Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hilo Days: The Bees’ Knees

Have you ever encountered an angry wasp (or hornet, for that matter)? I have, and I paid deadly for it. It was my first experience being stung by a paper wasp, an experience I remember to this day.

Here’s a bee story as it was published in my now-defunct Hilo Days website.

Great-Obachan's Room

I don't have many memories of my great-grandmother (Obachan's mother). In fact, the only recollections I have are her being bed-ridden in the small room adjoining the kitchen at Obachan's house, and that she wore diapers.

The room itself has an unpleasant memory, for it was there that I got my first and only "yellow jacket" (actually, paper wasp) sting. I was looking out the window and leaned my elbow against the sill. Waiting for me there was a paper wasp. When I leaned against it, it stung me. Hurt like hell, too.

I've had honeybee stings that hurt, but they were nothing like that wasp sting. I think it was saving up its poison especially for me. Obachan put some bluing on it and said it would be okay. So I walked around with a blue elbow for a day.

A few years later, when we had moved to Kaumana and I used to spend the weekends at Obachan's house, a friend of mine showed me how to take wasp grubs out of the paper nest, fry them in shoyu and butter, and eat them. Tell you the truth, I never ate one, but they sure looked yummy when he popped them in his mouth.

This is turning into a bee story. Dad once told me that they used to eat the grubs when they were attending the University of Hawaii. You've seen pictures of college students swallowing live goldfish in the '50s? Well, the UH campus craze was the swallowing of wasp grubs. Live, squirmy, yecchy wasp grubs.

The neighborhood kids used to look for carpenter bee drones. Carpenter bees are those huge, round black bees that bore holes in wood to lay their eggs and raise their families.

The drones were males, and they were golden-colored—quite pretty, in fact. The kids used to catch them (they don't sting), tie one end of a long thread around the bee's waist, and the other end to a button on their shirt. The bees would fly around and around their heads as they walked down the street.

Personally, I never had the nerve to do something like that.

Friday, November 25, 2016

ReubAn, ReubAn, I've Been Thinking

At a recent outing to Island Subs & Burgers in the Manoa Marketplace, I ordered a Pastrami Reuben sandwich because I hadn't had one in many months.

It wasn't until I was munching into the juicy, substantial sandwich that I noticed their promotional poster on the wall where they misspelled "Reuben." I almost choked on my sammy, laughing so hard.

It reminded me of the song we used to sing in Sunday school church class: "Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking; What a grand world this would be; If the girls were all transported; Far beyond the northern sea."

Except of course, if we sang it at Island Subs, we'd be singing, "ReubAn, ReubAn."

I probably should tell them ... nah, I'm sure they've already been told and that poster must have been too expensive to redo.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Japan Village Walk

Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk opened in Honolulu's Ala Moana Center on June 25 this year, and immediately became a big hit.

So the wife and I stayed away for a few months, just to let the excitement die down a bit. Excitement? For sure. I remember being amazed at the live videos posted on Facebook of the long lines and crowded food kiosk aisles.

Not for me, I definitely could wait.

Japan Village Walk has got a “Guardian Spirit Sanctuary” featuring eight different Buddhas and the Japanese Zodiac’s 12 signs. Five exhibition rooms comprise the “Zeppin Plaza,” which features Japanese artisan-created masterpiece collections.

Five service counters sell $1 (Yes, a BUCK!) draft beers, and the “Vintage Cave” Bakery features gourmet Shirakami-Kodama yeast.

Japan Village Walk is primarily a food mall featuring Japanese food of all kinds: We counted approximately 35 food kiosks with everything from bentoes, tempura, sweets, takoyaki, yakitori, ramen, udon and sushi. Not only that, the Village Walk offers 14 specialty bistros—wagyu cuisine, pasta, hotpots, tempura and other seafoods.

They even have Spam!
There are 900 seats for visitors and diners; cold drinks are displayed in coolers and you can pay for them at any kiosk.

It became very apparent that the wife and I could not, absolutely could not, sample everything that night. So we had some takoyaki and a small sushi mix.

But I did take a bunch of pictures, of course. Here are some of them:

Gotta go back. Gotta go back. Uh huh, gotta go back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Did I Just Buy Tofutti Ice Cream?

The wife and I visited Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk in Ala Moana Center for the first time since it opened in June, and one of the first things I bought was a soy bean smoothie.

