A Week of Adventure on the Big Island

The Big Island, Hawaii is a land of white, black and green sand beaches, flowing lava, gorgeous flowers and rainforests. If you want to go to fancy restaurants or walk long stretches of sandy beaches with small waves choose a different Hawaiian Island. I say this from experience.  We have been to Hawaii five times and visited three different islands.  If you are like us and like to  set  out each day to explore a new locale, the Big Island is for you.

My family of four(my husband and I, my 17 year-old-daughter and my college-age son) spent  Thanksgiving week  in Kona at a Vacation by Owner condo near the water. Exploring the island requires a rental car.  Since some of the so-called roads  are like traveling the moon in a rover, I would recommend an SUV.  We would be giggling as bounced we bounced along in our jeep and see some cars turning around because they were too low to navigate the terrain.  I likened it  to the jostling  on the airplane (our flight in was really rough and we were at the back of the bus).  My son, Scott, said, “Yeah and we’re on the ground.”

We carried snorkeling gear, beach chairs and towels and boogie board with us every day. No telling when that special black rock road will lead to great snorkeling.  Flip-flops are a failure on lava.  Bring a good pair of hiking sandals.  When headed towards the rainforest have rain gear with you.  You will need it.  Buckets of rain can pour down on you without warning and then disappear in a few minutes.  The rain is warm but you’re still wet. The scenery is so breathtaking it’s hard to know when to stop taking pictures and just sit and soak in the view.

I had clothes for a week and I spent most of my time in a two piece swim suit, long-sleeved sunbrella shirt and sun visor. I burn badly so sun screen and lots of it was a must.

The nights were mild. We never needed long pants except at the high elevations when we went to the Volcano National Park. The temperature dropped to the low sixties causing me to pull on my lightweight workout  jacket.  At the volcanoes, we wore our hiking shoes not our sandals.

 

When looking for places to eat, we would ask our trusty friend Siri for local restaurants and then make our decision based on reviews and dollar signs. We found many unlikely places to dine off the beaten track with great local food distinct from the usual tourist fare. Of course, Kona coffee is world renown for its dark color, thick texture and strong body flavor.  A daily cup helps keep the group going.20161123_115528.jpg

Our adventure was appropriate for teenagers, young adults and active seniors. Young children would have a terrible time driving so much and many of the beaches were too rough for children to just play in the sand.  For people seeking active adventure, the Big Island has so many choices the hardest thing you will do each day is decide where to go next.

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I have been taking a memoir class that focuses on writing short bursts of memory about your life.  This week’s assignment was:  Develop a list of things that seem trivial or small but upon reflection are vital.  Since it is Thanksgiving week, my list is about my home and family.

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Pete and I on vacation in Wyoming

Peter: 

Around 6 a.m. each morning my husband noisily scuttles around the end of the bed and kisses me briefly on the mouth, occasionally missing and hitting my cheek in the dark. He rotely says, “Have a nice day!” I’m still dozing, catching the last misty grays of dreams, gauzy thoughts I can’t return to. Sometimes he forgets the first time out the door; then he comes back.

Cats:

White cat, called Angel but a stinker in a slinky fur coat is carefully washing Satchel, the grey Tom cat’s face. He is preening on her behalf, neck extended, eyes closed in ecstasy, macho man for sure. Angel lunges. Satch takes a surprise bite to the neck.   They simultaneously link legs, lego-like, replicating a gyrating hair pillow of intertwined grey and white, rolling off the bed and chasing each other into the floor length curtains, fluttering now like animated ghosts in a fun house.  All goes still.  Each cat marches out a different side, tails twitching, parallel metronomes, heads held high—a draw.

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Violet in repose

Violet:

The rat terrier, bolts through my legs out the front door, across the street, over the berm, hair on her neck raised, resembling an enraged porcupine’s quills, tail pointed rigidly out, barking in a loud, sharp, rat-a-tat-tat, a sergeant leading a non-extent platoon into battle.  I am the bugler shouting repeatedly, “Violet Come!” Out of sight, the barking is interrupted by a guttural, primeval, wolverine growl.  High pitched screaming and screeching echoes over the hill in response to my call.  Head down, whimpering, tail between her legs, all body parts intact; Violet limps home, a vanquished warrior.

Shani:

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Shani, a mini-me Lassie

 

Shani,is my giant miniature collie, a mini-me lassie look a-alike with an absurdly fluffy coat resembling  caramel-colored pom-poms. Today, she, keeps gently nudging my hand with her long pointed nose, her head is all olfactory lobe.  I finally realize I have put her food  where Violet’s bowl goes. Shani is either too polite or timid to touch it.  I move Shani’s bowl to its proper place and she chows down.

