Chinese New Year 2016 in Honolulu-The Year of The Monkey


I Had such a wonderful day in China Town today. It was the celebration of Chinese New Year. The year of the Monkey. My grandson Nico’s year.

It has been at least 40 years since I attended the last one. Same old, same old. “Oh I so want to go down and see the celebration” but I just always put it off.

Not this year. My family was going down and I was invited too so I went! Here is the proof in photos.

IMG_4308Some of my family



IMG_4251These three are my favorite. There were so many of these toys, tee shirts and food lining the streets. We strolled all morning and spent lots of money.

IMG_4315I could not figure out what this was and I had a hard time understanding the Chinese man’s accent. He was patient and kept repeating until I figured it out. Red Dates!

IMG_4301So hard to choose. All was freshly cooked and smelled so good.

IMG_4312One of my favorites. Char Siu. Bought to take home

IMG_4310Can you tell we are in China Town?

IMG_4316This is one of the most popular bakeries in China Town. You have to get to it early or this is what happens.

Odds and Ends Along the Way

chinese New Year 2016 - 60




chinese New Year 2016 - 62

A tip of the hat to my dear friend

chinese New Year 2016 - 61My daughter couldn’t resist all of the colorful cartoon items Inside the bookstore

IMG_4276At last what looked to be an authentic Item. When I went to check to see how much it was I was told it was being used by the fortune teller and not for sale. Sigh.

IMG_4300Guan Yin Goddess of Mercy. There is a wonderful blog that tells you all about her at

IMG_4282And what is Chinese New Years without a Lion Dance. Here the lion hesitates. Should he enter the smoke?

IMG_4285But then his companion catches up to him and says, don’t worry little buddy I’ve got your back

IMG_4283And little buddy feels brave and stands tall and into the smoke he goes

IMG_4264These are other members who also participate in making the lion dance. They all wait their turn as the dancers change out quite frequently

chinese New Year 2016 - 44Here you can see them changing out. Notice the woman with the blue arm sticking out towards the green lion. She is offering him money for good luck. This is also how the club makes their money.

IMG_4294Oh the lion is so happy to have been fed.

IMG_4274So my daughter feeds the lion too. We can all use a bit of luck.

IMG_0391And I can use all the luck I can get.

IMG_4333Then these little lions came along. I could not resist following them as they would stop and wag their tail end.

IMG_4339The little lion makes it up the stairs and heads to this woman who definitely wants good luck for her business. See all those red papers on her desk? She has been feeding many lions and she must be feeding them well as the lions don’t give those papers to just anyone.

IMG_4342And there he is giving her another good luck paper

IMG_4330And these are the little children who are dancing that lion. They start from a very,very young age.

So what a wonderful day I had. I loved the banging, drumming and all of the commotion. I watched the smiles on all of the old Chinese people’s faces and wondered just what memories were going through their minds. For me I loved seeing all the different nationalities co-mingling. I thought what a wonderful island this is that we all celebrate and enjoy each others differences. That is why I can honesty say “Hawaii No ka oi.” (Hawaii is the best)

Karen and Cadi’s Excellent Adventure At Wailua Beach

Photo on 2013-01-12 at 13.20 #3

With four dogs I find it very hard to manage a walk for any of them. It’s a matter of them all crying and pawing to go all at once. Of course I’m not able to do this as I would be dragged down the street so fast that I’d be blood and bones by the time I got to the end of the block. I’ve been asking the family for help as these dogs need that exercise but so far no takers for now.

Cadi has become the biggest beggar and every time she thinks I’m going to walk out that door she runs to it and begins to shiver all over. The above photo pretty much shows how she looks when she pleads with me. Today since my daughter was home I decided to take Cadi for a ride with me to Waialua where I get the diatomaceous earth to help control fleas and ticks on my little pack.

After picking up the powder and cow hooves for them to chew on I stopped off at my favorite “Waialua Fresh” Vegetable (You can find them on facebook) store to pick up some Hawaiian honey. I walked to the car where Cadi sat ramrod straight waiting patiently. She deserved an adventure. So off we drove to look for a beach that didn’t have a sign that said “no dogs allowed.”


