Friday, November 18, 2011

these glimpses

I watched the sunrise from a plane this morning.

It began as a thin line of crimson creeping across the sky and slowly became a ROY-G-BIV so vibrant it looked digital. It was ten times the glory of the most spectacular sunrise I've seen from the ground, fading on top to the deep royal blue blanket of outer space, smattered with a pinprick stars. Below, piles of cumulous clouds slowly crept out of the shadows and became the horizon. 

It's strange how beauty can make death feel so near and so like an old friend. Looking at that sunset I knew that if the plane went down right then, I wouldn't feel a moment's fear or regret. I would feel, instead, like the plane was tail-spinning away into heaven.

I am convinced that at least a thousand years out of my eternity in heaven will consist of nothing more or less than me floating in outer space in complete silence -- exploring, admiring, and finally understanding. 

I almost don't want to post these pictures. They convey nothing of what I saw this morning. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A little bit of everything...

Aloha! Here's a visual update of what I've been up to the past couple of weeks.

A few Friday's ago, Olivia headed over to the west side to attend the weekly art walk in Hanapepe. I'd gone once before with the couchsurfers. It's a relaxing atmosphere. All of the art galleries have their doors open with little plates of food (mostly sweets) inside, live music on the sidewalks, and food vendors set up all along the street. Here's a pic of an amazing string quartet.

The next day, my friend Chris and I went zip-lining a couple of weekends ago at Kauai Backcountry Adventures on the south side. It rained during the drive there, and I was reward with a giant rainbow that landed right in the field behind the checkin building.

The views while zip-lining were incredible. The tour started at the top of a jungle valley, and we zipped our way to the bottom via seven separate lines. After figuring out how to steer (or spin) using the harness on the first line, Chris and I got creative and zipped upside down, twirling, with no hands on some of the longer lines. Once we landed at the valley floor where the jeep met us with all of our bags, I retrieved my phone and snapped a picture of the final line we had just zipped. It does nothing to demonstrate the beauty of the scenery, but hey, blog posts are better with pictures.

The tour ended after we ate lunch on a riverbank, but Chris and I then met up with some other couchsurfers and headed west to Waimea Canyon for the day. The annual Queen Emma Festival  going on at Koke'e, so we stopped there briefly on our way back.

On Friday nights, our church does a beach outreach at Hanalei, which I always attend. (Excepting the night Liv and I went to Hanapepe.) The sunsets at Hanalei are gorgeous, especially in the summer when the sun descents on the water. Now that winter is approaching, the sun goes down behind the mountains, but the sight is still a nightly masterpiece. This picture is from this past Friday (taken with the 8 megapixel iPhone 4S); note that there are literally rays of pink.

The last event I'd like to make note of is the gruesome slaughter of this cane spider:

To be fair, it's one of the smaller ones I've come up against, but only the second that I've succeeded in killing. (The first was in my bathroom, on my bath towel, which I had just wrapped around my body... how have I not blogged about that?! The killing of that spider involved two hours of laundry piles, salad tongs, and tennis shoes. But that's another story.) The spider was in the gym, and I threw over 30 tennis shoes at it. They were the same four pairs of shoes; I would retrieve them each time the spider scampered to a different corner. I tried to force myself to use a broom, but my body involuntarily spasms if I'm touching any object that is also touching a can spider. So it was with thrown shoes that I finally wounded the spider. When they die, cane spiders shrivel up into tiny balls of furry leg. This picture was taken after the spider had faked it's death and freaked me out by starting to crawl up the wall again after I thought it had been dead for a good four minutes and tried to pick up a shoe near it. The legs are all wonky because he's starting to shrivel. (For size reference, note that the the electrical outlet is standard size without the plastic box around it.)

And that's all for now. Aloha!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is Love.

He stands solo,
in pitch black.

White light slides in.
He catches it,
It flows over him,
bends across his jaw,
strings along his shoulders.
Hammers inside of him.


He lifts his eyes,
stares hypnotically into
He breathes;
An ensemble of bodies
breathes with him
in rhapsody.

He pulls her to himself,
and begins.

She lays against him,
and he holds her.
Grips her head,
caresses her smooth neck.
Runs calloused fingers
up her body,
down her body.

And then,
they are
In tune.
They crescendo,
boost the rhythm.
He strokes…
she hums.
she wails.
For him.
He knows how to play her.

And then,
he rests.
She quiets.
He lowers her down.
White light fades out.

The crowd roars.

(After receiving my iPhone 4S, I got on a technology high and downloaded a bunch of apps. Among them was Colorsplash, which allows for simple color selection within a photo. This picture was taken with the iPhone 4 and edited using Colorslash and Photoshop apps. The poem was originally written for a college class.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby Shower!

Yesterday (Sunday) was Shikinah's baby shower. She and Ryan are expecting a baby boy (Danny) at the end of November, and yesterday we celebrated with food, games, and gifts. Olivia and I went over early to help set up. The shower had a nautical theme, so each table was adorned with a toy sailboat, anchor-shaped confetti, and blue glass bottles:

Naomi made an adorable fishnet bulletin board on which the guest tied their notes of baby-related advice: 

It was a potluck shower, so there was plenty of delicious food...

