Saturday, January 25, 2014

January in Honolulu

It's a cool January morning in Honolulu.   Sky is overcast and the tradewinds are light, keeping the VOG (nasty version of smog produced by volcanic gasses instead of smoke and automotive exhaust) somewhere else. 

The canoe paddlers have, for the most part, given up the park below my condo to the baseball set.  During the week the Old Men (humphhhhhh ... the retired guys!) play in the mornings while it is still cool.    Today, the PeeWee ball players -- the tiny ones who are learning to run bases by playing tag with dads and coaches around the baselines, and whose gloves are large enough that they seem to overpower the body -- are on the field 13 floors below be, cute as buttons even at this distance.     Ah, new running game -- run as fast as you can to the next base, and don't forget to TOUCH it! 

A miniature left-hander is at the batting tee.  Each fielder and runner has a personal coach at his or her side, "Get ready to catch the ball!"  "Run, run, run!"  All this assumes the batter is successful at hitting the ball and that it travels farther than about 2 feet from the tee!  They are so very little....  

 A Hawaiian Airlines flight from somewhare far away is making it's approach past Wiakiki into Honolulu airport  

There have been assorted tourist boats visible in the splotches of ocean visible this morning between the monster hotels and condos of Waikiki. 

The emergency sirents of fire trucks and ambulances are mercifully quiet. 

An unfamiliar pair of canoe paddle by.  These are gold hulls trimmed in blue, perhaps Punahou School teams.  More often I see the white hulls from McKinley High School, conveniently emblazoned TIGERS so it is clear to which school they belong.   I haven't yet decided who belong to the gold hulls trimmed in red, or the other set -- red hulls trimmed in gold.  My father's beach club, Waikiki Surf Club, sports red and gold, but so does Roosevelt High School. 

The resident pigeons, fervently discouraged by our condo management, have been trying to convince me to allow them to roost on the floor of my lanai.   Had to lower the shade screen to discourage them from hopping through the railing an onto the lanai floor.    Am not sure they are actually convinced, but didn't have this problem until I raised the shades to just above the level where the birds tend to perch.   

A part of our park is used as a dog park.  I see a dog and it's person running on the field well beyond the peewee ball players. Both dog and person move in happiness. 

So peaceful. 

Please pray today for Al.  Pray for Jean and her family.  Pray for water in the western US, and for warmer weather -- without massive flooding -- in the rest of the US.  Give thanks for Christie, who celebrates a birthday this week, and for newborn Kaya.  ...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Another December 7

For me, December 7 will always be bitter-sweet.   It is the day of a great American disaster, but that is not what I remember.  Of course, I only remember the event in the stories retold at family gatherings and in history books.    My memories are more personal.

December 7, 1913 was the day that the Raker Act was passed, a federal legislation allowing the City of San Francisco to build a drinking water reservoir within what was already patented land and not long after included within Yosemite National Park.  It has always been associated with Yosemite because of the proximity of Hetch Hetchy Valley to Yosemite Valley and because the headwaters of the Tuolumne River in Hetch Hetchy Valley are in the high country of the Sierras south of Tioga Pass.  The act was controversial in 1913 and is still an emotionally charged issue, especially in the City of San Francisco which operates the drinking water system fed primarily from the reservoir, and some within the environmental movement who want the dam removed and the reservoir drained.

Under ordinary circumstances I would not remember this kind of history in such detail, but part of my job was to understand the Raker Act and explain it to visitors to the Hetch Hetchy system.   It also shares a birthday with my father, making the date particularly unforgettable.

Today both the Raker Act and my father celebrate their 100th birthday.   Faithful friends know that my father did not live to see this day, although he came close.  96 years +46 weeks is pretty darn close.  My brother tells the story in his blog post of this morning, 7 Dec 2013.  You can read it over at  You will also find his transcription of my mother's unfinished letter to her sister written on the morning of December 7, 1941.

Happy Birthday, Daddy ...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Fire -- too close for comfort

Rim Fire Incident Status  click here
For the non-professional view of residents, look here.

Refresh these pages each time you go back to it to assure that you are getting current information.

