A Christmas Visitor

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.


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.



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.

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.



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.