Monday, December 31, 2012

Du-pars Restaurant

Du-pars Restaurant in the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, downtown Las Vegas, is one of my "go-to" breakfast diners when I'm staying in the downtown area. Located at the west end of Fremont Street Experience, it's been around for a long, long time.

So why is it that I only discovered it last year? Maybe it's because that's when I stayed at the California Hotel and decided to make the rounds of restaurants located downtown, something I hadn't done in a long, long time (most of my dining experiences came either on the Las Vegas Strip or in remote residential/commercial areas).

As you can see by this counter setup, Du-pars is "Always Open." Twenty-four/seven. The menu is quite extensive, full of comfort food that should match your appetite whenever you're hungry. And I mean WHENEVER. Most of the time, I go there for breakfast and never walk away dissatisfied or hungry. Hotcakes, waffles, eggs, breakfast meats ... they got 'em if you want 'em.

For lunch and dinner, again if you hanker for some homestyle meals, well there you go. I've tried a number of dishes, but probably my favorite is their meat loaf. Lots of slices on a mound of mashed potatoes, slathered with dark brown gravy.

The waitstaff is very personable and they love to chat, especially when you sit at the counter, which is where I head whenever I'm alone. There's almost always a seat available there. Just walk to the head of the line past the amazed faces and find a seat. Others will soon follow.

And, why is it that someone needs to set an example before people start filling up the counter seats?

Anyway ... Du-pars ... go there the next time you're in downtown Las Vegas around mealtime.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Palazzo Winter Display

While not quite as extensive as the floral display at the Bellagio Conservatory, the Palazzo’s Grand Lobby and Atrium Display has a charm all its own. If the quantity is smaller, the quality is right up there with any other hotel’s Christmas displays.

One should start in the Grand Lobby where the center fountain is nothing short of spectacular, no matter what season you visit the Palazzo Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. That’s just the first of three display centers you need to view.
The second is the display at the Atrium Pool; the third is the Waterfall. Together they present quite an amazing tableau. This year, the Palazzo added something new – three fashion models posing between the pool and the waterfall, publicizing The Shops at the Palazzo.
The Palazzo is one of the places I definitely visit whenever I’m in Las Vegas. After snapping pix of the displays, I head on over to the Palazzo and Venetian shops for a looksee.
Some of the pictures I took:

Hope you enjoyed this little tour and don’t forget to visit the place the next time you’re in Las Vegas.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bellagio Christmas Floral Displays

Click on picture for a larger panoramic view
You just knew I was going to visit the Bellagio Conservatory when I went to Las Vegas in early December, didn’t you? I had to. See, they had their annual Christmas floral display up and I had to see what kind of creative work they did this year.

They set up a chocolate village complete with choo choo train that had a camera on one of its cars, so you could see what passengers would see as they rode the train. You could even see yourself in the monitor as the train approached where you were.
It was crowded there – lots and lots of people come by each year to check it out. They had skating penguins, giant toy soldiers, huge ornaments, an amazing floral Christmas card, frolicking polar bears and one helluva huge hobby horse.
All that plus flowers, flowers, flowers, galore. Here, take a look at a few of the pictures I took.
Giant Hobby Horse and Chocolate Train Station
Skating Penguins

Giant Toy Soldiers, Christmas Tree and Ornaments
Floral Christmas Card
Frolicking Polar Bear
Train Cam Monitor (That's me in the gray jacket)
Am I going back to the Bellagio Hotel & Casino again next year? You betcha!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Where Hawaii Ranks 16

It’s time once again to see where Hawaii or Honolulu stands when it comes to various categories in our lives:

