Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sweet Memories

Writing my last post, I realized that many of our beach adventures were not labeled "beach." Every now and then I try to organize the archives, which is a huge undertaking. I look at old posts and make sure the code is holding up, the images are still publishing and consider what labels are best to categorize the posts in. It's time consuming.

So, anyway... I was keeping an eye out for stray beach posts and I figured there must be tons from our Hawaii days, and that is when I made a surprising discovery: I could not find a post for our summer 2005 vacation. That was a big deal. The trip was made with our best friends, James and Deanne. It was our last time vacationing in Hawaii. How could there be no post? I was rummaging through the archives and trying to piece this mystery together. I could see from other posts that I had had some computer failures and of course life itself was keeping me very busy. Then I remembered that I did devote a huge chunk of time to making a DVD of the memorable trip... but no post? Hard to believe. Finally I found two image heavy, semi-posts. This old one is slightly wordier, but still a bit brief.

It's ironic that I sometimes think of quitting blogging and then I find a gap in the journal keeping and find it totally unacceptable and disappointing. Yes, Chickenblog is a journal, our family scrapbook. I forget this sometimes, and it was many years before I even recognized that the blog is a record keeper, a memory book. Then instead of quitting, I want to work harder to organize archives and do more for the blog overall.

And gee whiz, aren't you glad that I print my entire thought process before launching in to the actual point of my post?
Ramble, ramble, ramble.

Basically, my memories of this time in Hawaii, indeed all time in Hawaii, are so precious that I knew I would have to post more pictures and talk story about that visit. I also know that this is going to be an emotionally wrenching journey.

I miss Hawaii. I miss the dreams we nurtured, the plans we made. I miss what we had there...

Sweet Memories
I will remember you long after this endless summer is gone. These lyrics from Gary Haleamau, and Darlene and JJ Ahuna's album were some of the very first I ever heard from Hawaii... they still stir my soul. I just never expected them to be so bittersweet, not this soon.

James and Deanne had already vacationed on Oahu and loved it, so we knew we would have to go to Hawaii together some day. We got our chance the summer of 2005. Maria was eight months old. The boys... oh my goodness... I wish I could go back in time and hold them one more time. I am blessed to be able to hug them today. My mom came to Hawaii with us in 2000, and we had a couple of visits there with Holly and Rich. I always imagined there would be more times like these. Anyway, our week long stay, playing tourist and just plain playing with Deanne and James, was a lot of fun.

James and Deanne were all for seeing the sights and exploring the Big Island. We had such thorough tour guide training with Ruth and Corm, that we were thrilled to be sharing our second home with friends. Waikoloa Resort is a must see for Island luxury and amusements. If you don't know this already, you can explore the resorts and all of the amenities without actually staying at the hotels. Often there is art, entertainment and cultural events to enjoy. Some things may require a small fee, but the boat ride through the resort was free and the views were free too.

We had fun finding the Chinese zodiac statues, and rubbing Buddha's belly.

When we weren't mooching off of the freebies at other resorts, we were submerged in our hotel pool... sweet luxuries.

Ten year old Alex. His smile still melts my heart.

Max had just turned six years old. That steady, studied gaze. He is taller, but the gaze, the intentness is still there. Check out the sandy bottomed pool. Love.

Now Maria is sitting on my lap and asking about these pictures. "When did that happen? Where were we?"
I wonder where the DVD is.

This was a fancy dinner. Deanne may remember which hotel we splurged at for this meal. I remember the cool drinks, with the buzzy hit, the setting sun and the pleasure of being in a beautiful place with family and friends. Of course in Hawaii we have always found cool drinks, a dreamy sunset and the beauty of being with family and friends... the fancy dinner is optional, not necessary.

So, I know some of these pictures have been published before, but I feel remiss in our story telling not recalling the trip (some more), and the special moments we enjoyed. It's not as though we cannot go back to Hawaii, but we know it cannot be the same. I don't believe there is a more dear way to be welcomed off a plane, home, than with a lei greeting. This was the last one, and I am glad I can recall the fragrance, and the kindness, the aloha.

