MY "HAWAII" A-Z Challenge Posts 2011

For the yearly April A to Z Blog Challenge, the plan is to use each letter of the alphabet
(A  for the first day's post.) Continue through the alphabet using consecutive letters until you reach the last day of the month and the last letter of the alphabet, Z.
For 2011, I chose a Hawaiian theme; I went with a mystery theme for 2012. 
For interested bloggers, this is the link for the universal A-to-Z Blog Challenge, 2013:


The Hawaiian word Aloha has many different meanings. Most people know the word as a greeting of hello or good-bye. (Remember Sandra Bullock's remark to Miss Hawaii in the movie, Miss Congeniality?) But the word also means or expresses love, mercy, compassion, and pity. Combined with other words, it takes on new meaning. The title of Queen Kapiolani's beautiful song Aloha 'oe means may you be loved.

Greetings of Aloha to everyone who joined the 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge. This is the first day of my very first A-Z Challenge. I am excited and a bit nervous. I would like to extend a huge thank you, mahalo nui loa, to Arlee Bird, Alex J. Cavanough, Talli Roland, and Jen Daiker, for making this opportunity possible.

When I opened my blog to the public in November 2010, I chose to post only once a week so I wouldn't set myself up for failure. I'm expecting this challenge to draw me out of my cautious cocoon and give me the courage to shoot for the stars.

To everyone, I say Aloha.

My ancestors arrived from Belgium in 1856. They traveled by passenger ship, Trumball, landing at Castle Clinton which was built to protect New York Harbor for the War of 1812. Castle Clinton was the city’s first immigration depot and was in use until Ellis Island opened.

In 2007, I planned a trip to Belgium, to further my genealogical research of Baugniet ancestors who had emigrated from French Belgium, the Walloon region that comprises the southern half of the country. Within minutes of arrival at the Brussels airport, my two sisters and I were greeted by our Belgian cousin. He whisked us off to a delightful restaurant where he introduced us to what is justifiably billed as one of the most flavorful and robust beers in the world.

There is no exaggeration in the advertisements for Belgian chocolate, food, or art. The quaint, northern town of Brugge tells a legend of the city’s swans that is fascinating. Check out the breathtaking scenery in the movie-comedy “In Brugge” starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, and Brendan Gleeson.

You are welcome to persue at your leisure highlights of the three-week trip I’ve documented on another of my blogs:

The first cruise I ever took was with NCL, the Norwegian Cruise Lines, in 1980. We sailed out of Miami on the SS Norway, headed for the ship’s private island in the Bahamas. Out Island has three miles of beach, along with a bar and restaurant. Later, we sailed to the Caribbean island of St. Thomas for our only tourist stop; the ship was too huge to dock anywhere else. It was quite an experience, but I didn’t expect to ever take another cruise.

Then I moved to Hawaii where cruises are a way of life.

Aside from day cruises to view the vast ocean and sea life, Hawaiian cruises offer numerous dolphin tours and snorkeling tours out from the beaches at Waikiki. Day cruises from Lahaina, Maui to the smaller, less populated islands of Lanai and Molokai, are more focused on the sightseeing or educational tours of these islands. I’ve also descended in a Beatle-like, yellow submarine to view life far below the surface. One type of cruise I haven't experienced handles scuba diving excursions.

Am I cruised-out yet? Not quite. During the first week of May 2011, I’'ll take at least 2 day-cruises out of Anchorage when my family visits Alaska to attend my sister’s Aerospace Medical Association Scientific Meeting.

Now, if I can turn my writing into a successful venture, maybe a cruise around the world will be in order. Is that a worthwhile goal?


How many people know the history of this extinct volcano? Not a large percentage. But anyone who has visited O’ahu remembers the majestic sight. Some people recall climbing the 99-step spiral staircase inside a bunker to reach the top. Others visualize the 380-degree view from the lookout. Even those who have never ventured within a mile of Diamond Head still mention the memorable sight.