... and desserts.

There were shower games, presents opened, lots of conversation, and at the end while we were cleaning up, a beautiful rainbow:

Can't wait to meet baby Danny! :)

* Note: all pics were taken with my iPhone 4. After today, any point & shoot pics I post will have been be shot with my brand-spankin new iPhone 4S (8 megapixels.) 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blahbedy Blah...

As you may have noticed, I'm not blogging daily anymore. My goal was to do so for a month (all of September), and I succeeded... and now I will continue to blog a couple of times a week. For those of you who asked about the problem with the comment feature, I believe I fixed it. Tonight I'll leave you with a picture of the tree in bloom at my church. Aloha!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Poem by Garrett Hongo

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a Daily Poetry app for my iPhone that each day delivers a fresh, recently published poem. This morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that the poem of the day features Kauai, referencing places and events that are familiar and dear to me: Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Bay, the bon dance, etc. Thought I'd share:


Waimea, a village on Kaua'i's southwest shore, is where they went first—
Thatched huts and mud floors, sewers for streets, or pathways, really,
Like sluices in heavy rains—human mire, cane bagasse, and runoff around their feet.
I went there once, but it was summer, and I was with my sons, our first gentle ones.
They were teen and preteen then, soft and bewildered by every thing—
The turquoise Gatorade half-bowl of Hanalei Bay, calm as bathwater,
Lo'ikalo taro fields, brown terraces of tremulous green hearts
                                                               lolling in the light afternoon wind,
and the viridian elephant's feet of mountains rising into lavish clouds
                                                                         purple as poi.
We hiked the swampy Alaka'i one day and saw birds big as crows,
Yet plumed like parakeets, fiery orange and yellow, and stared
At the ribboned varicolors of rocky chasms and felt the wind lift us from our collars
                                                                             flapping like loose sails.
One night, the clearest evening of the year, I took them to Bon Odori,
Where the living dance for the expiation of the dead caught in limbo
To release them from trial and permit a passage to nirvana—an ultimate heaven.
Counterclockwise in summer robes, holding fans, twirling loose, draping sleeves,
The dancers would circle around the yagura, a tower in the middle of a ball field,
And laughter would rise like sugary smoke from the broiling fires at every booth,
While folks clapped hands to ondo rhythms, pre-millennium country tunes
About the rice harvest, mining coal, or simply lovelorn travail.
I always liked the clarinets and saxophones, honking softly like pelicans at the shore—
Their old, pentatonic melodies and lugubrious trills, cornier-than-thou.
But my sons grew up with none of these, far from this past that was, to me,
The real world and its genuine glory—not the strained exile I suffered
Pushing a grocery cart up the cereal aisles of a sad Safeway.
                                                                                   This was home to me—
Wandering a sandy parade ground while the PA blared with min'yō and lantern lights
Bobbed like glass floats along the intricate nets of electrical wire strung above us,
The barker's call of the next tune and his welcome of a dance club from Maui,
Men in their seventies, fit and muscled, with white-haired crew cuts and creviced faces,
Women in ricebag aprons and embroidered shawls, geta clapping their heels
                                                                               as they walked
from pool to luminous pool of neighbors and friends, the pre-school children
crouching arrhythmically inside the dance-ring and stamping their feet
           just behind the beat.
We flowed along, anonymous to all, gathering brief, impolite stares,
For, although we might look as if we belonged, no one knew us,
Or even the favor of our faces, as none shared our blood, and we were strangers
                                                                             to this edge of Paradise,
Ourselves ghosts of our ancestors among the living of Waimea,
Who could barely see us, squinting, rubbing their eyes, and blinking,
Trying to bring our bodies into focus, our faces like shadows in a mirror,
Silhouettes of darkened lanterns not quite lit by the glow from another close by.
I thought to make a prayer then, and we took a few steps away from the dancing
Towards the long, flower-lined entry path to the shrine and offertory,
Decorative, straw-wrapped tubs of shōyu stacked in pyramids along
                                                                    each side of the butsuma.
I showed the boys the slow way to approach, heads bowed, hands in gasshō,
As I myself learned at the monastery, the priest taking my hands and lifting
                                                                                  my thumbs,
Taking my head firmly and inclining it down like a barber would a boy's.
And then the three-point genuflection—knees on the floor, forehead touching
                                                                                            the carpet,
Hands upraised over the ears as if they were flowers floating on the surface
                                                                                           of a pool
Where you'd just dipped your face to search its bottom for roots.
Namu Amida Butsu we murmured, Homage to the World-Compassionate One,
And a winding veil of emptiness spun alert inside my heart, stranger in these shadows,
My soul aswerve like a battered moth, misdirected in summer flight
            by the gentle web of pitching festival lights.

 -  by Garrett Hongo

Friday, September 30, 2011


As of tomorrow (October 1st), it has officially been one year since I moved to Kauai. A part of me can't BELIEVE it's been that long already, and another part of me can't believe I haven't known some of these people all my life. I have been truly, richly blessed with wonderful friends here. What a great year it's been.