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Archive for July, 2008

I have come to the conclusion that you have to actually do something to have something funny to write about on a blog. Like Dad Gone Mad, who cooked shrimp and chocolate for his kids. Now, that is funny; positively gross, but funny.

 

Or A Mask to Hide Behind. in Britian, who has the most hilarious parents I have ever heard of.

 

Then, there is Masters Daughter, www.BrainDebris.wordpress.com who has a busy life and is hilarious — when she has time to write about it.

 

Then, there’s me. I get up, let the dog out, come in, get dressed (I am dressed when I let the dog out by the way, just in my pajamas.), do dishes, exercise, feed the dog and eat 1/3 cup of oatmeal myself. The dog does not appreciate oatmeal.

 

At that point, I look around the house. I am denied entry to the boys rooms because they are usually sound asleep yet. If they aren’t at work, they are sound asleep at 1p.m. I do not clean the boy’s rooms anyway. I do not snoop, although I have reserved that right should I suspect things like drugs, explosives, or dishes. Dishes being the main thing I open their door and look for.

 

I’m always sorry when I open their door, no matter what I find, so I’ve found it best just to do without bowls for a day until they decide they cannot eat cereal because I have no dishes to wash. The same with clothing.

 

My next step would be to look at the bathrooms, but frankly that is just plain disgusting at 7:00am, or anytime. I usually tackle that in a Haz Mat suit right before taking my decontamination shower.

 

Then, I am left with the front/dining/kitchen open L. It just ain’t worth it. Besides, I’ll never get my book done, if I spend all my time cleaning.

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 I am afraid this Hawaiian tour is beginning to be an epic novel and I still have not found my photos, but I have borrowed some that mom had copies of.

Grand Circle Island Bus Tour: Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour with Dole Plantation – Trusted Tours and Attractions – eTicket Center- At $63.67 for an adult, it is a bargain, when you consider the cost of renting a car and purchasing gas.

I am not really a group tour person. I like to shoot off on my own and discover new things, and we had intended on taking the tour and then renting a car one day, but we never did rent a car on Oahu. The public transportation is excellent and most of the outlying things we wanted to see included free shuttles to get to them. And, mom’s penpal of sixty years (and her husband) took us on their own tour one day. Our driver was an excellent guide who made the tour interesting and personal. He was from Wisconsin and told us that living in Hawaii wasn’t any more expensive than living in Wisconsin (what with heating oil, winter clothing and winterizing a car) and it was a heck of a lot warmer.

We saw the Dole Plantation, where mom could get her fix for a pineapple soft serve, Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach (with an awesome kite display), and Windward Oahu (I think that is the west coast). I enjoyed Byodo-In Temple and mom liked feeding their gold fish. There was north shore beaches and Waimea Bay and Kona Coffee farm. It was 120 miles of gorgeous scenery with enough stops, and time at them to be enjoyable. It departs around 8:15 am and returns around 5:45. It’s a really good tour and they pick you up at most of the hotels.

I believe we stopped in Haleiwa and, unless I am mixing it up with another town, it was a charming little town with artisans. I still remember the ceramic fish with bamboo chimes that I fell in love with and wished I had gotten. I go more for quality and hand crafting now-a-days and would rather have spent a bit more on it than on purchasing t-shirts and such.

GERMAINES LUAU: Aloha Top Ten > Activity Details > Germaines Luau 

ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY,  THE BEST LUAU ON THE ISLANDS, at least that we found, and we hit at least four of them. We were picked up near our hotel, included in the price of the ticket, and taken twenty-seven miles from Waikiki to a private beach. “Cousin K” (enough to make the trip worthwhile right there) entertained us on the bus and got everyone in the mood to party. Although, if I never have to hear, “Just hang loose, ust have fun, sipping on a drink and lying in the sun, Don’t try to fight it, it ain’t no use. When you’re in Hawaii, you should just hang loose.” I will be eternally grateful.

