Saturday, January 23, 2010

Judging a book by it's cover


     I just finished watching "You've Got Mail." I could not tell you why I like that movie so much but I can say, I so love that little book store and, it breaks my heart every time I see it closed. I get very upset when I think about these bookstore chains that have pushed out the little guys. I enjoyed going into a snug shop with employees who were always able to recommend a book because they knew you and knew your preferences.  I miss the atmosphere of being cradled in shelves of books and not having to wonder in a wasteland of remainders. 

A book in the hand beat a Kindle any day

     I've tried to understand what the draw is. I must admit when Borders first opened I enjoyed it for a bit because I could sit and read in the coffee shop. That is my favorite thing to do. Then the smaller shops started closing and I really missed them because I did not like loosing the personal attention and the ability to get good recommendations.

      That seems to be the way the whole job situation is going. But again as I watched the movie I thought, maybe these large chains employee a lot more people then the small book stores so is anyone getting hurt? Well, a lot of books are being printed overseas. How many jobs are lost there?

      Like other job sectors where their work is going overseas, this means more people without jobs. People without jobs have no money to spend, and if they have no money to spend it does not matter how cheap an item gets, nobody has any money to buy it.

Halloween cards being sold at Borders. Hmm is Hallmark next?  

     So how are these big bookstores, with cheap books helping the average person who is loosing their job? Are we really better off getting our things at a cheaper price because they are being made overseas? Or is it a catch 22? 
     How are we going to buy anything if eventually the only work we can find is going to be in a foreign country? Does anyone get it? 

Books are a good thing!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Bee or Not to Bee

Butterflies chased one another as I knelt down to weed. As my knees started to lock in place I decided I’d been crawling around long enough and with all my weight on my hands I slowly got into a standing position. I pulled out the hose from the side of the house and turned on the sprinklers. I then headed inside. Before I closed the door on the garden I took one last look at the sprinkler. A bulbul was sitting on the edge of the garden chair shaking his fluffed up feathers enjoying the shower.

 I ran to get my camera and quickly set it up. The black bird with the red butt was still quivering, and vibrating when I looked into the camera screen. And just as quickly he was gone, up into the tree where I once again focused and just as quickly he flew behind the branch where  now I cold only see his beak and tail feathers.

Leaning against the door frame, I waited. Sitting on the tile behind me hoping I would put the camera down and take him for a walk, Max waited too. We both waited. The bird alluded me just as the walk alluded Max. I thought why not photograph the butterflies.

 Once again I set up the lens, only this time I walked out to the purple tree where a butterfly was skimming the branches.  Again I was dealing with a camera shy creature. Each time I found my focus the butterfly flew off. Each time I found the butterfly it was off to another branch. I did manage to get a few shots but not a good one. 

Shy Butterfly

Meanwhile as I’m fussing over the butterfly, carpenter bees keep blocking my lens as they too, wanted to get to the flowers. Damn pesky bees, I thought. Then I remembered what I had done to the disenfranchised workers. 

It had just been a few weeks back when I had started to clean up the euphorbias on the side of the house.As I cleared away the weeds I noticed that one of the trees was in sore need of a clipping. Put a clipper in my hands and I’m like that dreaded beautician that  you’ve requested to trim your long locks and when she’s finished you look like a Mohican. I started with a few clips here and there, then my eyes glazed over and before I knew it I was cutting the bigger branches off the trunk. 

What My Euphorbia usually look like

Before I could take notice of the hole in the tree, I had cut into the house of the carpenter bees. Previously they had  killed one of my trees as they set up house in it. As soon as I cut it down the bees took up residence in the healthy tree right next to it. As I looked at the row of trees I thought I might as well sacrifice the tree so that they would not keep moving down the line. A newspaper article I had read said to try not to disturb these bees as they were just about the only ones left to do any kind of pollinating due to the disease that was killing off Hawaii’s honeybees. 

Where the bees took up residence

What the euphorbia looks like after they move in

But I guess the rues had not worked as the bees had moved down to the tree that I had just cut into. A black carpenter bee crawled out looking around trying to figure out why there was so much light inside her house. I then realized why the tree’s trunk looked so dried out. Then it happened. 

Max who was sniffing for lizards right next to me saw me jump. He quickly ran over and started for the tree. I tried to grab him as the dreaded queen came out full of piss. I stopped dead.  Should I reach for Max and take the chance of getting stung (and she was a huge one) or should I let Max get stung. I looked at him bravely trying to fight off the bees and made up my mind. I screamed for Max to get away but that only made him more curious about the tree. He started for her as she flew by. I didn’t want to hurt her but I wanted to get Max away. The article kept running through my head. “Don’t kill them. We need them. Stay away from the Queen she stings.”