Yup. Here was a  sign with no restrictions. So out of the car jumped Cadi for her first outing to the beach. Even though this island is surrounded by ocean it is very hard to find a beach that is not jammed full of tourist that you can park your car close to or one that allows dogs. If there are beaches that are empty they are more then likely to be surrounded by expensive homes that cut off access to the nicer beaches. So when I saw this sign I immediately  pulled up to the one of three parking spaces.


With the sun shining brightly and the access so inviting we started our walk towards the ocean. But as we walked I was drawn to a small body of water to my right.


This looks like it might have been a stream that had come down from the mountain and towards the ocean. But if you look closely (click on photo for a closer view) You will see large pieces of rubbish  and unhealthy looking water. I always feel sad when I see how people carelessly destroy such beautiful surroundings.


At last we come to the beach. A few men and their kids were casting their poles out into the surf.  The beach is full of drift wood that might have come in with the tide. I wasn’t sure I wanted to walk this way so I looked to my right.


To my right was a long stretch of sand uninterrupted by any mounds of drift wood. Just as I started to walk this way I heard excited yelling from the kids on the left side of the beach.


One of the young boys had pulled this dead blow fish out of the water. Again if you zoom in you can see the hole on its side. To me that did not look right and I wondered how it died. I was hoping, not from some kind of disease.  I went to get closer to take another photo.


As I stepped toward the fish the boy picked up his find with his fat stick and flung it back into the sea. Was he thinking the fish would swim away? I felt bad about the fish. It reminded me of the blow fish that used to swim in the indoor saltwater pool at a restaurant where I worked. Everyone got a laugh from him as every once in a while he would climb up on a small rock and bark. That is also why they are called dog-fish. This poor little guy won’t bark anymore. And for sure you don’t want to eat this fish even if he was still alive they are highly poisonous. In Japan they are quite a delicacy and Chiefs take years to learn how to prepare them.


So we turned to the right again and headed down the large stretch of beach where Cadi sniffed along luxuriously taking in all the smells. I was looking at the homes that lined the beach and thought why do they allow special people to build homes along the ocean and deny the majority of the pleasure of an open beach?


Obviously one of the homeowners has set himself up in quite a wonderful spot to watch the moon go down or the sun set. And if he needs some rest after counting all his money he has his hammock set up under his little grass hut.


But still. I had access to this beach and Cadi was so happy to be out with me that I decided to look closer at the plants along the way. Here are photos of the flowers that actually grow along this coast. As I looked at them I thought they were quite pretty.




Here you can see a close up of the drift wood that is piled along the beach sand. I tried but could not think of what I could make from these pieces but they certainly were attractive.


And as I knelt  down to take an even closer photo of these flowers Cadi stepped right in front of my camera taking a quick lick of my lens (OH No!) and totally blocking my shot. I pushed her and I pulled her but she refused to move until I got up and started to walk away. She had had enough of dead fish, driftwood and plants.


So I turned around and headed back up the beach and to the access road where Cadi with sand on her lips happily walked to the car. We got in, headed down the road and up the winding path, past  Schofield Barracks and down the long stretch lined by farms.

Once at home Cadi stood in the middle of the living room so that the other three dogs could sniff her, taking a vicarious trip  via her fur and paws. Then they all ran to the door crying. OK now it’s their turn.

Pearl Harbor, Urban legends and the Facts

How or why do these urban legends get started. Worse yet with the proliferation of stories that are able to travel faster than the speed of light on the internet, it is very easy to get caught up in them. For me, I don’t know why, but I seem to remember hearing this story when visiting the Arizona Memorial several years back.

It was December 6th and the band members from the USS Arizona had just won the The Battle of the Bands in Block Arena in Honolulu. As a reward for their accomplishment the ship’s captain allowed the band to sleep in that fateful morning of December 7th 1941.