Why is that?
Diamond Head viewed
from the beach at Waikiki
Diamond Head doesn’t have spectacular eruptions like Kilauea on the Big Island, doesn’t have an entertainment stage to host someone singing Tiny Bubbles or dancing a traditional hula. What it has is visibility, all day every day.

Donald Trump’s advice for success is to “Be Everywhere.” And Diamond Head can be seen from almost every vantage point on O’ahu.

The story behind this extinct volcano’s popular name is simple. When British sailors steered their ships in the direction of O’ahu, they spotted the huge mound of hardened lava. They saw its sparkling exterior, thought the flashes caused by calcite crystals actually came from diamonds, and named the volcanic rock Diamond Head.

Sometimes it’s not what you say and do that counts, it’s the impression you give when you’re standing still.

The Hawaiian name for the extinct volcano is Le’ahi, brow of the tuna, because it resembles the Hawaiian waters yellowfin ahi. But the name that sticks in people’s minds is the one that makes the most popular story. Everyone can relate to diamonds!

The Donald’s advice to “Be Everywhere” gave me pause. I wondered how that was possible. On April 22, I'll list some of my ideas, under “S” for Success.

Kealakekua Bay, Big Island
Hikiau Heiau (Sacred Temple)
About 18 years ago, a co-worker suggested I explore the historical, mysterious, and magical areas of “hidden Hawaii.” Volcanic and heiau sites of Hawaii fascinated me and I’d visited a few already. When I came across EXPLORING LOST HAWAII Places of Power, History, Mystery, and Magic, I decided to visit as many sites listed in the book as possible.

Not all heiau (hey-ee-ow) sites were accessible. When I visited the island of Molokai in 2001, the Ili’ili’opae Heiau-School of Sorcerers was closed to the public, as was the Kalaupapa former leper colony, both for renovations. On the Big Island, I spent a couple of hours in the peaceful atmosphere of Mo’okini Heiau, a noted sacrificial temple. The birthplace of Kamehameha I is visible from a site near Upolu Airport.

The ancient heiau sites of Hawaii, sacred temples, were constructed on platforms of lava rocks passed from hand-to-hand by lines of people. Each heiau had a specific purpose. Heiau ho’ola treated the sick; Heiau ho’oulu were to ensure good fishing; and Po’o kanaka and Luakini were heiau sites where ruling chiefs prayed and human sacrifices were offered.

Since 1993, I’ve visited twenty-eight of the 60 sites listed in the book, including Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island; ‘Iao Valley, Maui; Pu’u Pehe Cove-A rock for sweethearts, Lanai; Kauleonanahoa Pala’au State Park, Molokai; Hanauma Bay and the Wizard Stones of Waikiki, O‘ahu; and Wailua Valley, Kauai. Two major islands are not mentioned. Ni’ihau is a private island, unavailable to tourists. And for many years, Kaho’olawe was used for military testing. Adds to the “hidden” and “mysterious” doesn’t it?

On Friday, I found Marjorie's "A" poem on Everything Emerald stimulating. You can visit her blog at:

FOR EVERY ACTION (A Pepper Bibeau Mystery)

Available in Trade Book and Kindle format:

Pepper Bibeau's insurance investigations for a Wisconsin-based company sometimes involve a murder, but she never thought she would cause one.

Days before the 1968 Democratic Convention, Pepper arrives in Chicago to settle questionable medical claims from an elusive doctor. Her assignment also includes a background check on a life insurance beneficiary who admits to stabbing his wife.

When a close friend is killed, and Pepper is hospitalized after an unprovoked attack, a homicide detective decides someone wants to put a stop to her investigations. For her safety, he suggests Pepper return to Wisconsin, but she is determined to learn why her insurance investigation has stirred up a tragic chain of events.

What she discovers are the devastating consequences of one person's greed that she must expose before someone stops her, permanently.

The book is also available in trade book format at my online e-store.


Common House Gecko
The gecko is my 'aumakua. The grayish, almost camouflaged, gecko pictured to the left is one of the friendly fellows that visits my lanai often during the day and chirps away at night.