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Kayla this summer

Kayla:

My 17 year-old daughter texts from school:

  • Can I go to a concert? My homework is done, I have my own money, I’m taking my car.
  • Mom?????

 

At the concert she texts:

  • Here now.
  • Can I stay until 10:30?
  • Leaving now. Taking Emma home.

10:50 p.m. I hear the garage door open.

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Scott, home this summer using his room.

Scott:

When we moved into our home 11 years ago, Scott controlled a third of the upstairs; his bedroom, attached bath, a playroom usually filled with teenaged boys playing video games and the best view in the house off his balcony. The balcony has been used for tossing a five foot stuffed Mr. Simpson off regularly, testing rope ladders, a cat escape hatch to the roof and a feline wrangling corral for said cats, but hardly ever for contemplation and viewing.  Since Scott has been largely absent for the last four and half years, his sister has stealthy slunk in and helped herself to his sweaters and shirts  much to his chagrin. Now, I pass a closed door with a plastic sign reading, Scott Kozisek, Keep Closed.

Me:

The night owl. I crate the dogs, walk through the house, turn off the lights, check the dishwasher is set to wash, flip the gas logs off leaving only the blue glow of the pilot light where a warming flame just resided, test the locks on the outside doors. I snuggle under the heated blanked wrapping myself around my husband like a clam shell protecting a pearl. The pesky cats are nesting on my side of the bed, entangling my feet.

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Pete and I on our 27th wedding anniversary this summer.

 I hope each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving!  My family has much to be thankful for.

World on Fire

My college-aged son suggested I could increase interest in my paper mache and my blog by creating Donald Trump. After all, he said, “Donald would be easy; an orange face, small hands with pointing finger, classic blue suit, red tie and golden cotton candy hair.” He added, “Everything Trump attracts attention.” I agreed because deep in some dark part of me I harbor a strange, horrifying fascination with the man.

My Donald  has been featured on this blog in an article, Trumpster Perfect for the Dumpster. For those of you who haven’t read that blog (probably most of you based on  the low number of views), my paper sculpture of Donald is fabricated on a toilet paper roll, stands about 6 inches high on a 2 inch gold platform with the slogan “Trump, Make America Great Again, is pasted across the bottom.” Donald didn’t draw the number of blog views my son and I expected when he was posted, possibly because I emphasize I am a Blue Girl in a Red State in my writing. I even drive a car with a novelty license plate, Blue Girl. My readers may not like everything Trump as my son and I projected or may have better impulse control than I do about voyeuristically checking in to see what tweet he has sapped off at three a.m. this day.20160823_164603

Once Donald was created and unappreciated online, I came up with the idea to burn him and film it in a YouTube video, after all he is only paper, flour and salt. Donald should burst into flames easily. My seventeen-year-old daughter absolutely forbid me from going forward with this project.  She told me I had no idea how vitriolic Trump supporters would be. My humor at burning the paper mache, would be lost in the flames of his supporters who might track us down and firebomb our house.  The paper mache Donald bonfire was nixed.

One of my friends suggested a house party of “Nasty Women” after the election where we could burn paper Donald assuming Hillary won.  Since Hillary didn’t win, I am left with disposing of Donald in a peaceful manner.  I thought of donating him to the Youth Ranch. But my husband suggested that should my paper sculpture capture an audience (highly dubious but one can always hope), Donald might have some future historical value. I personally doubt that given the low quality of the product, after all Donald’s hair is made from my sheltie’s fur died bright yellow.  For now, I have moved the Donald out of my husband’s office where he was on prominent display to an upstairs closet where all of us can peacefully co-exist (hopefully the country can too for the next four years).

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Donald in our closet, hoping for peaceful coexistence

I am extremely disappointed by the violence in Portland instigated by Clinton supporters. The irony of Democrats objecting to Trump’s election through violent protest should not be lost on anyone.  Much of the campaign banter circulated around Trump’s encouragement of his supporters to outrageous acts.  Clintonites are participating in the very activities that we feared would erupt from Trump supporters if Hillary Clinton was elected President.  I have also heard that Trump supporters have seen Trump’s election as a license to bully refugees and non-white Americans.  This is also unacceptable.

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Saturday protests in Portland led to someone  being shot.