What a story that makes. It has been repeated for years and I know I’ve heard it at least 3 times. But as I started to work on this post something nagged at me and so I did some research. It never happened! Oh no! There goes my hook!

I am posting this site for you to go to as it is very interesting but also is a plea to stop repeating this story. If you are so inclined, here is the web site.

Now for a really hard fact. Pearl Harbor was bombed. No urban legend there. So on this anniversary of the bombing I thought maybe you would be interested to see just what it looks like in this day and age. For those of you who have never taken the trip here are a few helpful hints you might want to remember when and if you come to the islands.

  1. The tour of Pearl Harbor is absolutely FREE! Do not pay some tour company for the tour.
  2. No purses, backpacks or any type of carry on is allowed. You must leave them in your car. My advise would be to leave those all back at the hotel as cars do get broken into.
  3. Parking is free
  4. Expect at least a one to two-hour wait before you are able to get out to the memorial
  5. There is a snack bar there if you do need something to curb your appetite.
  6. There is also a small museum and gift shop that you can browse while waiting.
  7. Oh and most important, you can bring your camera. 🙂

So without further delay, here is my little mini tour.

After you get your ticket ( free but you need it to tell you what time you will be starting your tour.) and they call your time ( you get a time not a number) you will be escorted into a movie theater where they will show a movie about the bombing and a history of the war.

After the movie is over you will be taken out  a side door where you will be board the small craft that will motor  you out to the Memorial. I like sitting in the very back so that I can take unobstructed photos.


DSC_0081_3This is what the boats look like that takes you out to the Memorial

DSC_0085_2 2Looking towards Honolulu.  Quite busy isn’t it. Not the beach lined resort spot that a lot of people think of when they think of Hawaii.

DSC_0089_3Arizona landing. You will enter the memorial here.

DSC_0103_3 2No I’m not always thinking. Especially when I looked up and saw that the flag was flying half-mast. I had totally forgotten where I was and was trying to think of what important person had just died. Then my friend said to me, “your on the memorial and it’s flying for those who died. I felt awful that I didn’t realize that.

On the MemorialYou can look down into the water and into the sunken boat from all these points

DSC_0096_4Oil slicks still leak from the ship

DSC_0107_3 2Leaving the Arizona as the next batch of people take their turn aboard.

DSC_0109_2Battleship Row

DSC_0113This is ford island. I’m not sure but I believe this is where a lot of the Navel officers live. I know I sure would like to live there. Off to the mountains in the far distance you can see the Waianae mountain range. Below those mountains is the area where I live.

And so folks that’s the tour. I hope I have all the facts straight. If not I had best go check my wallet for wooden nickles.



Lara Brit a fellow docent at the museum wrote this blog and I felt it would be of interest to a lot of people who have always heard how expensive it is to live here in Hawaii. Anything is possible with the right mind set.

A Penny-Pincher In Paradise

09 Thursday Aug 2012


Posted by in Aloha Fridays




Aloha Fridays are the time to hang loose and enjoy the bounties of Island life. So while Tuesday I put on my Tourist hat and view Hawaii from the perspective of a visitor. On Fridays, I celebrate Pau Hana (finished work) in the ways of those who call Hawaii home.

Japanese Garden at East-West Center

Writing Space is coming up on its 4 month anniversary. A few of my posts are search engine favorites. Who knew? My second post ever on this blog was Cooing For Coco Puffs. I surely did not know that someone in Mozambique would be curious enough to Google for Coco Puffs. Someone somewhere does every week. Four months later.

It also never fails that a Writerly Nook and one of the #MNINB Blogroll series makes it in my Reader’s Choice sidebar widget. But the one post that I feel that I fail to meet the Googlers expectation is my How Can You Afford To Live In Hawaii? How Can I Afford Not To? I thought at the time that if people would want to know something more specific, I would be able to respond to their comments. What I have found is that most fellow bloggers understand the value of comments and understand my inviting tone, but the general public is still a bit shy to hit that Leave a Comment button.