From the airport we went directly to Tutu's office in Waimea. Had Maria started chewing on her dendrobiums by this time? I don't think so.

Shaved ice. Not a snow cone. Not a smoothie. Shave ice is the best, and if it is not memorable and a delight to eat, then you might not be eating a good one. Best on a hot day, but even on this cold day I could go for some li hing mui.

It makes me so sad to realize I am already forgetting places and names. Tutu, where is this place? On the way to Hilo... is it Honomu? Yes, the small town before Akaka Falls.

We went to Hilo and Volcanoes National Park. We hiked through the Thurston Lava Tube.

I still feel bad that we didn't make a second pass through the ancient lava tube, like Max wanted. What was our hurry? Seems silly now.

No hurries on this day. Sitting next to Max is the B&B kitty. There was a sign in the parking lot asking guests to please check their car for the curious cat... curious hitchhiking cat, I guess.

On the Kona side I took the children to their favorite park, Higashihara Park. I think the boys would still call it their favorite and Maria would absolutely love it there. It was community designed and built, and all of its fun and unique details make it favorite for many.

Another Kona favorite is Turtle Beach :: Kahaluu. This is the same beach where William learned how to swim, where Geoff and I first swam in Hawaii, where we celebrated Alex's fourth birthday. Where James lost his wedding band... okay, so not all memories are "sweet." But hey, technically they do know where it is. It's at Turtle Beach. I wish we were at Turtle Beach.

William, remember snorkeling here? Staying out until sunset? You probably remember best of all.

Hoppin' all over the Island. Back to Hilo side, to Honoka'a, to Tutu's house.

Maria, Geoff, Corm and James. It smells like sweet grass and coffee flowers here. All over the five acre ag lot are the trees that Ruth and Corm planted and tended. The boys know where the guavas grow. I know how to cross the gulch. I cannot say more... some day the children may want to know more, but for now the emotions these memories evoke leave me in a puddle of tears.


My favorite drive. And I have been on some good ones.
Unbelieveable... I went to Google this and two Chickenblog posts came up under "highway between havi and waimea." Seems, I have written about this drive before. Well, the best drive in my whole world is the 250 from Havi to Waimea. And now I cannot think of anything else. I want to drive it right now and stop to take hundreds of pictures, then do it again.

Maybe starting at the top of Waipio Valley.

Definitely including a stop at Spencer Beach County Park...

with a hike to Ala Kahakai.

Yes. This is the beach I was thinking of when I began this memory journey.

I will remember you,
after this
endless summer
is gone.
I will remember
every bright star
we made wishes

There. We have one more beach post.
Now, was there anything else I needed to do today?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Trouble With Travel

It's not that I have any regrets about traveling. Truly. La Paz, BC, 1987, may be the only regrettable trip we've ever made and yet it recalls priceless memories. Heat, hunger, illness, flood, boredom, and *"Rosa Salvaje."

No, mostly travel has never been regrettable, and yet it is not without its risks. The trouble with travel is that sooner or later I have to go home, and eventually when I think on my experiences, the new things I discovered and tried, it will stir feelings and desires. And there is nothing to quell the stirrings, the antojo, except more travel, to return... It may be true :: Un poquito de lo que te antoje te hace sentir bien, but having a little bit of Europe is not as easy as I wish it could be. Oh, those cruel cravings.

Maybe because it is breakfast time and I am hungry, I am missing dinner in Bruxelles.

Salad at T Kelderke, Grand Place.
Fruit and nuts and a toasted cheese over a bed of fresh greens.
I miss salad at T Kelderke.

