Another Hobby Blog

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lei Kupe'e

Last night was the best so far in all of these wonderful nights and days here on the islands! Last night we got to sit in with a hula hulau (group/school) and begin to learn the fascinating art of Hawaiian feather work! It was the chance to connect with the culture that I'd always dreamed of but never thought possible. We were introduced to each new person in turn as they arrived, and each and every one of them made us feel welcome and a part of the group. It is that feeling of Aloha that I most want to learn from these visits to the islands, and last night was a chance to see that spirit in practice as it was expressed to us and also to each other.

oh, and I got to learn some of the basics of feather work too! :) What a bonus. Now I have a whole tin of feathers that I need to tie into bundles within this week so that we'll be able to work on the next step of the project before we have to leave for home!

(pictures will have to wait.)

Sunday was Laundry Day...

It was also, apparently, Find The Lizards day. On Sunday morning, I found this teensy tiny little hatchling lizard in the corner of the bathroom. He was lethargic and non-responsive. He hardly so much as blinked when I picked him up and he looked so helpless and dried out! So I made a little rehabilitation vivarium for him from a plastic take-out food container. I put a damp paper towel in one corner to give him places to hide and be cool and damp. I put a little dish of carrots inside too-- not because he had any chance of eating them, but because they would also help raise the humidity for him. I put a little bottlecap of water inside too, in case he could drink from it.

Then I went outside and sat in the yard to watch all the grownup lizards going about their daily lizardly duties. I asked them what a baby lizard might like to eat, and a few minutes later one of the bigger lizards saw a grub crawling along a rock and pounced on it. yum. Is it possible they understood the question? Either way, I knew to look for little grubs for the baby lizard. :) .. While I was sitting there watching them, one of the little lizards very bravely jumped onto my foot! That made me realize that it would be really neat to get some pictures, so (after the little lizard got bored and wandered off again) I trotted back in to the house for my camera. (I got a few nice lizard pics, but you'll have to wait until I get a chance to upload them.) I found two little grubs for the baby lizard and dropped them in to his temporary home. The next morning he looked much much better! He was alert and active. He hadn't eaten either of the grubs, but he'd recovered from his dehydration, so I took him outside and let him loose in the planter boxes, hoping that he wouldn't become a meal for any of the other larger lizards!

It brings up conflicting feelings, though. On the one hand, I really enjoyed being helpful for the baby lizard and sharing his companionship for the day. :) ... on the other hand, there are no native lizards in Hawaii. All of the lizards that are found here (except for one very very rare skink that may now be extinct) have been fairly recent transplants-- escapees or intentional releases of "pets." The lizards have made a serious impact on Hawaii's ecosystem (as has everything else we non-native humans have introduced; especially tourism, hotels, sunscreen, and plastic bags). Some of the lizards eat bird eggs, decimating the already struggling native bird populations. Even when they don't eat the eggs directly, they can be a source of competition for common food sources and living spaces. .. and this particular baby lizard was one of the brown anoles that are the most aggressive of the newcomers. The brown anoles are thriving to the point of displacing the once-common (but also not native) gecko.

So I'm torn. Should I have helped the baby lizard? should I have left him to his own devices live-or-die? should I have squashed him flat in a hopeless attempt to diminish the invasive lizard population? should I have kept him as a pet and tried to bring him back with me to Seattle, carrying whatever random seeds or bugs or parasites or diseases or fungi he might have on or in him and risked spreading those unknowns to a new environment where *they* might become harmful or invasive?*

So I guess there are two thoughts I bring out of this experience:
1- It's not always possible to know what the "right" course of action would be, and every action (or lack thereof) has numerous possible repercussions. Some of them we can know about and plan for, others may be completely beyond our capacity to see in the moment or even afterward. 2- ecosystems, like the English language, are complex, dynamic systems that change and adapt and respond in sometimes unexpected or even unacceptable ways to the influences of culture and common usage. So for now I'll use the word "snuck" when it suits me, and will help out the occasional dehydrated lizard baby one weekend and weed out invasive plants the next.


*keeping him as a pet and bringing him home was never a real possibility. It's highly illegal for exactly the reasons I mentioned above. Even worse would be bringing one of my own pets in to the state! There are quarantine possibilities for some of the larger, more common pets like dogs and cats... but ethically I'm not sure even they should be here. Especially the cats as they are more likely to be let wander loose to prey on any number of native species.
..but then I couldn't have squashed him flat either.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Cozy 80 Degrees

One of the things I really like about Hawaii is that I can leave an event at 11:00 pm and find that the night-time air temperature is a cozy 80 degrees. On the other hand, one of the downsides is that an hour later when I'm trying to fall asleep, I find that the night-time air temperature is a toasty 80 degrees and that the ceiling fan breeze makes my hair brush across my face, tickling my nose and keeping me awake. ... It's nice to sit back and appreciate that for at least one day, today, this was the biggest of my problems.

We haven't done a lot of beach-going or souvenir hunting or other touristy excursions this trip. Instead, we've connected with the locals. We've gone swing dancing and folk dancing and ballroom dancing. We have spent time with some really great people with whom we'd like to keep in contact. We walked along the beach at sunset and watched the full moon rise over the ocean with some friends of someone we met at one of the dances. With a different group of friends-of-friends, I hiked up a steep and challenging trail to help pull up invasive plants out of a patch of rainforest so that the native plants (slower growing) have a chance to survive. My knee had some trouble with the steeper terrain, but the other hikers helped out with a stabilizing hand. I naively left my lunch in my car, but the other hikers generously shared their own lunches with me. The biggest problem of that day was the 32 mosquito bites. (My knee trouble subsided after several doses of Advil and a couple days of rest. Some of the bites still itch-- and I got them a week ago tomorrow.)

