the whole truth…and nothing but…

Photographs can sometimes lie. Or at the very least…they don’t always tell the whole truth.

Having secured a number of rentals over the last several years, whether for family vacations or for our daughter’s use while working, we’ve come to realize that photos don’t necessarily represent the total picture. 

Take for example the 1 bedroom condo we rented on Waikiki Beach last year when we returned to Honolulu for my mother-in-law’s funeral. 

The unit photographed beautifully, including the balcony with 2 chairs. IMG_4457What the photo did NOT capture, was the fact that we’d be sitting with our knees touching the rail. That’s if we could even squeeze our way onto the narrow balcony. What the picture also didn’t show was the view of the enormous parking lot surrounded by wall-to-wall high-rises. I’ll give the owner credit though for correctly identifying the peek-a-boo mountain view.IMG_4456

Then there was the rental my daughter and I recently occupied in San Fransisco‘s Mission District. It looked like a charming enough studio. There was a queen-sized bed towards the back of what seemed a somewhat spacious living area with a couch and television. I liked that one could watch TV while facing the balcony and the Zen-like garden beyond. Unfortunately any thought I might have had of spending time outside, disappeared upon arrival.

The area was a mess. A year’s worth of leaves had accumulated. Spider webs had taken hold. Plants were dying. Chairs were in disrepair. It was obvious that outdoor maintenance wasn’t a priority. Thank goodness a regular service handled the indoor cleaning. Or I’d have been out of there in a hot San Francisco minute.

Two other factors about the apartment were a little more disconcerting. One was that it shared a common wall with the owners’ garage. I sometimes wondered if we’d wake up under a car if one of the drivers stepped on the gas instead of the brake. The second was one of hygiene. The bath towels felt as though we were wiping ourselves with chenille bedspreads. You know, the kind grandma used on her beds. They were so thin. And sometimes we’d find strands of hair embedded in the dark fibers of the brown towels. Yuck! Yuck! And yuck!

I was reminded of these experiences after helping our daughter settle into her current digs this past weekend. She’s in Houston rehearsing the female dance lead in The Grand Opera‘s AIDA.

The best I can say about the apartment is that it’s spacious. It had been a detached garage in a former life. Now it’s a bungalow…living and bathroom/bedroom separated by a narrow breezeway-turned kitchen. Funky is the best way to describe the decor. I expected that from the online photos. What I didn’t expect was almost nonexistent lighting and dirt beneath the surface…not dust, but grease and grime.

My spirits nose-dived when we walked into the dimly lit living room. I could barely see the furnishings once we’d switched on the 2 over-sized, recessed ceiling lights. And it was only 6:30 in the evening! Some natural light shone from the kitchen windows, but not enough to make a difference. In fact, the overhead track lighting in the kitchen wasn’t the best light to prep and cook in either. The bathroom light was better, albeit haphazardly assembled. The light bulbs above the medicine cabinet were mismatched or missing, and only one of the mismatched lights that were part of the ceiling fan worked.

The bedroom lighting was a disaster.IMG_5094Light from an old-fashioned desk lamp shone like a spotlight on the wall next to the bed. With dark wood flooring and black bed covers, it was difficult to find comfort in that dingy room as well. The closet was an alcove to the left of the bed. There were enough shelves and hanging space for sure, and at least the ceiling bulb with pull string shone a good deal of light.IMG_5093 Fortunately there was an overhead light with ceiling fan in the bedroom, which lit up the space.

Family and close friends know I’m never deterred by less than desirable accommodations. I’m always up to the challenge of making things work, and I was determined to instill happiness in this apartment with a few dollars, and a whole lot of elbow grease and creativity.

Imagination is my middle name. Growing up poor in the good, old days meant having to dream up much of what I needed…whether it be play things or just pretty things. And at a very young age, I also learned the art of decorating. 

Charged with the task of cleaning and straightening our small upstairs rental each Saturday, I became extremely proficient at arranging and rearranging our thrift shop furniture. I took pride in making worn out furnishings look good. Over the years, first as a college student and then as a wife and mother, I have honed my talent such that I could do it in my sleep. Which, in fact, I often do…imagining how I would make over a room so that when day break arrives, I can “hit the ground running.” It also helps that my passion for hand-me-downs, in the form of antiques and vintage items, has only grown throughout the years. I’m now surrounded by what feels like…very dear, very old…friends.

So while our daughter followed her heart to the dance studio, her dad and I did a little sprucing up around the apartment.

Rolling up our sleeves, I scrubbed surfaces that looked like they’d not seen a sponge and disinfectant for some time, while hubby worked his magic on the laminate floors with a Swiffer mop. He went through half a box of replacement sheets, before we felt we could walk around the place with bare feet.

IMG_5047

…air mattress in living room for company…$1 pumpkin with gift tissue for hair…cheap place mats for dining…standing lamp brightens up a once dark room…colorful throws bought on sale, add cheer and coziness…

Once we sanitized the place, I proceeded to give it a face lift with bargains gleaned from a nearby TARGET. Thank God for TARGET! In no time the apartment looked more upbeat, cheerful, and cozy. The transformation brightened not only the apartment, but our spirits as well. 

With a little imagination such items as greeting cards, gift bags, colorful throws, bargain bowls, bag clips, rag rugs and towels, can turn any eye-sore into a warm and inviting space. Add to that a fresh set of linens complete with pillowcases, shams, sheets and comforter for $40, and a set of 2 table lamps and one standing lamp for $49…and our daughter was home…at last.