When I saw the booth, the first thing I thought of was Tofutti ice cream, which I had tried when it first came out during my years in college.

That was a long time ago, and I was so very young, so don’t ask.

The only thing I remember about Tofutti is that it didn’t have a remarkable taste. And I didn’t like the texture. So I never had it again.

So … did I just buy Tofutti ice cream at Japan Village Walk? The answer is a resounding “No.” It was very creamy, absolutely delicious and I’m going to have to go back and get another one—a larger one this time, as my brother-in-law drank about a third of mine when we got home.

Or, maybe he’ll get one of his own.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you a few pictures of the food booth displays at Japan Village Walk.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Handmade Stoneware Bread Baker

A couple of months ago, I bought a handmade stoneware pottery bread baker from David Howard in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

His work was recommended by a good friend from Tennessee, and I remember making yummy fresh bread in an automatic bread maker years ago.

The problem is the family didn’t like cylindrical bread, so I used the appliance to process the dough, then baked it in a glass loaf pan in the oven. Humbug.

Plus, there was just too much bread when all was said and done. So I stopped baking.

The bread baker comes with a passel of recipes; the first one I picked was cranberry walnut bread (pic at right).

A couple of weeks later, I made pumpkin bread just in time for Halloween. Both came out delicious, and when slathered with sweet butter, were extremely drool-worthy.

The piece is a work of art; I almost didn’t want to use it. But I did, and I’m glad.

You can check out David Howard’s Handmade Stoneware Pottery online at http://www.dhowardpottery.net/. He takes orders online, on the phone, or by mail. And he doesn’t just offer bread bakers. He’s got stoneware of all kinds in his shop.

I highly recommend his work.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Hilarious Time Share Sales Call

The other day, I got a call from a woman offering me a free vacation in Waikiki, compliments of Hilton Grand Vacations Time Share.

She said it was a reward for being a "longtime member of Hilton HHonors."

That's true; I've been a member for about 30 years. I politely declined, but she was persistent and asked where I lived, obviously about to offer me airfare.

For some reason, I felt like going along. "Hawaii," I responded.

"Ah, how far are you from Waikiki?" she asked.

"About two miles," I replied, stifling a giggle.

... (Silence)

"O-o-o-KAY!" she finally blurted out, breaking out into laughter, "Never mind! Thank you for your time," she said between giggles.

"You're welcome!" I fell off the chair laughing, and could barely keep my wits about me as I hung up the phone.

Sometimes it pays to play along. I kid you not. We made each other's day.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Pearl's Perils

Solitaire games on the iPad were my choice of periodic diversion ... like Solitaire, Spider, Bejeweled, Free Cell, Merged, and Slots Pharaoh's Way.

When you open these games, you must sit through several seconds of animated demonstration of a game they want you to download. All are free, of course, but they have ways of separating you from a couple of dollars occasionally. Multiply this by millions of users and it's quite profitable for them.

I've tried many of these suggestions, only to delete the game when it go to the point where I'd have to spend money for credits so I could continue. One of the intriguing ads was a hidden-object game that looked easy and promised a good story.

So I downloaded it ... "Pearl's Peril," by Berlin-based Wooga, released in 2013, now their most popular game of all time.

In a nutshell, you must go through screen after screen of hidden objects. They're not hard to spot, all are in plain sight. You just have to find them. The screen picture gets more and more crowded as you go along.

My Island, as of Oct. 11, 2916
Completion of each screen will earn you badges, which are used to open up areas on Artemis Island, situated somewhere in the South Pacific.

You also earn coins, which allow you to "buy" terrain, decorations, buildings, and special items. You can only play the screens when you have lightning bolt energy. When you run out of the 10 you're allotted, you have to wait 20 minutes for the next one to appear.

Side games include Darwin the Monkey's banana game to win circus items, the Captain's Challenge to win more challenge tickets and energy, and Edwin's Collections to win special decoration items.

When you construct buildings, you receive "prestige flowers," which are required to open further chapters in the story.

Which brings me to the story: Pearl Wallace travels worldwide to solve her father's suicide, introducing us to several characters and taking her to exciting adventures in her quest.

Pearl's Perils production values are extremely high and everything is detailed and beautiful. It's addictive and will probably be your go-to game once you've locked into it.

It's mine.