Most Expensive Daily Car Rental Rates During Christmas (, 2012)
1.       HONOLULU ($160 per day, Dec. 22-27, 112% over regular rates)
2.       Miami ($84, +250%)
3.       New Orleans ($81, +35%)
4.       Boston ($77, +51%
5.       Phoenix ($76, +181%)
Best Cities to Trick or Treat (Zillow, 2011)
1.       San Francisco
2.       Boston
3.       HONOLULU
4.       Seattle
5.       San Jose
Most Multi-Generational (3+) Households (U.S. Census, 2009-2011)
1.       HAWAII (11.1%)
2.       California (8.2%)
3.       Mississippi (7.3%)
4.       (Tie) District of Columbia (7.1%)
5.       (Tie) Texas (7.1%)
Strongest Teachers Union (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2012)
1.       HAWAII
2.       Oregon
3.       Montana
4.       Pennsylvania
5.       Rhode Island
Highest Priced Homes (Coldwell Banker, 2011)
1.       HAWAII ($742,551 average listing, 4-bed, 2-bath house)
2.       Massachusetts ($489,063)
3.       California ($431,625)
4.       New Jersey ($421,108)
5.       Connecticut ($411,884)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Roadwork on Our Street

We woke yesterday morning to the sound of rumbles, beeps and scraping as a road crew began resurfacing our street.

Actually, we knew this was coming because of the signs along the curb announcing that the work was impending, beginning on the day after Christmas. No complaints here ... our street really needed it. Potholes everywhere.

A couple of years ago, I emailed the city and told them of a huge one that had grown at the foot of our driveway, growing daily at a cancerous and exponential rate. To their credit, it was fixed within the week. Just recently, I saw another pothole patched up, so I can only surmise someone else down the street must have called them.

I thought it would be a couple of days of driving hell ... and gosh, I just might hermitize myself until the work is done. But they finished in one day and it looks great.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hilo Days: A Little Tree Grows … BIG

We don’t always get the chance to cut down our own Christmas trees these days; in fact, that’s kind of rare, either a special treat for the kids or a magical tradition for the family.
Here’s a story I ran in my Hilo Days website about my one experience with bringing home a real live tree that outgrew the space we’d allotted for it at my grandmother’s house.
Our Special Christmas Tree
My grandparents used to attend the Hilo Hongwanji Church. Dad went there too until he converted to Christianity in the Army. They had some sort of preschool program at the church, or maybe it was a summer fun program. Can't remember for sure.
I went there once (I believe on a trial basis). There was the usual song singing, ring around the rosy, London Bridge is falling down, and similar kiddie type activities. We also took afternoon naps (just couldn't get away from them).
I think it was on one of the special Japanese culture days that we all received gifts of seedling pines. Now that I think of it, that was a pretty nifty gift and I've often wondered why nobody does that anymore. We took the tree home and planted it in a little rectangular garden beside the house. Dad once told me they used to raise koi there, but decided to fill the pool up and use it as a garden.
The tree became part of the landscape, and grew, and grew, and grew.
In fact, it grew there until I was in the sixth grade. By 1955, the tree was pretty big and I recall Dad telling us he was going to cut it down and bring it home to use as our Christmas tree (by this time we had moved to our new home at 25 Ekaha Street, just below the Kaumana area in Hilo).
Quite frankly, it was exciting to help Dad bring the tree into the house. It was so fresh and it smelled so good, and it was like we were bringing an old friend home. Alas, it was indeed a big tree too big for our living room, in fact. So Dad had to haul it back out and down to his office where the ceiling was higher. Best Christmas tree his office ever had!
I've often wondered whether we did the right thing by cutting down the tree. After all, it was practically a gift from God and had grown along with me through the years. I don't know all the particulars or the reasons why Dad did it; actually, I don't care. It looked great in his office.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Me to YOU!

Joyeux Noel! Sung Tan Chuk Ha! Feliz Navidad! Shen Da Kuai Le! Mele Kalikimaka! Kurisimasu Omedeto! Frohliche Weihnachten!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World!

 Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
How often you give us delight
In brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Are We Still Here?

I guess the world didn't end yesterday. So ... Joy to the World, and it's back to the Christmas preparations.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Good Luck to Us All

Holy Good Grief. The day has arrived - the day the Mayans predicted the Earth will undergo a major transformation. Today. December 21, 2012, the day movies were made about. Are we doomed? Will we ever survive to see tomorrow? Will Left Field Wander ever post another entry?