Returning home to the comfort of cozy surroundings has always been a priority in my life. It’s been a haven wherein my family and I can rest, recuperate, and re-energize for the next day’s adventures. And regardless of where my daughter’s career has taken her, I’ve always wanted the same for her…a home reminiscent of the one in which she’s grown up.

Memories are made no matter where we are…

IMG_5082

…child’s bed linen set at 30% off amps up this once spiritless bedroom…gift bags as wall art for under $5…bedside table lamp sets the right tone for winding down…

………hugmamma.

IMG_5065

…charming halloween cards and a pumpkin welcome our daughter home…and invites visitors to join her for conversation and comfort…

IMG_5054

…bowls add color while offering function…as do the magnet/hooks…

IMG_5136

happy daughter…happy, happy, happy…hugmamma…

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on the right side of white…

Dear Dr. King,

Your ears must be ringing since everyone’s been talking about you. The media has been playing your “I have a dream” speech over and over again.

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Free...

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the National Mall facing east from the Lincoln Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One anecdote was of particular interest.  It seems a pro basketball player who stood nearby asked if he might have your speech after you’d delivered it. Evidently you gave him the 3 pages, because he still has it.

I have no such memento of that historical day, or the faintest recollection of where I was when you spoke those famous words. It’s safe to say I probably felt as far removed from the black situation as I was the day you stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I was thousands of miles away on the island of Maui in Hawaii. You were changing history…and I didn’t bear witness.

But just as a pebble causes ever-widening ripples to occur when it hits the water’s surface, your words have affected generations of lives…for the better. And so it seems only fitting that I write you this long overdue thank you letter.

If you hadn’t stood tall for racial injustice I might not be living on…the right side of “white.”

I graduated from college, and with my degree was able to work alongside white colleagues in a number of different jobs.

My family and I have felt at home in neighborhoods predominantly populated by whites.

Our daughter has thrived in all white schools.

We can shop where we please. We can choose which theater to see a movie. We can dine where we like. We can use public restrooms without reservation. We can travel by plane, train or ship. We can overnight in a Hyatt or a Best Western. We can decide which services get our business be it the cable company, the dentist, or a contractor.

No one looks twice at my driver’s license picture. Retailers are only too happy to take my money. Pre-approved applications for credit cards always arrive in the daily mail.

I owe my quality of life to the steps you took to improve your family’s life, and the lives of other African Americans, Hispanics, Middle-Easterners, Asians…and Pacific Islanders like me.

What you did 50 years ago will continue to resonate until mankind ceases to exist.

I may have been born on the wrong side of white, but thanks to your dream of what could be…

English: Inscription on the steps of the Linco...

English: Inscription on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, commemorating the location from which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington on 1963-08-28. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…i’m living on the right side of white…

…mahalo!…

………hugmamma.

you should…talk to strangers

Not something you often hear, especially from a mom who’s been very protective of her only child, even now that she’s 27.

While NOT talking to strangers is still a good idea for youngsters, doing just the opposite might be exactly what the doctor orders for our ailing adult society.March 2011A 00059

Remaining clueless about one another will prove to be humanity’s death knell. Wearing blinders isolates us from the possibilities. And without them, what kind of hope is there for our future? Life offers no guarantees EXCEPT that we’re all in it for the long haul…until death do us part. So why not let your guard down and reach out to someone…as often as you can.

March 2011A 00061Reaching out to others who reach right back…totally makes my day.

My insatiable curiosity, and gift for gab, make it impossible for me not to want to know… “Whaaas up?” So when an idea takes hold, I usually follow its lead.

Today, while enjoying a celebration of my native Hawaiian culture at a local retailer, I happened upon an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair. He reminded me of a famous entertainer my husband and I had taken our parents to see a few times when we were visiting the islands. Rather than drop the thought, I stopped to ask the woman sitting next to him if he was from Hawaii. It turned out that they were husband and wife and were originally from Honolulu. Until moving to Seattle recently, they had lived in Nevada for more than 20 years.

Mr. Cummings was from the same town as my husband, and his grandfather had been in law enforcement in my hometown…before my time, obviously, since Mr. Cummings looked to be in his 70s, or perhaps 80s. Small, small world…getting smaller every day.

It felt so natural to chat and laugh with total strangers who felt, if only for a few moments, like friends of the family.

I can’t recall ever being rebuffed when I’ve extended myself in a gesture of friendliness. I can only remember being repaid in kind. My experiences have encouraged me…

…to talk to strangers…

………hugmamma. March 2011A 00046

i have my memories…

It’d been several years since I was home to visit family in Hawaii. With my mother in-law’s passing, my husband, daughter and I made the trip to Honolulu with a mixture of sadness and joy.

We were fortunate to rent a condo near the hub of tourist activities, Waikiki Beach, without being in the midst of all the traffic…pedestrian and automotive.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To say I felt rejuvenated as the days unfolded, is an understatement. The sheer pleasure of walking out the front door, hand-in-hand with my hubby, and having the warm, tropical breezes softly brush both cheeks was simply…heaven on earth.

Our walks rarely varied. We’d stop to breakfast at a small cafe in a nearby hotel, before leisurely strolling along the beach.

Thinking healthy, we’d order scrambled egg whites, oatmeal, and island must-haves…a few pieces of Portuguese sausage and a couple of macadamia nut pancakes. To the surprise of the young waitress, hubby and I would share our bountiful meal. Explaining our desire to live long, happy lives…she’d smile, nodding her approval.