Known as Hemidactylus frenatus, this common house gecko arrived in Hawaii from Asia around World War II. Aside from bringing good luck to my home, the gecko eats roaches and mosquitoes. While it takes both a male and a female common gecko to reproduce, the mourning gecko (of which only the female inhabits the islands of Hawaii) clones itself.

In Hawaiian mythology, an 'aumakua is a family god, often a deified ancestor, that takes the form of an animal. If ones chosen 'aumakua appears, it is regarded as a good omen. Many legends tell of an 'aumakua manifesting itself to save a descendant from harm.

Though popular forms of 'aumakua among Hawaiians are the crow, turtle, shark, owl, and hawk, I've chosen the gecko as my 'aumakua for two reasons. First, because I am a kama'aina but am not of Hawaiian blood, I would not presume to choose a popular Hawaiian form; second, the gecko is considered good luck to have in the home, almost a blessing which is a revered practice in Hawaii. Actually, there is a third reason. Geckos are just so darned cute.

H - A - P - P - Y

Happy Hibiscus
Happy as a Lark


Don’t Worry, Be Happy

A major goal of humankind is to be happy. Is it possible for people to set goals that will measure when they’ve reached their happy place?
Maybe something like, I’ll be happy when I:

A. Accumulate one million dollars.
B. Sell 100,000 novels or 100 residential homes.
C. Drop to 110 lbs.; Fit into a size-8 dress;
D. Get the kids through college.

I’ve finally discovered something worth it’s weight in gold. I am happy when I’m writing and firing on all pistons; when the Hawaiian sun is shining; when I find my coffee cup, and the Kona coffee is still hot. Little, everyday things that make me smile are always welcome in my happy place.

It is my belief that happiness is the journey, not the destination.

What smile-inspiring events reside in your happy place?

'Iolani Palace in Honolulu

'Iolani Palace is one of three royal residences in Hawaii. It became the home of King Kamehameha V after the originally commisioned Ali'iolani Hale across the street proved too small.

'Io is a Hawaiian hawk, endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. Lani means sky, heaven; and heavenly, spiritual.

The last king to reside in 'Iolani Palace was King David Kalakaua, with his wife Queen Kapiolani. After King Kalakaua's death, his sister Lydia Kamaka'eha Liliuokalani became the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Islands before the overthrow of the government in 1893.

Queen Liliuokalani was an accomplished musician and played many instruments, including piano, ukulele, and zither. Among the songs she composed are Hawaii's national anthem and the popular love song, Aloha 'Oe. After the takeover, she was tried for treason against the Republic of Hawaii in 1895 and imprisoned in a small room within 'Iolani Palace.

J For the Jackie
There are many people with the name Jackie that I find interesting. But the person I chose to write about is also mentioned briefly in my first novel.

First, I'll list a few of the others I considered. There's Jackie from That 70's Show, the on-screen girl friend of Kelso - Ashton Kutcher, BDM-before Demi Moore. After the show ended, Mila Kunas took on less comedic roles in movies such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Black Swan.

Another Jackie, a child star from the same era as Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple and Elizabeth Taylor, is Jackie Cooper, one of the ruffians in the Our Gang movies. He also directed episodes of TV's M*A*S*H and played editor Perry White in the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve.

One of my favorite people called Jackie is the opera singer, Jackie Chan. Ah, bet not everyone knew this martial arts superstar sang so well. I had the opportunity to hear him sing at a benefit he held in Honolulu some years ago. Along with everyone else in the audience, I enjoyed his musical side. He also wrote and sang the title song for his first serious acting role in the movie, Police Story.

But the Jackie I chose for this article is Jackie O, aka Mrs. John F. Kennedy, the only Jackie on my list who didn't appear in a movie. Though I'd always admired Jackie's elegance and quiet determination, I respected the staunch independence she demonstrated when she chose to work as a book editor in 1975.

