Friday, November 28, 2008

We're back!

It's crazy to think that 24 hours ago, Pete and I were in the car on the way to the Maui airport! We went swimming in the ocean on Thanksgiving Day, and now I'm wearing flannel and the heater is on. Those of you in warm climes, you are so very lucky!
Unfortunately we didn't have internet access in Maui, so I have a lot of stories to write about in the next few days. Until then, I leave you with this picture of Pete in First Class (we had been feeling so sad to leave, and then we slipped into our first class seats for the journey from Honolulu to Newark and suddenly things weren't so bad)!

Business first from HNL to EWR...November 27/28, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I give it three years; Pete gives it one week

A prop plane similar to the one we flew on Tues Nov 18, 2008

Yesterday we took a one-day tour of Kauai, the Garden Isle. I have been told by more than one person that Kauai is the best of the Hawaiian Islands, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!

We were up at 5am for our 5:50am pickup time. We took a small propeller plane on Island Air (an airline I had never heard of...Roberts Hawaii had booked the plane as part of the tour fee). The flight was a bit bumpy. Our tour guide Nani picked us up from the airport. I knew it was going to be a good tour when she said, "for all you men who don't want a lady driver, you can get off the bus the way you came on" or something similar. Plus she said everything twice and spelled out the names of the towns and sites we went to...very thorough. She is a Kauai native and knew all the back roads and fun places and took us to places that were not on the itinerary, such as additional scenic lookout points and an extra waterfall..and we were on a mini-bus so she was able to take us to some tight places. She also wasn't afraid to climb up on rocks or guard rails to take pix of her group. She was extremely knowledgable about Kauai and told us a lot about its history, esp a hurricane that devastated the island in 1992 and left it without electricity for 9 months (imagine, 9 months without electricity). There are still parts of this island that have not been rebuilt, and the ruins of the damaged buildings remain (such as the Coco Palms where Elvis shot one of his Hawaiian movies). She also talked about how dangerous the surf can be. 17 people have drowned off the coast of Kauai since the start of this year. Overall, the island is very lush and green, much more so than the Big Island. In sections where hotels were rebuilt, it is amazingly plush and expensive looking and also very beautiful!

I like taking pix of Pete taking pix

This tour had 22 people compared to the 53 on Sunday's tour) so it felt cozier somehow. Regardless, Nani did leave 2 people behind at our first stop and we had to go back and pick them up when her boss called her cell phone. These two people happened to be sitting in the seats in front of Pete and myself, and someone told Nani "we're missing a few people" but Nani said she had counted, we had the right number, and if there were empty seats, it was because people changed seats. Ha ha ha ha ha. I couldn't remember what the people in front of us looked like and I guess I should have said, "who sat here and then changed their seats?" I didn't think of it at the time. Nani said it was the second time in her many years of driving that she's left someone behind. Oh, and she kept calling the mainland "Big America". Quite a lot.

It was windy and I was hamming it up at Waimea Canyon

It was my turn to be sick this time. At one point Nani said, "it's going to be like a roller coaster. If you feel sick, let me know so you can throw up outside the bus." I was ok going up the mountain, but somehow coming back down made me really nauseous. Lots of switchbacks and bumpy portions, plus we were supposed to talk to our neighbors at that point, and I think turning around to talk also added to the nauseous feeling. We wound up talking to the super nice people behind us, who were from New Zeland and whose son is a chemistry professor! I happen to know a NZ chemist from my PDB days, but this wasn't the person. Pete also met a woman from England, who wanted to know where Pete was from. When he said "England" she said, "I know that! Where in England?" Turns out she's English herself but has been in the states since 1953. There was one couple on our tour who was annoying; they were having trouble with some other tour they were trying to book and basically were holding us up or on their cell phone. They are newlyweds and she looks ultra-high maintenance. I give it three years. Pete said he gives it one week.