Sitting among planters brimming with colorful varieties of orchids, and gentle trees whose limbs directed our eyes toward the sand and sea…we felt at peace with our surroundings…and life in general.

This was the Hawaii of my childhood, only better. Carefree…bellies full…dreams realized.

Wandering the length of the beach, we were amazed at the expanded shore line. It literally took my breath away.

The last time I saw this section of Waikiki Beach, much of the ocean was walled off by a long, winding stonewall. What water was free of obstruction was literally lapping at my feet.

View of Waikiki Beach area hotels. Halekulani ...

View of Waikiki Beach area hotels. Halekulani is in the center, to the left of the large curved building (Hotel Sheraton). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I liked what I was seeing this go round.

Sand as far as my eyes could see. The beach front of my childhood. Nothing between me and the Pacific, blue waters…but glistening, white sand.

One day when my daughter and I sought to spend several hours basking in the sun, we made our way down to the beach. I opted for laying our towels in the immediate vicinity of a manmade lagoon which sat between a hotel and the ocean.

Dropping myself onto the towel, my bottom literally went…kerplunk! The sand felt as hard as a wood floor. Wasn’t it suppose to be cushiony?

My daughter laughed, her eyes twinkling in the sunlight.

She reminded me that my brother-in-law, her uncle, had told us the beach front had been a creation of man’s ingenuity.

All of the sand we beheld had been brought there, tons and tons of it. The shoreline had literally been swallowed up by the ocean. As a result, the city and affected businesses had to pay for its reconstruction. Otherwise, where would the tourists go? Elsewhere, obviously.

I remember an older sister telling me long ago, that the beaches were disappearing inch by inch.

A teen, too young to care, I didn’t put much stock in what she said. But after thinking about this situation recently, I can remember how surprised I was when I visited Kihei on the island of Maui over 20 years ago. My favorite beach bore no resemblance to the one I loved, growing up.

Kalama Beach Park was a regular weekend destination for my family. As soon as my mom pulled into the parking lot and stopped the car, my brother, sister and I flung open the doors and raced one another to the beach.

Digging our toes into the hot sand, we’d plop our bodies down…reveling in the openness and the breathtaking beauty that surrounded us.

Never could I have imagined that sweet memories of childhood days frolicking on the wide open beaches of my birthplace…would be all that remained.

When I hear and see, as I did last night when watching the PBS FRONTLINE documentary, of the effects of global warming, I’m saddened to know what has happened in Hawaii has occurred elsewhere, and is continuing to take place…now…in areas of our country such as North Carolina.

I believe we have tampered with Mother Nature.

Anyone who contemplates all the changes that have occurred within recent decades to the weather and to the earth itself, cannot explain away our impact upon these events.

We are not invisible.

We have used all available natural resources to indulge ourselves. Meanwhile, we have put very little effort into ensuring that these resources will be available long term…for our children, grand-children, great-grand-children…and their children, grand-children, great-grand-children.

I have my memories. You probably have yours. What kind of memories will our loved ones have?

Unless we invest in our environment, our beaches…may altogether…disappear. …and so it begins………hugmamma.

 

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

 

through others eyes…

A number of my posts have referenced my cultural heritage…I’m Hawaiian.

I’m also half-Chinese, although I know very little about the culture since my father died when I was one, and my mom was never accepted by her in-laws because she wasn’t Chinese. What I do know was gained from having lived among the Chinese, whose numbers figured large in  Hawaii‘s “melting pot.”

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that who we become is influenced by the environment in which we have been raised. By osmosis, we absorb the good, the bad, and the nuances…of our surroundings.

Born in 1949, I was a Hawaiian on the verge of becoming an American. Once a monarchy, Hawaii became a state of the union on August 21, 1959. I turned 10 that same month.

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Repu...

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Republic of Hawaii, his cabinet, and officers of the United States Army, reviewing from the steps of the former royal palace the first American troops to arrive in Honolulu, in 1898, on their way to Manila to capture the city, which Commodore Dewey held at bay with the guns of his fleets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lead up to becoming an American, I was not allowed to speak my native tongue nor learn about the history of my island home. Instead, I was formally educated in the English language and in American history.

My mom, widowed with 9 children, supported us with her meager earnings as laundress for a Catholic orphanage run by Maryknoll nuns from Boston, Massachusetts. She inferred from them that she should only speak English, and she should abandon her superstitious, island traditions.

As a result of my family’s experience with having to adapt to become  Americans, I am sensitive to others who view America as wanting to usurp their uniqueness as a people…with their own cultural beliefs and traditions.

Despite the Birthers who refuse to acknowledge President Obama’s American citizenship, he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 p.m. at Kapiolani & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. His father, 25 at the time; his mother, 18.  You can view the long form of his birth certificate at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf

President Obama and I share a commonality…we were born in Hawaii. Me, 10 years before it became a state; the President, 2 years after.

I think most will agree that the first years of a child’s life are the formative ones. They were for me.

English: President Barack Obama signs H.R. 847...

I don’t profess to know all about President Obama, but I sincerely feel he is imbued with the Aloha Spirit so closely identified with the islands we both call home. In fact, he has said as much.

Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”[38]

President Obama’s approach to foreign policy is reflective of his upbringing.

He stands tall for American values, all the while recognizing that others have the same right to take pride in who they are and in what they believe. In attempting to bring them around to a more democratic outlook in how they govern, the President does not see the need to annihilate the essence of who they are as a people.