A beautifully written article entitled Jackie O, Working Girl, appears in the January 2011 edition of Vanity Fair. Included in the story is this quote: If you produce one book, you will have done something wonderful in your life. --Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Please Ko-ku-a

Any time you ride TheBus in Honolulu, you'll hear the announcement: Please kokua, continue to move to the rear of the bus so others can board. We don't have a Hotline in Hawaii, it's a Kokua line for help, assistance, and support.

When I worked as a Security Dispatcher for the state's largest shopping mall, much of my day was spent taking phone calls from people requesting help. If a store lost their electricity, I would ask Maintenance to help restore their power. When someone's child disappeared - always into a toy store! - I dispatched a Security Officer to kokua. Shoplifter? Request HPD (no, the Honolulu Police Department isn't officially called Hawaii 5-0).

"L" is for Li Hing Mui

Large jars of Li Hing Mui at
Crack Seed Center

Well, the description is no more confusing than a discussion about "seeds."

Li Hing is a red powder that is often sprinkled on food, more specifically, on fruits. Originally from China, li hing mui means traveling plum. Mui is also a Hawai'ian word meaning assembled, gathered together. So Li Hing Mui dried mango could be described as the assembly of dried fruit and plum powder. Wikipedia offers a thorough description:

This is a local advertisement for Li Hing Mui:
It is not just nostalgia that keeps sending customers back for more. The Crack Seed Center, one of Hawaii's most popular crack seed retailers for over 40 years, has created new products, expanding its traditional Li Hing Mui offerings to include Li Hing Mui Mangoes (wet), Li Hing Mui Mango (Dry), Li Hing Mui Guava, Li Hing Mui Gummy Bears ...

... well, you get the picture

M is for Mystery Genre

While reading The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith, I came across an interesting comment made by protagonist Mma Ramotswe concerning the success of a certain factory. According to her, the bolt business focused on manufacturing only a single sort of bolt. She then explained why making only one type of bolt was a good idea.
That got me thinking about the definition of the mystery genre. I've always understood that a story in the mystery told of an unsolved murder that someone was required to solve. The mysteries I write contain no mention of werewolves and offer no broomstick travel options (admittedly, to my detriment.) Within the narrative, there are neither longing glances nor tangled limbs glistening with sated passion. I have never had a character make use of a semi-automatic rifle, and my protagonist has never mastered the art of breaking down an AK-47 while blindfolded. There isn't one mention of a Robert Rodriguez or Bruce Willis-inspired disaster. My mysteries aren't historical sci-fi mysteries or supernatural high-concept-techno-thriller mysteries.

While those genres have an enviable number of loyal followers, I only write about unsolved murders that someone is required to solve. That's my sub-genre, and I’m sticking to it.

Charlene A. Wilson gives a good breakdown of the genres in her G is for Genre post on April 8:

Night Marchers in Hawaii
So many tales abound about encounters with Nightmarchers in Hawaii that it is difficult not to believe spirits continue to travel the same paths they once walked in their full-bodied lives.
Whether Hawaiian or Chinese, nightmarchers do not take detours. They stay the course, moving through cars and buildings, and even through living beings.
Who are they and what is their destination? Some are dead chiefs with their retinues, headed to a reunion at a heiau (see April 6th, Exploring Heiaus). Others are spirits returning to their cemetery after a late night march to who-knows-where. Wherever they're going or coming from, they won't be deterred.

At midnight, when you feel the beat of a drum or hear ghostly chants, it might be best to move off to the side, cast your gaze downward, and wait for the marchers to pass. That's what the locals do.


Ad Photo in This Week Oahu
for Aloha General Store

One day in the 60s
The day he was born
O'ahu or Kenya
Has citizens torn

The hospital 's name is
Though some folks will swear his
Birth cert is funny

Regardless the mascot
Gecko or Llama
His title's still President.
Barack Obama

Which is better, I wonder, a quality sale or a quantity of sales? Is the marketing idea behind the sale of e-books sound?