Basic Budget

  • Rent: $750 (includes water/garbage)
  • Electricity $50 (HECO)
  • Internet $35 (Oceanic)
  • Cell Phone $50 (My portion of Verizon family plan)
  • Bus Pass $60 (No need a car. Rental deals for as little as $8/day)

Subtotal: $945

What I don’t have: cable TV, car, Air Conditioning or heat (I don’t even own a fan. My building is built in line with the Trade Winds.)

But I hear milk is $8 a gallon

I have been hearing this one for years. I’m sure somewhere in the state someone regularly pays that much for milk but I have yet to meet them. I guess if you count the times I run across to Liliha Bakery in the middle of the night for a small single serve carton of milk to slosh in my morning coffee and multiplied that half pint to make it a gallon then I could say I have paid a lot for milk. But that isn’t any different from anywhere else. But I haven’t bought milk by the gallon in years. I don’t drink it by the glassful. I don’t eat that much cereal. I don’t slosh that much into my coffee. Heck, I rarely get even a half gallon of milk at a time. When I do, it’s on sale for around $3. I’m more likely to buy a carton of soy milk for $2.

How I actually spend food money

  • Every other week I spend $15-$20 at the Blaisdell on local fresh produce. (I need a buddy so I can halve my haul and go weekly. Any takers?)
  • Every 3 or 4 months I trek up to SuperTarget and buy $100-$150 worth of staples (pasta, bleach, detergent, frozen wild salmon steaks, frozen chicken breasts, dry beans, pasta…you get the picture)
  • Every month I spend another $40 buying sale items and such at a combination of Longs, Foodland, Times, Marukai, and a little Mom & Pop a block and a half down from me.

Subtotal: $120 monthly groceries


Here is where most people blow their budgets. They redefine their entertainment expenditures as other items. People didn’t used to go out to eat but for special occasions. Now they have to be entertained 24/7 from all those cable channel options to phone apps to three meals a day and the run to the coffee shop. That’s not food to fuel the body. That’s boredom eating for entertainment.

My Version of a Hot Friday Night

Today I worked out of Liliha Library. I admit that I ran out of the house with only a cup of coffee and a hard boiled egg this morning. My bad. So I popped in at Nice Day Dim Sum a block a way for a manapua (char siu bao). I was out a buck. I had my filtered water bottle in my bag. No need for a can of soda. My big splurge was stopping in at Shimazu Store for small shave ice ($3.50) I reuse my cone holders. I do this once a month or so unless I have folks I’m showing around. I walked down to Lili’oukalani Botanical Garden to savor in the shade by the waterfall. The cost of my outing was under $5. Most days I don’t spend anything; some days more. But I think that budgeting $5/day for a total of $150 on entertainment is incredibly generous for me.


  • Basics $945
  • Food $120
  • Entertainment $150
  • Grand Total $1215

Obviously there are other costs, insurance, medical, dental, retirement, stationary supplies, and books, to name a few. But that’s what it costs me to go muddling around in my life on a regular basis. It’s what I do any way. I never liked shopping at the mall. I worked for the food industry too long to really enjoy eating out as a way of life.

Three Keys Bear Repeating

For Hawaii to be affordable, you need to know yourself, know Hawaii and thrive on diversity. Otherwise you will overspend as compensation for your discomfort. Most of what I enjoy here is either free or cheap. Most of my excitement comes from the adventures my volunteering brings me. It truly works for me. Only you can say if it would work for you.

I don’t think I could risk trying to go it alone as a professional writer anywhere else. Hawaii is not a deluxe destination for me, but a practical place for me to take a chance on my life’s dream. It also feels like home. Is there something in your life that sounds impractical but is ironically the most practical choice? More questions? Don’t be afraid to ask. Someone else is no doubt thinking the same thing.


Kissing Paradise Goodby-Waikiki on the Fourth of July

Every year my son has a 4th of July picnic in Waikiki. It is my favorite ritual. In order to get a decent spot he has in the past arrived the night before to save a place. I would join him around 5 AM so that I could, one, find parking and two, sit and drink coffee while the sun came up. It was a wonderful event.