Respecting other nations and supporting them as they take the lead in pursuing their own democracies, President Obama acknowledges that America can no longer act  as the imperialist nation it once was.

America remains the most powerful nation on earth. We still “speak softly and carry a big stick.” It’s just that others are more inclined to call our bluff…namely the terrorists…and China.

We need more in our arsenal of weapons than just bullying postures and empty threats.

First and foremost the President is opting to sit around the table with our allies, and other nations important to the stability required in these very uncertain times. He has made every effort to effect what he has said. That he hasn’t done it to everyone’s expectations might be credited, in part, to the rapidity with which events unfold. And the need to remain flexible, feet grounded, but not immovable.

That America must assert its authority as it once did in previous eras, such as during the Cold War, is not seeing where we are today.

The Middle-East is comprised of such divisive factions. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problems that exist there.

Governor Romney’s vision of American leadership in the world is a throwback to what prior Administrations have held. Perhaps appropriate to some degree then, less likely today.

President Obama’s’ visits to leaders of the Arab world had been viewed as currying favor with those leaders.

My view has always been that the President was reaching out to people who have always been demonized by us, just as we have always been demonized by them. He was trying to build a bridge. A conversation between perceived enemies, if you will.

The world is not black and white. It is colored…textured…multi-faceted.

We need to live outside of ourselves, in the real world where others are trying to do the same. Realizing that how we expect to be treated by others…is how they would like to be treated by us. Sound familiar?

…i invite you to step back…and see the world…through others eyes…

………hugmamma.

weekly photo challenge: mine

Food…good food…is one of my weaknesses. If I have to put on calories…they’d better taste awesome. I don’t eat…bad calories. Not worth the weight gain. Following are samples of a few, very memorable samplings…all MINE!!! Tofu cheesecake…Nobu Restaurant, Honolulu, HawaiiEnglish breakfast…Heathrow Airport, London, EnglandThe Pig Restaurant…New Forest, Southhampton, EnglandCalico Cupboard Old Town Cafe and Bakery…Mt. Vernon, WashingtonHomemade…Hugmamma’s kitchen, Washington

…yummy! yummy! yummy!…mine! mine! mine!…

………hugmamma.   😆 

weekly photo challenge: solitary #2

Solitary…being the only one. Makapuu Lighthouse…Honolulu, HawaiiCanoe…Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, HawaiiOne-of-a-kind…Art Gallery, Waikiki, Honolulu, HawaiiMy Keiki Wahine (daughter)…Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki, Honolulu, HawaiiWaikiki Moon…Honolulu, Hawaii

…yours to enjoy…someday…when you visit…

………hugmamma.   🙂

weekly photo challenge: solitary

The Hawaii envisioned by most who dream of one day visiting the islands is most often one of basking …on sandy, white beaches…under sunny, blue skies…in warm, ocean waters.

What is rarely ever experienced is the barren, solitary flip-side of islands that have evolved over time…from molten lava…to hard rock. Beauty resides here as well, though not of the typical kind.

No fragrant plumerias…or showy hibiscus…or striking bird-of-paradise.

Rather…broken asphalt…barren trees…craggy rocks…lichen…edible cacti…native flora…the lone bird…distant vistas…and the solitary…Makapuu Lighthouse… the piece-de-resistance.

…beauty is in the eye of the beholder…it comes…in all forms.  

………hugmamma.

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sleep, “ever catch up?”

12-hour digital clock radio

Image via Wikipedia

I envy those who regularly fall into bed at 10 p.m. or earlier. I’ve not done that in many, many years. I’ve always been the proverbial “night owl.” Bedtime for me is midnight, 1 or even 2 a.m. And every night before I close my eyes, I murmur to myself “Gotta get to bed earlier, 10:00, tomorrow night, 10:00.” It’s become more like a prayer, than a resolution.

Downtown Honolulu, HI, view from Punch Bowl.

Image via Wikipedia

I can recall when we were first married, and were renting a nice 2 bedroom apartment in Honolulu. We could afford a larger unit because my husband worked odd jobs around the complex, in exchange for the discounted rent of $125 a month. Can you believe that? An unheard of amount in a major metropolitan city these days, but especially in Honolulu.

University of Hawaii

Image by wertheim via Flickr

My husband had just graduated from a private Catholic college; I was finishing up my last year at the University of HawaiiBetween trying to be the good, little wife, and the good, little student, I was “burning the midnight oil.” I was also interning as a 4th grade teacher as a requirement for the 5th-year teaching certificate towards which I was studying. Oftentimes, I’d take a break from all-night cramming, and do a little household cleaning. I’d even run the vacuum. I was 20 when I married, so what did I know about the right time to do chores? I did them when I could. Funny, the neighbors never complained. But my husband did. He had to get up early for work.

Winfrey on the first national broadcast of The...

Image via Wikipedia

While my penchant for cleaning late at night has dissipated, my desire to hang onto the last moments of a waning day have not. No matter where I’ve lived or what course my life has taken, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that I want. That’s not to say I make the most of every minute. No. I dawdle…a lot. I stop to read parts of the newspaper. I crouch down beside Mocha to tell her I love her and nuzzle my face into hers. I catch parts of Ellenor Oprah.” I munch…munch…munch. I pick up Sitka. Oh, and of course, I blog. Those of you who subscribe, or are regular readers, know that I blog. Can’t help myself. Love to write.