Tune in tomorrow and see if we're still here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hope You're Prepared

Got your survival kit all ready? You didn't forget that the Earth might come to an end (or at least experience one helluva upheaval) tomorrow, according to the Mayan calendar.

Make sure you have lots of bottled water and a zillion rolls of toilet paper. A couple of cases of Spam wouldn't hurt either.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This Was No Advantage

During my recent trip to Las Vegas, I did what I usually do. I rented a car. And, as I was staying at The California, I rented my car from Advantage, whose rental desk is at the Main Street Station, just a short enclosed overpass walk from The Cal.

I got to the desk about 20 minutes to 10 a.m., early as usual. But the line was long, and it took me a while to find out why. It wasn't until I got within earshot of the ONE agent there that I found out the "computer system wasn't working." As it turns out, it wasn't the computer system, it was her.

Advantage, you see, had been sold by its owner, Hertz Rent-a-Car. The new owner took possession just that morning, and apparently changed the reservation system. And just as apparently, none of the agents had any training in the new system.

Ah well, I'm nothing if not patient. At least that's what I thought, going into the debacle. More than an hour later, I reached the front of the line, disgusted. See, the woman agent kept making small chit-chat with the customers, probably trying to lighten the situation. All she was doing was making it worse as the clocked ticked on and on and on.

(I got to know the fella in line just ahead of me as we complained to each other about what she was doing.)

When I finally reached the front, another agent joined the registration and handled my rental. He zipped through it while the lady agent was helping my fellow disgruntlee (?), and I actually finished before him.

I'm going to have to rethink renting from Advantage at that location again. Potential acidic stomach ain't worth the wait.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Egg Works, Hawaiian Style

If you’ve read my restaurant blog, you know that I’m a bit of a fan of the Egg Works/The Egg & I restaurants in Las Vegas. They’re friendly sort of places where tourists and locals alike mingle.

My most recent sojourn was to the Egg Works restaurant ‘way out west of the Las Vegas Strip, in a commercial area near some residential complexes.

The thing I like about Egg Works is their varied menu. They have all the things you’d expect, especially egg dishes – any way you like them, in skillets, in scrambles, in Benedicts. They have a good Mexican-flavored menu, plus all the pancakes, waffles and French toasts your heart desires.
They also cater to Hawaii tastes in particular. They serve … LOCO MOCO! Two styles, only $8.50 each. And, they have Aloha Shoyu if you want it.
Here are their menu descriptions:
Loco Moco: A generous portion of ‘Sticky white rice’ topped with a homemade burger patty, delicious brown gravy, and two eggs any style.” Yep, that’s loco moco, all right.
Haole Loco: A generous portion of ‘Sticky white rice’ topped with a homemade burger patty, Egg Work’s famous country gravy, and two eggs any style.” That’s for you chicken-fried steak fans who need something a little more familiar.
Finally, they also offer an “Island Favorite: Your choice of grilled SPAM or Portuguese Sausage, two eggs any style, and stick white rice. Served with a Homemade Banana Nut Muffin, or toast.” So if you’ve been in Vegas with your Caucasian friends and need a Hawaii fix, y’all can eat here.
Now … I personally am not going to drive all the way there for a Hawaiian style meal; there are plenty of places in downtown that have them. But who knows? I enjoy Egg Works, and someday I just may be in the mood for a Hawaiian breakfast when I go there.
Aloha nui loa!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Something to Help Your Eyesight

I've seen this carry bag before; in fact, I've seen this saying and glitter design before as well.

But for some reason, when I saw it hanging in a gift shop at the Imperial Palace, I fell off the giggle tree and hit all the branches on the way down.

Hmmmm, I think I know exactly whom to buy it for.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pass Air?

I'm renting a Hyundai Elantra while I'm in Las Vegas, and just yesterday, I noticed something on the dashboard.

