Does Hawaii Have a Winter?

246772_2038314394142_3246539_nWith my raincoat and rain boots I was one happy kid on a winter day. The above house where I lived as a young girl in Daly City California was usually shrouded in fog. On a winter’s day which seemed to be all year-long I would dash out the door on my way to General Pershing Elementary and immediately jump into the gutter where the water was over flowing the curb.

I was a smart kid because I knew that the water would go into my boots and soak my socks and shoes. Why was that smart you may ask? I hated school and I knew that the teacher would see how wet I was and therefore sit me in the hallway on a bench with a heater under it.

Smiling, I would sit and miss a good hour of class. That was my winter in California.

IMAG0055This is my winter where I live in Hawaii. signs of winter? Well you can see there are not too many people on the beach in Waikiki. Who in their right mind would want to swim in 68 degree temperatures? You’ll notice that most of the people still have tee shirts over their bathing suits.Of course it is still early morning.

IMG_3104No leaves on the plumeria is a sure sign of winter. Oh, and you will notice there are gray skies above. But the plumeria seems to be the only tree that looses its leaves this time of year. Remember in Hawaii it’s a jungle out there.

DSCN0725Then there is this wall of orange flowers that has bloomed in the late fall. Pretty apropos since Halloween is just around the corner when you see this in bloom.

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How did the ancient Hawaiians recognize winter? It was during this time that the Makahiki season began. The above symbol for the god Lono would be carried around the island and offerings were collected. When this was finished the official season would begin.

The Hawaiians knew this season by the rising of the constellation Makalii or Pleiades and they would put away all intentions of war and would play games. Games that would demonstrate ones skills such as throwing spears, or slings among other things. These would sharpen their ability to fight during a war.

Of course this being winter, the ocean would be to rough to paddle canoes to carry warriors to battle so this all made sense.

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Navigating the long lines headed out to the North Shore  I see many signs of winter. Someone must have piled their stones to ask for big surf or maybe their work of art. In ancient times it was not unusual to see pohaku ( stones) piled or placed around a dwelling as the Hawaiians believed that stones could have mana or power.

DSCN2269But a dead sure sign of winter is this sign. I never get tired of looking at the waves. They are magnificent. Unfortunately I did not have my good camera with me and did not get any shots. I was having trouble looking into the viewer on my pocket camera and was lucky I even got these shots. Lessen here is never leave home without my Cannon.

DSCN2280                                    50 foot waves and higher are the surest signs of winter and that brings out all the surfers…..

1044422_10203000667967669_41725385_n                                     Gotta catch that wave.

DSCN2272                                                                                           and sightseers.

So you see, we do have winter in Hawaii. Ah it’s a bitter season but someone has to endure it. Never need my rain coat and boots anymore. Even if I had them it is too hot to use those rainy day items. What can I say. Lucky I live Hawaii.

Mau Kau Kau (Are You Ready?)

It’s Friday morning and I call my friend, Yvonne. “OK the paper says that “Saving Mr. Banks” is playing at 10:30 at Kahala Mall. So let’s make it for Sunday, that way there will be even less traffic for me to drive in.” Yvonne lives in Waikiki so she is close to the theaters. “We can watch the move and then go get some lunch” I add.

Yvonne thinks that sounds good and I think I’m pretty smart because if I go into town at that time and on that day I will save myself a lot of stress driving.

Sunday arrives, I zoom into town and I pick her up and we are at the ticket office by 10 AM. I get my ticket. Yvonne puts her money down and for some reason the woman who is selling the tickets ask Yvonne, “Do you want the 1:00 PM show. She never asked me that she just gave me my ticket. We both say “No!”

I look at my ticket and notice mine says 1PM. “We want the 10:30 show the one that was in the Friday paper.” Ohʻ she says. The schedule changes on Sundays.

“Oh no!” I’m going to be stuck in traffic. Yvonne this is the absolute last time you will see me. If you don’t take the bus out my way I’m just not coming into town! And so my day begins. Full blown curmudgeon. I’m here, I want to see the movie, I have no choice. I jam my ticket into my wallet and try to calm down.

So we decide to walk through the mall and stall for time and take in an early lunch. So we start our stroll with plenty of time to kill.

DSCN2235In the middle of the mall there is a crowd waiting for something to start on the stage

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The people were waiting for these little girls.  I whip out my not so trusty pocket camera and try to focus. For some reason I can’t get a clear photo. Trust me these blurry little faces were adorable.

DSCN2210Here again as in my last blog these children who are getting ready to perform on stage in front of dozens of people are so calm and can think of nothing else but what is going on with their wrist.

DSCN2230Well one of them is paying attention and is standing ready at the stage. But where are the others?

DSCN2213They are laughing and enjoying themselves in line. No longer examining their hands they start to form some sort of line with their little ukuleles held tight. Still they are calm and collected.

DSCN2226At last they stand by the stage. Mommy makes last-minute adjustments.

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DSCN2224They watch as their kupuna (elders) finish their performance

DSCN2227And now it is time for their little bare feet to step upon the stage and warm the hearts of all those friends, families  and shoppers.