This fire is w-a-y too close for comfort.  It is in the Tuolumne River Canyon at the Clavey, into and around Buck Meadows, in up Pilot Ridge.  The old Pilot Peak fire lookout is readily visible from the eastern intersection of Hwy 120 and Ferretti Road.  My house is on Ferretti Road (a loop) near the Pine Mountain Lake Airport.

Yesterday afternoon, the total acres burned had been upped from 800 to 2500.  This morning it is over 10,000 acres.

That said, I am near the edge of, but still in, a subdivision, complete with hydrants.  The Tuolumne River canyon is approximately 1 mile north of the house, but not far from us makes a little bend to the southeast towards its source in Yosemite National Park.  We are on a belt road.  There is a light plane airport between the house and the river.  From that north side, the lines of defense are the airport and then Ferretti road.  If they loose the line at Ferretti Road, the main part of the subdivision will almost certainly burn.  They will already have lost lots of homes.

From the south, the main line of defense is Hwy 120, then Pine Mountain Drive and Rock Canyon Way.   If they are defending to the south from Rock Canyon Way, a hugely significant number of homes has already burned.

On the east is the Stanislaus National Forest, a camp for physically challenged kids, a small community of manufactured homes,  and several ranches/ranchettes, etc. The forest butts up against state land on our side, against the National Park on another.  Net result?  We have lots of fire response -- the feds in the Park and in the Forest (Dept of Interior vs. Dept of Agriculture), CalFire on state land (even when it is not considered a state lands fire), and our local fire departments, many of which operate under CalFire management.  This does assume that our crews are at home, and not in Idaho or elsewhere fighting someone else's fires.

Other local government jurisdictions pitch in as well.  I am certain that the City of San Francisco has all willing employees in the fire camps and on the lines with heavy equipment, dealing with power lines, and driving.  Yes, driving.  Most of the fire management teams in large fires come from elsewhere and don't know the local roads.  Our Hetchy folk are intimately familiar with those back-country roads.  Even I, who spent far less time in the woods that most of the field crews, know the back country roads better than most fire managers, even those from Sonora ... which is how I found myself working a computer and mapping in the command center for the last fire before I retired.   I know the City paid thousands of dollars in overtime pay (probably hundreds of thousands) to their employees who were out there protecting City property and making the job easier for fire crews.  It's a small community.  Everyone pitches in.

Pray for the communities affected all across the US.  Pray for the firefighters -- we cannot afford to lose another Hotshot Crew, or anyone else.  Pray that some of the rain that is so unwelcome in the eastern US moves over and deposits itself west of the Rockies.  Pray that the rain does not bring lightning with it.

Just pray ...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life's Awkward Moments

Car key refuses to leave ingition.  At least it could drive to the dealership, where it is now awaiting diagnosis and estimate.   This could be an expensive month.   Think green.  Green car, green cash...

3/4 Front Glamour 2006 Ford FusionIt is now Monday, and my mother's Ford Fusion has been at the dealership since Friday afternoon.  The technician probably got to it about 8:30.  I am still waiting for a response from Honolulu Ford with that diagnosis and estimate. 

Yesterday I had to borrow a vehicle to get to my volunteer assignment at the Honolulu Book and Music Fair at Honolulu City Hall.  Wasn't willing to face the bus in Daughters of Hawai'i whites.  Long white dress, white dress hat, feather lei -- rain promised, all the umbrellas in the car.  Now where else does one keep a favorite brollie? No, Sunday wasn't a good bus day. 

For the rest of the week, as necessary, I will practice using my bus pass. 

Don't forget to pray!

Sacred Trees and Ties to the Land

I refer you to my brother Ian's post of May 19,, regarding our mango trees.   Photo, right, is Saturday morning's harvest. 

The architect's precise question was, "First, is there anything sacred about this house?"   OK, that's manini (for you non-Hawaiian folk, that's nit-picking, or something like, "don't sweat the small stuff".)  But he didn't start out asking about trees.  He asked about sacred things, things we absolutely did not want to change.  Those trees are sacred!

The rest of Ian's post is accurate.

It's a hard pill to swallow, the thought of loosing those trees.  And this tie to our personal identities.  Loosing the house wouldn't be quite so bad if we knew that the buyer would commit to saving the trees.  Small chance of that in today's world.  ...

