Sunday, February 28, 2021

Koi of Gold and Red #SundayHaiku

Japanese carp of orange-red, yellow, black, and white, can be found at most shopping centers and many hotels or tourist spots on the islands. These fish are expensive, and require special treatment and feeding. Their stunning colors can be mesmerizing.

Over the years, I have often checked out the koi ponds at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu and noticed several new koi of interesting colors. I have also had opportunities to visit Sands of Kahana resort in Ka’anapali on Maui and always enjoyed watching the koi's lazy movements.

Sands of Kahana koi pond
Koi of gold and red
Colors of Hawaiian kings
Kahana Summer


Friday, February 26, 2021

'AUMAKUA: Cruising on a Sea of Hawaiian Words #AlohaFriday

Common House Gecko

The gecko is my 'aumakua. The grayish, almost camouflaged gecko pictured above is one of the friendly fellows that visits my lanai during the day, and chirps away at night.

Known as Hemidactylus frenatus, this common house gecko arrived in Hawai'i 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.

Although more 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 (a word describing Hawai'i residents regardless of their racial background, as opposed to kanaka which means a person of Native Hawaiian ancestry), I would not presume to choose a more traditional Hawaiian form. Second, the gecko is considered good luck to have in the home, almost a blessing which is a revered practice in Hawai'i. 

Actually, there is a third reason: Geckos are just so darned cute.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

MOLOKA'I by Alan Brennert: Book Review

Moloka‘i by Alan Brennert was published in 2003. This is not a story about Father Damien, the Belgian priest who spent his life caring for the Hawaiian people diagnosed with Hansen’s disease. This disease was also known as leprosy, and the victims of the disease were confined to the peninsula of Kalaupapa on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. Father Damien arrived in Hawaii in 1864. He was diagnosed with Hansen’s disease in 1894 and became bedridden a little over four years later. 

Mr. Brennert’s novel, Moloka‘i, his vision of daily life in that setting following the time of Father Damien, is exceptionally well-researched, and excellently written.
A mule ride on the Island of Molokai takes you on a trail that leads down the face of the Pali cliff to the peninsula of Kalaupapa. The closest I’ve come to Kalaupapa is the “top-side” of the island. A certain spot top-side overlooks the area where so many of those afflicted with the disease lived out their years. The top-side portion of the island rises high above the homes of residents at Kalaupapa and stretches east toward Maui. 
My view of Kalaupapa
The life of Rachel, the main character in Mr. Brennert's novel Moloka‘i, is woven throughout this fact-based tale. The novel begins with a stark illustration of how Hawaiians were “condemned” for being diagnosed with what was known, for many years, as leprosy. 

This story pulls no punches, relating how the people, many of them young children, were forced to leave their homes and families to live in substandard conditions among strangers on an unfamiliar island. The narrative unfolds in turns with horror, humor, sadness, and triumph. Sickness, both physical and emotional, permeates the whole. 

It was with satisfaction, however, that I read the closing chapters and endnotes of this inspiring novel.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Pikake in Bloom: Whether Flower or Fowl #SundayHaiku

Pikake lei
 The words for today are brazen and cocksure. The brazen flower of   Hawai'i known as Pikake is certainly unashamed and audacious, while   the Pikake/peafowl is without a doubt cocksure.

 My first visit to Waimea Falls Park on the North Shore of O'ahu dates   back to 1992. I took a narrated tram ride to the Cliff Diving event at the   45-foot waterfall where world champion divers put on quite a show,   not just swan dives like the divers in Acapulco, but also double   somersaults, something that had my stomach doing flips just observing. 
After watching an Ancient Hawaiian Hula performance and taking a short tour of a burial temple, I found a quiet picnic area to relax and enjoy my lunch. The valley, cradled between two mountain range structures with a rainforest of trees and plants and flowers, includes hiking trails, water lily ponds filled with fish, many species of birds, including the Nene goose (the state bird) and a huge variety of plants and flowers.
Pikake, the Hawaiian word for peafowls, roam free and are always happy to pose for pictures. One of them, whether peahen or peacock, befriended me while I ate. He kept sidling up to the table until I finally tossed him a few pieces of bread with a side of cheese, which he gobbled up quickly. Then he let out a "honk" that sounded louder than a semi-truck horn! Maybe he was announcing that I had overstayed my welcome.
As I prepared to leave the area, I spotted another peacock behind a building and hurried over to take a quick picture. I wasn’t satisfied with the shot so I attempted to direct him to greener pastures. Not only was this pikake a willing subject, he slowly spread his tail feathers and all I could say was, “Oh, mahalo plenty!” as I snapped more pictures.
Pikake Surprise
Feathers Tipped with Many Eyes
Paradise Alive

Friday, February 19, 2021

'Ulalena - Cruising on a Sea of Words #AlohaFriday

The Hawaiian musical production, 'Ulalena, is a beautiful presentation I have seen more than once over the years. The word 'ula is Hawaiian for red, and lena means yellow. Red and yellow are the colors of Hawaiian Royalty, of the kings and queens of the monarchy. 
My assumption was that the name of the musical production was chosen for this reason. 

On stage with acrobatic cast member
following a production of 'Ulalena

Soon, however, I learned that the word 'ulalena means so much more - 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. 