In total we visited Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of the Pacific), 2 waterfalls, Spouting Horn, and took a river cruise down the Waimea River to the Fern Grotto (a cave with ferns). The river was very smooth so by then I was feeling ok. The tour of the grotto was really neat and I especially liked that one of the performers fed a stray cat Whiskas cat food--she used a curved leaf as a bowl and put the food into it. She said the cat's name is Soprano and she is talkative. The poor cat has an eye infection in one eye but otherwise seemed fine. The performer said she feeds the cat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. At the grotto they played the Hawaiian wedding song (apparently they marry a lot of people at this cave). What was neat was they asked who was celebrating an anniversary or honeymoon. For anniversaries, how many years? For honeymooners, how many days? Then they asked who was living in sin. The same performer who fed the cat said that for Christians, it's called living in sin. For Hawaiians, it's the natural thing to do.

Around 5pm we were taken back to the airport. Pete's bag was searched by TSA after a suspicious item was found on the x-ray scanner.. Out came the white gloves and then blue ones on top of that...and into the bag the TSA worker went. We both couldn't think of what it could have been that flagged the search--we had removed all the bottled water. We had both forgotten that a tube of sunscreen was in there. Sigh. The bag and sunscreen had passed security at Honolulu airport that morning.

Got back on the prop plane. The stewardess announced that due to high tradewinds the descents into HNL have been exciting. So once again I felt sick. Then we got on a bus and got stuck in traffic. Once we were back at the hotel I felt better. This morning I felt back to normal, after sleeping like a log and having a work dream.

Today we had another "day off". I fed birds on the porch (love the ones with the red feathers) and we did some more shopping, then spent some time on the beach. We rented chairs and an umbrella which was a fantastic idea. We decided this time to watch the sunset from the roof of our condo/hotel and met a Japanese woman who was travelling on her own and told us a lot about her life (she went to the University of Hawaii) and how excited she was to be here and see the sunset. I felt just as enthusiastic as her. I really enjoy being in Hawaii and am sad to leave Oahu tmw. However, we are flying half an hour to Maui and we'll be there til we leave on Thanksgiving Day. We haven't been to Maui before--I can't wait to see what it's like!

Morning breakfast on the balcony, Wed. Nov 19, 2008

My flicker album has been updated! We may not have internet access in Maui--we'll see!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I don't know how to hold a gun

Rainbow morning! Monday, November 17, 2008 in Waikiki

Today was our "day off". No tours. No wake up times (though the condo phone rang at 12:45 and 12:47am for whatever reason...) Read the newspaper. Love the fact that the Honolulu Advertiser (and not the USA Today) is delivered to the door daily. There were some really great articles in there today about recycling styrofoam; "green" cleaning products with home recipes; and an article about "alternative" crafters. Plus their daily comics are in color! And we've been introduced to a new comic called "Retail" which wasn't very funny today but was a hoot on Friday and Saturday. And there was a rainbow today that kept appearing and disappearing!

We did some shopping today and I did more Giftmas shopping. Almost done... We wanted to go to the beach but it started raining. It's been raining on and off since we got here--which is in contrast to our previous stays on Oahu (we recall it only rained the first night we were in Waikiki in 2004). Early Friday morning was the worst rain--we got stuck in it on the way back from the grocery store (the bill was $85 for the basics! Everything here is twice as expensive compared to the Stop and Shop at home. $7 for a box of Special K, $4 for a quart of milk, $7 for the mid-size carton of orange juice...but from what I've read, it's so expensive because almost everything is shipped here from the mainland. Hotels don't make much money off of the food they sell. It may seem like a rip off, but it really is that expensive). Anyway, yes, it's been raining on and off so no beach this afternoon!

Tonight we went to a place called King's Court. We can see it from our balcony and it looks a bit Disney-fied but one thing they do have that is neat is the King's Guard ceremony, which features lots of cermonial gun activity (flipping, stomping, throwing, tapping). Afterward they let the tourists pose for free photo ops. I have no idea how to hold a gun so I went for symmetry, but later on I saw a couple who posed with the gun the "right" way. Sigh.

I have no idea what I'm doing

Pete hasn't been feeling very well with headaches each day. He's not sleeping much at night. I've been sleeping pretty well and feel good except I'm occasionally tired. We've kept the sliding glass doors open all day and all night, but maybe tonight we'll try closing them. (It's a really nice temperature--not too hot and only sometimes a little cooler.) Tomorrow we're going on a one day tour of Kauai. So many have said that Kauai is the best island, so we're going on a tour to check it out. The tour co. will be here at 5:50am for the pickup, with a return to the hotel at 7:30 or 8pm. It will be a long day but I think it will be worth it. Then Wed. is another "free day" and Thurs we fly to Maui for a week!