Mom is a reserved lady and I wasn’t getting up on the stage doing the hula, but I have to admit it, we had a blast. I’m sure the three free drinks you are given doesn’t hurt the mood, even though it had busloads of tourists, it still felt like a party with people you know. My only complaint was, as I remember, I wish it was right on the waters edge. We were in the sand though and they had tables, in front, where you sat in the sand at a low table and then regular style picnic banquet tables for those who needed to sit on a bench.

But, the biggest treat was the all you can eat traditional Hawaiian Buffet. It was the BEST FOOD in HAWAII. And, that was considering I was not over my Bacterial Bronchitis, and on nasty medication and barely ate more than one bit of anything. However, it was still the best of them all.  The menus is on the link above. Well worth the $66.13 per adult, when you consider there was several hours of entertainment. And they definitely had the best entertainment, including the most awesome fire dancers. 

I have admitted now to being a lame tourist, but you can be as reserved as you want and still have fun or you can go dance on the stage. Other luau’s do not come close.

Atlantis submarine: Atlantis Adventures

This was one mom wanted to do, even though she worried about getting down into the submarine. She did fine with the ladder and they were very helpful. The coral reef was fairly new though, I believe they had sunk airplane or ship hulls to build it and this was nine years ago, so is probably better. It was still fun and I would do it again. We saw some neat fish, turtles and a shark. It’s not something you get to see in Indiana, obviously and they have the sub on three of the islands.

Polynesian Cultural Center: The Official Site of the Polynesian Cultural Center and Alii Luau

This is a pretty interesting, yet all tourist attraction. The drawback is that you will never see all the village shows you want because they all start at the same time. They have villages for Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga as well as other exhibits. Their mission is to “preserve and portray the cultures, arts and crafts of Polynesia.”

It’s on 42 acres and has a nonprofit center so that students of nearby Brigham Young University Hawaii can work their way through college by “sharing their island heritage with visitors.” They have hands-on activities and exhibits going on throughout the day and then at designated times, they do demonstrations and therein lies my complaint.

The demonstrations, as I remember, were always spaced two hours apart and each village did them at the same time, so that you could never, in one day, see all of them. You have to decide where you are going when. At the end of the day there was a canoe pageant that was cool. But, our favorite part was the evening show.

Their “Horizons” night show (and I do not believe you can do the luau and the show) was awesome and held in an open air auditorium and, at that time told the story of Hawaii. We really enjoyed it and for $58 per adult, you get admission to the seven villages, a tram tour, IMax and the night show. It is a good deal.

 Before we left Hawaii, we would return to this island one more time and see Hilda Silva, mom’s pen pal since that was one of the main reasons for our trip. They have written to each other, since they were teenagers. Which for all you young folk, means hand writing on paper and sending it through the Postal service.

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I have just read an incredible book. It is The Butterfly Garden, a Memoir by Chip St. Clair.

As a child, Chip was raised by abusive parents. I am not going to give any of the stories away, but it is abuse by a man who was evil and sadistic and, in my opinion, a mentally ill mother.

That he survived at all, is a miracle, and he has shared his story with the world, as well as his break-through recovery.

This is a special cause for me, as I find abuse in my own family. I am now raising, well they are almost raised at 21, 19 and 16, three abused boys. I see, on a daily basis, how this background haunts them. They struggle with many things the rest of us take for granted. They are seeing a clinical psychologist, and have all had flashbacks from Post Traumatic Stress.

They were robbed of their childhood and education, and they hold a constant fear as to what is happening to their siblings. They sit and reminisce about being locked in closets and beaten with horse cinches. I am hoping that, Mr. St. Clair’s book can help them learn how to recover and I recommend it as a must read by everyone.

How many times have you said to yourself, “I wonder what goes on in that home?” Don’t just say it. Become informed. Go to some of the websites Chip lists as resources. Get involved. Do not sit back and wait for someone else to report it. It’s hard enough to get anything done about it; believe me, I know.