Chatting with my husband when he arrives home from work and interminttently throughout the evening,  prepping dinner, dinner itself, cleaning up afterwards, more blogging, a little reading before switching off the light, and before long the clock reads midnight, or later.  Where does the time go? And it doesn’t help that Dr. Oz, and a myriad of others, continually advises that 7 0r 8 hours of sleep a night is mandtory for good health. I resolve to do better…in my next life. Promise. Meanwhile…

A Westclox Big Ben Clock

Image via Wikipedia

Are you an early bird, or a night owl like me, or both? God bless you if you’re both. I’d be napping all day.

know where i can borrow some hours?…hugmamma.

“trivial pursuit”

I’ve visited another blog site which is great at “housekeeping” and decluttering. Thought I’d try it with my brain. Need to empty it of tchotchkes every so often. So I’m decluttering, in no particular order.

  • Did you know that storing apples with other fruits will ripen the others more quickly?That’s something I need to constantly remind myself.
  • Walking around Seattle yesterday, lunching on a nice, healthy salad, and supping on shared appetizers with hubby, garnered me a weight loss of 2 pounds! Yeaaayyy! At my age, that’s some feat! And my feet didn’t hurt, either. Thanks to great walking shoes, Merrell’s.
  • With 21,082 spams to date, I’ve got a “spam club,” which I’ll gladly relinquish to anyonelse. Sage? Ellen?
  • Received an email that Ellen de Generes
    Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

    Image via Wikipedia

    is following me on twitter. Not sure how that works. I just click “tweet,” and send it out into internet galactica. Have never visited “twitterville” myself. WordPress.com is mind-boggling enough for me. But I sincerely hope Ellen or her fun assistants have a laugh or two, or cry a tear or two, depending upon which post they’re perusing. Hmmm…just tried to send her a message, but can’t. Will have to delve into the machinations of Twitter. OMG!…more techy speak.

  • Can’t seem to get the hang of blog  buddies, so I’ll just continue to embrace the universe of bloggers. It takes all kinds, after all, and I’m just one kind.
  • Recently saw a segment of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” which featured a home remodel in
    City seal of Honolulu, Hawaii. Image created b...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Honolulu, Hawaii. Since I turned the TV on after the story had already begun, I didn’t see what the house looked like beforehand. Fronting the ocean, with completely unobstructed views, I could only imagine its original price tag. During the process of the remodel, the city, and then the state, prohibited the building process. Denying a permit, FEMA explained its concern about the proximity to the water and flooding issues. Did that stop the property owners? Maybe they blinked their eyes, but they went forward, leveling the house and its accrued $250,000 renovation up to that point. Raising the new house to a more acceptable height, it was completed. At $4 million, the completed home was breathtaking, inside and out. Now that’s my idea of “pie-in-the-sky,” a dream home in Hawaii. But for me, that’s exactly what it is…a dream.

  • A bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran with 1 cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup of Silk’s vanilla, almond milk is my new BFF. Love, love, love that it keeps me “regular.”  😉
  •  Heard on the local news recently that sitting for 6 hours or more a day without taking breaks to move around, contributes to increased risk for heart disease, and premature death. According to the report, even those who work out 3 or more times a week aren’t exempt from the threat. And the strain of work puts females at a 40% risk for coronary illness than men. Something to seriously contemplate, and perhaps take steps towards changing one’s routine.
  • Well-meaning friends and relatives also help to clutter my brain. Here are some of their contributions.

How the Internet started 

A revelation with an Incredibly Big Message (IBM):

Well, you might have thought that you knew how the Internet started, but here’s the TRUE story…..

Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözése

Image via Wikipedia

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of 
Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. 

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband: “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?”

And Abraham did look at her – as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said: “How, dear?”

And Dot replied: “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price.

McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F) N273UP United Parce...

Image by Kuba Bożanowski via Flickr

 And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”  

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP)

But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secret himself inside Abraham’s drum and began to siphon off some of Abraham’s business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and prosecuted – for insider trading.

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung.

They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say: “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.”

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said: “We need a name that reflects what we are.” 

And Dot replied: “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.”
“YAHOO,”  said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE)

And that is how it all began.
 
 
Truuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuly!!!

The above was courtesy of my friend Sylvia, And the following was shared by my brother Ben.

cid:004d01cba06a$f3b58c10$0201a8c0@user542eef7362

life doesn’t get any better than this…hugmamma.

“life’s flavor,” ethnicity

Father Edmunds, I’m almost certain that’s the name of the priest who regularly assists our pastor at saying a few Sunday Masses. Charismatic in a more soft-spoken manner, Father gave an interesting homily last weekend.

The Gospel’s message was that we, God‘s disciples, are the “salt of the earth,” and the “light of the world.” Father began his sermon telling of a book fest he’d attended where an acquaintance, a Muslim, was speaking to a predominantly Muslim audience. The man had authored many books based upon his life experiences.

Born in Egypt, the speaker was raised in Switzerland. Now living in the U.S., he’s very familiar with living in a society unlike his own. Initially he tried to fit in, setting aside his cultural idiosyncrasies. In time, with the advice of friends, he realized he should celebrate his Muslim heritage, sharing, rather than hiding it.

Father likened one’s ethnicity, to the salt used by Middle Easterners to heat their earth ovens. There, children set to work mixing together salt and the dung of camels and donkeys. The result is spread over the stones covering the bottom of the earth ovens. The salt acts as a catalyst in igniting the fire. As the flames burn, the catalytic quality in the salt is expended. The salt, its flavor intact, is then scattered on the ground outside the oven.

