Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou: Cruising on a Sea of Words series

Tako Drummers ringing in the New Year

Each year, it is tradition for me to ring in the New Year by compiling a list of goals to take me through the upcoming twelve months. My writing projects head the list, with reading goals close behind. Some goals appear year after year, not for lack of accomplishment but rather because they bear repeating on an annual basis.

Healthy lifestyle goals top this chart since my total hip replacement in 2018, diagnosis of pre-diabetes early in 2019, followed by surgeries and radiation treatments for DCIS in 2019-2020. Whether I reach or exceed a goal, my satisfaction is the same. Only when I totally miss the mark do I feel any measure of disappointment.

For 2021, I've set a reasonable bar that reflects what I plan to accomplish over the next year in terms of:

1.) Reading

2.) Writing & marketing, and

3.) Healthy living.

I fear neither success nor failure. My concern is about setting a goal to accomplish something that is a questionable measure of my success or failure, whether as a writer specifically or as a contributor to society in general.

How do you measure the success of your goals?


Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

Hau'oli: Happy;

Makahiki: Year, age, annual;

Hou: New.



Happy New Year to You


Much Success in Your Future.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Cruising on a Sea of Words: Mele Kalikimaka

The "Sea of Words" series consists of Hawaiian words found in my latest Pepper Bibeau mystery novel, Island Cruise Homicide. For Christmas, though, I am posting a Hawaiian phrase that represents the spirit and aloha of the Islands: Mele Kalikimaka.

Mele means song or chant; also, merry. Kalikimaka is Hawaiian for Christmas. This is truly the locals' traditional way of sending holiday greetings to say Merry Christmas to you.

The greeting is familiar to many people because of a song by Bing Crosby, a crooner of the early 20th century. "It's the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day!"

The following includes excerpts from my Christmas posts of 2018 and 2009.

Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus with poinsettias
in front of Honolulu Hale - 2019

Prior to 2020, each year, I visited the downtown area to check out the Honolulu Christmas decorations. At Honolulu Hale, Santa and Mrs. Claus (who sport palaka design masks this year) reign over the festivities: the tall Christmas tree, the Mele Kalikimaka toy display, and the Christmas wreath contest of unique wreaths decorating the walls. Hearing the squeals and chatter of school children as they enjoy the sights always brings a smile to my face.

The days leading up to Christmas Day are a time for just that, squeals and chatter, the joys of childhood, and remembering the pleasures of past holidays. In our family, celebrations were prefaced with attendance at mass, first St. Luke's Church, and later Holy Redeemer Church. Giving thanks reminded us not to take our many blessings for granted.

Today I am focused on simple blessings so often taken for granted throughout the busy year: colorful birds and flowers during my walks; the sweetly-tart juiciness of a chilled tangerine; and an unexpected exchange of friendly greetings. Burdens lessen as I concentrate on a few of my "favorite things."  

May your days be filled with merriment and peace!

*****     *****     *****

Much of the information in the following 2009 post remains relevant, although I haven't seen The Candy Cane Train in years and Santa on the roof of Ala Moana Center doesn't have a lei this year!
But he does have a mask - a sign of the times.

MELE KALIKIMAKA is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Remember Bing Crosby's 1950 rendition, accompanied by the Andrew Sisters? "That's the island greeting that we send to you  . . ."

The holiday season on the island of O'ahu opens with the Honolulu City Lights celebration. The Electric Light Parade travels through downtown to Honolulu Hale (City Hall) for the annual tree-lighting ceremony. This year's tree is a striking 55-foot Norfolk pine. Another tradition is "Nutcracker" performed on-stage at Blaisdell Concert Hall.  

At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, rows of evergreen wreaths on grave sites honor fallen veterans this holiday season. The wreaths adorn 1,288 of the graves, part of the Wreaths Across America campaign.

Aunties like myself, keiki, and tutus all enjoy the entertainment of Hawaii's local groups this time of year - Na Leo Pilimehana, Makaha Sons, Kapena, and the Brothers Cazimero, to name a few; special hula dance groups (halaus) including Hoku Zuttermeister; and celebrities Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, Keali'i Reichel, and Willie K (the title of his Christmas song "Aloha Kalikimaka" reveals what the K stands for.) Music by the late Israel (Iz) Kamakawiwo'ole is always heard around the islands. 
Candy Cane Train
At Ala Moana Center, our open-air shopping mall, children ride the Candy Cane Train and watch musical productions on Center Stage, the illusion of snow delighting the young at heart. Hula performers draped in colorful regalia entertain with beautifully choreographed, swaying movements.

