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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Underside

I’ll marry a deep-voiced filmmaker 
with dark eyes,
a sketchy past,
a bright future.  
We’ll move to California. 
I’ll be his apprentice, 
he’ll be my muse, 
and together we’ll make art
knowing not why, 
but how. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


...from the Gauthier's house during band practice. Gorgeous.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Yesterday was my Dad's birthday, and today was Olivia's. A group of us went to Kauai Pasta for dinner, then back to Olivia's house to cruise (we played Balderdash; I won.)

Robbie, Olivia, Michelle:

The AMAZING cake that Amanda made:

Lauren and Olivia:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my awesome Dad. Love you!!

(Picture taken when my parents visited Kauai in February.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Google +

I joined Google+ today and I'm loving the sleek design. Of course I'll keep my facebook account to stay connected to everyone, but I've thought it was too messy for a year or so now. And I like the idea of being able to group friends into circles on Google+. So hey, everyone join and add me! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


So as I'm getting ready to go to sleep, this little guy decided to crawl into bed with me:

What a cutie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Relational issues...

I believe that my car (affectionally known as "Max") has gained self-awareness, become disgruntled over something I said or did, and resolved to publicly humiliate me.

Yesterday I was early picking up my boss from the airport, so I parked in short-term and read poetry on my phone until he had gotten his bags and was waiting for me at the terminal, at which point I attempted and failed to start my car. It wouldn't turn over, nothing. So my boss called a cab while I called AAA. But when I called the Kauai branch of AAA, before I had even spoken with anyone the system rerouted my call to the Ohio branch, which was just as confusing for them as it was for me: "Where are you parked?" "At the airport." "Which airport?" "The only one, Lihue." "What?" "Huh?"

And then I got disconnected.

Which worked out because just then the cab arrived and the driver swung by my car so we could transfer some stuff I'd bought at Costco to the cab. On a whim I tried to start my car again. Predictably, after all that trouble, it worked without a hitch.

What's the deal, Max? I just had the o2 filter replaced, got you an oil change, and renewed your registration... and you thank me by playing games with me?  

He acted out again this afternoon when I stopped to get gas in Kilauea. When I tried to start my car after filling up, the same thing happened: nothing. But when the attendant came to my rescue and had me "just try starting it one more time" so he could "hear what kind of sound it made," it roared right up.

Alright all you mechanics out there -- how can I show Max some love? What's his problem? Is it just a phase, or is there some deeper, underlying issue that needs to be addressed?

Monday, September 19, 2011

...back to the grind.

Family Camp this weekend was a nice break. Burgers, bonfire, s'mores, and worship on Friday night... dinner and talking all evening with friends on Saturday night... church, luau, and volleyball on Sunday. Olivia and I were planning to sleep on the beach Saturday night, but it rained alllllll evening and alllllll night. Our prideful sides wanted to suck it up and do it anyway, but we opted for waiting for a nice weekend when we're more prepared with supplies. All we had between the two of us were blankets and one pillow. Heh.

Here's a picture of the camp, standing in front of the cabins (which were on the beach) looking back towards the mountains. So beautiful.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Family Camp!

FYI, I won't be posting tomorrow night because I'll be camping on the beach with the sand crabs. This weekend our church is hosting its annual Family Camp, which is for everyone (not just the family unit.) Lots of food, beach, campfire, swimming, volleyball, board games, etc. Tomorrow after work Olivia and I are going to go join the festivities, then sleep on the beach all night. Sunday morning we'll have church on the beach followed by a luau. It's going to be a relaxing, fun weekend--and lord knows I need a break from thinking about the future and options and all that.

I'll post again on Monday, hopefully with pictures from camp. Aloha!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


My, have I been in a funk the last few days. I think I've been caught in some sort of time-continuum vortex or between here and an alternate dimension or something. Lots of looking at my hand in front of my face and wondering if the experience/sight/sense of it is the same as the reality of it type of moments. Getting lost in my thoughts and wondering if it's actually possible to fly, wondering if dreams are as True as wakefulness. Brain-in-a-vat suspicions.

But enough of that. Here are two Very Real Pictures of a Very Real Rainbow taken from my Very Real Lanai this afternoon. (Whatever "real" means.)

Of course, a rainbow is nothing more than a grand-scale optical illusion -- a trick played on the eyes, which see an arc of colors as a result of refracted light. A distortion of reality. How appropriate.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


...if you are easily grossed out. 

I'm running out of pictures I haven't shown yet, so tonight's batch is from when I had staph infection a few months ago. I had gone stand-up paddling with my friends Blake and Lau at Hanalei Bay, and on a whim Blake decided to teach me to surf. Surfing on a stand-up paddleboard isn't really equal to surfing on a longboard, but I tried it anyway. I handed my paddle off to Blake, followed his instructions, and easily "surfed" the first wave I tried. I got a couple more, and then wiped out... on the reef. I didn't even notice I was bleeding until we had paddled out of the Bowl (it was dark by that time.)

Once back at Lau's house we cleaned out all of my various cuts with hydrogen peroxide. (And when I say "we," I mean Lau.) My knee (picture one) looked a lot worse than my ankle (picture two.)    

A few days later my knee was starting to heal, but my ankle swelled up, got all red and pussy, and became painful to walk on. 

A few days after THAT it looked... disgusting. And I could hardly walk. 