Children are too precious to ignore.

P.S. I want to thank http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/ for the give-away I won this book on. It will mean a lot to my family

 

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I should state here that Military grandson is probably on his way to Hawaii this month, or next, for a tour of duty. Talk about luck. This boy has the best guardian angel ever. I’m just grandma, so no one lets me know what’s going on, of if he has arrived yet.

 

This photo is of my mother, during the 40s, in an authentic grass skirt and Hula wear that her penpal sent to her. Mom has always loved Hawaii and wrote letters to two Hawaiian’s at that time. One, Hilda, remains a friend and penpal to this day and had visited the mainland once to meet mom. This was mom’s chance to visit Hilda in her home. Mom looked her other penpal up in the phone book on the Big Island, and found his name, but did not call him. She remembers him fondly yet.

 

I loved Hawaii. I was not joking about moving there. I love the place. The air welcomes you, the people welcome you, the ocean is heaven, rainbows in the sky, flowers, nature, blowholes, fish, cute Hawaiian men. I mean what more could you want? And, since BrainDebris will probably be traveling to Hawaii next year, I want to fill her in on all the stuff to see and not to see. So, off we go— 

 

Our erstwhile travel agent set it up for us (she deserved her jail time for this part alone- see part one), to have a complimentary breakfast with the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people who, she told us, would book the things we wanted to see. Later, in touring Oahu, I saw numerous kiosks where you could walk up and purchase tickets for the sights you wantto see, on the schedule you want without being held captive, for half the day, as we were.

 

I really wanted to go to the Urasenke Foundation Tea Ceremony that morning. I probably made a mistake in trying to plan our trip to get everything in and that is never possible. But, it didn’t matter anyway as we were held captive by the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people until noon and we were not getting out of their grip without a fight.

 

 

First thing was this pleasant picture. Pretty Hawaiian girl, nice lei’s, sappy tourists. They took our pictures, they took the lei back. REMEMBER: almost every lei you are given is for a photo op. You will give them back the lei and you will pay for the photo. The flowers in these aren’t even real.

 

I have to say that Oahu was the touristiest island we were on. I live in a tourist county, so I do understand. Everyone makes their income off of the tourists and since tourists are generally happy, the locals are happy, pleasant people.

 

I would highly recommend going to Oahu first and then relaxing on another island or two last; where the memories you take home will be a better picture of the real Hawaii. Also, save some money for the real treasures of the other islands.

 

Back to our complimentary breakfast-They gave us a commercial of an hour of slides. It was interesting but I would prefer seeing the sights in person. Breakfast was cold scrambled eggs, fruit and one cup of juice. ONLY one small cup of juice. I know because the woman at our table asked three times for more and was told no. Forty-five minutes later, we finally got water, but no pats of butter for your roll; nope, not allowed. It was like prison food.

 

Booking, in this situation was bad. You had a roomful of thirsty tired, hungry, angry people sitting in a lunch room only a few people to actually book your tickets for you. There are kiosks to book shows, tours, etc all over the island and your hotel can do this also. Skip the bad breakfast.

 

Then we were escorted to Maui Divers. Mom is a jewelry nut and she had a ball picking out jewelry. I did enjoy the tour of the jewelers at work, and we were given complimentary Champaign to open our checkbooks. Okay, I have a teeny cynic somewhere deep inside me.

 

Do not forget, we were still being held by the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people, who then put us on a shuttle bus and waited at every exit to direct us back to our bus, lest we escape and they lose their cut from the stores they took us to. One of the neatest, and maybe saddest, things we saw was in their parking garage. An open truck load of coral was being brought in for jewelry making.

 

Downstairs from the Maui Divers was the cheaper jewelry store. They wait with a bucket of oyster shells in hand to wrangle that last dollar out of you. I am pretty sure our upstairs purchases put us in the two pearl bucket category. For four dollars we each picked a shell and I’ll be darn if we both didn’t get double pearls in our shell. What are the odds of that happening? Wouldn’t we love to buy this gorgeous $150 earring setting? I handed her $8, for the shells and left with our pearls in a plastic bag. There were stands all over the island that you could try your luck with an oyster shell. 