Just as salt flavors the food we eat, so too our individual differences bring a vibrancy to the world in which we live, explained Father Edmunds. He went on to say that God gifts us with our distinctive traits, as part of His greater plan to bring “light” to the world.

Moving to New York from Honolulu, where I’d graduated from the University of Hawaii, and gotten married, was like moving to a foreign country. Most New Yorkers I encountered didn’t look like me, nor did they share my mannerisms. Being of Chinese-Hawaiian descent qualifies me as a Pacific Islander with the census bureau, but my habits and attitudes are generally like those of the Asian population, and very unlike those of Caucasians. Living in the Big Apple compounded my dilemma, for its residents are unlike those in any of the other 50 states, or so I’m told.

It took me a while to develop a stiff upper lip, not to mention a spine. Orientals in Hawaii in the 50s and 60s, were “invisible.” We had no problem adhering to the golden rule, “children should be seen and not heard.” So finding myself among New Yorkers who were aggressive, ambitious, and often ill-mannered, left me feeling like a doormat. I tried to fit in, by setting aside my ill-equipped Asian mentality. I was like a scared chicken let out of its coop, left to flounder among long-time, cage-free residents.

Slowly, inevitably, I began owning my culture once again. I wore it like a badge of honor, telling everyone within earshot, “I’m from Hawaii, born and raised on the island of Maui.” As whites and blacks warmed up to me, I wore my pride and humility equally. I came to love The Big Apple. Visiting relatives commented that I was becoming a New Yorker, exhibiting more confidence and “hutzpah.” Working in New York City for 10 years, my personality underwent changes in order to survive. I even joked that the stork must have made an error, delivering me to Pacific Islanders. It seemed I should’ve been “dropped” on the island of Manhattan, alongside the Hudson River.

Of course I’d never relinquish my unique heritage. It embellished my experiences in the Big Apple, and being Hawaiian continues to flavor life’s journey wherever I go.

savor one’s heritage…life’s salt, life’s “flavor”…hugmamma.

buffet brunches, worth the money?

Our family has been to its share of buffet brunches, usually on special occasions, like Mother’s Day or someone’s birthday. If you’ve ever been to one, you’ll probably agree that leaving with “doggy bags” would be a great idea. And I don’t mean taking home your leftovers, I mean carting off platefuls of new servings of items you couldn’t get enough of at one sitting. But, of course, restaurant management might not be keen on people loading up on doggy bags for the next few days meals…at home.

Now there are buffets, and then there are BUFFETS! When my husband and I still lived in Honolulu, “many moons” ago, we frequented the Flamingo Restaurant’s “All you can eat” buffet. I’m sure it’s no longer around, the restaurant that is. I’m sure it was great, especially for local food, which I do miss though it’s been 30+ years since we’ve moved to the mainland. We use to remark that the ones who really got their money’s worth were football teams who ate at Flamingo’s after their games. Pity the restaurant owners who probably “lost” money those nights.

When we moved to Garden City, Long Island in New York, my husband and I found another eatery which served a great buffet. Just around the corner from our apartment, we’d walk there, mouths watering at the thought of eating as much shrimp as we could. I can still picture peeling off the pinkish-red shells, dunking them into spicy cocktail sauce, and shoving those tasty little critters into my mouth, whole. That and the prime rib, kept us going back time and again. 

Our favorite brunch here in the Seattle area is at Salty’s on Alki Bay. Walk, fly, or swim there. You won’t be disappointed. But make sure you bring along a healthy appetite. Remember, it’s “all you can eat,” there!  A long line of cars usually awaits, and then another line of people waiting to be called to their tables. How long, depends upon the day of the week, if it’s a holiday, if the weather’s good, and so on. Reservations are necessary. Getting in without one might be possible, if all the stars are aligned perfectly in the skies above.

The spread at Salty’s brunch buffet is heavenly, ranging from the usual breakfast fare, pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, fruits, pastries, muffins, breads and hash browns. Then there’s the usual buffet offerings like carved roast beef, eggs benedict, and desserts. Other buffets might also offer pasta stations, which Salty’s does as well. What is the “piece de resistance,”  as far as I’m concerned, is their seafood table. There’s oysters-on-the-half shell, mussels, clams, CRABS LEGS, and all the shrimp you can eat! Now if I could only shovel loads full of these into doggy bags, I’d have died and gone to Heaven.

While Salty’s is incomparable here in the Pacific Northwest, my all-time favorite buffet brunch is at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Canada. The hotel itself is a destination, a castle with turrets, winding staircases, banquet halls, even an armored knight on permanent display. While much of the hotel seems like the real thing with naturally dark, but well-lit corridors, one dining/lounging area boasts a panoramic view of the Canadian Rockies. When we’ve stayed at the Banff Springs, we made sure to take afternoon tea in that space, gazing out at God’s handiwork. 

While meals in any of the hotel’s eateries were scrumptious, none were as eye-catching or pleasing to the palate as its buffet brunch. Elegantly laid stations offered international food from Japan, China, Mexico, the UK, Italy and France. From soups, salads, appetizers to desserts and every imaginable type of entrée in-between, The Banff Springs Hotel aimed to please. Although attired in white jackets and black slacks or skirts, the waiters and waitresses were helpful and pleasant. As with Salty’s, reservations for this buffet brunch are recommended, unless you’re again fortunate to have the universe line up just right in the overhead, Canadian skies.

perhaps you’ll agree, buffet brunches are definitely worth lots of hugs, if not lots of money…hugmamma.

