Friday, May 30, 2008

Half-way to Putzer-Heaven

Victory! Or at least, half-way to victory. My brother's putzer has been vacuumed out and dejunked. I kept the beach mats, stored the extra car battery, detached the surf-board rack, and sucked up as much sand as I could. It's ready for the next step, which will be to actually scrub off the dashboard and all the vinyl. But that will have to wait. Oh, and in the interest of remaining at one with my environment, I will not be digging out the fern that grows from the driver's side wheel well. Hawaiian cars must be allowed to remain Hawaiian, even if I've done my best to remove the traces of their previous surfer-dude owners. Sam may not recognize this car when he gets back to land!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sam Deploys

Today was the culmination of several happy-sad days. Sam has had so much work to do as he prepared to deploy, but Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all had spaces of time that had to be spent in personal packing, which meant he was with us more. We did a lot of last-minute errands, tasks, and just hanging out; but it was all intentional family time.

Arden helped pack some of daddy's snacks for the ship by taste-testing...

I helped assemble and install the extremely complicated living-room fan, though at the moment pictured I had surrendered the instructions to Sam, being personally befuddled by them.


We went over to Honolulu for breakfast at a crowded little place recommended by Sam's academy sponsors who were once stationed here.

On Sunday, after Sam loaded all his gear onto the ship, a seaman gave us a personal and extensive tour of the ship. We weren't allowed to take photos inside, which is unfortunate, for I wish you could see it! A complicated series of narrow passages, tiny rooms, locking doors, and stairs that are steeper than ladders had me turned around in no time, and I had no idea whether we were up or down.

Here is the little family posing on the helo landing pad on the back of the ship, where Sam will do all his landing and taking off. The biggest "space" on board was the hangar, which the helo can still only fit into by folding its blades and tail up!

Fearless Arden had me in a state of constant, quiet panic as she toddled directly for dock or railing, sticking her head out over to see the water far below.

"Don't mind if I do." Arden thoroughly enjoyed (and was an angel at) Sam & Dora's favorite, Chili's. One last time...

And then today, Sam left. We went to the docks (Pearl Harbor) a little early, so we had an hour of standing in the sun, watching him and the others in the detachment while they all stood on deck and waved to us. It was sad and odd to be so close (only 10-ish or so yards) yet really with a distance of six months between us. If we yelled he could hear, but one can’t go yelling cheesy things about love and missing while all the sailors are watching and listening, eh? Actually, one could. But we had said all those things already. This was just an extended, beautiful torture. Then finally the shoremen released the ropes and the ship pulled away, and all the wives who were blustering around wondering when they would actually get underway and frustrated by seeing their husbands but not being able to talk to them, dissolved into tears. It is quite a sight, everybody in their white uniforms, standing at attention around the perimeter of the ship, getting slowly smaller and distant. Sad times. But God knows, and ordained these days for both my brother and sister-in-law (and for me, I guess), so He’s to be trusted in it all.

Sam is on deck behind me. I'm standing on the edge of the dock.

Arden, poor baby, didn't really understand what was happening. After one or two waves to her father, she found many other things to be interested in. Sam is the left-most of the three in the background, watching her.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wildlife Encounters

I didn't scream. I didn't even yelp. But first, let me give you some background...

It was time to interview for a part-time job. I'd gotten all gussied up and driven Sam's putzer into Kailua. Just as I was reaching across to the passenger seat for my purse I'd discovered that I'd not been as alone as I'd thought on that ride into town. A gecko had accompanied me. That did bring a yelp, at which he scuttled under the peeled-back-rug into the floorboard. (Remember, this is the car that has a vine permanently growing out of the front driver's-side wheelwell.) Knowing I could do nothing about it then, with only ten minutes to make it in to the offices, I locked up the car and left.

By a half-hour later, as I was buckling myself into the driver's seat again and preparing to leave, I'd forgotten all about it. Until I put the car into reverse. Then the thought fluttered through my mind... "I wonder where that gecko got to? I wouldn't want him to freak me out in the middle of the road." Probably still in the floorboards... TURN, goes my head, as I glance over my shoulder and begin to back out of the parking space. SKIP-STOP, goes my heart, as I discover the gecko's whereabouts.

There he perched, on the top of the headrest. There! he had rested, 1 1/2 inches from my head, during the 5 minutes I'd sat and thought before I turned the car on.

(This photo I took this morning for the purposes of illustration. All I had to do was step out the door. They often hang out on the concrete wall separating us from the screaming-pig neighbors.)

I didn't even yelp (though I did jump out of the car quicker than you can say "Hawaii"). Gosh, Hawaii--land where geckos wander across window screens at night, creating garish silhouettes. They're harmless creatures-I know; and they eat the bugs-I'm thankful; but why must they live in cars and hitchhike to places they're not wanted?

