the middle of Geoff's busy work season, we realized that I could be missing Geoff and still homeschooling from any place, so we decided the boys and should spend a couple of weeks in Hawaii, with Geoff's folks.

They were in the middle of finishing work on their Kalopa home, commuting from Kona every weekend, and working their regular jobs all week. It was a hectic time for Ruth and Corm. The boys and I planned to keep ourselves occupied during the week, and head to the new home with them on the weekends.

Alex, prepared for adventure: He packed all of his camping gear.

This was the day I told Ruth we were expecting. Not Maria. It was another much hoped for pregnancy, and I was nine weeks along, feeling good.

Home from work, and preparing the classic Corm dinner, his wonderful turkey burgers.

Here are the leis Ruth greeted us with at the airport. Even a couple of days later, they were smelling lovely. I specifically remember wanting to preserve them this way, in a photograph. I even remember thanking William for agreeing to pose for me.

Later that same day, we were on the other side of Hawaii, the Big Island, and exploring the acres. There was the five acres that we originally bought with Corm and Ruth. And there was the makai five acres that we bought when property laws changed, and we could no longer share a lot. So, at this time, it meant there were ten acres to explore!

It was on this trip that I got an inkling of Alex as a young corporate type, a sort of enterprising engineer, on the phone, in the field, pocket knife and compass handy. This makes me smile.


The most pressing subject on the minds of these three: Get Guavas! They grew wild, down along the gulch. And even though it wasn't the best time of year for these favorites, the boys managed to gather an armful.

They wasted no time, and set straight to divvying them up.

Pucker up!
All the rest of the pictures are of puckery lips and squinting eyes, because the guavas were so tart! And how much do they love their guavas? They ate the puckery sweet-tarts... each and every one.

We camped here, before the house was built. We spent New Years Eve 2000 here, when we blew up so many fireworks that it took a bonfire to finish the job! That was the year we came on a cruise ship! Delia was with us, and Holly, Rich, and one year old Nicholas were in Kona too.

And on this trip, we were marveling at all of the progress on Ruth and Corm's new home, and this amazing view they had.

Tomorrow: Kona! And exploring around Kealakekua.