I almost skipped this one, because thinking of it really makes me want to insist to Geoff that we go back. Now. How else to satisfy the rumbling ache of desire? Okay. If you get to go to Bruxelles consider sitting for a slow dinner. Never mind the slow part... bring a book or just sip your beer and gaze at the crowds in the Grand Place. Just be sure that you order this soup. It is so good. So good. It's all about warmth and cheese and stuff... whatever. I don't need to take it all apart. Whatever they put in there works. Geoff and I shared a bowl the first time and we managed to be dignified, but the second and third time we definitely ordered two bowls.
I miss this soup.

I miss this beer.
Stunning. I am not a big drinker. For one thing it does not take a big drink to effect affect me, and otherwise few alcoholic drinks really hold my interest. My brother Hans said good things about Belgium beer, and I have found him to be a dependable guy, so I made a point of ordering beer our first night in Bruxelles. Maybe it's being on vacation, sitting amidst beauty and history, and next to my sweetheart, maybe I was super thirsty... or maybe Belgians really make awesome beer. Whatever. I drank two Grimbergens that night. I miss this beer. Solely for scientific purposes, of course, I would like to research this point, to better understand the deliciousness and thirst quenching satisfaction of this particular beverage.

Moving on.

I miss slow dinners. The T Kelderke easily takes the prize for slowest service in Europe. Oh. So. Slow. And yet... oh, so good. So, who cares? The waitstaff looks indifferent? C'est la vie. No one comes to take our order? That's fine. We can outlast them. It's worth it. And initially it does feel like some kind of contest: Our will and patience vs. their neglectfulness. But eventually we learn to go with it, relax, sit back. Bring out a book, start a conversation or several conversations. Make new friends. Organize the backpack. Scroll through pictures in the camera. Sip another Grimbergen. It gets so mellow and... and ... what's that word? Relaxed. Yes, I missed relaxed, slow, delicious dinners, with cranky waiters.

I miss Belgium. Even the waiters.

I miss red geraniums. And flower boxes. And Paris. There were red geraniums all over Europe and flower boxes too. I noticed flowers everywhere. We come from an area that prides itself on its flower heritage, but our town needs to step-up, because the flower gardens and borders and beds and windows and corners of Europe were more abundant and lovingly tended than any place I have ever seen. I miss the alpine flowers in Switzerland and the miles of sunflowers in France. And I miss the hundreds and hundreds of window boxes I saw, everywhere we went, overflowing with brilliant, red geraniums.

I miss this dancer. Well, not really. She's here, in the next room, and she still dances. All the time. Everywhere. It was so sweet and amusing to be in the Louvre, at the Eiffel Tower, in the Alps, on a train... anywhere and see Maria overcome by a song, a melody, a distant tune, and begin to dance. She cannot help herself. She dances all the time. Unless she is talking. Or drawing. Or making wishes about God sending ponies to her, over rainbows. So even when the Venus De Milo was in the room, I could not keep my eyes off of Maria.

I miss sailboats and Jardin des Tuileries, and Max's away smile. It started in Paris, and maybe that is because we had finally shaken our jet lag... Max started smiling. He works so hard during the school year, trying to exceed his own rigorous expectations of himself, that I think the vacation part of our vacation really did him a lot of good. I love that I have dozens of smiling Max pictures, more in those three weeks abroad than in a whole year of at-home-time photographs. It's an away smile, at ease and confident. He loves Paris, and Rabbit Hill, and he mastered all the metro systems and switching languages. He had a good handle on Euros, gladly calculating exchange rates for me. He was no chicken abroad. He excelled and exceeded all of my hopes for him.

Speaking of Rabbit Hill, I really miss the Netherlands and Landal GreenParks. I miss bunnies frolicking with bunny abandon. I miss the total rest and ease of feeling at home, while traveling aboard, that one can enjoy at Rabbit Hill.

I miss our cute little home and the fun modes of transport at our disposal. I miss the respect and space given to cyclists and pedestrians. Sure, I would love to see new places and have other adventures, but ooh... ooh, I could totally spend another week or two here again. Maybe like an annual thing, or every other year.