Tonight's ambient noise includes: people laughing and some live Hawaiian music.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's the only cemetary with a gift shop

Hanauma Bay, November 16, 2008

Aloha! Today we took the "Grand Circle Island Tour" of O'ahu with our Roberts Hawaii Tour Guide Duke. After a 6:30am wake up time and a 7:50am pickup, we were on our way to many sites such as Hanauma Bay, the beach where the hot scene in "From Here to Eternity" was filmed, the blowhole (which wasn't "working" today because it wasn't windy enough to produce the waves that force the ocean water into a hole in what I'm guessing is a reef, which gives the impression of a whale spouting water), Pali Lookout (which was waaay less windy than it was when we visited in 2006), the Dole Pineapple plantation, the North Shore, Waimea Bay, a Macadamia Nut hut, and a Japanese temple that was on the site of a cemetary (thus the title of this entry). We were back at our hotel around 4:30 or 5-ish. Then it was on to a Hawaiian/Mexican dinner (enchaladas made with pulled pork--like the kind served at luaus) at La Cucaracha (yes, the Cockroach), which conveniently moved to close to our hotel, just steps away (it seemed funnier when this restaurant was located just below the emergency medical care office on Kuhio--now it's over a surfboard shop). Afterward we saw the bright sunset over Wakiki Beach, then watched the free hula show which featured different performers than the ones on Friday night. Both shows really had a sense of O'hana (Hawaiian for Family) and seemed less commericial and more "real" than the ones we've seen at luaus. We learned this show is sponsored by the Waikiki Improvement Association and is Tues-Sun nights.

I kind of thought tours were lame, but this one was great because I wasn't doing 120 miles of driving; I never would have stopped at a mac nut house on the side of the road (nor known that it existed); we got to hear the life story of our tour guide Duke, which included his take on growing up and living in Hawaii, the cost of living, how much he makes, how many hours he works, how he served in the military and Desert Storm; I never would have seen the beach featured in "From Here to Eternity". Plus Duke was making jokes the whole time and I learned some more Hawaiian words (not that I remember too many of them now). I also learned that Doris Duke's Shangri La estate is up for sale. The Doris Duke Gardens recently closed in NJ and it sounds like her estate is selling off her remaining property. But mostly the tour emphasized that we all need to get out of Waikiki and see the special places O'ahu has to offer!

I took 100 pix today and narrowed 'em down to 79...on my Flickr page...check 'em out! There are pix from the tour, pix of the apt and especially sunset pix!

Surfers and Sunset at Waikiki Beach, November 16, 2008

Tonight's ambient noise featured someone singing an especially overwraught-with-emotion Unchained Melody.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Did you cut up the drapes?

Surf's up!

Aloha! Is it pathetic to blog while on vacay?

We're in Waikiki in our beautiful condo 2 blocks from the beach! It's basically a studio apt but is arranged in such a way that it doesn't feel like a studio apt. It is mostly windows and mirrors which makes it feel much larger than it is. It even has a jacuzzi that is practically in the living room! And a gigantic lanai (balcony) with city, mountain and ocean views! This is by far the best place we've stayed in on Waikiki and it's not even all that expensive! But it is loud. The ambient noise includes: the incessantly loud fan for the building(s) next door; competing Hawaiian and 60's music; general traffic noise; people randomly screaming on the streets. And there is also the smell factor. There's a restaurant downstairs that grills. And if you know me, you know how I love the smell of grilling. Ugh.

So far we've gone mini-golfing at an indoor, 3-D, extremely loud course, went to a free hula show on the beach that felt more authentic than any hula we've seen at luaus in our previous visits, went to a craft show in a park where I did some Christmas shopping and Pete bought me some beautiful and unique necklaces (thanks Pete!), and spent a late afternoon on Waikiki Beach, swimming in the calm waters and watching the sun set.

Last night Pete and I wore our matching aloha wear which I made last year for very non-Hawaiian Myrtle Beach. While I felt some people were looking at us as we walked around last night, one old guy yelled out to us, "Did you cut up the drapes?" I had no idea what to say.