 

 It’s kind of fun though. Okay, I’m a lame tourist.

 

Next stop, Hilo Hatties. It is considered a “must stop shop” but it was rather expensive and we found better deals elsewhere. I think there are a few things you can only get there though. I did purchase a pineapple candle and some candy to send back home. Eventually we were let off the leash and I could breathe fresh air again.

 

I don’t want you to think we did not have a good time, because we did. Oahu has some great sights.

 

 

What we missed: Mom did not want to go to Pearl Harbor. She felt it was too depressing. If I were going back, I would definitely go to the Waikiki Aquarium. 

 

TOMORROW: What we did see on Oahu: The best Luau around, A great bus tour, Diamond Head, Polynesian Cultural Center, and mom’s high school penpal. A reunion made in heaven and more

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First, I would like to state that I love taking off in an airplane. It’s a cool sensation. After that, I can leave the whole thing and go by car. Fortunately, I have not had the experience, as my nephew did, of having a NEAR mid-air collision, or as a friend did of dropping 10,000 feet in one second, while mid-air.

 

Our plane, the same plane we had flown over the ocean from LAX, took off after our abbreviated stay in Maui. At 20,000 feet, it sounded as if they were lowering the landing gear again. It was making strange enough noises that everyone had stopped reading and was nervously looking around.

 

People, who had traveled across an ocean together, in complete silence, suddenly started chatting.

 

“Gee, is it time to make our wills out?”

 

“Wonder where the pilot is?”

 

“Notice, there isn’t a flight attendant in sight?”

 

We started making all those nervous, lame comments you make when you are afraid you are about to face your imminent demise. After all, we had listened to the engines for many hours, so we knew what they SHOULD sound like. We also began buckling up.

 

It was a very long half hour before the pilot finally came on the intercom.

 

“You’ve probably noticed that we lost our right rear engine shortly after we left Maui.”

 

Well, DUH! PROBABLY? You would have to have been deaf not to notice.

 

It also would have been nice, presuming he was not fighting to keep the plane in the air, to announce to the passengers that‘even though we have lost our right rear engine, we have three more or two more or even one more engine and we are not in any danger, but it would be advisable to buckle up.’ You know, just something, anything to make us feel like we were not alone in this; without any control.

 

The pilot continued.

 

“I don’t want you to be concerned by the fire equipment standing by in Honolulu.”

 

Which, as it turned out, was so far away that we probably would not have noticed the four fire engines, ambulances, etc at the far edge of the field, had he not told us? It certainly was not as worrisome as the frikkin engine noise we had been listening to for the last half hour or more.

 

He did bring us in for a safe, albeit bumpy landing and we thanked him with a rousing, well subdued, round of applause.  Hey, I was happy, four take offs and four landings are enough to make me applaud being done with it, even without losing an engine. Which, by the way, makes me wonder–What exactly is the airlines definition of “losing” an engine? Did it actually fall off into the ocean? Or is it on the plane and just not working well, or at all?

 

We touched down, in Oahu, at 3:55 pm, Hawaii time and received a beautiful flower lei greeting. It smelled so good, no artificial perfumes, and almost made the rest of our troubles worth it. It was one of the few flower leis, placed on our necks during the next two weeks that we were actually allowed to keep. I had secretly paid for this when we booked the flight, so mom would be sure to have a nice one.

 

The first thing we did was look into a ship for coming home. Our “faithful” travel agent had abandoned us for Tahiti. Bet she wished she had stayed there, and she was probably on a plane with all its engines, so we just asked everyone about a ship home and got laughed at. The general consensus is that you have to book a ship three months in advance and pay $2,000 per person, so that was out. 