There is an indicator light that notifies you when the passenger side's protective air bag is ready to balloon-explode out should there be an accident.

Well ... the one on my car is inoperative. But that's not what piqued my interest. See what it says? It's telling me that I can't fart into a bag. "Pass air bag off." It doesn't want me to pass air.

I've heard it called "gas," even "wind." But never "air"! Funny, huh? I kid you not.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lots of Old (Really Old) Stuff

It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. I didn’t plan to see old, rusted stuff on this trip to Las Vegas. It just worked out that way.

The realization struck me as I sat on my hotel room bed massaging my aching legs and feet, throbbing from overuse these past few days. One thing about visiting museums is that you do a lot of walking, interspersed with lots of standing around.

So, I saw lots and lots of old stuff:

The first museum that I visited was the Clark County Heritage Museum in Henderson. It’s a fairly long haul from either the downtown or Las Vegas strip hotels, but it’s interesting. A lot of it is outdoors and one gets to wander around looking at homes and relics that are representative of Southern Nevada in the 1920s and 1930s before the boom times.

Old, Decrepit Holt Catepillar Tractor
Clark County Heritage Museum
I’ll write about that excursion at a later date with lots of pictures.

The second museum I checked out was the recently (October 2012) opened Neon Museum on North Las Vegas Boulevard, just past town, immediately before Cashman Field, where the Las Vegas 51s minor league plays. You know those casino, hotel, motel, and business signs you remember if you visited Las Vegas in the ‘60s? They’re nothing but nostalgic junk now, but if you get a good tour guide and docent as I did, they come alive.

Old Algiers Hotel Sign
Las Vegas Neon Museum Boneyard
I’ll tell you about the neon boneyard later on. Lots of pictures that may bring back memories.

The final museum of old stuff just goes to show you how things can be restored. I’m talking about the Auto Collections at the Imperial Palace. I’ve visited it before, but not for a few decades, so it was my final “old stuff” destination for this trip. Man, there are some beautiful cars there, all of which have a history. The only word to describe them is “pristine,” despite their advanced age.

Fully Restored 1923 Ahrens Fox Fire Truck
The Auto Collection at Imperial Palace
If you’re good to me, I’ll show you what I mean one of these days, when I get back home to Hawaii.

Old stuff rocks!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sweet Temptations

Here, take a look at this. Hear that? That’s the sound of a sugar rush coursing through your body. If you don’t have diabetes, this picture will get it started for you. If you DO have diabetes, better take your sugar-lowering pill right now.

This, my friends, is the Grotto Ristorante dessert cart, just as it appeared at my table in the Golden Nugget the other night in Las Vegas.

What’s on the cart? Well, there’s tiramisu (bottom center) and strawberry cheesecake (on the left). I completely forgot what the huge strawberry bombe thing on top and the creamy golden one on the right are, because I was so entranced by the tiramisu.

Bottom line: I ordered a slice of tiramisu. I wasn’t going to, but I had to. My weak mind gave in to the sweet temptation. Bad Craig! Bad, bad Craig!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Willie Nelson! Not Really …

Roy "Willie" Hammock, dba Willie Nelson
I was wandering around the downtown Las Vegas Fremont Experience Tuesday night, and paused as I came to a raucous stage performance of some rocking cowboy country music. See, the National Finals Rodeo is in town and lots of cowboy hats were wandering around with me.

So anyway, the guy on stage finished and the emcee announced … “And now, ladies and gentlemen … Willie Nelson!”

Whoa! I stopped as Willie Nelson ran on stage and launched into “Whiskey River.” He then sang three of his signature songs: “On the Road Again,” “You Were Always on My Mind,” and “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” People were a-whoopin’ and a-dancin’ and even I couldn’t keep my hips from wigglin’.

When he finished his set, the crowd went wild! And then the announcer cried out as Willie walked off the stage, “Willie Hammock, ladies and gentlemen, as Willie Nelson!”