“service with a smile”

Having both worked in service-oriented jobs for many years, with my husband still in the business, we agree that customer service is a “dying art.” Shopping on the Internet has made it more convenient for consumers to surf the global market for all their needs. An appealing product, savvy marketing and a credit card completes the transaction. There’s no need to interface with a flesh-and-blood person. After all, Google can answer any of your questions. And if you’ve got a hankering for “warm and fuzzy,” click on “smiley face” or download your choice of YouTube videos, to get your endorphins moving.  

Businesses grew by leaps and bounds when consumers had quantities of disposable income. Customer service was unnecessary, so it became a thing of the past. A few retailers, like some purveyors of travel and TV’s QVC, continued their traditional practice of being solicitous towards customers. But some, like E-Bay, Amazon.com, Craig’s List, department stores, supermarkets, drugstores, fast-food chains, medical practitioners and airlines, may have opted to minimize service in favor of quick turnover, with a “get ’em in, get ’em out,” attitude.

With the downturn in the economy, companies are scrambling to win back customers who have fewer dollars to spend. Customer service may be on the rise again. I hope so. It doesn’t cost businesses more to have employees smile, offer a warm greeting, listen with patience, offer options for resolution, and express appreciation for ongoing patronage. However, a company may want to invest in customer service training. Even employees with impeccable manners and the greatest intentions, will meet their match in irate persons. I know, I’ve sat on both sides of the desk.

In my mid-20’s I worked as a customer service agent for the Hawaii Medical Service Association in Honolulu. It represents Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the islands. I had extensive training in the technical aspects of HMSA’s policies so that I could answer policyholder questions. I did so in person, and on the phone. I enjoyed helping people, especially when I could clarify or demystify the finer points of their coverage. Receiving their thanks, and seeing their smiles when they turned to leave, was extremely gratifying. Of course, there were some who were disgruntled with what I had to say. And there were a few who insisted upon speaking with my supervisor, hoping his response would be different. Sometimes a review was scheduled, but often his answer confirmed mine. One particular encounter left me “shaking” in my muumuu (long, Hawaiian dress).

A gentleman from the island of Molokai had called, unhappy with a bill payment. I think it was a hospital claim, probably of a sizeable amount. I explained how the insurance carrier had determined his coverage. Unhappy with the information, I can only imagine how the man’s eyes bulged, his belly heaved, and how difficult it might have been to breathe, as he screamed profanities through the telephone. The tirade continued when I handed the call over to my boss. We were mistaken to think we’d heard the last of the policyholder. Not long after, the huge Hawaiian man  arrived at our offices, having made the flight specifically to address us in person. I gladly introduced him to my supervisor, who withdrew to the privacy of his office, with the angry islander in tow. I think someone from upper management eventually joined the conversation, but I don’t remember the outcome. Needless to say, the experience left me wary.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been the irate customer. However I’ve certainly done my fair share of yelling, I’m sorry to say. But it’s always been when I felt inconsequential, the company having already snagged my business. There was the time we’d refinanced with a bank at a low-interest rate. Because the appraiser hadn’t submitted his report on time, our rate was due to be increased. Not until I spoke with the President’s secretary, shedding tears of frustration, did she resolve the matter in our favor. 

When my 19-year-old daughter’s VISA bill showed an annual $85 fee for fraud protection on a credit limit of $500, I went ballistic! If she didn’t pay the fee, she’d be slapped with a finance charge. And if that kept up, she’d reach her allowed max in no time.  It was ludicrous that a billion dollar corporation would take advantage of a teenager. Unfamiliar with marketing schemes, my daughter thought VISA’s $2 rebate check was a reward for opening a bank account. Cashing the check actually signed her up for credit card protection, as indicated on the back, in fine print. My nonstop tirade failed to move the customer rep until I asked how she’d feel if her teenager had been scammed. The rep agreed to remove the fee, without requesting repayment of the rebate.

Purchasing a used sofa back table in Atlanta for $300, I agreed to pay the dealer another $265 to ship it to my home in Washington state. He shipped with a small, regional carrier because of its comparatively low-cost. When the merchandise arrived in Tacoma, my husband was told that the price had escalated to $600. In speaking with the seller, I learned that the price change had occurred within the shipper’s bureaucracy. The clerk with whom the transaction originated, wrote up the piece as a “sofa bed,” not a “sofa back table.” Sight unseen, the receiving office modified the price accordingly. When we asked that they open the crate to verify that it was a table, not a sofa bed, we were aghast when the amount shot up to $800+. No reason was given, but I surmised the decision was made that the piece was an antique. If I refused to pay the exorbitant price to retrieve my belonging, it could be sold locally for a hefty sum. After phone calls to 3 different offices, I was directed to the company’s corporate offices in Alabama. I wrote a letter describing, in great detail, the events leading up to my outrage. I addressed it to the President of the freight company, copying the President of its parent company, and express mailed both. It was sent on a Saturday, and I followed up with a call on Tuesday. Long story short, the Tacoma branch delivered the table to my husband for the originally quoted price of $261. That didn’t include door-to-door transportation, but it did in my case.