When I sold VHS movies for a small, privately owned company in Minnesota years ago, I dealt with retailers who haggled on the price of a movie. My boss would grin and say, “Don’t worry, whatever money we lose on individual sales, we'll make up for in bulk sales.” The joke, of course, was that if one movie sold for 99 cents and lost money, selling one hundred movies for 99 cents each would still generate no profit.

Granted, selling an e-book for $.99 will get a book into the hands of a reader, but will the reader be inclined to read the book without additional motivation such as advertisements or word-of-mouth recommendations?

Hence the question: Is a quality sale better than a quantity of sales - or - is a quantity of sales actually a quality sale?

My hometown is situated between the parentheses of two gently flowing rivers. For many years, these rivers supplied a variety of fish that my mother fried for our meals. These same rivers produced muskrat and mink pelts for my father to sell, allowed for many enjoyable boating excursions, and even supplied an alternate route for my grandfather to travel in his automobile during the winter when the water froze solid.

While I was researching the lives of my ancestors, I noticed that European rivers seemed to play prominent roles in their lives, also. I am now in the process of writing a series of stories, using facts from my genealogy research to mold the lives of my ancestors.

One tale is set in a village of what is now known as the Czech Republic and revolves around my father’s great grandparents. The narrator is the great grandfather’s older brother, who remains on the family farm while his brother immigrates to the United States. At one point he muses over the inevitability of his brother’s life:

Years ago, Adalbert had told me that the Blanice river cut through the farmland owned by Jan Novotny. This was something he’d learned after he married Jan’s daughter, Marie, and moved up to Horni Hrachovice, a village divided by the Blanice. He always believed the river, which flowed through our land also, had connected him to Marie from the time of their births.

Because of this, I knew Adalbert and Marie were destined to leave our bucolic South Bohemian countryside and travel far. Like the river that drew them together, it was not in their nature to remain still.

Do rivers play a prominent roll in your family history?

While trying to determine how I could implement Donald Trump’s advice for success, to “Be Everywhere,” I developed an interesting plan.

First, let’s look at Diamond Head, from April 5’s “D” day, again. Diamond Head is the extinct volcano anchoring the southeast corner of Waikiki. People remember this sight because of its visibility from almost every point of the island. Every point of O’ahu. Yes, O’ahu. It is not visible from any of the other Hawaiian Islands, nor is it visible from the Philippines or Alaska.

EVERYWHERE doesn’t necessarily mean everywhere at once.

Before the Sandwich Islands were discovered by Captain Cook, only Polynesians were aware of Diamond Head. Over time, knowledge of its existence spread, first by Polynesians in canoes taking the news to their families, then sailors on ships telling their buddies, and later travelers in airplanes sharing the tale. Then radio, and television, and internet, oh my.

My plan is to use this paradigm of recognition to market my novel.

First, I’ll “tell the tale of my novel’s existence” to family and close friends. They will help me spread the word by telling their friends. Then, by expanding my marketing territory over a period of time, my goal is to reach the edges of the boundaries I’ve set for myself. After covering the four points of my home territory, I’ll reach across the state, and then the country. After that, who knows, maybe the whole wide world.

What successful marketing stratagies have you implemented?


The tragedy of a natural disaster has hit home for all of us at one time or another. When something good arises from a devastating event, such as a child found alive in the rubble, cheers reach epic proportions. Everyone needs this encouragement to believe life will move forward.

On March 11, 2011, after the earthquake hit Japan, sirens blared in Hawaii. It’s not the first time residents have packed up, ready to move to higher ground under the threat of a tsunami. In an effort to avoid creating traffic jams and tourist anxiety, residents and hotel guests in Waikiki are no longer evacuated, only moved to higher floors.

Though the Hawaiian Islands faired well, with only sporadic damage and no loss of human life, thousands of seabirds died at Midway in the tsunami generated. Many albatrosses drowned or were buried beneath debris. However, a 60-year-old Laysan named Wisdom, believed to be the oldest known wild bird in the United States, was aloft with her mate when the wave struck. And the nest with their chick was spared from high waves due to the higher elevations of Midway’s Sand Island.