You could hear the crowd … “Huh?” “What?” “Oh well.” Then they cheered again. The guy was good. Not Willie Nelson, but pretty good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Helluva Long Walk

The last time I went to Las Vegas with the Vacations Hawaii package, we arrived at Terminal 2, with a short walk to the awaiting buses. This was in May of this year.

Since then, the Vacations Hawaii charter plane (Omni Airlines International) has been reassigned to arrive at the B gates in Terminal 1. The result? Tour package customers now have one helluva long walk from gate to the buses.

By my calculation, it’s about ¾ mile, as opposed to 200 yards. And believe me, it’s no fun to beat your feet for that long. Everybody arrived at the buses huffing and puffing. The fact that the average age of Vacations Hawaii customers must run from the high-60s to mid-70s doesn’t help a bit.

I sat next to a real elderly guy on the bus who had to sit separate from his wife because there were no seats left ‘way up front reserved for handicapped customers. His complaint was that on the plane, they announce that wheelchair passengers should please wait and leave the plane last. The problem of course it, that by the time they get to the buses, all the up-front seats are taken.

I felt for the guy, but what could I do? I was somewhere in the middle of the bus and he wanted his wife up there in front. So we were delayed getting to the hotel. Worse yet, our bus was further delayed by airport police, who were issuing our driver a ticket for some bus maintenance infraction. I never did find out what for.

Y’know, they couldn’t even get their handicapped seat sign right? It read: “Seat Resevered for the Handicapped.” Resevered, huh? As if the long walk weren’t severe enough.

I seriously have to rethink flying with them again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Going on a Trip

It’s that time of the year and I’ve got rock fever. Consequently, I’m going on another trip … yep, you guessed it, to my “home away from home” – Las Vegas.

Every now and then, I get itchy feet and a wanderlust, and just have to get off this island. Usually, a trip to Las Vegas does the trick; let’s see if it works again this time.
Early flight this morning … will probably check in while I’m there … and I’ll return on Sunday afternoon. After all, gotta prepare for the end of the world on Dec. 21, and if we all survive that, celebrate Christmas on the 25th.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vi Apples

At one of the seasonal gift/craft shows the wife and I went to in November, we came to this booth where the nice lady was selling fresh “Vi apples.”

The little stock she was offering took me back to my childhood days in Hilo, where a huge vi tree was growing in the backyard of a home one street down from ours. It seemed to always be filled with the hard, green fruit.
Also known as “Ambarella” (Spondias dulcis) or “Otheite apples,” vi fruit comes from Tahiti. It’s a bit on the sour side, crunchy, and is used in various forms, including preserves and fruit drinks. It’s definitely a “little boy adventure.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's 'Te-OH,' not 'Te-OW'

Manti Te’o has been in the news a lot during the past few months; his presence has transcended sports and has been felt in the community, especially in Hawaii, his home state.

It’s not as though sportscasters haven’t known he’s been around. Even last year he was leaving his mark as a defensive linebacker on Notre Dame’s football team. And, as the Fighting Irish inched closer to an undefeated season, his name became almost a household word.
The result? He was one of three college gridders invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation this past weekend, one of three finalists.
So how come sportscasters still mispronounce his last name? The most common mispronunciation is “Tey-ow.” As in “ow, that hurt” Fellas, it’s “Tey-Oh” … how hard is that? And yet, I keep hearing it pronounced incorrectly.
The worst offender is Kevin Carter. Not once during the season have I heard him pronounce Te’o’s name correctly, even as everyone else around him has gotten it correct. In fact, it irritates me so much that whenever he mispronounces, I yell out a loud correction.
See, to me, his mispronunciation this late in the game is nothing short of offensive. It shows he doesn’t really care – about Manti, about Manti’s father, about Manti’s family, about Manti’s heritage. It’s just plain offensive.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Betcha Ya Didn’t Know ...

I betcha a dollar to a doughnut you didn’t know that:

·         No new animals have been domesticated since 4,000 years ago.

·         Scissors were invented by Leonardo Da Vinci.

·         If you refrigerate rubber bands, they last longer.