With cruise ships in hiatus and flights to Hawai'i restricted in 2020 and 2021, and the musical shut down, you may want to enjoy one of these videos: Ulalena Maui production - Bing video


Friday, February 12, 2021

Haiku & History of Hale Koa and Green Flash

Hale Koa view
Landscaped lawn to pristine beach
Military sound

The Hale Koa celebrated its grand opening on October 25, 1975 with a traditional Hawaiian blessing and a royal procession. The hotel and grounds are open to all ranks of the US military for rest and relaxation.

Although not a member of the military, I have had several opportunities to visit this military hotel complex in Waikiki. My sister is a retired Air Force Reserves Colonel, and she enjoys her time there during frequent visits to Honolulu. Sisters in Crime/Hawaii, my writers' group, has also held holiday luncheons there, hosted by retired military/fellow writers.

Of all the photographs I have taken on the grounds of Hale Koa (Hale - House; Koa - Brave, Fearless; Hale Koa: armory, barracks), one I failed to snap was of the Green Flash I viewed at sunset one evening. I was at the hotel’s beach bar as the sun reached the horizon, touching the blue sheen of the Pacific. To my surprise, and great pleasure, a green flash appeared and, for an extended moment, lingered. This occurred in 1995, the only time I have ever witnessed the illusive Green Flash. 

While I prefer to think of witnessing the sight as a mystical experience, a scientific explanation for the cause of the Green Flash when the sun meets the ocean can be found here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

PIPE DREAMS by John Madinger: Book Review

How do you write a murder mystery when history has already disclosed the climax? In the case of John Madinger’s Pipe Dreams: The Dark Secret Behind Hawaii’s Most Notorious Crime, this involves a different point-of-view narrator, in depth research that supplies new information, and an eye to well-developed characters acting in good faith on a paradise island overrun with military personnel. Also a challenge offered to the reader regarding the meaning of justice.

Newly-minted Narcotics Officer Jack Mather arrives at police headquarters in Honolulu eager to begin his first assignment – clean out the opium dens in Chinatown. Jack knows better than to stick his nose into the blistering rape case involving a white woman and, allegedly, five local boys. At least, until he doesn’t heed his own warning.

Tendrils of smoke drift through Waikiki amidst a nightlife crowded with sailors on weekend leave. Against a backdrop of underworld drug trafficking, and simmering animosity among the Hawaiian population, repeated lies lead to murder. No one is left unscathed, including Jack Mather. After all the chips have fallen and the dead are buried, he must face the consequences of his own actions. Along with the reader, he must decide what price of justice is too high.

John Madinger is the author of Death on Diamond Head, a Kimo Rigg mystery. He also authored Money Laundering: A Guide for Criminal Investigators (not a “how-to” book, but about anti-money laundering). He is a Special Agent- Retired – with the United States Department of the Treasury. His resume also includes Anti-Money Laundering Consultant at United States Department of Justice OPDAT, and work with the Deauville Partnership and US DOJ on stolen asset recovery issues in the Middle East and North Africa - Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and other countries. 

Along with publications available on Amazon, John’s latest book, The Opium Kings of Old Hawaii: America's first drug traffickers, will be published by The History Press in the Fall of 2021. 

Pipe Dreams on

Read John’s advice to aspiring writers: John Madinger (Author of Money Laundering) Goodreads


Sunday, February 7, 2021

#SundayHaiku: A Favorite Flower

My photography skills are ... well, I don't have any special skills. When a picture turns out better than expected, it is because an interesting scene presented itself for my benefit. Flowers are a different story. I have never taken a poor picture of a flower, although this particular picture does fall under the category of being in the right place at the right time - springtime.

I had traveled out to Kailua on O'ahu's windward coast and started the short hike to Kailua Beach. These flowers beckoned to me as I walked past a residential home in the neighborhood.

Who could resist snapping such an inviting picture?

Cranberry Center
Hibiscus in the Springtime

Friday, February 5, 2021

Cruising through Hawaiian Words: Ono and 'Opihi

Ocean fish around O'ahu that will satisfy your cravings for fresh seafood include 'Opihi, Opakapaka (Pink Snapper), Ono (Wahoo) - Ono means delicious and Wahoo is probably a derivative of O'ahu where these fish are found in abundance; and O'opu kai nohu. 
'Opihi is the one that is sometimes called 'the fish of death'.

'Opihi picking off Maui rocky shore. 
Rule #1 Never turn your back to the ocean.
'Opihi is Hawai'i's version of that snail delicacy: escargot. Pick it off a rock, suck out the meat, move on. Either you like it, or you haven't tried it. I am in the second category - I don't do oysters, either.
Although these fish can be found around the world, three species are endemic to the Hawaiian islands: black foot, yellow foot, and giant 'opihi. It has a thick, cone-shaped shell covered by ridges. There is a pair of tentacles, a mouth, and a muscular foot that allows it to strongly seal its body to a rock to prevent being plucked off by a rough wave - or person wanting to eat it.
Yellow and Black 'opihi "on the rocks"
People have risked their lives trying to pick 'opihi from rocks. It can be dangerous–even referred to as “the fish of death” and “delicacy of death”. Because 'opihi live in rough shore breaks, people get thrashed around by the surf, sometimes resulting in paralysis, drowning, other times getting swept out to sea and never returning.
Rule #2 Never turn your back to the ocean.