On to the hotel:

 

Mom does not like to stay above the third floor. I have pointed out that an eighty year old lady will probably have as much of a problem jumping from the second floor, as the third, but three is her limit. We had reserved a third floor room, and were assigned a room on the sixteenth floor. Mom turned green and I threw a polite fit about it.

 

One of my jobs was to make the trip go smoothly and I was fast failing at that. They showed us the room, with an offer to move us if we could not accept it, and we found out that the pool jutted out two floors below us so we would only have to escape down two floors into a pool. Looked like fun to me and she was happy (By the way, she won’t stay on the ground floor either).

 

Mom wanted to see Don Ho, but he was out of town, so we decided to roam on down to the International Marketplace. We were told it was two blocks away.

 

Now, if you are traveling to Hawaii, this is a very important lesson. Read carefully: EVERYTHING IS TWO BLOCKS AWAY. It is the most miraculous place in the world. It does not matter where you are standing or where you want to go; just ask four different people, heck ask twelve different people and they will all say, “It’s two blocks that way.” I dealt with their “two blocks” joke for the next ten days.

 

The International Marketplace was eight blocks away really. A hike for mom, so we eventually, after walking a couple of blocks, grabbed a bus. It is an open air market, with one aisle of better class stuff and other aisles being bargaining aisle sales. Mom eventually got into the “will you take $5.00 for this,” something I doubt she had ever done in her life. It was just fun to wander after dark, in this tropical paradise, with all the new sites and smells.

 

The disappointing thing is that I never really found a section that I considered to be International. I like to find hand crafted things made by indigenous people. There was a lot of mass produced stuff at the market. But, obviously, I did not see the whole thing.

 

I promise tomorrow to tell you about being kidnapped by the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people.

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I found my Hawaii trip book. While we were on the trip, I kept a journal of the interesting things that happened. When we got home, I had some spare time and made a Hawaii trip book. I was teaching art to homeschoolers; with the Casper Area Christian Home Educators and we were going to create some books, so my excuse was education.

 

But, I now digress, as if I don’t all the time, to insert some illustrations, make corrections and add a few forgotten items. 

 

  

 

The illustration(and photo)above, on the left, is Robert. I think it is too small to see, but he’s waving out of the pinkish van. Robert was a cute little bowlegged two year old (not four), who had fallen in love with my mother. Mostly, all he could say was “Wa at?” (This meant “What’s that?”) He was a curious little boy with bananas and pop tarts and a buzzing raspberry noise, that sprayed juice on everything, every time a car passed by.

 

When the van arrived in Douglas, Wyoming, we were transferred to a small bus and eventually large bus. In Denver, we purchased tickets for yet another bus to take us to the airport and were told it would leave in ten minutes. Four requests, and an hour and a half later, I again inquired as to when it was actually coming. We were told that the bus had left the bus barn and not been heard nor seen since. They did not seem too concerned over losing a bus. I guess it happens frequently.

 

They did pay for mom, myself and a German law student, to cram into the back of a cab, with our luggage. I was afraid to ask what the cab driver had in the trunk that took up all the room, necessitating us to hold our luggage.

 

The illustration above (picture on right) makes us seem like we are merrily singing on our way, but we were NOT. Screaming, yes. Singing, no. Trust me on this. We were white knuckled as we pray for our lives in this 90mph wild ride to the airport.

 

Mom and I then called the motel to get our ride from the airport. When we arrived at the motel, we were met with stunned silence upon learning that we had to be at the airport at 3:30 am. Bless his heart, the poor driver who took us, from airport to motel, offered to take us back in the wee hours of the morning.

 

Mom’s luggage was flagged to be checked at the airport in Denver and she was hauled off to a private room to watch her undies being pawed. We were never sure what contraband she carried, but we think a little odd folding flashlight may have been deemed dangerous. I insisted all my rolls of film be checked by hand and they were NOT happy with that either. This was before 9/11 and I found it hilarious, later in the trip, when I set off one of the airport security machines in Hawaii. They stopped me from emptying my pockets, and turned their machine off before waving me through, unchecked, stating it was probably just my hair clip.