It took about 10 minutes for me to find a plastic bag, cover my hand, and chase the gecko around the car and out the door. By the time my attempts to herd it toward one of the open doors were successful, the poor thing's sides were heaving with fright and it had frozen more than once. (Several times in the dashboard's sunglasses-shelf, where he made a cute little passenger. If only I could have trusted him to stay there.) I wasn't in much better of a state, although, I repeat, I didn't scream. So a poor gecko is now trying to recreate his life...probably on a little grass and tree island in the middle of a large parking lot. I feel badly that I ripped him away from his long-time home in Sam and Dora's car-park, but really! I've come to realize that Hawaiian wildlife don't know their own proper habitats...

Here, as proof, is that long-promised photo of ... one of the several lap dogs who attend church with us.

The images are a bit blurry because I didn't want to use a flash and draw the owner's attention to the fact that I was documenting the doggy.

This particular dog made more of a ruckus than the others. During worship (while I assume his owner was singing instead of holding him on his/her lap) it ran up and down the aisles, brushing against our legs and stepping on our toes. The first time was a shock to my system, but the next few times I was able to stay focused.

Part of the issue (as you can see above) is that the church also provides snacks. Pup made favorites of us that night, since Dora had a bowl of chips and used them advantageously to draw him close enough for a surreptitious photo shoot.

Isn't it odd? I guess the scripture (in old King James's English) does say to preach the gospel to every creature.

Next time I'm driving up Pali highway and happen to have the camera with me, I'll try to photograph some of those wild hens and roosters for you. They're quite colorful and (once again) a little out of place in a tropical forest! As far as getting a picture of the neighbors' screaming pig, I haven't been able to come up with a way that is less offensive than knocking on the door and requesting an audience. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


We didn't have much time -- Sam had to be on base by 11:15, but the idea came up that we should drive down to the southeastern point of the island and hike the Makapu'u trail. Hats, sunblock, and a camelbak were thrown on.

It was a steep trail, but paved, which meant one could spend the time looking around rather than staring at the ground to choose the best footing. These are some of the things I saw...

By virtue of the other day's surfing, Sam's feet are pretty cut up. Thus the one-footed sock-under-Teva look.
The wind was tremendous, so high and on the island's point. Several hats went flying off. Here, Dora is rescuing Sam's, as he has a baby on his back.

We only had an hour to book it up the trail and back down again. Not much time! Usually, when I looked ahead of me, I'd find Sam, waving me to hurry and catch up (very nicely, of course, but geewhiz! he's Navy and I'm, um, not. Our calf muscles are a leetle different...)

The lighthouse on the point. Yes, we're far above it by this time. Unfortunately, we didn't see any humpback whales...this is a favorite calving spot of theirs.

The color of perfectly clear water over black rocks is different than over sand. It turns a beautiful, mysteriously shaded, inky aqua.

This part of the island (a lot of it, in fact) has the look and smell of California. Brown grasses (since it is summer-time and not very rainy), and vegetation smelling sweet in the heat.

The hike was worth it!

Arden had lots of fun...

The rest of us were a little tired and thirsty. Praise God for camelbaks!

Going down was a lot easier than going up. In the wind, Arden's hair looked like the top of a pineapple.

Oh yes, the baby girl is an expert at drinking from a camelbak, in spite of the complicated bite-and-suck combination!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Two "No's"

Your parents always told you "two no's don't make a yes," right? Just like "two wrongs don't make a right." Today, however, two of my no's were undermined, and it was my own doing. The jury is still out on whether or not a "yes" has resulted.

I had determined I would NOT get a sunburn these first few weeks of adjusting my skin to the Hawaiian life. I'd done a great job thus far, but today, after several hours at the White Plains beach, I discovered three little strips of burn. Oh well...that's actually a pretty good track record for this Irish-white epidermis.

The second "no" that was undermined today?... Surfing! Sam rented a board (it's only 5 bucks an hour), and after he'd played around for a long time, and I'd watched, he flopped on his back in the sand and started enjoying the sun. Meanwhile, I started thinking how easy it all looked, and how far out the shallow water extended, and how few sharks I'd seen lurking around (none, actually). I grabbed the board, shackled myself to the little lead, and after a few verbal instructions from sun-bathing-brother, this was the result:

The farthest up I managed to get was on my knees. Later on Sam took me out again and gave a push at just the right time, so I could catch the wave with the right speed. Fun! If no sharks are involved, and no rip tides, I think I could like this. It certainly gives the paddling muscles a workout.

Arden will probably turn out to be a natural. Her father proudly took these pictures...

I think this next picture is so cute. She's actually reaching for birds, not trying to strike a surfer pose, but with Sam carrying his board in the background, it speaks eloquently of imitation, desire, and a long, happy future of surfing with daddy.

We bought her some pink Teva's on base the other day. So smart! Aunt Amy might or might not have a long happy future of surfing. Sam can get me some lessons next time we're at that beach (it's a military beach) I have to decide if I want them. What do YOU think?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Something Less of a Production

The days here seem so long. (Dora disagrees with me.) There are three big chunks of time...morning before Arden's nap, afternoon after Arden's nap, and evening. Sam & Dora's church service is not until evening, which creates a Sunday with tons of time.

