Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dear Abigail


As I write this, it’s Tuesday morning, and instead of seeing palm trees and colorful tropical flowers when I look out my window, I see bare trees and brown grass. And I know that I’m home, and Hawaii once again exists for me only in pictures and memories.

We left Seattle, that Saturday morning, in a blinding snow storm. This was the first time I was on a plane that had to be de iced before take off. The flight was already way behind schedule due to jet way problems and having to move the plane to a new gate.

But soon, we were on our way! People on flights that are bound for Hawaii are a pretty festive bunch. And receiving complimentary Mai Tais helps too! As we touched down on Maui, with the wind bouncing us around as though we were traveling aboard a paper airplane, one of the flight attendants yelled “Whoa! Whoa doggie!” at the top of his lungs. It broke the tension and we laughed and applauded the captain for landing us safely.

Once we arrived at our motel and got settled into our room, it didn’t take us long to fall into a pleasant routine of spending time at the beach, and exploring the island.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite sights…


The view from our lanai. I could never get tired of looking at those palm trees.


Colorful paddle boards blend in perfectly with tropical flowers.



And speaking of tropical flowers, I could easily take hundreds of photographs of the tropical plants that thrive in Hawaii. I love the colors, textures and atmosphere they create.


The island of Molokai in the distance.


 Palm trees at dusk.


The colors of the sea. They really are stunning!

salt bowls_thumb

Ancient Hawaiians carved these holes in the rocks to catch seawater, which was allowed to evaporate for the salt.


Just a rocky shore, or so we thought.


And then we spied some slumbering sea turtles!


The quintessential Hawaiian sunset. The sun was like a fireball on this particular evening.


Amy found this heart. It easily could have been mine…


With luck, there will be another trip to Hawaii at the end of this rainbow.

For both of us, Abigail.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Mauian-Our Home Away From Home

This Saturday we leave on our long awaited vacation to Maui.  Here is a little tour of the beach hotel where we will be staying.  Built in 1959, the Mauian is known for its nostalgic tropical style architecture and welcoming hospitality.  We stayed here over four yeas ago and found it to be a most enchanting place to call home while we were in Hawaii.  I'd bring all of you along, if I could, but for now, enjoy this video:)

Monday, March 12, 2012


bowling ball

Almost every Friday, my friend Paula and I hit the local Goodwill and one or two other second hand stores in town, hoping to find some cheap treasures.  Lately, it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to do.  After I found the ceramic sailor and the sea shell bookends several weeks ago, I’ve come up empty handed, and Paula hasn’t done much better.

Last week, when Paula picked me up she mentioned the pile of stuff laid out in my neighbor’s driveway.  I told her I thought my neighbor had been cleaning out his old shed.  “We can check it out later,”  I told her.

After we returned to my house a couple hours later, having struck out  in our pursuit of good stuff once again, we ambled over to examine the junk in my neighbor’s driveway.  I told her we’d passed my neighbors driving the opposite way, as we headed back to my house-so the coast was clear.

Taped to an old picnic table was a sign informing us that everything was free, and that anything not taken would end up in the dump.  Right away Paula was excited because there were several items she wanted-a curry comb, a long stick used to herd animals when they are being shown at the fair (a show stick, I think she called it) and a pitchfork, among other things.  Paula’s family operates a cattle and hay business, and her son is active in 4-H.  Wondering why my neighbor had these things, I told Paula that he was an ex rodeo competitor and rancher himself.  After losing an eye in an unfortunate accident involving barbed wire, he became a used car salesman.

And as for me?  I found an old bowling ball.  It just so happens that I’ve wanted an old bowling ball for awhile now, to use as a garden ornament.  Don’t ask me why-it’s just one of those ideas I got into my head.  I’ve seen several on our weekly outings, but they’ve been way too expensive.  It amazes me how often items on  my “list” eventually turn up like this, and once spring is here and the garden starts to come alive, the bowling ball will look pretty nestled among my violets.

blessings from the junk gods

I also found these two artifacts-an old WWII era shovel and some hooks.  I’ll clean the shovel up and use it for gardening, and I’ll put the hooks in one of my flower beds as another piece of garden “art.”  And if any of you know what the hooks would have been used for, please let me know.

Speaking of the word hook, we recently replaced our upstairs bathroom sink.  The old one cleverly used a vintage dresser with the sink basin set into the top, while still allowing the drawers of the dresser to be used for storage.  When we first looked at our house, we found this note by the sink:



Wednesday, March 7, 2012


How about a little Blue Hawaii today?  Thanks Elvis!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Recipe For Hope

bilibid recipes

I bought this cookbook a few years ago.  When I first saw it, I was eager to look through it because my Uncle Pete was interned at the infamous Bilibid camp in Manila as well. 

While the book does not have any recipes from my Uncle Pete, I discovered a remarkable story about hope.

I do not think that what took place in Bilibid was unique during WWII, and at some point I plan to research the subject further.  I do believe any time human beings are forced to exist in circumstances where fear, abuse and extreme physical hardship are constant companions, they will turn to sources of comfort to help them hang on.  This is what happened in Bilibid prison.

When Colonel Halstead C. “Chick” Fowler returned home after the war, having been a POW for 40 months, he had with him a small bundle of envelopes that he had saved from the few letters he was allowed to receive while a prisoner.  He had carefully split these envelopes open, and then written  down on the inner sides, scores of recipes collected from his fellow POW’s.  Halstead’s aunt, Dorothy Wagner then compiled these recipes into a cookbook.

In the forward Wagner wrote for Recipes out of Bilibid, she draws us a portrait of these men:

Against frustration, suspense, and calculated or whimsical cruelty they armored themselves with a humor incomprehensible and exasperating to their captors.  But the ceaseless clawing of hunger, spreading from the nerves of the stomach to every fibre of their being they defeated by low, side-mouthed talk quickly broken off and as quickly resumed.  No matter how the conversation began, it always turned to food, the food the prisoners had once relished and were determined to enjoy again.  For they talked in the future tense, harking back to the past only to make concrete their plans when they should finally be rescued.  They gave reality to their dreams by dwelling, not on the flavors of sentimental recollections of feasts, but on a painstaking accuracy in describing the constituents of the dishes they remembered and longed for and resolutely purposed to enjoy again.

Most of the men who shared recipes had no formal culinary training, but were simply recalling times they had been enlisted to help their mothers prepare meals.  Debates about correct ingredients and proper cooking techniques sometimes became heated, but in the end, either by word of mouth or scraps of paper, many men sent their favorite recipes as they remembered them to Fowler, when they learned what he was secretly doing.

Wagner goes on to say in the forward that she prepared these recipes for her own family, and that they kept her family not only well fed, but entertained as well.  The book is divided by countries-American, British, Chinese, Filipino, French, Mexican, and so on, and shows not only how diverse the POW population was, but that finding comfort in the discussion of food was universal.

I found this passage especially poignant in that Wagner tells us how implicitly she trusted the recipes as they were  written.

I learned to respect the penciled directions and to follow them confidently.  Never did I find the time and labor wasted…

Wagner concludes:

Though their substance was tragically wanting, their shadow, bright with memory and warm with hope, helped to keep alive men imprisoned by the war.

I can’t help but wonder what Pete’s favorite recipe might have been. I can only pray that it gave him the hope of happier times to come.