 

 

The plane was worse than riding the bus or taxi. I’m not a big fan of flying. It is crowded, claustrophobic and boring.  I still had bacterial bronchitis and was on some heavy duty medicine, so every time the plane banked, rose, dropped or moved, I had intense vertigo. That lasted for one hour, 23 minutes and 16 seconds, until we landed in Salt Lake City. The next plane was larger and either, I adjusted, or it was a smoother ride, because the vertigo stopped and two hours later we landed at LAX.

 

Mom being a small town girl and not having worked in Chicago for many years as I did, never learned “street” rules and big city eye avoidment. So, a “friendly” man followed us around the airport in the early morning hours until we caught our plane for Hawaii. She was a bit nervous about this. My response was, “I told you not to look him in the eye.” I’m not at my best when I have to go through two 6am’s in one morning.

 

We had our first Hawaii touchdown in Maui. It was a short lay over so a group of us stood out on the lanai and breathed in our first breath of tropical air. It is heaven on earth. I was ready to put down roots and still dream about it. I wanted to call home and tell them to sell everything, ‘cause I was staying.

 

The air smelled with a delicate scent of flowers and the temperature was perfect. It is like being enveloped in a perfect cloud; not too hot, nor too cold, not too dry, nor too wet.

 

Tomorrow: The little plane that couldn’t, Our lower floor reserved room on the 16th floor, and being kidnapped by Pleasant Hawaiian with one pat of butter and no water refills.

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When mom took me on her dream trip to Hawaii, a few years back, she wanted lots of Hula watching, lots of luaus and lots of scenery. What we got was a bacterial/viral infection, too much luggage, a banana spitting boy, food from TGIF, and credit card fraud. A good time was had by all.

 

First, we packed way too much stuff. I will plan ahead with coordinating clothing to make sixteen outfits from three separates. I have heard it can be done. Did you know that it takes your clothing, sent USPS, a month longer to get home, than you will?

 

Second, I had a ball planning our vacation, but when I took our desires, like how many days per island, etc, to our travel agent, she had her own ideas. And, when we got home, we found out she had also supplied several other customers with trips on mom’s credit card. She won a two year complimentary stay in the state facility, all expenses paid.

 

Okay, what part of my brain actually thought it would be fun to take the bus from Casper to Denver, rather than being driven in a car? “It will be an adventure.” I so foolishly said. First, the BUS does not do that drive. Instead, you take a van, packed with people and one little banana eating boy.

 

I have mentioned my mom’s proclivities toward, shall I say, obsessive compulsive neatness, on my blog. The first leg of our trip was a van ride from Casper, Wyoming to Glenrock. On the van, an adorable little toddler took quite a liking to this grandmotherly lady.

 

He kneeled on the seat in front of her and proceeded to eat his banana while fondling mom’s cane. It took twelve wet wipes to clean that up. I mean, I would not have been happy but she actually took it all in good sport. He got quite excited when cars would pass us and did one of those buzzing, with tongue out things, spitting banana juice to make a car noise, every single time. Mom got quite a banana bath on that one.

 

After stopping at every three house town between Casper and Denver, we arrived in Denver, and waited and waited for the bus to take us to the airport. It was finally reported that the bus did indeed leave the station this morning but they had no idea where it was. Now, I would have been concerned about losing a million dollar Greyhound bus, but they took it in stride and told us they were paying for a taxi ride, for four weary travelers, to get to the airport. Mom, I and two others piled into the cab for the Wild Ride of Mr. Toad.

 

There was so much luggage that it was smothered our laps and jammed our legs. The upside was that it did serve to keep us in our seats as the cab driver drove 100+ miles per hour, weaving in and out of traffic, to get the girl in the back with us to the airport in time for her flight. Mom didn’t even mind the plane after that cab ride.

 

Next installment: The infection that refused to leave, homeless in San Francisco, TGIF

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