This morning we were going to head off to a beach where Sam insisted the water was good for beginning surfers. In spite of my determined, immediate "no" when he asked if I wanted to learn, I was sure I was going to be egged into getting on that board. I was saved when the pregnant one among us suggested doing something a little less of a production. (Meaning, babies don't have to first be slathered with sunblock, and then have the sand bathed off them afterward.) A hike was decided on. It only took about 10 minutes to drive to the trail-head (the mountains, as I've said, are ringing us closely).

Here we're posing beside a sign warning of leptospirosis in the water. It is suspected that GlorieBe picked this up when she was here in Hawaii a few weeks ago. (Her tests don't come back until Monday.) I very bravely resisted cleaning my muddy hands off in the river we were constantly crossing. On the plus side, there were no bugs, no poison fact, no dangers but muddy roots and lepto-water.

We couldn't go all the way to the falls, as Dora had a luncheon to get to. But we did reach the top of the first peak. Can I brag about Dora for a minute? Pregnant, and at the top! I find that amazing :)

It was very muddy, and this river had to be repeatedly crossed. Rather slippery stones... I kept reminding myself: "three points of contact at all times." As it turned out, I didn't land on my rear in the water, but on the regular trail when I became so engrossed with the story I was telling I forgot to watch where my feet were landing. I may find a few unfortunately-placed bruises tomorrow :(

We found the trail-head in this beautiful neighborhood, nestled at the foot of the tallest mountain visible from our living-room windows. (I'm not sure yet of its name.)

And here's a tiny video to give you a taste of the subdued, wet noises that accompany jungly fresh air, tall tree canopies, and babies so engrossed in watching the ground over their daddy's shoulder that they never make a peep.


In retrospect, I don't quite understand how this muddy, clambering hike was "less of a production" than lazing on a beach. But I long ago learned a valuable lesson ... never argue with a pregnant woman!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Everyday Sights

Today I took a short stroll around the neighborhood, camera in hand, and here is what I found. Flowers, flowers, and more flowers...

Did you know that palm trees bear fruit? It was news to me.

A few of these orange blooms, as big as my hand, had fallen to the ground. That was the only way I knew to look for flowers on the canopy of this extremely tall tree.

There is a major Japanese influence to the home landscapes around here. These defined, compact bloom-globes fit so nicely into that genre.

An average bush in front of an average house.

And another one...

And of course, the lei with which Dora welcomed me at the airport two mornings ago! Do you know what sort of a feeling it is to have cool, succulent petals ringing around the back of your neck? If not, you should try it sometime!

Flowers are not the only thing this neighborhood sports. A crescent of mountains, sudden and close, ring Kaneohe Bay and our house. This is the view from the window.

And from the street around the corner...

Then just turn your head 90 degrees... Normal USA, with an extremely abnormal backdrop!

Amazing, isn't it? We drove over those mountains again today to get to Honolulu and some stores, which needed to be combed for an evening gown to fit a pregnant woman. Empire-waist ones will do the trick, and with my last-minute recall of a Macy's coupon I had randomly tucked into my wallet before leaving Chicago, Dora even got $35 off the purchase. One of the things about being a Navy officer's wife is that official functions periodically come up which necessitate the purchase of rather beautiful clothing. I certainly didn't mind helping her pick them out, and Arden managed to hold it together, though she was way past nap and lunch-time. Praise God for Goldfish :)


Concrete jungles like airports don't really lend themselves to dreams of Hawaii. So when I finally escaped the exquisitely designed torture called "Economy Class" and walked out into...more concrete jungles, nothing seemed amiss. Until I realized this concrete walkway had no walls. And beside it was a courtyard of palm trees. And coming from the trees were the harmonized calls of multiple birds. I have to admit, I teared up. Just for a moment, as within a few steps the pathway split and each direction being equally ill-lit and dank, I had to pause uncertainly and wait for a big group of people from my plane to pass by so that I could follow strangers through to baggage claim. (This, you might need at some point to know, is the wisest way to get oneself around strange airports.)

I've been having the same problem here as I did in South Carolina...I can't tell if I'm hot or cold. When you start with humidity, then add sun, great breezes, heat, and occasional rain, the body takes some time to adjust. Adjust I shall, though! After arriving yesterday we drove through towering misty mountains to reach the windward side of the island, I took a little nap, then Dora, Arden and I headed out to see the beach. Dreamy! Lanikai...

Such a beautiful place!

The beaches are public, but in this neighborhood houses lined them. Can you imagine this as your backyard?

After a walk in the hot sun on the beach, it was a toss-up between Jamba Juice and Starbucks. They were next to each other -- very convenient :) We opted for the juice and Arden ended up sitting on the counter, sporting a new hairdo. (It was supposed to be a ponytail, but she wiggled just a little too much during the process!)

One of the things I'm surprised by is how un-touristy it is on this side of the island. I haven't seen the resort areas yet -- I'm sure they'll shock me after this laid-back introduction to Hawaiian life. Today we went for a REAL beach visit, and ended up driving onto the Marine base where Sam works. It wasn't until I was catching my breath over the huge beauty of the waves (we couldn't go in, they were too powerful) that I remembered I forgot the camera. Oh well. Next time... there will be many :)