Good news amidst disaster.

'ula lena
'ula lena

When I broke down the name of a Hawaiian musical production, 'ulalena, I found that ula is the Hawaiian word for red, and lena means yellow. Red and yellow are the colors of Hawaiian Royalty, of the kings and queens of the monarchy. I assumed the name of the musical production was chosen for this reason.

Soon I learned that the word 'ulalena means so much more, though, as depicted in the musically-rendered historical production presented at Maui Myth and Magic Theater in Lahaina.
Creation and healing are demonstrated in vibrant color and dance. Once seated in the theater, you are welcome to sit back and experience the local legends as music and dance transport you to a bygone era and a uniquely different lifestyle on the winds of 'ulalena.


Sunset at Turtle Bay Resort, O'ahu
VOG is not an acronym for a hotel chain or a cruise line in Hawaii. The term "vog" describes the atmospheric haze caused by volcanic eruptions, a lung-tickling fog.

Although it makes breathing uncomfortable for some, it provides beautiful sunsets for all.

Whale watching is a popular tourist activitiy, whether in Alaska or Hawaii. Talk about snowbirds!

Every year, around November, the whales leave their Alaskan home waters and travel south to Hawaii. The adults don't eat for the duration of their stay in Hawaiian waters. They fill up on good stuff like krill, small fish, and crustacians before they begin their journey from the Gulf of Alaska.

Once in Hawaii, they concentrate on mating and giving birth, fasting and relying on stored energy. Their newly born calves are the only ones who "Eat Hawaiian."

By April or May, the whales are ready to take the show on the road (or, I should say, ocean) again and head back home. I'll be in Anchorage the week of May 8th. I wonder if I'll see any of the whales I spotted earlier in Honolulu!

Xenophobia is a fear of strangers or foreigners

Hawaii is one of the great melting pots of the world, and probably not the best choice for a visit if you suffer from xenophobia. Then again, maybe it's the perfect place to overcome this fear.

As an outspoken main character in my mystery novel For Every Action, Ursula Allen describes a piece of artwork she is viewing as, " ... an attempt to demonstrate racial tolerance. I'd just call it anti-xenophobia.

This was a difficult letter of the alphabet for me to settle on a topic.

I like:
--the color YELLOW, especially the shades of saffron rice, fresh lemons, and golden peppers.
--cooked YAMS mashed into brown sugar and gooey, melted butter.
--deviled eggs made with the YOLK of hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, a dab of mustard, and a sprinkling of Hungarian paprika.

But I finally settled on the unlikely word YARDARM, and here’s why.

When I saw the word yardarm, I pictured a ship (naturally.) Then images of pirates popped into my head, which led to specific scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean. That got me thinking about Johnny Depp. (Talk about being in my happy place!)

I’ll admit there are probably only three words in my well-worn New Merriam-Webster pocket dictionary that wouldn't lead me to thoughts about JD, but YARDARM did the trick, so I ran with it. A yardarm, by the way, is either end of the yard of a square-rigged ship. In case you were wondering.

Quiz: What is the last sentence Johnny Depp utters to his crew in Pirates of the Caribbean-The Curse of the Black Pearl, as his ship sails toward the sunset?

Now, bring me that horizon.

Zetsudai no doryoku osuru

These Japanese words express an honorable action, "to make a supreme effort."

Everyone who joins in the April Blog Challenge chooses to make a supreme effort. Those who post articles, anywhere from A to Z, succeed

Omedetoo Gozaimasu! Congratulations!

To everyone:
THANK YOU FOR VISITING! I hope you enjoyed reading these A to Z Challenge posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.


1 comment:

  1. Stopped by through the A to Z to read your V post. Loved it. gorgeous picture, too. I'm writing a short story with a volcano in it, so I found this post extra interesting. :-)


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