Who wants the grief that accompanies confrontation? Not me, that’s for certain. I’d just as soon turn my back, leaving it to those with hardier constitutions. But as I’ve indicated in my earlier posting, “put a ‘face’ on the ‘unknown,’ ” sometimes I’m integrity gone amuck! As with most people, there’s a “line” which when crossed, Mr. Jekyl steps in for Dr. Hyde. At that point, I become “warrior mom,” battling until my opponent is “face down,” eating dust from under my high-heeled stiletto, specifically removed from moth balls for the occasion. 

In my travel experiences from one end of the country to the other, southerners and Hawaiians exude genuine warmth and hospitality. The tellers at my mother-in-law’s bank welcome her with sunny smiles, and assist patiently with any questions she may raise. I find Southern wait staff gracious in their greetings, and their drawls hold my attention as they enticingly describe the “specials of the day.” What both ethnicities share is a slower paced lifestyle. That seems to translate to great customer service. Of course, as with anything else, there are exceptions to the rule. But I enjoy spending time in those locales, where “getting to know you” and “service with a smile” are more than fanciful sayings. They’re a way of life. 

for amazing customer service, huge hugs…hugmamma.

memories, thanks for

Being the youngest of 9, I grew up not knowing most of my older brothers and sisters for they’d left home at an early age, to make their own way in the world. They all succeeded according to their own individual talents and circumstances. I can remember moments when we interacted. But for the most part, we’ve remained separated by land, sea and a lifetime of experiences. We’re in touch from time to time, and we all wish only the best for one another. And I’m happy for that. I don’t regret what was or wasn’t, what might or might not be, what is, is good. I have unique memories of each sibling, for which I’m thankful. 

  • The eldest, Richard, died of a heart attack in his 50’s. I first met him a couple of years earlier, when I was a college freshman. I was told he looked most like my father, whom I don’t remember since he died when I was one. Upon meeting me, Richard exclaimed that I looked like a Miss Hawaii. So of course, he scored major points with me. At least I had that moment to cherish, when he was gone.
  • Stanley, a brother of few words, is the one I know least. Attractive, gentle and quiet describes him best.
  • Ruby, my oldest sister was like Stanley in demeanor, and being only a year apart, they were inseparable growing up. When I was older, I remember summers with her family in Honolulu, and when I was in college she lent a much-welcomed, helping hand.
  • May, a career secretary for the Air Force, was a great source of financial help to my mom throughout my childhood years. I summered with her family in Honolulu as well. She began a tradition of sending me birthday and holiday cards bearing coins which were inserted into slots. These were always a great source of delight for me, and a very special treat.
  • Bud has always been a charmer, a great flirt with the women. His happy-go-lucky manner is how I know him best.
  • Ben had been adopted by a childless couple when he was a toddler. I think I knew of him before we met, when I was in high school. In the ensuing years, he and I have become very well acquainted, trading barbs, laughs and hugs, via emails, blogs, and sometimes, in person.
  • Lucy is a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. Holding her pom-poms when she was a high school cheer leader was every kid sister’s thrill. It was mine.
  • Edward and I were the last 2 to leave home, being the youngest. Our shared experiences are probably the foundation for our lingering closeness. I understand him the best of all my siblings, and congratulate him for what he has accomplished in spite of the many obstacles he had to overcome, and for being the consummate family man, proud of his son and daughter.

cherished memories are worth their weight in gold, unlike the metal, they never lose their preciousness…hugmamma.

McGarrett, no replacement

As I sit typing away at the keyboard, Steve McGarrett’s face lights up the TV screen behind me. The low, husky voice is enough to conjure up the handsome Jack Lord. I’m reminded that in “Hawaii Five-O’s” heyday, I had a crush on the actor. So while I was disappointed in his marriage to someone other than me, I took comfort in his wife’s dark-haired good-looks as indicative of Lord’s preference for exotic types.

Beyond Lord’s presence in the series, “Hawaii Five-O” was a favorite of locals because it was filmed in the islands. The production company’s home base was located a few miles from my mother-in-law’s house. Filming on location meant natives would be used not only as extras, but possibly in featured roles as well. I think one or more of McGarrett’s  detectives were island men. Not only did the series provide jobs for locals but they, along with the islands as a backdrop, gave the show authenticity. Viewing the show I could identify every place they filmed, streets, buildings, restaurants, night clubs, malls, parks, beaches, hotels, churches, temples, airports and more. It was thrilling to see local celebrities like Danny Kaleikini and Genoa Keawe perform. Don Ho also guested but wasn’t a favorite of locals, who viewed him as a cheesy rendition of the true Hawaiian artist. Besides, Ho was always seen with a drink in his hand. Islanders did not relish being dubbed as slap-happy alcoholics to an audience of television watchers.

While not knocking the socks off of critics, the dramatic series entertained “Hawaii Five-O” fans for years. I know my family watched it with regularity. We probably set our dinner schedule around its time slot. After all, watching the show was like witnessing real life as it unfolded on our streets, in our homes, in our work places, among our people. We weren’t watching look-a-likes, so imagining that “Hawaii Five-O” was about us wasn’t far-fetched. And Jack Lord imbued the Hawaiian spirit, if not in looks then in his love of the islands and its people. During the series and through his retirement, he and his wife lived in Honolulu, calling it home. We were as enamored of the man, as he was of Hawaii, its culture and the natives. So while another reprise of the TV series is in the offing, there’ll never be a replacement for Jack Lord, the one and only Steve McGarrett. I wonder if the theme song will be updated as well; the old one is like “comfort food.” Right now, watching the original “Hawaii Five-O”, I’m remembering the “good old days” of my youth.

they can try, but…hugmamma.