Aloha! More pix are on my Flickr page.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall day

Sigh...I worked this weekend so no sewing. I'm really missing it. I've been thinking about what to make next! But at least I've been wearing the new hats I've made! Here's one I made two Sundays ago:

It's a fuzzy aqua colored fleece from JoAnn's remnant bin that I made into a hat. It's the same hat as the swim hat I made a few weeks ago. I think it's cute. It goes well with my new gray fashionable wool coat (thank you for the early Giftmas present Pete!), but it was too warm this afternoon for my gray coat. And we were doing the recycling, and I didn't want to get my new red jacket dirty so I'm wearing my 11 year old corduroy light burgundy jacket. Sometimes old faithful friends are best!
Nice composition, Pete!

I won't be able to sew again til the last weekend of the month--because we're taking our big 2 week trip to Hawaii later this week! A week on Oahu, a week on Maui, may the spirit of Aloha fill us all with joy! Until then and after, it's a very stressful work time for me. But one of the neat things I've been working on is the redesign of the work web page--a chance for me to be creative at work! Pete has taught me some tricks about logos and also given me some helpful PowerPoint tips. The best thing about the logos is that sometimes they are very simple geometric shapes. Now I'm starting to look at the design of signs at places--including the grocery store! The new Stop and Shop logo is a bunch of "third of a circle"s fanned out to kinda look like a bird. It doesn't have to be complicated. Simple can be best.

Mahalo! Yes we can!

Yellow leaves

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I've only got 4 cast my ballot.

I took a half day off work today. Worked the morning, came home for lunch (Thanks Pete for making lunch!). Then off to the polls. I vote in a Catholic school/church. I really don't understand where the separation of church and state is when my voting place is a church. When I lived in the apt, I also voted in a Catholic school. When I lived with my parents, I voted in a firehouse.

Anyway, I arrived at the church at 1:44 and was back in the car at 1:48, hence the title. (My coworkers who voted this morning in different districts waited 15-20 minutes). While there were many districts with small lines at my polling place, my half of the alphabet for my district was open. Walked right up to the table, signed my name, and electronically voted. I was wearing my "Kittens for Obama" button on my brown jacket underneath my red jacket while I followers know which jackets I'm referring to!
Image from psychedelictara's shop on

Then it was off to the dentist where my teeth checked out ok, thank goodness (I've also recently learned I'm not diabetic--just thirsty all the time for no good reason--and that I have such a great "good cholesterol" level, the PA couldn't believe it.) The hygienist said she waited in line for an hour this morning but then had to leave to go to work...and doesn't get off work til 8pm so she won't be able to vote! eek! Seriously, why doesn't NJ have early voting??

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Annoyed at Blogger...

....why is it that when my friends post new posts on their Blogger blogs, I don't always see them til days later? Even after checking their blogs every day? And others have already commented on their blog posts? But I couldn't see them? (CleverGirl: I couldn't see your Oct 25th post til TODAY? And I was even mentioned in it! And I check it everday?!)

So now I'm using the "following" feature. I hope that helps.

Bottled water update

Still holds at 21! No bottled water for Aug, Sept or Oct!

Weekend PJs

Ooph, here's a quick post about my pajama sewing this weekend. After thinking I wouldn't be able to make Debbie pjs in time for her birthday, low and behold, the extra hour today gave me the time to think that I could actually make them. I wound up making the pjs for her and pj pants for me! Whee!
First, my aqua flannel pants:
They are awfully wide legged...not for slenderizing or anything. Also, the pant legs are the same's just my jaunty angle that makes them look like different lengths.

I love the daisy detail on the hem!

I can't wait to make a matching top. Unfortunately, that won't be happening tonight.

Here are Debbie's pjs for her birthday. The top is a cat flannel and the bottom is a "camel" flannel with a cat flannel casing:
Hat not included.
So that you can see the cat casing and ribbon.
Closeup of the casing and ribbon.
These have already been wrapped and mailed priority mail using the APC at the post office. I think they'll make it to PA by Tuesday!

Of course, the pants have been Sewing Pattern Reviewed.

Thanks Pete for taking pix of me!