Finely she landed on the ground and I tried putting a large rock over her carefully in hopes that I could trap her long enough to get all the debris  out of there and let her go. I quickly started picking up branches and shoving them into bags as the black bees kept flying around. I was almost finished when I looked behind and there was the queen headed for me. I picked up a branch and kept swatting while shaking my leg at Max trying to keep him away from her. Once again she landed on the dirt. This time I picked up the rock and slammed it on her. I had to it was her or Max.

 I felt so guilty. Slowly I lifted the rock and looked under to see if maybe she had escaped. No. I had killed her. Her workers were flying around the now cut down house and looked so lost. I wondered how they would take it once they realized their leader was dead. They flew from one branch to the other totally forlorn, I watched them zig zagging in and out trying to figure out where their house had gone.  I was sick. 

I went into the house and tried to forget about what I had just done. I didn’t even want to  tell anyone. How could I have been so cruel? All week I checked the purple tree. There were no bees. I was so depressed. Not only had I killed their leader I had killed my tree. I imagined all of Monsanto’s Frankenstein seeds flying over  from across the road and pollinating their dreaded canola plant in my garden then suing me for growing their patented plants without their  permission. And all the time the bees would be across the street laughing at me as they pollinated the neighbors garden. 

Now, here I was today, trying to get them out of my way so that I could take the photo of the beautiful butterfly, when I realized that this pesky little bee that was blocking my view was the most beautiful of them all. As I took its photo (after all there would be no tree if not for her,) I thanked her for coming back  Maybe that’s all it wanted. Recognition for work well done and maybe next time keep my clippers in check.

It's good to Bee forgiven

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good things don't always come in small packages

My daughter has me use the family van as I don't have a car. Well it's part of a deal we made but that's not here nor there.
The Van is nice and I have been driving it for a few years now. But every once in a while her husband takes it for what ever reason, mainly to stuff all his cycling equipment in and that it drives nice. When that happens I have to use Chris's car, a Ford Focus.

To say I don't like her car is being very nice. Well I had to take it today to go to the museum. I was running late and thought I would take my tea and drink it along the way when i remembered I was taking her car.

Sitting inside her car is like sitting in her purse. She has cutesy  garbage cans, little bags here and there and tons of kleenex boxes for the nose, disinfectants and hand wipes.

I used to drive an RX7 and it had more room then her car. I groaned as I realized I was going to be driving my daughters home away from home.

I stuffed my carry all that has the things I need for tours at the museum and my purse in the small space in the backseat. I put my lap top in the trunk and then got in and put my tea in the holder.

As I backed out, her country music station was on. Half way down the street I tried to read her radio that has pictures flashing, lines jumping up and down and little, tiny, microscopic buttons to push on the radio. None of which change the station. I pulled over and for 5 minutes tried to figure out how to find NPR. I could only find the damned classical station that so infuriates me that I often think of withdrawing my contribution to NPR as they play so much classical and jazz that... wait I digress. So I can't find anything as the station won't change and I decide to listen to the classical instead of the fuzzy sounds.

At the stop light I take a drink of my tea and the light changes and I go to put my tea back into the holder which is set into a cave like receptacle as it is so dark under the dashboard I can't see. So I put the car in first and am blindly poking around with the cup to find the holder and there is no holder. I quickly put the cup in my left hand and try to feel around on the bottom.

I feel some kind of lump where the holder was supposed to be. I pull it out while I am trying to keep up with traffic in first gear and barely able to steer the car. I put it in second as I enter the freeway but I have to get this cup out of my hand as I can't steer and there is no place to set the cup down. I reach down with my right hand pull the lump out of the holder toss it to the passenger side and deftly put the cup inside.

At last. In the back of my mind though, I'm thinking is that cup safe or is it going to fall out?  I reach down and it is sitting quite still. I'm driving for 20 minutes doing OK then I reach the museum go around the curve to get to it and my tea cup falls out of the holder, on to my clothes and the floor and I am soaking wet. Now i can't go to the museum.

I pull into a parking lot to assess the damages. Nope I have to go home. Ugh. I have to drive another 20 minutes listening to that music. I put on my glasses and try to figure out the station while I'm in the lot. Now, i've lost the music and I am listening to loud static as the nob to turn the music down does not work. I'm totally enraged by now and have called the car every name I can think of, I'm cursing Alika for his stupid radio and I am mad because my whole day has just been shot. I punch and punch the buttons hoping one will turn a station on but no luck.

I back out of the lot and give one last stab at the radio to shut it off and low and behold it shuts off. I pull out of the lot trying to console myself with the fact that it's OK to listen to silence and that I don't need to be taking in the state of the world all of the time and that I can listen to my thoughts every once in awhile. I turn the curve to get on to the freeway and the radio flies out of the dashboard and on to the floor of the car. Serious thoughts of ramming the car into the wall on the freeway pass through my mind all the way home.