Last year he was told by the city that they were no longer allowing people to stay overnight and that you had to wait until 5 AM to get into the park.

I did not know this but still planned on my 5 AM arrival. Well due to a new alarm clock that I was not sure how to set I kept waking up to make sure I had not over slept. By 2 AM I was exhausted and thought the heck with it I’ll just sleep and hope it would go off.

Just as I drifted off Max decided he wanted to sleep on the bed and jumped up and plopped his furry body right in front of my face. He refused to get off the bed. After fighting with him for 20 minutes I finely got back to sleep but not for long as he started to bark at the person delivering the paper. It was now 3 AM and I gave up.

I got up packed up all my things, made coffee, got ready and i was out the door at 3:30. I was in Waikiki in 20 minutes. What would normally take 40 minutes during the day in regular traffic was a breeze on a holiday.

And a good thing it was fast. When I arrived there was not one parking space in the whole street along Waikiki beach. When I arrived at the park there were only 5 spaces left. Where I was always able to park right next to our spot, there were cars lining the area. What’s more I could not see my son. I drove way down from our usual space and took the first space I saw.

In the past there was never any tents set up. Now they were everywhere. The rule that only one person could sleep over and only in a sleeping bag to save a space had been totally ignored! I phoned my son, he was just driving down and I told him to hurry as the spaces were almost gone. He was upset when he arrived. People were sleeping everywhere.

Four in the morning and you can just see tents set up to the right But at this time there are so many people down here that I don’t want to venture to the bench to drink coffee as I might stumble over someone.

The Dawn is breaking and the only peaceful place is on the beach it’s self. The lifeguard post is still quiet and unmanned.

Looking toward Waikiki the Natatorium lights have just come on in the bathrooms

A few people enter into the water at around 6:30

Looking through the Natatorium window as the sun rises over the mountains

It’s around 7 now and people are starting to arrive to swim. The sun is just starting to rise by Diamond Head

This is looking into the park and you are able to get an idea of how many people have arrived at the park. It is getting so crowded that there will soon be tents on tents.

My son starts to set up. He and I are the only ones there at this time. He is a bit fuzzy from having put in a full day of construction the day before and was up a 3 AM to start loading and getting ice. He was not able to get the spot he usually got as there were already three tents set up there.The photo is a bit fuzzy because, well, I was a bit fuzzy too.

You can see all the cars parked along the park. I was parked way past those cars getting one  of the last few stalls left.

All of the tents are starting to appear

This canoe appeared early in the AM and sat for hours right in the middle of the only place left for kids to play. When we inquired as to who it belonged to, nobody laid claim.  So we put it on the side and the kids got on with their day.

I’m not sure if this guy didn’t want to deal with the crowds on the beach that were now gathering or he couldn’t swim. I guess he was practicing as he and the boat soon disappeared.

This was a party of Marines who had a huge elaborate set up down from us. I found this surprising as the military has private access to some of the best beaches on the island. Nice beaches for locals are so overcrowded I find it hard to understand why they would want to set up and fight the crowds on this beach.

And this was the “Chef.” Boy did his ribs look good. And those are two chickens he has in there also. I asked him how in the world did he get that huge set up down there. Of course he pointed to all the strong Marines standing by waiting. They really know how to party.

As the day got brighter and more and more people arrived, illegal tents with BBQ’s started to take over the beach. And it was still before 9 AM!

My son and I looked around, both of us tired. I had not enjoyed my coffee ritual and we were crowded in between too many tents with strangers kids wandering into our area. What there was of it. Our families arrived and started to settle in. I looked at all the tents around us.

There were a few of the older families that once had picnicked here. It was more younger people and military. Things were again changing in these islands. I told my son that I don’t think I will be coming again. If I had not been harassed by Max and left the house so early I would not have found parking. The thought of getting up at that hour next year just to get a space no longer held any charm to me.

I am sorry for the local families that are slowly loosing all their wonderful picnic areas. Yes indeed. We can kiss paradise good-by.