·         More than half (56%) of your typing is done by the left hand.

·         The only month in recorded human history not to have a full moon was February 1865.

·         The Queen Elizabeth II gets only six inches for each gallon of fuel it uses.

·         And finally: Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Random Musings 20

Why do people want to become as old as possible, while at the same time try to be as young as possible?

* * * * *
Is it too stupid to go to a museum's information desk and ask, "What's new?"
* * * * *
I wonder if ghosts switch from sheets to quilts when the weather turns cold.
* * * * *
Would a pimple in a dimple even out your cheek?
* * * * *
Where did Paul Bunyan poop anyway? Did they make giant toilets in those days?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Business Name to Die For

I'm a sucker for clever business names. So when I happened upon this Thai restaurant, I just had to record its name for all posterity.

Not much more I can say about this, except that I haven't patronized the restaurant yet. Someday ... maybe someday.

It's a business name to die for. Or rather, to THAI for.

But y'know, I went to their website: and nowhere was the address listed. Tsk, tsk. The address is 3571 Waialae Ave. in the Kaimuki section of Honolulu.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hilo Days: Chicks and Ducks and Geese Better Scurry

I’m sure there are quite a few of you who grew up in rural areas where people kept chickens and ducks in the backyard, or perhaps even in a fenced-in area. We had one of those in our neighborhood, and I wrote about it in my once-upon-a-time Hilo Days website:
"Chickens in a Barnyard" by Edgar Hunt
A Fowl Story

Let me tell you a little bit about the Ekaha Street chicken yard. I used to spend an appreciable amount of time pressing my face against the chicken wire fence, watching the fowl doings in the chicken yard.
There were regular-sized chickens, bantam chickens, ducks, turkeys, and a lot of wild sparrows that flittered in to steal the chicken feed. The yard was enclosed with chicken wire, and had a long chicken coop in the back. There were a couple of lush guava trees that sort of served as a roof.
All up and down the street, you could hear the ducks quacking, the roosters crowing, the turkeys gobbling, and the chickens clucking.
You could also smell the chicken yard half-way up the street (even to the end, if the wind was blowing in the appropriate direction). Standing just outside the fence, the ripe aroma of rotting guavas, mixed with the various fowl scents could transport me to Bozo's farm (re: my old favorite record album). Even today, the smell of over-ripe guavas brings back the memory of the chicken coop.
We used to see a lot of chicks and often wondered why the population of the yard never grew. Naive, eh? It wasn't until I reached my adolescent years that I finally figured out that the older fowl were being ... gulp ... eaten.
I once did a gross thing there. I saw this large white egg on the ground. It probably was a turkey or duck egg because a chicken couldn't possibly pass something that big. It sat there, so pure and white. Nothing that nice deserves to sit there undisturbed, I thought, so I picked up a rock.
Yep, I picked up a rock and tossed it over the fence. Right onto the egg. One of the best shots in my life! (Another good shot was the time I threw a rock high into the sky after a fleeing neighborhood kid and hit him on the right heel.)
The rock went plop, the egg went splat. And every chicken, duck, and turkey in the yard rushed over to slurp up the egg. Gobble, cluck, crow and quack. Zip. No more egg. It was gross. Really gross. Really, really GROSS!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Did the ‘Well’ Run Dry?

Photo by Craig Miyamoto
One of the spots I love to visit whenever I’m on the Big Island of Hawaii is beautiful Rainbow Falls. I never fail to snap a few pictures of the natural wonder with its steady stream of water falling like an alabaster veil over a huge cave.

Legend has it that Hina, the Hawaiian moon goddess, lived in the open cave. Her son, Maui, the powerful demi-god, lived with her, occupying much of the land along the Wailuku River’s northern shore.
I’ve seen the power of Rainbow Falls after a particularly long-lasting storm, and shivered at the roar of the Niagara-like waters as they plunged into the head of the Wailuku River. I’ve seen it peaceful, with two, sometimes three cascades; and I’ve also seen it when the water was barely a trickle.
Photo by Paul Miyasaki
But I’ve never seen Rainbow Falls run dry. Yesterday, Big Island resident Paul Miyasaki took some pictures of Rainbow Falls … and it was dry. For the first time I can recall, it ran dry. That’s more than 60 years in my memory.