When I arrive home I see what had happened. Her cup holder has another one inside of it that comes out. When I took my tea out to drink it, It stuck to the cup, fell back in and turned upside down and hence I could not figure out where the cup holder went.

I will not drive that car again. I will stay home and rot before I do. As I sit here writing this, there is one very happy being in this
room though and he is laying at my feet. Max. Thank god for him. I'm now calming down.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Gently, an herbarium sheet of the Perrottetia sandwicensis or the olomea plant is opened before me.  I’m looking at more then just a plant. I am looking at a plant that was gathered in 1779 by David Nelson. Nelson traveled on the Discovery, the ship that accompanied the Resolution, commanded by none other than Captain James Cook, to the islands of Hawai’i. This would be Captain Cooks third and last voyage as he was killed on the island of Hawaii. On board the Resolution, as Cook’s sailing Master, was the infamous William Bligh, whom Nelson would later accompany, on the ill fated Bounty, to care for 600 Breadfruit plants.

Whipping out my camera, I ask tentatively If I can photograph the sheet. I want to photograph this little slice of history if only to vicariously touch this person and his experience at that point in time.

Perrottetia sandwicensis called olomea

 I am at the Herbarium Pacificum at Bishop Museum. Clyde Imada, a Research Specialist in the Botany Division of the Natural Sciences Department, is my guide. Hearing of of a project that the Botany Division is planning, I’ve come to find out what it is all about


Clyde Imada amongst his mounted plants

Clyde appears to be quiet and unassuming but his sense of humor peaks when he tells his wife Pumehana (who works in the Vertebrate Zoology Division) that I am here to interview him for the National Geographic. His enthusiasm shows as he introduces me to dried mounted plants, explaining about the types of makaloa, a sedge that grows on the islands. He shows me the sedge called kohekohe, deep red at the base, used to create designs on the famous Ni’ihau mats.  I see plants preserved in jars, photos of plants as they looked before drying and a wonderful wooden box, called Box Lamott, that was made specifically to hold mounted ferns. 

Box Lamott 

Clyde smiled when he told me that he did not especially like to garden. He liked to hike and identify plants. I thought this was odd but he soon explained the difference between a horticulturist and a botanist.

Clyde first got his degrees in cartography at the University of Hawai’i. Then he went back and got a second degree in horticultural technology. He has been at the Herbarium Pacificum for 25 years.

The Department of Natural Sciences was recently given funding for a project that will bring the Museum from the inside to the outside, so to speak. Through the Education through Cultural and Historic Organization (ECHO), Allen Allison (Vice President, Sciences)has conceived a program in which the majority of plants on the grounds will eventually be replaced with native and canoe plants. 

Clyde and Napua Harbottle (Collections Manager, Botany) are in the process of working on themes that would incorporate plants and Hawaiian cultural and natural history.  Among the host of plants that might be included, mamake was used medicinally and for bark cloth, and is the host plant for our native Kamehameha butterfly;  makaloa, used to weave fine mats; a restored kalo lo’I; or even a grove of wauke that could be tended for kapa-beating classes at the Museum.  Many plants could fill the grounds that would complete the authenticity of the museum. 

The plan at this time is to start on Phase 1, which will commence near Hale ‘Ikehu. It was even suggested that the Hale might be converted into a classroom to be used to teach how to use these plants as the Hawaiians did in their everyday life.

One of the ECHO requirements is that the vender chosen to do the job must be willing to participate in a internship in which high school and college-aged students will be able to participate in planning all stages of the landscaping. This is to be a community participation project.

This first stage of the program will have to prove viable to continue to receiving funding from ECHO. It is hoped that groundbreaking will begin sometime in late January or early February 2010.
Clyde expressed a hope that the community might embrace the opportunity to actively participate in bringing this project to fruition. Volunteers will be needed to help to clear the project area, plant, weed, and create signage and a self-guided garden tour brochure.  Once the landscaping is installed, there will also be a need for people who might want to adopt an area and help to maintain it. 

The environment for the kanaka maoli is just as much an artifact as what is contained in the museum. An immense part of their life was dependent on what they grew or harvested from the native landscape: Food containers, clothing, household objects, fishing and hunting equipment, weapons, medicine and of course food. In the Museum all that is shown can be connected to all that is grown.

This project will add so much more to our garden tour and to the museum. Maybe we can even plant the olomea and add the story of the Discovery to tell our visitors.

Count Me In

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather
It feels good to be free

Fourth of July in Waikiki

Fourth of July in Waikiki
Early morning view just kicking back

About Me

My photo
Do you want to know about Hawaii from a locals point of view? Where do we like to go? What things do we like to see. This blog is about seeing Hawaii without being trapped. This is a journal about Good eats, Hawaiian events, and looking at the islands through the eyes of someone who has lived here for more then forty years.

For Blog updates;

The Curmudgeon