Santa gets lei-d for the holidays
But it isn't officially the "season to be jolly" until the Santa Claus statue is assembled up on the center's rootftop for all to see!

In Honolulu, jolly ol' St. Nicholas arrives in an outrigger canoe, landing on the shores of Waikiki! 

And we do have real snow here. Recently, my cousin reminded me of the snow-covered mountain of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Low temperatures on Maui's Haleakala also attract the white fluffy stuff that folks in the northern states take for granted this time of year. 

Hawaiian Menehune

Kalikimaka is Hawaiian for Christmas.
Mele means song or chant; also, merry.
This is truly the locals' traditional way,
Of sending holiday greetings,
To say Merry Christmas. To you.

Aloha Nui Loa,
That's Hawaii's way to say
"a canoe-full of love."

Although some traditions come and go, the spirit of the holidays always remains,
and around the Islands, people of all faiths share the spirit of


*****     *****     *****

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Cruising on a Sea of Words: kuleana

Words are cash in the bank for a writer. In my latest novel, Island Cruise Homicide, I use a selection of Hawaiian words, several Pidgin English words, and a few less easily categorized words, all specific to the scenes or dialogue in the story. The Glossary included at the end of the novel is for readers interested in a bit more description.

In a series of blog posts, "Cruising on a Sea of Words" reveals how the words fit into the story. Today's word, kuleana, is the Hawaiian word for responsibility or duty. When one has higher authority or special talents or knowledge, it is their kuleana to help others. But all residents are reminded that it is their kuleana to help in Hawai'i, whether to keep the islands clean and safe, to assist elders, or to respect another's privacy. We all share the responsibility of human kindness.

An excerpt from Island Cruise Homicide, a scene set at Ka'ena Point on O'ahu:

“I’ve been coming here to meditate every Wednesday for many years," Lehu said. "During my youth, Father taught me to replenish myself so I could concentrate more quality-filled attention on the needs of others.”

Nate rested on his haunches with his attention riveted on Lehu. “Do you teach others how to surf?”

“Yes, teaching is my kuleana, one of my responsibilities. Because I was gifted with the ability to understand the sea, my duty is to assist those who are not as attuned to the ways of the ocean.”


You can find Island Cruise Homicide in print or ebook format today at:      

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Homicide in the Nth Degree

Research has always been a favorite part of my writing experience. This was especially true for my newest Pepper Bibeau mystery, Island Cruise Homicide. (No, the research did not include the act of homicide on any level.) But while working as a police reservist and part time peace officer in Minnesota some years ago, I did learn interesting facts about the degrees of homicide.

Whether the cause of death is murder, or manslaughter – which is murder without the pre-meditation part – the legal definition is Homicide. 

The act of manslaughter is further divided into two categories and four degrees. The term homicide also covers actions described as excusable homicide, in cases of self-defense; and justifiable homicide, as in acts of war.

The maximum penalty for the homicidal act of premeditated murder is “an eye for an eye.” Legally, the death penalty has been carried out by use of various methods, including the guillotine, electric chair, rope, and lethal injection. Debate over the morality and effectiveness of beheading, electrocution, hanging, and administration of fast-acting drugs or chemicals will probably continue until the last being capable of ratiocination* remains in power.

The category, level, or distinction of a homicide is often determined by a multitude of factors not directly related to the definition of the word. A familiar adage is: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

Here’s the sixty-four dollar question: If you bludgeon to death someone – who you know has a very bad temper but insults you anyway – is it considered an act of self-defense, manslaughter, or premeditated murder?

*ratiocinate: form judgments by a process of logic; reason.

A relaxing family cruise around the Hawaiian Islands is not what is in store for Pepper. Along with the fun of hiking, biking, snorkeling, and many other energetic activities, she contends with the mysterious disappearance of a wizened old surfer, a case of stolen surfboards, an end to a career - and a corpse.
Available now on Amazon in eBook and Paperback.