My spiritual foundation and fundamental belief in America’s system of rule of law requires that I give President-elect Trump and his team a chance to govern now that he has been chosen as our President.  I plan to approach his presidency cautiously with an “open mind” but I also plan on being courageously out-spoken when I see injustice and incivility. Our country protects the right to free speech. Nonviolent civil disobedience has led to great change in our nation, just look at Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus. But I also know, our current political climate requires us to be thoughtful about how we express our political opinions.  We are not in the sixties where burning effigies and American flags was frowned on but seen as symbols of  protected free speech.  One did not have to worry about personal safety when expressing themselves non-violently i.e. my daughter’s concern that our house might be fire bombed if I  chose to post burning paper Donald. Unfortunately, in 2016, we find ourselves in a world that is constantly fired up and always on the verge of bursting into angry flames.

 

The Day After

Late last night as the election results calcified, I received a text from a very good friend of mine in Wyoming reminding me that I had correctly called the election this summer.  I told my disbelieving liberal friends in June that Trump had a very strong chance of winning.  When FBI Director Comey announced 11 days ago that the Clinton email fiasco re-emerged, I knew in my heart that Hillary’s chances of winning were minimal.

What led me to have such a strong sense of Trump success even though I vote Democratic? First, Hillary never could shake, even among highly educated white women, the tinge of dishonesty or more correctly, covertness.  Everyone says Hillary is a private person but I believe in transparency in government. Hillary began her national career at Bill’s side as First Lady leading the failed health care reform effort behind closed doors.  I totally disagreed with her policy approach at the time though not the recommendations for a national health card.  This sense that  Hilary is not being completely candid has haunted her for years.  I wanted to love her but I couldn’t.  I  respect her years of tenacious advocacy for women and children, her policy knowledge, her ability to be knocked down and get back up again but I never got chills when I thought about voting for her. I would love to live to see the first woman elected President of the United States.  I would have been fine if that woman was Hillary but personally I was never captivated by her. Today, I could feel Hillary’s pain when she conceded.  She has given it her all to lead this country  on two different occasions and I think we all realize now that this is a dream that will elude her.

I am not sure Hillary could have done anything differently during this campaign. Her failure is one of charisma which I’m not sure one can learn.  The Obamas both have it in spades. I cried with joy when Obama won the Presidency the first time.  When he and his family walked on stage after winning, I felt the world had moved.  I had goose bumps when Michelle Obama spoke at the 2016 Democrat Convention about how “When they go low, we go high!” Having watched The Apprentice for many years with my daughter when she was younger, I know that Donald Trump is capable of captivating an audience.  In a world of social media, the personal image is political reality.  Trump correctly assumed as the polls and pundits did not that the large crowds he was drawing would result in a swell of passionate, dedicated Trump voters. These folks were what I call shadow supporters, not readily available to traditional pollsters. Can you see a big think tank reaching out to someone who goes to a rally wrapped in fake green turf to show their “grass roots support.” My guess is Trump supporters got chills voting for him and cried when they saw the swing states predicted blue  turning to bright red right before our eyes.

Winning a national election requires great outpourings of emotion (Of course, it can be argued Trump didn’t win the election since Clinton got more votes but given our electoral college approach, he put together the strategic states to run the board). In our electronic world, the charismatic individual whether we like their ideas or not has an advantage from the starting line.  Trump is nothing if not charismatic; even his greatest detracters followed his every move providing tons of free publicity for him through tweets, late night comedy shows, news stories.  I admit to some dark part of me daily checking what new strange tweet he had sent out.  Silencing his tweeting near the end of the campaign and keeping Trump on message further strengthened my sense that he could win this thing.  Throughout the campaign, he had been his own worst enemy.  Once someone wrapped up his spontaneous outbursts and put him on an airplane crisscrossing rural America,  Trump’s personal image solidified as a political outsider, pro-life business man who could build our economy,  relished a fight, told it like it was and was focused on protectionism.  HIs consistent mantra that America needed change struck a cord in America’s heartland.  His other failings such as sexual predator, misogynist, inconsistent statements from day-to-day, no clear policy positions on many issues, and a protectionist approach based on racism never stuck. Hillary’s image on the other hand, as  a policy wonk, part of the power elite establishment and probably dishonest to boot was with her from day one and stayed with her throughout the long arduous campaign, the dishonesty piece finally solidified for undecided voters with the Comey announcement of more emails for the FBI to check (so much smoke there must be fire).

The Republicans now control the Presidency, Congress, and with Trump’s nomination in January the Supreme Court. Our nation will no longer have divided government though we remain poltically and socially divided as a country.