Please pray for Malcolm as he faces his own mortality and congestive heart failure. 
Pray for those who care for the sick, the aged, and the alone. 
Pray for someone who touches your life and brings you joy.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giving the Passion its Due

Most of you figured out long ago that genealogy and local history are my passion.  So it won't come as a huge surprise that all posts relating strictly to genealogy will now appear in a new blog, Family Hunter.  The webaddress is a slight modification:    Note the spelling, no 'i' in famly.  Right now, it doesn't come up in any Google searches, but if you click on the link you will go directly to that site. 

I've had some exciting things happen on several currently active lines.  The new blog is the opportunity to share those findings in a context that other genealogists will appreciate but the rest of the world could care less about! 

Come visit me there.  Continue visiting here.  Let me know what you think. 

Don't forget to pray! 

Monday, April 8, 2013


My father was the Idea Man.  He'd have an idea, then recruit others who were better suited to implement it.  Often he got the credit.  He had a lot of ideas related to surfing and canoe racing.  He had been involved in at least one international surfing competition before he left Southern California.  It was 1953, 14 years after he arrived in Hawaii, before the first Makaha International Surfing Championship was held.  The annual competion was his baby for a good 20 years, still going strong after I left home to first attend a mainland college, then marry and spend most of my adult life in California.

The competition was always held on a holiday weekend.  I don't remember which winter holiday -- I just remember my father leaving immediately after  breakfast, not to be seen again for a couple of days.  He'd come home physically tired and sunburnt, but on an emotional high from the time spent on the beach, in the surfing community, serving as announcer for the tournament.  His absence on holidays was just a part of the growing up experience. 

So it was with bittersweet memories that I set out this morning to visit friends who are spending time at their timeshare condo on the beach at Makaha, just one bay away from the famous surfing beach. 

My first reaction was to the road -- freeway with an unheard-of-in-Hawaii 60 MPH speed limit extending past Kapolei, formerly known as Barber's Point, and Ko'Ilina and the Aulani resorts, built near the beach my mother camped on as a child and knew as Brown's Beach.  Beyond the freeway the road is 4-lane highway through the ahapua'a (that is the plural -- there is no "s" in the Hawaiian language) of Nanakuli, Lualualai, and Waianae.  Where the land between the highway and the water is narrow, it is parkland, no longer busy with tent cities of the homeless.  Where there is more space, there are homes and businesses on the maka'i (towards the ocean) side reflecting the ambiance of these heavily Native Hawaiian communities.  This is the dry side of the island, so looks very different from the lush and overgrown jungle-like growth of the windward side.   Not even sugar grew out here.  Geographically, the last plantations were at Waipahu and Ewa, both on the west shore of Pearl Harbor.  I remember this area as dust, kiawe trees, dramatic ocean, rocky coast alternating with  sandy beaches ... and lots of Hawaiians. 

Nancy and Bob told me to watch for the 15-story building on the beach.  "You can't miss it!" they said.  They were right.  I stopped at a stoplight, looked up, and -- you can't miss it!  It must be at least 6 stories taller than anything around it!   Check out Makaha on Google Maps and go to street view.  You'll soon find the Hawaiian Princess condo, even without really knowing what you are looking for,  and will understand why you "can't miss it". 

Here's the building from the beach, posted to Panorama by cbrolaw. 


The condo is lovely, the beach is spectacular, and it was really wonderful to see Nancy and Bob again. The sand visible in the surf is a lesson in how the ocean moves sand around from one part of the beach to another.  You quickly learn to recognize the shape of the honu (sea turtles) in the surf.  There were at least three playing in the water today.   They have a beach a little farther up the coast where they like to go and bask in the sun after time swimming and feeding in the ocean.

Bob says on weekends there are more people, but crowded is not a word one would use to describe this beach.

Here is the view looking north towards Kaena Point and the Makaha Beach Park where those surfing tournaments were held -- just on the far side of the nearest point of land. 

I went around the corner of the  lanai to take this photo looking south, towards Diamond Head.  This is rougher water than I would be comfortable swimming in, but that doesn't make it any less inviting a place to spend a day.  This is Hawai'i at its best. 

Give thanks for old friends and long friendships.  Give thanks for warm days and sparkling oceans. 
Don't forget to pray....