DSCN2228Another Mommy makes another last-minute adjustment and…DSCN2234Mau Kau Kau?DSCN2215Ai (yes). There little bodies move, maybe not in unison but they dance their little hearts out. Who knows. Maybe the next “Little Miss Keiki Hula is in this halau.

Now I have to admit, I truly enjoyed this. I went to have lunch with my best friend we looked in stores and I found a few things I needed. We then enjoyed watching the story of the making of Mary Poppins even though it made me feel like crying remembering how much I loved Walt Disney, the man not the studio. As a child I was ever hoping that I would see him one day at Disneyland. But alas when he died my dreams were shattered.

Then it was time to go home. To drive in what I knew was going to be a mess of traffic. How did I know? Because I’m a know it all. And as they say “mau kau kau?”  for the traffic? Aʻole (no.) And was there traffic? Aʻole. But am I going to go back? Not anytime soon.

Hula And the Family, Hula Oni E 2013

IMG_2011Youngsters really, step onto the stage, but when the chant begins you become enthralled. So confident, graceful and thrilling. As I watch ,I admire the ability to step onto a platform and perform as though they were born dancing. The leis, hakus and costumes can take time and money.

Pain and hours and hours of practice is all behind them now as they immerse themselves into the past.

It is time for the Hula Oni e competition 2013 at the Hilton Hawaiian resort.

IMG_2281They aren’t just beautiful and graceful, they ARE the hula. In deep concentration, aware of every move, the face betrays none of this but relaxes as it tells the story.

IMG_1923My grandson has been dancing for about 3 years now and enjoys every step he makes. He has poise and confidence and executes his moves perfectly.

When his and other  performances are done  pockets of  audience disappear. We’ve managed to get our photos. I’ve managed to get back up with my camera from my kneeling position without falling over. I join the exodus. The families, excited, file out the doors and down the hall to greet and hug their kids and add their, “job well done.”

In the past I’ve tried to show some of the behind the scenes as well as types of performances watched. But this year seemed different. As families and friends we have come together now for a few years to watch. In doing so we’ve grown more and more involved as we see the kids mature and grow in their art.

So I thought I would share the love and pride that is shown among families and friends back stage. There are also a few behind the scenes shots that I thought were colorful.

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While waiting to perform these two boys kept each other entertained. “I’ll take a photo of  you then……IMG_2123you take a photo of me.”

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completely dressed to perform but keeping warm while they wait.

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These girls might have been from Japan as groups do come over from there to compete. They are concentrating on something. It might not even be performance related

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These young girls were adorable. They may even be related. But they were all dressed up and waiting and family started to take photos so I did too.

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I took a photo of these two as no one had a camera so I photographed them for one of the relatives and emailed it to them.

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This guy was relaxing with a cool drink of water and wearing his socks. I love photos that are so out of context. It remind me of the admonition that entertainers are no different than us because they have to put their pants on one leg at a time. :-)

IMG_2138Then when I went back into the auditorium to watch more hula here was the guy who was drinking water. He got up their as cool as could be and gave a powerful, solo performance.IMG_2251

This guy was posing and having a lot of fun while waiting to go on

 

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The kids are close in each halau as close as family and they gravitate to each other after their performances.

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The grandparents grab the kids making sure to get their photos together.IMG_2318

These two siblings compete in the hula and with each other.IMG_2314

Mom and auntie’s turn to poseIMG_2309

 

Grandma has something special  for her girl.( I just love how beautiful and long  Kili’s hair is gettingIMG_2023Proud fatherIMG_2079

By now the kids are getting tired and want to be with their friends but wait. There are more grandparentsIMG_2043

 

And Dad wants a photo with his sonIMG_2030

Mom is back again with both kids nowIMG_2239

And even the mentor who helped my grandson to stay on track throughout the competition steps inIMG_2247

and though my grandson has on his hat and is ready to make it he has still more family that wants those photos.IMG_2234And last but not least I manage to get  into one shot, all washed out from running around trying to take everyone’s photo.

but that’s what family is about and we support the kids in their endeavors. But families here in Hawaii extend beyond blood.IMG_2075

 

The most important family in hula life is the Kumu. You can see the admiration for kumu Snowbird on Kili’s face.IMG_2049

And of course there are the hula sistersIMG_2227And the hula brothers.IMG_2353

And the very touching love of friends.

I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough. What touched me most about living in Hawaii is how much children are loved. They, are to be seen, and they, are to be heard.

Ah Nuts!

I’ve given the garden tour at the museum how many times when someone has opened a kukui nut for the guest to try. Not a big piece but just a tiny sample with the warning that it causes diarrhea. (that kept them in check) So I never thought that I could react to the nut itself. IMG_1415

This is a fake Kukui nut lei. But I think they are still pretty. The museum would like us to make real Kukui nut leis as part of our uniforms. But I’ve not been able to make it in on Saturdays to do this so I brought some raw nuts home to work on.