It’s the result of a drought, but the Big Island has been through droughts before. So I wonder, could there be another reason? Is it a phenomenon that’s preceding Dec. 21, the reputed date when the Mayan calendar runs out?
Is it a sign that the Apocalypse is near? I sure hope not.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pagoda Restaurant Upgrade

You've heard me complain about the Pagoda Floating Restaurant many times in the past – about how the food is always the same, and how they make lousy omelets, about how much they charge for parking, ad nauseum.
I have to change my opinion of them. I have to upgrade my attitude.
We went there yesterday after an absence of a year or so, since my grandson and his family are in town and my son wanted to treat the family gang to a lunch while they were here. The original plan was to have an excellent Sunday brunch at the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki. However, my mother-in-law doesn't like it there (don't ask me why), so we went to the only place she truly enjoys ... the Pagoda.
I went with the usual grumpy attitude, but discovered that they've altered their parking policy. Restaurant guests no longer have to pay for parking. Good. Their food hasn't changed much, they still offer the same things, but since I don't eat much these days, that didn't matter, because what I did eat was pretty tasty. Good.
The omelet maker did not toast my omelet, and it didn't fall apart on the plate. Good. The waitress was particularly attentive. Good.
She mentioned that the dining room had a complete make-over – cnew tables and chairs, a fresh coat of paint in pleasing colors, and a new carpet. Good, good, and good. Frankly, I didn't notice the changes until she told us. But she was very nice, and she got my grandson some free koi food to feel the carp (they sell small containers at 50¢ a whack).
So-o-oo ... all in all, everything worked out fine. Consider my attitude about the Pagoda Floating Restaurant upgraded a notch or two.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hinoki Wood Sake Cup Wedding Favor

Yesterday, I attended the wedding of a member of my “calabash” family. In Hawaii, a “calabash” is a bowl, and it represents the mixing of ingredients, particularly salads. Consequently, a calabash family includes in-laws of in-laws, second and third cousins, and others who are related in any remote way by marriage or birth.

So much for the cultural language lesson. That’s not the point of this. The point is that as a wedding favor, each person at the wedding reception buffet was given a wooden sake cup, which was then used to toast the happy couple in a traditional Hawaii “Banzai” toast of Japanese sake (sah-kay).
The beautifully simple yet elegantly perfect Hinoki wood cups were beautifully created and brought over from Japan, hand-carried by the Japanese partner of the bride’s father’s law firm.
Which made me curious. What exactly is Hinoki wood?
Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis Obtusa), aka hinoki cypress or hinoki, is native to, and grows only in, central Japan. Lemon-scented, with rich, straight grain, it's highly rot-resistant and is one of Japan’s most prized woods. Temples (Horyuji Temple), castles (Osaka Castle) shrines (Ise Shrine), and emperor’s caskets have been built from the wood.
Hinoki wood oil has been found to reduce stress and skin problems such as skin irritations, rashes, cuts and abrasions. It kills bacteria, viruses and viral infections, as well as fungus. It’s a relaxant and decongestant as well, and can help treat stuffy noses, congested sinuses and chest, respiratory and breathing problems.
Amazing. I am so honored to own one of these cups.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Kitty Cat Nap

At a recent craft/gift fair, I spotted this kitty cat taking a nap on some boxes. How cute, I thought.

As it turns out, the kitty was stuffed ... not with cat food, but with whatever they stuff toy animals with. This was one of the most realistic stuffed animals I've seen in quite a while.

If I knew someone who wanted a cat (and who's significant other is allergic to pet dander), I'd get it for him/her. Sorely tempted to get it for myself, I exercised admirable restraint and just walked away.

Backward peeks do not count, right?