I haven't done as much swimming as I thought I might do... I had imagined myself swimming 2 to 4 hours every day (2 in the morning, another 2 in the evening). Instead, I've been wary about too much sun exposure, so I've only gone for about a 2 hour swim every other day or so. I'm getting a light tan. The nearest beach is sandy without much coral, so no brightly colored fishes. Instead I've entertained myself by looking for man-made debris that gets washed up in the tides --you know, the glass shards from broken bottles, the bits of plastic and metal we humans leave in our wake no matter where we go (and that get carried by wind and wave and weather even into places that we haven't gone). In addition to the broken glass and random unidentified clutter, I've collected 3 pair of slacks, 1 blanket, 4 snorkels, 1 swim mask, 2 pair of swim goggles, 1 pair of sunglasses, 2 unbroken glass soda bottles, and 1 very very nice watch.

I'm not yet tired of pineapples. There's another fresh one on the counter for tomorrow's breakfast. I don't think I've lost any weight. I might have gained some. I snuck in to one of the fitness gyms and ... (* for commentary on the word "snuck" check the footnotes.) ... and put myself onto one of their scales. I think I've gained five pounds. I'm hoping it's all muscle; I've been swimming and dancing more than usual. .. ... .... .....I've also been eating cheeseburgers and shave ice and drinking Dr. Pepper. I suspect my hope is misguided. But I am still able to fit into my swimsuits, so it can't be too bad, can it?

Tomorrow is sleep-in-and-do-laundry day. That's why I got to stay up late and write this entry tonight.

* If you are interested in the grammatical implications of the word "snuck," the following links can shed some light:

While I admire all the effort and skill that went into standardizing the English language throughout the centuries, I feel that sometimes the purists go too far and forget that the English language is a living language, a cultural collective. It grows and changes with time, context, and common usage. It is also subject to stylistic whims (and this is stylistically a very colloquial blog.)

In this instance, I like the emerging variant of the past tense "snuck" because it implies to me a certain (guilt-based, self-serving) furtiveness. Accordingly, if I were implying an honorable need to sneak (e.g. taking care to not wake the children while setting gifts beneath a Christmas tree) I would use the grammatically preferable past tense "sneaked." Isn't language fun?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Balmy and Humid 80+ Degrees (F) not something you often experience in Seattle, Wa. Neither are the Tradewinds. Or truly fresh pineapple...

Aloha from Hawai'i, island of O'ahu!

Today I take a relaxing moment in the early morning hours to write this post before my husband wakes up. I've been here just long enough to really start forgetting what day it is. I've eaten 3 whole pineapples over the last couple of days, and will probably eat several more before I have to return to the mainland again. I haven't seen any honu yet (sea turtles), but I will keep looking.

We've found the local swing-dance group and they are incredibly warm and friendly people. It's nice to be dancing again now that the knee injury is finally starting to heal properly! It turns out that my still-persistent knee pain may be being caused by a lower back problem. I've got some new physical therapy exercises to focus on my lower back, so let's hope that they do the trick. I am very tired of the chronic pain, even at a low level.

Today I will go to the beach, feel the sand beneath my feet, the waves at my ankles, the sun on my skin. I will sift through the sand for interesting pebbles and will most likely find cigarette butts and bottle caps. I will throw them into the garbage and will ponder whether my responsibility ends at the landfill. What happens to our trash from there? How polluted will we make our planet before we figure out how to clean it up again?

I have been doing a targeted diet and exercize program for the last ten weeks. On day 2 I weighed 160 pounds. I ate an average of 1200 calories a day and walked an average of two miles a day plus did strength exercizes three days a week. On day 70 I weighed.... 160 pounds. I'd like to think that maybe I traded fat weight for muscle weight, but the inches didn't come off either. The diet and exercize made little to no difference. I still bob like a cork when I'm swimming in the waves. I am still too buoyant to linger at the bottom of the lagoon. Today I will eat a slice of chocolate cake for breakfast. I will weigh myself when I get back home again to see whether or not that slice of chocolate cake (etc) makes my weight go up.

I'm out of things to say for now. I'll try to check in again soon.

Closing the Door on the Past...

...let's try this again...

I started up this blog to have something in common with my best friend and a way to share my life experiences with her and with other friends (both virtual and RL). When those core friendships failed, this became a very painful and difficult place to be. Too much of my life was something I couldn't put out on a public forum, and trying to focus on the little that was left over felt hollow and false because I had to leave so much of the real stuff out of the picture. So for the past couple of years I've left nearly all of it out of the picture. I had wanted it to be different, but life doesn't always give you what you want, and sometimes doesn't give you what you need.

..... ..... ..... ..... and now that topic is closed. Everything that I post from now on comes from this new perspective. I'm not going to try to go back and post about the things that I'd wanted to post about before. I'm sorry for the posts that never got written. Thank you to those few treasured readers who have contined to send occassional e-mails and let me know that they've missed me. You mean a lot more than I can express. :)