Can you tell how swollen my ankle was?:

So I made an appointment with the doctor for the next morning. But in the meantime, I went to Lau's house for band practice with him and Blake (yeah, we started a band), at which point Lau insisted that the wound needed to be cleaned, scraped out, de-pussed, etc. Blegh. It hurt too bad for me to touch it myself, so Lau donned some medical gloves and set to work. 

A blurry picture of me screaming in pain, taken by Blake:

Lau, all chill after performing the surgery:

After "doctor" Lau squeezed out all the pus, I felt SO MUCH better. Within a few hours the pain, pressure, and redness had lessened. The next morning I got an antibiotic and some topical cream... and within a few weeks the wound finally closed and began to heal. Even now it's still purplish-red and will probably scar (my knee is super scarred too, for the record.) Moral of the story: don't ever get a staph infection. 

Floating away on a story...

I've been both consuming and producing mass quantities of fiction lately. The line between "reality" and "imagination" has become blurry.

Who's to say that our lives aren't as contrived as the most brilliantly woven words of a master storyteller? 

And who's to say that fiction does not contain Truth and thus isn't real? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Art Night! Friends! Bridges!

A few months ago I went with some friends to Hanapepe for a Friday night art walk. Here are some pictures I snapped from the swinging bridge over Hanapepe River. 

Chris, Jenni, Mike, and Michelle:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Clean clean clean!

I was literally about ten seconds from falling asleep before I realized that I forgot to blog, so -- not wanting to break my promise -- I pulled myself out of bed to type a few sentences.

I spent most of the day helping Shikinah and Ryan move into their new apartment. Shikinah and Abby (her sister) and I spent all morning deep cleaning the new place: scrubbing down baseboards, walls, and cupboards... bleaching stuff... vacuuming... etc. Then we moved five carloads of stuff (three in my car, two in Ryan's) from the old apartment to the new. We got all the shelving units installed and organized the kitchen, master bathroom, and part of the office. For being 7 months pregnant, Shikinah held up amazingly well all day!

I have to say, after spending a long work-week staring at a computer screen for 8+ hours a day, it is so refreshing to actually WORK and sweat and get dirty. Especially with good friends for company. Free meals don't hurt either. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh My God.

It's strange.

When I lived in Ohio, I remember thinking, "I can't imagine leaving this place." Not that I didn't want to ever leave or thought that I would stay there forever... but I just couldn't picture what my life would look like without my family close by, without the friends I'd had for years, and without Damascus Friends Church. It was a strange feeling knowing that I wouldn't be there forever but being unable to fathom a life absent of those very, very good and wonderful things.

And being in essentially the same position now feels stranger still. In another few weeks it will be a year since I first moved to Kauai... and I can't imagine leaving this place. I had planned to live here no longer than a year and to remain unattached, but it's been impossible not to become attached. To my incredible friends, to North Shore Christian Church, to the mountains and the ocean. I have a very full life here, and when I think about leaving, I get stuck. Mentally blocked. I can't picture leaving and saying goodbye to this life. What would come next? International travel? U.S. road trip? Mission work? Hibernation for book-writing purposes? A family, at some point? Spiritual retreat? Grad school? All of the above?

Boy, it's confusing. Lately I've felt pressed to be thinking about the next step, mostly because I feel like I'm not living a life full of Christian service and sacrifice. It's not that I'm trapped in a guilt trip or anything... this is something more complex and internal. Something to do with higher goals and purpose and the meaning of life and all that. Something to do with eternity. Something to do with Jesus.

Please, listen to this song: "Oh My God" by Jars of Clay. If there will ever be a song that radically changes my life, it will be this one. Perhaps it's already begun to. Every time I listen to it, by the end my heart is pounding and I can barely breathe. Seriously, I mean EVERY time. It hasn't lost its power even with years of repeated listenings. Here's a video with the song, but I would recommend listening to it without watching the video. Shut your eyes, don't move a muscle, and absorb the lyrics. The last few minutes of the song are... wow. Even if you're not a Christian, I'm willing to bet that you can sympathize with the depiction of a broken world crying out for answers.

Somehow, whether in Kauai or Ohio or some third world country, I need to more effectively engage this broken world.

If you can't watch the video, here's the YouTube url:

Polihale and Bon Dance

In June, some friends and I went to Polihale and a Bon Dance; I'm just now getting around to posting pictures. First are some shots from Polihale, which is a wide, deep, silky beach at the very end of the road on the west side. The last couple miles of the road require four-wheel drive, so Chris rented a truck for the night and we plowed along the pitted road to this glorious destination to watch the sunset. If you blow up the picture you can get a good idea of the size of the mountain by comparing it to the teeny tiny people at its base:

Chris (a local) taking a picture of Gabriela (from Poland):

Chris and Gabriela watching the sunset while I play paparazzi:

Watching a kite surfer wrestle down his kite and fold it up:


Tako poke (octopus) for dinner... yum! If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see the suckers:

And the breathtaking sunset, of which I still managed to get a couple good shots without my tripod:

After the sun had set, we went to a Bon Dance in Hanapepe where we met up with our friends Jenni (who is now back in Germany until January, sadly) and Daniel. A Bon Dance is a Japanese Buddhist festival held in honor of the dead. In the middle of the festival was an oval-shaped arena in which the kimono-adorned performers danced circles around a center podium, where drummers struck a mesmerizing beat. I believe the podium (more like a scaffold) is called a yagura. The lanterns in the pictures have something to do with the dead spirits of loved ones -- to lead them home, I think?