I would have no trouble at all convincing the children.

I miss the places we went, the things we did, the fun we had... I miss Europe. All of it.

Okay. Maybe not all of it.
But enough of it, that I would even face three weeks of doing this by hand, if we could go back. That's the trouble with traveling... it makes you miss a lot of stuff and then you gotta figure out how to go back. I did have my doubts, but that's okay. I like to keep it true.

*The World Wide Interwebs are amazing. After twenty three years with the theme song and basic narrative haunting the recesses of my cerebellum, there she is: Veronica Castro and the whole telenovela outline. Bill... hey brother, can you still sing the song? Want me to make you a Pinesol-lemon-lime margarita, hold the ice, so you can have total recall? Good times.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What We Did This Summer

Presently we are immersed in back to school adjustments, and Blue House blues... it's not that the Blue House is undone, it's only that the cosmic farces are determined to see us prove our determination and resolve, which has left me feeling undone. So, recalling the age old tradition of sharing highlights of Summer, I am posting about our day in Avignon, France. Honestly, this trip of a lifetime, our family vacation in Europe, will serve me with good memories for a lifetime. What a blessing.

We drove from Brienz, Switzerland all the way to Avignon, in one day! And that was after spending the entire morning absorbing every last charming detail of Ballenberg, the Swiss Open Air Museum. That was a long drive. We arrived quite late and of course it was still light out and I was anxious to share the first place on this adventure that I actually knew. Remember, my Mom and I were the scouts, sent in advance to figure out all of this abroad business? Well, this was finally my opportunity to show Geoff and our children that I really did learn something!

We checked in to our little hotel, with fragrant lavender growing by the door, then we headed directly to the old part of the town, to the Pope's Palace or Palais des Papes and the bridge.

I'll never know if it was good timing or a missed opportunity... we arrived in Avignon before the official start of their annual Theater Festival. The town was abuzz, even late at night or maybe especially late at night, since it was cooler at night. Everywhere were people trying to get the word out about their theater, their performers, their contribution to art. And I do mean everywhere. No surface was too private or too sacred to be exempt from theater posters and announcements. We saw what I will think of as warm-up acts... some dancers, a juggler, people in costumes or simply colorfully dressed. It was fun. It was exciting to see the preparations and feel the anticipation. It was fun to walk all over the town late at night, to hear the cicadas and recall the cold and windy days and nights when my Mom and I were there.

We ate at the same "touristy" cafe where Delia introduced me to the most delicious salad ever. Locals may insist they know what is best, but sometimes we must be who and what we are and so we were tourists. Travelers from America, looking for something new and French and good and we found it in the brasserie... L'Hôtel de Ville. It was magnifique! Those olives and that bread, the warm night and long-slow service and all the sights strolling by. It was touristifical.

The boys left the table a few times to push their way through the crowd and see what the jugglers or the dancers were up to. And I pinched myself, finding it hard to believe that I had been here before, that we were this fortunate!... all of us here together, just as we had hoped and planned for!

The next day we came back and we walked. We walked and walked. I took the children across the town and to the very same boulangerie where I had my first ever taste of pain chocolate... or chocolate croissant, as we preferred to call the flakey, fresh, delicious bread baked with a modest yet decadent bit of chocolate in it's buttery center. It was worth the distance we covered, it was worth passing up the other bakeries and waiting for the place I knew would be as wonderful as it was last March.


Ahhh... breakfast and lunch!

And a promise kept... Maria rode once the night before and this was her happy reunion with the carousel, so she could ride in the sea shell.

And for the rest of the morning we walked all around the ancient and walled town and we tried to imagine what it would be like when every corner, every theater and every bench and plaza would be filled with performers and patrons. Probably it would be amazing and certainly crowded. It would be something to witness... maybe next time?

Was it funny? Did their humor please the crowd?

Will we see the movie?

I like to think they sounded merry.

I like to think we would have got good seats for this show.

We had a good Summer.

Very good.

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