It will be interesting to see what a Republican health care approach looks like.  My bet is thousands of individuals will once again be thrown off insurance.  But a step backward may be the only way to leap forward.  I agree with Bernie Sanders that  the only viable long-term health care solution for the U.S. is a national health care plan. Radical right regression may be what will unite progressives where nothing else has.

Democrats have every reason to be discouraged. They are without any recognizable leaders, they won the national vote, lost the election, failed to gain  control of the Senate, lost the opportunity to transform the Supreme Court and will need to reorganize and re-energize.  But as another friend of mine says, America made it through the Civil War and we will make it through this.

I was in McCall, Idaho last weekend when the Christmas Tree for the nation came into town.  It was cut down at the little ski hill outside of McCall.  There were crowds of people mulling around,  an announcer shouting  repeatedly the tree was coming, , the giant Idaho Potato came into sight, the McCall High School Band came by on a truck, a hundred or so disorganized children paraded by and then this big shining red semi-truck turned the corner dragging a gaily wrapped something which turned out to be the tree, covered for its journey East.  I thought at that moment this is America at its best, small town America coming together and celebrating something as simple as a giant pine tree on the move across our great country.

My husband and I were probably the only two Democrats in the entire crowd given how the voting across  Idaho went.  Idaho Democrats lost five legislative races on Tuesday bringing the Republican Legislative Super Majority to 84%. Idaho is the redest state in the Union.  I have a friend who chides me that Idaho Democrats can meet in a phone booth there are so few of us if we can find a phone booth anymore.  I still hope to see a woman elected president (Preferably a Democrat though I open to any strong, thoughtful female leader) in my life time. But for  now I am glad to be an American.  I celebrate we can have a contentious, nasty, close election and get up the next morning  knowing  we will be free to walk out the door,  talk about how crazy the voting was yesterday over a cup of coffee, express our opinions openly on Facebook or a blog and not worry about our safety.

God Bless America!

Another Criminal Act

We have experienced another misdemeanor at Ashtree Way. This time the delicious, carefully wrapped, warmed corn bread from Whole Foods was stolen from my daughter’s desk, an off limits area  for dogs, even in our permissive home.  No crumbs have been found and the criminal would have gotten away without a trace, had I not found Violet, our rat terrier, trotting out of the office with plastic wrap in her jaws.  She looked extremely pleased with herself until I told her to “Drop it!” Then she mimicked the guilty, down-cast-eyed looked that seems to be genetically inbred into dogs so owners rather than the dog feel terrible.  I believe the plastic wrap in jaws condemns Violet.

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Evidence pulled from jaws of criminal

The problem with this theory is that the crime was more consistent with our other potential perpetrator, Shani, who was also in the house at the time.  Shani, our Sheltie, is the dog who gets on unattended tables.  I’ve seen her basking in the sun on the glass patio table outside on numerous occasions.  I know Shani is capable of an unthinkable theft of this nature despite her sweet demeanor, snatch and grab from high places is her specialty.

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Behind this sweet face is a snatch and grab artist.
When caught with hard evidence in her jaws, Violet was banished outside to reflect upon her crime while mindlessly chasing squirrels from tree to tree and barking aggressively. The crime of barking led to my husband tossing her back in the house where she smugly took up residence on my blanket while visions of corn bread made her fat and drowsy.

Dogs, even misbehaving dogs, have a way of wheedling their way into your life and ultimately drilling a direct pipeline to your heart. When we got Violet from the Humane Society, she came with a hand-written note that said Violet was not capable of love and was not a lovable animal. Saturday, as Violet dragged her little butt outside, head down, tail between her legs (she is quite the drama queen), I thought about her previous two homes where she had faced complete rejection.  Violet is not an easy dog to live with but the same could be said for me, I am not always an easy person to live with.

Over the years, Violet and I have spent many hours curled up together on couches, scrunched under soft blankets watching TV or in bed taking naps.   Sometimes, the cats join us, sort of a muti-species event, everyone welcome. Violet acts as a small little heating pad; quiet, soft and warm  resting while the house is at peace.  The wildl barking, jump-up-on-you-no-matter-what, crazed terrorist  vanishes into thin air replaced by the beloved companion. Sunday with the gas fireplace humming, the Denver Broncos playing, and a slight drizzle spewing from gray clouds marking the arrival of fall, Violet had her head nuzzled on my leg while I rested with strep throat (Apparently strep isn’t just for kids).   As I stoked her velvety-soft little head,  I asked myself how could anyone think this dog was unlovable?