I was watching “Big Bang Theory” Laughing in bed surrounded by my four dogs happily cleaning out the Kukui. I was on the third one when I finely thought that the numbness around my mouth was getting too uncomfortable. Though it was not as uncomfortable as the fact that my throat was closing up. I stopped cleaning and went to the computer to find anything on reactions to it. All’s it said was that the meat could be poisonous if eaten raw. Well I knew enough not to be eating the meat. I’m thinking it was the fact that as I chipped away at the meat, inside, I would blow through one hole to make it come out the other end.

It must have been the nut itself that was making me react. So as I’m sitting at the computer trying to find a natural treatment my daughter comes home and finds out what I’m doing. It was around 7:30 PM and she had been in town with my grandson all afternoon and she was tired and cranky.

“Mom, do you think you need to go to the emergency?” With my abhorrence for doctors I said through the very tiny hole in the back of my throat, I don’t think so let me just see what I can find here.

Meantime my son-in-law is asking me to stick my tongue out, then to smile. I said, are you checking to see if I’m having a stroke? With that he said I guess you’re not. Then Nico got worried and chimed in with a scared look can something happen to grandma? So all this is going on when my daughter comes down and tells me to get off the computer and get dressed. She was taking me to the emergency. So I did and off we went with the tiny, little hole in my throat getting smaller. ( I thought, thank goodness I had showered and brushed my teeth.)

We drove to Pali Momi. My daughter was tired and cranky because she knew this was going to be an all night thing. I kept worrying about the dogs and telling her to call Alika to make sure they didn’t find the Kukui nut meat. Chris kept saying don’t worry about the dogs worry about yourself! I tried to keep up a cheerful conversation because I knew she was tired but It didn’t help.

Of course when we got there the place was busy. Chris dropped me at the front door and I went in while she went in search of parking. I gave the two women attendance my reason for being there. (All the time trying not to sound too pitiful yet so embarrassed each time I said I was blowing on the Kukui Nut. I had to tell the story about 7 times.) By now even my teeth were hurting. As I looked around I thought this is going to take for ever. But before I knew it I went from person A to person B and then to triage, which must have really made the guy sitting across from me angry as he was complaining about how long he had been there.

IMG_1414I felt I was one with my dogs at last wearing these tags

So now I’ve messed up my daughters night, and was helped immediately while the poor guy across from me hunkered down. I manage to upset people wherever I go. Anyway they put me in a room, hooked me up to an IV and before I knew it I was 3 sheets to the wind.

But I must say, before I sailed off I managed to notice that the emergency room ceiling was made of this beautiful Koa. Not only that, there were carved squares in the ceiling, each, depicting a different Pacific culture canoeing through the ocean. It was beautiful! I wanted to talk about it to Chris but she gets so upset with me and I think sometimes bored listening to me talk about Hawaii. But I thought I would give it a try. So I carefully maneuvered my arms and IV and turned to her. It was then I realized that my eyes were shut and I couldn’t see her. When I opened them I got a shock. She was sitting there looking at me and I was looking up at the stark white ceiling. Wow, what ever they gave me was great. I just turned on my back and said “I only have three more nuts to clean.” Actually it was only two but at that point I couldn’t count anymore.

After my daughter read me the riot act about touching the nuts again I went off to never, never land. We got home around 10:30 I immediately went to bed and the last thing Chris said to me was, “You make sure to pick up your medicine and take it!”

Waking up and feeling great I told my daughter I had no more symptoms. She  reiterated once again, before she sailed off to work, about the medicine. Well I picked it up after I went out to breakfast, looked at magazines, and yarn. I knew I was going to be tired after I took it so I managed to do what needed to be done. Don’t tell Chris, I cleaned the last two Nuts!

IMG_1413Raw Kukui nut and the tool I was using to hollow it out.

Manaikalani at Bishop Museum

DSCN1256Manaiakalani made from wood. The tip is bone lashed on with Ol0na a cord made from the fiber of the Olona tree.

When giving tours to children, at the Bishop Museum, the first stop is to the case containing Maui’s fish-hook which is called Manaiakalani. Maui sometimes called a god and sometimes called a demigod was famous throughout the pacific. It is even said that many belive he really did exist at some time in history.

IMG_1180Maui, the Manaiakalani and the ‘Alae ‘Ula

For the children though I think the story of how Maui, given the hook Manaikalani by his father, took his brother fishing for the giant fish Pimoi captivates their imagination.

The brothers were to paddle their canoe out to sea and not look back as Maui baited the hook with the ‘Alae ‘Ula or what is called the Hawaiian Moorhen. You can see the hen in Maui’s hand in the above photo. It was said that Pimoi was attracted to the red around the birds face.

As the brothers paddled and Maui held on to the line the giant fish emerged. The brothers looked back, the fish pulled away and the line snapped causing the fish to break apart and the hook to fly off into the sky where it became the constellation Manaiakalani or Scorpius.

And what happened to the fish? Well he broke apart. Each part became a Hawaiian Island. Hey that’s just as believable as George Washington not being able to tell a lie!

I always ask the kids what their version is and there is always a different one or they may not have heard it at all. But they enjoy hearing about the waves thrashing and something big coming out of the ocean and I enjoy telling the story to them. Believe it or not even some adults like the story too. What do you think?